Leave it to L.A. to make a history lesson sound like an amazing weekend. From a remembrance of Juneteenth to an exchange of war stories to a guide through the history of design, the City of Angels is full of opportunities to learn something new about the past this week.
5. Deep Valley Deco
In tandem with the Getty's ongoing Pacific Standard Time Presents architecture edition and the Dwell on Design convention, the Los Angeles Design Festival embraces the city's sprawling geography in a weeks-long program of architecture- and design-focused tours, parties, exhibitions and screenings. Some 40 events are slated, including a Big City Forum at the Standard Downtown on June 19, a Chinatown focus on June 29 and a citywide design shopping night on June 27. There's even an app for that. But perhaps the single most curious-minded of the engagements has to be June 15's Design Caravan — a guided excursion to the deep Valley and beyond, starring Los Angeles magazine's design guru/hidden-gem maven Chris Nichols. Tour takers will be treated to stops at little-known locales including a public art installation, an innovative design studio, an abandoned art deco airport and a prop house specializing in historical objects — not to mention the better-known but still gorgeous grounds of the world-famous Griffith Park Observatory, where the tour begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. with a picnic by Wolfgang Puck, which is included in the $20 ticket. The best part? All the driving is handled by a fleet of pink-mustachioed Lyft cars, leaving you free to snap, post and tag your Instagrams for a chance to win something awesome. Griffith Park Observatory, 2800 E. Observatory Road, Los Feliz; Sat., June 15, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; $20. ladesignfestival.org. — Shana Nys Dambrot
4. Free at Last
Even though Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, the lives of many of those in bondage weren't actually altered until June 19, 1865, and therefore that day (or week) gets the party. Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of slavery's ending in the United States. Leimert Park Village has been holding annual Juneteenth festivals for years, and this year's, themed “Faith, Family and Our Global Future,” is set to be a family-friendly bash, with both modern and classic artistry at hand. Champion cowboy Lester Sims will give pony rides and ropin' demos; computer wiz Jim Neusom will bring his “Urban Tech Faire” to demonstrate how to build an app for a digital device; and Robin Petgrave, founder of Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum, will dazzle with an aviation simulator from the South L.A. nonprofit. Leimert Park Village, 4395 S. Leimert Blvd., Leimert Park; Sat., June 15-Sun., June 16, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. (323) 292-6622, blackartslosangeles.org. — Rena Kosnett
3. The Dubliners
While James Joyce's Ulysses has been plagued with typographical errors throughout the years, the only mistake you'll make is if you miss today's fourth annual Bloomsday. Bloomsday, a celebration of the life of James Joyce on the day on which the events of his labyrinthine masterpiece take place for central character Leopold Bloom, is a rowdy, blowsy meditation on the events of Ulysses' “Sirens” segment, in which we see Bloom seduced by the charms of song and barmaid sirens. There'll be a staged reading of this passage by actors Jane Bacon, James Gallo, James Lancaster, John Rafter Lee, Johnny O'Callaghan and Zardoz (!) star Bairbre Dowling. If you get there, you'll be encouraged to take part in the gustatory bent of Bloom's “Lestrygonians” episode, which dovetails nicely with the hearty Irish food from Ammo and the Guinness Happy Hour, which ironically lasts all day — but will you? Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; Sun., Jun. 16., 2 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. — David Cotner
2. Rhythm and Bonds
Back before the British Invasion derailed America's early-'60s, multiracial, dance-crazed, Big Beat revolution, our pop-music arena was a surprisingly inclusive community of wild-ass rockers, with a Top Five populated by the likes of Louisiana bluesman Slim Harpo and “Surfin' Bird” sickos The Trashmen. One of the stomping-est shouters of the day was Gary U.S. Bonds, the Florida-born, African-American R&B rocker whose hits “Quarter to Three” and “New Orleans” epitomized the over-the-top, ass-shaking delights of pre-Beatles rock & roll. The arrival of his autobiography, By U.S. Bonds, That's My Story, guarantees access to a trove of insight, mind-blowing anecdotes and testaments to the influence of one of the nation's most overlooked pop architects. Bonds, who will present and discuss the book along with co-author Stephen Cooper, remained a significant force throughout the '70s and '80s — he co-wrote (with Swamp Dogg!) Johnny Paycheck's 1972 country comeback hit, “She's All I Got,” and subsequently recorded, several times, with Bruce Springsteen (who was a fan) and his E Street Band. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Mon., June 17, 7 p.m.; free, book is $30. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. — Jonny Whiteside
What Did You Do in the War, Soldier?
With absurd markups on alcohol in restaurants, it seems impossible to get a good buzz when your pockets don't run knee-deep. So what's better than finding a place that sells cheap beer? Finding a place that gives out free beer. That's what you get, and more, at GORUCK's War Stories and Free Beer. The traveling get-together serves as an outlet for military veterans to share their stories, a learning environment for the thankful or curious and a way to raise funds for veteran organizations. The free beer is a tasty bonus, but the idea is that its presence will lighten the mood and make the storyteller — and listener — feel a little more at ease. GORUCK, wisely, is asking beer to do what beer does best — make everything a little better. All ages are welcome to the war stories; 21 and older are welcome to the beer. Deutsch Media, 5454 Beethoven St., Playa Vista; Thurs., June 20, 6 p.m.; $10, with proceeds donated. goruck.com/Events/WarStoriesAndFreeBeer. — Anya Cohen