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

Head to Boyle Heights for the Mariachi Plaza Festival on Sunday.
Head to Boyle Heights for the Mariachi Plaza Festival on Sunday.
Belen Velazquez

Thanksgiving charity opportunities galore, a Yanksgiving Feast with "celebrities," a fest in Mariachi Plaza and more to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 11/18

Ever wonder if celebrities' holiday gatherings are as dysfunctional as yours? For the past three years, comedians/writers Lee Rubenstein and Mike Still have been hosting Celebrity Barf Machine at UCB, where more than a dozen cast members perform crude and inappropriate impersonations of famous folk, from well-known UCB alumni to Shia LaBeouf and Meryl Streep. For Celebrity Barf Machine: Yanksgiving Feast, Rubenstein and Still, imitating Melissa McCarthy and Richard Dreyfuss, respectively, preside over a Thanksgiving dinner set in a secret bunker beneath the Hollywood Sign. Guests including Donald Trump, the Clintons, the Baldwin brothers and other 2016 notables will drop by to share with us what they're thankful for. Rubenstein and Still promise a show so outrageous — 18-and-over and no cameras allowed — it'll make Black Friday at the mall seem tranquil. UCB Franklin, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; Fri., Nov. 18, 11:45 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, franklin.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan

In Letter to a Man, one of the greatest dancers of our time takes on one of the greatest dancers of all time as Mikhail Baryshnikov portrays Vaslav Nijinsky, who dazzled the ballet world starring in Sergei Diaghilev's Ballet Russes and created choreography that ushered in modern ballet before he landed in an asylum. Directed by Robert Wilson, with Christian Dumais-Lvowski's text drawn from Nijinsky's diaries, Baryshnikov's solo turn explores Nijinsky's sexuality, his relationship with Diaghilev and the period of his mental deterioration as he transitioned from ballet star to a mental institution as captured in diaries written in a fevered six-week period. UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood; Fri.-Sat., Nov. 18-19, 8 p.m.; $99-$129. (310) 825-2101, cap.ucla.edu. —Gwynedd Stuart

It's possible that there are greater moviegoing joys than a 35mm John Cassavetes double feature, but few come to mind. The New Beverly continues its seven-film tribute to the singular filmmaker with Husbands and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, which find the writer-director (and, in Husbands, actor) in domestic and genre mode, respectively. Husbands star Ben Gazzara also headlines the latter, more stylized half of the double bill, a tour through smoke-filled rooms full of dim lights and hushed plotting. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Fri., Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 19, 6 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

It can be easy to forget in the age of Pixar, but animation used to be weird. For a reminder, take a trip to René Laloux's Fantastic Planet, a 1973 curio the Nuart is screening at midnight. Humans' place at the top of the food chain has been taken over by blue creatures called Draags in the film, whose brand of surrealism features no shortage of nudity and abstracted violence. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., Nov. 18, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine

sat 11/19

Not all clowns are scary. Puddles Pity Party is a singer and self-described "sad clown with the golden voice" (real name Mike Geier, frontman of the Atlanta band Kingsized), who dresses like a Pierrot-style clown complete with white face paint, ruffled collar and furry balls. He's 6-foot-8, carries a lantern and suitcase onstage and hardly speaks, except when he's crooning his baritone, cabaret-style covers of ballads, pop and rock songs. His Live at Joe's Pub album features versions of Lorde's "Royals," Sia's "Chandelier," Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and The Bee Gees' "I Started a Joke." He's also sings mashups of Celine Dion with Metallica and The Who with Johnny Cash. And he's performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Tenacious D–curated Festival Supreme. Puddles' shows are often interactive, so don't run away. This clown is more cuddly than creepy. The Roxy, 9009 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Sat., Nov. 19, 7:30 & 10 p.m.; $35. theroxy.com. —Siran Babayan

DesignerCon, the annual two-day art and toy extravaganza at the Pasadena Convention Center, is a must-stop for holiday shoppers. The convention floor is filled with booths from independent artists and small companies, both from L.A. and elsewhere, whose inventory is often filled with fun items, from low to high dollar. This year's offerings include convention exclusives from designer toy company Kidrobot, Little Tokyo art gallery Q Pop, popular artist Tara McPherson and many more. More than a shopping destination, the event also features various panels throughout the weekend. On Saturday night, DesignerCon will host an after-party with DJ Z-Trip. Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E. Green St., Pasadena; Sat., Nov., 19, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 20, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $10-$25. (818) 928-9295, designercon.com. —Liz Ohanesian

America pop culture has finally embraced the Krampus, but how much do you really know about the furry beast with cloven hooves, long horns and longer tongue who punishes children during Christmas? Al Ridenour, author of The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil, discusses the "menacing old-world companion to St. Nicholas." The Krampus took form in 18th-century German and European folk tales, but the mythical figure predates Christianity. Ridenour, who co-directs December's annual L.A. Krampusfest, traces the creature's pagan roots, how its image has evolved over time, the role of witches and ghosts and various Krampus runs and parades in Austria and Bavaria. Ridenour incorporates slides, video clips, costumed characters, a "Krampus Kwiz with prizes (and punishments)" and live music. La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Sat., Nov. 19, 7-10 p.m.; free. (323) 666-7667, laluzdejesus.com. ­—Siran Babayan

Probably the best movie ever made about the space program, Philip Kaufman's The Right Stuff is a modest epic. The writer-director, who's also responsible for The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Henry and June, will host a master class preceding a screening of The Right Stuff at Cinefamily discussing his work and career. VIP tickets will set you back $55 but also land you preferred seating and a private pre-reception with Kaufman. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sat., Nov. 19, 12:30 p.m.; $25 general, $55 VIP. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

The Terminator movies have gotten so bad that we'd probably be better off if a T-1000 traveled through time to put them out of their misery, but that wasn't always the case. And though The Terminator isn't as awe-inspiring or dazzling as its sequel, the first chapter in James Cameron's man-vs.-machine series is as ruthless and efficient as Arnold Schwarzenegger's cybernetic assassin. Electric Dusk Drive-In, 2930 Fletcher Drive, Glassell Park; Sat., Nov. 19, 6:30 p.m. (doors at 5:30); $10 lawn, $14 car, $60 VIP. (818) 653-8591, electricduskdrivein.com. —Michael Nordine

Join these two for a Yanksgiving Feast on Friday.
Join these two for a Yanksgiving Feast on Friday.
Courtesy Katie Willert

sun 11/20

The Mariachi Plaza Festival, Boyle Heights' beloved mariachi music and community fair, celebrates 26 years this year. The MPF Foundation invites Angelenos to descend on the Plaza for a full day of free performances from a number of mariachi acts, old and new. Its mission is "to celebrate the heritage of Mariachi culture, nurture its presence in our community and invite new audiences to experience its intricate magnificence." Featured performers include Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar, Mariachi Los Reyes and the all-female Mariachi Las Colibri. The festival is one of Boyle Heights' favorite traditions, supported by everyone from Councilmember José Huizar to Telemundo 52. Mariachi Plaza, Pleasant Ave., Boyle Heights; Sun., Nov. 20, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; free. mariachiplazafestival.com. —Neha Talreja

The launch of Angels Flight (not the funicular) is the grand blastoff of an ambitious literary salon series to be held at the venerable, quintessentially downtown Clifton's Cafeteria. The night focuses on writings about Los Angeles history and how L.A. provokes change in our lives. Author and USC English professor Dana Johnson (Elsewhere, California: A Novel) and screenwriter-novelist David Kukoff (Children of the Canyon and the forthcoming Los Angeles in the 1970s: Weird Scenes in the Goldmine) read from their work, followed by a Q&A. Attention writers: You can share your own writing, completed and in-progress, on this ever-fascinating subject. Themed beverages and dining available. Clifton's Cafeteria, 648 S. Broadway, downtown; Sun., Nov. 20, 4-6 p.m.; free. aflwmag.com. —John Payne

Upcoming Events

Warren Beatty has long been Hollywood royalty, and Reds is in many respects his crowning achievement. The actor-turned-filmmaker won the Academy Award for Best Director for his three-hour drama about a love triangle set against the birth of communism, which closes a weekend at the Egyptian devoted to Beatty (who also co-wrote, produced and stars in Reds) that begins with a screening of his new film, Rules Don't Apply. Vittorio Storaro's cinematography, which also won an Oscar, will be displayed in all its 35mm glory. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., Nov. 20, 6 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

mon 11/21

Tippi Hedren was the quintessential example of the so-called Hitchcock blonde, the fair-haired actress who embodied Alfred Hitchcock's ideal of a female lead who remains coolly poised and icily elegant even in the face of danger. In her new autobiography, Tippi: A Memoir, co-written with Lindsay Harrison, Hedren reveals more details of the famously contentious and allegedly abusive encounters she had with the British director while filming The Birds and Marnie. But the Minnesota native, who's the mother of Melanie Griffith and the grandmother of Dakota Johnson, doesn't see herself as a victim, and she also delves into her longtime passion for rescuing lions, tigers and other big cats at her Shambala Preserve in the Mojave Desert. Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Mon., Nov. 21, 7 p.m.; free, book is $28.99. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —Falling James

tue 11/22

In his 2013 stand-up special, African American, filmed two years before he was hired to host The Daily Show, Trevor Noah joked about the differences between South African and African-American cultures, Americans' stereotypes of Africans — especially those depressing, celebrity-endorsed UNICEF commercials — and how being born the son of a South African Xhosa mother and white Swiss father was essentially illegal during Apartheid. As part of Los Angeles Times Ideas Exchange, Noah discusses his tumultuous early life, which he has written about in his new book, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood, with L.A. Times television editor Sarah Rodman. Noah reflects on his devout Christian upbringing in Johannesburg, racial conflicts and how his mother survived domestic violence at the hands of his stepfather. The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, downtown; Tue., Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m.; $15-$65. (213) 235-9614, acehotel.com/losangeles/theatre. —Siran Babayan

D.A. Pennebaker is legendary for his music documentaries on the Monterey Pop Festival, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Depeche Mode. He and wife/partner Chris Hegedus released their Town Bloody Hall in 1979, the same year that Norman Mailer published his Pulitzer Prize–winning The Executioner's Song; the film documents a panel discussion on the then-explosive issue of women's liberation moderated by Mailer before a boisterous crowd at New York City's Town Hall in 1971. The debate was in response to Mailer's take on feminism written about in The Prisoner of Sex for Harper's, and later as a book, which many feminists viewed as antifeminist. Mailer spars with the best of them, including Jacqueline Ceballos, president of the New York chapter of NOW; Diana Trilling, literary critic/author; Germaine Greer, British-Australian author of The Female Eunuch; and Judy Johnston, lesbian feminist columnist for The Village Voice, who started her free-association poem: "All women are lesbians except those who don't know it." (After Mailer reprimands her for going over her allotted time, Johnston and two female fans make out with and fondle one another onstage.) Though Mailer is simultaneously arrogant, self-deprecating and funny, it's the tall, lithe, feather boa–wearing Greer who steals the show and calls it a "town bloody hall." Audience members including Betty Friedan and Susan Sontag ask questions. The screening is followed by a talk with Pennebaker and Hegedus. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Tue., Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m.; $14. (323) 330-4412, cinefamily.org. —Siran Babayan

Before there was the TV show there was the movie, and though suicide is painless, the Korean War was not. Nor, for that matter, was Vietnam, which Robert Altman's dark comedy MASH was really about — made in 1970 and taking a sardonic view of our foreign entanglements, the film's subtext is clear. Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt and Elliott Gould lead the way as three doctors at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (hence the acronym) in the film, which won the prize we now know as the Palme d'Or and received five Oscar nods. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Nov. 22, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

Put yourself to the fullest possible use — which, as any HAL 9000 computer can tell you, is all any conscious entity can ever hope to do — by experiencing 2001: A Space Odyssey. Silver- screen sci-fi reached its heady zenith with Stanley Kubrick's 1968 masterwork about all manner of life (whether primate, artificial, extraterrestrial or otherwise) on Earth and beyond; Solaris, Star Wars, Alien and The Thing are all grand, but Zarathustra spake only once. ArcLight Santa Monica, 395 Santa Monica Blvd., #330, Santa Monica; Tue., Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m.; $15.75. (310) 566-2810, arclightcinemas.com. —Michael Nordine

Make sure the homeless have a Thanksgiving dinner at the Thanksgiving Street Event on Wednesday.
Make sure the homeless have a Thanksgiving dinner at the Thanksgiving Street Event on Wednesday.
Courtesy of Los Angeles Mission

wed 11/23

Celebrating 80 years of kindness and charity, the L.A. Mission shines a light on the other side of downtown L.A. with its annual Thanksgiving Street Event. Plebes and politicians, celebrities and commoners — all will rub shoulders as they volunteer to serve to the homeless a ton and a half of turkey, pound after pound of mashed potatoes, gallons of giblet gravy and pulchritudinous piles of pie. Volunteers also will hand out more than 1,400 warm blankets and 1,200-plus tarps to shelter the hardiest unfortunates as they take life day by day in the streets and doorways of the city. Downtown L.A. Mission, 303 E. Fifth St., downtown Los Angeles; Wed., Nov. 23, 9 a.m.; free. (213) 629-1227, losangelesmission.org. —David Cotner

A Depression-era mongoose, evil dog and decapitated feline all make cameos in this masterful slideshow and lecture by Dr. Paul Koudounaris. Tails From the Crypt: Animal Ghosts chronicles some of the most bizarre, unbelievable and delightfully disturbing stories featuring apparitions of dead creatures, including an account of a cat that saved a person's life on public transportation, as well as a dog that miraculously diverted a catastrophe at a train station. Koudounaris, who holds a Ph.D. in art history from UCLA, rounds out the evening of weird and wacky tales with an anecdote about Rudolph Valentino's dog, Kabar. You'll never think of your furry friends in quite the same way again. Hyperion Tavern, 1941 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake; Wed., Nov. 23, 9:45 p.m.; free. (323) 665-1941, facebook.com/events/1771299696464408. —Tanja M. Laden

thu 11/24

For healthy, active people, the Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot has become as time-honored a tradition as everyone else's ceremonial unbuttoning of the pants after dinner. All over the Southland, Angelenos will pull on their jogging shorts and lace up their trotting (or whatever) shoes to run either 5 or 10 kilometers. Two of the biggies: Turkey Trot L.A., which starts at City Hall and sends runners through the streets of downtown, and the Long Beach Turkey Trot, which donates 100 percent of race proceeds to the Community Action Team, a nonprofit that organizes a variety of local events from beach cleanups to a spelling bee. Turkey Trot L.A., 200 N. Spring St., downtown; Thu., Nov. 24, 8 a.m.; $40-$45. Turkey Trot Long Beach, 1 Granada Ave., Long Beach; Thu., Nov. 24, 7 a.m.; $40. justinrudd.com/trot.html. —Gwynedd Stuart

Despite what this year's election results might lead you to believe, empathy is not dead. On Thanksgiving morning, nice, helpful people come together for Gobble Gobble Give, a program that distributes food, clothing and toiletries to homeless people in Los Angeles. Thanksgiving Day volunteers are asked to bring a hot dish (side, main or dessert) plus five toiletry kits and blankets or warm clothes to give away, and to handle tasks range from delivering food to sorting care packages. Giving thanks and giving go hand in hand. The Regent Theater, 448 S. Main St., downtown (there are also locations in Echo Park, Santa Ana and Santa Monica); Thu., Nov. 24, 10 a.m.; free. gobblegobblegive.org. —Gwynedd Stuart


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