The beholder’s eye

“It’s a clue.” he said as he slammed it down on my desk. I couldn’t see what he had put down. Firstly, because my eyes were closed. Secondly, because I wasn’t sitting at my desk, I was curled up beneath it. Vic, Helen and I had closed down the Latin American the night before. Or was it this morning? In any case, we had also opened it up this afternoon. That kind of week. I had gone back to the office to get some blogging in, but I don’t think I actually did any. And now all I could see were three pint-sized margaritas floating in front of me. I swatted at them fruitlessly.

“Hey. Hey!” Allan’s low top sneaker kicked me in the arm. “I need you on this. And I need it now.”

I was lying on what felt like a burrito butt and a gum wrapper was stuck to my cheek. My maid was on vacation. “Did you bring me coffee?” I croaked from my little dusty bed. It was just about five, and I couldn’t get as far into the afternoon daylight as I used to be able to without some slow drip.

“I’ll put a pot on. Let’s get to work,” Allan’s kicky feet walked away from my desk. “Commenters want to know, is this art?” I slowly crept out and slithered into my chair. The sideways sunlight cut through the office fog of dust, slicing it to ribbons with help from broken and uneven venetians.

“Where did you get this?” I asked, finally getting a look at the photo. It was an oddly shaped paint dribble. It almost seemed accidental, but something about the curvature suggested intent. Allan was hot on the trail of a new tagger in town. Someone who approached every untouched spot in the city like a beautifully blank surface with the potential to be a new Mona Lisa. Or at least one of Reyes’ letters.

“Don’t worry about that, just suss out the meaning.” Allan plopped a full coffee mug on my desk. The sound of porcelain against oak was pleasing. As was the hot drop that splashed out and burned my hand, teasingly. I took a long sip, searing the roof of my mouth and probably also my throat. The Mission Mission office’s snack budget didn’t reach as far as the fancy neighborhood boutique cafes. This was brown bean water. But it would do.

Half an hour later, I had this.

I brought it to Allan. He was lost in thought. “Someone’s been passive aggressively hate-faving my tweets. Can I just disable all engagement?”

I didn’t know. “I don’t know,” I responded. “Here’s your image.”

“Ariel. You’re so literal. This is quirky and whimsical, but it’s not what I need. This goofy lil’ ankle biter, this isn’t what we’re after. It’s great, it’s fine. You did your best. But take a look at these. I went ahead and had Extra Pizza Toppings take her own crack, and I think she found it. I think she found both of it.”

And he was right. She found something. “Go with this,” I said, “Something about people looking like their pets.”

“Huh.” Allan frowned. “Could it really be that banal?”

“You can’t spell banal without anal.” I grabbed my whisky flask from the middle drawer of my desk.

“What they hell is that?”

“I dunno. A joke? A headline? An out of context status update?” I grabbed my hoodie off the rack and flung the door open. “I’m meeting a commenter who’s ready to go legit, I’ll find you at The Alley, I’ll be there by the time the sun burns into Sutro.” I closed the door behind me, this day had posed too many questions and I was all out of answers. I stepped out onto Mission Street and stumbled East into the Capp Street wind.

Snappy answers

Last week Allan asked me to interpret some gross crap on a bathroom wall. Inspired by Al Jaffee‘s Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, I gave it a crack.

When I was a kid I got the little paper back collections from MAD Magazine, and one of my favorites was Jaffee’s, both because they were hilarious, and also because they offered the opportunity for me to put my own punchlines in.

Insert your own here.

Some originals from Jaffee’s book, with my adolescent-mind additions, after the jump.

(more…)

Found: Hardscrabble Popeye

More unintentional street art uncovered.

[pic I took of gunk on the ground]

[sketch I was moved to draw]

[questionable childhood inspiration]

Street Squid

It was just about quitting time in the dusty Mission Mission offices when the bossman smacked this photo on my desk.

 

I was just about to type the final period to wrap up the case of a missing bike lock, but now this new mystery sat in the middle of my cluttered desk. I looked up at Allan. The late afternoon sun cut across his face, shading his eyes and illuminating the old unlit cigar butt that he had been chewing on since he staggered in that morning.

“What do you make of this?” he grumbled. “I caught it on my way back from lunch with a tipster. I don’t think anyone saw me take the picture, I’m good at looking like I’m just texting.”

“Yeah, you’re the best. That’s how you got where you are.” I mumbled, thinking about a carne asada burrito at El Farolito that had my name on it. It had been a long day, lots of commenters to quibble with, and I wanted to get out.

“Well, do what you do. I’ll be at Benders, in my booth. Bring it over when you’re done.” He popped the rest of the cigar into his mouth and swallowed, hard. Then he grabbed his hoodie and walked out the door.

Andrew, Vic and the rest were probably already at Benders. I was alone in the office. The sounds of Mission Street filled the darkening room. I sighed, reaching deep into my desk and pulling out a flask. I took a long pull of whisky as I switched on my green glass desk lamp. “This won’t end well,” I muttered to myself. I got to work. An hour later this was staring back at me:

Where this case goes from here is anyone’s guess.

Hidden Street Art, Dog

First it was a monster, then some kind of pipe smoking official, and now I’ve discovered a bro dog hiding beneath our feet.

Sidewalk Dog Sidewalk

Walking by this, I couldn’t help but notice that it was actually . . .

Sidewalk Dog

Anybody else?

Wet Pain

Wet Pain
It’s an old joke, but here it is.

Your New Heart

Afraid and Shy, I Let My Chance Go By, A Chance That You Might Have Loved Me Too
(photo by Thomas Hawk)

You’ve seen those huge hearts all over the city. You have your own feelings about them. I don’t know what those feelings are. But here’s the thing: from now until August 25th the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation is accepting artist submissions for new hearts. So go design your own!

You can do something that tests the limits, like David Lynch did, you can do something plain like Tony Bennett’s face eating the Golden Gate Bridge, or you can do whatever the heck you want.

Get entry forms at the Heroes & Hearts 2011 website.

Gum Spot Spotted

Gum Spot Spotted
You should throw your trash in the trash can, for sure. But if you happen to have some gum that you weren’t wanting, I know a spot.

Capp Street, natch.

Also, this is the urban fairy circle, right?

Still Doing Things Backwards

There You Go Again
I found some more street art on Valencia. And just like last time, I helped it out a bit. It’s sort of addicting.
Street Art Revealed
I dunno. What else is it supposed to be?

Speaking of which, Seattle-based illustrator, designer and awesome dad, Gaelan Kelly did a couple versions of the last one:

Doing Things Backwards

Oops, You Street Arted
Somebody street arted their coffee or something all over the sidewalk on Valencia Street, and it looked like a monster, so I drew it. A few times.

Street Art Monster 1

Street Art Monster 2

The original is still the best by far. Anyone else want to take a crack?