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Arts & Entertainment

5 Every Week: Vidiots fest, secret tennis courts, French Mexican food

Photo by Omar Bárcena via Flickr Creative Commons

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Here are 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.  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: Vidiots Fest

Call us sentimental, but we miss video stores. So much of our adolescence was wasted dilly-dallying in fluorescent-lit Blockbusters, looking for an education in the “Cult” aisle, gnawing Red Vines, and cracking wise with the equally adolescent cashiers.

The video stores of our youth are all ghosts now—abandoned suburban monuments to the time before Netflix eviscerated the simpler pleasures of idly browsing empty VHS boxes.

But luckily, Vidiots, the iconic video store in Santa Monica that has been a temple to cinema low and high since the 80s.

Vidiots was saved from going out of business earlier this year by a donation from  producer Megan Ellison, whose production company, Annapurna, churns out innovative indies like "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Her.” Ellison has taken a role in the store’s second life—as a microcinema, classroom, and cultural space devoted to film appreciation.

Next week is Vidiots Fest 30, a festival celebrating the store’s 30th anniversary. The calendar of events mirrors the the store’s screwy, passionate cinephile ethos: a Q&A with Michael Mann, an acting class taught by Carl Weathers, and a screening of Desperately Seeking Susan with the director, Susan Sedelman, at the nearby Aero Cinema.

CITY: WeHo Park Tennis Courts


 There's a parking garage next to the WeHo Library that's home to a glorious open-air open secret: the West Hollywood Park Tennis Courts. They’re a trio of surprisingly underused hard courts—all first-come first-serve, all free, and if you're there before they turn the night lights on, all with a panoramic view of the surrounding hills in Beverly and Hollywood.

All you have to do is hand off your driver's license to a security guard on the first floor, and they'll give you a keycard that'll take you up to this inexplicable, sixth floor paradise.

They even validate parking.

FOOD: Trois Familia


That was fast. Foodie intel has been leaking out for a couple weeks on Trois Familia, a new Franco-Mexican brunch spot that’s taken over the space recently vacated by Alegria on Sunset in Silver Lake.

Familia is the latest addition to chefs Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo's growing mafia of restaurants, which includes Hollywood’s Trois Mec and Jon & Vinny’s, the cult pizza place on Fairfax. The neon sign in the low-key strip mall space announces their novel MO in all caps: FRENCH MEXICAN FOOD.

They started serving mid-day specialities last week and neighborhood foodies are already losing their minds over the potato mousseline with poached egg and chorizo jam — to say nothing of the churro french toast with Salt and Straw ice cream, beet tartare tostadas, and "double-decker" potato tacos—the list of delights is long.

And, soon, so will be the wait list. Get in there while you still can.

MUSIC: Karaoke at the Smog Cutter


There are a couple schools of thought regarding what qualities best define an ideal Karaoke experience. School #1 is your private room, state-of-the-art experience — like those swanky K-Town places that have the new Rihanna song on the books as soon as it drops.

School #2 is the opposite: cheap drinks, a single screen, and a microphone that smells like six different kinds of vomit.

We appreciate the merits of both philosophies, but skew toward the latter.

That’s why we love the Smog Cutter in Virgil Village, which has possibly the worst karaoke setup in the city. The pool table takes up two-thirds of the bar's open space, which means that if you're not literally standing at the bar or crammed into the tiny designated karaoke area, you're likely to get a pool queue jabbed in your back. Wonderful.  

They've got all of your go-to's cued up and waiting! Just maybe wash your hands after you flip through the books.

WILDCARD: Chandelier Tree


Our dream dates usually involve highly unromantic things, like dangerously spicy foods, exploring strip malls, and cheap drinks in run-down karaoke joints. But we think we’ve got something that’ll make your sweetheart swoon.

Here's the plan: first, wait until nightfall, then make your way to 2811 W Silver Lake Drive. There, in a mighty oak tree in an otherwise unremarkable front yard, some would-be cupid has hung dozens and dozens of chandeliers.

When it’s all lit up at night, the Chandelier tree is without question the most stupidly lovely thing in Silverlake. It’s a senseless act of beauty that’ll melt hearts and make your romantic designs a cakewalk.

Make sure you plug the lightbulb-bedecked parking meter out front to help foot the tree’s electrical bill on your way out. Your date will think you’re a real catch.