The Weekender: The Uber Chronicles

What to do in Los Angeles this weekend, from the Japanese American National Museum to karaoke

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It’s Quentin Cohan again while Ariel is away – howdy! Since moving to Los Angeles I find that I’m far more willing to talk to strangers than I ever was before as a New Yorker. I think it’s because I’m so eager to get to know this new place I now call home. I like to think of this as growth.

Back when Uber offered pooled ride (for a lower fee, you get to share a car with random passengers) these forced encounters were an opportunity to connect with my fellow Angelenos.

One Saturday afternoon, I was making the extended crosstown trip to hang out with my friend in Venice. Already in the car were an elderly lady in the back seat, and an attractive young woman sitting shotgun. The driver, a young guy with a lot of personality, was eagerly chatting up the woman in the front.

He was an actor. She was a model.

“Yeah, you look like Kendall Jenner,” he said. From my seat kitty-corner behind her, I could tell there was a resemblance.

“People say that,” she responded. “But I don’t really see it.” 

Eventually the conversation turned to her plans for the evening. She was going to her friend’s birthday party, though she really didn’t want to go.

“You didn’t invite me to your birthday party,” he quipped.

“We just met,” she responded, chuckling at the absurdity of it all. “Besides you didn’t invite me to yours.”

“It’s in March, I’m an Aries.”

“I’m a Sagittarius.”

I’ve never gone in much for Astrology, and I’ve been very surprised to learn, upon moving to LA, that many, many people in fact do. I couldn’t resist getting in on the action here. “I’m a Cancer,” I said. The two who were talking were taken aback. 

“Oh, we should NOT date then,” she said without missing a beat. I hadn’t even realized this had been on the table.

“Why?” I asked. “Are our signs not aligned?” 

 “No. I’ve just had bad experiences with Cancers.” Matter put to rest.

She got out shortly thereafter, around mid-City, leaving the driver and me to wonder where we’d gone wrong. The older woman had remained silent throughout all of this.

He and I started chatting then. He told me about his acting, and when I looked him up on IMDb, I realized that I’d actually seen him in something. I said I had moved to Los Angeles to try to make it as a screenwriter. We’d been discussing this for a short while when we pulled up to the other woman’s destination, in Palms.

“Good luck with Hollywood, guys!” she said, out of nowhere, as she exited the car.

Yeah, good luck to all of us. Here’s some stuff to do this weekend.

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Huntington Gardens Summer Stroll

Though I don’t usually make it out to Pasadena other than to sneak into my friend’s pool, it also happens that my single favorite institution in LA County is situated there: Huntington Gardens and Library. Angelenos, you know the famed museum with its art and rare document collection, as well as its world-class botanical gardens. 

What makes it great for a visit right now, though, is that on select weekends during the summer, including this one, they extend their closing hours from 5pm until sunset, so that visitors can enjoy the flora and fauna under the golden hour estival glow. A midsummer night’s dream indeed.
Ticketed, timed reservations are required for non-members, and cost $20 for adults.

Photo by Tatiana Leiva

Where: Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108.

When: Summer weekend evenings, until sunset. Schedule of nights here.
Parking: Free on site.


Don’t Miss!

“The Big Lie” at the Skirball

See the first episode of the Audible Original audio drama, The Big Lie, come to life, performed by live shadow actors from Little Cinema. Inspired by real events, this historical fiction centers on the making of the controversial pro-union film Salt of the Earth (1952).

A Q&A with creator John Mankiewicz, director Aaron Lipstadt, and actors from the original podcast, including Bradly Whitford, follows the performance.

Tickets also include admission to the Skirball’s current exhibition, Blacklist: The Hollywood Red Scare, which features several artifacts related to Salt of the Earth and explores the history and impact of the Hollywood Red Scare.

FREE to WGA and SAG-AFTRA members.

Photo by Tatiana Leiva

When: Thursday, August 31, 8:00 pm

Where: Skirball Cultural Center | 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90059

Parking: FREE on-site parking; street parking strictly prohibited


Check Out

Japanese American National Museum

If you’ve just seen “Oppenheimer” and are curious to know more about the history of Japan, Japanese Americans and the devastating toll of the atomic bomb, the Japanese American National Museum in Downtown’s Little Tokyo is your spot. 

The museum focuses primarily on the history and culture of Japanese Americans, but it also has lots of information regarding World War II and the impact of the A-bomb on both Japanese people and those of Japanese heritage in America. Current exhibits include a show entitled “Don’t Fence Me In” about Japanese American youth who came of age in American internment camps during the War, and an online exhibit of the photographer Wakaji Matsumoto who documented Japanese life in Los Angeles and Hiroshima prior to the 1945 bombing. 

Ticketed, timed reservations are required for non-members, and cost $16 for adults. However, admission will be free all day this Saturday, August 12 in conjunction with the annual Natsumatsuri Family Festival, the museum’s summer celebration. 

Photo by Paloma Dooley 

Where: Japanese American National Museum, 100 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Parking: Nearby lots at: City of Los Angeles, Lot 2 at 300 E. Temple St.; and Japanese Village Plaza at 335 E. 2nd St. Or street parking as available.


Go Hear

Summer Nights at KCRW

KCRW is a local radio station that has become an event host and sponsor for all sorts of music and arts events around town and in Southern California broadly. And this Saturday night, rather than organize a shindig somewhere else in LA, they’re inviting everybody to “party at our place!” They’re hosting a night of music with French-American duo Pearl & The Oysters in the courtyard of their Santa Monica headquarters. They’ll also have food trucks and bars. Attendance is free to all with an RSVP, but members receive line privileges and discounts on drinks and merch.

Courtesy of KCRW

Where: KCRW HQ, 1660 Stewart St., Santa Monica, CA 90404

When: Saturday, August 12 @ 7:00pm
Tickets: RSVP here
Parking: Street parking 



Sycamore District

Billed as a “destination for creatives,” the roughly four-block area bounded by Santa Monica to the north, La Brea to the west, and Willoughby and Orange to the south and east, respectively, has emerged, following a redevelopment from the real estate firm CIM Group as “L.A.’s coolest new neighborhood,” per the LA Times. Consisting mostly of repurposed Hollywood warehouses from the Golden Age, including iconoclast filmmaker and aviator Howard Hughes’ 67,000 square foot former headquarters, the area is now home to cutting edge art galleries from the likes of Jeffrey Deitch, exciting restaurants and cafes like Gigi’s, replete with Mad Men-esque Mid Century splendor, and Sightglass Cafe where you could easily spend all day first having lunch and then afternoon cafe (you’ll thank me later!) followed by a happy hour drink, and trendsetting boutiques like Bode. Bonus: Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s offices are there.

It’s part of the ongoing wave of reinvestment and urbanization occurring throughout the city, and it’s exciting to see it all happening in real-time. Plus, its proximity to La Brea offers access to the additional galleries and stores lining that avenue. But be careful, because, again, you really could spend all day there.

Courtesy of CIM Group

Where: Sycamore District, 953 N. Sycamore, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Parking: Street parking available.


Go Sing


Because why not?! 

A lot of the most popular karaoke spots line Wilshire Boulevard in K-town, making it easy to venue-hop, especially if you need a smaller spot to build up your confidence on the horn. Also: singing is good for you. 

Make sure to check in advance if you need to reserve a room for karaoke, but some stalwarts include Cafe Brass Monkey, the 80s-themed speakeasy Break Room 86, Pharaoh, and The Venue. And for those living on the Westside, a spot you can hit even if you can’t quite reach the notes is undoubtedly the karaoke dive Gaslite, where, yes, I have been known to wow the crowd with my rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.” But that’s a story for another time. Have a great weekend.

Photo by Getty


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