The Weekender: Are You Listening?

What to do in Los Angeles now that Summer is fully underway

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Here in L.A., it’s hard to know if someone is listening – let alone active listening. What’s active listening? I learned about it from watching The Bachelorette which my friend, Susie, introduced me to this past weekend. 

Active listening is a method of listening that involves eye contact, not interrupting, not imposing opinions or solutions or judgments, just being present, staying focused and asking questions. Essentially, how humans used to interact before technology. 

Here’s a situation that everyone can relate to. You’re having a pleasant meal with a friend. Suddenly, they reach for their phone which, naturally, is always within reach. What are they doing? It’s breaking news. Or they’re checking on something in real time. Or they’re ordering something on Amazon while you’re talking. This person is not an active listener. This person is a defective listener with no impulse control.

When it comes to active listening, the thing to remember is: no one cares about it anymore. The bar is so low that it’s now considered a reason to choose to keep someone in your life.

The other day, I was having lunch with a friend whose daughter was traveling internationally. I was in the middle of telling a story when she grabbed her phone. I assumed it must be urgent. 

I stopped speaking, and waited. 

 “Go on,” she said. Still looking at her phone. “I’m listening.”

“Are you?”  I said.  “I can wait until you’re done.”

It’s the least I could do.  She was dealing with an emergency. I watched as she scrolled on her phone.

“Okay,” she said, staring at the screen. “I thought so. He was born in 1968.” 

Turns out, she was fact-checking. Curious if the actor I’d mentioned was indeed in his 50’s. 

Good thing I was careful not to disturb her.

People can’t wait anymore until you get to the end of the story. There is also no longer an inclination to consider if this silent form of interruption is rude. Everything is urgent. What time does Whole Foods close? Is there a Trader Joe’s nearby? Is it raining in Puerto Rico? What’s the name of Kevin Bacon’s goat? I have to know! 

I made the mistake once of saying: “I’m in the middle of telling a story. That can’t wait?”

“I forgot,” came the snarky response, “You need undivided attention.”

Yes, me and my high expectations are always the problem. 

Maybe because the greatest gift you can give someone is time and attention. That, and googling the word I can’t remember as I’m stammering to recall it.

Here are 5 things to do this weekend that are worth your attention…

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Go Hear

Jeff Goldblum

A friend of mine (my age) saw this show with her 20-year daughter who’s obsessed with Jeff Goldblum. He’s the perpetually suave actor from “Jurassic Park,” “Independence Day,” “The Fly” and one of my favorites: “The Big Chill.” Apart from being intensely likable, he’s campy and fun and goofy and plays classic jazz with his band, The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. 

He performs regularly the in Los Angeles area, while taking questions from the audience and telling entertaining stories.

During the show my friend went to, he welcomed guest singers who sang classics “Moon River,” and “Don’t Fence Me In” and then joined Goldblum and the band for a cover of Steve Lawrence’s “Bewitched.” 

Even if you’re not a major jazz fan, seeing him in person perform is worth it for the banter alone.

Jeff Goldblum
Photo by Getty

When:  Friday July 21st at 8pm 

Where: Sagerstrom Center for the Arts | 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Parking: Click here for details!

Buy tickets.

Go See

Fetch Clay, Make Man

This play – a drama by Will Power – opened in New York in 2013 and according to the New York Times “is about the meeting between two men who achieved renown during different eras in the thorny history of race in America – Muhammad Ali and the actor Stepin Fetchit.” 

The play takes place in the days leading up to one of Muhammad Ali’s most anticipated fights, when he forms an unlikely friendship with the controversial Hollywood star Stepin Fetchit (born Lincoln Perry).

Directed by Debbie Allen, the play explores the improbable bond that forms between two drastically different and influential cultural icons. It’s a true story and a friend of mine who goes to the theatre all the time said this is the best show he has seen in L.A.

If you can’t trust the taste and opinion of a friend you’ve never met or heard of, who can you trust? 

Fetch Clay, Make Man
Photo by Craig Schwartz

When: Until July 16th

Where: The Kirk Douglas Theater | 9820 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

Parking: Metered street parking available. Free three-hour covered parking at Culver City City Hall with validation, which can be processed in the Douglas lobby.

Buy Tickets.

Go To

Garden of Oz

There’s a magical secret garden in Beachwood Canyon.  

According to Atlas Obscura, which describes it better than I can: “In the early 90’s Beachwood Canyon resident Gail Cottman decided to build a beautiful garden in the plot of land on the hill below her home. It started as a set of flower beds and over the years, with the help of many artists and friends, it has blossomed into a labyrinth of colorful tiles forming thrones and tributes to everything from movies like The Wizard of Oz to peace-loving musicians, like John Lennon. Rumor has it that she gifted keys to her garden to all the children in her neighborhood. Luckily, she also decided to open this wondrous place, which is now a designated Historic Cultural Monument, to everyone else.”

It’s a tiny garden so when you’re done you can take a walk or bring your bike and enjoy a ride with an unobstructed view of the Hollywood sign.

The Garden of Oz
Photo by @loritakontiki

Hours: The garden is only “unofficially” open once a week on Thursdays between 10 a.m. and noon.

Where: 3040 Ledgewood Dr., Hollywood, CA 90068

Parking: Parking can be found along Ledgewood Drive, on the opposite side of the street only or along Beachwood Canyon. 


Check Out

Surf Skate Roots Rock Festival

If you’ve seen the Lords of Dogtown – a semi-fictional film about the roots of surf/skate culture and the Westside – you’ll have a sense of what this crowd will be. It’s a seminal film and it still has a resounding influence in fashion, art and music. This festival will be a scene full of people in the Venice surf/skate and art scene.

This will be a two day event incorporating music, art, surf and skateboard. One of the organizers — Alan Scott — is an ex pro-skater and has a reputation for throwing art and music parties since the eighties. The other organizer — Josh “Bagel” Klassman — is a Venice Breakwater surfing veteran and a legendary photographer who has documented this cultural movement organically since the beginning. Together, these two are cultivating an event that will bring surfing and skateboarding icons under one roof. From the skateboarding G.O.A.T., Tony Alva, to the world champion surfer Corky Carroll, this culture-rich gathering will host a range of westside royalty. 

The only one missing will be my pal, Mark Baker, who’s in Bali right now – although who knows – he might even show up barefoot in his sarong.

Photo by Getty

When: Saturday July 8th, Sunday July 9th

Where: 2350 Porter Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Parking: Closest lot is at 726S S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Buy tickets.

Go Fish

Huckleberry Pond

If you want to introduce your kids to fishing before you invest in all the equipment and gear – this is a good test. You don’t need a license or experience. And for a small admission fee, you can possibly teach them patience as well. You rent the boat and the rod and maybe even catch your fish for dinner!

Huckleberry Fish Pond is designed for kids and loaded with fish. The staff can help with rigging and fishing tips and questions like “Can we throw the fish back in the pond?”

The answer is no. There is no “catch and release” – so any fish that you catch is yours but they do offer fish cleaning so you won’t have to do it in your backyard at home.

Huckleberry Pond
Courtesy of

When:  Fri, Sat, Sun — 9am to 3pm

Where: Huckleberry Pond | 4060 E. La Palma Avenue,Anaheim, CA 92807

Cost: Entrance Fee (Per Rod)  $5 | Rod Rental  $5 (1 Free bait included) | Price per pound (seasonal)  $10

Info: (714) 694-7210

Parking and directions.