Jim Trainer

“Our grievances matter more than our vulnerabilities.”

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2018 at 8:04 am

We’re trapped in the belly of this horrible machine,
and the machine is bleeding to death…

Jim Trainer?!  In West Philly?  With tools in his hand?  Isn’t there a poetry reading around here somewhere?!
—Sal Cerceo

Philly’s as jovial and roughshod as I remember but I was getting shook down by the PPA so I pulled stakes and drove down to the slower-lower in a forest green 2000 Toyota Tundra.  I haven’t had a home in 2&1/2 months but I’ve had a roof and walls and even home cooked meals. From Collingswood to Cantrell Street, 18th&Arch to Joy Court and from Mid City to the upper 9th Ward I leapt and the net appeared. I ate catfish on Dumaine and ravioli in Middletown. I drank coffee everywhere from Olde City to Antwerp and I laid my head in Mitte and the Hotel du Congres. I rode the Metro through Sofia into Centraal and from Snyder Ave to the Berlin Wall. I’m unmoored, dislocate, in need of a shave and socks. I need a door to close and a bathtub as deep as a quarry. Travel’s queered me, I speak in invective and bumbling, punch drunk words. I’ve lost the narrative, been everywhere but am nowhere and I’m holing up here, with family—the only people I know as neurotic as me. We’ll get along, talking shit and drinking coffee and doubling over with bitter laughter as the summer shimmers past.

I have nothing and everything to say. The America doesn’t hold up well against how they do overseas. We’re trapped and inured by our comfort and politic. Or we paid in a little but they’re taking a lot. Or our kids are off to college or we’re still paying for our own. Or we just had chemo and need to change our diet but still play music for 3 hours in South Philly on a Saturday night. Here’s some stark observations about the America, other than the fact they have us living to die—garbage music is being played, loud and everywhere from Ruby Tuesday to TonyJo’s, no matter you’re the only one in the place and haven’t listened to pop for your whole fucking life. There isn’t a clean public bathroom anywhere but why should anyone be expected to maintain their sanitary upkeep when a living wage is neither and the cost of college can take most of your lifetime to pay?

Did you know that in Amsterdam they take over half your paycheck in taxes but everything is clean and in the summer people jump into canals smiling because they’re on a paid 10-week vacation from working 32 hours a week? Can you imagine a government that provides for its people and works on their behalf? Beyond these shores it’s not a crime to be poor and elsewhere in the world successful capitalists don’t need a loser’s teeth to put their boot on. I’m overwhelemed writing it. I drank too much coffee again. I’m roadworn and weary and this country is too hard on people. I wouldn’t argue culture, wouldn’t talk down Rock&Roll and a free press if I could. But why does working for a living in the America only mash us to pulp on the way to progress? There’s too much for me to sort out from too many locales trying.  In the meantime I won’t complain the luck and could never overstate my gratitude. Y’all kept me alive. The road was hard and good and I love you.  Now it’s time to come home.

See you in Bro Country, motherfucker.





In Uncategorized on August 9, 2018 at 2:14 pm

We have plenty of water to fight these fires.
-Deputy Cal Fire Chief Scott McLean

But journalism, as this president, who became a media celebrity because of the New York tabloids should know, can be a contact sport.
Scott Simon

Nixon might have survived if he had Fox News and the conservative media that exists today.
John Dean

You’ll come to unseen doors.  Knock if you have to; let yourself in if you can.
Julian Root

It doesn’t take much to get the world on your neck. Enemies abound, bad news is everywhere.  I recomend you rattle your chains. Take to the territory. Break out long enough that when your bad blues finds you it won’t clinch ‘cause you’ll be slick with sweat. I’ve done over 8,000 miles this summer. I didn’t watch the news but I’m no better. In Brussels, I told front desk at checkout, Trump’s a fuckin’ asshole, and bought him a Nescafe. We clinked mugs while out the window my partner motioned to rush me out to the cab like a jerkoff. Life’s hard but death’s worse. You got to get your shots in and I plan to take mine. When people ask what my inspiration is I tell them I’m making up for lost time. If I don’t publish a book a year from now until 2025 you can bet I’ve checked out and am self-publishing in Heaven or a much hotter print shop. I have more worlds to conquer than I know how to tell. I can’t articulate it sometimes ‘cause it makes me jiggy but it’s got to do with self-publishing, world travel and freelancing in the wind with an iPad, a 2-track and a blonde photographer. What all this has to do with the news, and life & death, is this blog.  I come home from trekking 3 countries in twenty days but my eyes glaze over at the screen, or I have to take it outdoors and get horizontal on the grass in Rittenhouse Square. Blood sugar and excericse and caffeine’s glass ceiling are the order of the day, and these 600 words are what writer Julain Root calls the spiritual whetstone. You bet.

Not only that but I’m walking the streets of my heart, here. There’s a grit and grain to Hostile City you won’t find anywhere—except maybe New York in the 80s or Sofia in July. You move or get out the way in Philly and I’m happy to do either. Now when I take the Orange Line though, I’m bigger ‘cause I’ve swallowed the European night and I’ve the stars splayed above the Canal across my shoulders and a sack full of Varzulitsan pears and chalky Belgian avenue cement on the soles my shoes. Which is all a poetic way to say that Philly has my heart but my heart has tripled in size. I’ve made the trip and from the mountain I am coming down. I suffer a restless boredom and malaise but I’ve got more to write on the dais than I’ve ever had before. Travel pieces, to Amsterdam and Berlin; and a feature, about a native striking out into the Other Hemisphere with an aspiring ex-Pat tee-totaling travel writer, and winding through foothills of the Balkans stepping on to train platforms in strange cities I might not ever see again, looms.  My July was hot, black and with white sugar.  Now I’m holed up, posted in the old Bell Telephone Building, back in the America, in Hostile City remembering that only blocks from here I was a 20-something know-nothing with bigger dreams than I knew with what to do.  The crowd I ran with then have all peeled off and it’s just as well. I’m reptillian now and solo, mostly.

I hope this Philly dusk’ll find me well. That I’ll have made some progress and these articles will be closer, or submitted, and I’ll find for work that doesn’t break me like it did in the Spring before all of this ever went down. The hometown ain’t bad for being stranded in. Stranded’s probably the best way to describe my youth here anyway but I’ve seen some harbors and long lines concluding on the GMT+3 horizon. I know what I’ve come for just like always and the bullshit and bad news of the dark new century can just roll right offa me as long’s I take the time to process it, like this, neat and fine. Thank you for joining me. You’re a compatriot and I won’t forget you reading me.  Thank you for being an enemy too and for doing the same.  The art of war is neither, the only losers are underground though up here we’ll be missing them for the rest of our days.

See you in Philly, motherfucker.



In Uncategorized on August 2, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Is there anything like the high air, out there in the beyond when you’re in motion, unhinged and unbound by local trapping or custom, neither here nor there and free? Decaying tenements glimmer in the right dusk and whole streets disappear in the darkness. Towns open on you from out of the foothills and cities bare their electric teeth. There is a price to this very real fantasy but if you can look at exhaustion like an experience or uninvited friend then you’ll brave it and peel back your armor for the strange existence—buckling in the tube under unnatural light and swallowing synthetic airport nutrients with Nescafe, hot and black with white sugar. Even Hostile City’s strange after traveling 3,734 miles through Reykjavik and Newark, NJ. 2nd&Market on a rainy July night in Philly could be Tokyo—even if you speak the language but have been a long time gone.

Travel is best done alone, or, with someone who moves in the wind like you do, so quick your shadows can’t follow, no time to discuss feelings or yesterday’s lunch. You should have full trust that your partner will hold fast in the blast or let go—but either way be at the gate, with your next move anticipated and hers with a hand on her black leather camera case. Travel is all about that blast and roar. It is completely and utterly a feeling of freefall. A feeling you can’t get on the dumb streets of your hometown or even the hotel bar on holiday. It’s the perverse realization of your own smallness that the world is vast and towering over with its jagged culture and pungent language, its food and radio, taxicabs and gutters and statues—busty and shameless, pagan rooves and entryways, birds beautiful and murderous and a pathos of people living and dying, crying out and dying, into the fray, living in a Brussels’ storefront or sliding around the Sofia airport in sneakers that glow.

2 days in Berlin will turn any traveler, from its all-night anarchist cafes to a city blocks-wide memorial where they tore the wall down.  All it is is a moment, being unsure of floor and wall is the insanity needed to unmoor you of your truth of circumstance, rid you of strangling habituation and catch the Byzantine light, and, in a moment feel the harrowing scope of time and history, dwarfing petulant made-for-TV American dysfunction.  You go far enough east and you’re back where you started but if you haven’t changed you ain’t really left have you?  I was as close to Africa as I’ve ever been and could’ve drove until I hit the Black Sea, or took an $86 flight to Warsaw and train to Belfast.  Without phone service or internet I fell away off the grid and sunk into loud market mornings and strange nights phantomed by the glow of windows in century-old fall downs poking up into a mountainous sky.  Through yellowed and opaque windows I’ve seen Vitosha squatting like a god with the lions of the Tomb of the Unknown in the European Capital as the Amstel Canal flowed cooly by.  On the Metro foreign, out of place, jarred and geeked on Espressos and mineral water.  There was no news coming out of the West for 21 days and I was mostly surrounded by people struggling to get by or on picnic leisurely dipping their feet in clean canal water.

It’s unmistakable you can feel the New Century clamping down everywhere but somewhere else they’re smiling, and everything is clean, everything works and the government takes over half your paycheck for it..somewhere there are wild dogs in a train station and for half a leva the lady will sell you 2 sheets of toilet paper, somewhere brown leather-skinned men in bushwhackers gather, at the store for beer in plastic 2 liters smoking Bulgarian GPCs. Disparity is everywhere and so is joy and suffering, love and pain…some people have more than you ever will and others would die for just a fraction of it—a working toilet and toilet paper, s p a c e  and air-conditioning, trains and planes that leave on time instead of 4 hours later, somewhere in Berlin is every good time you could ever have without one batting eye about it, but Sofia at night’s like a darker Lower East Side where they let you pass with your camera, thinking you crazy or worse. Hold on to your middle class, your healthcare or your 7 in a breezeway. We’re worse than inured here, on this side of American hegemony, by our comfort and politic we’re trapped.  Those who prosper, will, and those who feed hate will eat hate, but, there is a rising dragon and it’s coming from the East, my guess is those of us at the street level will welcome it or fold back into stasis and get with the pogrom clutching babies and cell phones.  Whatever it is of this dark, fascist wind or progressive socialism of the oldest, best and cleanest republics—this country, with its lack of healthcare or gun control, or net to keep you from total destitution once you’ve stopped toeing the corporate jingoist line, is over.  Welcome to the Chinese Century.