A Text Message Interview

with BUD SMITH & RAE BULERI, creators of

 

This interview was conducted one Sunday morning via a text message group chat. Mik texting from New Orleans, Joey from Queens, and Bud & Rae from Jersey City. The conversation is transcribed here with minimal edits.

MIK GRANTHAM: Good morning! Y’all ready to roll?

BUD SMITH: Rolling. Check check mic check. 1, 2, check check 1, 2

JOEY GRANTHAM: Check check, yup.

RAE BULERI: Is this thing on?? Listening to Space Disco. Ready ready!!

BUD: *taps mic* check check, 1, 2 *taps mic* *makes mouth noises into mic* *gives sound guy thumbs up* Yeah Rae is blasting this song by Lindstorm and it really is space disco up in here. Bacon in oven 400 degrees, too.

MIK: We thought we would kick it off by having you guys send a picture of where you’re sitting right now.

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BUD: The B on the coffee mug is for Buleri. Unless I’m drinking it, then it’s for Bud.

RAE: Sunny apartment. Spells of bacon breakfast.

BUD: Bacon spells, for bacon witchcraft.

JOEY: Ah, the scene is set! I see you have a big book on welding. That must be Rae’s.

MIK: Haha, only when she is reading it, it’s hers.

BUD: My dad gave that to me when I was 13, he was like “Ugh, you’re a man now, time to weld some stuff.”

RAE: Great manly fire drawings.

BUD: Modern Welding, written in 1984, same year as my favorite non-fiction book called, 1984. Here are some blast furnaces. 

 

JOEY: The first time we ever met in real life, you and Rae took me day drinking with you guys. We were at that BBQ place. What the hell is it about day drinking that’s so...majestic (for lack of a better word)? Is it just the alcohol? Is it the alcohol mixed with sunshine? Is it because it doesn’t seem right, like breakfast for dinner?

BUD: It’s probably a mix of luxury, privilege and contributing nothing to society. Being a slacker has its benefits to the soul.

RAE: That day was so fun!! Did we eat BBQ too? Oh yeah and got a bucket of beers. 

JOEY: I think we got some snacks. But I forget what they were. I do remember that you guys covered my tab, which was nice of you.

BUD: We were with Kris Hartrum from Talking Book and Keegan Grandbois, the filmmaker.

From Left: Joey, Kris Hartrum, Keegan Grandbois

From Left: Joey, Kris Hartrum, Keegan Grandbois

JOEY: Holy shit, I forgot about taking that picture. And Mr. Michael Bible showed up, too. I was a lot stronger then.

BUD: Keegan is amazing. 

MIK: I remember you telling me about that, Joey. You guys all look very tough.

JOEY: Thanks Mik, even though you’re my sister, it means a lot hearing that from you. 

BUD: Well, you should have seen Rae, she had a shotgun and spurs on. That was also the day that Rae bought a hundred pound box of wooden stamps and it was 90 degrees and we had to lug them through Brooklyn on some sweaty drunken quest.

RAE: I bought a giant, heavy ass box of these stamps for art making and the guys had to take turns carrying them for me.

A woman playing a harp, on a stamp.

A woman playing a harp, on a stamp.

BUD: Is that a woman playing a harp?

RAE: Yes indeed she is.

JOEY: I sometimes think of Dust Bunny City as a drunken guidebook to NYC, a guidebook that isn’t actually concerned with guiding you, but rather, letting you look at the city through a specific set of eyes. The eyes of Bud Smith and Rae Buleri.

BUD: It’s such a beautiful thing to temporarily rearrange your life to allow extra time to get lost in the middle of a sunny afternoon. Dust Bunny City is definitely a guidebook for getting lost.

RAE: Adventuring in NYC with Bud is the greatest!! We love seeing couples fight after a drunk brunch. Happens a lot on the streets. 

MIK: Rae, are you from NYC originally?

RAE: I’m from the Jersey Shore, too. Same as Bud. But we never knew each other till 2005. Magical year. As a kid, Dad would take us into the Big Apple and it was my life goal to get outta the small town and get there. 

JOEY: Dust Bunny City is a pretty hopeful book, full of love and drunken hilarity, and I think Rae, your drawings amplify that, too. But now, I can’t help but think of these apocalyptic times when I read lines like, “Everything we worried about yesterday has these bigger American teeth now, these eyes with pupils like whirlpools.” I hate to bring Donald Fuckface into this, but I can’t help but think about him when I read a sentence like that. It beautifully captures a kind of collective anxiety I think a lot of us are feeling right now. 

BUD: A lot of times when I was writing Dust Bunny City I was writing about people who constantly get stomped on. They are always the little people. Poor people. People displaced. People who are used up and spit out. Yes, a guy like [Trump] has no use for art, for beauty, for hope, for love. He has no empathy, has no soul. 

JOEY: That being said, I think part of what makes Dust Bunny City such a refreshing read is that it seems much more interested in the many microscopic moments of beauty and poignancy that occur in the lives of these two people in this specific place. 

BUD: Well, all we have is microcosm. Our lives are little tiny cages. Sometimes they are happy cages. Sometimes they are miserable cages. However, luckily, we can reach out of our cage and if we stretch out our fingers we can hold somebody else’s hand in their cage. So, in that way, the simple life becomes the complex, the important shared life. Nobody wants to be alone. Don’t let them be either. 

RAE: [I] love Bud’s words. How he writes funny tales, but all the details, he sees the beauty in people.

JOEY: Could you tell me again about how you guys met? Let’s hear it from both sides.

BUD: I was hanging out with a girl at a bar in New Jersey and it wasn’t a date. We were just hanging. Five minutes into the conversation, the girl was like, “You need to meet my friend Rae.” So I wrote Rae a message and we went to the movies and to T.G.I. Friday’s for a drink. That was the first date. The second date we got drunk and went night swimming. Our two favorite things, I think. 

A drawing by Rae Buleri from Dust Bunny City

A drawing by Rae Buleri from Dust Bunny City

RAE: Our friend tried to set us up on a blind date. But I don’t think either of us were into it. Then by funny chance Bud wrote to me on Myspace and said, “You look like you would be into zombie movies.” I wrote back right away. Then we went on a movie date. We both didn’t really like it. But sat through it anyway. 

MIK: What movie did you go see? 

BUD: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It was before anyone could have guessed a Tim Burton movie could SUCK. 

RAE: Yeah, I was too shy to yell out, “This sucks let’s leave and go make out.”

MIK: Oh no, that movie was horrible. But there is something romantic about collectively hating a movie. 

RAE: I got to the movie theater early and sat outside on a big staircase waiting for him. Then he walked up and I was in LOVE.

BUD: At first we actually walked into the wrong showing and it was halfway through the movie and we were like, “What the fuck is Johnny Depp doing in this jungle?” But then we found the right theater and it still sucked, but at least it was sucking from the beginning. 

RAE: T.G.I. Friday’s was the only cool place to hang out in a little town. All the servers had to wear...what do you call it? Bling?

BUD: There was either Friday’s or the The Office Lounge which was a really funny bar because people could call home and be like, “Sorry honey, won’t be there for dinner, I have to stay late at The Office.” *winks*

RAE: Here’s the shirt I wore on the first date.

Rae's signature shirt from RISD

Rae's signature shirt from RISD

BUD: Ha, I remember that!

RAE: It was my signature shirt from RISD. I wore it so much. Friend gave it away to me in a clothing swap.

JOEY: That’s a badass shirt.

MIK: Rae, I really love the drawings that you made for Dust Bunny City. Did you make these as a response to Bud’s writing? Or was it a more fluid, back and forth between you guys?

RAE: Half of the book is told in words and half is in drawings. I actually didn’t read the book at first and just drew and drew. And we noticed how some of them crossed over. 

BUD: Yeah, the writing didn’t influence the art, but when it was time to edit the book, I will say the drawing influenced the writing and let me complete my piece of the story. 

JOEY: One of my favorite lines in Dust Bunny City is: “A simple walk through Dust Bunny City is sometimes enough to kill the ones you love.” I think that’s a perfect way to describe a walk through this city, but also just any walk, through anywhere. Human beings are fragile. Any near death experiences lately? 

BUD: I was in a lot of car crashes over the last couple years and almost died in a hopper at work where I was welding and carbon dioxide filled the hopper through a vent because someone parked a compressor right next to the air conditioning unit that was pushing cool air into the hopper. Was getting really sleepy and fell over in the hopper and climbed out and the monitor was going off like crazy.

RAE: I almost get run over everyday on my 2 mile walk in the city.

JOEY: Please don’t die. I know you said it would help our sales, but please, both of you, don’t die.

BUD: We’re doing our best not to die until at least a couple more books come out, haha.

RAE: I hope we don’t too. Space Disco is such an awesome mix tape we are listening to as we text. So happy right now. Just saying.

BUD: https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify_norway_/playlist/1HoeKfx15vYJRGivYvIoer

RAE: I remember making Bud a mixtape back in 2005. I wonder if I still have it in my hoardings.

MIK: If y’all had to pick an album for Dust Bunny City what would it be? What should we listen to while we read the book?

BUD: Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings and Food. And Black Moth Super Rainbow, Cobra Juicy.

RAE: We play the record over and over and over. Taking turns to get up and flip flip flip. 

JOEY: Ah man, that Talking Heads album rocks. “The Big Country”

BUD: Yeah, David Byrne was always writing about the mundane. The mundane is where the action really happens.

RAE: We never get tired of it. I also listen to it on repeat on my walks to work. 

MIK: What do you think, Rae? Any others?

RAE: I love the Chromatics. Kill For Love. Helps me trance out and get into the drawing world. I zone out and time just whips by.

JOEY: What’s a good book to read after someone reads Dust Bunny City? What would make a good double feature?

RAE: I like Bud’s poem book Everything Neon.

BUD: I’m gonna say The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Also, Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith. I saw her poem “The Good Life” on the subway and that was the thing that kickstarted this whole project into life.

JOEY: Hell yeah. Is your bacon ready?

You can pre-order Dust Bunny City here

Portraits by Kagan Marks

Portraits by Kagan Marks

BUD SMITH works heavy construction. His books are F250, and Calm Face, among others. www.budsmithwrites.com

RAE BULERI is a textile artist, illustrator, and painter who likes to walk and talk on the phone. instagram: @raewatch

 
 

An Interview with ADAM SOLDOFSKY, author of Memory Foam

Portrait by Kagan Marks

Portrait by Kagan Marks

DISORDER PRESS: Let's start with a question that you thrust upon us when you sent us the manuscript for Memory Foam. It's something that's been rolling around in my head since I read the chapbook, and it's a pretty difficult question. "How soon can you start building a tolerance for certain death"?

ADAM SOLDOFSKY: Ah well I don't know the answer to that question. I'm sure somebody does, likely many many people, but with the discount that they are talking about their own deaths. Their answer is X + Take It or Leave It. As a conceptual, nonspecific question the answer is somewhere between Right away! & Never!! As a personal question, my answer is currently Both (Right Away / Never)? & Can You Repeat The Question As I Disappear?

DISORDER: The title of the chapbook, Memory Foam, is captivating, especially after having read the poems. What's the genesis of this title?

AS: I really enjoy the zany language of the American commercial product. I feel like that is where some of the best poetic invention has always taken place. I mean it's just so imaginative, absurd & Utopian. Because the thing being sold is the solution to all your problems, which is completely unprecedented. Therefore, the naming, the language used for describing must be new and unheard of. I like the idea of my books sounding like these impossible products. And somehow, even as perversion, delivering on some of their promises.

DISORDER: You live in Los Angeles now, but for a while you were a New York poet. Can you talk a little bit about the difference between living and writing in New York and living and writing in Los Angeles?

AS: There's a clear difference in the living, but I don't know that there's a difference in the writing. If I wanted to be clever I would say the two cities offer each their own version of suffocation, but I don't really feel that way. I feel like at the end of the day, "my city" and "my writing" should influence each other deeply and in the most secretive way.

DISORDER: A word that keeps coming to mind when reading the poetry of Memory Foam is "wise." These poems feel wise. The words and lines feel lived in; full of truths not easily obtained. How did you come to writing these poems? The chapbook reads so smoothly, from poem to poem. I think this may have something to do with the size of each poem and the fact that the poems do not have individual titles. Can you talk about your decision-making in composing this set of poems?

AS: These days I start with a formal concept of how the poem will look and once I have that I have to write this way a while and whatever comes of it I half attribute to the form and half whatever is happening outside it. Sometimes I feel wise. Then immediately afterwards I feel like a heel for feeling wise. I think the feeling of wisdom is linked to the involvement with abstraction, which is what I like to be involved with. But never without self recrimination. Rather than wise, I would sell my poetics as "Fun with Abstraction &
Self-Loathing."

 

Adam Soldofsky's work has appeared in various journals including PaperbagBodegaGigantic SequinsPrelude and on the Tin House Blog. His series of screenshot poems, The Blind Swordsman Poems, can be found at: http://theblindswordsmanpoems.tumblr.com.

He lives in Los Angeles, CA.