Sell Out Man, Chapter Eight

Zev Bauhaus had a dream. He was having more of these dreams lately but didn’t pay much attention to them. Fits of unconscious paranoia he thought. Being a German Jew meant that Zev was prone to fits paranoia. It was the after effect of the persecution Jews experienced in Nazi Germany, Zev assumed. Zev was once told by a psychologist that he was a high functioning, full-fledged neurotic. In his dream Amy was having sex with several different men. She was naked and yelling at Zev that he needed to loosen up. As she was yelling at Zev one of her naked lovers hung out by her side. Zev was horrified. He couldn’t believe that Amy thought this sort of thing was ok. Amy laughed at Zev and then continued to suck off the naked guy sitting next to her. Zev woke up from the dream with a feeling of despair in his gut. He looked over at Amy who was sound asleep. Zev didn’t know that Amy had had sex with Arthur the night before.

Amy was thinking of Arthur more and more. She figured she was in some sort of relationship with Arthur now. They had not discussed this but Arthur had started telling Amy that he loved her. Amy loved the idea of love. She loved that Arthur was so in love with her and she decided to tell Arthur that she also loved him. She wasn’t sure if she loved Arthur but she let herself get caught up in the fantasy of it all. After years of being in what felt like a loveless marriage with Zev, it felt good to once again be intoxicated by the fantasy of being in love. She surrendered herself to the feeling and went along with it.

Amy and Zev had conversations about being polyamorous. Zev had told Amy that he wouldn’t mind if she had a boyfriend. But every time they did sexual things with other people, Zev seemed to get jealous. Even after their sex shows, Zev seemed to be upset with Amy the entire next day. He wouldn’t talk to her about what was wrong and he seemed to be carrying around a grudge. Amy wouldn’t mind if Zev had sexual experiences with another woman so she had difficulty understanding why Zev got so jealous. She assumed that if Zev ever found out about Arthur at least she knew that they had discussed being polyamorous in the past. Maybe Zev wouldn’t be that upset about things, Amy assumed. Maybe he would understand why she needed to keep her affair with Arthur a secret. I mean he would just get so jealous. Amy wasn’t dumb. Deep down she knew that what she was doing with Arthur was wrong but she assuaged her guilt by telling herself that at one time Zev said he wouldn’t mind if she had a boyfriend.

Amy went about her life without thinking too much about what she was doing. She just wanted to have fun and was enjoying the feeling of having someone like Arthur so in love with her. Arthur would send her sexy texts all throughout the day and this made her high-pressured life feel easier. The book of essays that she was helping Arthur edit was due for submission in a month and there was still a lot of work to be done. She also had two other novels she was editing that had deadlines not far away. In addition, Amy had to edit submissions that were accepted by WORD, so she had her hands full. She spent her mornings and afternoons sitting at the kitchen table working on her MacBook Air. Some afternoons Arthur would come to her house and they would work on the essays together. They would laugh a lot and Arthur would always try and play with Amy while they were working. He would grab her tit or try and kiss her. Amy would laugh and tell him that they needed to work. After an hour of trying to keep Arthur focused on the task at hand they would take a break and go fuck in the bedroom. Amy didn’t seem to feel too bad about fucking Arthur in the bed that Zev slept in. Sometimes the imprint of Zev’s head would still be on the pillow.

Zev had a one-man exhibition at Hang Gallery in San Francisco coming up. He was back at work painting every day to prepare for the show. The show would be up for a month at the gallery. Hang Gallery was one of the few galleries in America which specialized in showing the works of contemporary abstract painters. Zev felt excited about the upcoming show since Hang Gallery was a gallery he liked. He appreciated that they didn’t cater to the tastes of the rich or what was popular in the modern art market. Abstract paintings were less popular in the modern art world and few galleries stayed completely true to only showing modern abstract work. Galleries would give in and show more conceptual art, photography and realist paintings since this was the kind of stuff that sold. Hang Gallery attracted a more educated and countercultural thinking crowd and Zev was excited to have his work hanging in this kind of environment. He was excited to visit San Francisco, the home of beat writers, Richard Brautigan and other countercultural and subversive artists that he was a fan of. Even though the tech nerds were taking over the city, there was still a strong undercurrent of bohemian life present. He felt his work belonged in a city like this.

Zev had decided to smoke a lot of marijuana and listen to only The Dead C while he painted. This helped him to feel more in a creative mood. He was showing some paintings that he already had finished but he was also creating seven new paintings for the show. The paintings were on pre-stretched canvases that he bought from Blick art store. He was tired of stretching his own canvases so he had Marissa and the other intern go purchase a bunch of pre-stretched ones. Marissa and the intern would gesso the canvases with lots of white gesso, creating a kind of thick texture. Then Zev would come in and use different colors to create various shapes. All the paintings would be finished off with a shiny black acrylic color which he would use to highlight the amoeba like shapes. Zev used massive amounts of acrylic paint to achieve a kind of thick texture. He wanted his paintings to be almost too heavy to lift. It was the texture that made his abstraction come to life. Being stoned while painting helped Zev to be more interested in the process of creating strange shapes and colors.

When Zev was immersed in painting he noticed that he felt happier. He didn’t think about all the things he was unhappy about. The emotional distance he felt from Amy. All the responsibilities and obligations he had to tend to. The bills that needed to be paid. The people he had to talk with. The fake persona he had to create when talking with people in the art world. The sell out that he had become. He didn’t think of any of it. He lost himself in the process of painting and listening to music and his mood improved as a result. When Zev was in a better mood he was less critical of Amy. He didn’t give her a hard time for doing her work at the kitchen table. He didn’t feel agitated at her when she slept in or didn’t do enough work around the house. He felt better inside so things didn’t get to him. These periods of happiness with his work were transient and soon the drudgery of being a contemporary painter would return. Painting was only half his job. He had to plan things with the gallery, talk with potential buyers and package his paintings to be shipped off to whatever exhibition, show or private buyer was demanding his work. He despised all of this busy work but found that the marijuana helped him to handle it all better.

Marissa walked back home after a long work day in the studio. Zev had her working a lot helping with the new paintings. Her job was to gesso the canvases and then when Zev was finished with a painting, to apply the heavy gloss. She liked that she was working more but was slightly disappointed she didn’t have time to read. Zev seemed less miserable and more engaged with his work. Marissa was always relieved when this was the case. Zev would laugh and talk with her more. He would tell her more things about his life and she would talk with him about her life. She knew that Zev was smoking a lot of marijuana but she didn’t mind. Marijuana was legal now and she felt that it benefited certain people to be stoned all the time. Zev seemed more normal and functioning when high. He would tell her about books he was reading and weird things that he had done (like handing a teller at the bank his iPhone instead of his bank card). Zev talked to her about how he felt society was one big conspiracy to conform the human mind to a particular way of being. That we were all being continually indoctrinated by our lack of critical thinking and our desire for habit, routine and entertainment. Humans were already robotic and didn’t even know it. Free will was something that did not exist and convincing robots that they had free will was part of the conspiracy. Marissa found this view of society horrifying and she thought about it as she walked home through the city streets.

Marissa listened to Body/Head on her iPhone as she walked. A two-person band that Zev had turned her on to. She thought about what she would make for dinner and then she wondered if she would have the guy over she had been seeing for some pre-bedtime sex. After a long day of working at the studio having sex sounded good but she didn’t know if she liked this guy. He was very attractive and interesting but he still lived with his parents and had no real idea about what he was doing with his life. She felt like this was ok at the age of 27 but didn’t want to get in a serious relationship with someone like this. She would much rather be with someone like Zev but she needed to take love and affection wherever she could get it. She pressed pause on her music and called Evan to see if he was free that night. Evan said that he was and suggested that they go and have dinner at a new restaurant called Pot, which was inside The Line Hotel. The Line Hotel was in Koreatown and was one of the hipper specialty hotels in America. One of Zev Bauhaus’s paintings hung on the second floor so Marissa was familiar with the place. Marissa thought that it sounded like fun to go out to dinner to a new restaurant so she agreed. She would go home quickly, shower and shave and then Evan would come pick her up in about an hour. Evan just needed to make sure that he could borrow his parent’s car.

Evan was your typical Los Angeles hipster. His thick head of short hair was disheveled and he wore old t-shirts and jeans with white low top Chuck Taylors and a jean jacket with all sorts of music band buttons on it. He was interested in bands like Guided By Voices, Beach House, Beach Fossils, Sonic Youth and DIIV. He smoked cigarettes and read science fiction. Marissa enjoyed how interested in science fiction he was and she loved hearing about Phillip K Dick stories. Currently Evan was absorbed in a strange biography about Phillip K Dick and couldn’t stop talking about him as they drove to The Line Hotel. Evan finally found a parking spot and they walked through the busy streets of Koreatown. Asian people mixed in with white people everywhere. Banks, buildings and Korean restaurants littered the busy streets. The apartments were all smooshed together and there was a fishy smell in the air.

When they arrived at The Line Hotel the environment was festive. Thievery Corporation played on the stereo system. Lots of people were checking into the hotel. The bar was filled with all sorts of hipsters. Marissa looked forward to having a cocktail. As they walked through the bar and towards the restaurant Marissa noticed something surprising out of the corner of her eye. She saw Amy sitting in a booth pressed up close against some guy. Amy was dressed in all black, had her hair and make-up nicely done and looked very happy. She kept pressing herself into the guy that she was sitting with and the guy would try and kiss her. Marissa felt startled. What was going on? She had met Amy several times so she got on the other side of Evan so as not to be seen. She looked at the guy who she recognized as the author of “The Fantastic Life Of A Disappearing Man.” She had read the book and loved it. She had seen Arthur read at Skylight Books and thought he was very cute. She was shocked to see Arthur with Amy even though it made perfect sense. Amy was a successful literary editor after all. She must sleep with lots of guys. Marissa just thought she was very committed to Zev. When Evan asked Marissa if anything was wrong Marissa told him that everything was fine. That she was just taking in the environment. Marissa and Evan sat down at a table in the crowded restaurant and Marissa was laughing at her thought that Amy really was a slut. She admired Amy even more now.



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