Here are five great things you should do in SoCal this week from the makers of the 5 Every Day app. 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.
Art: The Velveteria
Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin are the proud owners of a 3,000-piece-strong collection of black velvet paintings. And when you own that many velvet paintings, what can you do but start a museum?
And so they did: the Velveteria, a pocket museum on a quiet side street in Chinatown. In volume, anything is fascinating, and velvet paintings are no exception. Anderson and Baldwin have them in all varieties: masterful Tiki renditions, rare Vietnam War-era memorabilia, and an entire room of black light paintings. There are sad clowns, celebrities, landscapes, and plenty of nubile pinups on display — even the bathroom is full of off-color velvet paintings. It’s high kitsch, and it’s fun.
Besides, what’s more L.A. than a velvet painting? It's old-fashioned, transgressive, ironic, populist, sexy, and long overdue for a revival — all words we might use to describe this city.
City: Marsh Park
There are things worth spending money on in this town: cold-pressed juice when you have a hangover or a head cold. The Arclight. And valet when the parking situation sucks. But a gym membership? A gym membership is for suckers. C'mon.
Los Angeles is laced with running trails, outdoor yoga spots, free tennis courts, hikes, and bike paths. We've got an ocean, for crying out loud. It's all there, outside and ours for the flexing. And don't tell us you need your precious elliptical machine, not when you can roll up to Marsh Park, a bright little public space on the L.A. River, to work out on thirteen different kinds of modular exercise equipment built right into the park — chest press machines, leg-lifters, sit-up machines, stair-climbers, and yes, ellipticals.
It's just as good as anything you'd find at 24 Hour Fitness and you'll get some Vitamin D while you're at it, so save your money for the stuff that really matters.
If L.A.’s food culture has one unifying principle, it’s the elevation of the low. Here, a strip mall noodle joint can compete with the finest of establishments, and a fast food restaurant built in the 1940s can be treated with all the reverence of a 12th Century European cathedral. Things just...work differently here.
One of our favorite high-low legends is about the Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank. You know, that space-age Googie temple, and the chain’s oldest surviving restaurant. For seven solid years, David Lynch (allegedly) ate his lunch here every day. He drank endless cups of coffee, and scribbled napkin notes that would eventually become Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and Wild at Heart. For seven years, if you wanted to take a meeting with David Lynch, you met him at Bob’s Big Boy. It’s where he met Laura Dern. It’s where he met John Waters. He would show up precisely at 2:30 p.m., following the lunch rush, in hopes that he might score his daily chocolate milkshake in the brief window of perfect consistency.
Sometimes we remember that we live in a city where these sorts of things happen, and when we do, we pinch ourselves.
The Velaslavasay Panorama is a strange little theater in West Adams dedicated to the "production and presentation of unusual visual experiences,” which is to say: 360-degree panorama paintings. Panorama paintings were once a popular form of entertainment. Much like we go to the movies today, viewers in the 19th century would flock to see vast paintings to immerse themselves in historical events and famous battles.
The Velaslavasay Panorama is keeping the medium alive through its own panorama shows —currently on view is “Effulgence of the North,” an arctic scene complete with Aurora Borealis. Think of it as slow cinema. Very slow cinema. The Panorama also host cerebral and strange events. This Friday and Saturday, it’s an illustrated lecture on the history of the Glass Armonica, a musical instrument that operates on the same principle as playing tones the rims of wet wine glasses. Invented by Benjamin Franklin, by the way. The lecture, led by Professor Allison de Fren of Occidental College, will be followed by a performance on the Glass Armonica by a virtuoso of the instrument. Old times are the best times.
Wildcard: Friday Flights at the Getty
And finally, we’re dusting off the self-promotion trumpet. Because this Friday, we have something really special going on. From 6 to 9 p.m. at the Getty Center — that marble palace of fine art and culture on the hill — we’ll be taking over. Peacefully, that is.
It’s all part of the Getty’s summer series, Friday Flights, for which they invite various artists and culture-makers in Los Angeles to program a “flight” of entertainments at the museum. For our flight, there will be a comedy show in the oak grove — with sets by Kate Berlant and Johnny Pemberton — which, by the way: we’re told these will be the first ever comedy sets at the Getty. There will also be a performance by rapper and new media artist Yung Jake, and an installation and DJ set from Body High Records. Plus more music in the gardens and galleries, and a cash bar.
Did we mention it’s free?
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