Sell Out Man, Chapter Seven


Zev woke up at 7:10am. Amy was still sound asleep in bed besides him. She must have come to bed late the night before because Zev didn’t remember her coming to bed. Zev must have been sound asleep. Zev made coffee and then sat on the couch. He put on a Brian Eno record and drank his coffee. He stared out the large window and into the backyard. It was a nice morning. Blue sky and crystal clear sunlight. Birds, squirrels and a black cat played around in the garden. Zev watched and listened to Brian Eno as he drank his coffee. As the caffeine made its way into his blood system he gradually started to feel better. More awake and capable of doing things in the world. His morning coffee brought with it a brief escape from the depression he continually felt. When he drank coffee, he thought about things he wanted to do. He felt mildly excited about the day in front of him.

Zev didn’t want to go to work that day. It was Wednesday or Thursday, he wasn’t sure which. He had had enough of painting. Couldn’t bring himself to do anymore. The thought of working on a painting made him feel nauseous. He had to take care of some business and he didn’t want to do any of it. The idea of having to talk with gallery owners, curators, his accountant and a few payment collectors made him feel even more uncomfortable. He decided that he wouldn’t do that today. He wasn’t going to work or have anything to do with the responsible world. He would take the day off and maybe Amy and he could go do something together.

Zev was smoking a cigarette on the deck when Amy woke up a few hours later. It always annoyed Zev how Amy would sleep in. He felt waking up early was an important virtue. But he was feeling good about his decision to take the day off and didn’t let his agitation get to him. He finished his cigarette and the joined Amy where she sat on the couch drinking her coffee. Her long hair was disheveled and she was wearing one of Zev’s oversized t-shirts. The t-shirt was white and in bold writing said Cold Cave on the front. Amy said that she was cold. Zev looked at Amy’s bare legs and feet and asked her why she didn’t put on pants and socks. Amy said that she didn’t like socks or pants. The feel of most material was uncomfortable on her overly sensitive skin. Amy had a lot of strange sensitivities. She didn’t like to sweat. She didn’t like the feeling of being cold. Tight underwear and bras made her feel suffocated. The sound of someone chewing sent her into an inner rage. Maybe it was Asperger’s syndrome, Zev thought.

Zev told Amy that he wasn’t going to go into work that day. He asked her if she wanted to take a drive to Venice Beach and spend the day there. Amy told Zev that she couldn’t because she had to work. She had meetings at WORD all day and then had to finish editing an essay which was past deadline. She did have a meeting at WORD that day but she also had lunch plans with her friend Rae and she had several errands she wanted to run. Zev felt disappointed that Amy wasn’t able to hang out with him that day. He always enjoyed her company on outings. He felt like she was fun to hang out with and he didn’t have as much fun on his own. It was good for a man to be seen with an attractive younger lady and without her he felt just like everyone else- unextraordinary. Amy felt bad that she had disappointed him and asked Zev if she wanted her to make breakfast. She told Zev that she could make an egg sandwich with bacon. Zev felt hungry and said that sounded good. Amy went into the kitchen to cook breakfast and Zev went out on the deck to smoke another cigarette. The sun felt warm and Zev thought about what he would do that day.

Zev called Marissa and told her that he was taking the day off. He asked her to do organizing and clean-up work around the studio with the other intern. He also asked her to finish filling in the negative space on several of the larger paintings he was working on. A few paintings needed to be packaged and sent out as well. Marissa wondered if Zev was ok and she felt disappointed she wasn’t going to get to see him that day. Even though he was normally miserable, she always liked having him around. She thought of Zev as a great guy. Marissa told Zev that she would do the things he requested and that she hoped he was ok. He told her that he was fine, just needed some time away. Marissa told him she understood and that she would see him the following day.

Zev decided to take a drive out to the beach. He needed to get the hell out of hipster central and go someplace where there was less people and more space. Silverlake was so crowded with people that Zev wondered if it wasn’t part of the reason he was depressed. Maybe he was just the kind of person that needed more space and living inside this kind of overpopulated cement maze was taking its toll on him. City life isn’t all it is cracked up to be. He drove on Highway 101 out towards Ventura. He listened to the new album by Negativeland. He thought about the recent suicide of Simon Morris, one of his favorite contemporary writers and thinkers. Simon was found floating in the water. It must have been a suicide Zev thought even though the cause of death was yet to be declared. Zev felt that it made sense that Simon Morris would end his highly eccentric and deviant life by suicide. He thought about one day doing the same.

The Negativeland album made him laugh. We are all going to die, he thought. Zev smoked cigarettes as he drove. He also smoked pot which gradually changed his entire state of mind. Once he was stoned he was enjoying the drive which previously frustrated him. He enjoyed listening to Negativeland more and was less disappointed that Amy was not with him. He understood. He felt less angry and upset overall. His expectations seemed to disappear. He felt raised out of his depression and petty obsessions. He thought about more interesting things. Zev reminded himself to remain stoned all the time. It was good for him. When Zev saw a sign that said Oxnard/Channel Islands he decided to exit the freeway. Ventura was still many miles away so Zev decided to go check out some obscure beach town that he had never heard of.

Zev drove his black Audi into downtown Oxnard. He stopped and got a cup of shitty coffee. He smoked a cigarette outside the café. He walked around downtown for a little but was unimpressed. Downtown Oxnard is a town that is almost dead. Kind of like the rest of us, Zev thought as he watched a few Hispanic people walking down the street. Zev asked someone where the beach was and they gave him general directions to Channel Islands. When Zev asked the person what Channel Islands was they told him the most beautiful spot in Oxnard. It was at the tip of the ocean. Zev thanked the stranger and then found his way there. He put Channel Islands into his Maps and was there within fifteen minutes. He drove all the way to the end of the road where there was a very small boardwalk area, a bar and a small café. There was a row of cement benches facing the water and Zev sat down in one of them. He looked around and loved how clean the air smelled. Must be all the negative ions Zev thought. Zev lit a cigarette and watched the birds and boats go by.

There weren’t too many people out by the beach that day. A few younger people sat smoking joints and cigarettes and congregating around a cement table. Some locals were out riding their bikes or on a walk. Fishing boats stocked with crew members and fishing poles went out into the sea. A few midafternoon drinkers wondered into the bar. The place was quiet and serene. You could hear seals, seagulls and the sound of sails flapping in the wind. Zev noticed that he felt more at peace as he walked around. He felt more settled within himself than he had felt in a long time. He smoked cigarettes and walked through the residential streets. He looked at the various beach houses and thought about how he and Amy could live this kind of life. He walked out onto the beach and stopped at the foot of the ocean. A sense of exhilaration and awe came over him standing in front of something so powerful that it could annihilate him and everyone else in seconds. The massive horizon stretching out in front of him made all his troubles seem so irrelevant.

Zev walked around for hours. He looked at the boats and noticed that several people lived on their boats. He thought about what a great experience living on a boat must be. A part of him had always wanted to live on a boat. Zev loved being around water and the idea of living on a boat seemed ideal to him. A painter who he was friendly with lived on a houseboat in Amsterdam and he always envied him for it. But he didn’t think living on a boat would ever be a possibility for him. He didn’t know how to drive a boat and didn’t know the first thing about boats. So, he didn’t think about it much. Zev walked on a long pathway lined with succulent plants, grass and trees. People were out walking their dogs or riding bikes. When he would pass by people they would say hello and Zev forced himself to say hello back. He found it strange. No one said hello to strangers in Silverlake or anywhere in LA. But here everyone seemed to say hello when they passed by Zev.

Zev stopped at a bench and sat down. He noticed that Marissa, his mother and a few other people had texted him. But there was nothing from Amy. He thought this was odd. It was almost 5pm and she didn’t text him to see how he was doing or if he was having a nice time? Zev felt slightly hurt by Amy’s lack of interest but assumed she was having a busy day. He decided to text Amy and told her that he had discovered this beautiful place called Channel Islands in Oxnard. A kind of isolated and village like beach town. He told her that he hoped work was not stressful and that her day was good and that he would se her at home in a few hours. He didn’t know that Amy was out getting her vagina waxed and preparing to see Arthur for a quick visit that evening. They would go grab dinner and then have sex quickly at his place in Koreatown. Amy didn’t want to be home after Zev.

On his way back to Silverlake Zev decided to return his mother’s phone call. It was always easier for him to talk with her when he wasn’t feeling miserable. Being out at the ocean had helped him to feel more social. He felt good about discovering a new place rather than just spending his day at home as he normally would do if he took a day off from work. His mother asked him disinterestedly about how he was doing and he told her he was fine. He told her about what he did that day and she said that that sounded nice. Zev’s mother then took the opportunity to talk about herself. She didn’t have many people besides her miserable husband to talk with so she enjoyed talking about herself with Zev. She told him about art shows she had gone to and books that she had read. She told him about how much she enjoyed where she lived and about her upcoming trip to Vietnam. Zev pretended to be interested in her but found her life incredibly boring and bourgeoisie. Zev’s mother then asked him about how the painting was going but he didn’t want to talk about it. He felt like she always judged his work. When he got off the phone with her he felt disturbed. Like he had just spoken with someone who didn’t really care about him. It felt strange that this someone happened to be his mother.

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