I live at ground zero when it comes to white, right-wingers. They are everywhere here. Seldom, if ever, do I see people wearing masks. I can’t recall the last time I saw a black person. How I ended up here is a long story. CDC issued a new guideline on November 10th stating that everyone should wear masks. The New York Times reports that the common sense evidence stating that masks work has become overwhelming. Whenever I leave may home I have my socks on and I have my mask on. It is my policy. Whenever there is a chance I may pass by another human- mask on. I don’t wear a mask in my car but sometimes I want to just to piss off the white dudes. The people not following public health guideline are of a specific type. The women are generally blonde and the men are generally white dudes who go to the gym and drive ostentatious trucks. As one person put it, they are people who are living the most white life you can live. There is no arguing with them. They believe a pathological liar like Trump. Not scientists. They are not rational and they are radical anti-maskers. This is where I live. Entrenched by these people. As I was leaving my apartment yesterday, trash in hand and mask on, an unmasked blonde lady intentionally went out of her way to bump into me and then walked away. I wish I had said something but I don’t want any trouble. These people who are living the most white life a person can live put the mythical ideas of honor, greatness and national pride above democracy. I say mythical because their ideas are wrongly applied. If they really had greatness, honor and national pride they would be wearing a mask and not believing a conman who is trying to steal the election (and the country). Those without a sense of national duty and righteousness- the left and even the elected government of the republic- could never be legitimate custodians of the country. This was the heart of Nazi propaganda. It is happening again in America. BEWARE OF BEGINNINGS. Be more outgoing, be more positive- this is solid self-help advice for improving one’s sense of being liked. Marijuana helps people who suffer from ADHD. A fundamental symptom of ADHD is that it is very hard for the person to do mundane things or tasks. Almost impossible and always agonizing. Marijuana makes it more enjoyable for the ADHD sufferer to do mundane things. This is why people who have ADHD and use marijuana usually become less lazy. I am happy that Governor Newsom is talking about imposing tougher lockdown measures on Californians. We have abused the leniency. Now hospitals are about to hit max capacity. Many people can not be trusted to do the right thing. Tinnitus is a horrible high pitched ringing in the ears that I suffer from. If I am afflicted by one thing I am afflicted by this need to overshare. Maybe I am desperate for some kind of authentic connection. If you had Thanksgiving with members outside your household please get tested and quarantine for a week or so. This is what a model citizen would do. You are potentially a spreader. A new survey says that educated people and democrats are doing more to follow health guidelines. Democrats are far more likely to support lockdown measures (maybe because a lot of them read books and are able to be quite engaged while at home). A terrible winter looms ahead. The White House under Trump has shunned masks. I heard someone describe spreaders as “snowflakes.” A new study by Goldman Sachs estimated that universal use of masks would save 1 trillion that may be lost to business shutdowns and medical bills.
She asked me to take the day off and come help her. She will pay me double. I tell her that I am obligated to work all day. She has been cutting herself with her pocketknife again. In her mid-fifties. In the evenings she feels so stuck and alone that she feels compelled to cut at herself. Arms and legs. I have tried again and again to reason with her. It is hard to reason with those in despair. It is also hard to reason with those who have an aversion to any expressions of negativity. The actor Ben Stiller turns 55 today. Biden fractured his right foot while playing with his dog. The man is frail and I am concerned about him in his new job. I am not trying to make you happier, more productive or more positive, he told me. I am just asking people to take a break from their ego, be present for awhile and then see what happens from there. A large percentage of the American population currently believes that there is a Communist, Antifa, Radical Liberal Democrat driven insurgency taking place. This insurgency caused the elections to be stollen from them and it is also spreading lies about the seriousness of Covid. This insurgency is trying to take away their freedom. Yesterday many of these people came together and protested new Covid restrictions outside the Echo Park home of Barbara Ferrer, the Director of Public Health for Los Angeles County. Few people in America have a less dangerous job than her. These protestors showed no evident signs of a higher education or an aesthetic sensibility. They seem to be adherents of what I call low culture. These people are the greatest threat to American Democracy (and civility). They are fanatical and radical and the problem needs to be immediately addressed by the FBI. 1500 Covid deaths per day and one Covid death per minute is currently the average in America. People in LA county are being asked to remain at home. The new vaccine will limit severe cases of Covid but will not make a person immune. Harvey Pekar wrote that artists who want to do substantive work, humorous as well as serious work, are generally not going to consider using comics as a means of expression. 8100 new Covid cases over the weekend in LA. Experts are predicting another surge on top of the current surge because of those who were incapable of not gathering with people who live outside their household for Thanksgiving. It boggles my mind how people still gathered for Thanksgiving with the media saturation of warnings and scientific evidence of the dangers. I do hope they feel bad about themselves for doing so, while people are hospitalized and die from a disease they are obviously yet to be deeply effected by.
I’m not a morning person. I realize that my writings may be less affirmational in the mornings. Morning grumpiness is a thing. My morning grumpiness tends toward the dystopian. If you put yourself out there expect it to be met with contempt. At the very least you will be judged in the public courtroom of social media. Who cares. There is an epidemic of what I call positivity complacency. Mathew McConaughey’s new book, which is called Greenlights, I find abhorrent. It is not a enviable move for the actor I once enjoyed immensely. This book is what happens when a culture (and actor) loses touch with substance. It is all downhill from there. I postulate that Covid is currently being driven by unmanaged and untreated extroversion. Extroversion is currently out of control in America. Messing things up for the rest of us. Hermits take jobs and make choices that reduce human interaction (I consider myself a hermit but have not chosen the appropriate profession for my disposition). Hermits fill their free time with contemplative activities (reading, painting, listening to or playing music, watching films, walking, cooking, gardening, writing, etc…). A hermit chooses solitude over socializing. Extroverted people live in terror of being alone. They also live in terror of hermits. Michael Osterholm, director of The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, says that “Once you go over the case cliff, where you have so many cases that you overwhelm the system, basically at that point when you fall off that case load cliff you are going to see mortality rates go up substantially. I shudder to imagine what things might look like in two weeks.” Venice Beach is a pleasant, residential neighborhood (which, also has a serious homelessness problem) in Los Angeles, California. It is known for its “bohemian buzz” despite having some of the most upscale residential and commercial properties in the United States. I may go walk around there today, despite knowing that I really should be quarantining.
I walk into Ace Hardware to buy a potted plant. I find a beautiful flowering one that was resonably priced. I took it to the register where there was a swarm of masked customers. I waited in a line that was inundated with talking people. That is ok, I don’t mind but many of these people were talking loud and sighing with regret over returned purchases. I finally made it to the register and quickly made my way out with potted plant in hand. I thought to myself, “That was a situation where I could have contracted Covid. Not impossible. Too many people in a smaller space.” And then I thought about how the system is not protecting us. Businesses are not really protected us. There should be very strict measures put in place. Measures that protect customers and workers without a doubt. That is not happening now. But I got my potted plant.
I slept well last evening, which is surprising since I drank a few too many beers. I went to the local brewery and picked up beer to go. I was surprised by the amount of people sitting outside, in close proximity to one another, with no mask on. I went in and out so fast that I left my bank card in the chip reader. I was unhappy about having to go back in. My cat opened the sliding screen door and slept most of the night outside. She needed space. Iran is seeking revenge for the assignation of one of its top nuclear scientists. This could not go down well. I’m glad Thanksgiving is over. Few things I dislike more than public expressions of gratitude. These are things that are meant to be kept to yourselves people, just like the last time you masturbated. Expressions of what you are grateful for are meant for a journal or even a therapist. Like your dreams, no one wants to hear about it. All you are really doing is inflating yourself above all the other wretched souls. Same goes for the word blessed or blessing. It makes every cellular fiber in my being cringe whenever I hear someone apply that word to themselves or their life. Can’t a person think of a less generic term? Overt public displays of narcissism really get to me even though I myself am not free from the inflating effects of narcissism. The United States has set records for the number of patients hospitalized everyday for the past two weeks. Republicans no longer live in the dimension of reality. They have transitioned into the same space that those indoctrinated into cults occupy. Marco Rubio, senator from Florida, feels the media is complaining too much about Covid. We know this is a public expression of shame. Covid has killed over 260,000 Americans in nine months. I can blow my own mind by thinking about space. The amount of Americans killed by Covid in just nine months has the same mind-blowing effect on my brain. It is truly far out. Marco Rubio and Trump disciples alike not seeing things this way is proof they live in a dimension separated from reality. I work with people with schizophrenia. I know what it looks like when I see it. Democratic senior citizens live in fear of non-college educated white men who drive around in raised trucks with a TRUMP flag and American flag stuck on the rear. Trump has given these men without educations meaning. Few things are more terrifying, so I think these elderly democrats are correct in their fear. Downtown Ventura is having a Support Small Businesses fair today. There will be all kinds of street vendors and opened stores offering sales on various desired items. I presume Covid will be there. Maybe my mask and I will go.
Birds idling in the sea current. Deep layers of sand and fish found beneath. I watch water and want to be more like water. I think David Berman said something about that. Hardness always fails. Prone to entropy. I watch people walk by and often am not pleased by what I see. A patient seagull perched on a rock waiting for fat man to finish his fast food. I presume the seagull will be greatly disappointed. I am scratching the annoying itch to write. I have been scratching this itch forever. It does not relent. I have little desire to design stories with plot and hubris. Instead I prefer to write. Writing as a kind of journalistic, life-long project. I realize there is little money to be made from this project. Writing without purpose. Writing without goal. Under capitalism these activities lack economic alacrity. Today is Thanksgiving and I am intentionally refusing to think, talk or write about what I am grateful for. But I am grateful to be alone. I’ve had to endure over thirty years of gatherings on Thanksgiving. I never liked or thoroughly enjoyed a single one. I prefer gatherings of one. One Thanksgiving, over twenty years gone now, I became so enraged at the dinner table that I challenged my dubious father to step outside for a fight. In front of several families. It was not a good look. I recall my father called me naive and I did not appreciate this. In retrospect I have realized he was quite correct. I was naive and it is true that the truth hurts. Maybe I still am naive for all I know. I am engaging in a therapeutic project. I am attempting to find a new voice with which I will use for writing purposes. I do not believe I have found it but I feel I am getting closer. I don’t want to use my old writing voice any longer. It doesn’t suite me. I’ve outgrown absurdity. What I mean by this is that I no longer see absurdity as a satirical matter. It is a very serious thing that is costing a lot of people their lives and incomes. I myself am striving for autonomy, just like many other writers. An old yacht passes. It looks like it has broken down and is being towed by a towboat. The ticking of clock. My life or time on earth being diminished by each sound of a second. The seagull is now sitting on the cement table were the now departed fat man sat. I think it is fair to say that the seagull looks disappointed. I imagine it is. A man rides past on a bicycle. He is wearing a mask and I feel pleased. The sun is beginning to weaken. I watch the water and wait for a seal’s head to appear. Instead, I observe three dolphins curling their way out from the sea. I feel a child’s exuberance. The street lights are now on. I prefer it when the street lights are on. It adds a sense of mystery to things. A barking dog in the distance and my legs feel like they are hardening from too much sitting. I will go walk to the edge of the ocean. A parked car. A man sits alone in there. Is it a Honda? My heart rate is elevated but that is ok. I do not mind. I suppose I am excited but do not know for what. Maybe it is the excitement I feel about finally achieving a Thanksgiving alone. Many people are not able to see this as a good thing and I feel sorry for them. Older lady with blonde hair walks past my van. She is walking her Golden Retriever. She seems fearful of things out here. She walks rapidly and with hands in pockets.
My goal is consistency. In most things like hairstyle, layout of my apartment, wearing all black, facial hair, finishing one book at a time, turning off my computer by 9pm, life perspective. I have created several discriminating practices over the years. With music, fashion, language, literature, film, art, design. It has taken much time to cultivate discrimination but I am not as good when it comes to certain people. More than 1800 people are hospitalized with Covid in LA county. Whenever possible- just stay home. In the past week the United States of America has had the worlds highest caseloads. 90,000 Americans are currently in hospitals with Covid. Daily death toll is soaring like a strong bird. I get worked up about this. When I think about it I become bitter towards people who are not taking the appropriate precautions. This could have all been avoided or greatly minimized if more people had the ability to be still. To stay home. To be more introverted. I get pissed off but there is nothing I can do about it. All I can do control my own behavior. Take the appropriate measures. When in public I act as if everyone is staring at me. But I have a feeling that they really are staring at me since I am six foot five inches tall and wear all black. How often do you see that? If you can just step away from your ego for a little bit and meditate, you will not regret the clarity and new perspective that you feel.
Chapter Thirty One
Zev went for walks. Long walks. He listened to the ambient sounds of birds and the ocean. People looked at him like someone they couldn’t figure out. His long hair and black clothes didn’t fit in with the beach town attire. Zev tried to be as evasive as he could be. He looked at the ground when he walked. He didn’t make eye contact or say hello to anyone. He wanted to remain obscured. Zev ate boiled noodles from a paper cup. Sometimes he took himself out to a seafood dinner where he always ordered a side of corn on the cob. He was adapting to a life lived alone, without fame or the pursuit of it. He still thought about Amy much of the time but was no longer as hyperbolically fixated on what she had done. What could he do about it? It had already almost killed him. What is done is done. He needed to accept it and move one. He needed to save himself. The smoking of cigarettes had gotten out of hand. So had the consumption of marijuana and alcohol. He became even more indulgent and self-destructive in his despair. But he didn’t care that much. He would do what felt good for as long as he could. Zev had a brain that brought him more suffering than it should. This was not the biological purpose of a brain- to inflict so much psychological turmoil on its host. Something had gone wrong in its wiring. Maybe it was society. Maybe it was his childhood. He was already troubled long before fame entered his life. Whatever the case may be, he needed to keep his brain sedated. It was the only way he could feel some semblance of joy.
Zev utilized many different modalities to sedate his irascible brain. Music and reading. Marijuana inhalation from the moment he woke until the moment he slept. Endless cigarettes. Music. Continual snacking and cleaning. Pornography. Instagram. He was continually looking at what other contemporary painters were posting on Instagram. For the most part Zev thought it was all soulless crap. Images created just to attract attention to the artist’s skill. Those were the worst kind. Zev wanted art that was organic and raw. Outsider art which possessed little skill but much soul. He spent his evening hours drunk, stoned and scrolling through his phone. Sometimes he watched films. Sometimes he texted with Amy. Other times he would lay in bed and stare into the darkness. There was nothing else to do. What was the point of doing anything anyways? Why make art? Why try to achieve some sort of critical acclaim? As Buddhists figured out, it all turned to dust eventually. It all became unimportant and irrelevant as time went on and gave birth to new generations. Why not just spend the day loafing around, watching the day turn to night? Why slave away at a solitary desk or in an isolated studio space for the sake of art? Why not be outside, wandering around? Zev thought about these things.
After his first month living on the old yacht, Zev felt he was growing happier in solitude. Not having to interact with others brought him relief. No more pretending to be someone he was not. He no longer had to be nice to people just so he could sell some paintings. He didn’t have to shower every day and try to make himself look nice enough that others wouldn’t negatively judge him. He could do what he wanted, when he wanted. He didn’t have to waste time talking with people. The arguing with Amy had all about ceased to exist. If she was in a relationship with Arthur now, fuck her. Sometimes he felt like driving over to the Silverlake house to see if Arthur was spending the night but he never did. It was too far of a drive for something like that. Women left men for other men sometimes. It was just something that happened in life. Why should he be exempt? Zev spent a lot of time working on his yacht, trying to get things just right. He sanded. He painted the inside and outside. He painted the floors. He ripped out a few walls and built a new bed. He enjoyed this more working class life and understood why Jesus worked as a carpenter. He put in new shelves in the kitchen. He fixed the yacht’s circuit breaker. He installed a new toilet. It was enjoyable working on things that made a difference in life, unlike art.
Zev set up a desk for himself where he could write and draw his cartoons. He wasn’t working on his cartoons as much as he wanted to but was keeping things clean. On his desk, everything was in its correct place. Miscellaneous things laying around bugged Zev. Now that he was living alone he had no reason not to have everything in its right place. For years, he suffered through living with a restless and fidgety woman who couldn’t keep anything in its right place. It caused him much distress. Every time Amy walked into a room he knew something would get messed up. This caused him a continual agitation. Amy thought Zev was anal and obsessive. She pitied him for needing as much organization in his life as he did. He wasted so much of his time cleaning, Amy thought. But there was nothing she could do about it. It was the only way Zev felt a sense of control in his life. Now that Amy wasn’t around to mess things up, Zev took advantage of the opportunity to keep everything looking just how he wanted. This pursuit took up much of his time but he wasn’t half as angry anymore.
One afternoon, the poet Tottman Haul stopped in to visit Zev. Since Amy’s party, they had maintained a correspondence. They liked each other. Zev had sent Tottman many desperate emails where he would write about how stressed out and hurt he felt. He would tell John about the hell he was enduring and hope to get some palliative words back in return. Tottman never failed Zev in this way. He was always able to provide some consolation. When Tottman arrived in Oxnard, he was feeling very distressed. The drive from LA had been long and tiring. The night before he spent with Lydia Lunch, which he found exhausting. The woman just talked so much and could be so loud and vulgar. When Zev went out to the parking lot to greet Tottman, he couldn’t find him anywhere. Then he noticed a thin man standing in the distance, with curly hair blowing in the wind. He wore a black blazer and black dress pants and had a black book bag in his hand. Immediately Zev knew it was Tottman. Zev was happy to see someone else who did not fit in with the lazy and unsophisticated fashion choices in Oxnard. When Zev walked up to Tottman Haul he felt like giving him a hug. He was happier to see him than he thought he would be. The day was sunny and warm. Zev remembered that Tottman was uncomfortable with hugging so he held out his hand instead.
Zev showed Tottman Haul around. Tottman asked Zev if he had been doing any whoring. They walked side by side and talked about various things. It was the first human contact Zev had had in some time. On the yacht, Tottman and Zev sat on white beach chairs and drank beer that Zev had bought. Zev smoked cigarettes. They watched boats and birds go by. Tottman told Zev that he was living a nice life. Tottman Haul felt happy being out of the city. He told Zev about his night with Lydia. Zev was impressed that Lydia Lunch was one of his many girlfriends. Whenever Lydia was in LA, they would get together. They would make love and argue. Tottman said his nerves couldn’t handle another evening with the woman. Zev asked if Tottman wanted to take a walk on the beach.
As they walked in the sand with the ocean in the background, Zev told Tottman about what was going on with Amy. He told Tottman Haul about Arthur and Tottman couldn’t understand the appeal. He strongly disliked trendy contemporary writers. Tottman asked Zev a lot of questions, which Zev appreciated. Not many people asked questions because they just wanted to speak of themselves. But Tottman understood Zev’s situation. He had been there many times before himself. In love with a woman who was no longer in love with him. Being in love with a woman who has moved on with another man. Being incapacitated and destroyed by his lust and attachment to another woman. These were things Tottman Haul knew and wrote about. Tottman told Zev that he was gradually weaning himself off of Amy. This made sense to Zev. It wouldn’t all happen at once. Lust took time to dissipate. It was a very slow drip and would take time. Tottman told Zev that he should try and find other women to fuck and reduce the amount he had sex and contact with Amy. Over time he would feel better. Who knew, maybe Amy would even return to him. Tottman bent down and picked up rocks and seashells. He took deep breaths. He was enamored by the sea.
In the early evening, Zev took Tottman to an Asian food court not far the yacht. Zev said that if there was ever another pandemic it could start here. They ate noodles, shrimp and blackened cod. Fish swam around in glass containers behind them. Crabs and lobsters with their claws taped shut were stacked upon one another in dirty fish tanks. Families and couples sat around masticating their food as they talked about nothing. Tottman Haul dropped a piece of shrimp on the floor and Zev noticed it out of the corner of his eye. Tottman looked over at the shrimp on the floor. What a waste, Tottman thought. Tottman smiled at Zev and got up from his seat. He walked over to the cooked shrimp on the floor and said hello to the couple who were sitting near it. They looked disdainfully at him. Like he was invading their privacy. Tottman bent over and picked up the shrimp and then stuck it in his mouth. He chewed the shrimp and told Zev that it tasted delicious, as he sat down in his seat. Tottman asked Zev if he wanted him to put a shrimp on the floor for him. Zev laughed harder than he had in years. Tottman was one of the few who could make Zev laugh like he did. They shared a similar dark sense of humor.
Back on the yacht they drank more beer and listened to some of Zev’s records. Zev played The Dead C, Terry Riley, Coil and The Residents. Zev had been getting into Mark Of The Mole, which was becoming his favorite album by The Residents. Tottman Haul read through some of the books and magazines Zev had lying around. They talked about the tragic downfall of Nick Cave. How in his older age Nick Cave exploited his personal tragedies because he had nothing else left to say and his fans ate it up. Zev smoked cigarettes and marijuana. Tottman Haul abstained. He had grown up a smoker in England and told Zev about the few years he spent living with the band Nurse With Wound. There was cigarette smoke mixed with marijuana smoke hovering in the air continuously. In the studio and in the house they all shared. In the pubs they drank warm beer in. Tottman had lived in smoke. Tottman Haul told Zev not to feel judged for his smoking habit. He knew all about it. Tottman asked Zev about what he was going to do now that he had left the old lady. Zev told him that he didn’t know. He had enough money saved to last awhile. He wanted to make more cartoons but he lacked the inspiration to work on any of it. Maybe he would write a novel or a memoir about his time as a famous abstract painter. Tottman told him that he should think about doing that. There could be good money in it. Zev told Tottman that maybe he would really sell out this time. Maybe he would become an ordinary man not doing much of anything with his time. He could work on a fishing boat or in a restaurant when his money ran out. Tottman told Zev that that didn’t seem very pleasant. Once it got late Tottman decided it was time for him to head back to Echo Park. His car window wasn’t rolling up and he would freeze the entire drive back.
As Tottman Haul drove back to LA that night, he kept his heater on high. His car was old and the heater didn’t warm things up much. Cold evening air caused his body to constrict. Tottman cursed his fate. He cursed the world. He couldn’t understand why Zev would throw away a perfectly good career. For what? Zev drove a nice car. He once had a very nice house and studio space. Zev had the kind of cultural attention he would be happy to have. Now he was living on an old yacht in some tranquil town by the sea. It seemed to Tottman that Zev was self-destructive in many ways. He couldn’t accept any happiness into his life. Instead he destroyed it. Tottman Haul felt sad for Zev. It must be difficult to be living that kind of marital life. Tottman was happy to be single and living alone. After decades spent dealing with love, he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to fall in love. Why would they do that to themselves? Tottman Haul thought about how few things were as symbolic of cowardliness as a couple walking hand in hand. Two people terrified of being alone. And now Zev was alone. Tottman sure hoped Zev knew what he was doing with his life. He didn’t like that talk of becoming an ordinary chap but he certainly understood why one would want to. Tottman decided that he would listen to some Nurse With Wound as he drove the rest of the way. He reminded himself to not sleep with Lydia Lunch again. He thought about a better time, which was now obsolete.
Arthur was spending a lot of his time at Amy’s house. It was much better than spending the night at his shitty apartment in Koreatown. Arthur had expected to make more money with the release of his new book but not that much money entered his pockets. The book of essays sold well. Young thinking people were hungry for an intelligent and absurd literary approach to life. Thinking people in America were starving for substantial intellectual sustenance. Netflix and reading things on-line didn’t seem to be filling the void. A book of literary essays written by a young and good looking man, deconstructing what most people took as normal and commonplace, was ravenously desired by young (and older) intellectuals. They were slowly and gradually rotting from inside out because of the intellectual banality of this American life.
As often happens in America, the labors of the individual worker feed those in charge. Even though The Fantastic Life Of A Disappearing Man was selling well, it was the publishing company that was benefiting. They farted out a few bucks to Arthur and promised him that at some point in the future a lot more was to come. Just be happy people are reading your book and be patient, the publishing company’s lawyer wrote to him in an email. Arthur was planning on not having to teach or find another form of work. He was hopeful that he would make enough money with his new book to be able to possibly buy a small house. Maybe he would have much more money in his bank account and be able to live as a writer. Maybe he would be able to do what most others had told him was impossible- write the books he wanted to write for a living.
Arthur liked spending more time at Amy’s place. He was satisfied not having to feel like Zev was going to come home. He could relax. It was a nice house. The kind of house he would like to own someday. He thought it was possible since Zev Bauhaus had achieved it as a painter. Why couldn’t a writer like himself also achieve it? Amy hadn’t told Arthur that the house belonged to her. That it was given to her by her parents. Zev Bauhaus played no part in the ownership of it. She didn’t tell anyone this because she didn’t want to make Zev look bad. Arthur, like everyone else, was under the impression that Zev was the owner of a very nice house. He must be successful. Arthur just assumed, like everyone else. He knew that Zev moved onto a yacht in some town he had never heard of, but he assumed that Zev still owned the house and that Amy would probably get it with the divorce settlement. Arthur didn’t realize that Zev was living on an old yacht because eventually Amy was going to ask him to leave. It was inevitable. The house wasn’t his. He didn’t have a choice. The old yacht was his home. The Silverlake home was now just a storage space for memories and objects that Zev once owned. All the furniture, books, thousands of records, paintings, stereo equipment, bikes, magazines, cassette tapes, framed photographs with other famous artists, sculptures and on and on- Zev planned to leave it all behind. It was time to move on. A man was only as rich as how little he owned.
In the beginning, after Zev’s quick exodus, Arthur stayed at Amy’s house three or four nights a week. They had fun together. They watched stupid movies in bed. They played video games for hours. They took showers and baths together. Amy would drink and Arthur would smoke pot. Sometimes they would have sex but sometimes they would just have fun together. They would make dinner and dance after. Arthur would have Amy dress up in sexy outfits and dance around in them for him as he played with his cock. He would tell Amy all about his life. Problems with friends, annoyances with work, issues with parents and economic struggles. He had a tendency to talk and talk and sometimes Amy wondered if Arthur was autistic. Amy began to find Arthur’s company somewhat draining but once he fucked her she quickly forgot about her grievances. She loved the way Arthur fucked her. He worked hard for her and fucked her as hard as she wanted so that she could orgasm. Sometimes she would force Arthur to make her orgasm two or three times. Arthur would be sweating. He would work harder than he did at the gym but he wanted to do whatever he could to keep Amy pleased. The moment she lost interest in fucking him, he knew would be the moment he was rendered obsolete. Amy was just that kind of girl. She used people for what she needed and Arthur was aware of something that kept him concerned. He didn’t talk to Amy about it but he knew that the prestige, fame and cultural legitimacy Amy received by being in relationship with Zev Bauhaus was nothing he could compete with. He was a lot younger and wasn’t making much money. He had to fuck Amy as hard and long as he could. He had to pleasure her vagina as much as he possible could. It was the only real advantage he had. That and his youth.
The days Arthur was gone, Amy began to enjoy. She liked being home alone without any interference from men. Over the years she hadn’t spent much time alone in her house. Zev was always coming home in the early evenings, disturbing her peace. This caused her to feel continual anxiety about making sure the house looked a certain way. Were the front and back yards in decent shape? Was the house clean enough? Had she forgotten to put anything away? Were there dishes in the sink or urine and tissue paper still in the toilet? When Amy was home alone, it didn’t feel like she was really alone. She had to worry about keeping things in a way that Zev would agree with so as not to upset him when he came home from work. Zev Bauhaus was a very temperamental man, Amy thought. Now that Zev had moved out, the house all hers. She enjoyed not having to share. She could leave things wherever she wanted. She could lay around in bed for as long as she wanted. She could do whatever she wanted with the back and front yard. She could live exactly as she wanted without having to hear Zev tell her that she needed to exercise more, organize more or do something more productive with her life. Now that Amy had the Silverlake home all to herself, she felt liberated. As sad as she was that Zev was gone, she loved her freedom. She felt a kind of peace that she hadn’t felt in a long time. This feeling of peace she would often prefer over Arthur’s company.
Amy felt happy during her days spent alone at home. She hadn’t felt happy in a very long time despite the fact that she was good at faking happiness. Amy had misunderstood happiness, just as most extroverts do. Happiness for Amy had become a kind of drunken hyper-stimulation, which caused a strong feeling of excitement to boil up in her. She loved this feeling of excitement that she felt when in the company of others. She felt excited whenever the opportunity for sex arose. She was sometimes excited by the work she was doing and the books she was editing. She also felt excited about her relationship with Arthur. It was exciting to be having a passionate affair with a younger man. Excitement was what she unknowingly mistook for happiness. Excitement was a kind of coping mechanism for the banality and stress of maintaining the American dream. Excitement was what allowed her to excel at her job. During Amy’s initial days spent alone at home, she learned about what happiness really was. It was a kind of satisfaction in the present moment. She was satisfied with her life alone. She loved the peace. Zev had gotten in the way of this because Zev Bauhaus could never be satisfied.
As the weeks went on, Amy wanted to spend more of her time alone in her house. To her it felt like she was living an entirely new kind of life. Because she didn’t need to leave her home for work, she could stay home. She ordered her food and other essential items on Amazon. Sometimes she ordered pizza or had sushi delivered. The only thing she needed to go out for was liquor and the occasional times she had to go into WORD for a work meeting. Otherwise she could live in her own universe while home alone. For the first time in her life she was enjoying being alone. It’s a common thing people discover when a stressful relationship ends. Amy still had Arthur coming over. Arthur wanted to come over all the time. He was even hopeful that he could move some of his stuff in and stay there awhile. But Amy didn’t need him as much as she once did. Once or twice a week felt like enough for her. Now that she was more satisfied in her life she didn’t need to lose herself in earth shattering orgasms as much. There was no longer as much of a thrill in it all, as there once was. Her sadistic tendencies seemed to be thawing out now that Zev was annoying less of the time.
Amy was hopeful she could maintain a close friendship with Zev. She never stopped admiring him. She still loved him very much and couldn’t imagine a life without him in it. She just didn’t want to be married to Zev anymore. He had become too miserable. Selling out had made him a miserable man. She couldn’t live with that kind of negative energy anymore. To be free of it in her day to day life was wonderful and she couldn’t imagine ever letting Zev Bauhaus move back in. But Amy still hoped to remain close to Zev Bauhaus. She didn’t even want to get a divorce. They could just stay married even though she no longer referred to Zev as her husband. Marriage was just a bureaucratic thing anyways. Why go through all the difficulty of getting a divorce? Why not just stay married legally but be divorced psychologically? Then they wouldn’t have to deal with all the bureaucratic bullshit and Amy could still legitimately keep Zev’s last name. After all, no last name would benefit her more in her life. Bauhaus was the perfect last name for her. It gave her credibility. Amy would do what she could to keep Zev in her life. She would fuck him. She would suck his dick as much as he wanted. She would hang out with him. She would return his texts promptly and try to show some interest in his life. She would handle his financial situation. It was a difficult balance to figure out because she didn’t want to give Zev the impression that she wanted to be back in a relationship with him. She didn’t want to lead him on. More importantly, she didn’t want to make herself vulnerable to a feeling she was trying hard to keep repressed- the feeling of wanting Zev Bauhaus back. What a mess that would be.
Chapter Twenty Nine
Zev Bauhaus knew that he needed to be free of Amy. He couldn’t see her anymore. No more fucking. It was difficult for him to imagine his life without her blowjobs, her nudity, her beauty. But he knew that it was what needed to be done if he was going to escape insanity. He had been rendered obsolete. He was no longer capable of much. He had just enough energy to take care of basic things like eating, cleaning up and listening to music. Even his cartoons dried up. There was no creative ambition in him. When a man obsesses about a woman, everything else falls away. Many of men have lost their lives and livelihoods because of a woman. Some men who you see degenerate and deranged on Los Angeles street corners were once happily married, middle-class men. Love can destroy a man and often does. Women seem to be more resilient when it comes to the decimation of love. This is what Zev told himself. But his defenses were weak. Even though he knew that he needed to free himself from the sharp and seductive claws of Amy’s grip, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.
He had some pornography on his phone that he made with Amy when they would have sex on their couch or in bed. Zev always enjoyed filming their sexual interactions. He had several videos of Amy sucking his dick. She was so good at that. He also had some videos that he made during their home sex shows. As he was standing in the backyard watching Amy have sex with another man, he would get as close as he could to the window so that the video would be clear on his phone. He would capture Amy in her most skillful moments of fucking, but he never told her he filmed her. Zev would masturbate to these various videos every night. Amy expertly sucking his dick. Amy riding on top of a naked man on their couch. Zev would be on his back in bed and jack off while watching the videos on his phone. The light from the screen would illuminate the pleasure on his face. Sometimes it didn’t take him long to orgasm. Sometimes it took longer because he had smoked too much weed and swallowed too much whiskey. Zev didn’t mind when it would take him longer to orgasm. He could watch more than one video. Being intoxicated and naked in bed while jacking off to homemade pornography was one of his only pleasures in life. But it also kept Zev thinking about Amy.
Zev had a difficult time getting to sleep. He would lay in bed with his mind obsessing about various things. The yacht would be rocking back and forth in motion with the ocean’s currents, causing the yacht to make all sorts of creaking sounds. Sometimes, if the currents were strong, it sounded as if the wood yacht would split in half. He could feel solitude enveloping him in a way that provoked his anxiety. There were not many neighbors around. The world was far away and an enormous ocean with all of its promises for obscurity was just a stone’s throw away. In this solitude Zev would listen to the sounds. He lay on his back with his head on his pillow. He would stare up at the ceiling even though he couldn’t see anything in the darkness. He took hits from the weed pipe he held in his hands and fell asleep with each night. Zev would think about Amy fucking Arthur. He would think about all the ways Amy had screwed him over. How she had betrayed him. He would think about how he didn’t see it coming. What a horrible person she had turned out to be. Just another superficial love addict. But Zev also realized that he was not without fault. He had neglected Amy for years. He was always complaining and getting agitated with her. Nothing was good enough for him. She was always too fast or too slow. Too skinny or too fat. To energetic or not energetic enough. He loved her by breaking her down. That was how he knew how to love. It was how his father loved him. The cycle repeats.
In the darkness Zev also thought about what he was going to do with his life. He was starting all over again. How could he permanently break free from Amy? He would live on the yacht. He wouldn’t work. He had enough money to live for a few years. Maybe even a lifetime if he was frugal with every cent he spent. He didn’t want to have anything to do with the art world anymore. That he knew for certain. Being a well-known contemporary abstract painter had ruined his life. He hated the work. He would have never imagined. When he used to paint all the time in his studio apartment or in the small studio space he rented in an old warehouse in Oakland, it was his dream to be a successful painter. That was what he was working for. He knew that there were hundreds of painters out there painting longer and working harder than he was. This drove him to paint all hours of the day. He wanted to make it. Everyone had told him it was the wrong decision. There was no money in painting. He waited tables and tended bar. He taught art in a high school. One day he would be free from all this drudgery, he would continually tell himself. He believed that painting was his way out. He just needed to keep working. Eventually he would find his way. The naivety of youth.
Zev looked back on those distant days as a better time in his life. There was less pressure to conform and very few people wanted anything from him. Even though he was poor and had to work servile and dehumanizing jobs, he was free. He could be himself. He spent his free time painting, reading and chasing whores. A lot of what little money he had was spent on mental health in a derelict San Francisco strip club. Every week, and when his sex addiction was at its peak twice a week, he would go to the Market Street Cinema after a day of painting. He would save up for the occasion and felt excited when he handed his red ticket to the fat bouncer smoking a cigarette who tore half of it off and handed the other half back to him. The theatre was filled with all sorts of women dressed in underwear and lingerie. Some wore nothing at all and tried to seduce men into coming into one of the many rooms with them. Sometime a whore would just start sucking a guy’s dick out on the floor. Zev would fulfill all his degenerate sexual fantasies in that sex cinema and come back out at 2 or 3 in the morning a happier but poorer man.
Now Zev was alone, betrayed, middle-aged and discouraged by life. He blamed it on his success as a painter. It made him miserable. Having to associate with all those pretentious and arrogant fucks. Having to pretend to be interested in people. Having to talk about things that he could care nothing about. Having to act like he believed in the work he was doing. He hated that he had to sell paintings to wealthy people whom he considered the filth of the earth. Entitled children. Malicious gluttons. Rarely he would sell a painting to a wealthy person that he respected. He once sold a painting to Nick Cave. He had always respected Nick Cave. He felt a great honor that Nick Cave wanted to own one of his abstract paintings. Nick Cave, like many, had learned about Zev Bauhaus from the BOMB magazine article. But like most other rich people, Nick Cave gradually became a self-absorbed parody of himself. Zev had gradually lost respect for the mythical man who became famous for making sad albums about his middle-aged misfortunes. Maybe not unlike Nick Cave, becoming famous had made Zev Bauhaus more miserable than he would have ever imagined. All that time and effort to become caged. One works so hard just to eventually sell out. It made no sense to Zev.
On an almost daily basis Amy would text Zev. She would ask him financial questions or questions about certain bills. Amy had always overseen their finances. She paid all the bills. Zev wanted to have nothing to do with bills or bureaucracy. He needed to focus on his art and Amy agreed to her position as the couple’s accountant. She handled all his studio accounts, expenses and she paid the employees. When Zev vanished onto what Amy started to condescendingly call his boat, he didn’t think to take care of anything having to do with his career. Zev left Amy with the mess. It is what she deserved, Zev thought. Amy had to notify various collectors and dealers that Zev was shutting down shop. She had to give the landlord a month’s notice and take responsibility for closing down the studio. She answered emails and calls from people enquiring about what had happened to Zev. She posted things on social media. Amy even called Marissa to basically tell her she wasn’t needed anymore.
It was difficult for Marissa to talk with Amy on the phone. She had been putting it off all day. A part of her felt responsible for all of this. Maybe she should have kept her mouth closed. But Zev would have found out anyway. It wasn’t her fault. She was in love with him. Always had been and so she did what she felt was best for Zev. She was suffering inside and had been ever since Zev stopped coming around the studio and responding to her texts. When she finally did return Amy’s call, Amy didn’t sound sad or distress at all. Amy sounded uplifted. Almost happy. She told Marissa that she would send her her final check and then once all the final payments for paintings came in she would send her a commissions check. Marissa wanted to ask Amy about Zev. She wanted to ask her how Zev was doing but felt hesitant to indulge someone who was causing Zev so much pain. Amy told Marissa that Zev was finished with painting for now and that he had moved onto his boatin Oxnard. Their conversation was brief and Amy thanked her for all her help. She told Marissa that this is how life went sometimes. After Marissa hung up the phone she chastised herself for not telling Amy that it was horrible and wrong what she was doing to Zev. Marissa was cowardly, always trying to avoid conflict.
Amy liked to think of herself in a particular way. She wanted a lifestyle that was different from the norm. She liked to think of herself as the non-traditional type but she kept falling into more traditional kinds of relationships. Maybe this is why she ended up cheating on every man she was in a serious relationship with. She wasn’t being true to what she wanted and what she wanted was not loyalty to only one man. Amy had fervently read Sade’s Justine. She liked to think of herself as someone who was hopeful, someone with abnormal values, someone who was intelligent and accomplished, someone who was against monogamy, someone who was proudly slutty and bisexual and as someone who didn’t want to be in a traditional relationship ever again. This is what Amy told herself. Now that Zev was gone, she could live closer to her truth. Even though she had to do more work to maintain the house and finances, she felt freed from Zev’s tyranny. Why did she get married in the first place? Amy was happy to clean up Zev’s mess, if it meant that she no longer had to live with that miserable man. But she couldn’t understand why she still missed him and longed to be with him. It didn’t make any sense, so she drank more to help relieve her inner conflict.