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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 June, 2013

2013 Cleveland Gay Pride Parade

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

2013 Cleveland Gay Pride Parade – foto Smith

Lady and I marched in yesterday’s annual Gay Pride Parade with her West Shore Universalist Unitarian church. Must say the UUs do walk their talk of accepting everyone as they are regardless of sexual orientation, color, gender or even belief or non-belief because I saw at least three different Unitarian congregations there.

The West Shore group had 30 members wear PVC pipe exo-skeletons wrapped in white sheets so they looked like angels with wings . . . when we reached the Christian protesters with their megafones saying everyone who believed differently than they did were going to go to hell, the angels formed a barricade between them and the marchers. Brilliant, simple, gentle.

It’s interesting, Lady brings protest marches, gay pride marches, weekly walking of dogs for the APL, volunteering to help streams for the Metroparks and more into my life. If this keeps up they’re going to kick me out of the Hermit’s Club.

Actually that’s not true. The hermits could technically kick me out, but they’re all so anti-social they can never get enough members together at the same time in one place to get the quorum needed to vote me out, so I’m safe; once you’re a hermit, you’re a hermit for life.

2013 Cleveland Gay Pride Parade – fotos Smith


night life

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

day/night – foto Smith

Night Life

Train call in distance
sounds lonesome.

Cat cry on street
sounds forlorn.

I lie outside compliance
one in only.

End day in retreat
but regroup by morn.

— Smith, 6.29.2013

poetry pocket notebook w/ 4-leaf clovers – foto Smith


Nekro Filly (the song)

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Austin Powers doing Buddy Holly – foto Smith

Tasteless subject, questionable lyrics (but funny), and an end that attacks without warning . . . here’s the newest song by Mutant Smith aka Ball & Smith aka Peter Ball doing music, mix and recording with me doing vocals and lyrics.

Click here to hear Nekro Filly (the song)

Words are a bit murky, so here are the lyrics.

Nekro Filly (the song)

Oh my baby’s cold, stiff as a board
Growing mold but she’s all I can afford
Her skin’s kind of blue where it ain’t all green
When I do my do I first have to clean

(go away, scat, go away)

She holds me tight in rigor mortis
Cools the hare upon my tortoise
Doesn’t judge me bad or good
Lets me lick her unhealthy food

(oooh let me lick that, let me lick it)

Nekro Filly ahhhh she’s my fancy
Lay around she get antsy
Spiders and crickets crawl her within
Magic mushrooms grow from her skin

(I’ll eat some of those, gimme, gimme)

Gal of few words, she’s my stare-down queen
Her hardness of heart being taken for mean
Her decaying toxins glow in the dark
Her dry dust flesh is fearful of spark

(bye bye baby bye bye)

She keeps me cold in the hot of summer
Unless in sun she too long lingers
Then her smell well it becomes bummer
She wastes away her must ever slimmer

(so much for not fade away)

Nekro Filly ahhhh she’s my fancy
Lay around she get antsy
Spiders and crickets crawl her within
Magic mushrooms grow from her skin

— Smith 6.26.2013

life glow – foto Smith



Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

I want to write a poem about the freedom to live happily.

I want to write a poem about the freedom to live happily.

But I feel this kind of heaviness, a kind of pain.

I feel suffering, I feel like I am suffering.

I feel so weary from the struggle. I feel this load on my lungs, my heart, my back.

I worry about things I needn’t even worry about.

Why do I do such things?

I want to write a poem about the freedom to live happily.

Somewhere are doors to happiness even in this moment, this moment in which I am remembering yesterday’s pain.

Like there’s the door to happiness from remembering the joys of yesterday.

And the joys of the present moment.

And how I am so lucky, am, am.

How Smith brings me a cup of coffee every morning.

How I hear the birds almost every morning.

How I love the view out my window, the trees.

How I love making things better.

Even cleaning, I even love cleaning.

How like, when I am cleaning, if I am hurrying too much and thinking about the stack of next moments to happen in a hurried manner,

How if I am stooped down and cleaning in that moment, how I am not getting all the happiness I could get.

Sometimes I think I could create a zen practice: clean the kitchen, slowly, over a 12 hour period, with a toothbrush. Just enjoy the cleaning. Just sit and enjoy the cleaning, do it slowly and don’t hurry. Just have fun, cleaning. Think and clean. Relax and clean. Clean, sit on the floor with some coffee, relax and sit back, take a break, then clean some more.

That’s how I could clean some time in theory, yeah, that’s how I could clean.

That would be a kind of practice, though.

I wonder if the stack of subsequent moments would bear it.

Would they come rushing in and invade my toothbrush clean floor time?

Would the stack of moments trample over my clean floor time?

I think the stack of moments would wait. Or even perhaps some of the moments, or at least, the plans for that subsequent stack of moments… well, I’d find that I didn’t need to do so many things during those moments.

I could have just sat with my coffee on the floor.

Or how about this: I could sit with my coffee or whatever, you know, my comfort, if coffee represents comfort. I could just sit with my comfort and do whatever I feel like doing as long as it makes sense somehow.

There are a lot of things to do, after all, in the subsequent stack of moments! There’s a lot I could pile in them!

Sometimes I wonder if they are like cardboard boxes, those moments, those plans.

I could chomp through those plans, do a lot of them, do some, yeah.

I could do some mindfully, I could do some mindlessly.

You know what? Sometimes being mindless is being mindful. Being mindful is always being mindful, well, at least some of the time. Being mindless–meaning, not worrying about a thing, can also be mindful. You know, like not manufacturing any thoughts I don’t necessarily need.

The thought factory has a lot of good use when it’s in a good box or outside a box in a good way.

But sometimes that thought factory feels it needs to meet some kind of production quota without any reason for it.

So those are some of my thoughts about how to be more happy… to realize what has been causing me mental grief and not do so much of it unnecessarily. That’s my thought. And something about the stack of moments. I feel through my fingers that this is good. I find this pretty good. It’s not complete but that’s OK, it’s pretty good.

~ Lady


38 yr-old 45rpm < notes > 18 yr-old t-shirt

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

t-shirt back – foto Smith

A few years ago Peter Ball (the music half of Ball & Smith) gave me a 1995 Pere Ubu t-shirt with the cover art from their 1975 single “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” on the front and Peter Laughner’s inner sleeve notes on the back.

Here’s the short story on the back, a night slice of noir.

— by Peter Laughner, 1975:

The big guy and myself had been huddled over bean soup and coffee long enough to watch two sets of customers come and go. It wasn’t that we weren’t hungry, and the food at the Kettle doesn’t disappoint you even if you are looking for nothing more than ballast; we just took our time. He stubbed out Winstons in an ashtray that looked full of gray-white worms, sipped his double-cream coffee, bringing it to his lips with pale, nubbed fingers that shook a little in the transit; he glanced around from time to time in a way that you wouldn’t call nervous or expectant, but you could tell that there was something just under the surface waiting to find an outlet… in fact, if you let the big guy’s attitude get to you, you were liable to feel like maybe he wasn’t such good company… making you edgy… acting like maybe the next customer to walk in the door of the Kettle would be the cue to get up and walk out. The big guy was facing the door, but I got this way of side-sitting in a booth that lets me keep a good view going if I want it, and all I saw come in were two overweight cops, Magnums hanging off their hips, looking for nothing more than a hot meal and a couple of stools to drape their fat rears on. They go their coffee and whatever while “Love Will Keep Us Together” scratched out of the jukebox, and the big guy lit another Winston. I swallowed some black coffee and gave up on the bean soup… it just wasn’t riding right on a gut full of Jim Beam and beer, but I felt as wide awake as seemed possible on an after-hours morning like this. The big guy’s nerves were infectious… I was wired, all of a sudden, on some organic frequency that seemed to take hold of my motor responses and transmit “you are not fatigued but simply passive… use your muscles, your brain, your tissues NOW! MAKE A MOVE!” It was such a strong signal to my system that I reached for my wallet automatically, pulled out a five, and threw it on the table, gesturing frantically for the big guy to follow me up and out, which he did. The two cops at the counter didn’t even notice as we moved through the door at a pretty good pace and hit the street, not speaking or acknowledging looks at all. When we reached the car, it was lightly misted over with ice. We worked in silence, our breath misting, scraping the freeze-up from the windows with a plastic tool and the edge of a grade school ruler. With a few sober belches the machine started, an we were headed east on 90, into a vaporous dawn. — Peter Laughner, 1975

Here’s the song:


t-shirt front – foto Smith


book excerpt + Plain Dealer column on my privates

Monday, June 24th, 2013

American Ego, 1984, 15″ x 22″, – collage & foto Smith

(excerpt from “Stations of the Lost & Found” by Smith & Lady plus column by James Neff from 1984)

The pieces that got me my initial notoriety began late at night when I was drunk and wrapped my penis in small American flags, draped dead dried fish about and snapped Polaroids. I felt the penis went with the flag because of our American military might-makes-right philosophy, while the dried fish were a sly reference to the fish vagina smell of lore. I arranged twelve of the photos in a three by four grid, collaged the white areas around the Polaroids with torn strips of American flag, splattered on some fluorescent paint, glued a large dried fish and art glass scraps to it and titled itAmerican Ego.

Then I shot nude Polaroids of Amaya in an open shirt mom had made out of 48-star American flags. I arranged six of the photos into a cross, collaged the white area around the Polaroids with cut up bible verse, attached fringe to the bottom edges of the cross, pounded rusty nails into the photos, and titled it Cross Breeding.

Amaya was teaching art at CSU at the time, and John, a fellow instructor who had just begun, had brought the Peoples’ Art Show concept with him from Detroit. The idea, at least for the first few years, was no piece of art would be censored—the people could show whatever they wanted and everything submitted would be displayed. I contributed a couple interesting pieces of which I was proud but they weren’t shocking. John knew about my more controversial stuff from Amaya and told her he was hoping for something edgier to help jump start the show. Amaya passed the word to me so I entered the two genitalia American flag dead fish pieces.

Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist James Neff called me up and was initially quite hostile as he asked why I would do such a thing. I told Neff the art was a metaphor protesting America’s foreign policy. We’d just invaded Grenada illegally. I explained my “American Ego/American Eagle” pun. By the end of the conversation, Neff was quite friendly and wrote a wry, fairly nice half page column.

Shock art is a small percentage of what I do, especially anymore. I create stuff that’s odd, eccentric, weird, funny, beautiful, tender, political, social, serious or surreal—sometimes all at the same time

When Neff asked why I used nude male genitalia and my own at that, I joked I was cheap and easy and available at the time but mainly it was out of a sense of fairness. Respectable art and unrespectable advertising have always used naked women liberally. I dearly love naked women, often use them in collages. But I’ve also this large fairness complex so to balance society’s and my own nude female use, I used naked male me.

There’s nothing wrong with shock. The scoundrel-sage Gurdjieff said people are asleep and often must be shocked awake to jumpstart their souls. And Mae West said, “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.” There are an endless number of paths to the same place. Everybody thinks it has to be A or B, but in reality it’s A and Z and everything in between. It comes back to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle: it’s all true all at the same time. It’s only lack of vision that reduces life and art to dichotomies.

Here is Neff’s column.

Must Be Profound
James Neff
The Plain Dealer
December 3, 1984

Gracing our city are many profound examples of modern art. I know they must be profound because I do not understand them.

Take, for example, Isamu Noguchi’s sculpture “Portal” at the Justice Center. “Portal” still befuddles some citizens. It looks like a piece of a giant pretzel. The modern sculpture weighs 15 tons, stands 36 feet high and cost $100,000.

Art experts such as Sherman Lee called it “one of the best monumental sculptures produced in the world sine World War II.”

To the untrained eyes of those who pass “Portal” each workday, it seems useless, just a giant pretzel. They might feel differently if they could snack on it.

Most of the modern art around here, however, is displayed indoors. That way, it won’t scare the horses.

At the Cleveland State University Art Gallery at E. 23rd ST. and Chester Ave., 172 area artists are displaying 335 creations, probably the largest such exhibit outside of the May show.

One such work certainly must be the most unusual work of so-called art to be put on display in our town.

The CSU gallery is full of paintings and sculptures you might enjoy. Abstract paintings full of interesting colors and shapes. A beautiful clear glass bowl. An oil portrait of a pretty woman in a pastel dress.

One sculpture is a chessboard; instead of the usual black and white pieces, the artist made them into Browns and Steelers football players.

Right when you come in, about 15 feet down on the left wall, is a work called “American Ego.” It is a collage of 12 snapshots, some of them splattered with tiny drops of paint.

The day I visited the gallery and witnessed “American Ego,” a group of CSU students in a beginning design class were checking the local artworks as a class exercise.

The class was mostly made up of women in their late teens, along with several young men.

When the students happened upon “American Ego,” many of them made comments. They did not remark about its composition, balance, vibrancy or classical execution. No, here is what they said.

“Gross,” said a young woman.

“That is embarrassing,” said another.

“Oh my God, it’s disgusting,” said a student named Janel Leurienzo. Then she added with sarcasm and a smile, “But, hey, it’s art.”

The 12 snapshots were arranged in a four-by-three grid. They were taken by Steven Smith. They were nude photos of himself.

This being an art gallery and all, you probably expect the photos to be the sort of classical pieces we associate with Greek art.

Oh no, this artist doesn’t mess around. The snapshots were of the real thing: close-ups of the guy’s, uh, groin area.

There were some different poses, to be sure. One was the guy’s private zone draped with a plastic fish.

Another was of a view of his bare buttocks. In this snapshot, rising up and proudly flying from between his upper thighs was one of those little American flags on a stick that you get at political rallies.

One photo treated us to a view of the artist’s personal part wrapped in Old Glory. The 12 photos were sewn onto what looked like those small, thin, square pillows you toss on your couch.

So there it was, an expression of modern art, hanging on a wall at a university for our appreciation.

The male student looked at “American Ego” from about three feet away and moved on. Many of the females looked much closer, maybe a foot away. Then moved on. Later, some of them drifted back alone for another, more private peek.

In their design class, the students discussed what they had just viewed. They liked most of it. Not surprisingly, they had a lot to say about “American Ego.”

A student named Tracy said, “It was different. They usually just show women.”

A young man named James said, “I thought it was funny.”

“I don’t think it was art at all,” Christie Gungl said.

Their teacher, Mary Stokrocki, an associate professor said after class, “I took it as pornographic. I think the university shouldn’t hang something pornographic. If I was curator for this show, I wouldn’t let people get away with that. There are certain things that are not art.”

The creator of the controversial piece, Steven Smith, was given a call. By day, he is a computer programmer out in the suburbs. By night, he lives in a warehouse downtown and makes things that hang in galleries.

“How did you get the idea for “American Ego,” he was asked.

“I was taking Polaroids of myself to get something going.”

“How often do you do this?”

“There’s very little nudity in what I do,” Smith said. “I think I’ve only had four pieces.”

“But what is ‘American Ego’ supposed to mean?”

“It suggests the impotence of American foreign policy,” Smith said. “The false manhood, the macho thing, like in Grenada. Since we are all impotent in one sense, we try to overcome it. I don’t think we are living up to the American spirit when we tell people how to live.”

“Do people think you’re strange?” he was asked.

“Yes they do. I don’t fit in anywhere. Some artists in Cleveland are some of the nicest people I’ve met yet.”

Profound too. I know they must be profound because I do not understand them.

(for 40-some more reviews, cover story and blurbs, go to

Cross Breeding, 1984, 10″ x 21″ – collage & foto Smith


Nekro Filly

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

sandfish – foto Smith

Nekro Filly

My baby’s cold, stiff as a board
She’s growing mold but is all I can afford
Her skin’s kind of blue where it ain’t all green
When I do my do I first have to clean
Small critters away that live inside
In chilled spice of cockroach pride

She holds me tight in rigor mortis
Cools the hare upon my tortoise
Never says I’m bad or good
Let’s me lick unhealthy food
Always there when I need her
And I never have to feed her

— Smith, 6.22.2013

appearance – foto Smith


too pure for day gaze

Friday, June 21st, 2013

X u r here – foto Smith

Night and Day

White night flowers
slow close at dawn
too pure for day’s gaze

I float in dark water
inhale their sweet leaving
dream new day dream

— Smith, 6.21.2013

new day dream – foto Smith


Summer Solstice Thoughts

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Paco Pena remembering quiet moments. Maybe he was with his woman on a beach. Maybe Paco Pena was throwing a frisbee to his dog. Maybe he had moments of introspection about the day on the beach with his dog and his woman. Maybe the dog had moments of her own. And his woman, she sure had moments, holding the wine glass, fruit squeezed into juice fermented into sunshine distilled by queendoms of bees, creatures of it all.

How some songs elicit thoughts of quiet times. How some sound elicits thinking about quiet, distilled quiet. How velvet of quiet can be found with velvet of sound.

How I would like to find in everything so much which yields like jewelweed sprouting seed into my fingers, my eyes irises to meet and greet. I’d make so many places for bees to comb and want to be the combing, the bees, the flower and the crops, too. This is the place of sun spun tissues.

~ Lady


plexis portal

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

old daze – foto Smith

composite composition – foto Smith

nexus – foto Smith

plexus – foto Smith

portal – foto Smith


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