Back at the restaurant, Ocean orders soup he doesn’t like and doesn’t eat, followed by a plate of cookies. They’re very tiny and very expensive and Ocean, offended by their opulence, sends them back. We pack it in, pick up his cousin Chito and producer and satellite member of Odd Future, Michael Uzowuru, and drive to Yogurtland, where he eats dessert standing on a railing in the parking lot. It’s a crisp LA night after a hot day, and the lingering entourage feels so endless summer its almost cliché. There’s a CrossFit gym next to the yogurt place, and Ocean and his crew muse about the logistics of that workout. They’re interrupted when a man talking on his phone haphazardly parks his car, scraping the bumper against the concrete divider. Everyone laughs at the driver and it’s so good natured and infectious, the driver laughs too. Still hungry after frozen yogurt, Ocean initiates a late night pilgrimage to Fat Burger. When food comes, a communal table is convened and Ocean makes his fries open season. He’s a few bites in before he notices a man in a cheap looking get up, jeans and a potentially fake Louis Vuitton hat, and launches into an extended metaphor: “Why wouldn’t you think about what you have on? You could not, if that’s your style, if that’s your individual expression to be carefree and not give a fuck, there’s still thought behind it. Whether it be a little or a lot, there’s still thought. Everybody’s thinking. You know, hat, shoes, button-down, the one-cuff… He thought about it. I can’t say that it’s bad taste. It’s his taste. Would I wear that shit? Fuck no. But he feels good in his Damier trucker hat. Yeah, he feels good in that, so he should swag it out.” To Ocean, perfectionism has little to do with outside standards, only an allegiance to yourself. In a world of test markets and Google analytics, he simply wants to create songs that are the tangible version of his imagination. He lucked out that what’s in his brain is what everyone else wants to hear, too.
It’s about midnight when he finally finishes eating, and Ocean and his crew head again to the parking lot. Instead of piling into his manager’s car, though, they linger and eventually decide to have a quick footrace across the empty blacktop. Ocean wins the first race, then the second and then the third. Though it’s nothing serious, he’s clearly happy to have won and shows off his smile. It’s only then that he appears winded.
The next day, browsing for kitchen stools and a couch in a giant furniture warehouse on Venice Boulevard, Ocean seems distracted, giving some credence to his manager’s account that he can be a difficult read. He’s got an appointment in the afternoon and tickets to see Rihanna in the evening, before he travels tomorrow to Big Sur to film the video for Nostalgia, Ultra’s standout “Swim Good.” There’s been a debate about whether the Town Car limousine he’ll drive in the video should be orange or cantaloupe. (He chooses cantaloupe.) Then there’s the matter of his custom-made costume, not to mention the fact that no one has figured out how he’s getting 250 miles north less than 24 hours from now. But he tries to see the bright side. “All this shit lately is kind of therapeutic. Being an artist is not just the music. That’s the nucleus of everything, that’s the shit that everything’s revolving around, and why everything’s revolving to begin with, you know and spinning and shit.” Then he trails off. “And it’s cool to do all of it, you know, videos, photography, putting together artwork, blah blah blah.” Later, he asks if he gives a good interview. Wandering, his mind mostly elsewhere, Ocean doesn’t find anything he likes furniture-wise, and leaves empty-handed. In the parking lot, I ask him why he doesn’t have a Mercedes E3 M30, the vintage car pictured on the cover of Nostalgia, Ultra. He says it’s impractical for driving around in the LA grind. He wouldn’t want to waste such a nice car on a workaday lifestyle. Before he heads off, he launches into an educational talk about why it’s better to buy a used car in California than the rest of the country, where the humidity and precipitation exponentially increase the chance of rust. In California, he says, it never rains. Then he gets in his car, which is easily recognizable as the silver Benz from the Chris Brown chase video and, for the second time in two days, heads to the dentist.