The PowerPoint presentations are bad on purpose at Speechless at NerdMelt on Monday.EXPAND
The PowerPoint presentations are bad on purpose at Speechless at NerdMelt on Monday.
Sharon Alagna Photography

11 Cheap and Free Things to Do This Week

A scent fair, podcast king Marc Maron, a show that riffs on shitty PowerPoint presentations and more, all for 10 bucks or less.

The early punk rockers weren't always interested in history or documentation. Instead, the overriding impulse was anti-nostalgic — to smash the classic-rock monopoly and archaic notions of rock-star idolatry by destroying the evidence and leaving little trace behind. But we are entering an era when punk memoirs are becoming just as compelling as the music itself, as key figures from the scene finally spill their carefully held secrets. In The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band, Bay Area drummer Michelle Cruz Gonzales articulately reconciles the contradictions of being in an anarchist punk band with her upbringing as a poor Latina from a small town. Similarly, D.H. Peligro crosses various class lines in his rise from the ghetto in East Saint Louis to punk celebrity as drummer for the Dead Kennedys and Red Hot Chili Peppers, in his incisive autobiography, Dreadnaught: King of Afropunk. Both authors appear for readings and signings of their autobiographies. Stories Books & Café, 1716 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; Fri., May 6, 7 p.m.; free. (213) 413-3733, —Falling James

An NYC export circa 2014, Smart, Funny & Black is NerdMelt's new monthly comedy game show that tests contestants' knowledge of black music, film, politics and pop culture to see who's the "best in blackness." Comedian, actress and DJ Amanda Seales hosts fellow comedian Sam Jay and writer-producer of the upcoming HBO comedy series Insecure, Ben Cory Jones, as they compete in three rounds, including a debate, Q&A and Taboo-style challenge, plus stand-up by guest comic Candice Thompson and a spoken-word spoof by Seales herself. In light of Prince's recent death, expect at least a few questions inspired by the Purple One. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., May 6, 7-8:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 851-7223, —Siran Babayan

Reading doesn't have to be a solitary pastime if you're among the hundreds of other lit lovers at the fourth annual Grand Park Downtown Bookfest. This year's daylong event is themed Literary L.A.: Places, Spaces and Faces and features readings, panels, children's bilingual English/Spanish performances and activities led by 826LA, the Los Angeles Public Library, California African American Museum of Art and others. And if you're looking to take home a memento, pop-up shops for both adults and kids offer books and other souvenirs. Grand Park. 200 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Sat., May 7, noon-5 p.m.; free. —Siran Babayan

D.W. Griffith will always be best known for Intolerance and Birth of a Nation, but his filmography extends well beyond those two film-school staples. Also tackling deep-seated prejudice is Broken Blossoms, with Lillian Gish as a young woman who falls in love with a Chinese man. Griffith's small-scale follow-up to Intolerance was well received at the time but has often been overshadowed by the director's more epic productions. As with all Old Town Music Hall screenings, the movie will be preceded by the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ, an audience sing-along and a comedy short. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo; Fri., May 6, 8:15 p.m.; Sat., May 7, 2:30 & 8:15 p.m.; $10. (310) 322-2592,—Michael Nordine

This year, ditch the carnations and buy a wholly unique gift for Mother's Day — or for any other occasion, really — at the AIX Scent Fair. Co-presented by the Institute for Art and Olfaction and Luckyscent/Scent Bar, the soiree of smells kicks off with keynote speaker Lizzie Ostrom (aka Odette Toilette) and panelists Saskia Wilson-Brown, Chandler Burr, Dr. Avery Gilbert and Jacquelyn Ford Morie discussing "the state of perfume + art," followed by a fair filled with independent and experimental perfume manufacturers selling their products. The weekend also includes a children's workshop and the third annual Art and Olfaction Awards, emceed by transgender performance artist and co-producer of Amazon's Transparent Zackary Drucker, and featuring DJs Victor Rodriguez and Javi en Rose. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sun., May 8, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (also Fri.-Sat., May 6-7); free. (310) 443-7000, —Siran Babayan

The AIX Scent Fair has free smells.
The AIX Scent Fair has free smells.
Courtesy the Institute for Art and Olfaction

A couple of really great things about Los Angeles: The weather rules and it's filled with really talented people. The biannual Echo Park Craft Fair, now in its eighth year, is bringing both of those things together with an outdoor shopping extravaganza that spills out of Mack Sennett Studios and onto Effie Street in Silver Lake (not Echo Park, but whatever). Expect the usually assortment of beautiful handmade jewelry, pottery and textiles from makers including festival co-founder and shoemaker Beatrice Valenzuela, plus food and even tarot card readings. Mack Sennett Studios, 1215 Bates Ave., Silver Lake; Sat., May 7, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., May 8, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $10. —Gwynedd Stuart

For something slightly more traditional, Los Angeles Filmforum offers up The Birth Film. "Slightly" because Filmforum's selections skew toward the experimental, with Stan Brakhage, Marjorie Keller and Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid among the filmmakers whose works will be on display during the 90-minute program. Brakhage and his wife, Jane, filmed the birth of their daughter Myrrena in 1959's Window Water Baby Moving, which laid the groundwork for many others to follow, often in more abstract ways. Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., May 8, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-3456,—Michael Nordine

There's nothing worse than a bad PowerPoint presentation — or there's nothing better, depending on how schadenfreudic you're feeling. Straight from Silicon Valley, the national epicenter of shitty PowerPoints, comes Speechless, in which comedians attempt to fake their way through projected presentations without any advance knowledge of the visuals or subject matter. Guy Branum, Joe Wengert, Caitlin Gill and Kate Berlant are the comedians and creator Sammy Wegent is the host. If you've ever had to sit through a dorky, clunky corporate training presentation, you owe it to yourself to be able to laugh through one. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., May 9, 9-10:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 851-7223, —Gwynedd Stuart

Marc Maron's WTF podcast recently celebrated 700 episodes with the usual big-name celebrity interviews, including a particularly raw and emotional one with Louis C.K., who discussed the making of his web series Horace and Pete. Fans know that among Maron's oft-told stories is his history with the Comedy Store. Fans also know that one of the comedian's other favorite venues is the Trepany House at the Steve Allen Theater. Maron's first benefit appearance there was in 2011, when artistic director Amit Itelman launched the nonprofit arts organization. Since then, Maron has hosted several podcast tapings and residencies. Tonight, with opener Dean Delray, Maron kicks off the first of his latest seven-night residency — "workshop/riffing shows," as he calls them — benefiting the theater. Trepany House at the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Tue., May 10, 8 p.m.; $8. (323) 666-4268, —Siran Babayan

Witness the epochal performance that is Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress, William Wyler's beyond-classic drama. De Havilland plays the young, moneyed Catherine Sloper, whose father (Ralph Richardson) suspects her new beau (Montgomery Clift) of having less than pure intentions for his daughter. The actress, who turns 100 in July, won her second Oscar for the breathtaking transformation her character undergoes — a plaudit preceded by her sister Joan Fontaine winning an Academy Award of her own. This is said to have contributed to their well-publicized, lifelong rivalry, which only ended with Fontaine's death in late 2013. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., May 10, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000,—Michael Nordine

The media circus that is American politics pretty much dictates that "all the world's a stage," and this year's election has given us one of our best casts of characters yet. Which begs the question: If our candidates are already this entertaining, how hilarious could they be in the hands of professional comedians? Bernie vs. Hillary gives the Democratic contenders a new stage, with Erin Coleman, Jared Waltzer, and Julia Mack as Hillary, Bernie and a ratings-hungry Rachel Maddow. If the world's players are leaving you with more questions than answers, it might be time to revisit them in this alternate comedy universe. Westside Comedy Theater, 1323-A Third St., Santa Monica; Thu., May 12, 7 p.m.; $5. (310) 451-0850, —Neha Talreja


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