The Weekender With Ariel Leve: Put on a Happy Face

Here in L.A., being your authentic self is fine as long as your authentic self is brief and upbeat. Especially when it’s in a work setting.
The other day, a friend — an established actress who has been in show business a long time — had an unfortunate encounter. She arrived for her first day of work and greeted a co-worker in the make-up chair with: “Hey, how are you doing?”
Co-worker paused for a few seconds before responding with a lethargic: “I am … okay.”
“Great!” Said my friend. And walked away.
We proceeded to deconstruct this exchange. “On my first day of work with you, when I ask how you’re doing, I don’t want the real answer,” she said. “I want the professional answer: ‘Great!'”
How do people not know this? Who would possibly think that responding with honesty is the way to go?
“Usually a younger person who thinks I care,” she said. “I’m here to work. I’m not here to listen to your moods.”
Luckily, she’s skilled at knowing how to cut people off without wondering if she’s being rude. 
“I feel like they’re the ones being rude,” She says. “They don’t care that I don’t care.”

Everyone should know by now that the workplace “How are you?” is a throwaway question. But you know who really has it rough? Doormen. All day they have to ask “How’s it going?” to tenants as part of the job. You think they actually want an answer? I used to feel bad when I ignored it and kept walking. Until I realized they appreciate it.

Another tricky situation is when you work with friends. This happens to Liza quite a bit and when someone asks how she is, she answers honestly. The downside is, so do her colleagues.

“I really don’t have time to help whoever it is so that’s the conflict,” she says. “If I get into work and ask how it’s going and the response is ‘Awful I’m having a hard time’ – I can’t say ‘Good luck with that’ and move on because that person is a friend. I’m committed. It’s a lose-lose.”

So in what work setting can you answer “How are you” with honesty? Your therapist’s office. That’s about it. But chances are, even they would prefer if you’re entertaining and upbeat.

Here are 5 things this weekend to care about…

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L.A. Fleet Week

Every Memorial Day Weekend, the sailors come to town! San Pedro is located 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles and it’s home to North America’s largest port at the LA Waterfront. This is the epicenter for Fleet Week. This weekend there will be loads of activities – including swing bands, active duty ship tours as well as tours of the at the Battleship Iowa – a decades old ship that served in WWII, the Korean War, and the Cold War. This U.S. Navy ship is an iconic LA landmark and considered one of the region’s best outdoor museums.

There will be aerial demonstrations, live entertainment – including qualifying rounds for Military Has Talent on the main stage – a talent contest minus the presence of Simon Cowell. Then there’s Galley Wars (presented by FOX Entertainment) which is a culinary cook-off competition between Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Army teams.

Most of the events are free and the fleet week Expo is home base for everything on the waterfront. I’m sure there will also be lots of innocent flirting without a commitment because the sailors leave soon. On a ship, no less.

fleet week
Photo by Shutterstock

When: May 26 – May 29

Where: Port of Los Angeles | 425 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro, CA United States

Parking: Click here for parking details!


Go See

2023 GALA presented by Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (Sponsored)

Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles presents the 2023 GALA on Sunday, June 25 at Walt Disney Concert Hall immediately following the 3:00 p.m. matinee performance of Disney PRIDE in Concert — a multimedia musical celebration featuring GMCLA’s 200 singers, a 25-piece orchestra and stunning video projections, with almost 50 songs from over 20 beloved Disney films and Disney Parks. 

At the annual gala, outstanding individuals, companies, and institutions are honored with GMCLA’s Voice Award — a longstanding Chorus tradition. This year, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass will be presented with GMCLA’s Civic Voice Award, and Disney Concerts will be presented with its Artistic Voice Award. Television host and journalist, Melvin Robert (“Extra,” Fox’s “Good Day L.A.”) will host the reception and dinner event, which will include a silent and live auction. Funds raised will support GMCLA’s extensive Alive Music Project in schools and its numerous free public concert events.

This amazing extravaganza is produced by GMCLA’s Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto and conducted by Music Director & Conductor Ernest H. Harrison.

Photo by Gregory Zabilski
Photo by Gregory Zabilski

Dates: Sunday, June 25th at 3:00pm

Location: Walt Disney Concert Hall | 111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012



Vincent Price Art Museum

No, this is not a museum devoted to Vincent Price. Although that would be fun too. The museum got its name because the actor and art collector donated his vast collection. VPAM, as it’s known, has seven art galleries which accommodates temporary rotating exhibitions, student shows, permanent collection shows, and artist and community projects.

I heard about this museum because a friend of mine told me about a current exhibition that’s on now called, “What Would You Say? Activist Graphics From the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.” It uses case studies from LACMA’s collection to demonstrate how designers and artists championed civil rights, opposed wars and injustice, and pressed for change. The images are striking. Newspaper broadsheets to screen prints to digital downloads— the graphics are of figures and organizations including Emory Douglas of the Black Panther Party, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville of the Woman’s Building, and street artist Shepard Fairey. These images helped galvanize political movements and you can see prints that express outrage and optimism.

And, while you’re in Monterey Park, there’s a Chinese restaurant called Taste of MP that comes highly recommended. Everyone knows sweet and sour pork goes well with an activism-inspired shows.

Rupert García, Libertad para los Prisoneros Políticas! (Liberty for Political Prisoners!), 1971, screenprint, made for the National Committee to Free Angela Davis, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Rupert García, Libertad para los Prisoneros Políticas! (Liberty for Political Prisoners!), 1971, screenprint, made for the National Committee to Free Angela Davis, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Where: Vincent Price Art Museum | East Los Angeles College, 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, CA

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday from 12:00PM to 4:00PM, with extended evening hours on Thursdays only, from 12:00PM to 7:00PM.

Admission: Free.


Go To

Butterfly Pavilion

Have you ever dreamed about becoming a lepidopterist? Neither have I. But I’m a fan of butterflies because…who isn’t? The South Coast Botanic Garden currently has an exhibit that features hundreds of tropical butterflies that are rare to Southern California. You can wander through a natural habitat and see butterflies galore. There is a pavilion where you can experience hundreds of butterflies flying around and you don’t even have to be outdoors.

And new, this year, for an additional $6 (seems reasonable) is SOAR – where you can feed the butterflies. A Butterfly Feeding Experience! You’ll be provided a vial with nectar that will attract butterflies to come close up to you and in the continued rise of immersive experiences, this is surely one of the most unique.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Where: South Coast Botanic Garden | 26300 Crenshaw Boulevard Palos Verdes Peninsula, California 90274

Hours: Open every day: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (last entrance allowed at 4:30 PM)


Go See

United Ukrainian Ballet: Giselle

If you haven’t heard about how the actor Liev Schreiber is helping Ukraine with his non-profit, BlueCheck Ukraine, you can learn more on his Instagram account or look it up. This production of Giselle is in collaboration with his organization.

Following performances at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and the London Coliseum, The United Ukrainian Ballet will make its West Coast debut with Alexei Ratmansky’s Giselle. Ratmansky is Ukrainian, and this new interpretation of this romantic ballet is, according to the Guardian, “a little short of a miracle. The United Ukrainian Ballet – a crack company of dancers, some of whom have fled their homeland – ardently refresh a classic. Despite the wrenching context, it is immensely moving that everyone involved pours so much thought, heart and art into this revelatory project.”

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit BlueCheck which was created to vet, verify and fund Ukrainian-led local and grassroots frontline organizations providing lifesaving humanitarian aid. So not only are you getting a little culture, but you’re contributing to helping Ukrainians as well.

(*Note: this listing is an advance notice so there is time to buy tickets)

Photo by Atlin Kaftira
Photo by Atlin Kaftira

When: June 29 – July 2nd

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

Parking: Click here for parking details!


Party At

Bresh Dance Party

In 2016, the first-ever Fiesta Bresh was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is now a world-renowned celebration of Latin music and the last two dance parties in L.A. have sold out. This is a popular Latin American dance party that travels around the world  – with shows in Buenos Aires, Miami, Barcelona, New York, Madrid and Ibiza – basically places with people who appreciate Latin dance.  And if you like to dance – it’s an all nighter. I can’t say it’s something I would do because I’m going to sleep around the time it’s starting, but if I only suggested things I would do…we’d all be at home reading in bed and asleep by 10 pm.

Getty Images
Getty Images

When: Saturday, May 27th

Where: The Vermont Hollywood | 1020 N Vermont Ave, 90029

Hours: 9pm – 3am

Parking: There is a self park paid lot located at 1100 N Vermont Ave.