FRIDAY, May 23
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It's good to be Gary Panter. See Tuesday.
Don’t you just love art speak? Consider these lines from a press release for the new exhibit at the Santa Monica Museum of Art: “Artworks evoke a wide swath of feelings, from exuberance to profound distress. ... Collectively, the works in ‘The Puppet Show’ reveal how puppet imagery is a potent means of examining social, political and psychological issues in contemporary culture. The exhibition also explores manipulation, miniaturization and control, topics often associated with puppetry.” This stuff makes you want to scream, “It’s puppets, for dog’s sake!” Worse, you'd never guess how cool this exhibit is, with freaky, funny, crazy puppet images from Mike Kelley, William Kentridge, Paul McCarthy, Matt Mullican, Bruce Nauman, Kiki Smith, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol and other art stars. Santa Monica Museum of Art, Bergamot Station, Building G1, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; reception Fri., May 23, 7-9 p.m.; free. Tues.-Fri., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m., thru Aug. 9; suggested donation $5; $3 for seniors & students. (310) 586-6488 or www.smmoa.org.
SATURDAY, May 24
When was the last time you biked through the charming — not to mention flat — burg-ette known as Magnolia Park? Join the Magical Magnolia Bicycle Tour, on which you can discover the cutest part of Burbank while pedaling down quaint streets with shops and restaurants. It’s a rare chance to have an old-timey day in a city that regularly makes bicyclists fear for their lives. The event is the work of the Magnolia Park Partnership, and there will be biker-friendly booths, free stuff, spinning demonstrations and more. Chandler Blvd. Bikeway at California St., Burbank; registration at 3 p.m.; free. (818) 238-5180 or www.magnoliaparkburbank.org.
SUNDAY, May 25
Topanga Days, one of your hairier three-day, laid-back musical gatherings that’s heavy on the Indian-print skirts and Hula-Hoops, went all indie-rock on us last year. But this time it’s back with a heavy ’70s-rock vibe suitable for incense and other groovy smells. Bands include Chevy Metal (with Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins), Eliza Jane & the Barnyard Gypsies, Everest (Gary Louris of the Jayhawks), Jim Lauderdale & the Dream Players, Spindrift, and the Living Sisters with Inara George, Eleni Mandell and Becky Stark. As always, there will be an expansive kiddie area, belly dancers and dudes with beards and sunburn. Oh — and a parade on Monday. Topanga Community House Fair Grounds, 1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; Sat.-Mon., May 24-26, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; $18, $10 children & seniors, under 5 free. www.TopangaDays.com.
MONDAY, May 26
If you’ve ever been to the Plaka in Athens, you know that it’s packed with all the best in Greek sights, tastes and smells. ... What I’m trying to say is that it can get oppressively crowded. Keep reminding yourself about that at the Valley Greek Festival. It’s held at a way-too-small-for-50,000-people location bursting with booths selling Mediterranean cuisine and offering live music, dancing, shopping and more. No donkey rides, though. St. Nicholas Church, 9501 Balboa Ave., Northridge; Sat.-Mon., May 24-26, 1 p.m.-9 p.m.; free. (818) 886-4040.
TUESDAY, May 27
Gary Panter gets a career retrospective in the form of a new two-volume set called, appropriately, Gary Panter. Panter’s the graphic artist who won three Emmys for his production design on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and has earned acclaim for his cartoon character Jimbo and loads of famous punk graphics for major bands. And since he never makes a public appearance without a famous name for a sidekick, he’ll be joined by another sketch artist who’s done pretty well for himself, Matt Groening. Panter’ll give a slide lecture and show paintings, comics, sculpture and unpublished sketches. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Tues., May 27, 7:30 p.m., free (book is $95). (310) 660-1057.
WEDNESDAY, May 28
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When you sit down to pen (key?) your memoir — and you know you will as soon as you have the time — make sure it’s got a humdinger of an opening. WordTheatre joins the American Booksellers Association in its annual Novel and Memoir Beginnings. Reading the first few pages of their novels and memoirs will be T.C. Boyle (The Women), Natalija Nogulich (reading Carolyn See’s There Will Never Be Another You), Rachel Resnick (The Blue Flame), Kerry Madden (Gentle’s Holler), Diana Wagman (Cookies) and Evan Handler (It’s Only Temporary: The Good News and the Bad News of Being Alive). I’m currently shopping around my memoir, Blurbs of Paradise, looking for the right publisher. M Bar, 1253 N. Vine St., Hlywd.; Wed., May 28, 8 p.m.; $25, $20 in advance, plus $10 food min. (323) 856-0036.
THURSDAY, May 29
Darfur Now, the documentary produced by Don Cheadle on the horrors going on in the African country, screens (on Wed., May 28) as part of the Darfur Now College Tour. Today is a big Darfur Now Concert with Ana Dim Mak, Arepa, Nico Vega, OK Go, Rhymefest and Star Afrisound. Both events are free, but donations support the Genocide Intervention Network. Film: Moore 100, UCLA; Wed., May 28, 6 p.m. Concert: Ackerman Grand Ballroom, UCLA; Thurs., May 29, 6-11 p.m.; both free. For information and directions, visit www.darfurnowtour.com.