New Book / New Stories 

Hello, 

I hope everyone is doing good. I’ve got some friends riding  out Hurricane Matthew in Florida, but it looks like they’re gonna be okay. Was worried about one friend in particular who lives in a punk house that is collapsing anyways on a blue sky day. Anyways, looks like Florida will keep on Florida-ing. Yuss! Punk House will live on. 

Heard some news last week. Civil Coping Mechnanisms (CCM) will be putting out my memoir/essay collection called Same Clothes As Yeaterday in June 2017. Excited about that. 

Also, today at Hobart, I have two pieces of flash, “Red Teeth” and “Do Ya Wanna Dance?” They’re here

It’s October and most everybody is happy that it’s hooded sweatshirt weather.  I’ve had some writing fall through the cracks lately and wanted to share a list here if you are in the mood. 

  •  Hobart published two short stories from my collection, coming in November (from Disorder Press) called Dustbunny City , read them here 
  • Hobart also ran a story of mine called Boss, about a man struggling with the ghost of Andre the Giant, read Boss here 
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Essay About Dogs

Conspiracists think that Hilary Clinton had a body double yesterday that went around and did double double stuff, that’s cool. I would like a body double for myself also. To do body double stuff. Like work in the plastic plant where I am working today. Where all the plastic powder looks like cocaine and every new person you work with at the plastic factory who has never seen the plastic powder in the plastic factory makes the joke, “Ha! Looks like cocaine!”

I’m on break right now at work but wanted to share an essay with you … Rae and I are watching my parent’s dogs. We are dog parents right now, but luckily will be free of them by the time it’s time to pay for dog college or dog weddings. I wrote about the experience for Real Pants, as well as some thoughts on Pumpkin Spice bringing about the end times of earth, the novel Lonesome Dove, and grapes.

Check out the essay here 

An essay about working in a nuclear power plant

Hello Everybunny, 
I have been writing an essay almost every week about the intersection between creativity and working a labor intensive job away from the computer desk. The essays are all collected here . Thanks to Adam Robinson and Amy McDaniels for the support at their site, Real Pants and continuing to host the essay series. 

This week’s essay is called Nuclear and it is about what it is like to do temporary outage work at a nuclear power plant. No two nuclear outages are the same, and my experience there is probably not a common one, but, I shared my story here if you are interested. 

Thank you 

New Essay at Fanzine 

drawing by michael seymour blake

There’s a month of summer left. I’m looking forward to getting watermelon punch drunk this weekend and doing some night swimming. It’s 109 degrees here today at the oil refinery. Jeez Louise. 

Very happy that today over at Fanzine I have a new essay called “Our House Is A Very Fine House“. 

It’s about the first house my parent’s were able to afford, one that was vandalized and one that my brother and I destroyed even more than the vandals. 

Carabella Sand is one of my favorite artists. She drew the house. The house has graffiti on it that says “Fuck Off! This Place Is Haunted!” and it was, it reall was. But not by ghosts. By us. 

Check out the essay here 

All The Work Safe Or Die Trying Essays So Far

Hi Everybody, 

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been writing an essay a week for Real Pants. The essays are about creativity and working for a living. I work heavy construction in an oil refinery and while I’m there, I write on my cellphone on my breaks. A few of my novels were written that way, most of my stories and poems were written that way. Here’s a list of all the essays so far. I’m really enjoying this project and not sure how long it’s going to keep going, but 22 pieces into it, I’m still having a ball. 

Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing these links with people who you think could gain anything from them. Sometimes we all get stuck in our creative efforts. I hope these essays help some people out of a creative jam they have found themselves in. 

Much love, 
Bud 

Work Safe Or Die Trying Column at Real Pants 

Troll Dolls and Scarecrows 


For Real Pants I wrote about working at a farm market, dealing with a co-worker who wouldn’t shut up about D&D, cutting firewood, making Christmas wreaths, organizing troll dolls and beanie babies out there in the seasonal trailer, where hope goes to die.

Check it out here

New Column at Real Pants / Stories in Wigleaf

Crazy day today. It’s really cold and I have to walk to the bank and get a notary public to witness me sign some documents. Also have to get some money out of the ATM machine to buy parts to fix my washing machine. Just a swamped day of coldness and ATM machines and bank notary bullshit. 

It’s Tuesday and I have off of work today. I just sent a new novel manuscript to an agency that wanted to read more of my work. I hope they don’t print out the whole document just to feed it to a goat, that would be wasteful. And printer ink is expensive. 

So here is some straight dope, my weekly column, Work Safe Or Die trying premiers today on the lit site Real Pants. I’ll be putting up an essay every Tuesday about working heavy construction and finding time for creative writing. It’ll be a mash up of things from my life and things I want to talk about in the pursuit of DIY-Make-It-Happen-Art-Adventures. You can follow along at Real Pants (the digital online community attached to the press Publishing Genius) by clicking here 


Thanks to Adam Robinson
for helping the column along in this weird world. 


Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.05.24 AM

Also, Wigleaf, my favorite website for short fiction has two of my stories “Three Kids” and “Double Bird” on their site. They were posted on Saturday so here I am posting about them again on Tuesday. I’m insufferable.  

Check them out here, as well as a postcard from a nuclear power plant that I wrote you. 

 


 

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I have a story called “Pentagram” recorded on the People Holding podcast. It’s a fun podcast with a lot of bizarre-ity. Check it out the new Podcast here Thanks to the editor, Morgan Beatty for kicking this into high hear. 


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The site Largehearted Boy will feature a playlist for my novel F 250, as a Book Notes, look for that this week here


Cool as fuck poster

AND … This Thursday night will be the inaugural launch of a new event series in Brooklyn called COOL AS FUCK. I’ll be co-hosting it with Bill Lessard at Pete’s Candy Store and I hope you’ll come out and see the readings/performances and then later, check out our podcast that will launch shortly … here is the Facebook event 

Thanks for sticking with me and thank you for all the shouts and hangouts.

Love,
Bud 

Last Night on the Q Train

The poet gets on the subway and starts to yell at me, “Excuse me ladies and gentlemen! I am a poet!”

The train groans. People sink farther into their paperback books, cellphones, even just stare at the floor extra hard. But the man goes on, “I am here today to perform a poem for you that is both focused and brief and I hope you do not meet it with indifference because there is enough of that in this world! Do not meet my poem or the art you encounter in the world with indifference.”

I’m torn on this one. He starts to yell a cliched wall of rhymes at us. The poem takes about thirty seconds, and when it’s done, he says, “Thank you for your time! I am raising money for the production of my first book of poetry!”

I give him a dollar. People all around me give the man a dollar. He is maybe forty years old. He is wearing a derby cap. He is dirty like he just got off of work somewhere. The subway stops. The door opens.

The poet gets off into a sea of faces. I stay on the Q train. Can you believe it, I’m on my way to a poetry reading as it is. The subway poet probably just made eight bucks for that one poem. He’s the highest paid poet I can think of.

Nothing else happens on the train. Just a lot of dinging cellphone games. 

Erv’s bar, I’m the third reader at the event. This is Prospect Park, Brooklyn. The bar is small, about as large as my living room. The girl running the event squeezes her way through the people waiting in line for the bathroom and standing at the bar trying to order drinks.

She’s kind to me for a reason that’s not a reason. She’s just kind. She hugs me and thanks me for coming. I have a backpack full of paperback books, I don’t sell many of them at readings. I give her a copy of my second novel, and she tells me that I’ll get a few free drinks for coming to this thing.

The bartender is a dick. I see that almost immediately. He’s smashing things around. Ice whacked in the sink. Slamming glasses. Stirriing spoons richocheting off the wall.

I say hello, I say, “Can I get an old fashioned?”

“Rye or bourbon?”

“Rye. Thanks.”

He starts to make my drink, and he takes it real serious. It probably takes him five minutes to make this one drink. All kinds of artisans ice cubes and special ice hammers and mixing it in three nitrogen chilled glasses, dumping it in here and dumping it in there and I’m waiting and waiting, and it takes me forty seconds to make this drink at home.

A woman has come in off the street though, she’s wearing purple nursing scrubs, and she’s in tears.

She wedges herself past the entrance and its pink neon sign and falls against the bar. The bartender is still shaking my drink in some magic metal cup thing. He’s been shaking the stupid drink now for six months.

She says, “Excuse me.” But he doesn’t hear. She says, “EXCUSE ME!”

The bartender slams down the cup with my stupid drink and he screams, “WHAT! I’M WORKING HERE!”
“Can’t you see I’m in tears? All I want is a napkin, have some decency as a person. Don’t speak to me that way.”

The nurse leaves in even more tears and the bartender says to us, “Fuck this shit! Everyone comes in here with their problems, I didn’t cheat on her, I didn’t get her pregnant and not call—stay the fuck out of here with that shit.”

Finally he pours my drink into a goddamn glass and hands it to me.

The first reader gets up on the stage and reads some poems, but they are different from the ones I heard on the Q train. She doesn’t need to tell everyone not to be indifferent. People are packed in the place, and they are all leaning forward and they are all listening to every word, they travel here for this, they are happy to hear her talk.

The second reader, does a short story about a building that burns down every night. It’s a love story not so much about people who fall in love but of one woman figuring out the dark indifference of the universe. Out on the street there are children screaming and it goes perfect with her story. The fire burns the building down floor by floor and the children in Prospect Park on this dead end street scream and throw a basketball around at 10pm on a Sunday night.

During the drink break, I get a can of beer because it’ll be faster. The bartender has his shirt off now and he’s pointing at himself saying how great he is. “I got my shirt off! Look at this, shirtless!”

My backpack is sitting one of the chairs, open, books sticking out a little bit. And when I get up to read, I’m loud and more like a standup comedian than a guy reading a section of a novel.

I’m reading this thing from my novel F 250 about all the car crashes I’ve been in, well caused, really, when I lived in NJ in 2003.

I’m not reading off a piece of paper, I’ve got the paper in my right hand and the mic in my left and as I’m telling my story, direct to the audience. The bartender is right in front of me, making motions with his arms.

I’m being motherfucking heckled.

Haha. It’s the funniest thing ever, you can get heckled at a literary reading by a psycho bartender? Had no idea.

I call him out on it with the mic, and he hands me a free shot of whiskey in the middle of the reading, as like apology thing.

I go back to telling my story. Everyone in the bar is there to see the literary event.

And now the bartender is mocking the way I talk, because I’m from New Jersey.

When it’s all over, my car crash story, I say, “How about this guy, huh? Everybody make sure you tip your bartender well.”

Some people come up right after and seem worried that I’m gonna beat the guy up, but it’s all good.

I talk to the girls that read before me, and someone comes back with another beer for me. The girl running the event takes some polaroids of the readers, sitting there, a group hug shot dealy.

When I look up at the bar, behind the bar, though, I see the craziest thing.

A copy of my novel is hidden up in the alcohol bottles. Slid facing out in front of the whiskey.

Someone has either gone in my bag and taken it out or someone else brought it to the event … but anyways, there’s my book sticking up there by the booze.

I figure that the bartender did it.

But I don’t say anything because I give a lot of books away for free and I could care less if someone legit stole a book from me.

Matter of fact, if you want a book, just say you want a book. I’ll give you a book. For like, all time.

I have another beer outside of the bar on the sidewalk and I make a new friend. This kid from California who tells me all about this time he was driving around the cliffs and his buddy Johnny drove off a cliff and his car tumbled end over end like 12 times. And my new friend from California and a bunch of girls slid down the cliff and got to where the wreck was—in someones’s back yard actually.

The home owners called the police and the way the story ended, was Johnny getting interviewed on TV saying, “Man, I just miss my car.” And in the news footage, a crane is lifting the vehicle up over the fence and into the street, onto a wrecker.

I get back on the Q train, leaving Brooklyn, going into Manhatten. It’s midnight, still Sunday to me but really Monday morning now.

My wife and her friend are texting that they are going to go to Pyramid club, this funny 80s dance club place that’s dusty and run down and full of strange people. Meet them there they say.

I get off at Union Square.

14th Street and 5th ave.

I’m walking towards fourth ave going east because I need to get to Avenue A and 10th street, but there’s something strange going on up ahead.

The sprinklers are on, they are these little black plastic heads popping out of the grass.

A woman is hiding behind a tree, crouched down, and she is manipulating the sprinklers, by moving them with her fingers, so when people walk by, she sprays them with the water.

This isn’t a homeless person. She’s in her forties. Thick framed glasses, stylishly dressed.

She’s just nuts.

I see her soak two women walking out of a cab and through the park, but they have no idea of the prankster.

Then I see the woman’s boyfriend or husband and he’s crazy as fuck too.

He’s got a big pile of cardboard boxes wrapped in twine and he’s trying to light the boxes on fire by using the twine as like a fuse, but the twine just burns off and the boxes fall apart.

The sprinkler lady says to her man, “Just light the boxes themselves.”

And he starts to do that, and she continues to crouch and wait to soak the next person coming by. I’m just standing there watching this like I’m at at the movies and they see me watching them and it’s no big deal.

But the boxes won’t light.

And the sprinklers turn off.

I keep walking.
I find my wife at a bar in a basement. Down below the street. It feels like we’re in Bavaria.

Pyramid is closed. No new wave 80s dance night.

Culture Club is closed for good. Can I fucking believe that? We’re in this Bavaria bar instead.

I buy her friend Karen a beer and my wife a beer and a beer for myself and they ask how the event thing in Brooklyn went and I tell them the same story that I just told all of you. The nurse off the street. The heckling bartender. The stolen book in the booze bottles. The sprinkler psycho and the box burner.

They laugh because they’re drunk and I laugh too because when drunk people laugh I laugh with them.

They say, “You’ve gotta write this down!”

So here I am Monday morning, 10 am writing this down.
But something else funny happened in the Bavaria bar. There is a jukebox in the back of the bar, and there was a group of people in there with us at this table, only other customers.

Maybe seven of them.

But then the jukebox comes on, and the jukebox plays songs for like a half hour straight and all the songs are Beatles songs.

“So weird. Another Beatles song? Who plays Beatles songs?”

I say, “Remember when you were sixteen and you loved the Beatles?”

“Yeah, everyone on earth loves the Beatles when they’re sixteen.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard people play the Beatles at a bar …”

We look over at the customers, they’re kids, I look even harder now. And they all look so young. Little kids.

What the fuck.

We talk about it, we joke around amongst ourselves about it.

The song changes and it’s Why Don’t We Do It In The Road and all the kids are swaying back and forth with their beers and bopping their heads.

I stand up and walk over.

“Bud Smith, NYPD, let me see some identification.”

They all get white faced. Then green faced.

“Licenses, hand them over,” I say.

The kids are frozen, all of them.

“How old are you guys?”

No one says jack.

I say, “Don’t play the Beatles at a bar if you’re gonna drink underage. That’s a dead give away. And I’m not a cop.”

“We knew that.”

“What should we play?”

“If you’re going to act 17 play Led Zeppelin, if you’re going to act 18 play Pink Floyd, if you’re going to act 19 or 20 play Velvet Underground, if you want to pass for 21 probably play T Rex.”

“Cool, cool, thanks.”

One of them shakes my hand.

I tap him on the shoulder and say, “Here to help.”

My wife is in the bathroom when I walk back over. Her friend is smiling, she’s looking all over at the inside of the bar.

I realize why she’s happy.

New York City is a strange place, beautiful as it transitions from Sunday night, into Monday morning, and none of us going to work. No apparent reason.

Sitting On The Hood

Yesterday I was driving around looking for a parking spot, skeptical. It was a weird hour.

I drove past my apartment building, scanning the street, side to side, either side of the street would do–but there was nothing.

Other drivers, who’d given up on doing loops–looking–were parked at hydrants. One driver was even sitting outside his car, on the hood, defeated, watching the pink sky where it met the purple sky where it met the orange sky. Night is always coming.

A lot of action happens at fire hydrants.

I made a left and headed away from the river, the bridge, the sky. I’m worried I’ll die in my car like this, searching, and that’s what I’ll be remembered for. It’s what I spend the most time on. And that’s what they remember you for. And now here I am writing about it.

A taxi was double parked ahead, a fare taking a long time to get the hell out. I swerved out of the way, thinking I could squeeze in between the cab and the line of cars parked on the right, but I was wrong.

My passenger side mirror slapped into the parked car’s driver side mirror and ripped it off. My own mirror just budged the tiniest bit.

Well, shit.

At the light I made a left. I followed the loop of the blocks back around, taking one way streets back to the parked car. A trained fish swimming downstream. Driving, guilty. I don’t know, planning to leave a note or slip $20 in the car or something, if the window was open a crack, anything.

On Fort Washington I got stuck at the light, fire trucks and an ambulance coming the wrong way up 176th street. I parked. I waited.

By the time I finally got back to the guy sitting on the hood of his car, the sky was even more purple and the guy was still sitting there defeated. And in front of my building, there was a woman separating glass bottles at the trash. And the car whose mirror I’d ripped off was gone, the spot vacant.

I took the spot. Got out, fixed my mirror. Went in my building.

That’s where I’m still parked, right now. Can see it out my window.

Can also see a woman with a measuring tape and a camera at the hydrant. She’s gotten a ticket and is measuring the space between the hydrant, the broken sidewalk and her SUV. I yell down, “Fifteen feet you need!”

“I got fourteen foot eleven inches,” she says.

Fire hydrants.

The Wreck I was In

A month ago, I was in a pretty severe car crash right in front of a toll plaza. The crash eerily echoed the opening pages of my last novel Tollbooth. (You can read the first chapter here)

Here’s what happened in my real life wreck on the highway: I left work early in order to make it to a midday doctor’s appointment in NYC. I was headed highway north from New Jersey on I-95, approaching the toll plaza at Seacaucus. On the top of the toll booths there is a large sign that says: GEORGE WASHINGTON BRISGE KEEP LEFT, LINCOLN TUNNEL KEEP RIGHT.

After the tollbooth, the turnpike continues north with more exits into New Jersey, but an elderly woman in a silver car, who was lost and going the wrong direction saw the signs above the toll plaza and figured she’d be pushed into New York City with no hope of escape.

At 35 mph+, she decided her only option was to do a U-turn in front of the toll plaza. There were cones on the far left side dividing the north and south lanes coming and going from the toll plaza.

I was in the third lane over. A tractor trailer on my right side slammed on the brake and horn, began to fish tail. The woman in the silver car narrowly escaped being struck by the tractor trailer. When she was in my lane, she was completely perpendicular to me, crossing my lane like the turn pike was an intersection. I hit the brakes and veered to the right and collided unavoidably into the rear of her car. We spun out. Plastic exploding. Metal twisting.

She rolled into the cones and came to a stop. I was stuck in the middle of the turnpike cars whizzing by. The trucker was too. “WHAT THE FUCK WAS SHE THINKING?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“I’ve got to wait for my air brakes to recharge. I’m stuck here.”
“Well so am I,” I said. My car was fucked. Front end crushed in. Car blood everywhere. Leaking. Sputtering. Smoking.
I called the cops. The truck driver wouldn’t stay. I tried to get him to, to be a witness for the cops but he wouldn’t. He write his name on a card. CZAR it said and I couldn’t make out the last name. Or the phone number. The tractor trailer sailed off trough the toll plaza. My witness, gone.
I walked to my car, tried to drive it but it wouldn’t move. But I had to move soon. Another car almost careened into me zipping towards the toll booth. I got out of the car and grabbed onto my fender that was crushed flat onto my driver’s side tire. I bent it up. Thank god it was aluminum. My hand tore up, blood on the steering wheel as I drove.
I parked by the cones too. And began my long walk to the silver car.

The elderly woman was getting out.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m so sorry!” she said.
“Fuck it, it’s only a car. But you’re alright? You’re not hurt?”
“No. I’m okay.”
“Air bags go off?”
“Just a little.”
“Cops are on the way, you need an ambulance or anything.”
“No no. I’m okay. I’m so sorry! I needed to go south not north. I don’t know why I did that!”
We exchanged information. She said she had a daughter about my age. The woman was shaking. I asked her if she’d like to sit in my car and listen to the radio till the cops came.
“Sure.”
There was nothing good on. But we listened anyway.
When the cops came, the woman told them it was her fault 100%. Explained the panicked u-turn. The cop took her license and cut it in half. I said, “did you really have to do that? She apologized to me. Jesus.”
He bitched at me because my car was overdue for inspection. Then he told me he was going to call a tow truck for me.
“That’s four hundred dollars,” I said.
“Yup. Four hundred.”
“I’m driving off the highway.”
“No you’re not.”
“Put your lights on and drive behind me, so nobody gets banged up.”
I got in my car. To his dismay. And crossed four lanes of traffic. My car hissing and screaming and shaking.
Immediately off the turnpike, I parked in a hard ware store parking lot and called my insurance company. They had a body shop just a mile down the road.

The car is fixed now. I’ve got it back. Been driving it around for a few weeks. I’m fine. Sometimes when I drive through that toll booth though, I get a little worried.