Babel Heart by Bob Paris (c)

Adrift on undulant seas and restless

How shall I calm this Babel heart

A millstream runs my head a’singing

Wet mainsail taunt lines slinging drops

Of heavy salted waves that break

Off port and starboard aft and fore

On far horizon calls measured hope

Crack the swells oh leeward bound

As if to know a nimble trace

A peaceful harbor where to put by

Gleamed tranquil treble everlast

Pulse stills through rhythmic ease

And toil and melody and

Clean light and vapour

Cloud draped volcano cockcombs above

This strange lagoon of quickened soul

Of steady rocking nights in slumber

The peace of gems upon deep velvet

Bright days to patch and stow and long

To move to move to move again

BABEL HEART by Bob Paris 23 July, 2014 (c) all rights reserved

From the Archives...

Official Bob Paris (c) all rights reserved


August 1995


“The depth of my belief in the power of bodybuilding grew out of my desires as an artist. I pretended that I wanted grand success as an athlete in some traditional sport, but only because that was what I believed was the right thing to feel. Great athletes were the good guys and rewarded with adulation and wealth. Artists generally tended to struggle. When I discovered bodybuilding, I knew—with the sort of instinct that reveals itself in rare moments—that I could have both. I could be the artist I’d always dreamed of being and I could be a jock and exert my physical presence in a way that would demonstrate to all the world that I was truly a man. I could have taken no other sport as far as I did this one. It is misunderstood, underappreciated , corrupted by petty greed, and considered to be the realm of freaks, but it is also beautiful and thrilling and lifted high above the dull thud of conformity.” 

Excerpted from:

GORILLA SUIT by Bob Paris © (ISBN 0-312-16855-1) 

Photo by John Balik, 1983.© Bob Paris all rights reserved

Yonder Comes Solstice

As the Solstice approaches -- as the existential sand runs down the hourglass, as each beat of the heart echoes, one essential message resounds through the ages: Grab this moment. Hold it lightly in your strongest grip. Grasp it as you would a fragile newborn. Take it on your heart and into your lungs, this ever-quaking, ever-shimmering bit of sea glass discovered on the shifting shore of now.  So...

Right now, whisper to yourself ‘thank you for my life’ and in the coming hours say ‘I love you’ to at least ten people (or ten times ten times ten people -- and creatures alike). Open twenty doors for myriad strangers and thank them for being allowed to do so. Be kind to someone utterly different from you and then do it again and again. Give a street musician all the money in your left pocket. Hang up your phone and ask the person serving you a coffee or ringing up your groceries how their day is going. Kiss a baby. Watch a bird weave a path through the air you breathe; then remind yourself that this is the oxygen that keeps you alive. Embrace the wind and be ever grateful. After all: Carpe diem is only the beginning of the story. You, me and all of us -- we write the rest.

The Second Life of Old Trophies


Saturday Morning, Midsummer, 1994, Seattle 

“I still had the whole trophy from my Mr. Universe win. It was more substantial than usual: A brass, art-deco, funnel-cloud-shaped, covered vase, mounted on a teakwood base. Only the little physique man mounted on top was plastic, so I kept it around. Not displayed. Collecting dust in a hall closet.

The one from winning the Mr. Southern California was a silver-plated champagne bucket with the title and year engraved on it. It sat on the corner of my desk. Since it easily held fifty or sixty pens and pencils, it had some utility. The sliver-plated punch bowl from winning the California Muscle Classic was outside in a flower garden, filled with carefully selected, smooth agate stones and being allowed to go old and mossy, because I thought it looked English or French or something. That one was getting the best second life an aging trophy could ever want.” 

Excerpted from: GORILLA SUIT © by Bob Paris all rights reserved

ISBN 0-312-16855-1) 

Photo by John Balik, © Bob Paris Archives

Bob Paris on OPRAH -- Where Are They Now?

SAVE THE DATE: This Friday (Feb 21st) I'm on OPRAH again.

She now has a show on OWN called, Where are They Now? The segment picks up from when I was first on the show back in 1989, right after coming out in the media, and then updates to my current life. We taped at our house and around in the nearby woods and on the beaches. I talk candidly about my activist years and the abrupt, simultaneous end of my bodybuilding career and relationship; of isolating myself in the aftermath; and then meeting Brian; his battles with cancer; our move to Canada; getting legally married; my current writing life, and much more. While I haven't yet seen the finished segment -- fingers crossed -- I trust it will be good.

So, please pass the word. Check your local listings, etc. Let me know what you think. And thanks again for all your support!

Cheers and Namaste,


 'BIG HAIR' By Brian LeFurgey c.1999 (all rights reserved)

HOLD by Bob Paris

Give me one moment

Just one

Where time lingers

For a while

Eyes dancing you say

Which moment

And why

Pray tell

My reply races

The length of my arm

I hold it out

For you to see

Geese cry out above

Bay shimmers

Wind kicks

We smile

Photo: STILL WATERS by Brian LeFurgey 2014 all rights reserved

HOLD By Bob Paris (c) 1.15.2014 all rights reserved

This Time of Year

This time of year often causes me to take serious and unflinching stock, to make a heartfelt attempt toward seeing (and I mean truly seeing) the long-view of things that are at once as material as lead and mud and flesh, and as ephemeral as breath and cloud and intimate whispers. Perhaps it is the edge of Winter and the approaching Solstice (the darkness before the dawn, so to speak) that lands me in this place.  As dusk falls early in this hemisphere, I listen to the rhythms of life as they beat, beat, beat in the cadence of a pulse of someone willing to look truth in the eye; I feel my own fragile heart there in my chest; and I see the fleeting beauty and unremitting oomph of it all, unfolding each day for all of us—all of us, connected here on this tiny rock that twirls and spins in deep, deep space. And all I can do is smile and say thank you.  Thank you.

Bob Paris (c) 2013 all rights reserved

Dream Life ... ?

I asked myself today if I was living the life of which I had always dreamt. My answer was at once simple and complex (Go figure!). The simple answer is, Yes, yes, yes, a hundred times yes: My present life is all I could have ever wished for and much more – especially as that nihilistic, romantic teenage man-child, projecting himself forward with jagged hope. On the other hand, the complicated aspect of the answer would require chapters. But the complexity can, I suppose, be boiled down to this: The road each of us travels is comprised of topography both smooth and treacherous – and everything in between. In this context, I see the path of my own life as one that makes it’s way up and around a wild, ragged mountain, with hairpin switchbacks, crumbling ledges, startling vistas and gut-clenched, dirt-munched flights of amore and satori. Right now – in this moment – ask yourself: Am I living my life to the fullest? Now, read me plainly. I do not intend this question as a clichéd self-help-ish triviality (Me, I happen to find most self-help nostrums to be simplistic, Pollyanna drivel, doled out by those who could stand to take a bit of their own advice). Rather, this question – today’s question– is aimed at the heart of your own journey, your own unique authenticity, creativity, compassion and true connection to your current experience, to the beating soul of now. Are you traveling your best path, with open heart and eyes?

Official Bob Paris (c) all rights reserved 2013

Authentic Living: The Bookstore Test

I realize that I place a great deal of emphasis on authentic living. Question is, how is one to discover, hone and follow the true path of their life? I would suggest that it’s essential to identify what gets you up in the morning and excites your mind. It also entails asking yourself some key questions, often in the form of imaginary play-acting.

For example, because I’m passionate about books, I frequently perform what I call the “bookstore test.” It goes like this: Imagine you’ve just entered a vast and comprehensive bookstore. Without giving the matter any conscious thought, which section would you be pulled toward, as if by magnetic force? Me, I’d make an immediate bee-line for the “New Fiction” section and then spend hours reading random pages from dozens of novels and short-story collections. This tells me something vital. Many years ago, playing out the “bookstore test” helped me confirm that it was time to leave the fitness business, to pursue more authentic ambitions. Now, by sharing this example, I’m not trying to diminish my previous work; I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to share my experience with others. It’s more a matter of keeping life elastic, moving and liquid – adjusting course as we evolve and grow. 

Have a great weekend. 


Bob Paris official(c) 2013 all rights reserved

Joe Weider's Death

Several of you have written to ask my feelings regarding Joe Weider’s death this past Saturday.

It’s essential to start by extending my warmest thoughts and prayers to Joe’s wife, Betty (who was always so dear and sweet to me). I know that in her time of grief, she’ll be surrounded by loving family and friends. Also, to those who loved Joe and were close to him, I offer heartfelt condolences. It’s never easy when someone we care for fades from our material lives. Memories may be lucid and powerful, but physical proximity is primal. It may surprise some to learn that Joe and I considered each other friends. And even though ours was a relationship filled with serious ups and downs, it was also a testimony to the ways in which we fragile humans can be like oil and water, can drive each other to absolute distraction and yet, in the end, respect each others’ underlying spirit. That was Joe and me: These two headstrong men, each trying to make his way in an often confounding world, who could argue one day and then sit down to share a meal and a joke the next. I would also suggest to those who mainly saw a darker shade of Joe that there is extraordinary power in the act of approaching the day-to-day humanity of another person with humility and a willingness to forgive and move forward. After all, who among us wouldn’t wish that even our most ardent adversaries might cut us a bit of slack; might see the world through our eyes, if only for a fleeting moment. I am eternally grateful to Joe for giving me -- a shy kid from the sticks, who was using bodybuilding as a tool to battle back nihilism and save his own life -- that first real break. Those were times at once innocent and complicated, and I’m glad Joe and I shared a bit of the road together. Travel easy, Joe. You were one of a kind.