Watch "Portlandia" with Fred Armisen, pictured (left) with Carrie Brownstein in an episode from season four, on Saturday. (Augusta Quirk/IFC)
It’s that time of year again, when hordes of music lovers head to the desert for the Southland’s biggest festival. But for those who aren’t attending this first weekend of Coachella, there is still plenty of incredible things to do here in the city this weekend.
Friday, April 11
Paul Taylor Dance Company @ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (Downtown)
From the car radio to a conversation between to women waiting in line at the drugstore, no matter where I go lately, I keep hearing people talk about this show. It’s no wonder, though. Paul Taylor is one of the foremost American choreographers of the 20th century, and he is still at the helm of this world-renowned modern dance company. They have performed in more than 540 cities over 60 years, and this engagement at the Music Center spans their vast repertoire. But the program is only here for the next three days, so make sure to get your tickets ASAP.
Charlie Parr @ The Satellite (Silver Lake)
The Minnesota country bluesman released a new album, Hollandale, at the beginning of the year containing five 12-string instrumental songs that were completely improvised. Portions of these songs are going to be played tonight, but they are guaranteed to not be played in the same exact way they were on the album or at any other performance. That’s what’s so great about this style of music, and exactly what Parr loves about it. I was fortunate enough to see him perform at a backyard party last fall, and whether he’s strumming an instrumental or belting out a tune, his is a show not to miss.
Toyota Grand Prix @ Long Beach Convention Center (Long Beach)
The 40th annual event speeds into Long Beach for three days of action-packed fun. Practice and qualifying rounds begin, while the Lifestyle Expo opens and a concert from Kinky round out today’s activities. Saturday is the Pro/Celebrity Race (with the likes of Adrien Brody, Vanessa Marcil and Eric Braeden), a performance by Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers, the TUDOR Championship and the Super Drift Finals. The big Indy race – with top drivers such as Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves – takes place on Sunday afternoon.
Saturday, April 12
Cesar Millan @ Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza (Thousand Oaks)
Before her dog passed away, my friend was in dire need of help with him, and Cesar Millan was able to train the naughty behavior right out of her and her beloved canine. For years, the Dog Whisperer has been able to bring balance to dogs of all breeds and their humans on his television shows. This is your chance to see him and his famous four-legged companion Junior demonstrate techniques live on stage. Just in case you need assistance with your pets at home, there is going to be a Q&A session with Millan during the event as well.
Clueless @ Electric Dusk Drive-In (Downtown)
It’s been almost 20 years since Amy Heckerling’s spin on Jane Austen’s Emma hit the big screen, but references to the film are still made all the time. “As if,” “she’s a full-on Monet” and “rollin’ with the homies,” are just a few of the memorable lines that have infiltrated our collective pop-culture vocabularies. See Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd and Donald Faison in all of their mid-1990’s glory under the stars at the drive-in.
The Grilled Cheese Invitational @ L.A. Center Studios (Westlake)
Eleven years ago Tim Walker created the grilled cheese competition between friends, and since then, it has grown into the largest cook-off in the country dedicated to the sandwich. Amateurs and professional chefs go head-to-head with their inventive takes on the classic sandwich. They’re judged, and a champion is crowned. And, your ticket gets you in for a taste of these cheesy concoctions. Unfortunately, Walker has announced that this is the last invitational ever, so if you have never been to one before, don’t let the opportunity pass you by.
Festival of Books @ USC Campus (South Los Angeles)
Even if you’re not a book lover, you will enjoy this annual festival because aside from the author readings there are also art, celebrity, culinary, film, music and cultural events happening throughout the two days. Appearances include John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), Alicia Silverstone, B.J. Novak, Hugh Acheson, Terry McMillan, Mayim Bialik, Richard Lange and my favorite bloggers, the Fug Girls (Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan), who have also released two novels. New this year is the Festival After Dark on Saturday night with comedy, conversation and songs from Margaret Cho, Superchunk and Will Sheff.
“Portlandia” @ The Observatory (Santa Ana)
Even though I’ve never lived in Portland, Ore., whenever I watch an episode of “Portlandia,” I see myself or someone I know in at least one of the sketches. The show’s creators, writers and stars – Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein – are just so spot-on with their commentary on society at large. The show is in the midst of its fourth season, and Armisen will be on hand for a screening of an episode and a Q&A down in Orange County tonight.
Sunday, April 13
On the Waterfront @ New Beverly (Fairfax)
Marlon Brando would have turned 90 this month, and the New Beverly is hosting a film series in conjunction with the Marlon Brando Estate to celebrate. This evening’s film is my favorite starring the actor, On the Waterfront. Written by Budd Schulberg and directed by Elia Kazan, the film won eight Academy Awards, including Brando’s first Best Actor win. The plot revolves around Terry Malloy (Brando), a dockworker and former boxer embroiled with the mob-controlled union. Say it with me, “I coulda’ been a contender.” Also screening Monday at 7:30 p.m.
“The Tallest Tree in the Forest” @ Mark Taper Forum (Downtown)
African-American lawyer, football player, actor, singer, political and civil rights activist Paul Robeson had such an amazing story. As the son of an escaped slave-turned-minister father and Quaker mother, he fought all odds to carve a place for himself and make a difference in the world. Obie Award-winning performer Daniel Beaty brings Robeson’s story to the stage in this one-man show filled with inspirational words and songs.