Just like singer Randy Newman, I love L.A. We recently flew there to attend the wedding of my cousin Nancy’s daughter. I think that makes the bride my first cousin once removed. It’s a Southern thing that requires attending weddings of your relatives no matter how distance is measured — either by geography or blood lines.
    U.S. Air provided air miles to get us there. I thought my air miles would end up as part of my estate because flights were always unavailable when I called to try to redeem the miles. Finally, I figured out how to use the computer to reserve tickets, and voila, California here we come.
    Modern air travel is a symphony of ethereal pleasures: lots of room on the plane, no waiting, and careful screening of your socks by the Fatherland Security Administration. Always wear clean socks so your dirty feet don’t appear in a government dossier. Unless you are into anorexia, you must bring food with you. I packed a classic elementary school bag lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches, apples, chips, and pecans to torment our seat mates with the exotic smell of room temperature ham and stinky cheese. It was great. Next time I’ll make sardine and clove sandwiches. That will really add to the cachet of flight in the 21st century.
     We stayed in L.A. with my niece, Lisa, who is a member of Ghostwriters Anonymous. Lisa is quite colorful. She has ghostwritten several books which have made it to The New York Times bestseller list. A Russian studies graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she worked as a nanny in the American Embassy in Moscow, was a singer in a French restaurant in Japan, worked as a writer for www.thewashingtonpost.com and ended up being a ghost writer of nonfiction books. She is also an excellent softball pitcher. Her most excellent apartment in West Hollywood looks like something out of a Raymond Chandler novel or a movie set in the 1930s. Her neighborhood is filled with bizarre California plants that could only be grown in a greenhouse back here. It is interesting what banyan tree roots can do to sidewalks. {mosimage}
     I woke up early and wandered the streets. West Hollywood is not a morning kind of town. It is filled with colorful stores, nightclubs and restaurants that claim to serve breakfast but are not really open until noon. One store front had a neon sign that read “Free HIV Testing.” Who knew HIV Testing had been arrested? Lisa took me on a walking celebrity tragedy tour. We saw the Chateau Marmont Hotel on Sunset Boulevard where John Belushi snorted his last drugs before sloughing off this mortal coil. Nearby was Barney’s Beanery, which is a lounge where Janis Joplin allegedly was last seen alive in public consuming a beer. Also in the neighborhood was the Viper Room where River Phoenix breathed his last. Sic sempter celebriti.
 We spent one day at the Getty Museum, which is a quaint little place that old J. Paul Getty built on the top of a large, spectacular hill. The museum grounds are huge with multiple futuristic art castles which could be in Star Wars. Very spiffy art — Van Gogh, Monet, Cezanne and a cast of thousands. It is remarkable what you can do with several billion dollars if you put your mind to it. I was disappointed that there were no paint-by-number displays. But you can’t have everything.
     The wedding itself was outstanding. It was held outside in a beautiful park on a beautiful California afternoon starring Wendy the beautiful bride.
    We arrived about 15 minutes early and no one was there.
    The almost 200 guests drifted in about 30 minutes later. It must be a California thing. Everyone was laid back. Even the bride’s mother Nancy was calm. She had all the family over for dinner the night before the wedding. Astounding.
     Nancy, and Wendy’s father Bob, have been divorced for many years but they are still good friends. Nancy’s husband Andy is also friends with Bob. The ceremony ended with a beaming Nancy walking off arm-and-arm between Bob and Andy. It was a beautiful.
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