Jim Trainer

Archive for March, 2013|Monthly archive page

How To Survive As A Moody Journalist

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm

A complete news cycle consists of the media reporting on some event, followed by the media reporting on public and other reactions to the earlier reports. The advent of 24-hour cable and satellite television news channels and, in more recent times, of news sources on the World Wide Web (including blogs), considerably shortened this process.

10 days is a fucking lifetime in journalistic terms.  Then again, with the amount of information coming downwire to the office every  hour, maybe Sgt. Steve is right.  The news is only entertainment.  I’m glad to hear you using your voice and putting it out there on Facebook and etc. but, at times, I find myself mired in apathy.  Sometimes it’s the bad blues that keeps me from posting on here, mostly it’s from a relentless performing&publicity schedule, but the result is the same.  I must isolate myself from the world and live on Feline Time for a while.


I get it.  These are the times we are living in.  But the punditry and the memes, the patronizing commentary and the chatter on liberal radio-it all amounts to a Great Noise that I must seek refuge from.  Perhaps some momentary respite from it all in thinking that I’m just a rock&roller, after all.  A court-jesting troubadour that plays three gigs a week during his off-time as a published poet and live-in Caregiver.
Perhaps my abstinence from reacting or getting involved in the back-and-forth of the zeitgeist helps me sift through it all and sink into the heart of wisdom.  Then again, maybe not.

For whatever its worth, I’ll always be aloof, a loner and a hermit.  Like The Business, I’ll always be on the wrong side of whatever side there is.  I’m not belittling your cause.  I’m glad you’ve found your voice.  I’m glad that you’re using it.  I will, however, abstain from chiming in on the Great Voice.  I will go out of orbit and lay in bed for a day and a half (or 10) without a peep.  This much madness is too much sorrow.  I’ve shouted up the mountain too long.  I don’t see any progress and I don’t believe in ideas and suddenly I have awakened in Paradise.  All of my dreams have come true and these days the worst kind of trouble is no trouble at all.
What it cuts down to, Brother, is this:  I think your proselytizing and Facebooking and picketing and sloganeering is fucking selfish (and seemingly by rote, as I look down row upon row and page upon page of photos and updates).  I guess the alternative is worse.  Everybody could be silent.  But, would that be so bad?  Must we always react to the buzz and trends that media is constantly conjuring and throwing at us?  Won’t some real-deal Bodhisattva rise and transcend the desire to be a free&loud American, march up the steps on the Hill and make some real change that could alleviate nay stop another’s suffering somewhere in the world?

What do I know? 
-Brother Dave Grohl

Anyway, I’m back from the dead.  Viva la whatever.
Brother James

…if I come into a room out of the sharp misty light
and hear them talking a dead language
if they ask me my identity
what can I say but
I am the androgyne
I am the living mind you fail to describe
in your dead language…
The Stranger by Adrienne Rich


Writing Another Book, The Sophomore Effort&The Battle Within

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm

one from none
I credit this book with kick-star
ting my life and getting me going.
-Dr. Vasquez 

When I was 17 years old I came across a copy of Henry Rollins’ One From None.  I had already been a huge fan of the man.  I loved the  1/4 Stick era Rollins Band.  Turned On helped me through the wreckage of adolescence and was on repeat on my boombox throughout sophomore year of High School.  And like many others of the postpunk youth demographic, I looked up to the man.  He had a bead on how to keep himself contained.  He had what Adrienne Rich has called a visionary anger.

From the moment I saw the cover, a blurred black&white photo of Rollins rocking out on stage, some part of me knew, or wanted to know, that I would be published one day.  My verse and anger-my words, could be realized and achieve book format.  I wouldn’t have to change a thing or subscribe to what seemed like a permanent zeitgeist of the shiny, happy set.  One From None was punkrock but it went further.  It was a book.  It wasn’t a stapled&xeroxed zine from the underground but a perfectly bound book of poetry.

I read most, if not all, of that volume on the steps of my friend J’s house in Upper Darby.  In four years time I’d go from graduating high school and auditioning for the University of the Arts to being homeless in the suburbs of my hometown while working as a day laborer.  I won’t lie.  Those years weren’t kind.  Nothing was.  Eventually I fell in love but that was even worse.

Life happened.  I eventually pulled stakes and now I’m living in Paradise.  The girls are pretty.  The beer is cold.  I have health insurance  as a gigging musician.  Every year at the beginning of March there is an electricity in the air that could only come from being in the center of the rock&roll universe.  Down here we’re glad to be alive.  The weather is killer and the people are nice.  There’s a line that connects any number of singer-songwriters working  down here that stretches all the way back to the Father of the Blues, Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Allot has happened since that cold night on J’s stoop in 1991.  Our movement was usurped, it got flooded with posers and trend chasers.  Fugazi, one of the greatest rock&roll bands of all time broke up.  The aftermath of 9/11 resulted in a backlash that set this country back 40 years and doomed us all to never knowing peace in our time.  I self-published 3 chapbooks and took them on the road.  Of all the shit that’s happened over the decades since I read One From None, it’s what I used to get me through that persists.  And unfortunately for me what persists are these filthy habits.  The dirty ways that helped me squeeze through.    Battle&recon&hatred and fear-which is the root of it all, really.  Smoking a pack a day and ending most of my shifts with a 6pack and a glass of Scotch might’ve worked when everything felt like War.  I’ve written about this before and plenty.  The sad news about Molina passing Saturday at the age of 39 reminded me of it.
You just reach a point in your life where there’s no more battle and a no more worthy adversary.  You confront yourself and this will be the hardest fight of your life Brother.
Which is basically where I’m at.  I can honestly say that whatever I have dreamt I have made so.  Some weird subconscious manifest energy has made me a published poet and an accomplished singer/songwriter with my fingers in several journalistic outlets inlcuding the column platform of this blog.
I wanna kick it to the sky Brother.  For true.  I threw out my black&whites yesterday and I don’t want to work for anyone else ever again.
I have received nothing but the most positive and heartfelt encouragement from you all.  The fact that we’re discussing my work AT ALL pleases me to no end.  It means that it’s up and walking around.  It’s real.  I think it’s time for it to be so much and all too-real.  Viable.  Keep checks like this one coming in and a smile on my face.  checkMy work has demanded that it be taken seriously.  My work ain’t got time for that deprecation kick.  I’m here to tell you that you can live your dreams.  Trusting that your boot will hit ground ain’t a long shot.  I believe in my work.  You believe in me and, my People, I believe in you.  Keep fighting.

Help does not
just walk up to you
I could have told you that
I’m not an idiot.
Jason Molina
12/16/73 – 3/16/13

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I wrote this 6 years ago, on the 4th Anniversary of the U.S.’ Invasion of Iraq, for the Philadelphia IMC’s Wire. There is still so much work to be done.

Jim Trainer

Going for the Throat

reprinted from the Philadelphia IMC Wire March 2007

a dark wind blows
the government is corrupt.
And we’re on so many drugs
With the radio on and the curtains drawnDead Flag Blues

4 years and over 3000 Americans dead. 7 as recently as Sunday.
What have we learned?
I have learned to be increasingly apathetic and accept when the man on my TV tells me that this is a great band.
It got too weird for one of the greatest intelligences of our time in the last four years. Dr. Hunter Stockton Thompson checked out on February 20, 2004, killed by a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
We’ve seen the country go from ignorant (RED) and jaded (BLUE) to unanimous in opposition to this “war”.
The fact is our standard of living and our quality of life will remain unchanged and will not improve no…

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Dave Grohl, South By Southwest 2013, Blues&Trouble in Paradise

In Uncategorized on March 14, 2013 at 10:56 am

Neurosis-it’s what’s for breakfast. Doesn’t help that the whole town’s on vacation and the whole fucking world is on Austin’s doorstep for the 27th Annual SXSW Music&Media Conference.
The construction crews on Rio Grande haven’t missed a beat. They’ve got some clever machines, including one that sounds like some kind of mechanical pick-axe. It chisels me from dreaming, it chisels me awake. My mornings usually begin with me fantasizing about climbing onto the roof of the mansion with a rifle and taking Mr. beep-beep-beep out, and the rest of his crew too.
I’m stuck on repeat, creatively speaking, and I’m just as neurotic about a poem submitted last Friday night as I was the last time I posted.
Uncle Dave Grohl will be delivering the keynote address for this year’s SXSW, at 12noon CST.  I don’t know how he could possibly hold a candle to last year’s address by the Boss. Bruce Springsteen’s Keynote Address for SXSW 2012 is one of the finest moments in the history of broadcast media. I strongly encourage you to listen to it sometime. The best thing about it? The Boss knows that all we are ever doing is standing on the shoulders of our ancestors. He never comes across as self-important or some hot shit rockstar. He talked about Son House and The Animals for christ. Other than Grohl’s work behind the kit, I’m not really impressed by the man. His work with the Queens and of course Nirvana are fine examples of hard rock drumming at its finest. The Foo Fighters on the other hand, are fratboy fare, nothing we haven’t heard again and again, repeatedly since punkrock’s incorporation. If his recent AMA on Reddit is any indication, this should at least be interesting. Bound to have more resonance&depth than his band-of-Dads’ sappy post-hardcore horseshit.
As far as SX is concerned, before day’s end I’m bound to see Freedy Johnston, The Joy Formidable and end it all with a little nightcap east side.
It’s impossible to get anything done around here with the whole town exploding and shit happening in every abandoned bus and bank lobby in Hippie Town.
And besides all that craziness I can’t get over the fact that I submitted a poem  that I am not proud of to an Anthology . I guess that’s life, right Brother? Some of us shack up in the high rooms with a bottle of champagne and rue our Artists’ plight while the streets are filled with Gilligan’s Island rejects wearing wristbands and drinking from plastic cups and jamming to the Foos.
Meanwhile the rest of the world’s awash about the appointing of another kiddie feeler as the head of an ignorant, hateful and dead religion.  1.2 billion people can’t be wrong, can they?

Between trouble&the blues, how will we ever survive?  See you on the streets motherfucker.  Rock and Roll can never die.

We live in a post–authentic world. And today authenticity is a house of mirrors. It’s all just what you’re bringing when the lights go down. It’s your teachers, your influences, your personal history; and at the end of the day, it’s the power and purpose of your music that still matters.
-Bruce Springsteen from his 2012 SXSW Keynote Address

the pope and michaelangelo

The Pain Of Editing

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2013 at 10:30 am

Welcome to the terrordome. The writing desk is the blast site. Cigarette ash, empty matchbooks, Ibuprofen, sunglasses and ripped jeans, boots and amp cords on the floor, hash pipe and typewritten poems/handwritten poems strewn around a bouquet of empties.
Editing’s a real motherfucker.  Kind of like a nervous breakdown. Luckily (for me), I have an editor. Her talent lies in being able to simultaneously deflect my sexual advances and somehow convince me to turn the music DOWN so that we can get some work done. All while holding a red felt-tip pen in her hand and a stack of work in her lap. Friday night’s editing session was epic. There was no shortage of empty bottles or tears but we managed to come up with one (1) poem to submit to the Moonstone Arts Center’s 17th Annual PoetryInk Anthology.  She tells me it’s a great poem and I can’t tell.  I’ll have to take her word for it. All I know is that the piece we came up with is complete. It speaks its own language and answers its own questions.  It’s unto itself, which is all I can really hope for.  Whether it was good or bad was beyond me but we were on deadline&I was getting drunk. Editing never gets any easier.
What’s worse, having a book published and my work accepted has changed things. It’s been a game changer.  See, I’m of the odd ilk who prefer opposition.  We like struggling in obscurity and yelling at the mountain. It’s hard to accept that the work is good without having to bleed it, or myself, for a while. Basically it’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.

The piece we came up with is a plain-spoken poem, written around Christmas time, the day after I got back from Philly. There’s no magic in it and perhaps that’s ok.   A poem doesn’t always have to contain an epiphany or chronicle some precious change. Sometimes moments are heavy as lead and there are no windows in the wall. A beat dog may hang his head long after the abuse. He’ll keep his tail between his legs for a while but, he’ll learn. He’ll get accustomed to it being easy. He’ll find himself comfortably nestled on a warm floor in the mansion with his belly full and he’ll learn. He’ll learn not to react to the sudden, loud protests of the writer yelling at his editor while trying to take her to bed&throwing empty bottles at her head.

-Military Saying

chaos puts me to sleep
Swift Ships

hst homage


In Uncategorized on March 10, 2013 at 1:03 pm

buckling down
with wicked
cocaine grins
in bombed out
shells of basements
w/bastard radio
keeping vows
in our
darkened hearts
on wet Nights
when we could not afford a smile
drinking wine
There’s always trouble,
always blues.
Hold tighter,
our love
the lightning
the salve
the rope
the anchor,
our love
the morning bells
and knocking back
the dead fist
of Night,
we rise
we rise.



In Uncategorized on March 6, 2013 at 5:12 pm

13 years ago in Philly I rode my bike down to Spaceboy Records for an unplugged set by Rocket From The Crypt.  They played a song called “Blue Cowboy”.  Said it was a Wipers tune.  That night I caught them at the Khyber Pass.  Back when that town had it.  There was excitement in the air and danger everywhere.  Seeing RFTC back then reaffirmed everything you knew was true, about rock&roll and the streets and our desperate hearts, desperate to love&fight&drink&rock the fuck out.  Desperate to kick back against American isolation with our young idea.  In basements and hollowed out movie theaters and on rooftops and gymnasiums.
It’s always better looking back but I’ll never question the magic I felt on Hostile City streets-dancing and sweating and yelling back down at the Gods.  A new century with a new media to call our very own and listening to WKDU 91.7fm.  Philly was always like the town that time forgot, free from current trends and doin its own stubborn thang.  Heads made it, up&out, but we forgot about them and their Coke commercials, pfft their hometown shout-outs and ignored their calls from graves marked Los Angeles.  We soldiered on, always with something to prove at junkyard art shows and punkrock barbecues.
Then the 21st century clamped DOWN and hard.  Suddenly we found ourselves in the jurisdiction of a world police.  It wouldn’t matter about Philly anymore, or scenes or true love.  Peace in our time, once scattershot and underground, was no longer possible.  It came home to roost in our town and your town, too.  There was always a dividing line but now it meant that you could be sent off to die for lies or b/c you were trying to provide shelter for your loved ones that you’d never get financed or get an education that you’d never be able to afford.

I guess this blog ain’t so  personal after all but it’s my birthday, Jack.  Go write your own blog.
The innocence of youth can never be questioned.  It’s that blood and that idea always in our hearts that can never die.  The cataracts of youth should fall away and half the house will have to come down.  We’ve got blood on our hands and there’s so much suffering in the world.  And worse, I feel a dark hand being pulled in front of our eyes and a cheaper tomorrow on the horizon.  A collective and irresistible dumbing down and a more selective isolation cleaving between us.  What’s mine&yours behind wide walls, zombies through our windows blued with confections of lies.  You’ll see-culture first, everything else soon after.  But now we do it to ourselves.  We always had to and they have trained some of us so very well.
The world needs more rock&roll.  More inclusion.  More eyes opening, looking inside.  More hearts knowing.  All I’m asking for is 38 more.  I will need more time to crank it and nail it down and make this dream real.  There’s so much more that I must do before I’m blown back to dust.  For true.
The last couple decades I been sinking down.  Recovering from the bad confusion over a love I’d found.  I thought you could never live up to it Brother but we both know it was me.  I’m going up on the high plains.  My exile from Philly was just the beginning.  I got some work to do inside.  I’ll see you on the streets motherfucker, another pilgrim gone to temple seeking refuge.



There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.

Taking The Weekend Off

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm

The wire was dead down here at the office on Friday.  This much madness was too much sorrow. I broke code and dodged deadline. Silence isn’t a good trait in a self-proclaimed iconoclast writer. My silence was the result of a tie between my shock and utter apathy about current events. It’s a great big dirty world. The news was bad. I was sitting at the writing desk among the empties. When I attempted to reflect on current events a dumb boredom clamped down on me like a migraine. The upside down American flag in the back room rustled lazily but told me nothing. Me&Steve Earle were yelling back at the bastard grackle and I was bored. The grackle yelled and me&Steve Earle hollered back. Then the phone rang.
It was American Book Award winning poet and friend, Lamont Steptoe. Said he was just checking in. He told me I should send off a poem to the 17th annual Poetry Ink Anthology coming out in April. Deadline is next Friday. He asked me about what was going on in my life while offering me the wisdom of Etheridge Knight and Sam Allen and hipping me to the 7 universal roles of a poet. He said something to the effect of do your work for three decades or so, and things will start to happen. What a godsend that man is. A cherished friend and something to look up to. His call was a much-needed shot in the arm. After hanging up with Lamont I felt redoubled, at ease. I knew I could rest in my work, wherever I am in the world and whatever I am doing.  A poet.
Then the editor came by and we went out to the big poetry show. Bedpost Confessions‘ Poetry Show was a high night of art and hilarity. These ladies know how to throw an intimate and inclusive event that never compromises the art of performance. I mean, how many times have you gone to a slam, a spoken wordoff or whatever-the-fuck, and ended up feeling so alone&isolated that you began to wonder if Plato was right? Sweet, sexy, revealing, as dark as you want and fucking hilarious. Well done, ladies. Well done.
I was particularly impressed with the poetry of Ms. Jenna Martin Opperman and of course I was reminded of how so very special poet Lacey Roop is. It’s not often that a poet can simply make me happy. Fill me with joy. What a blessing she is. Look out for these performers and this series. They are up to something good. For true.

Saturday the Editor&me went to a songwriters circle at the Saxon. We dug on tunes from the mighty Jay Sims&friends over Lonestar big boys.

Now the weekend’s over. And I’m back at the desk. There’s still plenty to be outraged about. By dodging deadline Friday I managed to avoid having to touch on the crime of the century or the brownshirt humor of pop culture and the voices of those railing against it.  The world kept turning and grinding out the days of our grisly plight but I had to recharge and redouble. Had to bask in the love for my people before I felt ready to get back in the game.

I’m ready now. Christ.
Vox populi vox dei.

going for the throat image