L.A. is chock-full of great things to do this week - and a whole bunch of them are 100 percent free. These five options won't cost you more than the price of a parking space (or a bus ticket). So what are you waiting for? Start making plans already!
5) Check out a Jewish music festival in El Sereno
The way most Americans perceive traditional Jewish culture is defined by the Ashkenazi, who originally emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe, and who comprise the majority of Jewish immigrants in the United States. By contrast, the Sephardim come from Spain, Portugal, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, and their culture is fairly different from that of their Ashkenazi cousins. Instead of Yiddish they speak Ladino, and instead of bagels they eat burekas. Rather than klezmer music, Sephardic styles reflect roots in a range of musical traditions found along the Mediterranean. After nine years in New York, the Sephardic Music Festival kicks off its West Coast debut with Sunday's Sephardic World Arts Day, which features nine workshops. Learn everything from olive curing to jewelry making before catching a performance by the James Brown - meets-Yemenite band Yemen Blues. The festival features a jam-packed lineup of both established and up-and-coming performers. Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State L.A., 5151 State University Drive, El Sereno; March 2, 3-7 p.m.; free. (323) 343-6600, luckmanarts.org. Festival continues through March 8; see sephardicmusicfestival.com/la for details. - Tanja M. Laden
4) Learn more about a troubling problem at Book Soup
The irony of addiction is that an addict can try every single recovery program - Alcoholics Anonymous, rehab, exorcism - with as much fervor as it took to become addicted and still come up dry. A book titled Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy might suggest even colder comfort, but author David Sheff - a journalist whose memoir, Beautiful Boy, told the harrowing story of his son's descent into addiction - talks tonight about what he's learned from immersing himself in the science of addiction. His illuminating, thorough examination of the question of addiction takes readers from the lab to the streets and everywhere in between, asking counselors, scientists and addicts themselves about the problem and how to effectively fight it, up to and including one of its most underrated, obsessive compulsions: addiction to recovery programs. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Mon., March 3, 7 p.m.; free, book is $15.95. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. - David Cotner
See also: 5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week
3) Visit an art show (or two)
The Italian Cultural Institute and ADC & Building Bridges are dedicated to producing international arts-exchange programs; this month they coordinate their efforts in a pair of exhibitions introducing a trio of eminent Italian painters to what is probably a whole new audience. In a way, the story of "Call for Papers: Italo Bressan, Franco Marrocco and Alessandro Savelli" is as much a story about friendship as it is about modern European painting. The three artists are close in age. All attended the Brera Art Academy in Milan, and all currently teach there (Marrocco is also the school's director). Although they worked independently and experimented with other media during the conceptual and stylistic reformations of the 1970s and '80s, all three eventually not only returned to Brera but to abstract painting as well. Curated by Anna Dusi and Giovanni Iovane, the show (as its name implies) comprises works on paper and references the academic and poetic idioms in which they remain rooted. Concurrently, Bergamot Station's ADC/Building Bridges hosts "Franco Marrocco: Work on Paper," curated by Dusi and Marisa Caichiolo, exploring the artist's versatility in creating substantial works of art with the most ephemeral of materials. After all, he is the director. "Call for Papers:" Italian Cultural Institute. 1023 Hilgard Ave., Wstwd.; Wed., March 5, 6:30 p.m.; continues through April 5, Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-1 p.m. & 2-5 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; free. (310) 443-3250, www.iiclosangeles.esteri.it. "Franco Marrocco": Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Unit F2, Santa Monica; Sat., March 8, 6 p.m.; free. (310) 770-1961, adcbuildingbridges?art?exchange.org. - Shana Nys Dambrot
Turn the page for more awesome things to do freely this week, including a Mardi Gras celebration at the Farmers Market.
2) Let the good times roll at the Farmers Market
You'd think Fat Tuesday would be almost extinct in a world of Zumba and Curves, but no, this 25th annual Mardi Gras Celebration marks the end of a party that's been going strong since Saturday. You'd also be forgiven if you hadn't known that Farmers Market has been doing Mardi Gras for 25 years, so see what you've been missing as you enjoy Cajun and zydeco music, nudity-optional bead-throwing, the Mutti Gras Pet Parade and Costume Contest, and more gumbo and jambalaya than you can shake a deep-fried alligator tail at. The Gras winds down with the accordion-rich stylings of Eddie Baytos & the Nervis Bros. and a procession strolling the length of the Plaza's trolley tracks, led by a New Orleans - style band and the Market's Mardi Gras Jester. Eat, drink and be merry - for tomorrow we die of shame. Blame the Catholics. Or Facebook. Whichever. Farmers Market, 6333 W. Third St., Beverly Grove; Tues., March 4, 6:30-9:30 p.m.; free. (323) 933-9211, farmersmarketla.com. - D.C.
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1) Listen to a discussion about the media
Alain de Botton is a cultural theorist from Switzerland by way of Great Britain, where he's a member of the U.K.'s well-regarded Royal Society of Literature. He's written a range of essays, literary fiction, and nonfiction about everything from Marcel Proust and Western philosophy to sex and architecture. De Botton's appearances on TV and radio have fine-tuned his ability to relate to audiences, as have his numerous interviews, lectures and even a blog called "The Philosopher's Mail." In this Zócalo Public Square event at the Getty, Alain de Botton: Is the News Driving Us Crazy?, the esteemed intellectual discusses the most important points from his latest book, The News: A User's Manual, which analyzes 25 stock stories that represent the state of journalism today. De Botton offers a deep analysis of how our fast-paced, bite-sized news culture distorts our perspective of current events, and how the resulting schadenfreude affects our psyche. Expect a profound, thought-provoking discussion that questions how modern journalism affects our intellect as well as our emotional health. The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; Thu., March 6, 7 p.m.; free ($10 parking after 5 p.m.). zocalopublicsquare.org/event/?postId=51693. - T.M.L.
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