...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 )
Walked over to Metro Hospital today to see if my Mickey Mice sculpture was still there that I sold them 19 years ago for $1,000.
The sculpture resulted from one of those Jungian Synchronicities that keep seeping through my life.
Back in April 1991 I drank myself to death, vomited blood for 14 hours as I lay in my bed dying, bleeding to death, passing in and out of consciousness while wondering what sort of great art piece I could create out of a bucket of my own blood. I mean, buckets of your own blood ain’t easy to come by.
Unfortunately after I was in intensive care for a couple days and a few more days being cauterized and analyzed, the bucket of blood began to smell and Mom dumped it down the toilet. Everybody’s a friggin’ art critic.
After a week they released me and I walked home to find a call from art agent Kate Tabor asking if I’d be willing to do an assemblage sculpture using some of my Mickey Mice collection for the Childrens Wing of the hospital I’d just left.
Her offer astounded me because she’d curated a Warehouse District Artists show a couple years earlier when I was a warehouse artist and she kept me out because my art was too dangerous (yet she actually bought a piece later on).
She told me I’d have to write up a proposal for the Metro Hospital Art Board and I laughed, told her I never knew what I was going to do until I started doing it because it was a collaborative conversation between the found objects and myself and besides, I couldn’t draw a lick so even if I did know, I couldn’t show them.
She asked how much? Said $500. She said I’d get $1,000. She borrowed my big black garbage bag of antique Mickey Mice and friends, walked into the Art Board’s board room, emptied the bag of plastic mice on their board table and said he can’t write a proposal because he doesn’t know what he’s going to do but this is some of what he’s going to do it with.
They said yes, gave me $500 up front and promised the rest when I delivered.
Scared the shit out of me to be pre-paid for something that didn’t exist, that I had to create, and not only that but it had to be worth $1,000.
It was actually easy once I got over my fear and started because I loved the old toys and since I was making it for the Children’s Wing where kids would be in wheelchairs and pain, I made it a fairy tale piece to make them smile.
Oddly enough when it was picked up, the driver said “Thank God, finally something subversive in the collection.”
So today I walk over there to see if it’s still there. After all it’s been 19 years and I’m not what you call well known and I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be there but hoped a lot it was because I’m in great physical pain from my bum leg and some minor mental turmoil from my wife’s mania lately and just wanted an ego booster shot.
I walked down section after section of corridors seeing no no no no when finally there it was. Made me smile. I took a lot of fotos and I have to tell you folk taking two-dimensional fotos of a three-dimensional object protected by a Plexiglas case sitting next to two large windows ain’t easy. But here it is – Mouse Dreams by Steven B. Smith, 1991.
The Mickey Mouse right behind the mannequin head is lying on his side resting his chin in his palm and dreaming of being the human the art piece is.
The 3-Ds on the front are thick high-quality ones from Big Fun in Coventry.
And I noticed it’s been damaged – probably in some move the sculpture tilted forward and broke one of my mannequin’s fingers, but the dress pattern I covered it in keeps the broken finger dangling from the hand – which is cool, because if it fell off, the hand would be giving you the finger and that is not my intention for kids in hospitals — although if they noticed, they’d likely laugh.
Cleveland sunrise Lake Erie July 28, 2010 – foto by Smith
(Men) Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
(Women) Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
(from the play Fiddler on the Roof – 1964 – music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, book by Joseph Stein)
[ interesting juxtaposition – the men sing of young daughters growing up beautiful while growing away (harvested by others), while the women sing the endless cycle of joy and pain ]
First of July, wife and I and a slew of relatives and friends went out on a boat on Lake Erie and watched the sun set over the water and I got some gorgeous fotos.
Got more today (in reverse) because we got up at 4 in the morning (which is the title of a great, sad, slow, sentimental, sorta sappy soap opera song by Leonard Cohen I used to drool over) and drove down to the lake to watch the sun rise. Got there early because the sky begins to lighten about an hour before official sunrise (6:18 this morn).
We were alone on the beach except for a lone female duck that followed us around talking to us, and eventually an aggressive gang of seagulls who felt the predawn dock was theirs.
Right at sunrise, another photographer appeared. Don’t know what he got, but here’s my morning.
Cleveland sunrise Lake Erie July 28, 2010 – fotos by Smith
The little gnat flies are flying around my sink. You know, those miniscule fruit flies that appear from nowhere instantly once food rots or fruit ripens or coffee grounds stay moist too long. It’s like magic – there are no gnats nowhere, not a single one, yet place one ripe plum on the counter and there they are — immediately, with absolutely no time taken for little gnats to have sex and make little baby gnat maggot cocoons to be born and appear. These flies are not there, then they are there.
It’s simple Quantum Mathematics:
1 = no gnats.
2 = freshly purchased fruit brought in and set down.
3 = instant fruit flies.
It’s as if they teleport through Captain Jerk’s black-holed ego from Gnat Land to the immediacy at hand – rather like Quarks. Quarks make everything we are – protons and neutrons and hadrons and morons and so ons; and when they’ve done their job, they snap out of existence in our universe and go somewhere else. When they’re needed again to make more mass matter, they pop back into our Universe and do their dance.
Where do they go? Where do they come back from? How do they even know it’s time to return – do they get little transportational teleportation calls on cosmic Skype machines?
You know, if I were real and not just a half-second delayed lie my body/mind feeds my conscious me to make me think I’m the one actually doing all the stuff my mind/body decides and does on its own without even asking me, my head would hurt. Thank the Cosmic Joker I’m merely a late lie living in a three dimensional holographic representation of some two-dimensional master program somewhere just over our Event Horizon two bulging black holes past the Big Bang.
Anyway back to the gnats. Yesterday I’d left dirty dishes too long and the little flies flew all over and around and irritated me so much I washed the dishes and wiped up. I wanted to kill them, but Lady’s in her all-things-good-and-goodness-to-all-things phase of life and it would make her sad. Funny thing is she wasn’t even here but it would make me sad even if she didn’t know because I’d know she would have been sad had she known and I didn’t want to carry that weight within, so let the little flickers live.
This morning I come back from a too-long painful bicycle ride and slowly limp up three flights of stairs to our waiting cat who lets me know immediately she would like an extra treat of cheap processed water-diluted low-sodium thinly-sliced baked turkey breast.
I tell her no. She whines a bit but accepts the finality of my tone. I look at the sink. Frigging gnats flying around, even though there is no food, no dirty dishes, no fruit. I think once again about killing them before they teleport out of my reach, but instead I think about the pain in my leg that’s been there for years twenty-four hours a day seven days a week and is throbbing much much worse because I’ve just ridden too far on a bicycle whose seat is rusted too low for my long legs so I just bloody well hurt myself more peddling with bad leverage on bad leg and I turn to the cat and say “You know what? I’m going to give you your extra treat, because life’s too hard, and anyway you’ve already lived more than half your life so if too much pre-processed faux food is bad for you, that’s just the way it is.”
Gave her her food. Cleaned up the kitchen with bleach. She eats it all and comes in and thanks me, sits on the couch one cushion away, and we share the comfortable silence of affection.
And I will wait; I will see if the fricking fruit flies reappear in their gnatty attire.
If they do, I’ll give them a nod and say “Well done.”
I’ve got my wife to worry about — fuck the flies.
Besides, as that great socio-philosopher Groucho Marx once reMarxed, “Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.”
Nam myoho renge kyo
[ PS – the flies are gone, but the cat decided she’d conned me out of an extra treat she knew she shouldn’t have gotten so spent the rest of the day whining and crying for yet another like some twisted Oliver Cat. No good deed goes unpunished, except maybe for the undead flies. ]
Went to a collage party at photographer / drummer / art collector Pete Dell and wife Nancy’s yesterday.
Pete supplied all the glue, magazines, fotos, books, scissors, munchies and music.
It was a unique experience going through someone else’s collage stash and picking out stuff to use. I picked out 15 images, cut them out, laid out 14 of them, glued em down. It was fun. Left the collage with Pete as thanks because it was his party and he also collects my work – bought three of my more difficult assemblages in 2006 as Lady and I were leaving America. I’ll blog those pieces later.
We were outside so the sunlight and shadows heavily affect these fotos, although I love the fern shadows.
Lady made a sock puppet for Nancy and Pete’s grandson Jasper who helped Lady design it. Hopefully she’ll blog a foto of it.
It was a good day.
John Lennon Lives, 2010, 30″ x 20″ – collage & foto by Smith
Always had a problem that what I was taught of Ethics in church and school differed so greatly from the way I grew to understand how Governments and Corporations and Religions and Gated Communities and other Organized Institutions of Power actually operate — THEY do WHAT THEY WANT, TO WHOM THEY WANT, WHEN THEY WANT TO, be it invade countries, print faux money, experiment on their citizens, murder foreigners, cheat lie bribe, or bash gays while sleeping with young boys . . . you know, the basic shit they put us in jail or execute us for when we do what they do.
Rather silly of me actually to expect fairness and morality in a Universe we’ve collectively created — for Reality is a dream, a collaborative dream. . . or rather nightmare.
And the harsh fact is who the heck knows what IS is anymore anyway, what with a Universe 95% composed of dark matter and dark energy the scientists can’t find or test or measure, a Universe they claim mathematically really isn’t here at all but rather is a hologram where everything is true and not true at the same time and ALL only ever becomes ONE when we ask it to collapse into A SINGLE SOMETHING for us the observer to see because the Universe is only here to be seen by us and interact with our observations of it in the first place. According to the current consensus, scientifically Time and Space do not exist, they are simply illusions we use to keep our game going. The Universe isn’t really here at all but only appears to be here to please us, and that everyone who looks at reality changes it, everyone who wants or expects or seeks or fears changes MAYBE into their own particularly warped Reality.
In essence, reality is an agreed upon construct which reflects every single sick twisted fear and thought as well as the good hopes and dreams of all of us, which of course includes the best and the worst and the downright wrong.
I gotta say I ain’t impressed with most of what we’ve manifested – I mean who needs all this cosmic shit on the bottom of our metaphorical shoes such as politicians and corporations and police thugs and pedophile priests and Gulf destroying oil companies and the bigoted Arizonians and the mass-murderous Israelis and the stealing greedy rich and 99.999% of what’s on the Idiot Boom Box Tedious TellaVision MovieScreen?
This ain’t pearls before swine, folk — this is swill before during and after.
And yet amidst this moldy mass migraine we call reality which we’ve mostly botched up there exists flowers and bumble bees and sunsets and tender tales and strangers appearing out of the dark with a spark of unasked for help and friendship and just to get down to the simplistics this very moment when Mandy our cat jumped up on the couch on the cushion next to me and rubbed her head against my shoulder and purred while I kissed the top of her furry head.
All that dark and nastiness in the world is still there, still exists as mass unhappiness, but in this particular moment in this particular space there is goodness, there is happiness, there is an easing of the heart.
Reality is pliable, interested in interacting. We need each of us to individually on our own create more of these good moments to counteract the darkness that tends to accumulate in our collective individual swamps of greed and need.
Do as you would be done. Brighten the corner where you are. Make someone smile, or at least help them frown less. Live the Zen koan of a happy life in an unhappy world.
But to do this we have to do it inside ourselves before we can spread it outside. Each one of us has to stand nostril deep in this pile of shit we’ve created called Current Earth and we have to create a bubble of brightness amidst the dinge. Reality is changed from within. And reality changed for the good within changes and spreads for the good outside us.
This is the long way around to saying that for me to help my Lady, whom I believe needs my help, I must become worthy within, a better person, less hurt ego and more serious listening.
I need to call on my good gentle wise inner Smiths to stomp the shit out of my mean nasty selves.
This is war.
And which me wins wins or loses the me that needs to be to help my she.
I’d like to hope that in this age of digital storage, creation does not become banal; I hope we all feel that we have more access to creation, and that we all can become more emeshed in this like, joy of creation with each other.
I have a story to tell of Lady’s past two year mental Roller Coaster House of Horror, but my words keep getting too jumbled, what with my issues of her privacy, our love, my ego and emotion, and the mutual pain brain breakdown brings us both. I figure the words won’t come because I’m not ready to be honest, even though Lady says it’s okay to write about it as long as I love her — she says I’ll do fine and be fair. But fine and fair can still lead to hurt and angry words, so it’s a lose-lose-lose situation in that I lose if I don’t write, I lose if I write dishonestly, and we both might lose if I write well and true. So what have I got to lose? (That’s a joke, folk, even though it’s true — after all Sigmund Fraud said there are no jokes, only the subconscious speaking sneaky unacceptable truths. Of course Freud is a frequently a fraud and joke himself what with his constant cocaine compromises and his sucking large erect penis cigars).
So until the words come, I’ll dither dather blither blather and show you my own public art-thief collection, personally stolen by yours untruly. I brought these three pieces of public guerrilla art home from recent walks. Two were painted on Post Office adhesive shipping labels and glued to metal fence poles — but they were coming loose from age and weather and would soon be lost if I didn’t take them to save and blog, so I feel morally safe about them. The third was nailed to a rotting fence post in an out of the way place and I pried it loose with my fingers. I plan to incorporate all three into an art piece of my own.
(Guilt-saving note – I also over the decades have left guerrilla art in odd places in various cities and country sides on multiple continents for people to stumble across, ponder, and perhaps poach. In fact I knowingly lost three large fine art assemblages at the Temple of Lost Love Happening back in 1991 beneath the Eagle Street bridge – by the time the event was over, my art was gone, which was what I wanted. I also lost two beautiful paintings from a sidewalk as I was loading my pickup for an art show – someone came along while I was loading, picked up two small pieces and walked on so casually I never realized it was more than someone simply stopping for a look of appreciation; it pissed me off, but I have to admit I admire the casual coolness of their theft — takes cool to steal in full view).
~ ~ ~
Well that was yesterday, and “Yesterday’s Gone” according to Chad & Jeremy’s 1963 hit.
Last night Lady decided it was time to stop taking her meds again because they make her constantly hungry which makes her gain weight, and weight is a major issue for her because ten years ago she was 300 pounds and it took her 5 years of serious discipline, exercise, and diet to get down to her present weight (plus a year of bulimia). She says she cannot emotionally handle getting fat again — which gives me a good clever selfish sad line to start my next segment of the story: Loves Madness, Hates Fatness.
~ ~ ~
But before I slip-side away from those serious issues and show you instead the found art, here’s a commercial — tonight is the Lix & Kix monthly 3rd Wednesday poetry reading at the Bela Dubby, 13321 Madison Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio . I’ll most likely be there, perhaps with my newly head-shaved Lady. I say likely because our needs, schedules, and expectations change so rapidly around here lately depending on how much sleep she’s gotten because her mania messes up her sleep cycle among other things.
Anyway John Burroughs (Lix&Kix co-host with Dianne Borsenik) has uploaded three videos of Lady and me reading our poetry at Feed the Gays 2 last March.
It was a hard audience – it was at the Union Station Bar and Bounce concert venue on Detroit Ave. The college audience didn’t care much about poetry, just hooking up with fresh meat, and the Bounce concert hall to the left of the stage was playing heavy metal music during the readings. Yet it was a good reading – had to try harder to be heard.