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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 October, 2008

feeeeeeed meeeeee

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

citysong – foto by smith

Wanna hear “feeeeeeed meeeeee” multiplied by eight billion hungry angry voices like an outtake from some George Romero zombie flick? Well, it looks like we might be heading that way.

In 1940, one calorie of fossil-fuel energy produced 2.3 calories of food energy to eat.

In 2008, it takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce one calorie of modern supermarket food.

“The way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do — as much as 37 percent, according to one study.”

“Chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation” have made it so “when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases.”

[ quotes from Farmer In Chief by Michael Pollan, The New York Times Oct 9, 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/magazine/12policy-t.html ]

This is a cogent, coherent article which offers hope, because after clearly laying out why we cannot continue growing cheap food due to lack of cheap oil, it explains how we can fix the problem and make our health and lives better in the process.

More Michael Pollan:

“Spending on health care has risen from 5 percent of national income in 1960 to 16 percent today.

“Four of the top 10 killers in America today are chronic diseases linked to diet: heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

“In the past several months more than 30 nations have experienced food riots, and so far one government has fallen.

“The current food system — characterized by monocultures of corn and soy in the field and cheap calories of fat, sugar and feedlot meat on the table — is not simply the product of the free market. Rather, it is the product of a specific set of government policies that sponsored a shift from solar (and human) energy on the farm to fossil-fuel energy.

“The U.S.D.A. estimates that Americans throw out 14 percent of the food they buy; much more is wasted by retailers, wholesalers and institutions.

“Meat and milk production represent the food industry’s greatest burden on the environment; a recent U.N. study estimated that the world’s livestock alone account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gases, more than all forms of transportation combined. (According to one study, a pound of feedlot beef also takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce . . . a bushel of grain takes a half gallon of oil to produce.)

“40 percent of the world’s grain output today is fed to animals; 11 percent of the world’s corn and soybean crop is fed to cars and trucks.

“The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in three American children born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes. The public needs to know and see precisely what that sentence means: blindness; amputation; early death. All of which can be avoided by a change in diet and lifestyle.

“When a single factory is grinding 20 million hamburger patties in a week or washing 25 million servings of salad, a single terrorist armed with a canister of toxins can, at a stroke, poison millions. Such a system is equally susceptible to accidental contamination: the bigger and more global the trade in food, the more vulnerable the system is to catastrophe.”

Welcome to the future flux. May you live in interesting times.

PS – It takes 2.5 liters of water to make and bottle one liter of Coke, and 250 liters of water to grow the sugar cane used in the mix. Two hundred fifty-two and a half liters of water used to get one liter of Coca-Cola. That’s priceless.


feedme – foto by smith

 

on the naked road lunch

Monday, October 20th, 2008

scorpion – foto by smith

Lady’s hair dresser gave her a dead scorpion to use in an art piece. She told Lady you could smoke scorpions and get high, but not this one because she killed it with bug spray. Lady said that reeked of William S. Burroughs’s hero in Naked Lunch getting high off smoking insects and injecting insecticides. Sometimes I think we dip into Burroughs’ world down here in Mexico and back in Marrakech. He’s one “cool cat copasetic in absolute time.”

Burroughs killed his common law wife in Mexico City in 1951. At a drunken party, Burroughs asked Joan Vollmer if they should do their William Tell bit. Joan put her whiskey glass on top of her head and Burroughs put a bullet through her forehead. Some say accident, some not. Money and connections kept him out of Mexican jails, got him north of the border. Burroughs crossed a lot of borders in his time. Excellent bio on him from 2002 titled Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs.

I reread Jack Kerouac’s On The Road Xmas 06 in Croatia. When I first read it in 1964, it electrified me, made me determined to try marijuana and Mexico. This time it was a sad shallow tale about drinking too much, running from inner emptiness, frantic sadness and betrayal. Still a good book, a good read, but not the cool I saw 44 years ago.

Next I reread William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch. Blew me away more this time than in the late 60s. Powerful. Unpleasant. Original. Oddly put together. The English printer returned the chapter proofs in a different order than Kerouac, Ginsberg & Burroughs had mailed them, so that’s the order they kept them in the book.

Both books helped shape me, move me from that me to this me. I’ve moved beyond the one, move with the other. Outlived the first, live the second.


stonehope – foto by smith

 

life in the piant chain

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

404 Oaxaca – foto by smith

There is no water pressure here. Water here is propelled by gravity. They fill big plastic water tanks called tinacos which sit on the roof and dribble water down the gravity well. You don’t take a shower so much as you walk around under the gravity dribble trying to get all your body wet. And the hot water heater holds about two tablespoons of water, so you wet yourself, turn off the water, wash yourself with soap, then turn on the almost gone hot water and try real fast to rinse all the soap off your chilled body before the water goes stone cold.

You can’t drink the water either cuz you’ll twist up in diarrheic pain and die painfully from worms and parasites and feces and cockroach parts.

I don’t like living where I can’t drink the water, but I can’t afford to live where I can drink the water. That won’t be a factor long because soon you won’t be able to drink the water in the USA or England or Europe because instead of maintaining and repairing the water infrastructure of the first world countries, the politicians are giving all our money to their rich friends or using it to kill brown-skinned folk in the middle east. But this is a good thing because there are way too many people on earth anyway and bad water is a fine way to kill most of them off. After all, we don’t want to crowd the rich. Might get scabies.

But beyond water, this is my favorite place I’ve ever lived. Going someplace here is like walking through a painter’s palette – a stroll in pastel and primary colors, the painted building fronts like a test brush of each color, tone, and texture imaginable. I receive a hit of happiness every time I go outside, or just stand at our second floor kitchen window watching the people, animal, vehicle and color spectrum flow below.

Yesterday walking in the cool sun below a faded blue sky, I was balancing 20 pounds of dirty laundry on my bicycle as I awkwardly walked it to the lavenderia. I was having quite a difficult time when I realized I’m having one fine time of life what with the green black mountains rising in front of me playing hide & seek with the white wispy clouds as I walked beneath banana trees, pomegranate trees, mango trees, lime trees, orange trees, grapefruit trees, humongous trees topped with large orange flowers reaching for the sky, friendly people nodding to me in their multi-colored clothes in front of their endlessly colored swatches of homes.

Plus the dogs. I have all my street dog friends – Yipper, Hellhound, Sadeyes, Howler, Roofdog. I even have a roof dog enemy who goes berserk and jumps up, fur bristling, tale wagging, furiously barking at me every time I walk by, while he just lays and watches the rest of the world pass. Of course I’m the only one who ever talks to him. Lady thinks he wants a bite of me so badly she’s afraid he’s going to leap from the second floor to me in his rage. I talk to every dog and infrequent cat we pass. Every time I return home, I walk back and talk to our landlord’s second floor porch parrot who imitates my whistles and chirps “pretty bird” back to me as he does summersaults around his perch bar and dances back and forth for me.

It’s like summertime where the fish are easy, the dogs are jumpin’ and the colors are high.

Summertime – by George Gershwin

Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high

Your daddy’s rich and your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re going to rise up singing
Then you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky

But till that morning there’s a’nothing can harm you
With daddy and mamma standing by


my roof dog foe – foto by smith

 

LADY

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

I was just getting settled in my Office Max chair, lighting up my first pipe for the evening when the doorbell rang. I opened it to a young lady I recognized from gallery openings.

“Don’t you see the unwelcome mat at my door?”

“Oh, yeah, GO AWAY. How quaint. Affectations of hermitude.”

“Why are you here?”

“Well, you’ve been handing out cards, haven’t you?”

“That was yesterday. Now it’s already today.”

“Pretentions of curmudgeonism,” she said. “I’m interested in the concept of business cards. They’re very twentieth century. Bad for the trees, though. Don’t you feel guilty about that?”

“Nope. My business cards bring more joy than the cost of planet. People smile and chuckle when they see, “GO THEE, & SUFFER LESS,” and on the other side, “THE CHURCH OF NOT QUITE SO MUCH PAIN & SUFFERING, the Irreverend Steven B. Smith presiding.” The more I go up, the more I can do good. Business cards ain’t gonna make any difference to the planet, bottom line. If everybody stopped making business cards it wouldn’t help the planet much.”

“Well, Gaia screams out to me in my consciousness. Or it could be me screaming out to her. Hard to tell. And I didn’t mean that card. I’m looking for Smokey Grey, Private Eye.”

“Oh, yes, that’s me too.”

Lady scanned the foyer. My whole place was an ongoing, ever changing installation. I always manipulated stuff to make it more interesting for myself.

“I like this a lot,” she said, looking at the stairway lined with ascending mannequin torsos. “Reminds me of that old prefuture film, Bladerunner. I often wipe my mind of the plot so I can watch it again, fresh-like.”

“So you’re a mutant too.”

“Yep. I’ve got some powers, daddy-o.”

“OK, why don’t you come on in?”

She stepped over the unwelcome mat and into my studio. “Nice piles,” she said.

“I’m a bit of a pack rat.”

“My living room is spartan. I have no need of material items, not even furniture. I prefer to levitate in my sleep. No dishes, no furniture, just a glass for water, a roll-out computer screen.”

I believed her. Mutants are a fact of life. Since plants mutate, since amoebas and viruses mutate, since dinosaurs mutated into birds… and animals do it too, it would be absurd not to believe humans mutate. Besides, I see a mutant every time I look in the mirror.

“Materialism can be beautiful,” Lady said, touching an art piece on the wall. “Collecting old garbage… just as long as it’s old stuff, and not new. New is taboo.”

“It’s more efficient, and efficiency is usually ethical because efficiency wastes the least amount of whatever is required,” I said.

I did have my new office chair. I bought it from Office Max. It was pretty decent. The desk came from an old church school. I didn’t want it at first cuz it was really fucking heavy. It was an old teachers desk. Heavy, solid drawers, knicked and beat up.

“How quaint,” she noted.

I was frequently delighted to have people stop by. But usually after about thirty minutes or an hour, I would’ve been just as delighted for them to leave. Like other peoples’ kids. Nice to dip into their smiles and energy as long as they go away. SOON.

My fantasy was to get a huge neon blinking arrow and I would angle it down from the ceiling and to the door, and when I got tired of people it’d just flash, flash, flash, go away, go away. That’s why I like Internet relationships. I can answer when I want to. And they have a turn off button.

I kept waiting for Lady to get up and go away. I figured I could outwait her. I knew something was in the air. But I’d obviously gotten her way stoned, so I had to give her a chance to get herself together. I just wasn’t looking for relationships. As a matter of fact, I was looking for NOT having relationships. That was a conscious decision. I figured if I were polite and gentlemanly, didn’t say anything suggestive or leading, waited long enough, she’d go home. That was my basic plan.

“What do you need me for?”

“I’m too new, Sugar Pie Pops. We are too new. I believe we are all going to evolve, but some are doing it at a faster rate than others.”

“OK. How can I possibly help you with this?”

“I like your philosophy. I believe you have multiple visions. And I believe I can help you take your visions to the next level, less private.”

“What makes you so confident?”

“I am very intelligent.” She stood up as if to leave, but swayed. We’d smoked too much grass. I followed her out to the foyer.

“Would you like to hold me, Mr. Private Investigator?” she added slyly.

I thought that rather brazen. Would’ve been rude to say no, would’ve been hurtful. I had no choice. It was obvious she needed to be held, so I held her. We did a full body press. We hugged, kissed, touched.

Holding led to a lot of stuff that’s not the sort of work I normally do. I don’t even like to be hugged and kissed by guests coming and going. I’d been celibate for twenty years. She was mightily attractive standing in the light of the door, like a nineteen forties movie star. I admired her pluckiness.

“You can sleep over if you are too stoned to go home,” I said.

“Only if we don’t have sex. I’m involved with several other men.”

That pleased me, let me off the hook, so we went to bed in our clothes. Lady said, “It’s too hot,” and took off her pants, top and brassiere.

“Oh, no, Lady, panties go too.”

When I was a boy, I saw a movie magazine photograph of Robert Mitchum against a bare chested Polynesian woman. You could see the side of her breast as it pressed out against his naked chest. That really titillated me.

Later on, I found he was one of the first Hollywood stars to get busted for marijuana. Spent the weekend in jail. When he got out, he said the fellas he met in there were higher caliber than most the folk he worked for. Also, as he was hitchhiking across the country to Hollywood, he got arrested and was put on a chain gang. He’s just more down-to-Earth than most Hollywood people tend to be. Humphrey Bogart’s the same way. Both played good guys, and both played bad guys. I want to be a bad guy in a movie some day. Robert Mitchum and Humphrey Bogart are in my DNA. They’re honorable outlaws. They’re not breaking the law so much as just going their own way. There’s a difference, you know.

 

Weirdsville

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

weirdsville – foto by smith

Weirdsville last night tumbling through stillness and cold sweat going places I’ve not gone before and would prefer to not ever visit again.

Was sitting reading last night when the book page started swirling counterclockwise. Looked up and the whole room was rotating like I’d drunk too much, yet it’s been 17 years since I had a drink. Lay down to recover. Got worse. Started feeling nauseous. Got up to splash cold water over my head because I was beginning to get scared. I had no balance so had to use the walls to get to and from the bathroom. Lurched from wall to wall as if intoxicated. My arms were tingling and my head light and rising like I’d shot too much speed. Nausea got worse. I called to Lady who brought me a bucket which I tried to fill with all my me. When I emptied my body, the retching wouldn’t stop and I tried violently to force out the rest of me. Looked like I was vomiting blood, but peered closer and saw it was Monastery lentil soup and chocolate cookies mixed with strawberry yogurt. Cold sweat and chills with a temperature a couple of degrees below normal. At this time we both independently decided it was food poisoning. I’ve had food poisoning a dozen times in my life – you could add them all together and they wouldn’t even come close to being this bad. Couldn’t move because my body was falling through space to the left. If I slightly moved left or right, the nausea multiplied exponentially. It was as if my body were a gyroscope, and if I deviated from its plane even slightly or slowly or gently I became much worse. Had to keep my eyes closed because the spinning room made me nauseous. Lay there in cold sweat, eyes closed, holding body and mind together with sheer will, making the occasional sardonic comment to Lady to reassure both of us. Couldn’t undress because couldn’t move, so lay there with a blanket over my cold wet chills. Fell asleep. Woke 3 hours later and made it to the bathroom by hugging the walls. Had to use the wall to hold myself upright on the toilet because my body wanted to fall to the left. Walked the walls back to bed. Woke this morning shaky, no nausea, 99% of my balance back. Got down a cup of coffee, will try a bowl of oatmeal. Feel chilled and weak and a bit chagrined – not used to having my body betray me. I’m indestructible Super-Smith, so what the flux is going on?

Think I’d rather be an energy being, except then I couldn’t hug Lady.


nausea – foto by smith

 

IN THE BEGINNING

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

In the beginning the strong took what they wanted and became the Gots. The Gots have. The Gots make the rules. The Gots hire their official enforcer thugs called police, army, navy. The Gots steal from the Ungots and build prisons and buy weapons and more police thugs to make sure the Gots keep their gots and get your gots too.

The weakness in their plan lies in us: we outnumber them. As Jim Morrison sang, “They’ve got the guns but we got the numbers.” Their power lies on our acquiescence. They get away with what they get away with because we let them. They can’t arrest all of us cuz there would be no one left to make and buy their trinkets; They can’t kill all of us cuz we’d stink too much; there’d be no one left to bury the dead, and we all know the rich don’t like getting their hands dirty with honest work.

Camus sez the first question of philosophy is, “Do I kill myself, or not?” If not, then we’re all responsible for everything going on. If you’re not dead, you’re complicit.

Our truths are relative and uncertain – non-absolutes combining Einstein’s Theory of Relativity with Heisenberg’s Quantum Uncertainty Principle. We want and have it both ways, like light as wave AND particle. Our truths are mutually exclusive. Time is always up, constantly moving on. Fair is far far down the line.

Life in Between is like tooling down the highway: long stretches of bored sameness interspersed by the occasional burst of beauty, the messy stench of road kill, the sudden clash of crash. Some of us have tight new tuned-up vehicles, others decaying jalopies barely moving.

I’ve learned a few truths along the way, like life is fraught with feral, and things look different in the dark. And we’re all in prison. Prisons of prisons within prisons. Prison of family, of friends, of self-doubt, of expectations, of circumstance, of job, of debt, of possession, of responsibility, of body, of teaching, of culture, of heritage, of government, of cops, of politicians, of nations, of ignorance, of cowardice, of fear. And in these prisons we can either crouch and whimper, or we can try to break ourselves out to light so one summer night we can sit and watch the bats, the bugs, the birds compete to see who eats, who’s et.

There’s a cult of African ants who construct arched hives. But only when populous enough. Until then, they specialize in false starts. When enough exist–not enough workers, or enough pushers, or enough grasshopper guards, but simply enough ants, mass mind kicks in and arches arch. Premind arches arch up and over ’til over. Mass mind inserts keystone.

Why do more ant units = keystone logic? What evolutionary advantage accrue arched ants? No ant popes? No arch ant conservatives? No subcult mass mind McDonald franchise? (Though I believe too late for latter prevention.)

Ant politicians must be one happy critter. For once, it IS quantity, NOT quality.

The Texas rabbits I understand. They reach critical population density. They develop nervous disorder. They die. Make room for daddy.

Which are we? Mass Mind in bloom of blossom, or rabbit run?

Me? I had bad ant blood within, but nurtured my grasshopper core more. These thirty years past Mother Mary coming in me, multiple Orgasmicly in the green green grassijuana.

And old rabbit dead died in vain in vein when I became the central sum son n sun tent tenet n tenant of THE CHURCH OF NOT QUITE SO MUCH PAIN & SUFFERING where I sing the song six sins assorted, sporting pearl for spine. Swineless. Spartan. Shrine. But, my me mine.

Look! Up in the why… vaster than mere greedy gullet! Stranger than local motives! Able to leap sheep in a single bound! It’s…. just Smith… at all your loco malls, petit mals, seizures extra–bogus points for mass deception, for the iniquitous are ubiquitous. And that is entirely too many vowels for me.

 

COSMOLOGY

Friday, October 17th, 2008

The Universe was a lost possibility, a potentiality that was wandering between what might have been and might not have been. Where this potentiality of possibility was or came from before it got lost is probably the same place that quarks go when they aren’t here anymore. While lost and simmering in endless nonmeasure of notime nothingness, the tension between what might be and what almost was increased exponentially. At some point in its nonpoint linearity it exploded. Nothingness became somethingness. This somethingness was incoherent, confused.

Different eddies moving different speeds and directions and vectors developed tendencies towards personalities. Some might call them gods, but they’re just aspects of confused randomness. These tendencies come from leaky vents from alternative universes. The trouble with this is of course that alternative universes also have to have their origins. What I suspect is just a round robin. They all feed on and off of each other. They get out of order and leak bits over here, create us. We leak stuff and create others. Ad infinitum. Like an endless game of cosmic musical chairs, only with no empty chairs. And even if we could go back and explain how the very first one started, that would still leave the music unexplained, which drives the whole thing.

There is no best or worse universe. There’s only logic and flow, and chance. You should go with the flow. Things go better than if you go against the flow. Unfortunately, 99.999% of humanity doesn’t even know flow exists. They try to impose their will on flow, rather than go with flow or collaborate with flow or play with flow. So the world we’ve created is truly fucked up. It’s anti-logic. It’s anti-flow.

There is no best or worst of worlds. There are just best or worst of ways to handle what is. And again, what is has tendencies. And is is all things at once. It’s what you expect to see or ask to see that collapses all is into specific is. And if you keep collapsing is into negative shit, which most people do, you’re going to end up with this humungous pissed-off negative universe which gets off by stomping you. But if you expect a playful universe that has a wry sense of humor, that’s what you experience.

It’s the story of good against evil. If we can get enough good folk playing with a happy playful flow, we’ll have a happy universe. But right now, it’s like the bad guys are winning. Too much Barry Manilow. Not enough Meat Beat Manifesto.

The way the scientists figure it, the universe is composed of 5% normal matter. This 5% is everything we can see and measure. That means 95% of the universe we have no idea what’s going on. They break that 95% down into 25% dark matter and 70% dark energy. I’d say that’s pretty accurate. We seem to have about 5% good folk and 95% weak, bad folk on this Earth. But the good news is 5% of focused light can vanquish 95% of confused darkness. So it’s up to us 5% to save the universe from darkness.

Plus this makes a difference, because we’re leaking out our edges and creating other universes. And if we leak light, we’ll give the other universe a whole better chance of survival. And if we keep leaking dark, there’s just going to be more of the same old going on.

from THE CHURCH OF NOT QUITE SO MUCH PAIN & SUFFERING

 

measure for measure

Friday, October 17th, 2008

bad glasses – foto by smith

mismeasure of man – foto by smith

hunk homer – foto by smith

 

left right right wrong

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

street graffiti – foto by smith

took my new glasses back because the right lens is ground wrong. they tried and tried to find the correct setting but cannot seem to make my right eye see clearly, so they asked to keep my backup glasses overnight. i had to walk home with no glasses, which was interesting after wearing glasses for the past 17 years. life is softer in blurred focus. perhaps i’ll stop wearing glasses so i can’t read the news, live in a softer kinder gentler whorl.

to type this, i’m sort of wearing my old old glasses. i say sort of because they’re taped together and hang down both sides of my nose, like i’m a sad-eyed clown of the lowlands.

“Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?”

– excerpt from Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands by Bob Dylan, 1966

life is continuing its weirding way as i wander and wonder which card to play.


this morning’s roof patio view – foto by smith

 

my thought

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

The thought of no thought makes a river of thought rushing through my meditation candle sloshing against the shadows splashed on the wall thought running up against the walls filling the room, leaking out the door like a bathtub left running.

My thought can follow you out the door & down the street, into the Mexican roof dog’s stare as your shadow elongates under the moth beaten streetlight under the turned on moon.

My thought expands across the planet in latitudes and longitudes, it’s the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn and the Greenwich Mean Time line.

My thought cuts into the Earth like a hole bored through to China; my thought imagines us bouncing between China and back again through the molten core of the Earth like a ball on a string.

My thought is like a baseball to the moon and back again. My thought counts 93 million miles to the sun and wonders if it can skip ahead, count by tens or hundreds or millions. My thought would like to look at the sun and burn holes in its head. My thought wants to do handstands on light beams.

My thought wonders about the edges of the Universe, like is it full of dirt or empty or not even empty, just not there. My thought thinks the other side of the Universe could be another Universe created by a big thought.

In other words, my thought refuses to be silent under the meditation candle. It expands like plumes of a gas nebula under hint of suffocating winds. My thought will never end, period.

 

 
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