The long-running discussion on “culture” in Los Angeles remains an open and lively debate. Our native respondents cases have always tended toward self-indulgence and sophistry, and the rise of such shameful abominations as Silver Lake restaurants featuring “urban taco fabricators” and the hollow decadence of that ludicrous levitating rock on Wilshire serve as powerful illustrations that most staking a cultural claim here are simply full of crap. But the value of such aggressively perverse contrarians as impressario-stink stirrer Carl Crew (aka the Barnum of Burbank Boulevard), operator of North Hollywood's non-stop bizarro factory the California Institute of Abnormal Arts and author of the newly published Freakshow Los Angeles: 18 Years of Circus Underground Entertainment simply cannot be overstated. Tonight's book ballyhooing event should positively ooze with the characteristic ultra-maxi oddball hijinks that has kept Crew's CIA facility at the forefront of underworld fate-tempting for nigh on two decades. From the giant gorilla perched atop the building's exterior to the mummified clown cadaver awaiting visitors, Crew has bred a febrile cesspool of astonishing action that's run the gamut from marionette minstrel shows to stupefying displays of prestidigitation, punk rock conflagrations, goth comedians, unhinged dwarves running wild and much more. This little get-together features strolling performers of a unspecified and doubtless unsettling ilk and when one weighs that element of surprise against Crew's defiant longevity, it's clear this cracked cat is a towering local cultural institution unto himself. Super freaky! CIA, 11334 Burbank Blvd, N. Hlywd.; Thurs., Sept. 6, 8 p.m.; $5. (818) 506-6353,

Thu., Sept. 6, 8 p.m., 2012

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