The Weekender: Don’t Read This While Driving

Five things to do in Los Angeles this weekend

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Here in L.A., it’s not unusual to get a text from someone while they’re driving. On several occasions, I’ve been engaged in a conversation with someone over text when suddenly there’s a pause followed with: “Driving.”

This happened recently. And as soon as I saw that the person on the other end of the texting exchange was operating a vehicle while chatting with me, I stopped the chat. The phone rang.

“Sorry,” he said, “This is easier.”

“Also,” I pointed out, “Safer.”

This seemed to be a secondary consideration.

“I don’t want to get in an accident,” he said. Then added: “Not good for business.”

Was he joking? I couldn’t tell. I continued with what I hoped was a sarcastic exchange.

“I don’t think you’d be able to live with yourself,” I said.

He responded that sometimes he wondered if he could. We continued to talk while he was driving until he said he had to hang up because he was lost.

I know people like to make phone calls while they’re in the car because it’s a time out with nothing else to do. Except drive. Driving requires focus and concentration, two things that are quickly becoming extinct. Phone calls are bad enough but even worse is a video call.

Back when people were doing meetings with writers – I was once on a Zoom with someone in their car. Naturally I assumed that they were parked. But when the meeting went longer than expected, they began to drive. Still on the Zoom.

“Are you driving?” I asked. My horrified look said it all.

Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

Here are 5 things to drive safely to this weekend….

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Get Out

Switzer Falls Hike

I’ve never understood the universal attraction to waterfalls. They’re thunderously loud and also, I feel like if you’ve seen one waterfall, you’ve seem them all. I hiked through a jungle for hours to get to a well-known waterfall in Bali. The kind of place where every woman in a bikini poses for an Instagram photo. It was fine. It looked a lot like the waterfall I’d been to in Hawaii.

Nevertheless, I’m recommending this hike with a destination waterfall which is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in L.A. Along the trail, you’ll see the ruins of the Switzer Trail Camp (started in 1884 by Commodore Perry Switzer) and you’ll be going along the Gabrielino Trial which is simple to follow. At 1.5 miles in, you’ll follow Bear Canyon and see spectacular views of the waterfall below. It’s around 5 miles altogether (it might be a little more or less) and is considered a “moderate” hike – if you’re looking for stunning views and the natural beauty of a waterfall, check it out. Wear waterproof or slip resistant shoes because there’s…water.

Photo by Criz Hazzard

Where: 701 Angeles Crest Hwy., Tujunga, California 91042

Directions and Parking: Here


Go See

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things at the Getty

This photography exhibition is named after the phrase used by an awestruck archaeologist in 1922 on seeing the glittering contents of Tutankhamun’s tomb for the first time: “wonderful things”.

Originally held at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum in 2019, the exhibit is really worth seeing. Tim Walker is a leading international fashion photographer who rose to prominence in the 1990s mostly as a contributor to British Vogue. He has since become well-known for his otherworldly, surrealist images. There’s a fairy tale quality to his work.

From an article in W Magazine: “Walker’s images can feel more like elaborate, otherworldly Renaissance paintings than pictures snapped through a fish eye lens. The photographer has honed a Baroque photographic style that sets him apart from any other shooter working today—and he constantly creates work that toes the line between fine art and fashion photography.”

The range of work on view is vast. In 2016, Walker handpicked a collection of “wonderful things” at the V&A and then orchestrated a series of nine photoshoots inspired by the art and design objects of his choosing. This year, the Getty Museum invited Walker to devise a tenth photoshoot, drawing inspiration from two of its prized paintings.

Early in his career, Walker was an assistant to Richard Avedon – so it makes sense that following in his footsteps, he’s turned fashion photography into art.

Box of Delights, 2018, Tim Walker 

When: Until August 20, 2023

Hours: Tues–Fri & Sunday:10am–5:30pm | Sat: 10am–8pm

Where: Getty Center | 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049


Go Hear

Topanga Symphony Concert

My father would say “nothing is life is free” but he didn’t know about the Topanga Symphony which has been around since 1982, led by musical director and conductor (and cellist) Jerome Kessler. Their logo is “Keeping classical music alive for over 40 years” and they put on concerts of high quality. The orchestra consists of a mixture of amateurs, students and professional musicians – all unpaid. There’s something about hearing a symphony for free that is very civilized.

The program this Saturday will feature Dvorak, Vivaldi and Mendelssohn – and  viola soloist Pam Goldsmith. You don’t have to live in Topanga Canyon or be in the Topanga community to go – it’s open to anyone and did I mention it’s free?

Photo by Topanga Symphony

When: June 25, 2023 7:30 p.m.

Where: Topanga Community Center | 1440 No. Topanga Canyon Blvd, Topanga, CA  90290



Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

This Japanese Garden was created by landscape architect Kinzuchi Fujii between 1935–1940 for Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns who were patrons of the arts. Fujii designed and built Japanese landscapes across Southern California in the first half of the 20th century. The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is his only remaining garden. It is also the only intact example in the U.S. of a major Japanese-style garden created for a residence in the years leading up to World War ll.

Under the direction of Dr. Takeo Uesugi, a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the garden was faithfully restored from 2007 to 2013. It features two ponds, four bridges and more — all centered around a Japanese tea house. If you want a fully immersive Japanese experience, I suggest taking a novel by Haruki Murakami and sitting by the pond. Maybe with some sushi? Okay, too much.

Courtesy of Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

Weekend Hours and Registration: Here

Where: 270 Arlington Drive, Pasadena, California 91105



Go See

The Mountaintop

Written by Katori Hall, this Olivier Award–winning drama reimagines what Dr. Martin Luther King’s  last night on Earth could have been. After delivering the historic “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech, he returns to the Lorraine Hotel alone in Memphis and encounters a maid who has some surprising news. The play went to Broadway in 2011 (with Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett) following an award-winning run in London. Now, over ten years later, it’s made its way to Los Angeles and is getting great reviews.

As Entertainment Weekly wrote: “For those who have only chosen to see Dr. King as a saint and extraordinary man, The Mountaintop may present an uncomfortable exercise. But it’s a deeply moving, provocative play, marked with magical realism. It confronts the notion of legacy and the perils of placing any one person on a pedestal.”

Katori Hall is one of the co-writers of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (which I wrote about previously and is now at the Pantages) and you can expect deep and thought-provoking subject matter. King is played by Jon Michael Hill (who was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in “Superior Donuts”) and Amanda Warren as the motel maid is, according to the Los Angeles Times, “mesmerizing.”

Photo by Justin Bettman

When:  Until July 9th

Where: Geffen Playhouse | 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Directions and Parking: Here