Behold: Five great things you should do in Southern California this week, from art to food to music to an adventure we'll call "the Wild Card," from the makers of the 5 Every Day app. You can also get this as a new podcast in iTunes. If you want five hand-picked things to do in Los Angeles every day, download the free 5 Every Day from the App Store.
Give us a time machine, and the first place we’ll go — well, after we prevent the Kennedy assassination, of course — might be North Carolina in the late 1940s.
That’s where — and when — to find Black Mountain College, a bucolic art school near Asheville on the edge of the Appalachians. It closed in 1957, but in its glory days, it provided an education unlike any other in the United States.
A typical campus day might include geodesic dome construction with professor Buckminster Fuller, or some manual labor on the campus farm. Students learned pottery, weaving and dance alongside visual art and literature. It was a utopian experiment in education that attracted some of the most interesting people in the world.
The school’s visiting faculty in those days reads like a who’s who of 20th century intelligentsia: Everyone from Merce Cunningham to John Cage to Willem de Kooning taught at Black Mountain. Ah, what we wouldn’t give.
Short of a time machine, the next best thing to visiting Black Mountain is Leap Before You Look, a new exhibition at the Hammer Museum that happens to be the first comprehensive exhibition to examine the history of Black Mountain College.
On view are documentary photographs and archival ephemera, books printed by the influential Black Mountain Poets, sound recordings and works by the college’s most illustrious faculty and students.
And, in the spirit of Black Mountain’s unorthodox mix of disciplines, the Hammer will host both in-gallery performances and craft demonstrations over the next few months.
CITY: Vista Theater Handprints
The Vista is a single-screen miniplex in Los Feliz and a really great neighborhood movie theater.
It looks like a cross between a gilded-age collection of Egyptian relics and some kind of plush Masonic lodge. The seats are spacious - they knocked out every other row - and the tickets reasonably-priced. It always seems to be playing exactly the blockbuster we secretly want to see.
But the really special thing about the Vista is a tiny roadside attraction built into its front sidewalk.
The Vista’s got its own alternative version of Mann's Chinese Hollywood handprints, a fact that definitely does not get enough play, in our opinion.
Right there in the cement in front of the box office, you'll find handprints and signatures from a spread of countercultural figures. All people too cool for the real thing: John C. Reilly, Martin Landau, Penelope Spheeris, Bud Cort, Spike Jonze, and ur-science fiction fan Forrest J. Ackerman.
FOOD: Seafood City Supermarket
We are rich in ethnic grocery stores in the Southland, but few have a sense of place as robust as Seafood City.
Seafood City is a Filipino chain with locations all around Los Angeles, and it offers all the comforts of the islands: swiss roll cakes and dried packaged noodles on the shelves, avocado ice cream in the freezer, Tagalog tunes on the speakers, and, of course, a totally wild fish market.
You’ll smell it before you can see it. Mountains of glistening fresh squid, clams, and oysters; heaps of perch, anchovy, and mackerel piled on crushed ice. And lots of fish you’ve never heard of. Beltfish, anyone? They don’t call it Seafood City for nothing.
The Eagle Rock location, our favorite, anchors a mall that serves a largely Filipino community, so post-grocery run you can always complete the experience with a burger from Jollibee and, from Leelin bakery, some colorful Halo-Halo.
That’s shaved ice studded with tropical fruits, beans, and purple yam ice cream — it’s the best. A roundtrip ticket to Manila for the cost of an afternoon in Northeast LA.
The Natural History Museum, once a staid receptacle of gems and bones, has transformed in recent years into a groovy indoor-outdoor museum, with three and a half acres of meandering nature trails, planted with flora designed to attract local wildlife.
For March’s fun/edifying First Friday series, the party spills out into their verdant Nature Gardens for wonders of science and sound: behind the scenes museum tours, presentations by scientists Maddalena Bearzi and Chris Thacker, and live music from Baltimore’s stellar Krautrock progeny Lower Dens, plus Gardens & Villa.
Beyond the party, staying late in a museum is always a chance to reenact your mixed-up file fantasies, and the Natural History Museum's meticulous taxidermic vitrines are particularly affecting in the twilight hours.
WILDCARD: Super Tight
Alternating between the stage at Cinefamily and a concrete driveway behind a house in Hollywood, Super Tight is an uncommonly well-curated monthly bouquet of stand-up, music, and cool tacos presented by three tight bros: Simon Ore, Kevin Riggin and Casey Rup.
Super Tight Volume 10 goes down this weekend. It’s leap year time, so Super Tight’s managed to cram two days worth of surprises into a single Saturday night’s festivities.
It’s SO super tight, in fact, that we're inclined to just lay it out for you:
Jokes by irascible lounge lizard Neil Hamburger, Alanna Johnston, and our beloved Power Violence; a special multimedia performance from Katia Kvinge; a magic stage-show by magician Rob Zabrecky; music by Jerry Paper and Yung Jake; visual art by Lola Rose Thompson and Amber McCall; DJ sets by Nina Tarr and Hevin Spacy; edibles by The Art of Edibles; plus the aforementioned cool tacos by the gastro-visionaries of Stiff Peaks.
It starts at 9 p.m., but you’re welcome to pop by anytime — they’ll be there until they get the boot sometime around 4 a.m.