21 Best Thing to Do in L.A. This Week

The Skirball Center's Paul Simon exhibit opens on Thursday, April 27.
The Skirball Center's Paul Simon exhibit opens on Thursday, April 27.
Courtesy Don Hunstein/Sony Music Entertainment

A Charles Phoenix slideshow at Union Station, a Paul Simon exhibit at the Skirball, a trip through Trump's looking glass, and more fun stuff to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 4/21

Known as the Ambassador of Americana, Charles Phoenix has turned nostalgia into a cottage industry that has come to include tours, books and, of course, his signature slideshows. This evening at Union Station, he presents Charles Phoenix: Southern Californialand, a slideshow that explores the region's "undiscovered, underrated and misunderstood midcentury architectural gems." Phoenix puts to good use his exhaustive knowledge of the Southland's kitschiest landmarks, from Googie bowling alleys to dingbat apartment buildings and, in particular, a very famous drive-through bake shop in La Puente that looks like a big-ass doughnut. "Festive" dress is encouraged (think a mustard-yellow and ketchup-red tuxedo, like the host's). Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St., downtown; Fri., April 21, 8:30-10 p.m. (doors open 8 p.m.); free (seating is first come, first served). unionstationla.com/happenings/metro-art-presents-or-charles-phoenix-southern-californialand. —Gwynedd Stuart

April 21 is Robert Smith's birthday and there's no better to way to celebrate this most hallowed day on the goth calendar than with a screening of The Cure in Orange. Filmed at the Roman Theatre of Orange in 1986, the concert film captures the legendary British group a year after the release of the now-classic album The Head on the Door and just months after the retrospective singles compilation Standing on a Beach. This is The Cure in their prime, with Smith and the gang performing fan favorites such as "Charlotte Sometimes" along with then-current hits like "The Walk" and "Close to Me," on an ancient, smoke-filled stage. While The Cure in Orange is the quintessential concert film for this band, it's been out of print for ages. Fortunately, Cinematic Void has a 35mm print. They also have Lol Tolhurst, former keyboardist for The Cure, for a Q&A. He'll also be signing copies of his memoir Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., April 21, 7:30 p.m.; $15. (313) 461-2020, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Upcoming Events

In heaven everything is fine. That's the promise of Eraserhead, David Lynch's self-styled "dream of dark and troubling things," which introduced moviegoers to a singular cinematic mind who's been haunting us ever since. Cinefamily is paying tribute to Lynch in conjunction with The Art Life, a new documentary about his life and career; whether you're a first-timer or seasoned obsessive, there's no better way to (re)aquaint yourself with Lynch than his feature debut. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Fri., April 21, 10:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

Back in 2006, Idiocracy predicted it would take some 500 years for Americans to turn our country into a dumbed-down dystopia. Eleven years later, the electorate responded with a collective "Hold my beer." The all-too-timely comedy screens at midnight, presumably after several hours of Ow! My Balls! reruns, to offer the now-optimistic vision of a president who, though completely out of his depth, actually seeks out intelligent people to solve the nation's most urgent problems. Talk about unrealistic. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., April 21, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine

Locarno in Los Angeles, a weekend-long event presenting the L.A. premiere of 10 films that first debuted at the vaunted Swiss festival, begins with Hermia & Helena. Matías Piñeiro once again uses Shakespeare (in this case, A Midsummer's Night Dream) as the loose basis for a story he ends up making all his own in his latest work, which will be followed by the opening-night party. Also screening throughout the weekend: Dark Skull, The Dreamed Path, Rat Film and more. Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main St.; Fri. April 21, 8:30 p.m.; $12. (213) 617-1033, locarnoinlosangeles.com. —Michael Nordine

sat 4/22

Sure, we hated chemistry class in high school — really, do we need to memorize the atomic weights of elements? — but never in our wildest, angstiest teen dreams could we have imagined we'd have an adult baby president who, like, for real hates science. Alas, here we are — marching in defense of something that shouldn't need defending because of, you know, the scientific method. In honor of Earth Day, the resistance takes to the streets once again for the Los Angeles March for Science, one of many science marches taking place across the United States. It may not change Washington's mind on climate change, but at least a few thousand Angelenos will be on foot instead of driving around. Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St., downtown; Sat., April 22, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; free. facebook.com/events/1199770880137011/?active_tab=about. —Gwynedd Stuart

It's definitely a family affair as the Washington Family Concert affirms the power of education and celebrates Southwest College's 50th anniversary. For the occasion, celebrated choreographer Lula Washington assembled her talented dance family and musical in-laws, including husband-producer Erwin Washington, daughter-choreographer-dancer Tamika Washington-Miller and son-in-law/composer/drummer Marcus L. Miller. Composers/musicians Rickey Washington and Kamasi Washington are joined by 10-piece band The Next Step playing music from their hit CD The Epic, plus art and emcee contributions from four more of their cousins. Several members of the family are Southwest grads and, as alumni, welcomed the chance to get together to jam with new choreography and live music for this golden anniversary. L.A. Southwest College, Little Theater, 1600 W. Imperial Hwy., Athens; Sat., April 22, 8 p.m., $50-$100. (323) 241-5401, lasc.edu/50. —Ann Haskins

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Los Angeles' Bookchella for bibliophiles and the largest literary festival in the world, returns for its 22nd year. This year's fest features appearances by more than 500 literary heavyweights and celebrity authors, including Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Chuck Palahniuk, T.C. Boyle, Michael Connelly, Michael Eric Dyson, Roxane Gay, Luis J. Rodriguez, Chris Hayes, Dave Grohl, Bryan Cranston, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Cheech Marin, Wil Wheaton, Tippi Hedren, Danica McKellar, Cesar Millan, Keith Morris, Michael Ovitz and Pamela Des Barres. As always, the two-day schedule features 10 stages offering cooking demonstrations, travel workshops, poetry and children's readings, in addition to hundreds of vendors, live music, mural installations, a performance of songs from Into the Woods by the Center Theatre Group and, of course, food trucks. USC, Bing Theatre, University Park Campus, 3500 Watt Way, University Park; Sat., April 22, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., April 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free (paid tickets required for some events). (213) 740-5656, latimes.com/festivalofbooks. —Siran Babayan

Sometimes you need to watch a movie about an adorable seal that becomes two brothers' best friend. The New Beverly offers the chance to do just that with Sammy, the Way-Out Seal, presented here as a "kiddee matinee" on an exceedingly hard-to-come-by IB Technicolor print (those colors!). Having not personally seen Norman Tokar's family film, I can't attest to whether it's better than the '90s classic Andre, but there's room for more than one movie in the seals-befriending-kids genre. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sat.-Sun., April 22-23, 2 p.m.; $6. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

Often misunderstood as an act of atonement for the racism wrought by Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith's Intolerance: Love's Struggle Through the Ages might be better understood as a defiant clarification. The epic screens as part of UCLA's Hollywood and Holy Wood: Silent Cinema Connections Between Los Angeles and Japan series, which examines the flow of talent and ideas across the Pacific. Griffith's hugely ambitious film, a 217-minute opus that tells four parallel stories taking place across different continents and centuries, was meant to show the world that he was an OK guy after all. One thing is beyond dispute after watching it: He was certainly a master filmmaker. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sat., April 22, 3 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu.

To celebrate what would have been Robert Bloch's 100th birthday, the Egyptian screens all three adaptations of his best-known novel on 35mm: Psycho, Psycho II and Psycho III. The movie Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterwork of suspense becomes is not at all the movie it starts out as, and his subversion of viewers' expectations was rarely more deft than in his foray into the Bates Motel. The two sequels-come-lately aren't nearly as well thought of, but the third installment at least has the curiosity factor that comes with having been directed by Norman Bates himself (Anthony Perkins). Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., April 22, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

sun 4/23

The 20th City of Angels Fun Ride is cyclists' key to a city that's even more beautiful when it unfolds in real time as they travel through it on two wheels. Starting and ending at UCLA, the ride — which is not a race — spans either 33 or 62 miles, depending on how leisurely riders want to take their Sunday exercise, and culminates with a lunch, blood drive and raffle. Registration fees go to the UCLA Blood & Platelet Center so that it may purchase a new, larger bloodmobile. UCLA Dickson Plaza, between Royce Hall and Powell Library, Royce Quad, Westwood; Sun., April 23, 5:45 a.m.; $80. (310) 985-0223, coafunride.com. —David Cotner

KPCC In Person hosts Unheard L.A.: The Stories of Where You Live, a three-part, neighborhood-centric storytelling series emceed by Watts Village Theater Company artistic director Bruce A. Lemon Jr. Whittier, the city named for poet John Greenleaf Whittier — and the childhood home of Richard Nixon — is the backdrop for the first installment, which features Erik Benjamins, Nancy Do, Stephanie Sajor and Eddy M. Gana Jr. (Steady), Brenda Gonzalez, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Aeden Keffelew, Joshua Rigsby, Jonathon Rios and members of Cornerstone Theater Company performing spoken word and songs about their experiences as Angelenos. The next two events take place downtown (April 30) and in Hollywood (May 13), and each show is followed by a mixer with the cast. Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, 6760 Painter Ave., Whittier; Sun., April 23, 5:30-7 p.m.; free (reservation required). scpr.org. —Siran Babayan

mon 4/24

A rumble can be as much a gut feeling as it is a battle between two forces — even if those forces are being presented within the framework of a light-hearted live-lit night. Such chortlesome studies are front-and-center at The Rumble: A Storytelling Show. Tonight's theme is "revenge," and your hosts — American Dad writer Nicole Shabtai and Alec Baldwin's Love Ride writer Laura Willcox — plumb the depths of shame and self-loathing to encourage stand-ups Halley Feiffer, Jon Gabrus and Casey Wilson to face their fears onstage and transform those feelings into something that won't make them puke into the audience. UCB Sunset, 5419 Sunset Blvd., East Hollywood; Mon., April 24, 7 p.m.; $7. (323) 908-8702, sunset.ucbtheatre.com/performance/53697. —David Cotner

The camera in Ernie Gehr's films acts as a fly on the wall, but this cinematic voyeur isn't usually interested in documenting people or their romantic assignations. Instead, the experimental filmmaker focuses on overlooked elements — urban cityscapes, the sides of buildings and the interplay of light — which are soberly observed from unusual angles and unexpected perspectives. Such 16mm films as Side/Walk/Shuttle (1991) and Serene Velocity (1970) are free of plot and any other pretense of storytelling and instead work as moody tone poems in which the only ostensible subject is the medium of film itself. Tonight, Gehr presents recent digital films including A Commuter's Life (What a Life!) and Creatures of the Night. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Mon., April 24, 8:30 p.m.; $11. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —Falling James

Elsewhere in frightful visions of the future, Children of Men screens at ArcLight Hollywood. Alfonso Cuarón's best film came after Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and before Gravity, and like Idiocracy its plausibility often hits too close to home. Set in a near-future where all women are infertile and humanity could cease to exist in a few short generations, Children of Men manages to show a world that's lost hope without being entirely hopeless itself. In other words, it's just the kind of light viewing our uncertain times demand. ArcLight Hollywood, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., April 24, 8:15 p.m.; $17.75. (323) 464-1478, arclightcinemas.com. —Michael Nordine

tue 4/25

In 2015, John Waters delivered the commencement speech at the Rhode Island School of Design, the alma mater of James Franco, Gus Van Sant Jr., Seth MacFarlane, Shepard Fairey and other celebrity alumni. Tonight, Waters signs his latest book, Make Trouble, featuring drawings by Eric Hanson; it's essentially a transcript of his speech, which begins: "I should say right off that I am really qualified to be your commencement speaker. I was suspended from high school, then kicked out of college in the first marijuana scandal ever on a university campus. I've been arrested several times." Though pocket-sized, Waters' manifesto is filled with the kind of witty and subversive wisdom and advice you'd expect one of the filthiest directors in filmdom to give to college graduates, parents and all creative people, chief among them: "Go out in the world and fuck it up beautifully." He appears for a signing tonight. Book Soup. 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Tue., April 25, 7 p.m.; book is $14.95 (purchase mandatory). (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —Siran Babayan

wed 4/26

Reading Kelly Oxford's books is like having a conversation with a very sharp-witted friend who notices every bit of humiliating behavior occurring around her but nonetheless takes almost nothing seriously. Based now in L.A., the Canadian screenwriter took the mundane details of living in Edmonton and transformed them into her first book of essays, Everything Is Perfect When You're a Liar (2013) — even if she had to catalog and ruthlessly dissect every one of the quirks of her family's personal lives. In her new follow-up, When You Find Out the World Is Against You: and Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments, Oxford juxtaposes her childhood ambition of learning to make out at camp with the responsibilities of being a parent while also remarking on "the insanity of a posse of internet poodle vigilantes." She discusses the new book with like-minded sarcastic actor Busy Philipps (Freaks and Geeks, Cougar Town). Ann & Jerry Moss Theater, New Roads School, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica; Wed., April 26, 8 p.m.; $20 & $46. (310) 828-5582, livetalksla.org/events/kelly-oxford. —Falling James

You've read Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and have seen the movies. You may even be familiar with the 1976 porn film, Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Comedy. Now watch Second City's political satire, Alice in Trumperland. Directed by Tom Seidman, the theater's latest musical spoof features cast members Mike Bash, Mike Davis, Brooke Esperanza, Lauren Michaels, Lena Milan, Clare Snodgrass, Sam Taha, Jared Waltzer and Alison Yates singing their way through the famous children's story, but with a twist: It's 2009, and Alicia, a young, Hispanic DREAMer, falls down the rabbit hole and into a fantasy future populated by bizarre characters that look eerily similar to certain famous politicians. Think Bernie Sanders as the Cheshire Cat, Steve Bannon as the Mad Hatter and Donald Trump as the Red Queen. Second City Studio Theater, 6560 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., April 26, 9 p.m. (also Wed., May 10); $10. (323) 464-8542, secondcity.com/shows/hollywood/alice-in-trumperland. —Siran Babayan

thu 4/27

Following its original run at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 2014, an expanded version of the exhibit "Paul Simon: Words & Music" opens at the Skirball Cultural Center. Organized into themed sections, the display spotlights the singer, songwriter, musician and two-time Hall of Famer's life and music, especially his partnership with Art Garfunkel in the 1950s and '60s and solo career, beginning in 1971, which produced the mega-selling 1986 album Graceland. Highlights include photographs, instruments, awards and costumes, as well as handwritten lyrics to "Mrs. Robinson," "Mother and Child Reunion" and "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and music sheets for "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The exhibit also offers an interactive music lab, featuring a communal drum circle and mixing equipment. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; opens Thu., April 27, noon-5 p.m. (through Sept. 3); $12, $9 seniors and students, $7 children, free under 2. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org. —Siran Babayan

People generally like to think they're originals — one-of-a-kind, mold broken, etc. — so it's refreshing to find two people who take joy in their similarities. In tonight's program of hearing double, Vocal Doppelgänger, comedians Ophira Eisenberg and Jackie Kashian perform entirely separate stand-up sets with speaking voices that sound the same, even if their individual artistic voices are as different as night and day. Blindfolds are available in case you'd like to take part in this especially dualistic Pepsi challenge of comedy — but you just might find what they have to say eye-opening. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., April 27, 7-8:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —David Cotner


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