5 Splendid Things to Do This Week for $15 or Less

The West Coast BBQ Classic features more than 60 contestants — plus live bands and a watermelon eating contest.
The West Coast BBQ Classic features more than 60 contestants — plus live bands and a watermelon eating contest.
Photo by Anne Fishbein

Yeah, yeah, so you've got to celebrate Mother's Day this weekend. But that's just brunch - which leaves you with at least six days free for all sorts of rambunctious, fascinating fun. This week's calendar has a wealth of offerings that won't break the bank. Mosey on south to Long Beach for the West Coast BBQ Classic. Or check out a new exhibit at the Grammy Museum focused on Laurel Canyon's long history of excellent music. There's something for everyone. Maybe you could even bring Mom!

5. Chow Down at a Barbecue Classic
Few things are more primal than cooking a big piece of meat over an open flame, so it's only natural that America takes a lot of pride in its regional variations on barbecue. Visions of unlit shacks in Memphis and Kansas City selling charred hunks of beef and pork may fuel your foodie's dreams, but California has good barbecue, too. Santa Maria tri-tip is for more than just people on weekend wine-tasting trips, you know. The third annual West Coast BBQ Classic is here to help shine a light on a nation of sticky-fingered aficionados and to present as many of those mouthwatering styles as possible. More than 60 contestants will compete for cash prizes and the title of BBQ Pitmaster Champion. Bring an appetite, but leave your vegetarian friends at home. Queen Mary Events Park, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach; Sat., May 10, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; adults $10 online/$15 at the door, children $5; BBQ tasting tickets $2. (562) 499-1771, queen? ? - Sean J. O'Connell

4. Check Out a Different Kind of Film Festival
Comedian Nick Prueher rose to Internet celebrity earlier this year when he pranked Midwestern news anchors by posing as a chef on live TV and hosting an absurd cooking show (one recipe was for ice cream cones stuffed with mashed potatoes). The prank, as it turns out, was an elaborate promotion for Prueher's actual project, the Found Footage Festival, which is touring the country in its 10th year of screening bizarre VHS footage found in dumpsters, thrift stores and garage sales. Co-curated by Joe Pickett, the 90-minute festival hosts not one but two identical 90-minute screenings this week in L.A., which is appropriate considering that much of this year's footage was acquired from a VHS collector with an extensive archive of Los Angeles - based public access shows. For the fest's L.A. shows, Prueher and Pickett are attempting to track down the host of one of those public access shows to bring him onstage for a live interview. They'll also be debuting footage of a reunion they recently orchestrated between two T.V. personalities who appear in one of their most famous found-footage videos. The details are a surprise, but Prueher promises, "There won't be a dry eye in the house at the New Beverly." New Beverly Cinema, 7165 W. Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Thu., May 8, & Fri., May 9, 9 p.m.; $13. (323) 938-4038, - Jennifer Swann

3. Celebrate an Up-and-Coming Art Scene
Cypress Park native and Antigua Coffee House capo Yancey Quiñones has a dream. His café at the corner of Figueroa and Loreto is already a beacon of community art, letters and generally celebratory gatherings. But the café faces one of those crazy L.A. underground tunnel passages - one designed to help pedestrians cross busy streets, which through years of neglect became an awfully dangerous and unpleasant pathway. A year ago, Quiñones decided to do something about that. Expanding his business mantra of "Community, Progress and Sustainability" out the front door and down underground - literally - he has led the charge to reclaim the tunnel as not only a helpful functionality but also a public art center. The block will be closed off for today's all-evening party, with the showcase (and sale) of art, spoken word, music, crafts and food, as One Year Underground: Reclaiming the East Side celebrates the Cypress Village Underground Art Tunnel's first birthday. It's for the community, but, in the spirit of the center, absolutely everyone is invited to be surprised and inspired by what people can accomplish when they put their hearts into it - with plenty of fresh-roasted coffee on hand. Antigua Coffee House, 3400 N. Figueroa St., Cypress Park; Sat., May 10, 5:30 p.m.; free. (323) 539-2233, ? - Shana Nys Dambrot


Colson Whitehead, chronicler of poker championships.EXPAND
Colson Whitehead, chronicler of poker championships.
Photo by Frank Lojciechowski

2. Learn About a Remarkable Music Scene
Pop and folk stars in the late 1960s and early '70s may have played on the Sunset Strip, but they jammed and lived in Laurel Canyon. Entire albums have been dedicated to L.A.'s musical Shangri-La, namely Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon. Harvey Kubernik's 2009 book, Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon (with photographs by Henry Diltz), called it a "ZIP code with its own playlist." After two L.A.-themed exhibits in the past two years, including one chronicling The Beach Boys, the Grammy Museum's latest collection, California Dreamin': The Sounds of Laurel Canyon, 1965-1977, zooms in on the hillside enclave - with reference to Kubernik's tome - that was home to countless singer-songwriters of the era, from Mitchell to Crosby, Stills & Nash to The Doors. In addition to such artifacts as instruments from the Modern Folk Quartet, Jim Morrison's writing chair, Arthur Lee's Flying V guitar and Cass Elliot's hand-painted chair, the exhibit draws heavily on the work of Diltz, the official photographer of Woodstock and the Monterey Pop Festival, and the man behind the album covers of Crosby, Stills & Nash's debut, The Doors' Morrison Hotel and James Taylor's Sweet Baby James. Diltz, Kubernik, Micky Dolenz, Three Dog Night's Danny Hutton, singer Art Podell and Gail Zappa (widow of Frank) take part in an opening-night panel discussion. The Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., dwntwn.; discussion Fri., May 9, 7:30 p.m.; $10; exhibit through Nov. 30; $12.95, $11.95 students & seniors, $10.95 children. (213) 765-6800, - Siran Babayan

1. Listen to Colson Whitehead Talk Poker
Author Colson Whitehead has an endless capacity for penetrating, downbeat observation, and his latest tome, The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death, provides, from its opening salvo, a bounty of this dry style: "I have a good poker face," he writes, "because I am half-dead inside." The fruit of a journalistic assignment that landed him a chair at the World Series of Poker, the book is a riveting, illuminating and amusing glimpse into poker pathology - a mixture of ego, sportsmanship, greed and deceit, all fueled by the essentially fraudulent criminality common to the game's biggest players, along with bales of tattered, self-projected romance, sophisticated hustle and the skin-of-the-teeth desperation that characterizes any serious bout of Texas Hold 'Em. Whitehead, who was scarcely qualified to compete yet still managed to go the full route, will discuss the experience and the book with Laurie Winer, founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, herself a poker player of no little skill. Expect a gloriously skewed and satirical examination of this strange, all-American subculture. Mark Taper Auditorium, Los Angeles Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., dwntwn.; Tue., May 13, 7:15 p.m.; free, RSVP required. (213) 228-7025, - Jonny Whiteside

See also: L.A. Weekly's Artopia party is Thursday, May 15

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