21 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week

On Saturday, Grand Park's Downtown Bookfest is a bibliophiles dream.
On Saturday, Grand Park's Downtown Bookfest is a bibliophiles dream.
Courtesy Javier Guillen

Bibliophiles gather in Grand Park, L.A.'s most fabulous queens take over the convention center, good aromas take over the Hammer Museum and more to do and see (and smell) in L.A. this week. 

fri 5/6

The early punk rockers weren't always interested in history or documentation. Instead, the overriding impulse was anti-nostalgic — to smash the classic-rock monopoly and archaic notions of rock-star idolatry by destroying the evidence and leaving little trace behind. But we are entering an era when punk memoirs are becoming just as compelling as the music itself, as key figures from the scene finally spill their carefully held secrets. In The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band, Bay Area drummer Michelle Cruz Gonzales articulately reconciles the contradictions of being in an anarchist punk band with her upbringing as a poor Latina from a small town. Similarly, D.H. Peligro crosses various class lines in his rise from the ghetto in East Saint Louis to punk celebrity as drummer for the Dead Kennedys and Red Hot Chili Peppers, in his incisive autobiography, Dreadnaught: King of Afropunk. Both authors appear for readings and signings of their autobiographies. Stories Books & Café, 1716 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; Fri., May 6, 7 p.m.; free. (213) 413-3733, storiesla.com. —Falling James

An NYC export circa 2014, Smart, Funny & Black is NerdMelt's new monthly comedy game show that tests contestants' knowledge of black music, film, politics and pop culture to see who's the "best in blackness." Comedian, actress and DJ Amanda Seales hosts fellow comedian Sam Jay and writer-producer of the upcoming HBO comedy series Insecure, Ben Cory Jones, as they compete in three rounds, including a debate, Q&A and Taboo-style challenge, plus stand-up by guest comic Candice Thompson and a spoken-word spoof by Seales herself. In light of Prince's recent death, expect at least a few questions inspired by the Purple One. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., May 6, 7-8:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Siran Babayan

All good retrospectives must come to an end, and so it is with Cinefamily's Underground USA. The series, which has spent the last few months cataloguing indie cinema of the stateside variety, fares thee well with a 35mm print of Richard Linklater's Slacker and a closing-night party for good measure. Said soiree will include a live set by Cinefamily regular DJ Totally Abuse, but Linklater's early statement of purpose is, of course, the real draw — a freeform slice of marginalized Americana too strange and alive to be fully scripted, and a sign of the brilliance to come in movies like Dazed and Confused, the Before trilogy and BoyhoodCinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Fri., May 6, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org—Michael Nordine

It seems true to form of the endlessly influential Orson Welles that, a few decades after departing this mortal coil, his body of work continues to surprise. Such is the case with Chimes at Midnight, his recently restored adaptation of a few different Shakespeare plays featuring John Falstaff (whom Welles identified with and expertly embodied), and certainly his meta-before-it-was-cool F for Fake. The Citizen Kane director had a real fondness for Chimes in particular, saying of it, "If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie, that's the one I would offer up." Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., May 6, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com—Michael Nordine

sat 5/7

Reading doesn't have to be a solitary pastime if you're among the hundreds of other lit lovers at the fourth annual Grand Park Downtown Bookfest. This year's daylong event is themed Literary L.A.: Places, Spaces and Faces and features readings, panels, children's bilingual English/Spanish performances and activities led by 826LA, the Los Angeles Public Library, California African American Museum of Art and others. And if you're looking to take home a memento, pop-up shops for both adults and kids offer books and other souvenirs. Grand Park. 200 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Sat., May 7, noon-5 p.m.; free. grandparkla.org. —Siran Babayan

Capping its 10th-anniversary season, which focused on great romantic ballets, Los Angeles Ballet boasts the U.S. premiere of Sir Frederick Ashton's poetic Romeo & Juliet. Set to the powerful Prokofiev score, LAB is the first U.S. company to receive permission to stage the ballet. While co-artistic director Colleen Neary has frequently appeared in LAB's full-length story ballets and appears here as Juliet's mother Lady Capulet, her husband and co-artistic director Thordal Christensen makes a rare appearance as Lord Capulet. With performances in Glendale, Westwood and the South Bay, we can celebrate a decade of LAB bringing great ballet to Greater Los Angeles. Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., May 7, 7:30 p.m. Also at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach; Sat., May 28, 7:30 p.m. Also at UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood; Sat., June 4, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; $31-$99. (310) 998-7782, losangelesballet.org. —Ann Haskins

According to RuPaul, founder and namesake of RuPaul's DragCon, "In a world that says that you're too much or that you don't fit in, DragCon says, 'Welcome home, baby.'?" Last year's inaugural drag extravaganza was such a success, it's back for a second year, with three times more floor space, which means more shopping for platform shoes, wigs and frocks. A hundred vendors will be on hand, along with panel discussions and a slew of celebrity guests, from former Drag Race contestants to L.A. Weekly's very own columnist Henry Rollins. Doesn't get much more fabulous than that. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Sat.-Sun., May 7-8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; $30-$50. rupaulsdragcon.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

D.W. Griffith will always be best known for Intolerance and Birth of a Nation, but his filmography extends well beyond those two film-school staples. Also tackling deep-seated prejudice is Broken Blossoms, with Lillian Gish as a young woman who falls in love with a Chinese man. Griffith's small-scale follow-up to Intolerance was well received at the time but has often been overshadowed by the director's more epic productions. As with all Old Town Music Hall screenings, the movie will be preceded by the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ, an audience sing-along and a comedy short. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo; Fri., May 6, 8:15 p.m.; Sat., May 7, 2:30 & 8:15 p.m.; $10. (310) 322-2592, oldtownmusichall.org—Michael Nordine

Kooky fellas like this will be at the Los Angeles Bicycle Festival on Sunday, we guess.
Kooky fellas like this will be at the Los Angeles Bicycle Festival on Sunday, we guess.
Photo by Hal Bergman

sun 5/8

This year, ditch the carnations and buy a wholly unique gift for Mother's Day — or for any other occasion, really — at the AIX Scent Fair. Co-presented by the Institute for Art and Olfaction and Luckyscent/Scent Bar, the soiree of smells kicks off with keynote speaker Lizzie Ostrom (aka Odette Toilette) and panelists Saskia Wilson-Brown, Chandler Burr, Dr. Avery Gilbert and Jacquelyn Ford Morie discussing "the state of perfume + art," followed by a fair filled with independent and experimental perfume manufacturers selling their products. The weekend also includes a children's workshop and the third annual Art and Olfaction Awards, emceed by transgender performance artist and co-producer of Amazon's Transparent Zackary Drucker, and featuring DJs Victor Rodriguez and Javi en Rose. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sun., May 8, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (also Fri.-Sat., May 6-7); free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu/aix-scent-fair. —Siran Babayan

A Kickstarted successor to the 2014 festival of the same name, the Los Angeles Bicycle Festival aims to grease the wheels of L.A.'s cycling consciousness with a convocation of bicycle-related entertainment. The festival was originally born of a desire to address the anxieties of L.A. riders, but now that fear has been transformed into a family-friendly carnival atmosphere fueled by enlightenment and enjoyment. Fuel up with food trucks offering fare ranging from Angus to vegan in an amusement-park setting with a beer garden and sections like Road-Land and Urban-Land; concrete also is available for those who eat while riding their bikes. Grand Park, 221 N. Broadway, downtown; Sun., May 8, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; $10-$55. (213) 972-8080, facebook.com/losangelesbicyclefestival. —David Cotner

A couple of really great things about Los Angeles: The weather rules and it's filled with really talented people. The biannual Echo Park Craft Fair, now in its eighth year, is bringing both of those things together with an outdoor shopping extravaganza that spills out of Mack Sennett Studios and onto Effie Street in Silver Lake (not Echo Park, but whatever). Expect the usually assortment of beautiful handmade jewelry, pottery and textiles from makers including festival co-founder and shoemaker Beatrice Valenzuela, plus food and even tarot card readings. Mack Sennett Studios, 1215 Bates Ave., Silver Lake; Sat., May 7, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., May 8, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $10. echoparkcraftfair.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

Upcoming Events

A double feature made in horror-movie heaven (so hell, basically): Rosemary's Baby and The Brood. Roman Polanski's and David Cronenberg's classics will screen on 35mm as the Egyptian celebrates Mother's Day. It would take more than brunch and a nice card to console of the mothers in these two films, especially poor Mia Farrow as Rosemary herself: an unforgettable portrayal of grief and justified paranoia brought about by "all of them witches." Rosemary's Baby may just be the most affecting psychological horror movie ever made, so see it with someone you love. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., May 8, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com—Michael Nordine

For something slightly more traditional, Los Angeles Filmforum offers up The Birth Film. "Slightly" because Filmforum's selections skew toward the experimental, with Stan Brakhage, Marjorie Keller and Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid among the filmmakers whose works will be on display during the 90-minute program. Brakhage and his wife, Jane, filmed the birth of their daughter Myrrena in 1959's Window Water Baby Moving, which laid the groundwork for many others to follow, often in more abstract ways. Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., May 8, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-3456, lafilmforum.org—Michael Nordine

mon 5/9

There's nothing worse than a bad PowerPoint presentation — or there's nothing better, depending on how schadenfreudic you're feeling. Straight from Silicon Valley, the national epicenter of shitty PowerPoints, comes Speechless, in which comedians attempt to fake their way through projected presentations without any advance knowledge of the visuals or subject matter. Guy Branum, Joe Wengert, Caitlin Gill and Kate Berlant are the comedians and creator Sammy Wegent is the host. If you've ever had to sit through a dorky, clunky corporate training presentation, you owe it to yourself to be able to laugh through one. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., May 9, 9-10:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

Marc Maron kicks off a seven-night residency at the Trepany House on Tuesday.
Marc Maron kicks off a seven-night residency at the Trepany House on Tuesday.
Photo by Leigh Righton

tue 5/10

Marc Maron's WTF podcast recently celebrated 700 episodes with the usual big-name celebrity interviews, including a particularly raw and emotional one with Louis C.K., who discussed the making of his web series Horace and Pete. Fans know that among Maron's oft-told stories is his history with the Comedy Store. Fans also know that one of the comedian's other favorite venues is the Trepany House at the Steve Allen Theater. Maron's first benefit appearance there was in 2011, when artistic director Amit Itelman launched the nonprofit arts organization. Since then, Maron has hosted several podcast tapings and residencies. Tonight, with opener Dean Delray, Maron kicks off the first of his latest seven-night residency — "workshop/riffing shows," as he calls them — benefiting the theater. Trepany House at the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Tue., May 10, 8 p.m.; $8. (323) 666-4268, trepanyhouse.org. —Siran Babayan

As no less an authority than Richard Strauss once advised, "Never look at the trombones, you'll only encourage them." Well, Maestro Richard never heard members of the L.A. Philharmonic play Chamber Music for Brass in the acoustically perfect Disney Hall, did he? Tonight, the assured baton of conductor Jamie Phillips, horn man Ethan Bearman and soprano Stephanie Aston front one rather large ensemble of brass and percussion players in a multi-era, eclectic program of cadenzas, fanfares, intermezzos and more by Tomasi, Hindemith, Mascagni, William Schmidt, Mark Adam Watkins and TV/film composer Bruce Broughton. Come early for a pre-concert wine reception. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Tue., May 10, 8 p.m.; $26.50-$65. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. —John Payne

Witness the epochal performance that is Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress, William Wyler's beyond-classic drama. De Havilland plays the young, moneyed Catherine Sloper, whose father (Ralph Richardson) suspects her new beau (Montgomery Clift) of having less than pure intentions for his daughter. The actress, who turns 100 in July, won her second Oscar for the breathtaking transformation her character undergoes — a plaudit preceded by her sister Joan Fontaine winning an Academy Award of her own. This is said to have contributed to their well-publicized, lifelong rivalry, which only ended with Fontaine's death in late 2013. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., May 10, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org—Michael Nordine

wed 5/11

Don DeLillo's new book, Zero K, concerns itself with themes of death and preservation. He'll be 80 in November. Such meditations are part of the process of living, and he'll sit down and talk about it when Writers Bloc presents Don De­Lillo in conversation with author Rachel Kushner. Zero K is outwardly about rich white people staving off death with various machinations, and Kushner will talk with DeLillo about the inner life of the novel, the seductive illusion of control and whether he feels that he's actually done something with his life by now. Writers Guild Theater, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills; Wed., May 11, 7:30 p.m.; $20 & $40 (includes book). (310) 855-0005, writersblocpresents.com. —David Cotner

NPR and WNYC radio show–turned–live show KPCC Presents Ask Me Another isn't your local trivia night. Contestants take the hot seat to rummage through the nerdiest recesses of their minds, surrounded (and incredibly distracted, we assume) by a comedy and music extravaganza. The goal, of course, is to be crowned the episode's Ask Me Another champion. This L.A. event features a particularly odd cast of characters. None other than Jeff Goldblum will be joined by actress Maika Monroe to face whatever challenges NPR host Ophira Eisenberg throws at them. And — comedy, music, nerds, you say? — how could special guest "Weird Al" Yankovic not be invited? The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S Broadway, downtown; Wed. May 11, 7:30 p.m.; $28.50-$38.50. (213) 623-3233, acehotel.com. —Neha Talreja

thu 5/12

The media circus that is American politics pretty much dictates that "all the world's a stage," and this year's election has given us one of our best casts of characters yet. Which begs the question: If our candidates are already this entertaining, how hilarious could they be in the hands of professional comedians? Bernie vs. Hillary gives the Democratic contenders a new stage, with Erin Coleman, Jared Waltzer, and Julia Mack as Hillary, Bernie and a ratings-hungry Rachel Maddow. If the world's players are leaving you with more questions than answers, it might be time to revisit them in this alternate comedy universe. Westside Comedy Theater, 1323-A Third St., Santa Monica; Thu., May 12, 7 p.m.; $5. (310) 451-0850, westsidecomedy.com. —Neha Talreja

If you missed the Alien Day festivities a couple weeks back, ArcLight Hollywood offers a second chance to immerse yourself in the cold, violent universe birthed by Ridley Scott's Alien. Still the best in the series — désolé, Aliens partisans — it introduced H.R. Giger's iconic creature design and made a leading lady of Sigourney Weaver, whose Ellen Ripley at first appears to be a supporting character. If you've never witnessed the Nostromo drift through space, have never come into planet LV-426's orbit and don't know how "xenomorphs" (as they're semi-officially known) reproduce, here's a word you may not have heard before but are unlikely to forget after seeing Alien: chestburster. ArcLight Hollywood, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., May 12, 7:30 p.m.; $14. (323) 464-1478, arclightcinemas.com. ­—Michael Nordine

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