5 Excellent Things to Do in L.A. This Week For $5 or Less
Author-filmmaker Nelson George will reminisce about the memories made in Soul Train history with fellow former dancer, Marco de Santiago at Book Soup on Wed., April 2.
This week is packed with a ton of awesome activities that are completely unique from each other. Pull some strings at the L.A. Puppet Fest or laugh your face off at Public House's new show, Fringe. Hungry for something else? Take on the L.A. Ramen Yokocho Fest and the 14 restaurants that are bringing their best bowls to you. And it's all for under $8!
1. Eat ALL The Ramen
If you can't get enough ramen, prepare your taste buds for an entire festival dedicated to the delicious dish, or in this case, bowl. The second annual L.A. Ramen Yokocho Fest is back - and at a bigger venue after last year's insane crush of ramen enthusiasts. This year features 14 restaurants serving their unique ramen recipes, some created especially for this event. With vendors coming from San Diego, San Jose, Las Vegas and good old L.A., you'll recognize names such as Shin-Sen-Gumi, Tajima and Daikokuya. Four ramen hot spots from Japan also will be serving their best bowls at the festival, and Fujin Ramen will cook up its version of the popular ramen burger. Be sure to check out Japan Family Day, an event aimed at introducing traditional Japanese culture to the people of Southern California. There you'll find Japanese cultural booths, live performances, a flea market and food booths serving cultural favorites such as takoyaki, okonomiyaki and sushi. Itadakimasu! Santa Anita Park, 295 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; Sat., March 29, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; $4 parking, $5 entrance, free for kids under 17; all ramen $8. ramen?yokochous.com. - Kellyn Kawaguchi
2. Attend the L.A. Puppet Fest
The sophomore edition of the L.A. Puppet Fest pulls strings across the city, with dozens of events celebrating the ancient art of puppetry. An April Fools' Puppet Ball launches the annual fan fest tonight at Micky's, followed by a range of programs geared to appeal to young ones and adults alike. Highlights include the L.A. Guild of Puppetry's Puppetzilla L.A. Puppet Fest Slam at Bootleg Theater and Live Band Puppet Karaoke at Busby's East, plus a two-day show at Blue Five Art Gallery that pays tribute to L.A.'s stalwart hero of the indie-puppet scene, Bob Baker, whose namesake marionette theater has evolved into a beloved memory-making landmark. The Million Puppet Parade on Third Street Promenade and the Skirball Puppet Festival help round out the nonstop doll-filled festivities, which pop up at 10 venues across the city. From roundtables, workshops and lectures to intriguing live performances and films, this unique and engaging marathon of movable models is a citywide convention for both burgeoning and established puppeteers, not to mention the puppets themselves and the people who love them. Various locations. Tue., April 1-Sun., April 13. Events $2-$25; details at LAPuppetFest.com. - Tanja M. Laden
3. Do A Little Soul Train Searching
Two years before Don Cornelius went to that dance floor in the sky, VH1 aired Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America, a documentary on the syndicated dance-music show's near - 30-year evolution, from its pre-Hollywood roots as the "black American Bandstand" in Chicago in 1971 to cultural phenomenon. It featured interviews with artists (Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, Snoop Dogg, The Roots' Questlove) and cultural critics, including author-filmmaker Nelson George. Last year, Questlove released Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation. Now George has written his own tome, The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style, which includes more interviews with performers, dancers and the baritoned conductor himself, Cornelius, before his suicide in 2012. Soul Train made stars of many of its dancers - Rosie Perez, Jody Watley, Fred "Rerun" Berry and Jeffrey Daniel, the man who taught Michael Jackson the moonwalk. Tonight, George sits down with another former dancer, Marco de Santiago, who was on the show from 1977 to 1992, to reminisce down the Soul Train line. George also signs his book at Eso Won Books on April 3. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Wed., April 2, 7 p.m.; free. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. - Siran Babayan
The Downtown Bookfest is intended for readers of all ages and includes a pop-up bookshop, 826LA's "World's Longest Story" and food trucks for the cravings even books can't satisfy.
4. Read Into This Bookfest
A hyper-indie, local and proudly populist version of the red-carpet Festival of Books, the return of Downtown Bookfest heralds the start of spring in the lovely, fuchsia-trimmed green space of Grand Park. Focusing on independent writers and local publishers, this free afternoon features authors, poets, musicians, performers and publishers in an array of literary events, including but not limited to: donating and borrowing from the several free (and also fuchsia) mini-bookstalls of the L.A. Public Library's Little Libraries program; contributing to 826LA's "World's Longest Story"; and commissioning original poetry on demand. For the kids: a ton of youngster-friendly moments of words and dance, including a theater troupe known for enacting stories written by children (aka the best of comedic surrealism and fantastical adventure, which even us old-timers can appreciate). For the adults: a pop-up bookshop curated by Writ Large Press, starring local wordsmiths and the independent labels that love them. There's also a good chance of food trucks and fine weather - so you can keep your noses in those books; just come out and do it in the sunshine. Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Sat., March 29, noon-5 p.m.; free. (213) 972-8080, grandparkla.org. - Shana Nys Dambrot
5. Check Out This Sports Bar Comedy Club
After five years of hosting stand-up show "Keep It Clean" at Public House, comedian JC Coccoli decided it was time to revamp the Monday late-night concept by booking comedians not just from L.A. but also from around the country and overseas. "Being around L.A. for so long, I see the same lineups. But now I'm booking people who are blowing up in Canada or blowing up in Australia, and it opens up the range," says Coccoli, whose new show, Fringe, launched in January and has been dubbed "comedy with bangs." This week's lineup includes New Yorker Kate Berlant, Chicagoan Nate Craig, Angeleno Doug Mellard and Canadian Nick Flanagan. As with every Fringe show, comedians are encouraged to use wigs and props, while Public House foots the bill for the audience's pizza and beer. A sports bar might be an unlikely place for fringe comedy, but it's all part of the concept, Coccoli says. "I want it to feel like if Andy Warhol had a weird comedy club in his Factory inside a very bro'd-out bar." Public House, 1739 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Mon., March 31, 10 p.m.; free, with passed donation bucket. (323) 663-1739, 1739publichouse.com. - Jennifer Swann
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