Celebrate the good parts of the past at L.A. Retro Festival in Long Beach on Sunday.
Celebrate the good parts of the past at L.A. Retro Festival in Long Beach on Sunday.
U.S. Navy/Public Domain

9 Cheap and Free Things to Do This Week

An all-ages field day on the L.A. River, a seminar on writing romance novels, Valentines Day with bunnies and more to do this week for 10 bucks or less.

Camellias are so beautiful, so seductive that Coco Chanel made the flower an official emblem of her fashion brand. But they're more than just eye candy — the leaves of Camellia sinensis are better known as tea. Like, black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong tea: all the biggies. Descanso Gardens celebrates its history with the camellia — they were the basis of founder E. Manchester Boddy's cut flower business in the 1940s — at the Camellia and Tea Festival. The two-day event features a walk through the camellia collection, crafts for kids, a tea tasting and two daily performances by Invertigo Dance Theatre. Stop and smell the Chinese roses. Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge; Sat.-Sun., Feb. 11-12, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; $9, $6 seniors & students with ID, $4 children 5-12, free 4 and younger. (818) 949-4200, descansogardens.org. —Gwynedd Stuart

Los Angeles is a city where man-made development butts up against raw, wild nature. The Bowtie Project perfectly embodies this characterization, as the 18-acre postindustrial site along the concrete banks of the L.A. River has been repurposed as a public park. Organized by California State Parks, Clockshop and the National Park Service, Bowtie Field Day offers visitors of all ages the opportunity to take full advantage of this quintessentially L.A. environment. Start the afternoon with park ranger–led nature walks, catch-and-release fishing demos or a clay workshop with artist Julia Haft-Candell. As day turns to night, gather 'round the campfire for an evening of stargazing and s'mores. Bowtie Project, 2780 W. Casitas Ave., Glassell Park; Sat., Feb. 11, 2-7 p.m.; free with RSVP. (323) 522-6014, clockshop.org/event/bowtie-field-day. —Matt Stromberg

David Bowie is the new definition of "gone but not forgotten." Beyond his better-known contributions, the multihyphenate starred in a number of art-house favorites, The Hunger among them. Tony Scott's post-punk vampire saga stars the space oddity opposite Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon, with all the stylized moodiness those names imply. Perhaps the greatest moment comes early on and consists of nothing more than a beautifully sad line reading from Bowie: "Forever? Forever ... and ever." New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sat., Feb. 11, 11:59 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

Show off your best vintage finds at Long Beach's Museum of Latin American Art for the L.A. Retro Festival, a free, daylong event to celebrate the opening of "Dreamland: A Frank Romero Retrospective." Romero, instantly recognizable for his mural of cars crawling alongside the 101, is a leading figure in Los Angeles' homegrown Chicano art movement, and the exhibition will encompass works from his long and illustrious career. Similarly, the festival looks back at L.A. over the years with a mix of classic cars, fashion and music. Check out old-school rides before catching a fashion show from vintage menswear purveyor Barrio Dandy Vintage or a performance from Greg Esparza of Thee Midniters. The museum will be open for tours of "Dreamland," which opens Feb. 11 and runs through May 21. Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach; Sun., Feb. 12, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. (562) 437-1689, molaa.org/events/l-retro-festival/. —Liz Ohanesian

When Chantal Akerman died last fall, she left behind one of the most revered bodies of work in modern world cinema. If you're a first-timer, there's no better place to start than with the Belgian filmmaker's debut, the massively ambitious Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. The 3½-hour-long domestic drama consists almost entirely of a widowed single mother (Delphine Seyrig, luminous as ever) going about her daily tasks in real time: peeling potatoes, bathing, earning extra money by entertaining male clients. That may sound tedious on paper, but in practice it's uniquely enthralling. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sun., Feb. 12, 7 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu. —Michael Nordine

Don't be ashamed to admit you read romance novels. One of the most popular genres of literary fiction has evolved from those paperback covers of shirtless, long-haired men holding women wearing corsets. How to Write Romance: A Special Valentine's Day Panel at the Last Bookstore will teach you how to break into the romance novel–writing business and possibly become the next E.L. James or Nicholas Sparks. Moderated by Peter Katz, New York Times best-selling authors Laurelin Paige and CD Reiss and USA Today best-selling author Vanessa Fewings, who've collectively released dozens of books, offer advice on getting published, from finding a literary agent and marketing on social media to film and TV adaptations. The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St., downtown; Mon., Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m.; free. (213) 488-0599, thelastbookstorela.com. —Siran Babayan

Take a break from doing it like bunnies to visit the most hoppenin' place in Pasadena: the Bunny Museum. Back in 1993, Steve Lubanski gave girlfriend Candace Frazee a plush bunny for Valentine's Day. The couple has been married since 1994, inviting Angelenos into their home since 1998 to gawk at the more than 33,000 bunny-related items inside. Take your sweetheart to thus record-setting museum to learn more about the space's history. This will be the last Valentine's Day event at the original location, as the museum will be hoppin' on over to Altadena in March. The Bunny Museum, 1933 Jefferson Drive, Pasadena; Tue., Feb. 14, 3-6 p.m.; $5. (626) 798-8848, thebunnymuseum.com. —Eva Recinos

Comedian, writer and director Jonathan Browning goes on a humorous journey through sexual discovery from adolescence through adulthood in his storytelling show All This Over an Apple. Browning, whose L.A.-based Screaming Frog Productions makes award-winning short films, recounts the myriad ways he learned about the birds and the bees: the Bible, talks with mom, the schoolyard, sex education and – like other cable watchers of a certain generation – those blocks of late-night, soft-core porn movies on Skinemax. Browning connects the dots between misinformation and shame at a young age, the breakup of his first marriage and how learning more about sex as he's gotten older has made him a better lover and husband the second time around. Comedy Central Stage at the Hudson, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., Feb. 15, 8 p.m.; free with RSVP. comedycentralstage.com. —Siran Babayan

Kevin McDonald's Kevin McDonald Show just might be the only place to see this many members of The Kids in the Hall. Launched in August, McDonald's comedy-variety podcast features sketches, live music, interviews and stories about the famed Canadian comedy troupe. Past guests have included Kids' Dave Foley, as well as Wallace Shawn, Bob Saget, Rachel Dratch, Michael Showalter, Crash Test Dummies' Brad Roberts, Fruit Bats' Eric D. Johnson, The Long Winters' John Roderick and Ted Leo. (In the first episode's skit, Shawn played Sherlock Holmes and talked about what it was like filming My Dinner With Andre and The Princess Bride.) For the show's first live taping in L.A., McDonald hosts another fellow alum, Scott Thompson, in addition to Dana Gould and Gin Blossoms' Jesse Valenzuela. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., Feb. 16, 7-8:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Siran Babayan

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