Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


And speaking of walking down the street looking at “girls,” I’ll bet you’re familiar with the Jonathan Richman, Modern Lovers song “Pablo Picasso.”  The lyrics run:

Well some people try to pick up girls
And get called assholes
This never happened to Pablo Picasso
He could walk down your street
And girls could not resist his stare and
So Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole

I suspect there’s some truth lurking there amid the absurdity.  There probably was a time when Picasso could pick up girls while walking in any street.  On the other hand he does seem to get called an asshole pretty often these days, for one reason or another.

         Now, here’s a thing. Pablo Picasso certainly wrote some poetry, and if you go online you’ll find a poem of his “A Lonely Road is That I Walked,” a title which has surely lost something in the translation.  It runs as follows:

I walk a lonely road, the one and only one I’ve ever known.

I don’t know where it goes, but I keep walking on and on.

I walked the lonely and untrodden road for I was walking on the bridge

of the broken dreams.

I don’t know what the world is fighting for or why I am being instigated.

It’s for this that I walk this lonely road for I wish to be

So I am breaking up, breaking up.

It is the lack of self control that I feared as there is something

Inside me that pulls the need to surface, consuming, confusing.

being called weird I walk this lonely road on the verge of broken dreams.

And so I walk this lonely road and so just keep walking still

Now, if you’re at all familiar with the band Green Day, you’ll see these words are dead ringers for the lyrics to their (really piss poor if you ask me) song “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”  Did they use Picasso’s lyrics?  Were they inspired by them?  They Internet is silent on the subject.  Or is it some Internet hoax pretending that Picasso wrote lyrics just like Green Day?  I have no idea, but I’d like to know.

Meanwhile I’m glad Picasso didn’t give up his day job.  Here’s a painting better than any of the great man’s words: it’s titled “Couple Walking” (Couple Voyant).

Incidentally, I believe Jonathan Richman wrote the greatest ever lyrics about the difference between walking and driving, in (some versions of) “Radio On,”  better than anything by Picasso, and certainly better than anything by Green Day.

I walked by the Stop n shop

Then I drove by the stop n shop

I liked that much better than walking by the Stop n shop

Cause I had the radio on

Below is Mr Picasso, walking but not picking up many girls.

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