Jim Trainer

Hero’s Journey

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Yesterday, Mickey the cab driver took me all the way down Lancaster from City Line Ave where I was born to the furthest reaches of Southwest Philly. We passed Cobbs Creek in the steel-dark dawn and took Island Ave the rest of the way to the airport. I looked up from my phone in time to see the wretched Yeadon trolley concourse, looking exactly the same as the menacing crossroads of it in my memory.

I thought about Buddy Lego, the murdered boy Pete Dexter wrote about in a column that got his teeth clipped to the quick with a pool cue in a Grays Ferry bar. Philly doesn’t talk big or act smart. There’s no advertising of its inherent brutality and no pandering to Hollywood tropes of danger or romance. Hollywood would be running pantless and bleeding into the wasted dawn after one night in Cobbs Creek Park or any week in Upper Darby.

But as we neared the airport and left the city behind, I thought about Lamont Steptoe, waving his human flag of love&righteousness, from Pittsburgh to West Philly and on down the miles of good red road that Afro-Native American travels to and speaks from.
And Maleka Fruean, a Samoan girl from New Jersey following her little brother into West Philly, bringing her fire with her and her mouth, and finding for fuel in neighbors like Ursula Rucker and roommates like me.
And Josh Britton-putting out album after album, year after year and just fucking insisting on his presence in an otherwise bleak and post ironic cultural landscape called the Philadelphia Music Scene.

Me&Mickey made it through. It was still dark in Hostile City when we pulled up to the entrance at American Airlines.
There is a strangeness to Philly somewhere between the senseless and the macabre that has enthralled me ever since I dropped acid as a 20-something, Ayn Rand reading hardcore kid&college dropout, by the fountain at the Art Museum.West Philly will always captivate my dreaming heart like some New Orleans of the north even though I will always have to move on.
It’s not ironic that I pushed against those streets for so long, looking for a friend, against a fear of death and a great isolation.
When I come back I have lots of friends. In fact the Imperfect Gallery last Saturday night was filled only with those I love, those I have touched, and those who believe in me. It’s really…odd, to tell you the truth, to come home and take my crown there, and not down here in Paradise, where the living’s easy and a man can win.

As the wheels went up and the flaps came down I thought of my sisters- fighting endless impossible battles against the absurd horrors of death and insanity to put forth some beauty in the world-with or without dignity and by hook or by crook.

I ain’t singing the praises of my hometown. Just the people in it. My people. My blood. I was only passing through. Don’t ever stop fighting.


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