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8 ways to add a little culture to your Father's Day

June 20, 2009 |  1:00 pm

Still looking for something special to do with Dad on Sunday? Allow Culture Monster to be your concierge. We have theater. We have museums. We have cheap. We have avant-garde. We even have bagpipes.

Take a gamble on this: Dad probably wouldn't mind a trip to Las Vegas, but if you prefer to keep it local this year, how about taking him to "Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara" at the Geffen Playhouse's Audrey Sounds of Speed 005 Skirball Kenis Theater. This delightful musical memoir about the novelty jazz duo, Louis Prima and Keely Smith, which stars Vanessa Claire Smith and Jake Broder as the mismatched but mellifluous married couple, will have you happily mistaking Westwood Village for the Vegas Strip.  

Drive time with Dad: Art, music and cars unite in the Petersen Automotive Museum’s current “art wall” attraction, “The Sounds of Speed,” left. The collection of car-themed album covers illustrates relationships between automotive and musical worlds, filtered through the imaginations of artists, photographers and graphic designers. Lots of real cars, including hot rods, design oddities and Hollywood relics, are on view as well.

For the adventurous: The Wooster Group's new production of  "La Didone" at REDCAT begins as an entertainingly wacky merging of an obscure Italian sci-fi film and an obscure Italian Baroque opera.  Dido and Aeneas in Francesco Cavalli's 1641 "La Didone" arrive on the planet Aura where the astronauts and zombies from Mario Bava's 1965 "Planet of the Vampires" are fighting it out.  But what begins as Postmodern farce turns into a major operatic reinvention uncommonly true to the spirit of Baroque performance and something entirely new.  

On the cheap: Bargain-minded sons or daughters can spend the afternoon with Dad at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art without spending a dime. Enjoy the grounds and finish up with a free concert by the Davin-Brown guitar duo. Colin Davin and Adam Brown will be performing a program of classical music as part of the museum’s Sundays Live chamber music concerts at 6 p.m. in the Bing Theater. While you're waiting for the concert to begin, interact a bit with "Happyhappy," an artwork by Choi Jeong-Hwa in the courtyard.


Stars in their eyes: Culture Monster -- which decries gender bias --  would never suggest that Dads are more likely than Moms to enjoy the science-oriented experience of a visit to Griffith Observatory, above.  But anyone on the planet -- including Dad -- can’t help but have a good time exploring outer space in Los Feliz via the exhibits, planetarium and giant public telescopes.  Plus, the location affords one of the city’s best views of the Hollywood sign.

A bit o' the blarney: If bagpipes are dad's cup of Guinness, head to The Great American Irish Fair and Music Festival at Orange County's Irvine Meadows Fairgrounds. Sunday's daylong lineup of events includes Irish pipers, celtic harps and other shamrock-tinged music. And tell him he can finish the day up with a banger and a beer.

A day done artfully: Figure a late breakfast at Claire's at the Long Beach Museum of Art, either on the ground floor of the original shingle house or, if the June gloom has lifted, out on the adjacent patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The restaurant opens at 8 a.m., the museum at 11, so after a Bloody DadsonMary and pancakes you can go inside and check out the art that may -- or may not -- be sold by the city to pay off some looming debts.

Take a trip to France: So ever since you and Dad saw “The Taking of Pelham 123,” you share a fear of subways? And now you’re both sick of talking dogs and balloons (if that’s possible) after seeing “Up”?  So why not journey to France avec Papa via le cinema?  Olivier Assayas’ “Summer Hours,” starring Juliette Binoche, is a drama revolving around a family’s struggle over an art collection, while Martin Provost’s “Seraphine” tracks the life, love and art of painter Séraphine de Senlis. Yes, there are subtitles, but think of it as a good chance to brush up on your French since you and Dad will surely want to take a trip to the continent after seeing these films. 

-- Culture Monster editors, writers and critics

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Photo credits, from top: Peterson Automotive Museum and Times file photos