Sell Out Man, Chapter Four

Zev Bauhaus, Contemporary Abstract Works. A Contemporary Masters Series Exhibition. This is what the pretentious advertisement for the opening invitation read on top and then from there there was just a bunch of bullshit about Zev and the gallery. Zev didn’t pay any interest in this stuff. He tried to stay outside the politics of it all. Zev was wearing his nice black suit and had his recently dyed black hair nicely combed. Amy had told him she liked black hair on guys so he decided to give a dark black color a try. Amy told him he looked like a Nick Cave kind of character. Or someone who was a more series artist than the one he was being taken for. Zev was an artist for the rich. For those who loved abstract design and wanted to show the most contemporary pieces hanging on their wall. In the world of the rich, you display your status by the kind of paintings you hang.

         Zev had to talk with these people. He had to shake hands with them and pretend like he was enjoying the conversation as he talked to them. He had to act as if he was very happy to see everyone he met since they were all fans or potential buyers. But everyone was rich. There were no cool, hip young people. There were no freaks or weirdos. There were no punks or social deviants. The gathering at his openings were the epicenter of conformity and normalcy. Yuppies. These people were the perfection of what we are all expected to be.

         Zev looked around at his paintings hanging on the wall. Massive paintings with bright primary colors. Loads of texture and strange alien like shapes. It looked like he was ripping off the Spanish abstractionist painter Joan Miro. People paid him thousands of dollars for his paintings and so far most of his current large paintings had sold to high end hotels and a few investment companies. His current large paintings sold for over thirty-five grand a piece and he received 30 percent. This was more than he ever needed. Zev bought himself nice things. A nice car, nice furniture, top qualities clothes and good food. But he mostly spent his money on books and records created by deviant and obscure outcast artists and writers. He had a room in his home filled with them.

         Everyone wanted to talk with Zev and he was expected to engage with them all. He hated them but smiled as he talked. He wondered how this had all happened to him. Where had he gone wrong? All these people loved his work and him. They were willing to spend large amounts of money on a 41-year-old contemporary abstract painter with the last name of Bauhaus. Zev always suspected that his success had nothing to do with his talent. He could shit on a canvas and art collectors would still be buying it up. His success was predicated on his last name. People wanted to own paintings by a painter whose last name was Bauhaus. It was his last name that sold his work. These superficial rich people were all so full of shit. All about showing off. He disdained them for it. But he played into it. He gave them what he wanted. He took the money. He played the game and he had no one but himself to resent for it. These are the kinds of things Zev thought about when he would step outside into the New York night and smoke one cigarette after the next.

         Amy wasn’t able to join Zev in New York because she had obligations at WORD to attend to. At least she told Zev this. She really didn’t want to join Zev. She knew that Zev was miserable at these openings and she didn’t want to be around it again. They always fought anyways. Zev would take out his resentment towards himself on her. After the openings, he would be disgusted with himself and as a result mean to her. Amy also wanted to stay home because she saw it as an opportunity to spend more time with Arthur. Arthur and Amy back together again.

         Amy loved an essay Arthur wrote called, “Orthogenesis And The Biological Disappearance Of All Of Us.” In the essay, he writes about how everything that will happen to him is already happening. That he is already a disappeared man. Even though people think he appears. Arthur explained to Amy the teleological idea that whatever is coming next will be here soon, whatever form it takes, if it isn’t already begun to emerge. And it probably has even though we don’t know it yet, Arthur told Amy. Amy loved the way Arthur’s mind worked. All his strange ideas. The places he would go in his mind are the place she wanted to go in hers. She was just tagging along for the ride. Zev was such a bore in comparison. He just was in his life’s misery. There was nothing interesting about that. Amy didn’t want to go there with Zev anymore. She preferred Arthur’s strange, dystopian world even though she felt he was young and immature.

         Arthur would come over after working on his writing at his apartment in Korea Town. Amy always enjoyed going there and fucking Arthur. The apartment was in a seedier section of Korea Town which made being an adulterer more appealing. It gave the experience an edginess that she liked feeling when she walked away from his apartment at night. Amy asked Arthur to try not to make himself visible to the neighbors since they would suspect something if they routinely saw him coming in and out. Arthur parked several blocks away and would jump over the back wall or walk through the front side gate. They spent the evening together watching various films and fucking. They would make dinner and then spend the evening in bed. She could never do stuff like this with Zev. Zev would think it was lazy or not appropriate to spend so much time in bed watching TV. But Amy loved it. It was a break from her marriage and an opportunity to have fun and be adored by Arthur.

         Zev began to suspect something was off when he would text or call her and she would be non-responsive. She used to text him right back but now it took a while more consistently. He would call her and it would take some time for her to call him back. Zev didn’t know it at the time but Amy’s love was quickly fading. She was pouring it into someone else. While in their house and in their bed. Amy was all about convenience and comfort. It wasn’t personal.

         When Zev would tell Amy about certain restaurants he had tried in New York that she said she went to or certain galleries he visited that she said she visited and Amy didn’t recall these places, Zev found it strange. He wasn’t convinced by the way she was trying to play things off and change the subject. But he didn’t care that much. He shrugged it off. It didn’t even occur to Zev that she was deep into an affair. Zev assumed she was busy. He always thought she was forgetful. He went about his trip in New York without even thinking about it. He sat in cafes during the day and read and drew. He bought a magazine called “WIRED, Adventures In Sound And Music” and read from that. He found out about new music from that magazine and then would search for it in iTunes on his phone. They almost always had everything he searched for and he would download it to his phone and then walk around the city listening to it. He wondered around Greenwich Village and thought about The Beats. He thought about Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg wondering around high and drunk and in love with life in Washington Square park. Now the place looked like a graveyard compared to how it once must have been. The police had taken control and drowned out most of the real transient culture. Zev walked around and felt disdain and annoyance towards all the people he was surrounded by.

         When Zev returned home he was exhausted and grouchy. Amy picked him up from the airport and Zev was happy to see her. She smelled nice and was dressed in a short black skirt and had her bare legs showing. She wore a tight black sweater top which made it obvious she was wearing no bra. Something about her seemed more arousing and Zev found himself desiring her in a way he had not in some time. A sexually active woman can be sensed by men.

         They went out for dinner and shared a bottle of wine. Amy came outside with Zev and smoked. Zev’s bad mood began to fade and he felt like he was having a nice time with Amy. He felt close to her and like she was interested in him. They were happy to be together and Amy tried to forget about what she was doing with Arthur. After dinner, they went to a bar and had another drink and smoked more cigarettes. Amy didn’t normally smoke unless she was letting lose and having a good time so Zev was always happy to see her smoking. That evening Zev was happy. These were brief pockets of time that Zev often missed. He loved being back in his house and was glad he survived the journey to New York. He never expected to live forever. Or maybe he did.

         Zev turned on a Coil record and they smoked pot and talked in the front room of their home which had a large glass window showing the lit-up tips of the buildings in downtown LA. Zev told Amy about what bullshit he thought the art scene was and she agreed. He also told her that he probably made a few hundred thousand dollars from the show, which Amy was happy to hear. Maybe soon they would move out of the Silverlake home and buy their own house by the ocean in Venice Beach, Zev suggested. Amy thought that sounded like a great idea even though she didn’t believe herself. Zev went on to tell her how they could buy a cool wood bungalow on the beach for a few million. Nothing too fancy. Bohemian style. Amy tried to avoid going deeper into the conversation by taking of her clothes and then proceeding to unbutton Zev’s pants. She asked him if he wanted a blow job and he said yes.

         After the blow job Zev felt incredibly relaxed. That was the best thing he had felt in a long time. It amazed him how capable the body was of attaining high states of pleasure. This is what orgasm was for him- a high state of pleasure which he continually craved. He wondered why he didn’t let Amy give him blow jobs more often. She was so good at it and always willing to do it. All he had to do was ask. But he rarely did. He felt like something was wrong with him for not asking for or accepting a blow job each and every day. Amy loved to swallow semen and Zev loved to give it to her. An attractive and intelligent woman who loves to swallow semen is a rare commodity that Zev felt he should value more.

         Zev pulled up his pants and they both decided to get ready for bed and watch something on TV. Netflix had become their on-line version of TV. Zev was feeling particularly close to Amy. He loved her and everything she would do for him he was grateful for. He felt fortunate to have a wife like her and wanted to work on being closer with her. Not being so miserable all the time. It was easier for Zev to think this way in those rare times when he was feeling good. He was able to get perspective. But gradually his mood began to shift when he saw Amy continually texting on her phone. He had noticed that Amy was on her phone now more than usual. She was even staying up late on her phone. A slight wave of concern came over Zev but he let it go again. She was probably just working more. It couldn’t be anything. He rolled over and put his right arm around Amy’s breasts.

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