Don't anyone get me wrong. I love the culture of the West Coast. The convivial and laid-back nature certainly suits the way I work far more than the dominant cultural mode of the East Coast. But I don't miss the cultural practice of "flaking out."
Back East, flaking out is an unequivocal bad thing. You just don't do it. Habitual flaking out on social engagements will guarantee a drop in said activities. It's just not acceptable.
Out West, on the other hand, flaking out is granted the same weight as you having a particularly virulent infection or your mother dying. Flaking out is a perfectly reasonable excuse for, say, missing your friend's dinner party (or worse). Never mind you said you were coming and the hosts toiled for several hours to make a delicious meal. To be fair, we all flake every now and again - some more than others - but the West Coast seems to enable flakers, not so much by approving of the act, but by heaping social opprobrium upon those who deign to be a little pissed off at their friend who flaked out on the concert after they forked over $45 for the fucking ticket.
I'll cop to having been prone to flaking out more than someone should. And living in a cultural milieu that is flaking-out intolerant, I've come to be better about it.
But for those of you who totally promise to be at the party to celebrate some professional milestone, and when I see you two days after the party you say, "How's it going, dude? Sorry I totally flaked on your party," you shouldn't be surprised if I'm pissed off. Don't promise to come, or let me know in a reasonable amount of time that you won't be able to make it. But don't get so stoned that you decide that the Seinfeld marathon seems easier to handle than getting off the couch and attending to your social duties and expect me to be happy about it.
Habitual flaking out is crap. Socially enabling that behavior is even more crap.