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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 the ‘Bio’ Category

There are no monsters

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Mother Dwarf, 2005 – foto Smith

Mom, me, Pappy late 1940s – foto Smith

Many of the special, sweet moments in my memoir revolve around my mom — Mother Dwarf Smith — who lived with me the last 16 years of her life. I got her her first one-woman art show when she was 68; her 5th and final show was 2005 when she died at 79. This chapter always gets laughs.

Folks who read a lot and even folk who don’t know me say this is the best bio they have ever read.

THERE ARE NO MONSTERS
(from *Stations of the Lost & Found* by Smith & Lady)

My drinking continued through Mom’s and my first year together. In the sober fifteen years that followed, we became best friends, partners, artists- in- residence, collaborators, and each other’s mutual audience and lab rats. I helped get art shows, named half her pieces, hung her shows and taught her my art tricks. She created fairy tale versions of my darker assemblages.

Mom lived downstairs on the second floor. My space, the kitchen and the bathroom were on the third. She’d come up and politely ask, “Do you need to use the bathroom?” and I’d start in on some long explanation about how I was thinking of someday turning it into a darkroom for photography until she’d make a disgusted noise and just go use it.

Frequently when she’d come upstairs, I’d ask, “You got a ticket?” She never did. Never understood that because we had all these tickets laying around for collage; she could have kept one in her pocket. This routine went on for years.

In one ongoing joke, I kept trying to lure her up to the roof so I could collect her accidental death insurance money. Many times, as she came up from downstairs, I looked at her in a confused way, and asked, “How’d you get in?”

“I’m your mother, I live here.”

“That’s what they all say.” I said.

Since I could only collect her insurance money if she died an accidental death, I told her, “If you die in your sleep, you’re still going to fall down the stairs…, as often as… necessary.”

One time she was coming up the stairs as I was taking a big black bag of garbage down. At the top of the stairs, I said, “Ah, bowling for dollars.”

The best time, she was coming up the stairs and I said from the top in a low, gravelly, drawn -out voice, “Prey.…”

“No. No prey!” she pleaded. “I’m your mother!”

And in the same slow low voice I said, “Prey… has… no… name.” She laughed so hard she had to lean over and clutch the banister to keep from falling. I almost killed her with laughter.

Every time a particular ethnicity appeared in a movie, such as Chinese, I’d say, “I have Chinese blood in me.” I even claimed animal, insect, snake flowed in my veins.

She’d say, “No you don’t. I’m your mother. I know what you are.”

I’d tell her, “They put six pints of blood in me in at the hospital, and you have no idea where it came from.”

I’d say I had a big penis one day, a small the next, and it got so she’d ask, “What kind of a day is it? Big or small?”

We’d be watching a Western movie and see the Indians call a train the Great Iron Horse and I’d say, “The Indians used to call me Great Iron Penis. I was so big I had trouble getting through the tunnels.”

“You don’t say things like that to your mother!” she’d snap.

People who came over thought Mom really nice, wished they had one like her, so I kept trying to sell her to them. I’d say, “You could take her for a trial run. You could rent her, or you can just lease her with an option to buy.” They just laughed.

Once I asked her who she was.

“I’m your mother.”

“I doubt that, but you can stay anyway, because I need somebody slower than I when the monsters come.”

“There are no monsters,” she said.

“There will be,” I said in my menacing low voice.

— Smith & Lady, 2012

For more excerpts and reader comments and possible purchase, see facebook.com/StationsLostFound.


Mom, early 2000s – foto Smith

Mom, early 1940s – foto Smith

clockwise from bottom: sister Sue, me, mom, Aunt Fern, Grandma
in Mullen Idaho early 1950s – foto Smith

 

Laughing at old misery

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Magic man (framed poster @ Visible Voice Books last night) – foto Smith

Last night’s memoir reading was a blast. Lady started reading some super sad soap opera stuff from 1971 where my first wife and I were fighting all the time and I was having trouble with her quintuple adulteries and this passage: “My waitress just coughed into my coke cup and then filled it with coke and coughed twice more into it. I sat it down on the floor and walked away.”

As she was reading all this misery she started giggling and laughing uncontrollably, as did the audience. Here’s all my suffering laid out in public and I and everyone are laughing like mad. Great reading. Sold two books; everyone else had already had one.

Two Japanese haiku: 1st is life from birth to death, the 2nd the in-between. The two bowls in the first haiku refer to the birthing bowl the new born babe is washed in, while the second bowl is the funeral bowl used to wash the corpse.

From washing bowl
to washing bowl my journey —
and just rigamarole

— Issa (1762-1826)

To ears
defiled by sermons —
a cuckoo

— Shiki (1867-1902)

And then there’s Lady reading tonight at Gypsy Beans . . .

26 Oct — Lady K reads at 6:30pm for the Shoreway Poets at Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. 6425 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44102 — facebook.com/events/152711358207698/.

& Sunday’s reading at Pat’s in the Flats (which I host) . . .

28 Oct — Poetry at Pat’s in the Flats #3, the Fall session, featuring poets Charlotte Mann, Blayne Hoerner Murray, Tom Adams, Adam Brodsky, Cavana Faithwalker, music by Tom Orange, and a magic open mic. Sunday 11:30am – 3pm. Poetry at Pat’s happens four times a year, hosted by me and my bubbleblow jar, to which I might add two musical steel balls. Pat’s in the Flats: 2233 West 3rd Street Cleveland, OH 44113 — patsintheflats.com


6 of my remaining 8 bottom teeth – foto Smith

 

4 readings, 8 days, 16 teeth

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Bad mouth Smith – foto Smith

Will be reading from my memoir tonight missing 5 lower teeth pulled by a dental student yesterday. Appears to be okay; no swelling, little pain. The main question seems to be how do I eat and chew?

Went to Case Dental School last year to get my teeth fixed cheaply and they went into disaster mode in an effort to *stabilize* my mouth. Sounds serious. January they’ll pull my 8 remaining upper teeth and slap in a temporary denture for 6 months until the swelling recedes and the bone loss finalizes, then they’ll give me a final upper plate and lower retainer. Thousands of dollars that could go to helping the world or buying marijuana going into my mouth instead.

4 readings, 8 days, 16 teeth (of 32).

25 Oct (TONIGHT ! ! ! ) — Smith, Shaffer, Smith at Visible Voice Books & Wine Bar will read from their The City Poetry Press books: *22 Years* by Wendy Shaffer and *Stations of the Lost & Found* by Smith & Lady. Thursday 7pm. Visible Voice Books & Wine Bar: 1023 Kenilworth Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44113 — visiblevoicebooks.com

26 Oct — Lady K reads at 6:30pm for the Shoreway Poets at Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. 6425 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44102 — facebook.com/events/152711358207698/. She’ll likely read from her new NightBallet Press chapbook *Firecracker Madalas*.

28 Oct — Poetry at Pat’s in the Flats #3, the Fall session, featuring poets Charlotte Mann, Blayne Hoerner Murray, Tom Adams, Adam Brodsky, Cavana Faithwalker, music by Tom Orange, and a magic open mic. Sunday 11:30am – 3pm. Poetry at Pat’s happens four times a year, hosted by me and my bubbleblow jar, to which I might add two musical steel balls. Pat’s in the Flats: 2233 West 3rd Street Cleveland, OH 44113 — patsintheflats.com

1 Nov — Lorain Arts Council Gallery 737, we read from my memoir *Stations of the Lost & Found*, 66 years in the living, 7 years in the writing. Director Antonio Barrios is hosting an evening of writers, authors and poets from 4-8pm; Lady & I will read from 6 to 6:30. The Lorain Arts Council: 737 Broadway Ave, Lorain, OH 44052 — lorainartscouncil.com/


Smith’s small curd – foto Smith

 

Cindy Sheehan, teeth pullings, readings

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Cindy Sheehan at Mac’s Backs Books 10.23.2012 – foto Smith

Reading from the memoir tomorrow, having 5 lower teeth pulled today. Should be interesting. 3 readings next 4 days:

25 Oct — Smith, Shaffer, Smith at Visible Voice Books & Wine Bar read from their The City Poetry Press books: *22 Years* by Wendy Shaffer and *Stations of the Lost & Found* by Smith & Lady. Thursday 7pm. Visible Voice Books & Wine Bar: 1023 Kenilworth Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44113 — visiblevoicebooks.com

26 Oct — Lady K reads at 6:30pm for the Shoreway Poets at Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. 6425 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44102 — facebook.com/events/152711358207698/. She’ll probably read from her new NightBallet Press chapbook *Firecracker Mandalas*.

28 Oct — Poetry at Pat’s in the Flats #3, the fall session, featuring poets Charlotte Mann, Blayne Hoerner Murray, Tom Adams, Adam Brodsky, Cavana Faithwalker, music by Tom Orange, and a magic open mic. Sunday 11:30am – 3pm. Poetry at Pat’s happens four times a year, hosted by me and my bubbleblow jar, to which I might add musical steel balls. Pat’s in the Flats: 2233 West 3rd Street Cleveland, OH 44113 — patsintheflats.com

We met Cindy Sheehan last night at Mac’s Backs Books. For a person who gets arrested a lot, she’s an extremely nice, funny, knowledgeable, passionate, articulate, hopeful person. Smiles a lot in a good way. You’d have to be a corporation or a war-supporting politician not to like her.

First read about her in 2005 when she camped outside George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford Texas demanding a reason for her son’s Iraqi War death.

As Wikipedia puts it, “Sheehan attracted international attention in early August 2005, when she traveled to President Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch, just outside Crawford, Texas, demanding a second meeting with the President. She told members of Veterans for Peace, “I’m gonna say, ‘And you tell me, what the noble cause is that my son died for.’ And if he even starts to say freedom and democracy, I’m gonna say, bullshit. You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich…You tell me that, you don’t tell me my son died for freedom and democracy.” She also vowed not to pay her federal income tax for 2004 because that was the year her son was killed.”

She’s currently running as Vice-President to Roseanne Barr’s President for the Peace and Freedom Party.

We bought her new book *Revolution, A Love Story* which is about the good work Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez has accomplished in the past 12 years, such as eradicating illiteracy in his country, easing the plight of the poor, and providing housing, health and schooling for them. It seems to be working well because he was just re-elected with a majority of 10% in spite of his country’s rich pouring megabucks into trying to defeat him.


*Revolution, A Love Story* by Cindy Sheehan – foto Smith

 

Red, Hot, and Cool — 3 readings

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Poetry at Pat’s in the Flats on 10.28.2012 (in 8 days) – foto Smith

Red, Hot & Cool: three readings Oct 25-11.1, 2012.

No, not one red, one hot, one cool . . . all three all three.

25 Oct — Smith, Shaffer, Smith at Visible Voice Books & Wine Bar read from their The City Poetry Press books: *22 Years* by Wendy Shaffer and *Stations of the Lost & Found*. Thursday 7pm.

28 Oct — Poetry at Pat’s in the Flats #3, the fall session, featuring poets Charlotte Mann, Blayne Hoerner Murray, Tom Adams, Adam Brodsky, Cavana Faithwalker, music by Tom Orange, and a magic open mic. Sunday 11:30am – 3pm. Poetry at Pat’s happens four times a year, hosted by me and my bubbleblow jar, to which I might add musical steel balls.

1 Nov — Lorain Arts Council Gallery 737, we read from my memoir *Stations of the Lost & Found* by Smith & Lady, 66 years in the living, 7 years in the writing. The Lorain Arts Council is presenting an evening of writers, authors and poets from 4-8pm; Lady & I read from 6 to 6:30.

Visible Voice Books & Wine Bar: 1023 Kenilworth Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44113
visiblevoicebooks.com

Pat’s in the Flats: 2233 West 3rd Street, Cleveland, OH 44113
patsintheflats.com

The Lorain Arts Council: 737 Broadway Ave, Lorain, OH 44052
lorainartscouncil.com


Don’t neglect us now – foto Smith

 

Buddha Bang

Friday, October 5th, 2012

round Zen – foto Smith

Buddha Bang

San Francisco 66
done sailing sea
I search the streets
for drugs and sex
two Asian beauties quip
‘Hey sailor, wanna get higher?”
Short story short
to temple depart
chant and ching the Buddha thing
in incensed air
I bought their wares
chose $6 chant
and they took me back
the old bait and switch
I go for sex
get enlightenment.

— Smith, 10.5.2012


dusty Zen – foto Smith

 

Field Marshal May Midwest’s Regional Art Terrorists

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Banksy rat – foto Smith

WCPN public radio aired a ten minute piece on my special friend / artbook-papermaker / teacher / artist Melissa Jay Craig, and I was included with her as “one of the 70’s artistic renegades and anti-establishment types who proudly wore the banner of criminal and terrorist” (Dee Perry). They also said “Smith is something of an underground legend in the Cleveland art scene” (David C. Barnett). They even briefly mention my memoir.

The interview runs from the 8:55 minute mark through 18:30 and may be heard at ideastream.org/an/entry/48967.

Melissa Jay Craig was the leader of the Regional Art Terrorists back in the late 70s and early 80s; she’d lead RAT Attacks, which were illegal guerilla art actions in public spaces during the dead of the night, such as painting sunglasses on the news anchors advertised on billboards and inscribing *IGNORE ALIEN ORDERS* underneath them. Her gorgeous plant/book art biomorphs may be seen at melissajaycraig.com.

Here’s my first RAT attack with her (from my memoir *Stations of the Lost & Found* by Smith & Lady) in 1981.

It was while living in the warehouse I met most of the really good creative people who are still in my life today. Melissa Jay Craig, the organizing force behind the Regional Art Terrorists, lived across the river in an art warehouse called Riverbed. Melissa had become famous as “Field Marshal May Midwest” in the Cleveland Press because of her “RAT Attacks,” illegal guerrilla art actions such as stenciling “IGNORE ALIEN ORDERS” over billboard ads. My first RAT Attack took place high up underneath the Detroit Superior Bridge. Melissa painted a four foot wide pair of red grinning lips on plywood and cut them out with a coping saw. The teeth revealed by the grin were pure white with a large diffraction grating gleam radiating from one. She wanted to hang it on the outside side of the closed off second level of the bridge right where the train came over the river into Tower City.

The Attack wouldn’t occur until three in the morning when there’d be fewer cops around to arrest us, so Cat and I dropped some acid to pass time. The acid wasn’t working very fast because we’d been tripping a lot that month, so we dropped a second tab each, and then a third. Field Marshall May Midwest and her gang of regional artists showed up around the time all three tabs started kicking in.

We got to the bridge four blocks away and found the entry into the lower deck that was usually open barred by locked metal doors. The bridge had two levels, but the lower level with the old train tracks had been abandoned decades ago. The Regional Art Terrorists tried to climb up to the arched openings, but no one could make it, so somehow I climbed up the concrete abutment into the lower arched opening and walked back to the locked doors where they slipped the lips underneath to me. I put the lips on my back and walked through the dark a quarter mile to the river. The second level looked like the streets of Beirut on a bad day; huge holes gaped through the concrete floor. I saw the Flats below, and then the river.

I walked along, four foot red grinning lips on my back, equally large LSD grin on my face. It was one of those moments where all is right with the Universe. I chained the lips onto the outside of the bridge closest the transit bridge so morning commuters would be greeted with a grin and then went back to get a second, smaller pair of lips, the two footers. Those went on the Riverbed side of the bridge, where Melissa had her live-in art studio. The Regional Art Terrorists waited and waited, kept looking for me in the middle of the bridge in the middle of the night in the middle of the river, but I had found a forty foot steel girder going straight out from the bridge horizontally into the air all by itself, so I walked out onto it like it was a tightrope and I hung the lips forty feet away from the bridge over the river facing Melissa’s building. The accolades I got when I returned to Earth were icing on the skate.


Lip smackin – foto Smith

 

The Grasshopper’s Tale

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Smith life – foto Smith

The man Cool Cleveland labeled “everything your mother warned you about” has released an autobiography that continues his tradition of shock and awe.

The book, Stations of the Lost & Found: A True Story of Armed Robbery, Stolen Cars, Outsider Art, Mutant Poetry, Underground Publishing, Robbing the Cradle and Leaving the Country by Smith & Lady, is the story of Steven B. Smith, a Cleveland artist who pursued the outrageous and the good, finally finding meaning in art, poetry and odd life experiences.

Public radio’s WCPN reports Smith as “one of the 70’s artistic renegades and anti-establishment types who proudly wore the banner of criminal and terrorist; Smith is something of an underground legend in the Cleveland art scene.” (September, 2012)

He’s also called “the ultimate insider of outsider art” (Northern Ohio Live, 2006); “funny and poignant, but with rough edges worthy of a tetanus shot” (Scene, 1996); “equal parts artist, poet, publisher, eccentric, gadfly, lightning rod, underground cultural icon.” (Deep Cleveland, 2006); and “a genius at putting objects together in a way that is all at once poetic, raw, perhaps lugubrious, and at times biting or potentially offensive” (Plain Dealer, 1987).

Life-long friend Stone Ranger said, “Let’s face it Smith, if the song ‘My Way‘ were written about your life, it would be lyrics by William S. Burroughs and music by Laurie Anderson, as performed by The Velvet Underground.” (2002)

Published by The City Poetry Press, there will be book readings at Mac’s Backs in Coventry Saturday September 29, 2012 at 7 p.m. and Visible Voice Books of Tremont Thursday October 25, 7 p.m.

The beautifully-written 364 page book is available for $20 online at createspace.com/3903652, through the Smiths at readings, or via their daily blog,walkingthinice.com. Copies are also available at Mac’s Backs and Visible Voice Books.

The back book blurb sums it up:
Drug orgies, massive refindings of reality, the acceptance of interdimensions. Errant life scout, cultural adventurer, perception tester, court jester, inner seeker, reality adjuster, flow surfer, servant and searcher of Other.

Born in Bitterroot, raised on Paradise Prairie, farm boy, car thief, Naval Academy, expelled for dope, society marriage, armed robbery, jail, illegal loft dweller, Artcrimes, rat attacks, overdose, celibate, remarried, expat. Ran from the cops ten times, got away nine.

Stations of the Lost & Found has been getting excellent feedback from readers.

Dianne Borsenik, poet and publisher: “What a read! It’s an I-can’t-put-it-down-what-the-heck’s-gonna-happen-next kind of book.”

John Burroughs, poet & publisher: “I’d trade any of Kerouac’s or Bukowski’s volumes for it in a heartbeat.”

William Merricle, poet: “The book is brutally good and honest.”

If you need a book for reviewing purposes, let Smith know at smithcrimes@yahoo.com or call (216) 645-9400.

~ ~ ~

The Grasshopper’s Tale

My life’s dog food for do gooders
Hot dodgers dogging God’s zone
Fur sure of itself
Per path and position
Point portion pursued

We who rise in heat from dream
Lick recollection loose
From cold fire’s template
Futility’s fog
We bleed in abandon
Dance dawn’s dapple light

— Smith, 1989


Smith life – foto Smith

 

military me 63 66 non-military me 75

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

military me 1963- foto Smith

military me 1966- foto Smith

I enlisted in the Navy Summer of 63 because we were too poor for me to go to college and I was too dumb to know about scholarships. The Navy had a program where for every two years you served, they’d pay for one year of college, so I figured 8 years in, hop out, 4 years college — my 12 year plan.

I confirmed this with my recruiter and he said no problem, the Navy did indeed have such a program.

But when I got to boot camp they said screw you, you have to be 21 for that and you’re only 17.

They got me.

So,
I did 3 months boot camp San Diego California
9 months aviation radar school Memphis Tennessee
9 months U.S. Naval Academy Prep School Bainbridge Maryland
2 1/2 years U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis Maryland

Then I got caught smoking marijuana January 1968 and they kicked me out of both the Academy and the Navy. But because I was enlisted, they either had to Court Martial me or give me an honorable discharge, and the Academy didn’t want the negative publicity of one of their own smoking dope (along with 11 of my mates) splashed over the front page so they gave me an honorable and paid for two more years of college at Loyola Baltimore on the G.I. Bill.

I was willing to give them 8 years of my life for 4 years of college. They screwed me out of that deal, yet turned around and gave me 4 years 8 months 4 days of schooling on their dime before kicking me out and giving me two more years of school — which brought my 12 year plan down to 7, and all of it education.

There’s something delicious in this.

And karma-saving too because had I graduated in 69, I would have flown jets and dropped napalm on Vietnamese civilians, because when I was in the service I believed in the rightness of the war, and I fear what killing and maiming others would have done to me, much less them. I fear how easily I might have been lead to murder, how close I came to finding out, how grateful I didn’t have to confront such choices.

~ ~ ~

Used Karma Lot

I cut the cockroach off at the watering hole
Sent his brown backed soul
To that great black crack in the sky
May God have more compassion than I

— Smith, 2001


after military me 1975 – foto Smith

 

Lady reads new chapbook 2nite @ Jammy Buggers

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Lady reading from her chapbook Firecracker Mandalas – foto Smith

Lady K is reading from her new NightBallet chapbook Firecracker Mandalas tonight Thursday 9.13.2012 from 7-9:30pm at Jammy Buggars, 15625 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, Ohio 44107. The reading, A Fistful of Poets, is hosted by Dianne Borsenik whose NightBallet Press is releasing chapbooks by each of tonight’s five featured poets.

“One night, five poets, plus open mic to follow! Featuring Bonné de Blas, Kathy (Lady K) Smith, Alex Gildzen, John Dorsey, and Kara Johnston, all with new chapbooks of poetry! This is going to be a very exciting night, with a wide range of poetry and unrestrained grooviness. Jammy Buggars has promised us our own server and bartender… so bring your appetites! I know you’re hungry for excellent poetry, good food, drinkage, and time well-spent with friends! You can sign up for the open mic at the event. We’re going to RAWK it- see you there!”

A Fistful of Poets > facebook.com/events/350252785058290/”.

NightBallet Press > facebook.com/nightballet.press.

I’ll read in open mic from my bio Stations of the Lost & Found by Smith & Lady.

Bio
for Lady

I’ve had hot rod Lincolns
and the whites of their eyes
in my life nigh seven decades now
been way too fast wrong way bound
down one-way streets
on both ends of a gun
yet worked out most lies
and the stories that spill
from such good and ill
will outlast my lens
if ever I decide to go round that bend
for I’ve had white lightening
chased the dragon
fiddled with Federales
had tea in the tunnel
(with Alice)
fought über alles
pimped for the pummel
banked on the booze
till I emptied my flagon
winning even when I lose
so there’s a story in my arc
a moral for my fable
if you want to leave your mark
best frequently fail
with just a hint of spark
and land lightly on bruised feet
in the telling of the tale
and of course
it helps having a wife who edits well

— Smith 9.13.2012


Poetry water 9.11.2012 Shaker Library – foto Smith

 

 
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