Last week got off to a rocky start – literally. At 6.25 on Monday morning, me, my wife and the rest of Los Angeles were shaken awake by a brief, magnitude 4.4 earthquake. That's enough to knock a few cans of soup from supermarket shelves, though not to cause any serious damage or injury.
The web soon echoed with earthquake jokes, mostly inspired by a local news anchor who ducked beneath his desk as the temblor struck. But LA's quake tsar said the newsman's quick reaction was no laughing matter: "You might feel a little silly doing it for the small one," seismologist Lucy Jones told the Los Angeles Times. "When the Big One happens, it means you stay alive as the lights come crashing down."
Everyone knows this is a foolish place to put a city: the Mojave desert to the east, the ocean to the west, fault lines running just below the boulevards. Hence the persistent drought warnings, the annual wildfires and the signs directing beachgoers to designated tsunami escape routes.
Yet the region's last fatal earthquake was 20 years ago: the Northridge quake of 1994, which killed 60 people. An entire generation of Angelenos has few, if any, memories of significant seismic activity – which is why they're all cracking wise on social media, while their parents are busy making a mental note of the nearest table to cower under, just in case the Big One hits.
The threat of a major quake is why LA's 6th Street Viaduct is scheduled for demolition next year. Even if you haven't heard of it, you'll recognise the bridge from films such as Grease, Terminator 2 and The Dark Knight Rises. Built in 1932, it's the longest and most famous of the city's 14 river crossings, but it is also suffering from a so-called "concrete cancer" that puts it at risk of collapse. A replacement is due to be completed before 2020, and the designs suggest it will be a fitting homage to its predecessor. But, Hollywood sign aside, LA is a world city with few world famous landmarks; it's a shame to have to lose one of them.
Frocks and rocks
Turns out that Cate Blanchett was a double Oscar winner. Not only did the Australian take home the 2014 Academy Award for Best Actress, but she also accepted it in the evening's most expensive outfit. According to Vogue, Blanchett's flesh-toned dress by Armani Privé would only set you back about $100k (£60,000), but her borrowed Chopard jewellery – a diamond ring, a diamond bracelet and a pair of 33-carat opal earrings – was worth an estimated $18m.
Why any nominee would wish to add to the nerves of Oscar night with the fear of leaving a $5m ring beside the washbasin in the ladies' room is beyond me. But, if you must know, my Oscar look, calculated to wow my fellow hacks in the backstage press room, came courtesy of Al Weiss Men's Clothing in downtown LA, and was favourably described (by one of my wife's Instagram followers) as "Dapper as Hell". It cost a little over 90 bucks.
Rolex? You can't get the parts
The fashion accessory fetishes of the rich and famous rarely fail to baffle. For further proof, take singer-songwriter John Mayer, who has filed a lawsuit against his ex-friend Robert Maron, the so-called "watch-broker to the stars", for allegedly selling him counterfeit Rolexes. Maron has reportedly sold Mayer watches totalling some $5m since 2007.
He appeared in the video for Mayer's 2009 single "Who Says" and, when I interviewed the singer the following year, he described Maron as "one of my best friends" and "one of the best watch dealers in the world". But, not long after that, Mayer sent one of his big-ticket timepieces to Rolex for servicing, only to learn that it contained non-Rolex parts. Since then, the lawsuit claims, at least seven watches that Maron sold to Mayer have been deemed "counterfeit".
Maron's other clients include Orlando Bloom, Richie Sambora and Jennifer Aniston. If you think Mayer's watch habit sounds mad, Maron is said to have sold Charlie Sheen multiple timepieces to the tune of $10m. So now you know who actually reads the luxury watch supplements that come with your glossy magazines every few months – Charlie Sheen.
Wrist watches are the ideal collector's item for today's crazy rich dude: wildly expensive, yet functionally useless. The only practical reason to own one is to save you the trouble of pulling your smartphone out of your pocket. To be fair, your Patek Philippe probably boasts a few features that could be useful to a Himalayan explorer in an emergency. But does it have Flappy Bird?
Silicon Valley high
Ever since The Social Network proved the popular appeal of stories set in Silicon Valley, television execs have been trying to translate that success to the small screen. HBO's new start-up sitcom, boldly entitled Silicon Valley, doesn't premiere until 6 April, but the first reviews are in and they're glowing. In case you're wondering what demographic HBO hopes to capture with a show about nerdy blokes who spend most of their time on the internet, it's scheduled for broadcast immediately after Game of Thrones.
Tim Walker is Los Angeles correspondent for 'The Independent on Sunday'. Simmy Richman is away