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5 Fantastic Things to Do in L.A. This Week for $15 or Less

'Eyes on You' is a 9 x 11.5 inch acrylic, ink and gouache piece intricately painted onto a resin board by Mark Whalen.
'Eyes on You' is a 9 x 11.5 inch acrylic, ink and gouache piece intricately painted onto a resin board by Mark Whalen.
Art by Mark Whalen

This week is jam-packed with a ton of events that will be sure to give you something fantastic to do. Have your recent bike rides been too bland for your taste? Meet up for the Bikes, Beers & Bites pub crawl and drink while you get your daily dose of exercise. And if you're feeling too dark for endorphins, the L.A. Weekly Theater Awards has a Gothic-macabre theme; you're more than welcome to join in on the deadly dose of fun. 

1. Drink Some Brewskies While Biking
California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5, Riding Bicycle Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs: "It is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug. A conviction of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $250." That said, Bikes, Beers & Bites, the pub crawl presented by carpet-bagging Oregonian boozehounds Deschutes Brewery, ploughs heartily through the bike trails to wind up at Glendale Tap's beer geek bonanza. Each bar along the course - the Morrison, the Griffin and the aforementioned Tap - has beers from ales to stouts, plus appetizers made just for this event and all the two-wheeled terrors rolling its way. Rent a bike if you don't have one ($10 cash); proceeds benefit Friends of the Los Angeles River. Meet at FoLAR Frogtown River Lot, 2825 Benedict St., Frogtown; Wed., April 9, 4 p.m., $15. (541) 312-6946, deschutesbrewery.com /event/bikes-beer-bites. - David Cotner

2. Partake in a Taco Tournament
The soft warmth of the tortilla. The savory sizzle of the meat. The fresh shock of the cilantro. The sweet crisp of the onion. No one makes a better taco than L.A. chefs, and the competition among the best of them is legendary. This Saturday, Grand Park will again be ground zero for the holiest of taco wars, ¡Taco Madness!: a night of taco rivalry, live art, DJs, flowing beer and altogether delicious gunslinging. Vote ahead of time for your favorite taco at LAtaco.com ("Celebrating the Taco Lifestyle in Los Angeles"), where you can choose between last year's winners, Mexicali Taco & Co. and Mariscos Jalisco, and newcomers such as Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla, in Boyle Heights, and the family-run kitchen Carnitas El Momo, which is famous for its seductive pork. Fans of tacos del pescado will not be left out, thanks to Tacos Punta Cabras, nor will vegans, as Plant Food for People will have its veggie options available. But let's be honest, if you're going to an event called "Taco Madness" and you're a vegan, you'll probably just want to head for the booze. Luckily, there will be a beer garden as well - plus live art by Mear One, DEFER, Sand One and others, and silk screening with L.A.'s Hit + Run Crew. Flex that democratic muscle: When it comes to tacos, your vote really does count! Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Sat., April 5, noon-7:30 p.m.; free admission (food and alcohol extra). (213) 972-8080, lataco.com. - Rena Kosnett

3. Immerse Yourself in Mark Whalen's Art
Lanky, dreadlocked and usually laughing about something, the Australian skater and street artist formerly known as Kill Pixie, Mark Whalen, may not seem to have much in common with, say, medieval monks who painstakingly illuminated religious manuscripts, or the calligraphers and miniaturists of old-world Asian dynasties. Until, that is, you envision the almost devotional process of making his obsessively rendered compositions: sequestered in the workroom, bent down close to the table, wielding single-hair brushes with superhuman precision, executing surreal scenes in quasi-architectural spaces, within which androgynous figures perform inscrutable rituals of play and prayer. Whalen executes magical op-art geometry, tight patterns of tiled grids, and carefully contained elements of nature with urgent and patient finesse, crispness and delicacy, yet the narratives remain elusive. The new paintings (and experiments with ceramics) for Stranded are darker and more psychedelic compared with the Zenlike reserve and simplicity of previous work. There are curveballs, too, with passages of painterly and expressive abstraction allowed to intrude into the proceedings. It's certainly his most ambitious work to date, and with some paintings measuring as large as 13 x 9 inches, also the biggest! Neither classical nor futuristic, Whalen's is a modern but parallel world, in which we see enough of ourselves to recognize a riddle but not enough to solve it. Merry Karnowsky Gallery, 170 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park; Sat., April 5, 8-11 p.m.; free with RSVP to rsvp@mkgallery.com.; runs through May 3, Tue.-Sat., noon-6 p.m. (323) 933-4408, mkgallery.com.  - Shana Nys Dambrot

Turn the page for more, including a free comedy show.
 

Kid Grift's eight comedians will be showcasing their hilarious improv skills in their own show at Spirit Studio on Tues, April 8.
Kid Grift's eight comedians will be showcasing their hilarious improv skills in their own show at Spirit Studio on Tues, April 8.

4. Get Your Goth On
If you've got a death wish, it just came true - in the shape of an awards party. For 35 years, the annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards have honored what the paper's committee of critics regards as the most exceptional work performed in theaters with 99 seats or fewer. This year, the raucous, rowdy show will be hosted by the dynamic Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group, which has put on plays praised as "entertaining - and literally jaw-dropping" by the Weekly's own Bill Raden. Allow this theater troupe to run wild in a venue like Exchange L.A. and you're bound to get a killer show. The evening is not just for nominees and theatrical types: Swing by and see what the city's most dramatic creatives are up to. Come drop-dead Gothic-macabre, because this year's theme is "The Death of Theater ... and Its Resurrection." If that's not enough to get your blood flowing, dinner will be served free of charge after the awards ceremony. Cash bar. Exchange LA., 618 S. Spring St., dwntwn.; Mon., April 7, doors open 6:30 p.m., show 7:30 p.m.; 21 and over; $15-$30. (310) 574-7380, microapp.laweekly.com/theaterawards/2014. - Kellyn Kawaguchi

5. Watch Kid Grift Say and Do the Darndest Things
For three years, Kid Grift performed improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, entertaining crowds of comedy nerds. Now the troupe's eight comedians are branching out to do their own improv show in Silver Lake, mingling their silly, absurd sensibilities with intelligent scenework that goes beyond the usual improv fare. Kid Grift's gift is an ability to ground and justify the goofiest of comedic premises without losing the audience. A recent set featured astronauts at a space station, which hosted characters ranging from an incoherent Frenchman to a lovesick android. That's no spoiler, promises Kid Grift's Michael R. Carlson: "Each night will have a different setting or premise. One week we'll be in space and the next we'll all be pregnant ladies." And the next show after that could have eight pregnant ladies piloting a rocket through space, a concept only Kid Grift could pull off, with the audience onboard all the way. Spirit Studio, 2601 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake; Tues., April 8, doors 8:30 p.m., show 9 p.m.; free, donations encouraged. holyspirit-la.org/?page_id=420. - Steve La

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