by Carlo Coppo
I remember when I bought zunihouse in six hours in 1977. I was on the fluttering wings of my first mid-life crisis, suffering in the heat and smog of the alleged inland empire, and had just returned from a mythological tour of classical greece with Joseph Campbell and twenty-two jungian therapists, when the thought of searching for my personal mythic image at the beach rather than in the desert seemed nothing short of brilliant, a quick call to the realtor who had sold my first wife and me a condo in solana beach in '74 informed me there was a California bungalow in old del mar that had been on the market for a couple of weeks, three hours later i was standing in the back yard of zunihouse, feeling the blood pulse in my temples and asking my friend if the 100 foot torrey pine tree that loomed over the property was included in the deal, she said yes, and after walking the village, and yes, it was a village then, six hours later i was in escrow, thirty days later i threw my clothes, my books, and some buddha book ends into my old jaguar and headed to the beach for the rest of my life, i regretted it about as far as temecula. left behind, knowing it would return, were my wife, my kids, my hometown of riverside, and my senior partnership in a law firm, what brought me here besides a mystical shift in geographical awareness? the village: two good restaurants, dini's and bully's, a couple of others, grb and the albatross which morphed into a mexican restaurant then a library, tres palms, the Stratford, which morphed into jakes, the firepit, which became the poseidon, earthsong bookstore, carlos and annies, a well-worn diagonal path to the beach across the lot that 1'auberge now occupies, an empty beach, rideable waves, friendly people, save for those five council members who took turns taking bites out of each other's ankles, and strip mall with windmill farms i could walk to for groceries, a flower shop, and, yes, zel's liquors, but what really settled me in the village was the first night i wandered down zuni to join the sunset bunch at the mall, we were leaning against some cars watching the sun melt toward that incredibly cobalt-blue horizon, a bottle of modest chardonnay being passed among the plastic cups, and there was hushed talk about the possible appearance of the green flash, it didn't happen, but the sheer hope for it seemed like something off the last page of gatsby, as if the green light at the end of daisy's dock had moved westward to del mar. and then, as the small crowd began to disperse, a small man in a pork-pie hat began talking to me. i'm zel, he said, welcome to del mar. then, without missing a beat, he continued, staring out to sea. so an old man dies and he goes to heaven and he's at the pearly gates and St Peter says "where're you from?" and the old man says "Del Mar." St Peter shakes his head and says "you're going to be disappointed here."
Carlo Cappo still lives in Zunihouse.