JOAN OF ART - A HOLIDAY WEEKEND CELEBRATING THE END OF SUMMER WITH FOOD FESTIVALS, AND SOME GREAT JAZZ

For the past several years, every Labor Day weekend I find myself at Paramount Studios at the LA Times TASTE OF LA. There are three nights of some of the finest delights the restaurants of Los Angeles have to offer.

This year the lineup is stellar. This annual feast is one of the most quintessential Los Angeles food parties given by the LA Times. It's full of restaurants repping our city with some of the best bites you can find anywhere in town.

From August 30 to September 1, this year's The Taste takes over the Paramount back lot for unlimited bites and sips from a daily rotating cast that includes the Bazaar by José Andrés, Rao's, Le Comptoir, Park's BBQ, SLAB, Salazar, Jitlada, Triple Beam Pizza, Employees Only, Freedman's, Ghengis Cohen, Bone Kettle and Izakaya Osen, to name just a few. There's something fo everyone, even us vegetarians and vegans.

Various LA Times editors and writers will be onsite, too, hosting panel discussions and demonstrations on topics from the so-trendy Nashville hot chicken and Tijuana-style tacos to perfect wine pairings. (There'll even be "A Mystery Taste Extravaganza," with food editor Lucas Kwan Peterson, whatever that means, and I can't wait to find out.)

Tickets for each night of The Taste are $115 per person, unless you want to splurge for skip-the-line entry, premium parking, VIP-lounge access, exclusive cocktails, and sushi from Phillip Frankland Lee's Sushi Bar (one of my favorite sushi spots in Los Angeles)- then your ticket will cost $190. Whichever option you pick, all tickets allow full of nibbling privileges and access to the back-lot block party as you check out live entertainment, sample to your stomach's content and soak up knowledge from the esteemed panelists.

Paramount Studios is located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. The event runs Friday August 30th through Sunday September 1st. 7:30-10:30 pm. For tickets and more information go to Events/LATimes.com/Taste.

Now if you're food tastes run in a different direction there is The Vegan Street Fair On Saturday, August 31st.

The fair runs from 3-10pm at The Federal NoHo located at 5303 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood.

Besides delicious vegan food, there will be classic arcades doing live band karaoke, dancing to the stylings of DJ Cali Miles and eating all of this out of control mash ups these vendors have to share.

One of my favorite is there pizza burger Mash-Up created by Swamiji Plant Based and Veggietize Me!

There will be over 30 vendors to satisfy your palette and if it's anything like last year you will not be disappointed.

To order tickets or for more information go to VeganStreetFair.com.

Now I can't think of a better way to digest all this delicious food then to head over to the WEST ADAMS JAZZ FESTIVAL on Friday through Sunday, August 30th to September 1st, from 6-11pm.

The West Adams Avenues Jazz & Musical Festival 'Under the Stars' started 19 years ago. What began as a culturally diverse gathering of neighbors with picnic baskets and lawn chairs, enjoying local musicians from the community turned into a phenomenal event every Labor Day Weekend.

Last year's event shattered all expectations with more than 5000 attendees, some of them coming from as far as Australia.

Besides great music there are dance contests, activities for children, dancing in the streets, arts, crafts and jewelry from local artisans and fabulous food from local restaurants.

The event is FREE. The West Adams Jazz and Music Festival is located at 2521 7th Avenue.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, make it a fun one people.


JOAN OF ART - BEING GRATEFUL, A Night of Magic, A Profound Film, Unique Food and a Powerful Play

After a week of devastation due to the fires that have destroyed so many homes, displaced pets and destroyed food sources for our wildlife some may find it hard to feel grateful. I had to evacuate for a week and luckily Topanga Canyon where I live was spared.

Having said all this my favorite holiday is coming up this week, a time not only for sharing delicious food with family and friends, but reflecting on what I feel grateful for. At the top of the list are those amazing firefighters that are our true heroes.

It's also a weekend full of fun events starting with A VERY MAGIC MANIA at the Santa Monica Playhouse located at 1211 4th Street, Santa Monica.

I for one love magic and I will certainly be at this. Magic Mania is created by and hosted by actor and magician extraordinaire, Albe Selznick. He is a lifetime member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and created the theatrical smash hit 'Smoke and Mirrors' which I've seen three times.

The show runs about 75 minutes and features an ever changing lineup of over 100 world famous magic and variety acts including Max Maven, Steve Valentine, Jon Armstrong, Pop Haydn, Ben Seidman, David Deeble, Dana Daniels, Bruce Gold, George Tovar, Christopher Hart and so many more great magicians.

For more information email [email protected] or call 310-450-2849. The show opens on Saturday 8:00pm November 24rth. The pre-show starts at 7:30pm.

Magic Mania runs Sunday, November 25th at 3:00pm, Sunday, December 2nd at 3:00pm, Saturday, December 8th at 8:00pm, Sunday, December 9th at 3:00pm, Saturday, December 15th at 8pm, Sunday, December 16th at 3pm, Saturday, December 22nd at 8:00pm and Sunday, December 23rd at 3:00pm.

This is a great show for kids and grownups or grownups who are really big kids at heart, myself included.

Next is one of my favorite films of the year, GREEN BOOK starring Vigo Mortensen, who gives one of his best performances in his career and the wonderful Mahershala Ali 'Green Book' is based on a true story about a working class Italian-American bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) who becomes a driver for an African American classical pianist (Mahershala Ali) on a concert tour through the south in 1962.

The film directed by Peter Farrelly deals with racial discrimination and Jim Crow laws such as white-only restaurants and hotels. But it's also the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between these two very different men.

'Green Book' will make you angry, will make you laugh and in the end even make you cry. I know I teared up. This is a beautiful film and definitely on my 'must see' list. It opens in theaters Wednesday, November 21st.

Now if you don't feel like cooking on Thanksgiving or anytime this weekend I suggest you make a reservation at this truly fantastic and unique restaurant called THE BAZAAR by Jose Andres. I'll be there Friday night. Jose Andres is an extraordinary culinary wizard and his restaurant offers ground breaking culinary artistry by this Michelin starred chef.

The Bazaar takes you on a wild sensory adventure born of Jose's Spanish roots both traditional and advent-garde in a bold and playful atmosphere where anything is possible. I've eaten here several times and I'm always wonderfully surprised. The Bazaar is located in the SLS Hotel at 465 La Cienega Blvd Los Angeles. For reservations call 310-246-5555.

For more information and to check out the menu go to TheBazaar.com.

Finally on Sunday I will be at my favorite theatre company The Rogue Machine which has just relocated to the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Avenue, Venice CA where I will be seeing their new play FINKS. It stars French Stewart as Mickey Hobbs a New York nightclub comic. The play takes place during the McCarthy era and is based on playwright Joe Gilford's parents.

It asks the question "what would you do." Name names or risk your career...A question many artists had to ask themselves in the 1950's. Considering what is going on in this country now, 'Finks' is a reminder about a different time that could possibly happen again.

For more information or to purchase tickets go to RogueMachineTheatre.net. Finks directed by Michael Pressman opened November 10th and plays through Sunday, December 2nd.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone and whatever you choose to do this weekend have a great one.