Jim Trainer

Refuge

In Activism, American History, anger, ANTI-WAR, journalism, mourning, new journalism, news media, on tour, PACIFIST, PACISFISM, police brutality, politics, PROTEST, punk rock, RADIO, revolution, TOUR, travel, travel writing, truth, War, working class, writing about writing on July 21, 2016 at 11:29 am

…I found in him an expression of the American spirit at its worst. Progress was their obsession. More machines, more efficiency, more capital, more comforts-that was their whole talk. I asked them if they had heard of the millions who were unemployed in America. They ignored the question. I asked them if they realized how empty, restless and miserable the American people were with all their machine-made luxuries and comforts. They were impervious to my sarcasm. What they wanted was success-money, power, a place in the sun. None of them wanted to return to their own country; for some reason they had all of them been obliged to return against their will. They said there was no life for them in their own country. When would life begin? I wanted to know. When they had all the things which Americans had, or Germany, or France. Life was made up of things, of machines mainly, from what I could gather. Life without money was an impossibility: one had to have clothes, a good home, a radio, a car, a tennis racquet, and so on. I told them I had none of those things and that I was happy without them, that I had turned my back on America precisely because these things meant nothing to me. They said I was the strangest American they had ever met. But they liked me. They stuck to me throughout the voyage, plying me with all sorts of questions which I answered in vain. Evenings I would get together with the Greek. We understood one another better, much better, despite his adoration for Germany and the German regime. He too, of course, wanted to go to America some day. Every Greek dreams of going to America and making a nest egg. I didn’t try to dissuade him; I gave him a picture of America as I knew it, as I had seen it and experienced it. That seemed to frighten him a little…
-Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi

Well. Hullo there good reader. I’m about as cracked from the earth as can be, despite Confederate flags draped in storefront windows and puerile mugs on the faces of North Creek citizens when I must go into town. I been into town quite a bit this trip, to shop and to drop off Ben in Ticonderoga to catch his train to Canada, but the heft of my days has been spent on my feather down double at 125 in the Hewitt Lake Club. I heard the news of 3 more cops shot dead in Baton Rouge by another unhinged vet this morning, and I can only think that in these dark times paranoia verges strangely close to prescience. It might take the actions of murderous soldiers to wake us up to the fact that we are at war. It’s easy to get wrapped up in hysteria no matter which side you’re on, but you don’t want to find yourself talking politics, or much of anything else, in Trump Country with an Appalachian redneck, 1,800 miles from home. It may be best to go back to bed after coffee and NPR and watch the wind through the trees in your cabin while on working holiday in The America.

Not that the city fares any better. We spent 3 days in Louisville-an antebellum phantom of the urbane and what the bitter end of Big City America looks like. There isn’t anything doing there or anywhere, with death and mayhem and senseless violence on the the TV above the deserted hotel bar. Downtown’s shut down. Starbucks closes at 7. There isn’t even a wind blowing in Hunter Thompson’s hometown, but had we pushed any further beyond the city limits, we might have had to deal with a Duck Dynasty situation not unlike North Creek. At Hewitt tonight they’re listening to the Republican National Convention, but what do Big Politics have to do with it? They mean less to me than they ever did. I’m alone in my cabin, with Henry Miller to read and a feather down bed to lie on and dream my silly, poetic dreams.

It would seem that it’s all a wash, we’ve spiraled down too low and there’s hate and fear entrenched in us. Of course the rut is within, but it’s without, too-the cities are deserted, corporate run neon wastelands and the country’s full of ignorant and vile yahoos, who’re overweight and codependent but think that the enemy is you if you won’t get behind the white man’s imperialist wars abroad and don’t have the backs of a murderous and militant police force here at home. Welcome to The America. Unless you’re a nigger-loving muslim faggot and we never liked you anyway.

Which isn’t to say that it’s all bad, or that the trip this year has only amounted to 3 weeks away from the real work in the War Room back home. I’ve had some reflections this time through the savage land. I’ve been thinking about the only kind of change I can muster and I’m proud to report it back for you good reader, because in fact, all we have is each other.  As the dark takes its deeper turns and we lose another source of light.  I’m sick of heroes…and television and politics and the rich and the poor, sick of Garrison Keillor abridging Hunter Thompson’s “suicide note” (on what would’ve have been his 79th birthday, on Writer’s Almanac this morning) sick of a world that pushes our visionaries to suicide but spends 146 million on The Secret Life of Pets.
What’s new to me is a gratitude, that comes from seeing myself clearly, away from home, away from Hippie Town, out of Eden and out in the backwoods underbelly and urban desolation of America, clearing my lungs of stinking Texas oak and cedar, and finally being able to breathe and hold a note-and I can see myself through the mire. What am I, but a pilgrim seeking refuge? Maybe even Bodhisattva?  Sure, now, you know I can get behind that. I have much to report, much to share-and all of it could somehow conclude nicely with the problem I’ve been having with storytelling and even this blog.

We know how bad it can get. I’ve come to you from the bowels of twisted and dire situations, reported live from the belly of the beast and always sought to come through what Dr. Thompson has called the Wisdom. The Wisdom is like a diamond in the dark.  Wisdom, to paraphrase Richard Hell, makes any situation bearable, any screw or fuckaround worth it. If not the prize or zenith, then a regrouping and a breath, a trust…and that’s where I’m gonna have to leave it, and you, good reader, for now.  There doesn’t seem to be any kind of wisdom or resolution or end to this grim parade of murder and persecution and maudlin effrontery.  It would seem to be fucked which could be Wisdom but won’t really help me now, as I gear up and head back into town to pick up Ben in Ticonderoga.  Out on the highway in The America with an open heart and a 50 pack of Nicorette gum.  Wish me luck.

I was told by a friend
that this great quest would only begin
if I’d stop circling in circles behind my own bars
and spiral on out to the fiery stars
-Mischief Brew, Seeking The Brave

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  1. […] Press December 1.  We’re heading out in a couple weeks, and doing roughly 3,000 miles up to New York and back.  It should be a thankless slog, rivaled only by the grisly heat of Texas summer if we […]

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