found neon host

Jeff Chiplis art exhibit postcard – foto by Smith

Three major dark mood bummers have been lifted from my brow.

1) Our friend and Love-Shack-Out-Back proprietor Jeff Chiplis (the inventor of recycled neon art according to the The New York Times) tried to jump start our dead car but we found out the battery was dead and beyond recall so he took me over to buy a new one. Actually took me three places to inspect an $80 battery, an $87 battery, and a $55 one. Guess which one we bought.

2) All by myself I researched how to switch my old computer’s anti-virus subscription to my new laptop for no charge. Lady usually has to do these computer things for me but was busy so i dood it myself.

3) We got internet cable installed in our new apartment.

Now all we need to do is get gas installed Wednesday, then we can move in and start taking long hot baths. In our 31 months travel we had a bathtub in London for 10 weeks and one in Marrakech for a month. Besides toking, nothing heals me and keeps me saner than soaking in a hot tub, and of course the greatest path to sanity is to soak and toke simultaneously. When mom spent 9 months dying in 2005, it was the nightly toke and soak that kept me going.

Chiplis is one of my guest artists at You can check out his work at It’s joyous to behold.

He’s also a friend of some 28 years and the owner of the Love Shack Out Back, a very small 2-room cottage which we’ve stayed in 4 times already: for 6 weeks after we sold our studio in 2006 and before we left the U.S., 12 weeks when we thought we were moving back to the U.S. in 2007 but moved to Mexico instead, a 2 week visit last July, and these past 4 weeks. I’ll show some fotos of it tomorrow – the kitchen has the glass shower in between the refrigerator and the cooking stove, giving new meaning to lunch meat and breakfast sausage.

postcard from another Chiplis art show – foto by Smith

transition mission

Cleveland picnic – foto by Smith

This starting life anew in a new-old land while weather’s cold, wet, gray and I leave my car lights on and the battery goes dead is not what I’d recommend for fun and peace of mind.

A friend had delivered some free furniture last night and as I got out of the car I forgot to turn off my lights so we came back to a dead car. Called a few folk before finding a friend home and we sat in the dark wet cold shivering for 30 minutes waiting her help. But when she got there, none of us could make the battery jump work, so she brought us home and the car’s still there. Try again today in daylight so we can see what we’re doing. My skill set seems to be missing anything normally considered male, like fixing cars and anything else mechanical, commercial or social.

Things are progressing. Bought a mattress and box springs to sleep on and had them delivered. Bought a used couch and a used recliner and conned a friend into helping us carry them up three flights of narrow steep twisty stairs.

A couple friends have brought by free tables, chairs, dishes, chest of drawers, so we’ve the minimum to start our new nest life. People are extraordinarily generous and giving with both their time and possessions.

Today we get internet installed, and day after tomorrow we get the gas connected and actually move in.

We’ve replaced my old computer, so now I’ve lost all my old comfortable tools like Word with its spell checking and I’m operating in new Vista operating system’s never never land. Spent all day yesterday putting 50 gigabytes of my old computer data 2 gigs at a time on my memory stick and transferring it to my new machine. That 50 gigs represents my past 10 years of art life. And of course the new computer is totally different in key layout and touch sensitivity and displays all my old foto programs in totally strange unworkable layouts.

Basically right now everything is unfamiliar, uncomfortable, unknown, and expensive. Money’s going out like it doesn’t want to be around me anymore.

I haven’t been blogging past three days and find I rather like it. This daily soap opera of the life of Smith is less interesting than I’d believed. I’ve little positive to say and no fotos to post. In Oaxaca I had to beat the fotos off with a stick, while here I have to hunt them down. Unfortunately I miss the daily process of writing, blogging, responding, so will continue to blog more days than not… eventually I may even actually have something to say.

The one value of my daily blogging these past 33 months is a real-time record of the daily vicissitudes in the journey of one adventurous nomadic creative art/poetry couple. Figure 80% of what I write is fit to wrap fish in, but the other 20% has some veracity and validity. Lady and I have been a couple 3.5 years now, and all but the first nine months is blogged online with fotos, a rather unusual situation couple-wise.

This starting over in a new place gets old when you do it 55 times in 31 months, but at least this time we’re starting anew in a creative poetry/art community where we know the people, the rules, and the lay of the land. Once we move in and I get back to making art and writing poetry, my angst will dissipate.

I’m basically an eternal internal optimist who periodically feels overwhelmed, down and depressed by the actual facts of life. Usually a good night’s sleep bounces me back, but it’s been over a week since I’ve had one so the gloom and body sickness are spreading doom in my head. I just want this endless transition to be over.

I want to get back to being me, but I gather I have to fight through me to be me again. Gotta tell myself to get out of my own way.

Cleveland sky high – foto by Smith

mad science

test rabbit, detail from smith collage – foto by Smith

Traveling away from the nest, ants count the steps they take in each direction, then follow the same path back home by reversing direction and step count.

We know this because scientists put little stilts on ants and they got lost because their stilt steps back were bigger than their stiltless steps out.

Makes me wonder – for this to work they’d have to watch an ant leave the nest, see where it goes, pick it up on its way back, attach eight small ant stilts, then put the ant back in the exact same spot going the exact same direction it was heading. Are they really that good? And how do they know interrupting the ant’s journey doesn’t throw off its step count? Or maybe as soon as they pick it up, the ant waves its little legs in the air and counts those steps as part of its journey?

I got me some serious scientific doubt here, but I love the thought of ants on stilts. Maybe we could give em little clown noses and costumes of motley and have an ant circus. Or even better, put the clown noses on the scientists instead.

I watched a lot of ants in Mexico: teeny weenie ants who scoured our bathroom sink for toothpaste, leaf-cutting ants who tried to kill our lime tree on the roof, strange huge-headed street ants carrying impossibly large loads, cemetery ants carrying grave flowers piece by piece down into the earth, multi-species of ants simultaneously devouring a dead cat are but a few. They all are fast – they scurry, dart, change direction constantly, so they must be adding one heck of a lot of data to their little ant brains as they’re outward bound. And they come back just as furiously fast so they must have excellent retrieval mechanisms. Sounds to me like they think faster and remember better than I do, for I’ve but a vague idea of who I am and an even lesser grasp on where in life and why.

Maybe I should put some stilts on some scientists and see how they do.

Other scientists determine what part of the brain does what by training a rodent to do an action, then inject a burning acid into its brain and have it do the action again. The acid chemical attaches itself to the thought wave and burns a path through the brain cells to the brain location used for that action, whereupon they kill the rodent, dissect its brain and follow the burn path through the flesh.

Still other corpo-rat scientists drop women’s make-up toxins in poor bunny rabbit’s eyes to see if they burn or harm or not. Guess they figure it’s okay to torture real bunnies to protect our playboy beach bunnies from tears.

And the really nasty guys are the science firms that raise stressed rats for lab tests. They take baby rats, subject them to horrible situations so they grow up nervous and afraid, then sell them to scientists to see if our new medicines will calm them down.

And in the Naval Academy I was told of a military scientist who went to work each day and blew up a goat in a closed room, then measured how far the pieces went and analyzed the splatter zone – different blood body bursts per different explosive mixtures.

We are such a weird race, humans. We don’t exactly seem to cherish or respect life oftimes, frequently not even our own.

And we seem to forget the one law – do as YOU would be done . . . for if we can do it to others, others can do it to us. Maybe that’s why aliens harvest us at night for their science experiments and sexual needs.

fragile detail from smith collage – foto by Smith

PS – life, reality, computers, my mind, and internet access are all going exceptionally weird. Next Wednesday we should be moving into our own place with our own internet. Until then, I may or may not be around cyber-wise.

rabbit detail from smith collage – foto by Smith

do i want cheese with my whine?

thru my windshield while driving – foto by Smith

Not as many fotos up here for me, yet more for Lady (who has taken some nice ones). Here’s my shots from yesterday.

our car / parking lot / new bought glass – foto by Smith

fence outside our Love Shack Out Back – foto by Smith

Bluebeard as leprechaun on front of Ford – foto by Smith

Computer, WiFi and reality are playing head games with me, and right now I’m losing. But that’s temporary because they can play all the games they want and I’ll still be coming out on top because I ALWAYS bounce back, I ALWAYS come out on top (at least in my mind, and what else really matters except what Lady thinks)..

I’m in a bit of a down spiral, for multiple reasons.

1) This cold sunless wet weather hurts my heat acclimated body. Winter 2006 we were in the Istrain tip of Croatia on the warm Adriatic Sea for the first part and in the south of France near the warm Mediterranean Sea for the second half. Winters 2007 and 2008 we spent in the 77-88 degree warmth of southern Mexico. I’m used to soporific soaking in heat not painful sucking out cold. I have to get tough again to live in Cleveland.

2) Except for food poisoning in Spain, repeated food poisoning in Morocco, food poisoning in Mexico, and a damn nasty cold caught in Paris, I almost never get sick. Yet that’s the first thing that happens when we finally return to the U.S. – we catch some weird flu-like cold-like thing that our Chicago friend calls “the plague”.

3) The U.S. eats money, feeds on speed and stress. Most here don’t listen to what you say because they’re already typing out their responses inside their head.

4) I’ve never seen so many unhappy faces, beaten faces, afraid faces as I have here.

5) Driving a car is stressful, dangerous, expensive, bad for the planet and bad for the pocketbook. Our last three years walking, riding public transport and bicycles was a peaceful fairly stress free gift – except of course when we carried too much weight on our backs in our backpacks, had to walk too far to the next node, got lost or confused, missed departure and arrival deadlines, etc.

6) We’ve an empty third floor apartment up windy narrow twisty stairs to fill with unfound furniture with no pickup or truck to do so

DISCLAIMER: Once the sun returns and the earth warms and my sickness leaves my body, I’ll be a lot more cheerful and upbeat. The good news here is I have Lady. Of course the bad news here is I have Lady because without her, none of this would matter because I’d not give a shit. Lady’s love condemns me to life and life condemns me to mental and moral pain. Not that I was all that happy before Lady, but before her I was at least used to my unhappiness. She ruined me for my old me when showed me happy.

Reality is a state of mind, and mine is weakened by grey wet cold sunless sickness right now – all of which are temporary. But still, knowing is not always believing.

Anyway, blogging’s getting iffier until I switch to the new laptop I just bought.

things said

penis chicken – foto by Smith

“Do you subscribe to the one-China or two-China theory,” I ask Lady.

“What do you mean?” she replies.

“Taiwan separated from China in 1949 when China went communist. Communist China claims Taiwan is still part of it, even though Taiwan says it isn’t,” I explain.

“Taiwan is whatever Taiwanna be,” she answers.

“That puts you in the two-China school.”

~ ~ ~

Later on she said of herself out of the blue, “I am an addict of the ego and the mirror.”

~ ~ ~

I guess every time my ceramic artist friend brought his pre-school daughter in to visit me, I reeked of marijuana smoke because last time he went home after smoking with me, his daughter hugged him, then said, “Daddy, you smell like Smith.” So next time she and I meet she may not recognize me because I no longer smell like Smith.

where I used to buy chicken feet for art – foto by Smith

beat me mama 8 to the bar

fever dreams – foto by Smith

Weird sickness fallen over me. Temperature of 99.9 degrees. My muscles are screaming in pain. My nose is sniffly, and I have a sarcophagistic cough. It’s as if I have a mild cold and part of a case of serious flu – I say part because there’s no nausea or stomach pain, just fever, muscle pain, misery, coughing, leaky nose.

Felt throat tickle Friday at art opening. Saturday had moments of extreme weakness and pain. Saturday night was the night from hell with constant pain, fever, and body wrenching cold spells which caused me to shake so bad it felt I’d rip myself apart… worse than my one case of hypothermia in the sheep shit fields of northern England. Everything hurts.

To pass sick time, we watched Michael Clayton, which is a very good movie about sleazy evil bottom feeding lawyers, but is oh so bleak, down, negative, painful. Afterwards we laughed and said at least we don’t have his life.

Now I’m worried about Lady – seems she’s getting the cold part of my illness, which is truly lousy (for whom sick with misery wants to make their loved one ill as well). Just hope she misses the fever muscle ache portion.

Now Monday morning – I’m free I’m free – no debilitating pain, just a wee bit weak, with a walking tenderness like I’d been repeatedly poked in unpleasant places. Also a general over-all clamminess, but this is such a step up from yesterday I feel fine.

I’m not good with pain. One would think I’ve had enough practice over the years with it I’d have a better handle on it, but no. Pain sucks. Sickness sucks.

You know this is all bass-ackward. Most folk go from the U.S. to Mexico to get sick; we went the other way. Great American Metaphor.

fever schemes – foto by Smith

separation of

church – foto by Smith

state – foto by Smith


a decision to be slow, and flow–hurry is broken and flapping, saying hi and bye in passing and when it comes, it comes & if it goes, so long

coffee, gray sky, brown city, chewed-up thoughts, layers of Mexican blankets, the heater kicking on like a persistent commentary on the erosion of reservoirs

I’d like to ooze hypocrisy casually, have spontaneous conversation w/o worry of judgment, be free to say creative & outrageous things–too much thinking stifles

I’d tell you something wise but then you’d expect consistency

thrashed in a.m. web of self-loathing, doubting, then heard the clean sweet tweets outdoors penetrate with variation of sun – birds are in a greater reality

sharp northern charcoal blessings: the cold collection of steel rain onto broad psychic aquifer, brown tree root sky, fine line siding & domestic gables


Synchronicity and the kindness of strangers – – –

Smith collage from 1980s Clevebland Rag-o-zeen – foto by Smith

We were in the coffee shop when I told Lady a friend said we should get a WiFi finder to tell us where free WiFi was. Ten minutes later the guy behind the coffee counter tapped my shoulder, handed me his WiFi finder and said “Here, I’ve had this three years now and never used it. You can have it.”

Last night there was a knock on the door and the woman next door said “We were just reading your blog about your laptop battery overheating – here’s a laptop cooler pad with a fan you can have.”

I was also given small amounts of weed by two folk and turned down free weed from two others since we returned.

People have told us we could stay at their places if we have trouble finding an apartment, while others offered to help us move–of course right now we have no furniture to move, but the thought is certainly appreciated.

You just never know what goodness is lurking just beyond your perception.

Here are the rest of my mid-1980s collages I came across at a musician’s house. Obviously I posted the better ones first – these are the leftovers.

Smith collage from 1980s Clevebland Rag-o-zeen – foto by Smith

Smith collage from 1980s Clevebland Rag-o-zeen – foto by Smith

Smith collage from 1980s Clevebland Rag-o-zeen – foto by Smith

Smith collage from 1980s Clevebland Rag-o-zeen – foto by Smith

Smith collage from 1980s Clevebland Rag-o-zeen – foto by Smith

back in the u.s.a.

Smith collage from 1980s Clevebland Rag-o-zeen – foto by Smith

Rented a 3rd floor apartment today in an old Victorian house just the other side of the bridge (we’re all on the wrong side of the tracks here). Two large rooms, two bedrooms, an odd knook, kitchen, bathroom with essential tub, storage space in the basement, and parking in back.

Back in the states 16 days and so far we’ve bought a used car, rented an apartment, attended one book and three poetry readings, read at an open mic, have been treated to five dinners and a couple stones, each got our foto and a poem in a new Cleveland book of poets, and arranged our first featured reading for May. Now we need furniture.

Then we need a life. Is very odd to go from the inexpensive slow sun and stone of Mexico to costly fast cold Cleveland. Lady says life, pace and people are faster here, with the stress and anxiety levels much much greater. I agree. This moving back to America is not without its costs and problems.

Once we get settled, I’m going to collage more used furniture, make form funtion. Covered a wooden chair in torn and burned American flags back in the 1980s – always hoped Congress would outlaw burning American flags so my dozen pieces using them would sky-rocket in shock value. I have a big box of newspaper book magazine words and images I’ve collected for more than a decade. It–along with some of dead Mother Dwarf’s and dead Cat’s works of art–are in storage along with some of my masterpieces. This time next year I’ll need to have an art show. My last solo show was 2006, my first 1984. Time to get back in the old art game.

Smith collage from 1980s Clevebland Rag-o-zeen – foto by Smith

Smith collage from 1980s Clevebland Rag-o-zeen – foto by Smith

Smith collage from 1980s Clevebland Rag-o-zeen – foto by Smith