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From whiskey and wine tastings to fried chicken and vegan festivals, Mexican folk dancing and traditional Japanese drumming paired with mochi-making, and a pop-up dedicated to happiness and an art book market, here are the 14 best things to do in Los Angeles this week!
Sexo y violencia
It wouldn’t be a proper Cinco de Mayo — or Cuatro de Mayo, for that matter — without the Lucha VaVoom Cinco de Mayan Super Gigante. All manner of lucha luxury will deliver sights, sounds and sexiness the likes of which are rarely seen outside of this theater. You’ll experience stunning AnarCumbia singer Amandititita, the boisterous sound barrier–breaking of Tosca Cyr’s whip act, the electro-cumbia of Los Master Plus, aerialists, folkloricos, mariachis and a metric shitload of tamales, tequila and Thunderbirds for your pleasure and amusement. Blaine Capatch, Dana Gould and Tom Kenny will provide running comedic commentary. The Mayan, 1038 S. Hill St., downtown; Fri., May 4, 8 p.m.; $48.50. (213) 746-4287, luchavavoom.com/upcoming-shows/. —David Cotner
The Los Angeles Art Book Fair has been reincarnated as the more intimate Los Angeles Art Book Market.
Back From the Dead
The demise of the Los Angeles Art Book Fair left fans of rare catalogs, artist books, zines and holy-grail ephemera dejected, with empty shelves and bereft flat files demanding attention. Now the folks at Acid-Free Los Angeles want to help scratch that itch, with their Los Angeles Art Book Market, an intimate (relative to its carnivalesque precursor at MOCA Geffen) reimagining of the experience. Just about 100 exhibitors will set up shop in the ample rooms of Culver City mega-gallery Blum & Poe this weekend, including indie book houses, small but mighty editions publishers, galleries with robust printed matter, avant-garde zine makers and all manner of fancy, first-run, paper-based objects of desire. Blum & Poe, 2727 La Cienega Blvd., Mid-City; Fri., May 4, 6-9 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., May 5-6, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; free. (310) 835-2062, acid-free.info. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Drum Up Your Appetite
Immerse yourself in the heart-palpitating spectacle that is taiko drumming with tonight’s Taiko Drum Extravaganza. Tonight master drummer Kris Bergstrom’s Team Taiko collaborates with Mochi Mochi to mix taiko drumming with chefs and live onstage mochi making — because why not? Two great tastes that definitely taste great together. Mochi — in case you are bereft of such sweet culinary greatness in your life — is a traditional soft Japanese rice cake that may or may not have ice cream in the center. Is that an ice cream headache you feel — or simply the pounding majesty of the taiko drum? Warner Grand Theater, Grand Annex, 434 W. Sixth St., San Pedro; Sat., May 5, 8 p.m.; $20-$30. (310) 548-2493, grandvision.org/calendar-details.asp?id=1110. —David Cotner
Celebrating the Battle of Puebla
An annual excuse for margaritas and Mexican-themed partying, Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day (that’s Sept. 16) rather than the strategic battle where the Mexican army unexpectedly defeated the French Empire’s mercenaries. Danza Floricanto/USA‘s seventh annual 5 de Mayo is one celebratory event focused on the original victory of Mexican forces and Mexican culture. Artistic director Gema Sandoval and her ensemble have established themselves among SoCal’s preeminent folkloric troupes and, at the same time, have taken the traditional dance form into realms of contemporary dance and topical issues. For this annual celebration, the troupe goes traditional with dances from various regions of Mexico, backed by live music from Ray Medina and Mariachi Mexicapan. ARC Pasadena, 1158 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Sat., May 5, 8 p.m.; $20 in advance, $25 at door, $15 students & seniors, $5 children under 5. (323) 261-0385, danzafloricantousa.org. —Ann Haskins
Trine Churchill/Courtesy Castelli Art Space
Understanding Our World
On the border of Culver City and the blossoming Mid-City Arts District is one of the newest and most robustly programmed gallery spaces in town. Once the site of the beloved Castelli art services compound, an ample, independently run exhibition venue hosts solo and group shows featuring some of L.A.’s most interesting artists. This weekend they open a fresh exhibition of new paintings by Susan Lizotte paired with works from The Woodstock Landscape series by painter Trine Churchill. While neither artist is an abstract painter per se, both infuse their landscapes and the eccentric figures that sometimes inhabit them with a loose, almost phantasmagorical quality and a saturated, emotional palette. Quirky, nostalgic, curious, a little anxious, Lizotte uses nature as a way of understanding the world, and Churchill uses it to understand herself. Castelli Art Space, 5428 W. Washington Blvd., Mid-City; Sat.-Sun., May 5-6, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; reception Sat., May 5, 7-10 p.m.; Wed.-Sat., May 8-12, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. (310) 204-6830, castelliartspace.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Calling All Vegans
VegFest Los Angeles 2018 is the food-and-enlightenment expo that crystallizes the saying, “You don’t have to fuck someone over to survive.” An all-day event, it brings together titans of international vegan cuisine, live music and inspirational speakers discussing everything from the environment to humanitarianism in the Vegspiration Tent. There’s a marketplace with more than 150 vendors spanning the breadth of the entire park, 50-plus food booths and trucks, an oasis of beer and wine, and businesses such as That Vegan Couple, Sweet Simple Vegan and Supreme Banana. Get there early — past years have seen nearly 15,000 empathetic spirits in attendance. Woodley Park, 6350 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys; Sun., May 6, 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; free. (818) 756-8060, vegfestla.org. —David Cotner
Angela Parish plays the Spring Time in the Village Wine & Jazz Festival.
Tujunga Village, a quaint community in Studio City filled with cute shops and cafes, is having a street party. Vitello’s “Spring Time in the Village” Wine & Jazz Festival offers an opportunity to see its sights and hear its sounds — and there’s wine! For the first time ever, the city will close Tujunga Avenue for the all-day gathering filled with food, drink, shopping and music from Kenny Gradney of Little Feat, trumpet player Ron King, singer-songwriter Angela Parish (seen in La La Land) and local band Kairos. In addition to the street fair, Vitello’s will set up a 60-foot tent, located in its parking lot, serving 100 wines for a ticketed tasting experience led by local wine experts and vintners; it will include small bites plus easy access to the fair and discounts at participating shops and cafes. The street fair (between Moorpark and Woodbridge streets) is free and for all ages. Vitello’s, 4349 Tujunga Blvd., Studio City; Sun., May 6, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; $70, $90 VIP. springtimeinthevillage.com. —Lina Lecaro
A bevy of pie tasting and making awaits attendees of the KCRW Good Food Pie Contest.
Dessert trends come and go — cronuts are so five years ago, and boutique cupcakes are even more passé — but no dessert is as classic American as pie. Hosted by Evan Kleiman, the ninth annual KCRW Good Food Pie Contest once again invites hundreds of pro and amateur bakers to submit their baked goods in nine categories, including fruit, cooked custard, nut, savory and vegan. The judges this year include Jonathan Gold, Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson, Everybody Loves Raymond creator (and well-known foodie) Phil Rosenthal and none other than the Ace of Cakes himself, Food Network’s Duff Goldman. New to the contest are the kids and Oaxacan categories, the latter inspired by the Fowler Museum’s current exhibit, “Pelotas Oaxaqueñas/Oaxacan Ball Games: Photographs by Leopoldo Peña.” As always, the day promises pie tastings, food trucks, lawn games, a marketplace and music by KCRW DJ Anne Litt. UCLA Royce Quad, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood; Sun., May 6, noon-5 p.m.; free. (310) 825-4361, fowler.ucla.edu/events/special-event-kcrws-good-food-pie-contest. —Siran Babayan
Smooth as Whiskey
Love poetry? Love whiskey? The Whisky and Poetry Salon is for you. Founded by Kim Ohanneson, president of the Women Who Whiskey L.A. chapter, this isn’t your typical poetry event — it combines readings with a guided whiskey tasting. May’s salon features poet Luivette Resto, author of the Unfinished Portrait and Ascension collections, a CantoMundo Fellow and former editor for Kweli Journal. Resto, who also hosts monthly reading series La Palabra in Highland Park, says she will be reading poems that “strike a balance between humor and love lost.” Once again, the monthly salon will be held at Kai Japanese Roots, where owner Ben Davidson will lead a tasting of five Japanese whiskies from large and small distilleries, Akashi, Iwai, Togouchi, Kikori and Suntory, accompanied by hors d’oeuvres. Guests are asked to bring a poem, original or not, to read among fellow aficionados in a comfortable setting — no mics, no spotlights, no need to memorize lines — and a thirst to “drink poetry” on a relaxing afternoon. Kai Japanese Roots, 542 S. Broadway St., downtown; Sun., May 6, 3-6 p.m.; $39.01 (advance only; no tickets at the door). eventbrite.com/e/the-whisky-poetry-salon-w-luivette-resto-a-japanese-whisky-flight-tickets-44973942272. —Michele Raphael
Find Your Happy Place
When was the last time you were ecstatic? Giddy? Maybe just plain joyous? Let Happy Place: An Immersive Pop-Up Exhibition return you to that state of bliss via unique installations and immersive rooms designed to stimulate all your senses — except possibly your sense of decorum. Experience such jocular, photogenic sensations as a massive confetti dome and a pot brimming with 25,000 smiling coins. Duck into the rubber ducky cubby, then walk away with a happiness that you can spread to the world around you — because you can’t leave happy in just one place. L.A. Live, 800 Olympic Blvd., downtown; Mon., May 7, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (runs through May 27); $34.50-$41. (213) 763-5483, lalive.com/events/la-live-events-deck/detail/happy-place. —David Cotner
Get It While It’s Hot
While “deader than fried chicken” might be a fun way to refer to something that’s deader than disco, today’s Fried Chicken Party will show you that fried chicken in all its herbed-and-spiced splendor remains a vibrant and essential aspect of Los Angeles food culture. Part of the cavalcade of calories that is the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl, it’ll give you the chance to mix, match and gorge on all manner of legs, thighs and wings from such fine purveyors of poultry as Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken and, of course, Howlin’ Ray’s. Far East Plaza, 727 N. Broadway, Chinatown; Wed., May 9, 6-9:30 p.m.; $45-$95. (213) 935-8399, lafoodbowl.com/bowl-events/fried-chicken-party/. —David Cotner
Lessons From a Galaxy Far, Far Away
With the same kind of thorough, exhaustive focus as he gave to the phenomenon of zombies, Max Brooks discusses his new book, Strategy Strikes Back: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict (Potomac). Gathering the finest minds in the fields of military history, diplomacy, science fiction and counterinsurgency, Brooks finds out how the military minds — Rebels and Empire fighters alike — of the Star Wars films have evolved and enacted their respective arts of war, finally answering the question: Don’t you have something better to do with your time than building that Death Star over and over again? Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Wed., May 9, 7 p.m.; free, book is $29.95. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com/event/max-brooks-discusses-and-signs-strategy-strikes-back-how-star-wars-explains-modern-military. —David Cotner
The Ginger Snapped
Fans know her as the season-five winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but Jinkx Monsoon is also a seasoned theater performer, having starred in Spring Awakening, Rent and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. In 2014, she released her first jazz/blues record, The Inevitable Album. Her second studio album, The Ginger Snapped, is more a nod to ’90s grunge and pop, featuring guest spots by Fred Schneider of The B-52s, Amanda Palmer, Lady Rizo and frequent collaborator and pianist Major Scales, who help Monsoon sing covers and originals, including the achingly beautiful “Just Me (The Gender Binary Blues).” (“Now in the past I’ve caused confusion, it’s true/But what’s the fun of living life pink or blue?) If you missed seeing Monsoon and Scales last month at Drag Becomes Her, the drag version of the 1992 Goldie Hawn/Meryl Streep film Death Becomes Her, at the Montalbán Theater, you can catch them tonight performing The Ginger Snapped, mixing cabaret and scripted comedy. Dynasty Typewriter at the Hayworth, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Westlake; Wed.-Thu., May 9-10, 8 p.m.; $25-$60. (213) 456-7890, dynastytypewriter.com. —Siran Babayan
Freedom of the Press
Newspapers are important. Just ask the Los Angeles Times. Or the East Village Other. Their influence stretches beyond their informational evanescence or their finer qualities as birdcage lining — and to tell you all about how vital they are, Patt Morrison discusses her new book, Don’t Stop the Presses!: Truth, Justice and the American Newspaper (Angel City Press). Illuminating and incisive, she draws a straight line from today’s late edition back to the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which rather helpfully decreed that Congress shall not restrict freedoms of speech or of the press. Vroman’s, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Thu., May 10, 7 p.m.; free, book is $40. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com/event/patt-morrison-discusses-and-signs-don’t-stop-presses-truth-justice-and-american-newspaper. —David Cotner