The only thing better than a cool, free event in L.A. is a whole week's worth of cool, free events in L.A. Kickstart your weekend with some shopping — either at a supersized funky-cheap yard sale, or a DIY festival with handmade wares, food trucks and DJs. End the night with an after-hours art party in the library, then sail into the workweek with a talk from brilliant essayist Eric Liu on race and the American Dream. Start your next weekend early on the Santa Monica pier, where you can dance to the jams of Syrian superstar Omar Souleyman.
5. Get Crafty
The Chicago-based Renegade Craft Fair is a bit like the best of Etsy come to life. Though the site has no official affiliation with the fair, both personify the rapid growth and popularity of the DIY aesthetic, and you’ll find many Etsy vendors selling stuff at the in-the-flesh craft fair. Yet while Etsy shoppers often need to click through both good and bad (as the now-dormant Regretsy attested) Renegade’s careful curation ensures that every pop-up shopkeeper at this traveling bazaar offers quality wares. The vendors represent a range of highly skilled artisans from across the country: woodworkers, bookbinders, ceramicists, leathersmiths, apothecaries, jewelers and many more. Now at a new location in downtown’s Grand Park, customers can enjoy the Yarnover Truck (like a food truck, but with spun thread instead of tacos) while snacking on cactus water and vegan, gluten-free cookies and perusing the crafty creatives who offer a real alternative in this mass-produced era. Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Sat., July 26-Sun., July 27, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. firstname.lastname@example.org, renegadecraft.com/losangeles-july-market-details. ?—Tanja M. Laden
4. Party in the Library
A serious contender to be the coolest thing ever to happen at the library, the Saturday-night, after-hours ruckus Machinations at the Library sees a crew of interdisciplinary artists creating a mess and making some noise throughout the building — interacting with its collections as they see fit. Under the progressive aegis of Machine Project’s public programming, these films, sound pieces, dances, performances and sculptural installations deal directly with the library as both a democratic civic space and an archive of shared history. Participating artists include video artist and Yo Gabba Gabba project director Joel Fox; poet and visual artist Jibade-Khalil Huffman, whose work can be seen in the Hammer’s current Made in L.A. biennial; intergalactic performance artist and peace-propagation researcher Jeepneys; Jmy James Kidd, a renowned indie designer/choreographer and operator of Pieter Performance Space; and experimental composer Tara Jane ONeil. Organizers promise an “interactive multimedia playground, allowing for a unique participatory experience,” which is what the library should always be if you’re using it right. Los Angeles Public Library, 630 W. Fifth St., dwntwn.; Sat., July 26, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 228-7500. lfla.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot
3. Hit a (Super) Yard Sale
A rambling Lincoln Heights mansion, HM157 opens its doors for all sorts of events. The launchpad for new projects from underground-music luminaries and cult sensations, including Prince Poppycock, it also hosts classes and fundraisers for community organizations. The place really is a local gem. The residents and friends of HM157 are giving the public the chance to sift through the detritus they’ve acquired over the years at today’s Super Duper Yard Sale. Many finds will be available for the low price of $1, and while some will go for more than that, it won’t be by much. Among the items available: vintage bike frame and hot rod car parts, electronics, books, art and lots of clothing. Burners, take note: Some of the clothing (and platform shoes) are specifically noted as playa-friendly. Bring cash and stock up on unusual finds. HM157, 3110 N. Broadway, Lincoln Heights; Sun., July 27, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; free entry. hm157.com. —Liz Ohanesian
Keep reading for a talk with Eric Liu and a dance party in the pier. Both free, of course.
2. Get Some Perspective
If there is one thing Bob Beckel and the folks over at Fox News have helped everyone to learn in the last few weeks, it’s that the phrase “Chinaman” shouldn’t be tossed around too freely. Aside from millionaire Jeffrey Lebowski, in fact, it’s hard to believe anybody would use that term anymore. But there it is in the title of Eric Liu’s newest book. A former Bill Clinton speechwriter and essayist (The Accidental Asian), Liu is well aware of the sticky power of the term. A Chinaman’s Chance: One Family’s Journey and the Chinese-American Dream tackles the subject of ever-evolving Asian identity in America and China’s parallel rise as a global powerhouse. Along with Zócalo Public Square executive director Gregory Rodriguez, Liu will be discussing the challenges of building an identity and the cloud of fear and ignorance that can hammer away at the process. By the end of their talk, we imagine everyone will know that “Chinaman” is not the preferred nomenclature. Los Angeles Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., dwntwn.; Wed., July 30, 7:15 p.m.; free. (213) 228-7025, lfla.org. —Sean J. O’Connell
1. Get Into the Groove
When Syrian techno star Omar Souleyman began playing his hyper shaabi street sound at weddings in his home region of Jazeera, locals were jazzed — and word soon spread to the West, where he became a YouTube sensation. A frantic flash of traditional dance-party tunes, electro beats and slang-filled poeticisms on love and war in a rapidly evolving Syrian state, Souleyman’s frenzied e-bounce is blended with Syrian dabke, Iraqi choubi and other regional folkloric styles, as he wails the lyrics in Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish — a mad mélange of the cultural stew of northeastern Syria. Tonight he plays a free show at the Santa Monica Pier to promote his first album to be recorded in a studio, Wenu Wenu. Pack a picnic, or grab a snack at the pier shops. Santa Monica Pier at end of Colorado Boulevard, Santa Monica; Thu., July 31, 7 p.m.; free. santamonicapier.org/twilightconcerts. —John Payne
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