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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 ‘France’ Category

you can’t go home again

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Isolation – foto by smith

Roundelay away we stray.

Looks like we’re moving back to Cleveland this spring after 32 months living outside the U.S.

Lady’s been talking of moving back awhile now. She’s isolated here, needs to be around younger people, have a viable art & poetry scene. We were talking of San Francisco or Seattle, but family and a job lead us back to Cleveland.

I’m isolated here as well, but then I’ve been isolated for 62 years now – place don’t make no difference because it’s the people I’m walled off from no matter the country, city or century.

Returning is going to be exceedingly odd because I left Cleveland AND the U.S.A. in both my mind and body August 2006 with nary a thought of ever returning to either. At least my cosmic script writer still has a sense of humor and the absurd.

Knowing we’re going, each day I look deeply into the colors and contours of here, the most beautiful place I’ve lived except for my 7 years being raised on a 40 acre farm on Paradise Prairie outside of Spokane Washington in the 1950s. Both southern France and the Istrian tip of Croatia were beautiful places to live as well, but they were culturally even more disadvantaged than Oaxaca.

Not looking forward to this, but relationships and marriages require compromise and right now Lady’s needs outweigh my own. Plus I’ve lived most my life and have become who I am while Lady is young, still living, still becoming. (Actually, she’s very becoming.)

I’m looking forward to the poetry and art. Cleveland has the best poetry scene we’ve seen anywhere in our three years of travel – including London England. And it’ll be good to make art again. I’ve made a dozen pieces in our journey through 10 countries and 22 cities we’ve lived in during that time, but the art desire was attenuated because I knew we’d be moving on again and I’d have to leave the art behind – my ego is too large to be comfortable with that.

I’ve fond memories of the cities we stayed in along the way – in chronological order: Cleveland, Ohio USA / London, UK / Leeds, UK / Grassington, UK / Burley-On-Wharfsdale, UK / Amsterdam, Netherlands / Lodz, Poland / Krakow, Poland / Liznjan, Croatia / Trieste, Italy / Venice, Italy / Abeilhan, France / Barcelona, Spain / Madrid, Spain / Marrakech, Morocco / Essaouira, Morocco / Keswick, England / Marseilles, France / Paris, France / New York City, New York USA / Oaxaca, Mexico / Tanetze, Mexico.

Not a bad run. And this will not be our last – get some more money and a wee bit of security and we’ll be off again.

Light at the end of the tunnel – foto by smith


our daily layers

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

hot surface – foto by smith

Here I am at my normal morning trouble point.

I’ve finished my morning ablutions, drank my 1st cup of eye-opening life-giving Mexican coffee purchased from the mountain woman with whom we stayed twice to help pick her coffee from her trees (so maybe we’re occasionally drinking some coffee beans we actually picked), answered my 1 email, spot checked the news to see what lies the evil corporate empire has defecated on us since last night, glanced at the blogs I follow of others, and read the few comments left on my blog.

Now it’s time for me to blog, and of course I have no blog.

Lady started this blog on end of June 2006 while I was recovering from my nose polyps removal and cancer biopsy operation (polyps are gone, cancer is clean). Since then we’ve lived in 10 countries (4 of them twice) and have blogged 1,232 blogs with between 2 to 3,000 fotos of our travels.

Lady and I have been together 3 years and 2 months, and we’ve a daily blog of our life and times for 2 years 4 months of that. Well, almost daily – for our three months of living in a small fishing village on the tip of Croatia facing the Adriatic we had to bus a half hour into town to blog, and our two weeks of camping in the North England rain we had to walk an hour through the mountains to blog, so in those cases we only blogged thrice weekly. But I blogged two-three times a day in our two months in Krakow Poland, so that should keep my average up.

In our 38 months together we’ve moved 50 times, living in the U.S.A., England, Amsterdam, Poland, Croatia, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, England-France-Spain-U.S.A. a second time, and now for the past 11 months in southern Mexico.

Here in Oaxaca is my favorite place I’ve lived since I moved from the farm to the city in 1960. It’s not the most important place I’ve lived since then though – that’d have to be Morocco. One month in Marrakech and 2 months in the old walled city of Essaouira on the Northwest coast of Africa was the most amazing adventure I’ve had because it was like going through the looking glass to an ancient time before electricity, cleanliness, antibiotics. There’s nothing Western about it, it’s more like Old Testament times. Morocco also kept trying to kill me with multiple attacks of dysentery, which kept things interesting.

The one thing daily blogging in a multitude of countries, cities and cultures has done is made me a better, faster, more thoughtful writer. The other thing is it has given Lady and me an online diary record of our daily existence, with fotos.

The funny part is when Lady started this blog, I asked her why. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to blog. And now I’m addicted to my daily noise.

Still, it is hard to blog every day, to think of something to say. No one’s interesting every day all the time. So here’s my bogus non-blog of a blog today. Of course my non-blogs aren’t really a problem because I always have interesting fotos for eye candy to keep you distracted from my lack of content. Tomorrow I might just have something real to say.

Or not.

shadow slant – foto by smith


rapid rat rubbing

Monday, August 11th, 2008

smith on beauty – foto by smith

this 18 month old blog brought a smile to my lips . . .

Sunday, February 25, 2007, Abeilhan France

i am a marital artist – i know Cunt Fu. i’m going to offer my Cunt Fu classes to the sexually dyslectic. i’ll teach the different stances and motions such as Major Mambo Moving, Lower Lip Loving, Clitoris Centralis Climactus, Helpful Hand Humping, Rapid Rat Rubbing, Elongus Erectus Ejectus, Moist Member Mounting, Fine Finger Furrowing, and that most powerful strategy of all – Tender Tongue Touching.

i also offer extensive courses in Rat Rubbing. have you ever sidled up to your lady and said “hey baby i wanna rub your rat.” i’m a rat rubber from way back. you want a happy rat, you gotta rub em right. rub em wrong, you might pull back a stump. i like to rub them against my head, generate static electricity, then stick em on the wall – kinda cool to see all these wall rats wiggling their little wet rat lips at you. so sign up now for my course on rudimentary rapidly rotating righteously revolving renditious rat rubbing – reduced rates redacted.

street art – foto by smith


the ecstasy of consumerism

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Cemetery offerings in Oaxaca, photo by Lady

This visit to the States has been nice for us. Weird, tho. Some prices have skyrocketed. Went to our local coffee shop and they’re selling cookies for $2.00. When we visited 7 months ago, the same cookies were $1.25 or $1.50. We settled for two teas for $3.75. Crazy! At least the tea was fantastic. It came in open ended tissue bags which were stropped to the top of the cup with a stick. My bag had delicate little purple flowers in addition to the green tea.

We loaded up on THINGS yesterday in a kind of ecstasy of consumerism. We went to a dollar store and I was totally astonished by what’s available. Tho food’s expensive, THINGS are not. I think these dollar stores must be spoils of the empire. It would be too outrageous for the pillagers of the planet to outright GIVE us the loot, so they sell it to us for a token price. Anyways, we saved a bunch of money stocking up on toothbrushes, floss, aspirin, deodorant and plastic toys that we’re going to use to make collages. If we bought the stuff in Mexico we’d go broke because Mexico doesn’t have dollar stores.

Then we went to Target to get cheap durable underclothes and shoes. We wandered the electronics section and I was amazed that they’re still trying to sell DVDs. I wonder if anyone buys anymore, or if they all download from the Internet. There were two aisles in Target devoted to ipod accessories. I’m looking for a microphone for my ipod so I can record street noises for collage but couldn’t find it. But I’m just amazed at how quickly technology is changing and how they get all these new products on the shelves.

We wandered over to the food section in Target, and I saw more spoils of empire. Huge quantities of chocolate for sale, for cheap. I don’t know how it is possible for the lizard brains of people to NOT buy all this cheap chocolate. No wonder so many people are so very heavy here. (I’m so glad I got myself outta that bind – I used to weigh 300 pounds.)

This has been an interesting experiment so far. We got a rental car, and we’re noticing how convenient it is after two years of carlessness. But the car has the feeling of being a time machine, and all this store stuff is a time machine, because this certainly ain’t sustainable.

Candy aisle in Target, photo by lady


butterfly patch

Monday, May 26th, 2008

butterfly dance – foto by smith

we followed a mountain stream, flowers, and butterflies 90 minutes up mountain to a waterfall. we sat in the sun at the base of the cascading water and smoked. we hit a butterfly patch in the path – hundreds of small black & red ones and five purpleblue – these 5 looked white when their wings were together, but turned into sun-glow blue when they flew. i stopped and stood in their midst, watched them dance around me in the sun. at the same time the birds were chirping intricate choruses amidst the constant rustle of running water falling down mountain.

going back down, little looked the same as climbing up. one of the facts of life – going back never looks like getting there.

mountain stream flowers – foto by smith


Immigrant Isolationism

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

My Friends at Home – paper masks on our kitchen table – photo by Lady

My friend says the men here don’t do any chores. All the men of Mexico are macho, she says. I look out the window and see our landlord and I’m reminded of this. He always has a handsome macho stance. He and his wife lady hop on their motorcycle some nights. His wife lady is chubby in a cute way, has curly hair, a rarity here, and wears spike heels on the motorbike. I would like to know the wife lady a tiny bit more. She’s a real lady lady. Sometimes she wears traditional indigenous clothes–woven embroidered house dresses–as she does the chores in the courtyard.
  I have to stop and say hello longer and talk with them. It has become awkward. We see each other almost every day, though I try not to. I try to run out the door when they’re not there in the courtyard because it has become awkward because I must begin to say something more than hello.
  I imagine inviting the landlady into our house for coffee and cake, trying to speak Spanish with her, but I’m reluctant because this has a cost. It’s too strange for me. My apartment is my isolation bubble from Mexico. I do not want our landlords to wonder or know too much about us. I do not want them to begin to like or dislike us more. I want the current level of things, where we are smiled at and we smile back as we say good morning or good afternoon.



4 in the morning

Friday, September 28th, 2007

foto by smith
foto by smith

it’s 4 in the morning and i feel like the unwiped backside of some cosmic debris – i can’t breathe, my throat’s swollen swallowless, and my normal ever-present ambient pain level is amped to the gills. reality’s telling a joke and i’m its bad backass punch line.

there’s nose pills i can take (actifed), but they make sleep difficult for me the 24 hours following. . . yet they knock lady out – go figure. sometimes it’s hell being a mutant. when i take just one in the morning, i twitch all the next night and drive lady crazy and sleepless until i come out here and lay my 75 inch body across this 48 inch couch.

reminds me of a great song though — Tossin’ & Turnin’ – Bobby Lewis (1961). there’s a lot i’m grateful for in my life – glad i was raised in the country by loving parents in the pacific northwest in the “innocent” 1940s & 50s, glad i caught the late 60’s hippy dippy drug n love wave in baltimore, and i’m oh so ever glad i was there for the birth of rock and roll.

so weird going from How Much Is That Doggie in the Window by Patti Page in 1952 to 1956 Hound Dog Elvis. like john lennon said, before elvis, there was nothing. except of course there was – there was rhythm n blues, black swamp funk, boogie woogie, jump blues, western swing, hillbilly boogie and that rockabilly thing – not to mention jazz and jump jive swing.

i stopped listening to the radio 20 years ago – heard too much before and too little since…. though there’s still great stuff all along the way – devo, talking heads, clash, radiohead, david bowie, meat beat manifesto, bonnie raitt, the grassy knoll, the artist often named prince, dead kennedys, the never ending rolling stones, and the king of it all bob dylan. forgive me for not mentioning the other 88 worthies, but this head mucous of mine slows thought.

can’t believe this has taken an hour to write – it’s 4:55 – but it’s helped me not take an Actifed, given the aspirin a chance to kick in, let some of the nose slime ooze down my upright throat, and given me the chutzpah to lie down again, see if i can breathe, maybe even sleep. if not, and i have to take a sinus pill, and i get 2 sleepless nights in a row before shouldering my world possessions in a pack on my back for the bus-train-bus trip tomorrow, well, it’s going to be a long way from here to barcelona.

ahhh, the truth i carry, the way the water went

foto by smith
foto by smith


pay now suffer later

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

foto by smith
foto by smith

so hard to suffer now for some mythical improved future. instead of eating less and exercising, i’m eating cookies and looking for more. we’ve tomorrow to wind up south france, pack, and head for spain day after. 3 days barcelona we fly to new york. 1 night new york then endless amtrak to cleveland. 2 months cleveland we bus to chicago to live for at least 1 year.

this endless leaving leaves me listless, and the cookies start looking attractive. 44th moving in past 15 months. so much of physical hunger is mental.

this day got no wheels. how the heck i gonna make deals. i’m a pod facade for the arse farce.

foto by smith
foto by smith


is / is not

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

foto by smith
foto by smith

“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Social Contract, 1763

i’m reading that at the end of the 1700s, western civilization consisted of the irreconcilable – rationalist versus romantic, scientific versus artistic, deliberation and reason versus passion and instinct. i don’t see where there’s a problem – i happen to be a bit of all of those simultaneously.

the problem is not they’re irreconcilable, the problem lies in the EITHER-OR mindset that says it must be one or the other.

it’s not either-or. instead it’s taking the valid viable workable bits of each and all. . . a little of this, a bit of that, a slice of here, a dash of there. i’m a collage assemblage artist – i’m used to taking ephemeral found bits and creating solid foundations of art.

this is especially true in spiritual matters – almost all creeds and belief structures have part of the truth, while none have it all. the basic exceptions to this statement that all have part are the flat earth fundamentalists of all religions who insist only their god is right and he/sh/it must be worshipped only their way – or else. if there is a hell, it will be filled by fundamentalists. one-size fits all organized spirituality is a contradiction in terms.

i take a bit of buddhism, a bit of american indian recognition that all things animate and inanimate have spirit and deserve respect, a bit of christianity, bit of sufi, bit of coyote trickster, bit of humanism, bit of rationality, bit of jung, bit of freud, bit of experience, bit of life, bit of science, bit of pagan, bit of flakiness, bit of logic, bit of gaia, bit of biting the bullet, etc on anon, and build my own world spirit view. after all, i’m the one going to be paying for it, so i’ll work it out myself thank you very much.

one of the major ways the world’s gone wrong is everyone puts labels on everything thinking that labels sum up what they’ve labeled. give me a break – labels aren’t truths, they aren’t even teensy weensy bits of truths. labels are intellectual lazy thinking on the part of academics who try to fit reality to their pre-conceived theory, or else crazed wish-fulfillment for the weak and scared too timid to think for themselves. labels are for the sheep and asleep who need their meat pre-chewed.

nothing is ever just one thing or another – instead life and thought are constant compromises in an ever evolving collaboration between us and reality. what’s true and right today might be false and wrong tomorrow, what’s true for you might be lie for me.

there are general broad stroke rules like “don’t do to another that which you wouldn’t wish to be done to you” – but even this breaks down if you’re a sado-masochist because your liking to hurt and be hurt doesn’t mean you better try that shit with me.

most of life is a mixed salad of common sense, pondering, experience, patience, hope, and healthy skepticism. those folk who go around saying life is just this or just that and you’d better live it their way are sick. they are not to be tolerated, or listened to.

these thoughts arise from my current reading of roger osborne’s “civilization – a new history of the western world.” i’m halfway through it, and my brain’s getting crowded, while my spirit is wondering where to go to get recharged with hope. seems like most the nastiness done in the past is revving up again with the cheney-bush beast going around stomping non-white folk and telling the rest of us where to get off. the scary thing is these shitwits believe they’re in the right and have the moral obligation to tell us how to live – or even if to let us live.

for the past 6,000 years, the powers-that-be have killed for food, gold, sugar, land, tobacco, slaves, gods, family grievances, divine right, power, skin color, sex, just because, or simply because they got out of bed on the wrong side that day.

personally i can’t see letting someone with less experience, fewer scruples, and a lower IQ than i have tell me what’s right, what’s wrong, or what to do. i’m more of the i’ll-live-my-life-and-you-go-live-yours school of thought. if you want to get together and talk, fine, i’ll listen to you and ponder your point of view. but if you want to lay your law on me, sorry charlie. i don’t tell you, you don’t tell me.

if your god or your class or your mental disease has a problem with that, too bad – you need counseling.

“Any civil government depends on the consent of those who are governed, which may be withdrawn at any time.” – John Locke, Civil Government, 1690

foto by smith
foto by smith


always have paris

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

foto by smith
foto by smith

found this old video of my 35 pound heavier self reading poetry 14 years ago in the basement of wildflower (now lemko hall). it’s on The Lit site. Lady K and i will be the featured readers at The Literary Cafe next month. it’ll be our 1st american reading after 14 months away. video is at The Lit

the video me is 2.5 years sober, weighing 210 pounds on my way from my 240 pound drinking weight down to my current 175. it’s my collaborating co-reader Marty Sokolich who saves the reading from being boring.

more on yesterday’s paris:

we went to the largest flea market in the world in north paris – les Marche Aux Puces. it’s like the endless souks in marrakech, only richer and with a heck of a lot more variety. in marrakech all they sell are shoes, belts, lamps, purses, clothes, spices, need, and con – here they have the cultural flotsam and jetsam and human detritus of the last 500 years of western civilization. it’s an assemblage maker’s dream of heaven, except they sell the fragments for way too much – a broken 6 inch doll arm with missing fingers went for $26.

lady got tons of excellent art fotos. me, i got rather down seeing all this STUFF to buy, especially along antique row where there’s endless tacky tasteless trinkets for the uber rich. but where i see tacky, lady sees treasure. i wish i could see with her eyes – she sees how pretty and unique the work is whereas i see toys for the rich to purchase with their gains from the poor. i can also see all these rich dried dull spiritual dwarfs and mental midgets sitting around their sterile sitting rooms admiring their latest excesses while talking how much or how little they paid. in many ways lady’s world is richer than mine. i believe it’s a function of the varying times we’ve each spent on this earth – my soul has been seared with experience and skepticism while she still believes much of the world innocent.

she was right about one aspect though – many of the dealers had created magnificently eccentric art installation assemblages in their stalls consisting of doll parts, mirrors, dead animals, mannequins, the old and the odd. if i could keep my eyes on the surface, it’d be fun, but i keep analyzing the undercurrents and their social implications, the spiritual cost.

lady’s young and growing. i’m old and curmudgeoning. soon i’ll be drooling and swatting at passers-by with my cane, a lot of whom seem to think Lady K is nothing but an old fart’s tart.

it’s weird watching people watch us. our age difference attracts looks. i watch their faces back. most people understand why old me would be with young flesh her, but they’re puzzled why she’s with me – i’m obviously not rich so it’s not for the money, and i certainly don’t appear to be famous or powerful. the old guys look at me with either a way-to-go glance or a yearning why-can’t-that-be-me look. most old women look at me with disapproval assuming i probably dumped my older faithful wife for this young piece of fluff, while the lone older women look at lady angrily for taking one of their chances away. the younger women look at me speculatively, wondering what’s there that attracted lady. and teenage girls don’t see me – i don’t even register on their radar unless i’m in their way and they have to go around me.

little do they all know i left my first wife 32 years ago when my current wife was 3 – or that i spent the 20 years before lady in celibacy – i stopped dating in 1986 because relationships were too twisted.

few more odd paris memories and i’ll go:

used a public toilet, and the men’s urinary stalls were open to the view of all walking by – men, women, children – with just a little wall shield covering the penis area. i stood pissing, watching the crowd stroll by. good thing i have a small penis cuz the wall flap tweren’t very big.

they let dogs on the trains here – big dogs, little dogs. let em in the stores too. which is fair – i’ve met a lot more nice dogs than i have people.

notre dame is a lot smaller than i thought from the movies, and i didn’t see a single hunchback. walking through it inside, i realized notre dame is just one more tourist game – the religious tour with the sacred soundtrack and the holy gift shop. most parts of paris are essentially tourist games, each with their own soundtracks, gift shops, spiel con, and beggars.

but paris does do the tourist game very well, much more interesting than any other city i’ve seen. and the coup de grace was looking up through the night at the well lit white Sacred Heart / Sacre Coeur, and then turning around looking out over paris at night beneath an almost full moon – now if only the smoke merchant at the foot of the hill had been in business.

but it’s not the tourist scams that make me love the place – it’s the small crooked streeted old sections like Montmarte where i could happily live. i’d even learn french, the lovely language of the lazy lips.

foto by smith
foto by smith


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