I'm in Los Angeles where my cousin's getting married. It's a traditional wedding by California standards -- white lace, baby bump, 30-foot white stretch Hummer limousine. Expressed in the symbolic order, "La-La Land," "Tinseltown" and "El Lay" exemplify the hostility and envy many Northern Californians have for LA. Is it the Southland's landscape of fantasy, acting out, denial of loss, narcissism, grandiosity, entitlement, incapacity to mourn, and supremely unaware self-awareness? Is LA a psychic retreat? Or is it a container for our disavowed impulses -- the holding environment for our own projections? 

LA Weekly features ads for labial reconstruction next to plugs for cosmetic foot surgery -- the lengthening and shortening of the toes. An article laments how women can't get sex in this town since men, confused by female predatory behavior, are the new romantics who demand to be pursued. In my cab, the driver chain-smoked as we fondly explored our mutual Armenian heritage. (I discovered later he overcharged me by $10.) At the industrial dance club, the usual driving beats were, well, laid back. A man wore a T-shirt that said "BYTE ME." Yet, no one's face was aglow with iPhone as they checked their texts from the dance floor as people do in SF. 

On Melrose, the street couture equivalent of the Haight, goth lux was in high style -- punky design T-shirts embellished with glitter. Joey Ramone, meet Joan Collins. A warehouse advertised $1 clothing and overflowed with boxes and racks of what looked to be costume outtakes from the wardrobe departments of Love BoatMacbeth, and Little House on the Prairie. Peeps pored through the piles in reverie about where they might possibly wear such fantasies. In a boutique named Insanity, which sold canvas totes with the slogan, "I'm Not A Plastic Bag," they wrapped my new dresses in large, glossy, colored-ink, cardboard bags. At the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Sunset, people cheerfully exchanged tales of callbacks, headshots and agents-from-hell. 

The wedding reception was held in Malibu at Duke's with an infinity view of the Pacific. The groom, Armenian, had met the bride, Turkish, in an online chat room called The Arabic Lounge. We dined on dolma and baklava, then danced a conga line to Middle Eastern music. Back in the hotel lobby, a tall, blonde, white boy complained into his cell phone, "Dude, I'm telling you, they've taken all the jobs everywhere." 

In our van to the airport, an older, very blonde woman and her elderly male friend stared out the window at a young blonde woman walking by. The older blonde watched her male friend watching the younger blonde, then smiled. Then, she smoothed her hair and let out a small sigh. I looked down the crowded street. As far as I could see, no one was wearing black. 

Cleopatra Victoria, MFT