FRIDAY, July 4

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Long Beach understands how to let freedom ring. See Great American 4th of July Kids Bike Parade.

Somebody’s independence is showing — happy birthday, you big ol’ gal we like to call the U.S. of A. Today we grill, we quaff amber-colored fluids of grain, and we (illegally) make loud bangs of explosive color. Just like our forefathers fought for. Of course, we bought our tickets weeks ago (yeah, right) for The Hollywood Bowl’s July 4th Fireworks Spectacular: A Ball at the Bowl With the L.A. Dodgers. Dodgers organist Nancy Bea Hefley kicks things off with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” followed by classic baseball songs by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Like what? “It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame,” “D-O-D-G-E-R-S (Oh, Really? No, O’Malley)” and “Casey at the Bat.” Tommy Lasorda leads the seventh-inning stretch, and Randy Newman pitches in with “I Love L.A.” and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hlywd.; Wed.-Fri., July 2-4, 7:30 p.m.; $10-$114. (213) 480-3232.

Could anything be more patriotic than the annual pageantry of pecs known as the Mr. & Mrs. Muscle Beach contest? Guys and gals (sorta) in itty-bitty bikinis barely big enough to cover the lower states flex their right to flex their glutes. A parade precedes the finals. Venice Beach Recreation Center, 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice; Fri., July 4, 1 p.m. (registration 7:30 a.m.); free for spectators ($75 entry fee). (310) 399-2775.

Last year, Discover Boating — “a national boating public-awareness program” — named Marina del Rey one of the top cities in which to watch fireworks on the water. (Note to self: Get job with Discover Boating.) Good viewing at Burton Chace Park, 4701 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey; Fri., July 4, 9 p.m. (310) 305-9545.

Kids and their parents are expected to come gussied up in their stars-and-stripes finest for Great American 4th of July Kids Bike Parade. Prizes for the most patriotic! Belmont Shore, corner of Granada and Ocean avenues, Long Beach; Fri., July 4, 10 a.m.; free. (310) 396-1585.

Americafest 2008 has delivered a stirring musical tribute to our country’s independence with patriotic, Broadway and popular music for the whole family since 1926. This year features Drum Corps International Marching Music’s Major Leagues, with the country’s top drum and bugle corps. The evening culminates in a 30-minute pyro show not to be missed. Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Dr., Pasadena; Fri., July 4, noon-9 p.m.; $13, children 7 and under free. (626) 577-3101.

Your loudest Independence Day offering is the freestyle Motocross show of flying daredevils flipping 20 feet in the air, the roar of monster trucks known simply as KABOOM! Plus, the mother of all fireworks displays, choreographed by Pyro Spectaculars and set to music, whose credits include the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona; Fri., July 4, 8 p.m.; $14-$19.50, children 2 and under free. (909) 623-3111.

The sixth annual Vision Outside 4th of July Jazz and Blues Festival is a free event with nonstop music, plus crafts and such for kids. Vision Theatre back lot, 3341 W. 43rd Pl., Leimert Park; Fri., July 4, 1-7 p.m. (213) 202-5500 or

This year, the Studio City Chamber of Commerce couldn’t come up with a theme, so they decided to go for Journey Through Time. That means ’40s tunes by the Chantilly Sisters, Journey tribute band Escape, country music by Cody Sumpter, and family-friendly tunes by Pirate Charles, plus magic provided by magicians from the Magic Castle. CBS Studio Center, 4024 Radford Ave., Studio City; Fri., July 4, 5-9:30 p.m.; $15 adult, $8 children in advance; $20 adult, $10 child at the door. (818) 655-5916.

For such an upscale neighborhood, Pacific Palisades puts on a pretty homey Fourth of July Parade and Celebration. Sunset Boulevard is shut down for a rousing parade led by this year’s grand marshal, 90-year-old English teacher Rose Gilbert. Later, a big fireworks show lights up Palisades High School. Sunset Blvd., between Temescal and Chautauqua, Pacific Palisades; Fri., July 4; skydiver 1:50 p.m.; parade 2 p.m.; fireworks 7 p.m. ­


And on the Fifth of July, many Americans enjoy the local sport of improvised musical theater. In this case, it’s Maestro, If You Please! — whereby an audience member suggests a kernel of an idea for the seasoned cast members to elaborate on, humorously, and with inventive song and dance. Bang Theater, 457 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.; Sat., July 5, 12, 19 & 26, 8 p.m.; $14, $12 in advance. (323) 653-6886.

SUNDAY, July 6

The Friends of the Los Angeles River Bus Tour With TaskForce Dance Performance takes you along the less-putrid areas of our so-called river with guide Jenny Price and poet Suzanne Lummis. The event includes a performance by Stephan Koplowitz’s TaskForce, an environmental dance troupe that’s never met a depressing tributary it didn’t like. Lunch included! With friends like these, who needs sewer rats? Sun., July 6, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; $50. For meeting place and reservations, e-mail Alicia at

MONDAY, July 7

If you have tickets to Stevie Wonder at the Hollywood Bowl, you’re surely in for one of the most joyous concerts of the decade. For his first tour in 12 years, he’s breaking out loads of hits, and he’s reported to be in a happy, giving mood onstage. At press time, tickets in all price ranges were available, even though certain L.A. Weekly employees would heartily recommend you shimmy up the hillside and enjoy the music gratis. Another tip: Food’s okay, but no bringing in wine. (Hint: Make sure your baguette’s big enough to hide a bottle of some good pinot noir.) Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Mon., July 7, 8 p.m.; $35-$250. (213) 480-3232.


Do flamingos flamenco? Do chimps go with salsa? Is Latin and Jazz Night at the L.A. Zoo a good idea? Might it overexcite the meerkats or anger the supersensitive koala bears? Can giraffes tell the difference between norteño and baladas ritmicas? Can’t we just get to the freakin’ listing already? Entertainment’s by Susie Hansen’s Latin Band, Grupo Acertijo, Grupo La Mirada, Incendio, Espino, Sentimiento Andino, Melena Iyamile Quartet, the Elliott Caine Quintet, LPJ Quartet and David Gregoli & Organic Nylon, plus strolling entertainment from Deon the Juggler and Terrell & Takak. Please don’t feed the musicians. Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Park; Tues., July 8, 6 p.m.; $16.50, $10.60 children 6-15.(323) 644-6042.


Ricky Gervais is doing a couple of warm-up shows before his two-night stand at the Kodak Theatre, performing his standup act. The tickets are cheaper, and you’re free to heckle. Brentwood Theater, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., W.L.A.; Wed.-Thurs., July 9-10, 7:30 p.m.; $25. (213) 480-3232.


Comedy Walk claims to be “the biggest comedy-walk event in the world.” They must be joking. Who hasn’t wanted to walk out of a comedy show? Now you can walk out of several in one night. Six venues host six simultaneous 90-minute shows. That’s a new comic every 10 minutes. And it’s free. What have you got to lose? True, your car will probably get vandalized, but at least you’ll have had a few laughs. All venues are near the Alexandria Room, 501 S. Spring St., dwntwn.; Thurs., July 10, 8:30 p.m.; free. Print free ticket at

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