«Only in L.A.» You'll hear the phrase often, as a mantra for a this-is-the-good-life moment or with a laugh over a local oddity. Los Angeles teems with quirks, idiosyncrasies, and racing trajectories - the fascinating fallout from the city's alembic of ambition and invention. Dozens of cultures and affiliations jostle for position: Hispanic, Chinese, African-American, Korean, surfers, cyberminds, and of course, movie hopefuls. A cinematic glow colors everything in Los Angeles, from the Griffith Park Observatory, where James Dean fought in Rebel Without a Cause, to the nodding oil pumps seen in L.A. Confidential. It's an industry town, it's a car town, it's glitzy - and it's always captivating. Visitors flock to Hollywood in search of film and television stars; to Beverly Hills and Malibu for a glimpse of glamour and privilege; and to the beaches all along the coast, where the sunny, laid-back California good life is alive for all to see. If luck goes your way, you might find yourself doing a double take as a famous face shows up at a Santa Monica coffee shop or a Beverly Hills mall. Though L.A. is known for its show-biz razzle dazzle, the city refuses to rest on its laurels. In the new millennium image makers are forging a new identity for the city: that of an art and culture capital. Residents hope that as the world's eye gazes on the spectacular Getty Museum complex in Brentwood, it will wander also to some of its other 50-plus major museums, and to its hundreds of theaters and performance spaces. For those who think of L.A. primarily as the land of the permanent tan and endless beaches, the local retort is: «A beach with a ballet is a better beach!» Will L.A. become the Paris of the next thousand years? Stranger things have happened.