Outside Myself

(now with 100% more pictures)

Seeing your life through someone else’s eyes can be illuminating or depressing. When I look at the changes in my life over the last several years critically (because when aren’t I critical), I see someone who went from employed, living in a 3-bedroom house with the husband presumptive to unemployed, flying solo in a small 1-bedroom apartment. It doesn’t feel like a momentous transition into a delightful new world. It might seem like spectacular failure.

Enter my mother.

She came to visit. She loved it here. She marveled at everything and thinks my life is exciting and full of possibility. And the one thing she said over and over again (other than “it’s so clean here”) was “there is so much to do here all the time.”

She might not be wrong. OK, not about my life (I’m allergic to exciting); however, Los Angeles can be a fascinating place if you let it be. So this past weekend, I decided to let Los Angeles dazzle me—and it had nothing to do with celebrities.

Stop #1: The Annenberg Space for Photography: Beauty Culture Exhibit

I had stopped at Annenberg with friends last week, but I missed the beginning of the Beauty Culture exhibit companion film by Lauren Greenfield. I was intrigued enough to go back. It’s a very frank film about the beauty mega-industry and how that has impacted us all. Now I’m inspired to work on my own “beauty” project. If you live in Los Angeles and know me in real life, you should just assume I will beg you to be part of it. I can be relentless. Give in now.

Total cost to attend exhibit and film: $0

Parking: free elsewhere, but they also have validation for site parking

Stop #2: The Getty: Saturdays Off the 405

The Getty modern is a place I’m growing to love more every time I visit. When I went with my mom, we did the gardens tour: beautiful views, interesting information on how it was designed and entirely free—what could be better? Saturdays Off the 405 is a concert series that allows attendees to groove to tunes and take in the breathtaking sunset at the same time. On Saturday evening, I cruised up to the Getty to hear Charles Bradley & the Menahan Street Band (if you are into R&B/Soul head to iTunes).

While the band was a great new find for me, what I marveled at was the cross-section of Los Angeles that turned out for the concert. From the heavily pierced to the conservative Beverly Hills types, everyone was there—all colors, ages, shapes and sizes. Some were right up by the band (and wine/beer) in the museum courtyard, while others lounged by fountains or the lawns. I felt like I had discovered a new world. At last I know where Los Angeles goes on Saturday nights. Forget the clubs—the Getty Museum is the place to be!

Total cost to attend the concert: $0

Parking: Free at the Getty after 5:00pm

Stop #3: LACMA: Sundays Live (sundayslive.org)

“Sundays Live” is a weekly classical chamber music concert at the Bing Theater of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (it’s broadcast and you can pick it up on podcast). The program is “the longest-running live music broadcast in Los Angeles,” according to their website. It started in 1948. Despite that, and all the years I’ve lived here, Sunday night was my very first visit. I blame Breaking Bad for my normal reluctance to leave on a Sunday evening. That and the dread of going to a job the next day for many years pretty much shut my exploratory ways down on any given Sunday. And… sometimes football.


This concert featured Daniel Rothmuller (cello) and Bernadene Blaha (piano) performing Chopin: Sonata, Opus 65 and Brahms: Sonata in E minor, Opus 38. The music was sublime, as you would expect it to be as part of a long-running, well-regarded program. I listened to the first half within the theater and the second outside in the courtyard (what can I say, there is something dreamy and romantic about having the music swell around me as the breezes and fountains flow).

Here’s another thing that might surprise you: the event was packed. I now know where the people of Los Angeles go on Sunday nights. I certainly know where I’m going to be.

Total cost to attend the concert: $0

Parking: At the museum it is $10, but street parking is free

People, if you live in Los Angeles, don’t wait to see it until you play tour guide (or prepare to leave). It’s an amazing place and often the fabulousness can be had for free.

2 comments on “Outside Myself”

  1. AG

    As someone who visits LA 4-5 times a year, I always find myself on a hike just about every time. The trails up Mt. Hollywood in Griffith Park are fantastic. You can even toss in a visit to the (free) Griffith Observatory on the way up or down. Good exercise (about 6 miles round trip), great views (in winter, duh.) and free.

  2. li'lMama

    wow I really like these free things to do in LA. I have been considering moving out there, and I really like that there are all these things to do! 🙂

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