So I bought a cheap wood desk ($12) from Craigslist. Then I bought some primer and paint and new harware and got to work!
I used two coats of Zinsser oil-based primer, which is meant to cover without needing to sand the furniture first.
Then I followed up with tthree coats of Behr Hi-Gloss in Jet Stream, which is dark gray. I did a final coat with a polyurathane finish on the top to make it really shiny. Add some new hardware and voila, new-looking desk!
Now we can finally send the massive desk that we've been using back into Craigslist land for some lucky new owner.