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

Watch Macaulay Culkin brutalize two grown men at the drive-in (the watching, not the brutalizing) on Saturday.EXPAND
Watch Macaulay Culkin brutalize two grown men at the drive-in (the watching, not the brutalizing) on Saturday.
20th Century Fox

A look back at Silver Lake's history, the opening of a museum dedicated to pets, a screening of Home Alone at the drive-in and more to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 12/2

Silver Lake is L.A.'s undisputed epicenter of cool, but did you know its roots as a hipster hub date as far back as the early 1900s? Longtime resident Michael Locke wrote about the famous and little-known artists, writers, musicians, architects and political activists who once made the area their home in his new book, Silver Lake Bohemia: A History, co-authored by Vincent Brook. It features fascinating people like Anaïs Nin, whose hilltop house was designed by Eric Lloyd Wright, grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright; Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra, who built 26 homes in the neighborhood; and Harry Hay, who founded the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights organizations, in Silver Lake long before West Hollywood was our city's gay and lesbian capital. Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Fri., Dec. 2, 7 p.m.; free, book is $21.99. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —Siran Babayan

According to Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, demonic creature who, as a wicked counterpart to Santa Claus, punishes naughty children for having not been nice. At the Krampus Ball costume party, the lederhosen-clad and dirndl-girdled G.T.E.V. D'Oberlandler poot away the folk und dance music of Alpine Bavaria on tuned Alpine cowbells and 10-foot twin Alphorns; Hammerstein Musik Bavaria brings classic beer ballads and polka dance lessons; plus there's Ironwise's gothic folk-rock and the two dozen devils and mountain spirits of Krampus L.A. Troupe, with their wailing horns and snapping whips. Fistfuls of pfeffernusse and tankfuls of Austrian Stiegl beer available. Highland Park Ebell Club, 131 S. Avenue 57, Highland Park; Fri., Dec. 2, doors 7:30 p.m., show 8 p.m.-midnight; $25. krampuslosangeles.com. —John Payne

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to watch Goodfellas. Easily the best gangster movie to lose the Best Picture Oscar to Dances With Wolves, Martin Scorsese's mafioso masterwork glams up La Cosa Nostra before reminding us that even made men can end up living the rest of their lives like schnooks. Producer Irwin Winkler will introduce the film, and between 5 and 7 p.m. you can purchase books, posters and other cinematic goods as part of the Aero's yearly holiday sale. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

Leonard Cohen is the most recent celebrity casualty of 2016; let us hope against hope that he's also the last. Cinefamily is marking the singer-songwriter's passing with a presentation of the rare Bird on a Wire, a 1974 documentary following Cohen's tour from a few years earlier, which begins in Europe and ends in Israel — a fittingly sacred site for the man who made us all sing "Hallelujah." Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Fri., Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna go see Reservoir Dogs? The New Beverly plays Quentin Tarantino's auspicious debut at midnight, because that's the sort of thing you can do when you own a repertory theater. The writer-director's color-coded thieves are a font of memorable lines, which they pull off much more successfully than their would-be heist; the more pear-shaped things go, the more enthralling the film becomes. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Fri., Dec. 2, 11:59 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

sat 12/3

A brand-new, full-length production of The Nutcracker set in Los Angeles circa 1912 was the audacious calling card when Los Angeles Ballet made its debut 11 years ago. Over the intervening years, the production has been polished to a lustrous patina and the dancing talent deepened as LAB's Nutcracker became an eagerly anticipated local holiday tradition. After this weekend's opening, LAB can be found touring Greater L.A. throughout December. With the onslaught of the shopping frenzy, traffic congestion and uncertainties about the new year, a brief respite in a world of toy soldiers, dancing dolls, sugarplum fairies and brave nutcrackers provides a much-needed source of comfort and joy. Future engagements at Dolby Theatre, UCLA Royce Hall and Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Ave., Glendale; Sat., Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 4, 2 p.m.; $31-$99, $24.50-$79 seniors, students and children 12 and under. (310) 998-7782, losangelesballet.org. —Ann Haskins

The National Museum of Animals & Society began in 2012 as a website and later became an art gallery in Hollywood, the first of its kind dedicated to animals and animal rights, with Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Kesha, Lionel Richie and other celebrities as honorary board members. Now named the Animal Museum, the space celebrates its new home in downtown with a grand opening, featuring vegetarian hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, DJ Michelle Pesce, special guests and current exhibits "Crazy Cat Ladies," "Entangled" and "Fashion Tails." The latter features Eva Danielle's photographs of more than 70 famous people, including Sharon Osbourne, Russell Simmons, Jason Alexander and Kevin Nealon, with their rescue pets. The Animal Museum, 421 Coylton St., downtown; Sat., Dec. 3, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; $45. (323) 928-2652, theanimalmuseum.com. —Siran Babayan

As Christmas draws near, we must all of us remember to be wary of the Wet Bandits. For a reminder of how to combat those sinister home invaders, avail yourself of Home Alone at the drive-in. Macaulay Culkin may have moved on to the "novelty band that sings exclusively about pizza" phase of his career, but the movie that made him a household name seems poised to remain a holiday staple for years to come. Electric Dusk Drive-In, 2930 Fletcher Drive, Glassell Park; Sat., Dec. 3, 6:30 p.m. (doors at 5:30); $10 lawn, $14 car, $60 VIP. (818) 653-8591, electricduskdrivein.com.

Robert Englund and animal companion in a piece from the new Animal Museum, opening downtown on Saturday.
Robert Englund and animal companion in a piece from the new Animal Museum, opening downtown on Saturday.
Courtesy Eva Danielle

sun 12/4

Seven restaurants (one of them vegan!) will be battling for the mac and cheese crown at Time Out Los Angeles' Mac and Cheese Smackdown. The winner gets everyone's eternal love, presumably, and all festival attendees get the pleasure of voting on their favorite. When purchasing your ticket, pick a time slot: The organizers don't want an all-at-once rush on cheese and carbs. Speaking of carbs, each ticket also gets you one beer and a choice of wine or cider, as well as a dessert from Creme Caramel L.A. Plus, there will be adoptable puppies at the event. Bank of America Plaza, 333 S. Hope St., downtown; Sun., Dec. 4, noon-7 p.m.; $30. eventbrite.com/e/mac-and-cheese-smackdown-tickets-29047347398. —Katherine Spiers

Barnsdall Art Park is like a little oasis right in the center of Los Angeles. The intimate, grassy hilltop located just off Hollywood Boulevard is the site of Frank Lloyd Wright's first project in L.A., the Hollyhock House, and offers a perfect spot for an afternoon picnic with stunning views of the city and mountains beyond. The Barnsdall Art Center also holds affordable art classes for adults and kids in painting, sculpture, jewelry, weaving, ceramics and a host of other media. To help support scholarships, programming and the purchase of materials, they hold the annual Barnsdall Art Center Holiday Art Sale & Fundraiser, which features a wide array of student and faculty work for sale. Food and drink is available for purchase from local vendors, as are raffle tickets for prizes ranging from restaurant gift cards to Disneyland tickets. Barnsdall Junior Art Center, 4814 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood; Sun., Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; free. (323) 644-6295, barnsdall.org/holiday-art-sale-fundraiser. —Matt Stromberg

Comedian, actor and man of many podcasts Paul F. Tompkins and composer Eban Schletter's comedy-music partnership has lasted more than 20 years. Schletter, who's written scores for SpongeBob SquarePants, Mr. Show With Bob and David and the Academy Awards, provides the music to Tompkins' current monthly improv/live podcast at Largo, Spontaneanation, and previously Varietopia, in which Tompkins and celebrity guests would perform covers of "Space Oddity," "Purple Rain" and The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?" Morrissey who? Tonight, the two unveil their new, all-music show, Paul F. Tompkins Hogs the Covers, featuring more interpretations of pop songs with help from fellow Largo regulars including Aimee Mann, Ted Leo and Open Mike Eagle. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove; Sun., Dec. 4, 8:30 p.m. (also Sat., Dec. 3); $30. (310) 855-0350, largo-la.com. —Siran Babayan

Upcoming Events

mon 12/5

Planned Parenthood has been imperiled for years thanks to mostly Republican politicians who insist on putting crowd-pleasing antichoice rhetoric before the well-being of low-income women and men. Now, with a right-wing demagogue about to enter the White House — not to mention a creepy Midwestern vice president–elect who thinks women should have funerals for miscarried fetuses — it's in more danger than ever. But SoCal creatives won't let it go down without a fight. At Plan B: A Benefit for Planned Parenthood, comedians Kate Berlant, Emily Heller, Chris Thayer, Clare O'Kane, Tashi Condelee and Corie Johnson take the stage to raise funds for the essential clinic, and Bethany Cosentino and Tamaryn DJ between sets. There's also a raffle and a gift bag for people who've donated to PP in the past (and have proof). They won the battle — we can't let them win the war. Resident, 428 S. Hewitt St., downtown; Mon., Dec. 5, 7 p.m.-midnight; $10 suggested donation. facebook.com/events/931996026930396. —Gwynedd Stuart

"I'm so riddled with the holiday season that the mere mention of a stocking stuffer sexually arouses me." Who knew John Waters was such a sucker for Christmas? That paean to the "jubilee of consumerism" Waters wrote in his 1986 book, Crackpot, eventually inspired A John Waters Christmas, an annual monologue-style stand-up show he's been touring for more than a decade. The director behind some of filmdom's sleaziest movies shares personal stories about the not-so-merry side of Yuletide and doles out gift-giving advice. Hint: Gift certificates are boring and impersonal. The Comedy Store, 8433 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Mon., Dec. 5, 9 p.m.; $50-$110. (323) 650-6268, hollywood.thecomedystore.com. —Siran Babayan

Betzy Bromberg is among the foremost experimental filmmakers in Los Angeles. As it did with her Voluptuous Sleep five years ago, REDCAT is hosting the world premiere of her latest, Glide of Transparency. This new feature is broken into three movements that, in Bromberg's words, amount to "a journey devoid of compass bearings, forging pathways without a path." REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Mon., Dec. 5, 8:30 p.m.; $11. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org.

Gorge on carbs and dairy at the Mac and Cheese Smackdown on Sunday.
Gorge on carbs and dairy at the Mac and Cheese Smackdown on Sunday.
Aaron Stein-Chester

tue 12/6

Conservativism and comedy rarely go hand in hand, but audiences have become increasingly sensitive when it comes to poking fun at racism, sexism, homophobia and politics. Can we no longer take a joke? Where do we draw the line? Zócalo Public Square and UCLA's latest lecture asks the age-old PC question: "Has Political Correctness Really Killed Humor?" New York Times Magazine contributor Carina Chocano moderates this panel discussion, featuring L.A. comedians/actors Kristina Wong and Max Amini as well as Beck Krefting, an associate professor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York; Krefting also wrote the book, All Joking Aside: American Humor and Its Discontents. MOCA, 250 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Tue., Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.; free. zocalopublicsquare.org/event/political-correctness-killed-humor. —Siran Babayan

wed 12/7

L.A. may be famous for its smog and traffic, but thanks to organizations such as the nonprofit Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, it's getting to be an increasingly pedal-pushing town, too. In 1998, Joe Linton and Ron Milam founded the LACBC as a way to advocate for more bike-friendly streets in the city. Now, the member-based group is holding a special event in order to pay tribute to its effective community outreach and education. LACBC Open House 2016 honors the history of biking in the City of Angels with music, libations, and scintillating discussions about the two-wheeled vehicle that changed the world. LACBC HQ, 634 S. Spring St., downtown; Wed., Dec. 7, 6-10 p.m.; $20, $5 members. (213) 629-2142, la-bike.org/openhouse16. —Tanja M. Laden

This week, Echo Park Film Center celebrates 15 years as a community resource for cinephiles and activists alike with five days of free events and programming. The beloved organization has long emboldened youth and community organizers, and EPFC's commitment to equal and affordable access to media empowerment is more important now than ever. The Echo Park Film Center 15th Anniversary Celebration commences with an alumni showcase featuring work by EPFC youth-filmmaking program alumni on Wednesday, followed over the week by an All-Night Anniversary Salon with live music, bike rides alongside the EPFC Filmmobile, an evening of silent films and a traditional open screening night where even you can share your short films. As always, donations appreciated. Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Wed., Dec. 7, 7 p.m. (through Dec. 11); free. (213) 484-8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org. —Neha Talreja

Just because you've seen It's a Wonderful Life in bits and pieces on TV more times than you can count doesn't mean you should sleep on the opportunity to see it on the big screen. Frank Capra's brand of movie-magic optimism feels especially important this holiday season, which caps off a year in which the Mr. Potters of the world repeatedly won. ArcLight Sherman Oaks, 15301 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Wed., Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m.; $18. (818) 501-7033, arclightcinemas.com. —Michael Nordine

thu 12/8

Many songwriters are satisfied if they can find a verb that rhymes with twerk, but Joseph Haydn had even greater things on his mind when he assembled a little piece called The Creation. The epic oratorio is merely an attempt to evoke the invention of the universe, with the 18th-century Austrian composer borrowing from the Book of Genesis and John Milton's Paradise Lost to pump up his euphoric origin story. Hardy vocalists Rachele Gilmore, Joshua Guerrero and Johannes Kammler will have to pace themselves as conductor Gustavo Dudamel presides over an expanded version of the L.A. Philharmonic. Venezuelan filmmaker Alberto Arvelo lets the light in further with a video installation. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Thu.-Fri., Dec. 8-9, 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 10-11, 2 p.m.; $20-$190. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. —Falling James

City National Plaza hosts its annual Holiday Spectacular on Thursday evening and, this year, the entertainment comes from Lucent Dossier Experience. The circus arts company is a downtown staple, having made a name for itself during its 2000s residency at the Edison. These days, the troupe balances large concert performances — such as this year's 3-D show as Sahara Tent headliners at Coachella — with intimate performances at Clifton's. Their interactive, improv-heavy shows are always unpredictable. You might spend the evening simply as a spectator, or one whimsical character may drag you into their world. The event is free, but it's also a benefit for Volunteers of America Los Angeles, so attendees are asked to bring donations of new toys, blankets or art and school supplies. City National Plaza, 515 S. Flower St., downtown; Thu., Dec. 8; 5-8 p.m.; free. (213) 485-9595, citynationalplaza.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Tom Hanks is something like our official American Everyman, a role he embodies so well that it's easy to forget he's also a gifted writer and director. Hanks made his behind-the-camera debut 20 years ago with That Thing You Do!, the story of a one-hit wonder from the 1960s, which is itself a kind of cinematic earworm. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Thu., Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine


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