A huge African film and arts festival, iconic American painter Jasper Johns at The Broad, the LA Cookie Con and Sweets Show, a play inside a merry-go-round on the Santa Monica Pier and stuff to do on Valentine's Day. Here are 20 fun and engaging things to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 2/9


Pan African Film Fest

The 26th annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF) kicked off Thursday with the world premiere of the family comedy Love Jacked, and it continues through Feb. 19 with 170-plus new films from more than 40 countries. Seventy-five fine artists also are participating in what's touted as the largest black film festival and the largest Black History Month celebration in the United States. A #Talk4Reel panel series debuts this year. There's a stand-up comedy showcase on Feb. 15, a fashion show Feb. 18 and the U.S. premiere of The Forgiven, starring Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana, closing the fest on Feb. 18. Cinemark Rave 15 Theatres, 3650 Martin Luther King Blvd., Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw; Thu., Feb. 8-Mon., Feb. 19; $6.50-$75. (310) 337-4737, paff.org. —Richard Chang


Punk Scholarship

Is there a genre more unscholarly than punk, a movement born out of chaos and anti-authority? At the inaugural Curating Resistance: Punk as Archival Method, you can be a slamming, spit-and-scabies punk rocker and learn about the music's academic side, too. Hosted by the UCLA Center for Musical Humanities, the two-day conference features walkthroughs of the UCLA Library Special Collections Punk Archive plus dozens of panels and workshops on just about every imaginable topic related to punk and its history, culture and ethos: women, Latinos and queer in punk; L.A. and East Coast punk; punk subgenres like hardcore and straight-edge; punk in the digital age; punk fashion; punk films; punk fanzines. Co-organizers Jessica Schwartz (a guitarist and UCLA assistant professor of musicology) and Candace Hansen (a drummer and UCLA Ph.D. student) have assembled an impressive roster of speakers, historians, authors and musicians, including Allison Wolfe, Donita Sparks, Patty Schemel, Pleasant Gehman and Tequila Mockingbird. And though the Friday night concert with Alice Bag and Mike Watt is sold out, the event promises a "punk prom" with photo booth and DJ Juan 38 from punk fanzine Razorcake. UCLA, Royce Hall and Charles E. Young Research Library, Westwood.; Fri., Feb. 9, 10 a.m.-9:45 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 10, 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; free, reservations required. eventbrite.com/e/curating-resistance-punk-as-archival-method-tickets-42368937633. —Siran Babayan


Step This Way

In 60 colorful canvases, Harlem painter Jacob Lawrence audaciously tackled the original involuntary migration from Africa as well as the more voluntary African-American migration from the rural South to the industrializing North starting with World War I. Drawing on African percussive traditions and incorporating the percussive African-American dance style known as stepping, Step Afrika draws inspiration from Lawrence's paintings in The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence. Replicas of some of Lawrence's paintings join the dancers onstage as part of this dance performance. Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Fri., Feb. 9, 8 p.m., $33-$78. valleyperformingartscenter.org. —Ann Haskins

sat 2/10


Something Resembling Jasper

Flags, targets and bees — subjects close to the heart of artist Jasper Johns, whose retrospective "Something Resembling Truth" opens today. Exhaustive but never exhausting, it's a constitutionally illuminating triptych of six decades of art by the iconic American artist, made possible by a meeting of the minds with London's Royal Academy. More than 120 of Johns' drawings, paintings and sculptures — many never before seen in L.A. — give you the full measure of the man, whose art has distilled his dreams to bring you this powerful moment of the American artistic experience. The Broad, 221 S. Grand Ave., downtown; runs through May 13; $25, 17 and under free. (213) 232-6200, thebroad.org/art/special-exhibitions/jasper-johns-something-resembling-truth. —David Cotner


A Sweet Tooth's Dream

Kick your diet to the curb and eat all the sugar you want at the 4th annual LA Cookie Con and Sweets Show. Relocated to a bigger venue from last year’s event at the L.A. Convention Center, the West Coast’s largest baking and pastry expo will be wall to wall with more than 275 local and national exhibitors selling and offering samples of every type of dessert – even the vegan, gluten-free and paleo kind – as well as appearances by Food Network and YouTube personalities, including Duff Goldman, Ron Ben-Israel and Olivia Sanabia. The convention also offers workshops and demonstrations for bakers of all skill levels, whether they want to learn how to pipe a rosette or make a cake topper. And if you’re a real pro, you can display your cake creation in the decorator’s showcase competition. Anaheim Convention Center; Feb. 10-11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $25, $12 children. (714) 765-8950, lacookiecon.com. —Siran Babayan


You Had Me at Zombies

With an eye toward the ongoing pop culture fascination with triumphing over sick murder-happy ghouls, author Dahlia Schweitzer discusses Going Viral: Zombies, Viruses and the End of the World (Rutgers, $28). She's down with the sickness and will tell you about how it informs everything from The Walking Dead to the Burroughs-ian language virus of the 2008 film Pontypool to that damned flu that's being going around. Constant viral awareness in the culture is somehow cathartic and helps cope with terrorism and the spread of the apocryphal Other; no guarantees you won't catch something by going out tonight, though. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Sat., Feb. 10, 5 p.m.; free. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com/event/dahlia-schweitzer-discusses-her-new-book-going-viral. —David Cotner


America's Got Diavolo

Built in 1929 by the architect who styled Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel, Desmond's Department Store was a glittering anchor for the elegant shops that once lined the Miracle Mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard. Several innovative performance groups team up for The Performance Zoo with organizers Jacques Heim's Diavolo and Diavolo alums Jones and Anna Maria Talmadge who now head their own company, Not Man Apart. The Performance Zoo offers a site-specific tour of this historic site with dance, music, theater, comedy, circus and other artistic endeavors. The event offers options that in addition to the performances include food, drinks, parking and even a preperformance rooftop dinner for the top ticket price. All proceeds benefit Diavolo's Veterans Project, which has been working with war veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq to Vietnam. The first, deeply impressive result was seen last fall as part of Diavolo's daylong 25th-anniversary celebration. It's a chance to have fun and do good at the same time. Desmond's Historic Department Store Building, 5514 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Fri.-Sat., Feb. 9-10, 8 p.m.; $10-$100. brownpapertickets.com/event/3237590. —Ann Haskins


Ponies on the Pier

Have you ever witnessed a play inside a merry-go-round? Santa Monica Public Theatre presents An Illegal Start inside the historic Hippodrome building on Santa Monica Pier. The drama begins on a thunderstruck night in 1980s rural western Colorado, where an old amusement park merry-go-round (hence the setting) becomes a refuge for two young men after a near-fatal accident. The play was written by the pier's deputy director, James Harris, and is directed by Paul Sand, founder of SMPT. 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica; Feb. 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 & 24, March 2, 9 & 10, 8 p.m.; $30. (310) 458-8901, anillegalstart.eventbrite.com. —Richard Chang

sun 2/11


War Stories

When music underworld luminaries Exene Cervenka, Jane Wiedlin, Jack Grisham, Mike Martt and Pleasant Gehman gather for War Stories: Tales of '70s & '80s Punk Mayhem Told by the Perpetrators Themselves, one may expect lively, lurid re-examinations of their seditionary transcendence and spectacular transgressions. While the high-flying reminiscences of these formidable females are sure to be brain-scrambling, it's perhaps Tex & the Horseheads survivor Martt and infamously untamed TSOL singer Grisham who've likely borne witness to the wildest of hijinks. Also featuring Iris Berry, Bob Forrest, emcee Theresa Kereakes and our own Lina Lecaro at the turntables, it's not so much a question of how entertaining this will be — the thrill-o-meter is guaranteed to explode — but rather how much are they willing to reveal? El Cid, 4212 W Sunset Blvd.; Sun., Feb. 11, 9 p.m.; $12-$25, 18 and older. (323) 668-0318, elcidsunset.com. —Jonny Whiteside


Carnaval, Bahia Style

When it comes to Carnaval, Rio gets all the glory, but those in the know head to Salvador de Bahia — the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture and home to one of the world's biggest, music-fueled street parties. A former slavery hub steeped in centuries of African roots, resistance and renaissance, Bahia is a wellspring of traditional forms and contemporary practice — like those featured in the Fowler's "Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis," on display since September. Today the museum offers a family-oriented celebration of Bahian Carnaval. Make jewelry and masks, wish on colorful ribbons like those adorning the gates of Salvador's Nosso Senhor do Bomfim church — where a miraculous statue celebrates the convergence of Catholicism and West African deities — and dance to the spectacular samba-reggae rhythms of Batala Los Angeles. The Fowler Museum at UCLA, 308 Charles E. Young Drive N., Westwood; Sun., Feb. 11, 1-4 p.m.; free. (310) 825-4361, fowler.ucla.edu/events/family-jam-celebrating-carnaval. —Beige Luciano-Adams

Rhonda Shear will appear at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11 at Barnes and Noble at the Grove.; Credit: Jorge Alvarez


Up All Night with Rhonda

If you were a night owl in the 1990s, you probably remember watching USA: Up All Night with Rhonda Shear. Shear discusses her new book, Up All Night: From Hollywood Bombshell to Lingerie Mogul, Life Lessons from An Accidental Feminist, in which she writes about her family and career as a TV personality. Born in New Orleans, Shear was a former Miss Louisiana who posed for Playboy and even ran for office in her hometown. She ditched law school for L.A. in the ‘70s, where she worked as a stand-up comic and acted in film and TV roles, including The Dukes of Hazzard, Happy Days, Three’s Company, Married with Children and Spaceballs. But Shear is best remembered for USA: Up All Night, which ran from 1991-1998. With her high-pitched voice and ditsy persona, Shear hosted the late-night weekend show on the USA network, which mixed interviews and corny skits with horror and B-rated movies with titles like Assault of the Party Nerds and Cheerleaders’ Wild Weekend (you may remember Gilbert Gottfried hosted the show’s N.Y. version). Shear is now owner of an intimate apparel company. Barnes and Noble, The Grove; Sun., Feb. 11, 2 p.m.; free. (323) 525-0270, stores.barnesandnoble.com/event/9780061915448-0. —Siran Babayan

mon 2/12


Man With a Vision

It would be slightly reductive to call "El border brujo," the new spoken-word monologue by Guillermo Gómez-Peña, a monologue — he speaks for those countless undocumented who got him to where he is in life right now, which is ironic since tonight is subtitled The Most (un) Documented Mexican Artist. Featuring manifestations by members Balitronica and Saula from his performance art troupe La Pocha Nostra, Gómez-Peña faces inner demons and then turns those faces to look at you in a performance the style of which he explains is a "combination of embodied poetry, performance activism and theatricalizations of postcolonial theory." LACE (L.A. Contemporary Exhibitions), 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., Feb. 12, 8 p.m.; $15, $10 LACE members and students. (323) 957-1777, welcometolace.org/event/guillermo-gomez-pena-the-most-un-documented-mexican-artist. —David Cotner


Changing the Self Through Words

Tonight's Some Favorite Writers salon presents Roxane Gay, the cultural critic riding high on her current autobiography, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body ($26, Harper). You can look at that memoir in terms of a concrete moment — because, as she explains in her gripping, nakedly honest tales, the form she finds herself in at the moment is not her final form. Through body issue agonies to healing, weakness and strength, Gay transfers the very best of herself to the reader through her writing — changing the people reading about her plight and triumph as much as she has changed herself. Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Mon., Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu/programs-events/2018/01/some-favorite-writers-roxane-gay. —David Cotner

tue 2/13


You Come Here Often?

There's no bigger unifying subject in live comedy right now than the minefield that is online dating. Co-hosts Lichelli Lazar-Lea and Caroline Weiss volunteer their experiences of swiping and posting their way through love and lust in their Valentine's Day storytelling show, All the Crazy Dates I've Met on the Internet. Lazar-Lea, a filmmaker, and Weiss, a comedian-writer, will be commiserating with fellow female comics Aleksei Archer, Kasey Koop and Susan McIntosh, in addition to trans stand-up comic and model Riley Jess Silverman, as they crack wise about the good, bad and ugly of using hook-up sites, whether it's Tinder, OKCupid, Match or even Craigslist. If you're brave enough, drop your name in a hat and you might get called up onstage to share your own online dating mishaps. Nerdmelt, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood.; Tues., Feb. 13, 9-10:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Siran Babayan


Women and Rock

You might have seen tomes in the 33? series — those cute, pocket-size books that burst with information and rhapsodic essays about rock albums of the past. Many of the 33? editions focus on classic records that were overlooked by the reigning music-critic aristocracy at the time of their original release, and Jenn Pelly's The Raincoats brings much-needed attention to the British post-punk group's landmark self-titled 1979 album. Pitchfork writer Pelly adeptly traces the connections between The Raincoats' arty, playfully inventive and boldly feminist music and the male-dominated classic-rock music scene they were rebelling against, and also points out how their unpredictable songs still resonate today. Pelly engages in a conversation about the band with witty riot-grrl icon Allison Wolfe (Bratmobile, Ex-Stains). Stories Books & Café, 1716 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; Tue., Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m.; free. (213) 413-3733, storiesla.com. —Falling James

wed 2/14


Fighting for Your Heart

Stop wrestling with your conscience and put off breaking up with your insignificant other just one more day while you enjoy the razzle-dazzle wrestling at Lucha VaVoom's Valentine's Show. Lucha means struggle or fight, and amid tonight's wrestling matches in this former filthy porn theater, maybe you'll find love — or at least someone who loves violence as much as you do! Ooh La La Lucha!!! stars Crazy Chickens! Dirty Sanchez! Aerialist Kate Minwegan! and others worthy of exclamation points, introduced by special guest commentator and sometime comedian Ron Funches, along with chortlesome blather from Blaine Capatch and Jeff Davis. The Mayan, 1038 S. Hill St., downtown; Wed., Feb. 14 and Thu., Feb. 15, 7 p.m. doors, 8:15 p.m. show; $40-75. (213) 746-4287, luchavavoom.com. —David Cotner


White Rabbits and a Tiki Paradise

In a whimsical salute to love — and to the inexhaustible marketing potential of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland — Clifton's Republic promises V-Day revelers a wonderland of thematic options during its Mad Hatter's Sweetheart Soiree. For $25, you can go "through the Rabbit Hole" and into three of its refurbed vintage bars, with complimentary desserts, entertainment and other, more mysterious enticements. A cool $100 buys dinner for two with a live swing show in the Brookdale Ballroom, or seats at the tiki-themed Pacific Seas Punch Party. And for those who've always dreamed of spending $2,500 on a boat "ride" that doesn't leave downtown, you can sit in the vintage vessel at the center of the Pacific Seas for dinner, curated cocktails and entertainment — plus a souvenir "to remind you this really happened." Fine print: Entry to Clifton's Exposition Marketplace and Monarch Bar is free, starting at 5 p.m. Clifton's Republic, 648 S. Broadway, downtown; Wed., Feb. 14, 6 p.m.; $25-$,2500; 21 and over. (213) 627-1673, nightout.com/events/the-mad-hatters-sweetheart-soiree/tickets. —Beige Luciano-Adams


An Electric V-Day

The Edison's Queen of Hearts Valentine's Ball offers a pastiche of neo-vintage sights and sounds in its vast, industrial-glam subterranean vault, arguably among the best iterations of this city's fascination with aesthetic markers of Prohibition-era gaiety. Nancy Sanchez and her band headline with jazz standards and Latin pop originals from her new album, American Novio, with performances by renowned aerialist Brenda Hamilton and a blend of soul/funk/jazz from frequent Edison DJ Bennet Schmid. "Upscale cocktail attire," $25 and reserving ahead of time will get you in. The Edison, 108 W. Second St., #101, downtown; Wed., Feb. 14, 7 p.m.-2 a.m.; $25; 21 and over. (213) 613-0000, edisondowntown.com. —Beige Luciano-Adams

thu 2/15


Sex and Censorship

If you missed Ron Athey's recent Gifts of the Spirit: Prophecy, Automatism and Discernment, a performance/installation he co-created with composer Sean Griffin at the Broad in January, you can catch the performance artist and former L.A. Weekly contributor discussing the Getty's current exhibit, "Outcasts: Prejudice and Persecution in the Medieval World" (through April 8). Along with Kim Russo, an associate provost at Otis College of Art and Design, Sexuality, Sanctity and Censorship: A Conversation With Artist Ron Athey looks at the collection of illuminated manuscripts of the Crucifixion, Alexander the Great and other religious and historical figures and how they depict people who were considered outsiders in medieval society, including Jews, Muslims, women and the poor. Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; Thurs., Feb. 15, 7 p.m.; free, reservations required. (310) 440-7300, getty.edu. — Siran Babayan


Risking Life and Limb for Coffee

Dave Eggers sure does get around, and tonight the mind-blowing globe-trotter will be joined by Mokhtar Alkhanshali to talk about Eggers' newest book, The Monk of Mokha ($29, Knopf). It's the fantastic yet truthful story of Alkhanshali, a young Yemeni guy who grew up in San Francisco and fell in love with the culture around making coffee. He loves it so much that he goes back home to reignite Yemen's ancient art of coffee-making and — of course! — war breaks out. Find out what happens next when Eggers and Alkhanshali lift their cups to the power of the over-caffeinated human spirit. Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., downtown; Thu., Feb. 15, 7 p.m.; free. (213) 228-7500, lfla.org/event/the-monk-of-mokha. —David Cotner

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