Currents, an Interview Series with Brian Alan Ellis (Episode 21: Bud Smith)

Bud Smith

BUD SMITH works heavy construction and lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. He is the author of Teenager (Vintage, 2022), Double Bird (Maudlin House, 2018), and Dust Bunny City (Disorder Press, 2017), among other books. His fiction has been published in The Paris Review, Joyland, and The Nervous Breakdown. He is also a creative writing teacher and editor.

My current favorite book is: Fair Play by Tove Jansson. It’s a slim novel, told in vignettes. Two women live on a remote island in Finland and fight and laugh and make art and get lost in the fog. They watch Fassbinder movies and then go to the American southwest on vacation. Jansson is so funny and often cruel. I just eat it up.

My current favorite film is: the Koker trilogy by Abbas Kiarostami—a wonderful trio of films: Where is the Friends’ House; And Life Goes On; Through the Olive Trees. The films are out of Iran and subtitled. But something magical is happening in each one. Watch them. Talk to me about them.

My current favorite television show is: Columbo. Last night was the one where a former Nazi SS soldier is hiding out/working as a magician in Los Angeles in the 1970s. He’s killed his boss to keep up the secret identity and Peter Falk has to figure out how the magic tricks work in order to solve the case. He’s by far my favorite actor. The show is modeled after Crime and Punishment, something I didn’t know until I read that book this summer. You see the murder and you see who did it and you can kind of understand (sometimes even sympathize with the murder) and so the show is just about Columbo figuring out who did it. We get to see the moment he realizes who the killer is and then we get to see him fuck with them, bumble around, and drive them crazy. It’s perfect. Or the first seven seasons are. When it jumps from 1977 to 1989, I don’t like it as much.

My current favorite album is: Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night. I’ve had the song “Speaking Out” stuck in my head a lot lately. “Mellow My Mind,” “Roll Another Number,” and “Albuquerque” too. “Lookout Joe.” Basically the whole album. But I wish that there was a different song to end that album instead of doing “Tonight’s the Night” again, because I like to listen to the record and it’s stupid to have side B end and then get up and flip it to side A and there’s “Tonight’s the Night” again on the top of side A. I even bought the CD for my car recently because it’s cold here and I can’t get my phone to connect to the AV plug until the car warms up for some reason. It takes twenty five minutes for the AV plug to work and then I’m already at work. In the summertime that plug works immediately because of the heat. I’m no scientist. Maybe you don’t like Neil Young or you think you don’t, but you might like this one album. Give it a shot. But you’d have to listen to it like four or five times before it sinks in. Okay. Yeah. But most of the time I drive around town listening to Exile on Main Street or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot but I don’t know if the Rolling Stones or Wilco have any other albums that I would even consider putting in the six disc changer of my car.

My current state of mind is: loopy on DayQuil and espresso and tired from welding all day.

My current chemical romance involves: too much whiskey.

My current favorite quote is: …there were these work trucks in the plant the other day, a cement company, proud Italian Americans. On the front of the truck, they’d painted Veni, Vidi, Vici. My coworker asked me what that meant and I told him it meant “Live, Laugh, Love.” I came I saw I live laugh loved. That’s what’s up.

My current mode of transportation is: …my car is a 2007 that’s been in a few accidents and has 200,000 miles. I park it on the street and drive up and down the New Jersey turnpike, forty miles round trip a day. The car is going to explode soon. I need to do some work on it. But I park on the street. Don’t have a driveway. My coat closet is my garage. There’s coats where the wrenches and the sockets should be. There’s no place for me to fix this future disaster unless I go to some random parking lot and just commit to spending the day in some big parts swap. The radiator is rusting out in a bad spot and I think it’s going to give soon. I have to yank the engine out and change the water pump and the timing belt. People are going to come out of Buffalo Wild Wings and wonder what the hell I’m doing. 

My current goal for retirement is: to one day have a driveway and a garage that’s not a coat closet.

My current favorite grocery store is: the gas station over by the cemetery.

My current workout routine consists of: just getting out of my chair. Working my day job is often enough. But when I start to feel like shit mentally, I lift weights while I watch pretentious art films. I hurt my back really bad years ago, trying to do three hundred plus pound squats while watching My Dinner with Andre. I could barely walk for a week after that. It was terrible. All I could do was sit down. So I did more of that. I got more into writing. Anyway, I’m feeling better. I’ve been doing this (you can too) (all sets of five): Workout A—squat, row, bench, lunge; Workout B—deadlift, military press, pull ups. Use a forty-five pound Olympic bar, or dumbbells, or—who cares?—soup cans. Take a day off between A and B. Add five pounds (or a bigger can of soup) to each exercise every time you come back to it. Look up YouTube videos to see how to do the exercises right. In addition, I also just set a timer and swing a fifty-five pound kettlebell (in thirty-second intervals) for twenty minutes or more on off days from the weight lifting, or I go over to the park and try to run two miles faster than I did the week before. I’ve been listening to Neil Young though, so I don’t really go very fast. Which sucks. My friend at work, the ex-marine, says I should listen to cadences (that’s what he does). He says it gets him rock hard when he runs. I don’t think that would help my time in the mile either though. Results may vary. Consult a doctor. Then consult another doctor. Then consult another doctor. Then consult another doctor. Then consult another doctor.

My current regrettable decision involves: getting drunk on Christmas when I had a $50 gift certificate and blacking out and ordering a Moog synth as a joke and then waking up the next afternoon and seeing the email and seeing it was too late to cancel the order. Hahah. So now I’ve got to learn how to play and program/sequence a Moog synth. Guess I better get a cape and a smoke machine soon too.

My current hopes and dreams are: that everybody comes and sees and live laugh loves.

My current hobbies/projects include: sitting in this chair. If I get out of this chair, I’ll have to do some work. If I sit here and sit here and sit here and sit here, long as I am sitting in this chair, I can just keep on having fun and I don’t have to call it work. That’s my favorite part.


Bud Smith is online at

Brian Alan Ellis runs House of Vlad Press, and is the author of several books, including Sad Laughter (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2018). His writing has appeared at Juked, Hobart, Fanzine, Monkeybicycle, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Funhouse, Heavy Feather Review, and Yes Poetry, among other places. He lives in Florida.


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