El Rey Del Art Commissions
Saturday, July 21, 2K+1

See: "Bartering Art from El Rey", below

Special Request:
James Coburn, with glow-in-the-dark teeth.

The glowing teeth

Crop Circle Coffee
("I hear it's great!"
"Don't you mean 'out of this world'?"
"No. Idiot.")

Devil's Tower Coffee
("I hear it picks you up off the gorund and anally probes you!"
"Don't you mean 'it's out of this world'?"
"No. Idiot.")


“Bartering Art from El Rey: A Gnaa Graa Story”

Friday night, Amelia and I got to the Zeitgeist around 7:30-. After a pitcher or two, Amelia and Spingo -- El Rey, I mean -- were negotiating the price of art. Quickly, they moved from straight ahead capitalism to the barter system.

“So how much art can I get for a case of beer?”

Mark McClusky and I chimed in to try and help the haggling -- is a six of good microbrew equal to a case of shittybrew? -- but the patron and the artist wisely ignored us. For a case of beer, the only question El Rey had was:

“How much art do you want?”

Amelia decided on two pieces from the “Coffee” series. I threw out an original idea : a portrait of James Coburn, the dentally impressive James Coburn, and his teeth, with the caption “CLACK CLACK”. Gnaa. Graa. A specific request was that the Coburnian dentation be painted to be glow-in-the-dark. Gnaa. Graa.

El Rey said, “For a case of beer, you get as much James Coburn as I can paint between now and Saturday night.” Deal! Gnaa. Graa.

Saturday, we met El Rey at his night job, and he slipped us the fresh art like a dealer meeting his favorite junkies. The only task left was to deliver the three cases of beer to his studio space the next day.

Sunday afternoon, we started trundling along to the El Rey studio near Van Ness and Bush. We figured we'd see a booze store on the way. When we finally spotted one, I double parked and listened to Radio Alice (“alternative rock for girls”). Amelia went in and asked the counter guy if they had any cases of beer.

“Yeah. In back.”

“What’s the cheapest kind?”

The counter guy did a vague double take. “Uh, Pabst. I think.”

“Three cases of Pabst, then.”

The guy walked into the back room, but came back out without beer.

“OK, I don't have the Pabst. I got Meister Brau and Bud.” The guy yelled to one of his co-workers: “Hey, are Bud and Meister Brau the same price?”

“Yeah,” the answer came back, “same price.”

The guy said to Amelia, “So I'll get you three cases of Bud --”

“No, make it the Meister Brau,” she interrupted.

The guy stood stock still and stared for a second. “Wow.”

As it turned out, he only had a case and a half of Meister Brau, so the commission ended up including a case and a half of Bud anyway. As the guy was ringing up the sale, he said to Amelia, “Boy, I wouldn't want to make an enemy out of YOU.”

She said, “Actually, it’s for a good friend.” But she added a hunk of beef jerky to the purchase, and the eventual commission, anyway. El Rey seemed entirely pleased: Meister Brau, Bud, beef jerky and all. El Rey did ask me to take some digital photos and send the images back for his web site. See above.

When I unpacked the art at home in Chicago, I stared at “CLACK CLACK” for a while. I tried to get a photo of the teeth, glowing in the dark, but I don't think it worked. (See above.) Even so, I kept turning the lights on and off, watching the glowing teeth appear and disappear, disembodied choppers gleaming greenly at me, as if saying, in some ghostly Morse code for teeth, “Fine job, bucko. You got yourself some fine art there.”

Graa. Gnaa.