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...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )
 
   
 
 

Archive for December, 2008

temazcal

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

cosmic turtle graffiti Oaxaca Mexico – foto by smith

We spent the afternoon at a Temazcal, an Indigenous herbal steam bath. The ceremony was used by the Aztecs, Zapotecs, Mixtecs, Mayans, and other indigenous groups as a therapeutic and purifying ritual.

After being served tea, we were ritually cleansed by our host rubbing and tapping us top to bottom front and back with long plants of basil, rosemary and mint while softly chanting. After this symbolic cleansing, he drank from a glass and lifted our shirts and spat chilled mezcal on our backs, stomachs and bare feet. Then he made a third pass around us covering us in incense smoke while chanting again.

We disrobed down to our underwear and crawled into a low sweat box made of adobe brick. Ambient drum & flute music played as we sat in total blackness while our host poured water scented with herbs over heated stones and fanned us with the hot scented steam. Stayed in there a long time, possibly 45 minutes sweating toxins out in rivers of sweat. I had shaved my head and this morning, and I was sweat wet top to bottom, slicker than a used CEO’s bailout plan. He lay us down and shocked us with sprinkled cooler water then beat us front and back top to bottom with plants, which felt absolutely delightfully invigorating. Once we’re rich, I may hire folk to whip me daily as I lie in hot heat.

After the sweat lodge we lay flat on the carpeted floor covered by heavy blankets while we relaxed and waited to stop sweating. Then we each were massaged with heated herbal oils. This is only my second massage. Once decades ago I had a sports masseuse work over my wrenched back, but this time it was pure pleasure. I could get used to having saunas and massages.

Reminded me how much I enjoyed the public bath hammams in Essaouira Morocco with their three steamed rooms of cool, hot and hottest. Something healthy in sweating out our flesh poisons.

Cost us 50 dollars each for 90 minute ceremony.


supplication – Oaxaca Mexico wall graffiti – foto by smith

 

camus’ 1st rule

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008
Yesterday was weird, rough. Even though my brain is normally filled with dark thoughts, dread, and foreboding, basically I’m usually a romantic optimist. But yesterday a massive depression fell over me. Couldn’t sleep, feared for my mind, and started feeling claustrophobic. Even the weed failed to lighten my load. Gave me more of an appreciation for the chronically depressed – how do they ever NOT kill themselves?

I did manual things to help – went for a walk, read a lot to kill the time, sat in the sun. But the best thing I did was force myself to work on the non-fiction proposal a literary agent has asked to look at. I find my depressions normally come because I’m not doing enough, not producing, so I find the best way to work through them is to force myself to do constructive work – write a poem, make art, wash dishes, exercise, do the unpleasant tasks I’ve been putting off.

My blog title comes from one of my 1972 poems:

Suicide Note

Poor naked ape, melancholy Dane
Dying the silent, sinking orange
I offer my praise to mad Ophelia’s black mass
Receiving Laertes’ pain poisoned harangue
I’ll soon join that fortunate lass
Morpheusly oblivious of pain
   (Camus’ first question of philosophy re
    weaves Thane Hamlet’s “or not to be”
    brings Kant’s “progressive unification of
    sense manifold” to termination: total
    psychic expiration. Hence our sole
    existential goal becomes fervently wishing
    good death’s black ghoul to sensually become
    as one with our whole)
Where God assumes skull Yorick’s reign
Stay yet awhile Horatio and give lie to my name

Anyway today I’m way way better. Here’s yesterday’s fotos.


1st world festival – foto by smith

Madonna with a gun – foto by smith

justice – foto by smith

 

hecho en mexico / made in mexico

Monday, December 29th, 2008

made in Mexico – foto by smith

the most effective weapon – foto by smith

telephone pole – foto by smith

respect the rights of others is peace – foto by smith

wall, graffiti, ads – foto by smith

graffiti – foto by smith

Mexican magic – foto by smith

 

lady epitome

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Lady’s 2 page spread in epitome – foto by smith

Lady has a two page spread in latest issue of epitome, a Cleveland magazine for “The Arts, Minds, and Ambitions of NE Ohio Women.” It’s free, so look for it. She got the center spread.

The spread included this:

Lady In Her Own Words:

I edit The City Poetry zine. In 2006, I left the U.S. to make art, write poetry, and share adventures with my husband, poet and artist S. B. Smith. We have lived in England, Amsterdam, Krakow, Croatia, France and Morocco while documenting our endeavors on our blog “Walking on Thin Ice.” We currently reside in Mexico in a relaxing, yet creatively productive environment.

My collages are inspired by materials I find around me. I like to use things I find while walking on the street, or in nature. Weathered garbage is particularly interesting. I arrange items on custom canvasses such as tiles or rusted pieces of metal, playing with the material until the visual arrangement is interesting to me.

In my photography, I aim to capture scenes that are particularly otherworldly, punk, or exciting. I am lucky enough to travel, so many of the pictures examine details of construction or life in other countries from a visitor’s perspective. I’m interested in animals as metaphors for the human condition. This was particularly true in my photos from Morocco, where I tried to avoid taking pictures of people so as not to offend their religious sensibilities.

An undercurrent of my art and photography is my worry for the environment and the living conditions of people with whom I share this planet.

– Lady page 8 epitome Vol 6 Num 2.

Here are some close-ups. Magazine can be accessed at epitomemag.com.


Lady foto – foto by smith

Lady assemblage – foto by smith

Lady foto – foto by smith

Lady foto – foto by smith

Lady assemblage – foto by smith

Lady assemblage – foto by smith

Lady foto – foto by smith

Lady foto – foto by smith

 

GENUINE COMMUNICATION

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

People seem fundamentally unknowable, unless you live with them 24/7. Even so, if they do not write or talk deeply, they still seem fundamentally unknowable. Still, I’m struggling with this. I do not know if words are important other than for immediate needs.

Most talk about politics, academic subjects, seems lame, pretentious–a pointless echo chamber.

All small talk seems to just serve the purpose of lubricating social gatherings. Most talk is small talk.

I am most interested in talk about pushing past boundaries and adventures, or talk that struggles with philosophy and religion. These are particularly vital subjects for our time, considering our probable impending self-destruction. I’m constantly zoomed out on this plane.

I find it hard to comment on any blogs, even ones that seem brilliant. I literally do not have anything to contribute other than the obvious.

I want to be sure that I am being genuine, that I am not commenting merely for reciprocity’s sake. That I really have something to say, that I’m not just trying to be polite. I often can’t tell the difference.

Perhaps the ideal blog would push my mental space past uncomfortable boundaries, make me see reality with expanded parameters. I wish to be stimulated.

To argue rather than agree or praise seems more genuine, because all agreement seems banal in the era of blogging and compelled reciprocity.

I do not wish my friendship banal, so maybe I’m holding back from a lot of electronic communication until I can get back to the States and recalibrate my reality. Genuine friendship without the taint of reciprocity involved in artificial social networking. It’s difficult for me to tell up from down because I am so socially isolated in Mexico. E-communication is not sufficient.

Words are coming back to me, but I feel that I’m rebuilding myself from scratch.

Lady

 

the killing floor

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

local artwork in a Oaxacan cafe – foto by smith

The USA has 761 military bases strung across a planet Earth that only has 194 countries on it – that would average four USA military bases per country.

The peak Roman Empire had 37 major military bases scattered around the world. At the apogee of the English Empire, the British had 36 military bases planet wide.

We have 761 active military “sites” abroad. For example, we have 106 bases in Iraq, 124 bases in Japan, 38 bases on the small island of Okinawa, 87 bases in South Korea. Who knows where the other 406 are.

The USA is also the largest arms dealer and seller of weapons of mass destruction on the planet – $135 billion of U.S. weapons sold in 2007, or 38% of all arms sold worldwide. Russia came in second with $68 billion, then France with $32 billion, the United Kingdom at $26 billion and China at $12 billion. That $135 billion we get selling arms to the rest of the world should cover one year of our war with Iraq and Afghanistan.

The USA spends more on military defense than the rest of the world combined – our Defense Budget for 2009 is $651.2 billion

The USA has bombed more than 50 countries in the past 62 years.

The USA has slaughtered over 2 million Iraqi civilians during Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s presidencies.

Rather odd actions for a professed Christian nation. It is interesting how death and destruction always seems to follow God worshipers around. Welcome to the killing floor.

The base info came from http://www.alternet.org/audits/97913/the_us_has_761_military_bases_across_the_planet%2C_and_we_simply_never_talk_about_it/ . . . the rest of the data came from my previous blogs.

Killing Floor
recorded by Howlin Wolf, Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield

I should’a quit you, long time ago
I should’a quit you, baby, long time ago
I should’a quit you, and went on to Mexico

If I ha’da followed, my first mind
If I ha’da followed, my first mind
I’d’a been gone, since my second time

I should’a went on, when my friend come from Mexico at me
I should’a went on, when my friend come from Mexico at me
I was foolin’ with ya baby, I let ya put me on the killin’ floor

Lord knows, I should’a been gone
Lord knows, I should’a been gone
And I wouldn’t’ve been here, down on the killin’ floor

by Chester Burnett a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf


Oaxacan artwork in a local cafe – foto by smith

 

THINKING SHORT TERM

Friday, December 26th, 2008

I’m seriously sick about humankind’s prospects for the near future. Short term thinking has been our downfall, yet it’s kind of a comfort as well, Buddhist zen stuff about being here now seems escapism from responsibility for fate, but if there is no future, it’s important to appreciate what’s left now. Materialism still so pervasive yet we’re in dire straights. I think we take comfort in materialism; it’s a form of denial to eat individually plastic wrapped slices of cheese or single serving plastic yogurt cups.

THINKING SHORT TERM

The only constant is change,
and it will come regardless.

Rid yourself of worry,
which is really attachment
to the future.

Too much worry is like to
let your house foreclose now.
Heck, maybe there are still years
left in your particular pyramid!
Don’t get mired in its end too quickly.
The temporary is still here,
might as well enjoy it.

Be here now
rather than worry about
mass fish deaths
ever more statistics tangibly
eroding your personal demographic
the methane bubbling up from melting permafrost
(which is not yet factored into global warming equations).

Tipping point opt-out plans are offered by tall bridges
for the squeamishless.

Retirement plan depends on what kind of bright light
you believe exists at the end of your tunnel
and whether or not you were right about
a personalized universe.

For those who stay,
we offer tent cities
food stamps
undersides of bridges
and shanty towns.

This is why I enjoy my warm bed
long hot showers
clean sheets
plastic-wrapped products
and the fast food hamburgers of Now,
because there is
none of this in the future.

But we still got a couple years.

Lady

 

one of her many special creatures

Friday, December 26th, 2008

green Lady – foto by smith

I have no words today, so I stole my wife’s. Here’s one of her many

Special Creatures

I had this fish,
of secretive eye and diaphanous fin.
He’d lazily brush me,
then slight quick eyelid flip
to deep inside hook heartworm hurt.
He was in shallow waters
where all grew warm quickly
from the light of the sun
and he’d grown large–
belly up bubble burst
in its generosity.

I had this toad
of jeweled eye and scaly bubble.
I picked him up to admire his pattern,
for I am an admirer of minutia.
He’d piss pool poison in my hand.
He was a Classical/Medieval Studies scholastic toad.
He had difficulty
croaking out the hundred or so conjugations
of paidoo-oh.
I was ready for him
with the tutelage of my kiss.
I just wanted the texture of his bumps
and the sting of his salt on my tongue.

– Lady


red Lady – foto by smith

 

x

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

sacred objects – foto by smith

private journal excerpt December 23, 1973 (I was 27):

I’m broke as per usual. Was in McDonald’s glorious hamburger haven tonight and noticed they had an Xmas tree with the holy three beneath it. So I reached over and stole their ceramic blond haired blue eyed Jesus from right out of his ceramic crib and put him in my pocket. Fear not his bodily absence for he is arisen.

(from Criminal by Smith & Lady)

Let’s put the X back in Christmas.


morberto heladio – foto by smith

 

merry xmas eve bornday, lady

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

roof Lady – foto by smith

Lady turns 36 today. We’ve been together almost 10% of that, the last 40 months.

When she first entered my life, I asked what her purpose was. She replied, “To replace you.” And she certainly did. She re-placed me from Cleveland USA to Oaxaca Mexico via England Netherlands Poland Croatia Italy France Spain Morocco England France Spain USA.

Earlier I asked her what I was going to do with her. She answered, “You do with me as you want.” So I wrote her this poem: Pulp Lust – Your “you do with me as you want” / Popped plans of white slave trades / And long slow humid caravans / On large lumbering cockroaches / Thru jungle green into my brain.

Lady changed my life, likely saved it. Before her I sat alone in neon dark in front of a computer screen writing and smoking and croaking through the unknown cancer eating my voice box. She snuck in to my life, turned on my lights, talked me into seeing a doctor and having the cancer removed.

Then after saving me, she took me on this grand 30 month adventure in travel, art, poetry, companionship, friendship, collaboration, and marriage.

And our book of my life and crimes – Criminal by Smith & Lady – exists solely because she insisted it would.

I respect the heck out of her. Her mind. Her talent. Her will. Her goodness. She’s the most impressive person I know, my favorite person. I’m with the person I want to be with, and I believe she wants to be with me.

She’s walking a difficult path right now trying to decontaminate herself from some serious side-effecting medicine she’s been taking the past four months that muddies her mind, depresses her creativity, sluggifies her body. She’s been doing hard time, but it looks like she’s about broken on through to the other side.

Life sometimes isn’t as easy as it is other times, and most times it ain’t easy at all. It’s hard to be human. It helps having someone to share the pain and joy with, makes it easier to keep on truckin’.

Before Lady I was alone but not lonely – now I’m two as one. For me, this has been a journey from less is more to more is more. For her it’s more a journey from dark to light, death to life – a trip that’s still in process but going the right direction.


cemetery Lady – foto by smith

 

 
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