::AUSTIN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT::
For months now, not only have you and I been in a spanktastically great relationship, we've had a marvelous time tracking the street art of an artist who tags his work "Soler." We've spent afternoons taking pictures of his work around Dallas, and you've chronicled the photos here
. Recently, even though we know he moved to New York, we've seen new ones popping up. "Is he back?!?" we ask, incredulous. Well, I know whether he is.
You just unwrapped this:
So yes, I know “Soler.” I know his email address and his cellphone number. I’ve met him. He was back in town for about three weeks over the holidays, hence the new art.
So here we go, the long story, not particularly short:
I chatted, as you know, with Greg, the graffiti artist who works with me, about an artist who tags his stuff “Soler.” This was back in what, October? Greg knew who "Soler" was, and he mentioned that he’d moved to NYC, gotten arrested, but had his first art show. "A nice kid," says Greg.
So, inspired by the fact that he had an art show, I figured I could find him on the Internet. After tons of googling, finally I found this
, which had some photos of his street stuff and linked to a guestbook. It looked not-very-frequently-checked, so I had little hope. But I posted the following in early November, counting on the off chance that I might be able to get in touch with him in time for a graduation present:
Name : Sum
Comment: Do you do work on commission? I’m interested in purchasing some of your art -- I miss Pajama Mama!
I waited, not really expecting anything to happen, for two long weeks. But, eventually, he replied! He would be in Dallas that weekend, he said. I e-mailed him my cellphone number and he told me he'd "get at me." He signed his email "Tonybones."
I emailed him back, saying, "My budget is low, but one of your works will be the perfect gift for my boyfriend, who's made it a hobby of photographing your stuff around town. I heard you went to NYC; welcome back this weekend!"
Well, that weekend in mid-November came and went, and nothing happened. (I make my pout face.) I figured my chances were shot.
I did some more fishing, though, via Google. I had discovered that he went by “Tonybones,” so I googled that and “Tony Bones”… And I found that there’s a musician named Tony Bones, and a clown for kids’ parties called Tony Bones. And I found a place where OUR Tony Bones did a show
. And so I found this site
, which was a lot like the Geocities one, but it was cleaner and less… Geocitiesish.
He was also listed here
and reviewed here
(kind of). He’s apparently mentored a kid
Towards the end of November, I (somewhat lamely) emailed him again. I asked him to "get at me" and re-sent my cellphone number. He replied; he'd "gapped out" that weekend and let me know that he'd be back to Dallas in December.
Still okay as a Christmas present,if not graduation, I thought.
As instructed, later, I reminded him to call (with a little value-addedness, in that I pointed him to your Flickr stream
He emailed back, asking if I could give him full-size copies of the photos, since Flickr won't let you gank them at full size. I let him know that I'd have to ask you, and since this was a surprise, it might be a while. He was cool with that. He also had attached photos of three options. I picked the one I wanted. It wouldn't be in my hands in time for our gift exchange for Christmas, but there was always Valentine's Day.
The night I emailed him with my choice, you and I had gone to Metro Diner and you asked me, "I wonder how he gets it to be all drippy?" I just smiled, teetering on the edge of telling you that I was in contact with you.
We can ask about the drippiness now, if you want.
I told my mom about my plans, and if you noticed her looking curiously elated that night we went to Vitto's when you came back from the bathroom bearing the news that there was a Soler tag on the mirror
, that's why.
So our plans were to meet up on Christmas Eve or so (he'd call me), and we'd "make the drop."
Just about then, my cellphone started wigging out – it would turn off, randomly. Sadly, it was during one of those wig-out moments that he called me. He left a message, so when my phone came back on, I retrieved it. The reception was pretty bad during the message, but I wrote the number down before I deleted it. My written-down number was wrong! When I dialed the number, I reached someone who had no idea who I was talking about. And since my cellphone was off when he called, it hadn’t logged the number in its memory. Damn. So I wrote an email to him letting him know.
And then. Crap. On Christmas Eve, I dropped my cellphone in the toilet. It was in my back pocket; I pulled my jeans down; end of story. So damn!
He emailed me on Christmas Day, and I emailed back, stating my problem.
On the 27th, he emails me, letting me know he hadn't checked his email, so I wrote, "Yes! Call me when you get this message!"
Remember that mysterious phone call I got the day I arrived at your parents’ house for New Year’s? That was Tonybones, calling me to see if I could meet up with him and get the painting. So I retuned his call and let him know that I wouldn’t be in town until January 9th. He wrote back on New Year's Day, saying that he'd be in Dallas till the 13th, so we could meet then.
So anyway. We went on the cruise, and the day we got back, he called. (It was the call I got when we were just getting back in town; I was on the ramp from I-45 to Central, remember?)
Later that night, I met him at Metro Diner. I walked in, surveyed the place for anyone with a big painting, and since no one matched the description, I sat down and got some coffee. I read for a while, wrote a few notes for my blog about the cruise, and eventually called him. A guy two tables down answered me. Heh. So we made the exchange. I wrote him a check (he didn’t tell me his last name, so I just wrote it to “Tony”). I got your painting, and he showed me something that he’d delivered to Grey Matters Gallery that day: Soler t-shirts!!! (Fuck, I could’ve just gotten you one of those and it’d’ve been almost as cool and way cheaper, but nah. The painting was way cooler.) We talked for a while about where he went to high school, what I did for a living, etc., and we discovered that we have a mutual friend.
So yeah. That's how I came to know Tonybones.
I actually emailed him back when you noticed the Soler tag on the “wanted artists” page on that website
. He thanked me, and told me he’d check it out.
Would you please burn a CD with the full-size images from your Flickr page (and any other Soler pictures you have)?
I hope you enjoy the painting. Now you can choose to decorate your environment as you rightfully wish!
I loved going around taking these pictures with you, following a trail into nowhere in particular. We continue on that trail, seeking out -- and, happily, always finding -- images that bind our lives inseparably. I love you so much, and I anticipate many more quirkily fun adventures.
Happy Valentine's Day, Austin Marshall.