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Archive for the ‘ArtCrimes’ Category

Back Alley

Thursday, April 24th, 2014


Back Alley

People get lost in nooks,
the nooks and crooks
and sometimes the crannies too,
not granny crannies or booker nooks
or even crooked crook crooks
but kooks and cravings and unwashed bathings
and the flat footed vagaries of too cooked arteries
of oft farted smarteries
leaving lust in the dust with the rest of the rust
which cause such a fuss
for those of us before the fall
too tall to get small
in their nooks and untalleries calling unvoluntaries
to race for the rest instead of the best
such is life in the alley in the belly of the valley
in this test of the beast slouching from east
wondering away from the why.

– Smith, 4.24.2014

I published 21 issues of Artcrimes, an art/poetry journal, from 1986 to 2006 and will likely add issue 22 somewhere down the line . . . I lost $20,000 of my own money in the process.

I looked them up on, a rare books site, and found three listed for sale.

Artcrimes vol I no VI November 1988 – $75
although they seem quite confused about this one – publication date and number indicate me as editor of #6, but they list Chris Franke as editor and he was #7.

Language’smyths 17: An Artcrimes / 60 years of Poartry, 1995, edited by Lang and Smith – $46.70

Artcrimes #20: Sea of Forgetfulness 58 illustrations, 46 poems, 57 artists, 100 pages, 2002, edited by Wolfe and Smith – $10



gone Gehry fishin’

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Frank Gehry’s Glass Fish, Walker Sculptural Garden Minneapolios MN – fotos Smith


I arrived 9 yrs after d.a. levy’s suicide

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Cleveland’s three best known poets are Hart Crane (who lived here early in his life), Langston Hughes (who lived here early in his life) and d.a. levy (who lived here all 26 years of his life). Two other prominent Cleveland poets would be Russell Atkins (born 1926 and still here) and Daniel Thompson (1935-2004). I can’t think of any current Cleveland poets of similar fame, but many of similar talent.

I came to Cleveland in 1977, nine years after levy blew his brains all over his apartment wall with a shotgun at the age of 26. He was basically hounded to death by the Cleveland police and politicians because of his liberal views, his pro-marijuana stance, his poetry, and for reading a minor’s poem which contained the word *fuck* to the minor and a bunch of other folk in the basement of a church with the cops present. They busted him for contributing to the delinquency of a minor — or more accurately (per Wikipedia) “In 1966 he was indicted for distributing obscene poetry to minors. He was arrested again in 1967, and his pressing materials confiscated, prompting a benefit reading on May 14, 1967 on the Case Institute of Technology campus which featured such figures as Allen Ginsberg, Tuli Kupferberg and the Fugs.”

It’s amazing how those in power fear poets, or at least used to.

On one level levy’s famous because he killed himself, died young and feisty and not-so-very beautiful but edgy. For a while some folk believed he was murdered by the Cleveland police or politicians, but according to his friends he was always suicidal, as evidenced by some of the titles listed below.

He wrote some very good poems, did rather clumsy cluttered collages and some very fine art, and most importantly was the 1960’s vanguard here for the mimeographed self-publishing poetry revolution. All of his output is available for free re-use by anyone because he always wrote *copyrot* in place of *copyright*.

Some of his better known works are The North American Book of the Dead, Cleveland Undercovers, Suburban Monastery Death Poem, Tombstone as a Lonely Charm, and his publishing of Cleveland’s first underground newspaper The Buddhist Third-Class Junkmail Oracle in 1966-7. In 1968 he also co-edited and wrote for the sole issue of The Marijuana Review.

Here’s an excerpt from a d.a. levy poem I included in Artcrimes #20 (2006):

the soulless men
bullfighters of insignificant stockrooms
mindless phantoms who never possessed a spirit
to gamble with
men with high school television dreams
who cross themselves in rituals of death
who whisper “jesus” before dueling
with their competitors each day
playing war games – becoming policemen
gambling with insanity
they drive their autos
laugh at hippies drink on fridays
go bowling shit on God each day & they die
& they die & they die alone
wrapped in flags
proud of their insanity
& the academic poets
write their cleaned-up dreams for you
pretend it is all beautiful
sitting in a bar
the alcohol confessional
& everyday i sit here
trying to become one of you
after another
trying on those high school dreams
for size
it doesnt work
you dont fit me

– d.a. levy – excerpt from SUBURBAN MONASTERY DEATH POEM

Below are samples from The Buddhist Third-Class Junkmail Oracle and a VERY un-Buddhist letter (the foto above) from a Buddhist temple in California which shows an amazing lack of Buddhist compassion. The Buddhist Third-Class Junkmail Oracle material is courtesy of my musical partner Peter Ball of Apartment One.

This blog is simplistic and shallow because I wasn’t here and didn’t know the man, but do know a few of his friends.

A reprint of SUBURBAN MONASTERY DEATH POEM can be ordered for $5 from Crisis Chronicles Press.

1968 foto of levy by Richard Ceasar heavily manipulated by me
from Artcrimes 20
all fotos or fotos of fotos by Smith


Surreal Thing

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Cover foto by Jerry Mann

For a week in March 2000, everywhere I went in Cleveland I saw my face staring back at me from newspaper boxes, coffee house counters, internet cafes, diners, paraphernalia shops. It was the week after I turned 54 and I was the cover story for the Free Times, a weekly newspaper.

SURREAL THING – Collector & artist Steven Smith bares all blared from the cover as I posed in my Amish beard behind a hanging eyeball, maybe 40 pounds heavier than I am now.

I always thought that was about the time I was going to become famous because things were looking good from 1997 when I started being collected and met Meat Beat Manifesto and 2001 when I made the cover; but it’s been downhill pretty much fame-wise since, but a much improved uphill life inner growth wise.

Peter Ball, my musician collaborator, found this copy while cleaning out his attic and gave it to me a couple months ago and I’ve been debating ever since whether to blog it or not because on one hand it’s pretty cool to be a cover story, but on the other it’s a blatant me-ego-me-pat-myself-on-back thing.

Well, ego won. Big surprise.

The first third of the article is interesting; and so I think is the last third. And I love the last line: “My life,” he says, “is more interesting than I am.”

I’ve posted fotos of the paper version because the online story looks totally different.

here’s the article – Surreal Thing.

from the Free Times, March 2000


deep cleveland press & artcrimes donate to homeless

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Sleeping With My Sock and other poems
by Jack McGuane – a deep cleveland press publication

Mark Kuhar has suggested all of the profits from sales of his deep cleveland press publications and all sales of my old ArtCrimes back issues (which Mark has been handling since Lady and I left the country in 2006) will be donated to the new homeless Grapevine newspaper.

I have no idea of how many chapbooks Mark has published, but he’s been doing it for years and has an incredible inventory of poets. I published ArtCrimes from 1986 through 2006 — 21 issues, 517 poets and artists published — for which I lost $20,000 over the life of the project.

Here is poet/publisher Mark Kuhar’s announcement:

Let the words of the homeless be heard!

Cleveland poets are trying to raise money for a new version of the The Homeless Grapevine, the newspaper that the homeless used to give away to folks in return for donations. The publication closed last year. So far, almost $1,000 has been raised thanks to poet Larry Smith’s Bottom Dog Press, poet Mary Weems, poet Ben Gulyas and his friends, and poets Kathy and Steve Smith. That leaves the fund-raising effort $600 short.

I can’t think of anyone better qualified to raise money to print the words of the homeless than the word-loving poets of Cleveland. After all, if we don’t stand behind words for humanity, who will? I know that the late poet Daniel Thompson, a fierce advocate for the homeless, would want us to do this and we can’t let him down. To aid the effort, poet Mark Kuhar of deep cleveland press will donate all of the profits from the purchase of any deep cleveland press book, or any publication from the historic Agents of Chaos “ArtCrimes” series to the effort. Go to the below links and make a purchase today, and tell all your friends!

for back issues of ArtCrimes:

for publications of deep cleveland press:

ArtCrimes #15 front cover art by Jim Lang & Smith
published June 1994 – 8.5″ x 11″ – ©smith
Four Play With Heads – co-editors Jim Lang, Ben Gulyas, Mike Thomas & Smith / publisher Steven B. Smith
left to right: Jim Lang, Ben Gulyas, Mike Thomas – Smith reflected in car hood far right
foto by Smith



Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Ponytails were killing us. My most excellent friend & I are solving the problems of the universe. The most excellent show maybe ever–“Red Dwarf…”

On Friday, the Red Dwarf ran into the Squid of Despair, a giant squid. The cast and crew discovered that everything is a giant, mass hallucination, that we’ve all been playing parts for four years in a GIANT VIRTUAL VIDEO GAME.

SO, now they find out who they REALLY are–and THAT’s the DESPAIR–the despair was that they found out who they really were…

AND, right when they were about to KILL themselves, all cast members lined up, four in a row with one bullet–the ship’s computer finally got to a high enough FREQUENCY where they could HEAR and save them.



Friends, we suggest that we buy each other’s organically grown sustainable smoothie very expensive cakes and artisanal food, get frequent behive hairdos, sans hair dye, at the beauty salons where the hairdressers are paid magnificently and enjoy their work. Exercise classes and spas. Sustainable capitalism–it’s a plan.

– –

I suggest free education for everyone, or paid education, whatever works. And a career of anyone’s choice. Some people have to go to school longer for their careers. Those people should be paid a wee bit more. OK, incentive. But not ridiculous incentive. I’m thinking: sliding scale speeding tickets, like the ones they have in Sweden. Getting rid of tax loopholes and offshore accounts. Staying local. Stopping all this weird international shipping except for cruise ships to one anothers continents. In the basements of the cruise ships, we could carry very expensive, fine cheese and the spices and coffee of the world. Gigantic, energy efficient cruise ships. Free energy? What was that thing Tesla was talking about? Hope it works. I would like to beam myself to the North and South pole if possible, and Japan. Coffee crops as well. I really like coffee from fair wage growers whose wages must grow more excellent.

Keeping the inheritance ‘stuff’ within reason, but making sure these rich people work doing art/music/artisanal food or whatever tickles their fancy and stimulates the economy in a sustainable way.

– –

Primed the pump last night and bought some local, organic food. Sharpened our old knives for only $12. Hope he charges more next time. Hope the family business has more business coming in–we are an overtly ethical business. Hope our book projects take off. I know all this will happen. I just, know… it.



Maybe Heaven is Supposed to be this Planet

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Maybe Heaven is supposed to be this Planet. This is the butterfly that’s going to carry me home, and this is the trash I’m going to pick up later, I hope.


Calling All Egos of the Universe

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Auguring the Divine


5 bukowski

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

stone fissure, Lake Erie – foto by Smith

18 years ago, I asked poet Ben Gulyas to guest-edit issue #11 of ArtCrimes. Gulyas wrote to Charles Bukowski and asked for some poems. Bukowski sent a batch. Ben felt the poems were less than stellar and wrote back saying they lacked fire, did Bukowski have any others. Never heard from him again.

Here are 5 Bukowski poems we published in 1991. Have no idea if he published these elsewhere or not. I did line searches for each poem and found nothing on Google.

~ ~ ~

somebody else

a hangover at 70
seems somewhat worse,
of course,
than one at
but considering
most other things
I feel about the
my strengths, my
ideals, my

it is only when
I am walking
and I see my
in a
plate glass
that I wonder,
who is

that thing

that old fart.


– Charles Bukowski, 1991, from ArtCrimes #11: Eat at Eternity’s

~ ~ ~


I sat in that bar for so long that
I memorized each grain of wood
along the whole bar, and each
cigarette burn.

the nights and days melded
together, the weeks and the
months, the

two years in that same bar
from opening until closing

I was a fixture, an act.
I drank rivers of booze, lived
through dullness and madness,
accident and song.

I was there without visible
means of support.

then one day I got off my
stool, walked out, and not
only away from the bar
but also the
city and the state.

three years later I
returned, stayed a week,
got off that bar stool
and never

I needed a better place
to hide.

– Charles Bukowski, 1991, from ArtCrimes #11: Eat at Eternity’s

~ ~ ~

upon reading an interview with a bestselling
novelist in the metropolitan daily

he talks as he writes: white fissures of placidity,
and he has a face like a dove, untrampled by externals
or internals.
a little shiver of horror runs through me as I read
his comfortable assured success drones on through
the print.
and least we over-worry he interjects:
“I am going to write a novel next year.”
next year?
I skip some paragraphs, even the interviewer is
but the interview goes on for two and one half
it’s like milk spilled on a tablecloth, it’s talcum
powder, it’s the bones of a dead fish, it’s a crease
in a faded necktie, it’s a gathering hum of nowhere.
this man is very fortunate in that he is not standing
in the line of a soup kitchen.
this man has no idea of his failure because he is
paid so well for it.
I am on the bed, reading.
I drop the paper to the floor.
then I hear a sound.
it is a small fly buzzing.
I watch it flying, circling in its irregular

life at last.

– Charles Bukowski, 1991, from ArtCrimes #11: Eat at Eternity’s

~ ~ ~

change over

Xmas season
here I was a boy and here was my mother and here we
were in a department store
where my mother stopped before a glass case
and I stopped too.
the case was full of toy soldiers, some with rifles
and bayonets, others were mounted on fine horses.
there were toy cannons and there were soldiers with
machine guns.
there was even a castle with a moat, there were toy
airplanes and tanks
and my mother asked, “do you want some of these
soldiers, Henry?”
“no,” I said.
I knew we were poor and I didn’t want her to spend
the money
but I wanted those soldiers in their various colored
uniforms, their different types of helmets and all
their stances: marching, charging, firing.
there were officers and enlisted men, there were
flags, there were raised swords…

“are you sure you don’t want some of these
soldiers, Henry?”

“I don’t want them…”

we walked on, went to another department where my
mother bought me stockings and underwear.
they were to be wrapped in bright packages and
placed under the tree.

that Christmas was hell but when my war finally
came along, as wars will do, and I couldn’t get
past the psychiatrist
I was pleased to learn of my

– Charles Bukowski, 1991, from ArtCrimes #11: Eat at Eternity’s

~ ~ ~


everybody thinks about dying now and then
and the older you get the more you tend to
think about it instead of thinking about
climbing into bed with some bunny you think
about climbing into the grave, oh boy, but
there’s almost a peaceful connotation to
it, sure, especially if you’ve lived a
number of hard years, but, of course, there’s
the inconvenience of it all, not so much to
you but to others–there’s the body, it does-
nt move, you’ve got to do something with it,
it hardens up and stinks up pretty fast, no
offense, I’m not singling anybody out here,
it’s like we all wipe our asses, right? or
most of us do, but before dying some of us
get this itch to do something: plant a gar-
den, lift weights, work with oil paints, buy
a bright yellow convertible sports car or so
forth and so on and ect, like some still
want to go to bed with a bunny, some of the
men and maybe even some of the women, but
actually talking about death gets to be rather
boring, although dying is finally the
only thing that finally gets some people
attention at last, the cochineal types, you
know, but they’ll never realize this auto-
matic herd-like homage because they won’t be
there as they weren’t there in life either,
and in a sense the living only honor the dead
because they will be next, it’s cheap really,
a kind of connecting chain of self-agony, and
my wife asks me, “would you rather be ashes or
buried?” and I say buried because even though
I won’t know it, I could know it ahead of time,
thinking about it now: somebody drinking me
down with their beer or sticking me up their
asses or their pussies or mixing me with the
dog food, I am caught with this sick vanity:
I like myself living or dead, I am the best
thing I have ever met, so bury me sweet and
deep and don’t weep, realize that one of the
nicest things is leaving you, your cities, your
songs, your mewking laughter, your history, your
hell, your chess sets, your jams and your jellies,
your bunnies, your buttocks, the way you’ve
smeared the sun and pissed in your ears, I still
liked some of you, which beats the other, so
drop the lid–the darkness is yours and as
your feet hit the floor each morning, I wish
you luck.

– Charles Bukowski, 1991, from ArtCrimes #11: Eat at Eternity’s

down the line – foto by Smith


lady crimes 2

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

white film noir – foto by Smith

~ ~ ~

I’m a lung
and a throat
on a seat
on the road
and there’s sun
and there’s wind
and the road
has no sound

– Kathy Ireland Smith, from ArtCrimes 21, page 3

~ ~ ~

Perfume Counter Pussy

Prowl pussy!
big hair
perfect Tits
high in air

basic Black
pout lips
cheek boots
curve hips

spray marks
passers by
pheromone scent
mascara eye

grip dog
tight jeans
on leash
back alleys Scream

– Kathy Ireland Smith, from ArtCrimes 21, page 31

~ ~ ~

ArtCrimes was a limited edition art/poetry journal I published from 1986 through 2006: 21 years, 21 issues, $20,000 lost. The perfect art project. Published 517 people and a dog. No one was ever rejected, neither for talent nor subject matter. Lady and I published the final issue in 2006 one month before we left the country.

twilight Lady – foto by Smith


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