Exactly one year ago, I purchased a painting of a horse.
I chronicled this remarkable tale in my old blog. I repost the major excerpts from this adventure here today for posterity.
“Fundraiser 07-08: Need for the Steed”
A lot of webmasters such as bloggers or webcomic authors have fundraisers from time to time. It’s usually for something like a new computer (they are upgrading so they can better bring YOU content. How benevolent!), or some other piece of electronic equipment, or maybe even a medical procedure.
This practice is of course self-indulgent bullshit. If you need money for something, go get a job and save the money yourself. Shaking coins from your readership like a piggybank at the threat of suspended content or hiatus is a crass move indeed.
Unless you have a really good reason, that is. Like me.
Today I am launching a bold fundraising campaign, “Fundraiser 07-08: Need for the Steed”, to obtain the monies necessary to purchase this incredible painting.
A while ago I discovered this artist simply named “T”. I was instantly smitten.
I “reviewed” (i.e. fawned over) the work at an earlier date. I have supplied an excerpt from this review here.
Everything about this painting is fucking amazing. Oakland Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski fending off a wild, flaming black steed, in a mystical snowcapped mountain setting. I don’t know if it’s the concept alone, which itself is obviously mind-blowing. Maybe it’s also the curious, vaguely-humanoid musculature of the horse. It has a man’s bicep and triceps, and some very suspiciously man-like back muscles. Or maybe it’s the flaming mane, which on closer inspection, doesn’t resemble flame so much as synthetic orange puppet hair. This steed is either from hell, or has recently escaped Fraggle Rock, and is ready to tear the entire NFL a new asshole. But he didn’t count on bumping into Bill Romo (understandably, since he was bucking around the middle of the damned Himalayas).
I wrote that several years ago, and before I catch myself extolling the grandeur of the painterly genius of “T” again, I’ll just get to the point. A couple years ago around the same time of year, a little before Christmas, I wrote “T” an email offering to purchase the painting. In addition to gushing about his work with strategically vapid and obsequious prose, I offered him $50 for it. This offer was more than fair, I thought. He however declined, saying he simply could not accept any less than $400 for it.
Ok, so obviously I thought this guy was out of his fucking mind, turning down good money of any quantity for this ugly piece of shit. But that was probably just the anger of rejection talking. I would get over it.
Recently, I offered to buy the painting again, hoping he might have forgotten about his hard-line stance and come to terms with the unsellability of his putrid work (oops, there I go again with the bitterness. I have good reason again though.) I was prepared to offer another $50, maybe go a little higher if necessary. It’s turning into a kind of Christmas tradition. This is how all of the finest holiday traditions begin, I think. Through hostile adherence to something pointless and mildly excruciating.
This is how the latest interaction went down. Here’s the pitch I opened with:
I am writing you in regard to this beautiful painting
listed on your website. [link to painting]
Would you consider selling this?
A long time ago I wrote you on the same subject, but
it seemed the paintings were unavailable if I recall.
I am hoping they may be available now! What would you
charge for the above piece?
Thank you for your time.
Personally I think it was a pretty well composed pitch. The tone is right, and I think I tailored my demeanor to seem just convincingly stupid enough to genuinely like this retarded painting (which I do!). Notice how I downplayed his vicious prior obstinacy by referring to the paintings as “unavailable if I recall”. Master stroke. Also I didn’t come out firing with a dollar figure, mainly because I didn’t want to scare him off right away. I needed to ease him into the fact that I am still only willing to part with $50 for this abomination.
Anyway, this was his reply.
Thanks for checking back. I do have a price on the painting it is $425. A few people have e-mailed me about buying it for less, but I would rather just hang on to it. I like the piece a lot and haven’t painted anything since it. It was to be the first in a series of sports fantasy paintings, but I have gotten side tracked with my job and other family things so I haven’t started painting again. I will get back to it soon. So, if you want it for the $425 it is yours, if not, I will keep it on my wall.
I grope for language to describe my reaction. Nay, a single word.
$425?? So it seems he actually raised the price over the years. Oh, and PARDON my skepticism at the implication that he has received other offers over the years for his idiotic shit. He is probably only vaguely recollecting the ONE time it happened. From ME.
Naturally, I swallowed my indignation like the bitch I am. I just need that painting, and obviously it’s going to take more fancy footwork to pry it from his grubby, miserly hands. I responded, and this was my first sentence.
Wow, it is very cool that it is still for sale! I would
really love to have it.
Notice how easily I slip back into character. Whatever obscure pocket of personal acumen this is, I seem to possess it in spades. I probably could have been one of those spies who entrenches himself in Russian territory, uncovering intelligence on nuclear sites. Except instead of nukes, I would be disarming the Russian aristocracy of all their shitty paintings of horses, and vanishing with them into the night.
$425 is a lot of money for me. But I think your work
is good and you deserve to be compensated well for it.
If his heart wasn’t made of stone, it would melt at this line. I am playing up to his megalomaniacal belief that his work actually has value, combined with voicing a sad state of affairs for myself, like I am a charity case. For all he knows, I’m like Tiny Tim with a crutch, holding up my tin bowl, and instead of asking for gruel, saying, “Could I please ‘ave a paintin’ sir, preferably an NFL-star-battling-horse themed one, sir?” These sentiments would tickle any artist starved for positive feedback for his ghastly work, assuming he wasn’t totally deranged. Unfortunately, his heart is made of stone, and he is deranged.
I went on in that reply, trying to strike up a deal, but he didn’t respond. I was prepared to dish out more toadying remarks, too, like seriously encouraging him to take up painting again, and saying I would love to see him continue his series of sports fantasy paintings. This has the added bonus of being true. How about Terrel Owens putting a unicorn in a headlock while forging through an enchanted jungle? Or star kicker Adam Vinatieri kicking an ogre in the groin near a dark wizard’s castle? Or quarterback Tom Brady kissing a male elf atop a bubbling volcano? This series would be fucking dynamite, and I’d love to own the whole set (as long as I didn’t have to sell my kidneys for it).
Anyway, if I want this painting, obviously the only thing I can do is pay the full price for it. And I think you will agree, it would be ridiculous for me to spend that much of my own money on it.
That’s where YOU come in!
So pony up with the donations guys, and soon you will enjoy the vicarious delights of owning a completely unique work of art, through me!
If you donate, I will do something for you. I’m not really sure what yet. It depends on the size of the donation. If it’s only like $5 or $10, I might just write you a detailed thank you note. Maybe I will email you a custom sketch or a comic too, we’ll see. If you make a bigger donation, like $50, you can feel free to be more demanding with my time, like tell me to draw you a comic and mail it to you. I don’t know, but I’ll make it worth your while. Come on guys, let’s work on this together!
Of course the biggest reward is the giving itself, and knowing you are contributing to a cause much more worthwhile than something lame like upgrading my computer. YAWN!
The donation thermometer is ready to skyrocket!
Caveats and provisos: In the event that there are some donations, but the target is not reached, I reserve the right to spend the donations on whatever I want. Like dinners at the Olive Garden. I also reserve this right should the target be reached, but I no longer really feel like buying the painting.
So as you can see from the above “progress bar” graphic, the donation figure steadily climbed to $145. This was very promising, but it was still a long way off the mark, and I was beginning to suspect I would fall short. I was already contemplating the succession of succulent Olive Garden feasts I would be using that money to finance. The kaleidoscope of savory Mediterranean flavors had begun to work its powers of affordable, family-dining hypnosis on me.
But not so fast.
Early in January of the following year, this is what happened.
"WE FUCKING DID IT!"
Ladies and gentlemen…
TLDR - Yesterday, two incredible guys, both named Paul, independently of each other donated the full remainder needed to buy the painting. Yeah, you may want to read the story. It’s fucking epic.
How was this feat possible? Needless to say, the magnificent achievement’s brick and mortar was the charitable will and good grace of you, the readers. Alas, noble though your efforts were, they were not enough. Standing on your shoulders, I only reached halfway up the wall, a far cry from being allowed to glimpse the pleasure gardens of painterly depictions of unbridled equine savagery waged against professional sports legends.
It’s at this point in the story which I smile and tap my pipe on the heel of my shoe. My gaze becomes abstracted, my eyes shimmer. I am no longer with you.
I am crumpled under the barstools of an unaccountable dive somewhere. I marinate in puddles of liquids to which I myself contributed not moments ago. I mumble incoherently with my lips around something—I think, and pray, it is a bottle. Slurred words wander from the drowsy orifice, and occasionally stumble from a runny nostril. “Horse”, was it? “Romanowski”, did I say? If the other disinterested patrons of the bar strained to listen, they might have made out the phrase “epic mountaintop struggle” as well.
I thrash. My delirious convulsions become more pronounced. Feverish visions pester me, like an overzealous carnival employee lurking, poised to frighten in a shoddy haunted house. My breathing is heavy. “No… horse…” I say. “I can’t… linebacker…” I wheeze. At once I sit upright, and shout, “I will never own that painting of a horse attacking a champion of the gridiron!!!”
There was a voice. A rich, amber-throated sort of vocal honey.
“Yes you will.”
My eyes find a pair of shoes. Cream-colored, polished like the ivory bust of an African prince, presented as a gift to European royalty. Draped over them, cuffs belonging to pants, also cream-colored and well pressed. I look up. And up. This man had no end! His elegant form broadened as it ascended, and was stopped, nay, commanded to halt by a pair of shoulders so sturdy, a banquet for a devout Catholic family of fifteen could be served on each, and the settings would not jostle an inch while a pious, severe grace was conducted by the patriarch. Hanging on these shoulders was a coat of immaculate cut, and a slightly different cream color. Other colors of cream accented his tie, shirt, and kerchief, and above all those was a bronze, manly face. His smile was wide and serene, his eyes winter blue, deep with kindness. He wore a cream-colored hat.
The room hushed. Somewhere a utensil fell onto a piece of glass or ceramic. Everyone knew.
It was Paul Elsewho.
“But… but sir. I can’t buy it. I haven’t the monetary discretion for the painting.” It was the sniveling blither indigenous to the tongue of the truly pathetic.
“You do now,” the man said, clicking a ball point pen, which now busied itself above a checkbook. “You can and you will buy that painting of a steed grappling with an Oakland-area athlete.”
The words resonated from his amber throat. I knew any words from it would be true. He handed me the check for $155 United States dollars.
Even though I know in my heart the assurance of this man stretches further than that of the U.S. Treasury for the merit of the currency he gives me, my craven mouth cannot help but persist in its loathsome habits of doubt. “But sir… what if it’s still not enough?”
That’s when the door exploded off its hinges, as if punched inward by the searing daylight. The light was then blocked by another imposing form, its silhouette boasting the contours of an exquisite physique. “That’s where I come in,” boomed the rugged, gravelly voice.
I clutched the garb of Paul E. and hid behind his confident frame. I quivered like a reprehensible bit of cowardly gelatin. Through the tears, I saw who it was. Everyone did. It was the legendary Paul W.
He tossed his scarf over one shoulder. The tables in the room lifted an inch off the ground with each astonishing footstep. The bartender hid. Paul dropped a sack full of valuables, which made a noise like a gypsy’s cart smashing into a brick wall. Printed on the bag was “$155”. As I opened the bag, a gleam of golden yellow illuminated my wonder-stricken face.
The mighty Paul W. caressed his stubble thoughtfully while giving me a stern look. The corner of his mouth turned upward, ever so slightly, and he winked. “Yeah, that oughta do you just fine,” he said. A man in a bowler cap sitting in a dingy corner must have rubbed him the wrong way at that moment. Paul W. turned to the man and, with a ferocity in his eyes typically recalled only by dead lion tamers, said, “What the fuck are you looking at?” The man’s head exploded.
Yes, the other Paul was right. It did oughta do me. It did oughta do me just fine. These two noble, charitable, magnificent men entered my life and changed everything. They asked for nothing in return. Indeed, what does one give the man who has everything, and everything to give? These two radiant titans of masculine virtue, they are perfect. They are gracious perfection itself. I feel emboldened as I am flanked by my two Pauls, my saviors of brawn, my dapper hulks of sapient mettle. I can do anything with my Pauls. My arms interlock with theirs, and together we spin pinwheels into the night. Spinning, spinning, laughing, and spinning.
I speak to you as a man who has had his faith in humanity not merely restored, not merely gutted, refitted with high-end parts and refurbished, but as a man who has had humanity itself, in the form of two exquisite Pauls, invest its faith in me.
I speak to you as a man who has just purchased a painting of an orange-haired pony flicking its hooves at a strapping pigskin warrior.
I speak to you—
I promptly took the money and ran like the black-sinewed, scarlet-maned wind. I ran to T’s Paypal page and bought his astonishing work of art.
All that was left to do was for me to sit back and wait for my painting to come in the mail.
And sit back and wait for my painting to come in the mail I did.
And come in the mail it did.
If you’ve followed me on this journey, from the harrowing setbacks at the start, to the stunning success of the fund raiser and ultimate validation of all that is right with humanity, then you know how important this day is.
This is a victory not for me, but for us all. It is a spirited, flaming-maned buck against the petulant voice which tells us our dreams can’t come true, and we are just wasting our time.
Dreams do come true. Your wildest wishes can happen. Magic is real. Fairytales are sobering nonfiction, and your bravest fancies are a rock-fucking-solid lock. Hold fast to your dreams and soon you will hold them over your head like the beating, dripping heart of the enemy commander.
When one commits his entire being to an idea or an outcome, never relenting or wavering, he cannot be stopped. It is not a matter of stating firmly, “One day, I will have that painting.” It is a matter of stating, and believing, “That painting is already mine. The momentary separation between myself and the painting is incidental to the reality, and of no consequence.” When one compresses all his drive and concentration onto the head of a pin for one goal, it can no longer be considered a goal. It is a conclusion manifest in the furling parchments of reality itself.
So I urge you to celebrate this victory with me. The road was long and rocky, the potholes numerous. But in retrospect, any perceived suspense was merely destiny’s sleight of hand!
AND SO ON