An amusing book called Primates of Park Avenue came out a few years back. Here's the schtick: a Ph.D anthropologist met and fell in love with an up-and-coming NYC banker and they ended up moving to Park Avenue. He makes enough money for them to live there while she doesn't get to do anything but be a bored housewife. Thus, a bored housewife finds herself alienated and alone in a strange and insular culture and goes Margaret Mead on it, scientifically documenting her attempts to integrate with the dominant social culture.
It's a useful framing device because it allows the author to (A) fully acknowledge the batshittery she engages with (B) explore her personal stakes in seeking acceptance with a new social crowd whose rules are alien and confusing. She's got an entire chapter on street interactions with strangers, which leads to an entire chapter on Birkins, which leads to an entire chapter on the social mores of procuring a Birkin bag, for example. These things are demonstrably crazy. Yet she wants them.
Her primary drive is to be accepted by the alpha female of the tribe, an old-money New York socialite. She claims she was. The Upper East Side was not amused.
I bring it up because you need the framing to understand California. The people who move there are well aware things are abnormal, however they've accepted it as their normal. The social strata they swim in accepts this abnormal and wins and losses are chalked against the abnormal, not whatever you rubes out in Bumblefuck, MI think is normal.
This is the principle reason why music, movies and television grossly overrepresent Los Angeles: the creatives who are suffering under the abnormal must do their best to assert that their normal is superior to everyone else's normal or else what the fuck would they be doing it for? People who wash out, I mean we speak of them fondly, we wish them well, but we no longer respect them. They are no longer striving for immortality. They have accepted less. They have thrown in the towel. We will not sing their praises. We will not sing of them at all. They have chosen self-banishment over struggle and the more we think about them, the more contagious their failure.
Julia Philips had the fortune and misfortune to be a talented female in '70s Hollywood. Fortune in that she got to produce The Sting, Close Encounters and Taxi Driver. Misfortune in that she was a woman. So while everyone gave her a hard time about her cocaine habit, she watched her proteges eclipse her for simply having penises. When Julia Philips wrote her tell all she put an index in the back to save everyone the trouble of finding out what nasty shit she said about them. It did, in fact, keep her from getting a table at The Ivy.
That's Danny DeVito playing Dustin Hoffman, by the way.
Not All Californians, sure. But again, these are the guys (and very few girls) defining the culture. I know a guy who makes watches. Also is a high school principal. Also has lived in and around LA his entire life and having had lunch with him twice, and having been in his workshop talking about his successes and failures, he was still starstruck to be talking to "a Hollywood person" despite the fact that he watches exactly nothing I've ever worked on.
California thinks it's Camelot. Thus, you see peasants scrabbling through their shitty lives in hopes that some Shakespearean twist of fate launches them into a feudal barony where they can be benevolent and loved by those they used to stand shoulder to shoulder with. My come-to-jesus moment was walking through an open extras casting call for CSI:NY on my way to work. Here's a hundred eager achievers, chipper and happy to be living the dream, holding their sides so that everyone in line knows they've got auditions other than this, doing their best to look like "featured extra material" and despite the fact that they'd be the ones I'd hang out with at parties back home, despite the fact that I had more in common with them than the people where I was going, I fucking hated them for the simple fact that their presence meant all the fourth floor parking spots were taken, and I had to park on the fifth. Fucking tourists. Go back to Poughkeepsie.
I never fully acclimated. I never struggled. I flew down to see friends, boomed a Lean Cuisine commercial and was mixing network television within a week. Not only that my fiancee still lived a thousand miles away, which meant I had a house a thousand miles away to escape to, at least until we graduated her at which point we moved to LA full time and within four years were thriving and hating it. So really, I spent two years commuting to a shitty apartment, two years living in a not-shitty apartment, another three years living in a not-shitty apartment and arranging to get the fuck out, and then another three years commuting to another shitty apartment. It kept me immune to the brain cloud.
But most people are infected. And most of them are terminal.