Tag Archives: Busker

The Atomic Cocktail Please… with a Twist

Wide Open and want to keep it that way

In 1951 the atomic test site began a series of over 100 above ground atomic bomb detonations. Our ignorance was bliss, bombs were entertainment. The atomic cocktail was served to customers who had come to the top floor skyscraper lounges of Las Vegas. Here they could enjoy the view of the mushroom clouds and a brilliant glowing flash followed seven minutes later by shockwaves that rocked buildings and cracked plaster.

Yucca Mountain is north of the test site. Here like a zombie it rests, scientifically proven unsafe, but that doesn’t dissuade the truly motivated from trying to place it back on the list of facilities we can bury the most nasty manmade heap of life unfriendly radioactive waste the world has ever known.

Now, this goes a long way of explaining how the mind of a rural resident of Nevada works. The nefarious outside forces of crony capitalists, bought off politicians, and nuclear industry stooges have continued to make trouble. They won’t give up, still want their way.

People who live out there come in all shapes and sizes. They think this way and they go that way. Different kind of people is a way to explain it. They tend to want to be left the hell alone. From far away you might think they have some kind of special bias. You’d think they just were born to have a bad feeling for government.

They’ve seen money poured down the throat of some pretty trustworthy types and then watch in horror as that very same person begins singing like a radiation spoon fed canary over the virtues of doing with their state the very thing they most do not want done.

They do not go by fancy labels. They don’t need them. Because the Great Basin and Mojave is desert there are visitors that do have not a cultivated appreciation for what is to be found there.

There is no deal to be made. It isn’t a place where compromise holds much sway. There is little water. It was for most of the last 13,000 years a place where man passed through. It supported a few. Most found fairer climates and more abundant food in other parts of the west.

What we have here now is a band of people who know the truth of a sunrise and sunset; people who like quiet and want to be left alone. You want to go to a brothel? Not a problem. You do your thing and they will continue to do their thing. But, doing what you want and destroying what you have is where these folk draw the line.

I’d say a true blue citizen of Nevada is something akin to trying to define pornography, might not know how to define such a person, but by god you’ll know one when you see one.


You can find my book by placing my name, Dana Smith and Bankrupt Heart into the search engine at either Amazon or Barnes and Noble and it should take you right there.

“The Evil of Two Lessers….” Quoting Now from a tweet out of Iowa

Wild Mushrooms... what are you doing tonight

There are some dirty rotten scoundrels in this world. They get mixed in with all of us. Deep thinkers that I know propose that we are all potentially evil. They claim we have latent seeds of dirt and rot and scoundrel just waiting to break out

I suppose they are right. I lose my temper. I hate traffic. Things can get out of hand. I am prone to get upset and create my own personal hockey rink moment.

But this choice between the lesser of two evils where did this tradition come from?

I think a lot of the women I have dated were selected on just this basis. And to be honest I sometimes danced with my lesser angels when selecting between these two different candidates. To set the record straight, I was happy about it then and I am sorry for it now

Curiosity can be a doorway to a place we might not usually go. I had a lady friend explain how bored she was. She said she needed to find something that had been missing. She wanted it to be exciting again. She didn’t want any trouble just looking to make a little mischief. She wanted a man who looked like an outlaw on the outside but who had a good heart on his inside.

So, that made some kind of non-logical common sense to me. What it might mean is that one person finds another person that they think less of, while at that very same time that lesser person they found also thinks less of them too. It can happen, both persons thinking less of the other. Now, they both might be thought of as a couple, not so much hooking up with a person they call their better half, but instead their more rotten half, and so this is how it is possible that in this world we explain what it means when we say that they are involved with the evil of two ‘lessers.’

Available Now





The Fine Art of Skinny Dipping

As Good as it Gets...

Magic is lost on youth. Everything is possible at the start. It requires some aging to realize we are not able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Of course later if you know what you’re doing this isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Now the first time I stumbled upon a waterhole where folk were skinny dipping I was not well prepared. First off I was shy. Second I was with a new romantic interest. She wasn’t as shy and was fast about the business while I remained tortured about what to do.

Of course in my imagination I had figured I’d just be tickled pink to take my clothes off in front of all of God’s good children and enjoy a good dip in the nude wearing nothing but my birthday suit. I’d prepared for this event in my mind. Thought it would be darker than the light of the middle of the day. Thought we might have been drinking a little, you know, get the chance to approach the thing, build up some momentum, and then plunge right into the affair without a second’s hesitation.

Then, was a long time ago, and I was young and fully clothed… a wild one… and somewhat less wild if the definition of wild included going naked. People seemed to all be looking at me and that was probably because I was looking at all of them. Now, I wasn’t interested in looking at everything, but by nature and curiosity my eyes seemed to want to get a good look now and again when I could at things I might have not had so much chance in my life to get a good look at.

Now looking around I noted that there was a great variation in the natural human anatomy. There were different shapes and sizes to things. I was kind of surprised to learn that in the light of day in the middle of the woods next to a swimming hole that the human body while it looked as it should wasn’t necessarily in all cases and from all angles particularly fetching. I’d say a lot of times it left something to be desired

Of course I finally had worked up the courage to take off my shoes. Took at least a quarter of an hour just to do that, and then I got my shirt off, that was easy enough, and my pants. I’d been in some kind of deep contemplation, lost in my thoughts so completely I’d found the best place to rest my eyes was on my new romantic interests bosom. This provided me with something I could do to keep my mind off of what I really didn’t want to do.

Wasn’t too long before my mind began to wander and I had come to see my new romantic interests bosom in a more positive light, in fact I’d say it was an inspirational frame of mind that overtook my whole being. Next thing I discover is that my mind has decided to communicate with my body sending out signals to places that until now had been not part of the situation, places I’d guess we might describe as remote yet important.

My romantic feels had migrated from my heart to some distance south below my belly button and well north of my knees. It might not have been the best spot, but it was an honest one. I reckoned it was going to be complicated and I was going to have to do some explaining unless I leaped into that swimming hole just as soon as was humanly possible. The romantic interest, she swam over to me, put her arms around me, and hugged me, looked me in the eyes, kissed me, and then she shook her head and must have laughed for what seemed like about as long as it took me to get into that water….

HIGHWAY HOME                            THE FIRST NOVEL

Leslie leaned back and stretched out on the blanket and put her arms up and closed her eyes and relished the warmth of the light on skin. The beads of water on her skin twinkled in the golden afternoon light. She shimmered as if dressed in sequins. Noel admired how serene and aglow she appeared. She had a smile that looked as if she was lost in a world of wishes that had come true. He tossed his arms up near his head and reached for Leslie’s hand nearest his and tangled his fingers into hers.

Highway Home Copyright © 2009 by Dana Smith

Tragic-comic reindeer eating

Might taste good, but make me feel bad...

A good street show is funny. You need to appeal to people’s better natures, they aren’t looking for Lear. They don’t want to know what the hell Congress has done now.

Of course the pantheon of the tragic-comic life is littered with many terrific examples: George Burns losing Gracie and then rising from his loss to laugh once more. There is the famous Lewinski fiasco that our recent President was unsuccessfully impeached for.

This is what I think was missing in Sarah Palins theatricality. She was too bellicose sexy and not big enough to laugh at her outlandish disguise. She was all glamour-puss and no wink-wink, nod-nod, look at me ain’t this grand even the Arctic bombshell can have a day in the sun.

I think a lot of the women I know would find George Clooney a great surrogate for Camelot. They could have a principled affair, surrendering to their lust and be all the better for it in the end. You never get that same vibe from Sarah. It would be like telling someone you buy Playboy because you really like reading the stories. Come on, who you kidding?

Lust, drugs, money, greed, thinking you won’t get caught and then you do, under certain conditions this can turn out sometimes as not too awful. A torrid affair with your wife (lust) after a sublime bottle of wine (drugs), while plunking down a fair chunk of cash for a hotel room with a spa on the balcony is benign, harms nobody. Do the same thing with someone you ought not to be with while using legally forbidden substances on an expense account you are not supposed to be using for such purposes and we have all the trappings of what we now seem to understand as an ordinary day in the life of corporate privilege of a kind.

I am most pleased by small tragedy to be followed by a larger more laughable comedy. Springtime for Hitler in Germany was Mel Brooks doing pitch perfect what I am talking about.

I find economics a great source of tragic-comic players. They do their deadpan so well. I feel like I am visiting a financial mortician sometimes, they are a kind of like the gay florist who pretends he’s straight. It would be so simple if we were all just one thing, but the biggest laugh isn’t who we are, but when our mask slips and the world gets a glimpse of not just our preferred self, but our whole self…the best of these disguised players it turns out are something less than half bad, and that’s about as good as it gets.

I used to worry I might turn out to be rotten to the core when in fact I was just a little too ripe. Most of what I am turned out to be not too bad, but still you have to be realistic. The half-life of tragic is still relentlessly in the hunt to spoil the punch lines of balance that is comic. Next time you flip out in rush hour traffic take a look in the rear view mirror. Who is that you see? I hope your answer is Daffy Duck….


Infinite Pleasures

Waiter I think someone put something into my drink...

Everything I thought I knew has been thrown into doubt. I had thought today could be much like any other day. I thought I’d go along and get along.

I made the mistake of listening to a physicist. It seems that this one universe we live in might be just one out of an infinite number of universes. Let’s make our basic units stars. We orbit around one. Next, depending upon who you ask and how they count there are 200 billion stars just in our one galaxy, the famous Milky Way, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. So, how many galaxies are there in the universe? Seems like a reasonable follow-up question doesn’t it? Here’s the number… in the visible universe it is estimated there are 125 to 550 billion galaxies, perhaps more!

I asked a math person how many stars was that? The answer: there are more stars in our universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches on earth.

And then comes the smoke and mirrors moment. We have never actually been able to see an electron, or for that matter a second universe, or for that matter most of the galaxies in our universe. We detect them and infer their existence!

It is how things are done. They say inferring is reliable. I’m told by my sources that if your girlfriend has a vintage pink Cadillac convertible parked in front of her house that when you knock on the door and there is no answer, although you hear music and the sound of a headboard knocking against a wall from inside while listening with your ear against the door, that you would be accurate in inferring she was probably in that apartment doing exactly what your inference imagined she was doing. Worse than that it appears all the more probable that by visualizing this it is likely to encourage the very thing you are trying to avoid.

My sources tell me that it is possible that for each individual universe we might well have a god dedicated to just that one universe. Since there are possibly an infinite number of these universes there is likely to be an infinite number of these gods. Since in this system where there are an infinite number that this infinite number might best be expressed by use of a single integer. That what might be happening is that it isn’t just all for one, and one for all, but that one might be paradoxically the most divine mathematically succinct way to express the infinite! And since I am but one of 3.5 billion men on this planet the fact of whether it is me in that apartment or another man might not matter and the fact that I seem to care about whether it is me in that apartment or not is really a delusion and that on a quantum level this would prove to be an insignificant rounding error.

So, you can see this isn’t turning out to be a good day. Not only have I got to figure out how many gods there are, and if any are any better gods than we have thus far identified, after all replacing an existing god for a new and improved god seems a bit judgmental. And when I finally confront whoever that was who was having his way with my beloved, when I look into his eyes, according to this physicist it might just turn out to be me looking at myself. This is not my idea of a wholesome sexual fantasy. This is what science would identify as one potential sexual reality. And maybe that’s why we eventually die, because otherwise it would just be too much sex for us to get our imaginations around.

Change of Heart

Adrift in a sea of change....

It has been time to suck it up. You know the way. You get up earlier. You try harder. You mean to apply yourself. Eat better. Drink more water. Review the plan and then work it. More important try to enjoy it.

Having now had a good stint at doing necessary tasks I can put my shoulder into the next items on the list. I keep a list now. It was a less common habit in previous suck it up chapters of my life. There is nothing quite like the thrill of being reminded by your own list of what a good or dreadful idea you had.

Affirmations are everywhere. For one thing I am happy to eat an apple just now. Perfect! Having just completed my second long fiction project I was heartened to read that the next thing to do ought to be something different. Just buckle up into that desk chair and put that imagination into gear and if you were driving slow and carefully this time go fast and carelessly.

There is nothing quite like being your own obstacle and it has been my great fortune and curse to be unable to stop myself. I’m speaking of writers block. It isn’t to be confused with the pain we go through to write well.

Sucking it up is approached from the best and worst directions. You try and close in on the one thing. You’ve got to try and not try. You have to guard against flab. You must have the courage to poke your deepest weaknesses. Great! Just what I want to do.

I’ve been annoyed today by a formatting dysfunction. I haven’t lost any time, yet! I’ll try it again. I’m busy right now. It was on my list. Post something for the holidays. Get with it Smith. I’m entering the dangerous sink where like most of you two days will be used for ritual. I’m grateful. I need the break. A good sucking it up comes into better view alongside a good patch of sloth and excess time at the table where I’ll put the sucking it up into some kind of jujitsu reverse gear. Merry Christmas…….


Free to Play the Game

Couple of Old Dogs Caught in the Act

To celebrate the first day of the rest of my life I had oatmeal. For dessert I took my supplements and finally to get the start of the day off to a rollicking hilarious start I just completed ninety minutes on my recumbent bike.

Add to my writing chores I also continue to perform. The show is mix of circus arts stunts, most of it juggling, some interactive audience material, and then the odd nut of this or bolt of that. It isn’t just standing up in front of an audience.

Three shows per day are physically and mentally challenging. It is fascinating how some days our mouth just doesn’t work. We can’t get the words out. We blow the rhythm. When we improvise in a situation our inventions can land with a dull thud.

For the longest time it seems static. It seems that who we appear to be on stage is much the same as the person we were last week, two months ago, or even two decades ago. I think where things get tricky is when our act is derived from a point of view that might be entirely against what we might really seem to be. Power solo juggling acts often are too often based upon wise-cracking, smart aleck, juvenile points of view. There is nothing wrong with that! But, it will only get you to that same place and it will take you no further.

There/Then Here/Now Where does the time go?

That’s what all this oatmeal eating is about. It is about doing what is necessary to stay in the game, to remain on stage, in front of audiences. But, performing isn’t art unless you act like it is and do something about it. What we can do is keep our minds open to not just what we’ve been, but what we are. Vaudeville is legend for trapping an entertainer in the act. It becomes a straightjacket that they cannot escape from.

Flying a plane is a skill taught by a teacher. Creating a show is an accident, a coincidence, a lark that lands on a good idea that is played out over time. Then, one day we reckon with the reality we are at an entirely new circumstance and that if we want to treat ourselves to the full thrilling creative ride that is a life in the creative arts that we must shed our skin, climb out of whatever and all of what we’ve done and begin again.

Most of what stops most of the people I know from remaining on stage is created out of the fear of letting go of who they were. As the lyric in the song says, “The road gets rougher, it’s lonelier and its tougher…”


“So, Mike, tell me when was the last time you were talked down off of a limb you climbed out on, you know what I mean? According to my understanding on these matters, a man has to do what’s in here,” Nick pointed to his temple, “and down there,” he pointed somewhere south of his belt buckle, “they both get to have a say so, they get to speak their piece about what a man has to do, and then, once its settled, just let the chips fall where they may.”

            “You know, Nick, I’d say of all the men I’ve counseled, Ry is among a handful that has never needed any coaching. Of course, he wasn’t in circulation, and even since he has been back out, he hasn’t been able to jump off that bridge, at least not yet.”

            “Well, I’d say the time has arrived. And this could be it.” Nick said. “Now, the only question that I see remaining to be answered is, if our friend here has the god-given courage to act upon the truth running through his veins. And I don’t mean tomorrow, or two weeks from now, I mean right here, tonight, at the reception.”




Running South to Tucson

In the Realm of the Sun King

My time in Tucson has been spent with my friend Mark McMahon. Casa Marco’s pad was out on the very furthest reaches of East Tucson out on the end of Speedway.

I rolled with this rig and slept in his front yard. We’d hike Saguaro National Park. That’s a favorite place. The coyote and javelina owned the joint we borrowed it. The roadrunners, cactus wren and ravens laughed at us. Tarantula’s creeped out of their holes at night to inspect us.

The five acre compound is lush. Mark and I walked mornings and sunsets. Middle of the day we tried to move the ball, take care of business, try to have a little something to show for our efforts at the end of the day.

My first time in Tucson in 1974 I visited a city of 100,000 people. Now it is 10 times larger. Do the math. Things have changed. Everywhere has changed, but even still Tucson has changed more.

Upon a Ridge viewing Sunset

We go south to Bisbee. We go explore Patagonia. These small places haven’t changed. They remain much the same. People come here and try to make a life. Some do and stay and others don’t and move on.

Birdwatching in Patagoniais sublime. Late winter, early spring my favorite. After a long day of hiking I was resting off the tailgate of my truck. Above Turkey Vultures numbering in the thousands appeared above soaring in from the south. As the light of day was fading they came to roost in the rare cottonwoods. I’d never seen anything like it before.

For the next hour this enormous flock of birds circled and landed in the trees that thrive along the banks of Sonoita Creek. Arriving on the same day I arrived turned the visit into one of the accidental thrills of my life. It is a treasured memory. A warm day in winter hiking in the desert can be just what the doctor ordered.

As I’ve sung to myself so many times, “I ride, I run with the wind, I chase the sun, to the end….” Thank you Casa Marco’s… it’s been a good ride and still is…


Dawn was pristine. The air crisp, clean, the sky empty, the sea was true, chasmal…blue. No chop on the water; no cloud in the sky. Limantour Beach was alone, still, breathless. Not another soul had set foot here this morning, but for Ry and Finn. It was the first day, the New Year. They walked barefoot in the sand at the surf’s edge, acquainting their thoughts to the booze-soaked resolutions they’d taken the night before. The least waves arrived.  The Pacific was in repose between storms.  The surf’s soundtrack was a languid slow curling muffled splashing that reverberated up and down the beach.

Even When I Look Back I Still Don’t Get It…

Looking too good….

I’m not sure when it happened. I think they slipped them into a five pack. I’m talking about my polka dot bikini briefs. I don’t think I was brought up to accept things like this.  I do remember when men’s fine clothing consisted of such things as: gabardine, linen, silk, and merino wool. Now things are manufactured in some space age chemically treated for higher performance fabric and desecrated with the companies logo emblazoned across the garment.

I’m just grateful to have enough hair to still be in the game. I still have options. Compared to the world wide financial crisis I understand it is a minor thing, but didn’t someone say it was the little things that count?

Background Singers in Costume....

So far today thehigh   pointis that I ate my oatmeal, took my supplements, and got a good 90 minutes done of the exercise bike. I’ll hobble through the rest of the day remembering when I could basically eat anything as compared to now when I’m reduced to eating almost nothing.

I had a drinking problem and that is now cured. I’m drinking a lot more water. Someplace in all the advice books and columns I’ve read it said that it would be good for me. I think when you read that something is good for you and then you try it and it isn’t as good for you as the things you do that aren’t good for you that you wonder who rigged this game?

But, these are things that keep us going isn’t it? We are shocked to learn that managing ourselves is like a magic act. We find out we never are quite sure where our enthusiasm has gone for the doing the right thing. It just completely vanishes. It’s not like all of us are out to do the wrong thing. Most of us are prone to just not doing the best thing of all.

I'm on the outside looking in....I wanna be, I wanna be back on the inside....

There is still so much I’d like to know, and when compared with how much I still want to forget it isn’t really much of a contest. Someone said I don’t have that many regrets because I’ve never really been honest with myself. I can’t say for sure if I agree with that or not.

I’m still struggling with the fundamental truths of life. Things like why did these five sailors find Sunshine performing dog so captivating? How come when I tell someone I was a member of a show that presented tightrope walking they don’t believe me? Or, that I got to meet Little Anthony and when I told him I played the ukulele he winced. And finally who thought bringing me all the way to Japan only to stage my juggling act at the World Exposition should be done in front of a bright pink parade float? Perhaps the biggest and most perplexing question of all is what kind of man goes all the way to Japan and decides to go public wearing a neck scarf, leg warmers and polka dot shorts as a costume?

Men in tights or The Royal Lichtenstein Quarter-Ring Sidewalk Circus Your choice, what will it be?

I’m trying to get my affairs in order. According to the calendar I should have been grown up by now. I’ve been advised not to hold my breath. My astrologer told me today would be a good day to buy sox. Wish me luck…

Polka Dots are Protected Speech...

“Rosalind’s two-tone magenta beaded dress was dramatic. Where she was buxom and bursting were sewn fine beads and sequins, bejeweling her natural endowment. The skintight floor length dress was slit up the side of her leg well above her knee. She was a woman with a forceful full figure accentuated ever the more by a petite waistline. Rosalind oozed bare legs and sculpted broad shoulders. She was a celestial apparition of unblemished, tanned, ambrosial skin swaddled in a veneer, a gift wrapping. Rosalind was an unfettered tantalization, a provocation, a bombshell, rare was the man with the puckish virtuosity to join the quest to puzzle out her surrender to their libidinous call.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Classic Street Theater

The Classic Chicken on the Head

I studied Shakespeare. I was a ballet dancer. I started out working in theater. I was trained in the classics, at least to the extent that my brain would permit prior to my stomach starting to bellyache about it. Aristotle, Plato, and later Cervantes I discovered had discovered most of what I was discovering.

I learned that Sinatra learned his phrasing technique from Tommy Dorsey and no doubt Dorsey got his training in jazz while studying classical music. Modern art is the result of classical art. Classical art at one time was the contemporary art of the day. There is nothing new under the sun and we really have to constantly reinvent ourselves even if we want to remain stuck right where we are.

Street theater is nearly as old as the oldest profession in the world. In the 1960’s when street theater re-launched its product line, entertainment headed back out onto the sidewalks and public spaces where it could escape from the suffocating conventions of legitimate theater. We were free, and then we were not free. Besides passing the hat more than a few acts began studying commedia del arte in Blue Lake, California. Next, a group of silent clowns began imitating Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd. It was all so predictable.

Try this One....

Then, someone dug up this old world word “busker” and that pretty much was it. It was no use by the middle 80’s we simply called ourselves New Vaudeville.

All my renegade friends gave up. They got health insurance, signed up for credit cards, got a mortgage, married, had kids and decided to be happy. It was like really? They still did shows, but now they were paying their bills and doing things like staying home and watching a movie with the wife and kids.

That's what it looks like when a busker gets into hot water

I decided to hike into the mountains along a trail and take a dip in a wild hot spring, just like the ancients back in the day, before this whole Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian thing got out of hand. Next thing I know after a long soak in the middle of the wilds ofBritish Columbiamy guide into the wilderness takes me down along a rock wall along the edge of an ancient lake where he directs me to look at a four thousand year old petroglyphic depiction of people enjoying a good soak in the hot spring!

People the world over are all looking for something new. They want a new relationship. They want a new car, new job, a new place to live, and some even want a new way of life. Then, they get it and just like that turns out in the end to be part of the same old thing. It’s like a broken record, like computers were supposed to make our life easier, and then the thing crashes and for four hours you’re standing around while a technician untangles the mess you’ve made of the time you were supposed to have saved that has now been lost. And this all happened because you thought that this time it would be different. It’s enough to drive a man to drink, but I’ve heard that won’t do you any good, you’ll just end up right back where you started.


“Nothing was going to stop me from sailing, not a storm, not money, nothing… not even Jackie.” Lenny shook his head and rolled his eyes as if to say: ‘what was I thinking?’ “I determined a long time ago I was going to go sailing, go cruising, the whole thing. Then, while I was preparing my boat, Jackie and I hooked up, had fun, it was great. Then next thing I know, we’re a couple. I’m not going sailing; we’re going sailing. No doubt, only way it could go.”

“And then she gives up. Can’t take it. Can’t do it…”

“I don’t know,” There was regret in Lenny’s voice, “five years, thousands of open ocean miles later, whatever I thought was going to happen never did.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith