Recent Work By Bud Smith

Block

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Seventeen

 

This paragraph was written on a cellphone at my day job. With all the mess, and the noise, and the constant humming and slamming of million pound machines. I’ve run out of things to say, which is unacceptable. Usually this place sounds like angels singing, but now the demons have begun to shriek.

Salad

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Sixteen

 

Rae said something. I couldn’t hear. 7th was too loud. She looked back over her shoulder to hear my answer, so I just said, “Yeah.”

Her hair was getting long again, curled up at the neckline. Each boot step clicked in a nice musical way.

She motioned for us to cross. The sidewalk got wider and it was okay to walk side by side with her, people had all the room in the world here.

The bars were packed with people. The restaurants had full tables. The jails were at max capacity too. The bookstores and churches were empty.

Suicide in Bed

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Fifteen

 

We’re watching the movie The Apartment. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. We’re watching it because I didn’t know what an apartment was. Didn’t I feel stupid when I found out I’d been living in one for 14 years.

Little Guy

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Fourteen

 

Mom is the little guy. The youngest. Then Jonathan is born and he becomes the little guy. Seven kids. Jonathan, Robin, Lee, Elaine, Billy, Jefferey, Sandy, all of them have their time as the little guy.

Dad is the little guy, too. And stays that way. He has two older brothers, Joe and Jimmy.

Everyone goes to school. Grows up. Watches black and white TV. And then watches color TV. Dad is not my dad yet, he’s skinny. Mom is not my mom yet, she’s skinny in bell-bottoms, and feathered hair.

Dad wears wire framed glasses, has a red beard, builds a muscle car, and meets my mother.

She’s a little bit country. He’s a little bit rock ’n’ roll. They split the difference, move to Brick Town.

They get fried seafood somewhere.

Art

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Thirteen

 

First I want to say, art is done in a small room to make it big. Then I want to say, you’re going to die, you’ll need a distraction. Then I want to also say, art eats a gigantic thing with its many rows of teeny tiny teeth.

Grasshopper

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Twelve

 

[What follows is a transcript of a talk by Bud Smith given at McNally Jackson Books in NYC on Saturday, January 19th, 2019]

 

I didn’t know what I was going to say here tonight. I thought maybe I would read something, a story. I don’t know. I usually have my shit together.

For a while there, I was a wild goose about it, got nervous, couldn’t sleep. So I got out of bed and walked into the living room, asked for advice.

Someone on Reddit suggested I read y’all “The Swimmer by John Cheever. A famous short story. I didn’t know it, and it wasn’t available online. So I killed time, looked outside, where the night slipped into morning, blackness shifting into shades of rose and tangerine. That old familiar blue of morning, blooming.

Rae got up, asked if I was all right. Her purple pajamas became a black dress. She went to work. I walked over to the public library. They had John Cheever’s Collected Stories. That big red book. So I sat down by the Pepsi machine and read “The Swimmer.” A sad story about a man who drinks his life away, develops psychosis in the suburbs. I figured nobody at this city folk reading would even know what the suburbs were. So nevermind, “The Swimmer.”

Bullfrog

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Eleven

 

Our cacti can’t stand on their own anymore. We’ve braced them with toothpicks. I was gifted a ceramic lemon and a resin flamingo leaning left. They’re here on my bamboo desk in the pink room. I live here. She lives here. Friends sometimes live here. Come live here.

Melissa

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Ten

Driving through the night. A dark road. Melissa was in the backseat, holding my friend’s hand. I was up in the passenger seat, newly low. She’d stopped fucking me, now they were fucking. I mean it was more than that. They were in love. Me and her were out of love. A song came on the radio. “My Best Friend’s Girl” by the Cars. The driver turned it up. I can’t quite remember who was driving. I just know it wasn’t me. Those two lovebirds in the back started laughing. The driver laughed. I laughed too. I’m still laughing.

You’re born absolutely helpless. And then you’re alive awhile and you don’t think about how helpless you are. Then you get old and you turn back into a baby.

Dreams

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Nine

Just a quiet Sunday when you don’t care. Leave the bedroom, 8am. Go out to the couch, read for awhile. Two books, a novel, So Long, See You Tomorrow, William Maxwell, and a small blue book analyzing dreams. I can’t remember my last dream. In the novel, the narrator is an old man, and can’t quite recall what he is trying to say about Illinois, 1922. I put the paperback down and look out my window. Jersey City, 2019.

Blue Skies

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Eight

Two days before the end, it’s warm and the sky is deep blue and the clouds roll slowly by. My coworker climbs up on a flatbed truck and lies down and looks up at that blue sky and those clouds rolling by. “Hey Bud, you know what my resolution is going to be?”

“What’s it gonna be?”

“I’m resolving to look up at the clouds more often. When was the last time you did that?”

“That’s all I really do,” I say.

“Well, I guess you’re blessed.”

Oblique Strategies

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Seven

In July of 1975, Brian Eno entered Island Studios to record his third album, Another Green World. He had no ideas whatsoever, having largely abandoned traditional songwriting, and now coming into bloom as an artist playing the studio.’ He carried with him a deck of cards called Oblique Strategies.

Playboys

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Six

Five of us were packed in the work truck listening to a wacky morning DJ tell a story about a man who dug a tunnel from his basement to the bar down the block.

His wife didn’t want him drinking. He used the tunnel in secret to get drunk while she slept. The DJ went har har har har har, and shook a noisemaker.

Pat said, “She was right to ban him from drinking, he had a problem if he had to dig a tunnel.”

“And she must have had a problem too if she didn’t even notice her husband was digging an escape tunnel.”

The story was a hoax. But so are most stories. Especially stories involving tunnels.

Cults

By Bud Smith

Essay

 

Good Luck: Episode Five

While I was getting my haircut, the bell jangled, the door opened, a woman’s sweet voice said, “Hello. Will you shave my daughter’s head?”

The barber closest to the door turned and looked. He considered it. “Maybe. How old is she?” He was Yugoslavian. I liked the way he spoke.  

The rest of us looked—myself, my short barber, the man getting the fade in the other chair. We turned our heads in perfect synch to see an Indian woman in a lavender coat holding the hand of a toddler.

First Memory

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Four

My first memory which I can place in time is my fourth birthday party. My dad took me for a drive in his midnight blue Ford Mustang so my mom and her sisters could decorate the house for my surprise party. He took me to Roy Rogers and I got a chicken sandwich and a black cherry fountain soda. The soda slipped through my fingers and spilled all over my white OshKosh B’gosh corduroy pants, making a red lake on the seat and then the carpet at my feet. I don’t remember getting yelled at for that. It was my birthday. He loved me.

Later, at the house, in my pink pants, everybody jumped out and yelled, “Surprise! Happy Birthday!” One of the gifts I got was a plastic sword from Thundercats. The sword, when held up high, said, “Thunder Thunder Thundercats Ho!” Just a few days after I got that sword, my babysitter’s little brother heaved it onto their roof and the sword was gone. I never ratted him out about it. But I guess I am now.

Elegy

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Three

My friend died laughing on the telephone. He laughed so hard his heart stopped.

It doesn’t sound real. It sounds like something a person puts in a short story and it bothers the reader because it’s so unbelievable. But this was real life. My friend died laughing on the telephone.

It was late in the evening. He was clicking around the internet. A lot of his friends lived in his computer. He was always saying hello.

A direct message came in to his Facebook from a person saying they were the dean of Harvard. Harvard needed money. Help Harvard. Go over to the Western Union right away and wire money to help save Harvard.

And every other word was misspelled. And the person pretending to be the dean of Harvard had no grasp of grammar. So my friend started playing around with the scammer and the messages from the scammer got threatening, and god, could anything be funnier?