Didn't manage to sneak out of town this Labor Day weekend? Don't worry – there are enough interesting events this week to make your jet-setting friends almost jealous. On Saturday, take your pick of wacky art shows: Pokémon-themed (with a tournament!) or insect-made (really). Lovers of food, movies, and off-the-wall competitions should all see the documentary Hungry and meet champion eater Takeru “Kobi” Kobayashi, famous for eating 110 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, watch the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra bring Hitchcock's most suspenseful scenes to life with music. Get serious on Tuesday night with Lan Cao's readings on the Vietnamese-American experience. Suddenly Labor Day in L.A. doesn't seem so bad any more.
5. Catch a Pokemon
Remember Pokémon? Released in 1996 for Game Boy, the Nintendo game featured lovable “pocket monsters,” which you could catch, train, battle and trade. It spawned a TV series, movies, books and countless plush toys, and Pokémon is still going strong, even if some fans bemoan the expansion to 719 monsters from the original 151. This weekend, art gallery Chin’s Push hosts The Great Summer Pokémon Festival, a video game tournament, art show and concert, with DJ sets, food and vendors selling Poké-related goods. Johnnie JungleGuts of KChung fame is a big fan of the franchise — this is the sixth Pokémon-related event he’s thrown. Today, JungleGuts will curate a video game art show featuring the works of Josh Logan, Jessie Spears, Andrew James Cox, Rebecca Inducil, Maxfield Hegedus and Jon Merritt. In addition to DJ sets from KChung radio, expect live performances from ACK_VANDAL, Tina Belmont, Handski, Pipe and of course JungleGuts himself, who says, “This festival is shaping up to be our biggest event yet.” If you have a DS, get together a team of your six strongest ’mons and battle it out for prizes. If not, just show up and revel in the nostalgia. Chin’s Push, 4917 York Blvd., Highland Park; Sat. Aug. 30, 1-9 p.m.; $4 admission, $6 tournament fee, outdoor art show free. facebook.com/events/538524549586535. —Sascha Bos
4. See Fly Art
John Knuth is a painter, and like many artists throughout history, he employs a robust staff of studio assistants — only his number in the hundreds of thousands, and this army of apprentices consists entirely of houseflies. Knuth raises them from larvae, feeds them sugar and nontoxic acrylic pigment, and lines their coops with canvas. This method of mark-making yields paintings of surprising balance, detail and emotional impact. Using relatively limited palettes, playing instead with pattern, density, layering and empty space, Knuth’s work manages to look like very good modern art, even though it’s made with fly puke. This show, “Base Alchemy,” is Knuth’s debut solo project with 5 Car Garage, an alternative space located in Emma Gray’s back alley. In addition to the “fly paintings,” Knuth is showing works from his “mirror” series, in which he distresses taut Mylar with emergency roadside flares, partly revealing lovely, apocalyptic, sunset-hued paintings underneath. There is also talk of “appearances” by a certain California kingsnake breed known for its morphing and unnatural color profile — further articulating the artist’s dual interests in eccentric color and collaborations with nature. Snakes, flies and fire — good thing this all transpires in a retrofitted concrete bunker. 5 Car Garage, address provided with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, Santa Monica; Sat., Aug. 30, noon-4 p.m.; free. Exhibition runs through Oct. 10 by appointment. ?emmagrayhq.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
3. Supersize It
Most of us would be full and ready for a nap after downing two or three hot dogs. The men and women in Barry Rothbart and Jeff Cerulli’s 2014 documentary, Hungry, are never full. In fact, they’ve turned overeating into a competitive sport, or even a job, and it has become so big that the contests are held in stadiums and covered by ESPN. Equal parts engrossing and just plain gross, the movie follows top-ranked eaters from Huntington Beach to Coney Island as they compete and train, which involves drinking gallons of water to expand their stomachs, and then vomiting gushing amounts over toilets and trash cans. They have nicknames such as “The Lunatic,” “Crazy Legs” and “El Wingadore.” The most notable is Japan’s Takeru “Kobi” Kobayashi, and today, you can meet the human Hoover at Cinefamily’s My Lunch With Kobayashi, followed by the L.A. premiere of Hungry, with the directors in attendance. At only 132 pounds, the sport’s biggest star has won the famous July 4th Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest six years in a row, and he holds loads of other world titles and records: 110 hot dogs in 10 minutes; 93 hamburgers in 8 minutes; 337 wings in 30 minutes; 106 tacos in 10 minutes; 57 cow brains in 15 minutes. Now that’s food for thought. Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax, Fairfax District; Sat., Aug. 30, 11:45 a.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Siran Babayan
Keep reading for two more great events, including Hitchcock with live music, and a reading from Lan Cao.
2. Watch Hitchcock
Remember that scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho when weird ol’ Norman Bates starts slicing away at Marion Crane in the shower, and the violins go shriek! shriek! shriek! and your heart just about bleedin’ stops? Didn’t that just utterly freak you out? That’s but one example of how the great directors use musical elements to amplify the emotion and psychology in their films, and in Hitchcock’s case, the score often became a character in its own right. Tonight, The Big Picture: Hitchcock! offers an evening of nailbiting suspense and intensity in a tribute to Hitchcock’s classic films, with scenes projected on the big screen as David Newman conducts the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in scores by Hitch’s favorite composers, including Bernard Herrmann (Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest) and Dimitri Tiomkin (Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder). Special treat: Your host for the evening is Hollywood icon Eva Marie Saint, who starred alongside Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hlywd.; Sun., Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m.; $12-$131. (323) 850-2000, hollywood?bowl.com/tickets. —John Payne
1. Listen to Postwar Stories
The Lotus and the Storm, Lan Cao’s high-profile follow-up to her best-selling debut, Monkey Bridge, revisits her preoccupation with how U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam continues to reverberate through both countries, via a family saga. Reportedly the first Vietnam War novel written by a Vietnamese-American, Monkey Bridge illustrated Cao’s talent for graceful prose that deftly evokes lives stranded between two worlds. Cao, who was born in Vietnam, lives here now and teaches international business law at Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University. She’ll read tonight at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Tue., Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m.; free, book is $27.95. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —Mindy Farabee
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