'Tip the world on its side," Frank Lloyd Wright once said, "and everything loose will land in Los Angeles." The locals will tell you that the revolutionary architect meant it as a compliment to the city's boundless capacity to absorb attitudes, cultures and ideas, artists, dream-makers and wannabes. I'm not so sure.
After two years living here, I think it's more likely that Lloyd Wright was talking about the crystal readers heckling from their shop doors, the loincloth-sporting Jesus who patrols Sunset Boulevard in the early hours, or Frankenlouie, the three-eyed Janus cat who works a seven-day week at the Venice Beach Freakshow alongside the world's hairiest man. No, I think it's more likely that he was talking about the city's wacky residents.
You don't get much wackier than Hollywood stars, which is why they all end up here.
The more earnest actors and actresses may abdicate to Britain, New York or the south of France for a few years in search of the gravitas that eludes them in sunny, ditsy California (as well as a gluten-packed bread basket to be consumed at the restaurant table without fear of a public stoning).
But that only makes coming back that little bit harder, as Gwyneth Paltrow is about to discover. La La Land may be in Paltrow's blood, but when you marry a Brit and Britain becomes your "adopted home" - as the actress has described it - moving back to LA is bound to be a culture shock.
Yet after 10 years of living in north London's genteel Belsize Park, that's what Paltrow and her rock star husband, Chris Martin of Coldplay, have decided to do.
As of September, when she moves into the US$10 million ($12.6 million) 740sq m Hollywood Hills estate the couple bought last year, she'll have to lose the clipped vowels she emulated all too convincingly in the film Sliding Doors. Ditto the British straight-talk she has come by - for in LA, every conversation is a patchwork of selfindulgent psychobabble.
When the occasion demands it, Paltrow will have to forgo telling Exeter-born Martin that he's not "well": rather, he's not in "a good place right now". He's not making a phonecall or sending an email: he's "reaching out". She'll have to tell the kids that it's all about "valuing yourself first", but remind them that "caring is sharing"; not forgetting teaching the family that the polite way to end any casual conversation is with a fist bump and a cry of, "Healthy, happy," as you go on your way. And she'll have to remember that in LA, you don't ever bitch about anyone. Until they've left the room.
After so much time in Britain, Paltrow seems to have acquired the worrying habit of telling it like it is. There's an encyclopedia of Gwynnie-isms on Google: "I would rather die than let my kid eat Cup-a-Soup; I don't have drunk friends" (and you lasted a decade in London?); I'd rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin. (End the quote at "cheese" and she's right on-message for the LA crowd.)
But what her new neighbours won't take kindly to is the celeb-bashing Gwynnie has enjoyed of late. Celebrities aren't just a clique in LA: they are The Clique.
"You see [Reese Witherspoon] in something like Walk the Line and think, 'God, you're so great'," she told a newspaper in 2006. "And then you think, 'Why is she doing these stupid romantic comedies?' But of course, it's for money and status."
Then there was Paltrow's falling-out with Madonna in 2010 when she posted a message on her lifestyle website, Goop.com, that read: "What do you do when you don't like a friend anymore?" and subsequent boast to a reporter that she was going to "Polaroid my abs and text them to her".
Of course, minus the ill-feeling, Gwynnie is very much on the LA radar with her endless body obsession. It's no coincidence that her new home is five minutes from body guru Tracy Anderson's Brentwood studio. But to slot seamlessly back into LA life, it's going to take more than twice-daily workouts and Sunday morning hikes up Runyon Canyon in Lulu Lemon spandex.
Paltrow may have found a niche peddling physical perfection in slovenly Britain, and in being the only woman in that flabby, rudimentary land able to pronounce "quinoa", but out here macro-heads are 10-a-penny. There's no room for vices either (Paltrow has endearingly admitted to enjoying the odd pint of Guinness and "a cigarette on a Saturday night" - it's just the right amount of naughty).
There's no right amount of naughty in LA. Bodies aren't just temples - they're the bloody Taj Mahal.
You have to have successfully eliminated every food group and be able to subsist entirely off chlorophyll water (a stinking, dark green, immensely popular algae elixir that promises to stave off ugliness, ageing and death) in order to be considered a health freak.
Still, LA has its advantages. It's a pleasant enough place to live if you like endless sun, zero humidity and the unparalleled customer-service thing; if you want to "have a nice day" 365 days a year.
It's also home to the 40-year-old actress' mother and brother, to whom she reportedly wants to be closer while her children are "young enough for their education not to be affected". Ouch.
But as mother to Apple, 9, and Moses, 7, Gwyneth will also appreciate the fact that this city is more child-friendly than Disneyland. Shop assistants will help women with tractor-strollers, restaurateurs will have the high-chair and crayon set in place before you've sat down, and have diced the fish fingers before you can ask.
The price for all this is that they'll also introduce themselves and sit down at the table with you to take your order (all too often turning the chair back to front, straddling it and leaning in, arms crossed over the chair back in a winning pose they honed at their drama workshop). Their smiles are indelible (what's the point of all that cosmetic dentistry if people don't get to see the results 24/7?), their sentences either peppered with spiritualistic mumbo-jumbo or, at the very least, relentlessly up-ended.
The funny thing about Paltrow, though - annoying quotes aside - is that when you meet her (which I once did, at the Vanity Fair Oscar party) she's not an LA freak at all. She's witty, naturally pretty - and fun.
Maybe LA will beat all that out of her.
Or perhaps she'll just slip into the same cultural schizophrenia to which every expat becomes prone when ricocheting between two lands that might be polar opposites.