Jim Trainer

Archive for July, 2017|Monthly archive page

Have Heart on the Hard Road

In alcoholism, anger, anxiety, art, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, Buddhism, buddhist, day job, death, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, going for the throat, Henry Rollins, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, Performance, punk rock, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, song, songwriting, straight edge, suicide, travel, travel writing, truth, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on July 27, 2017 at 1:53 pm

You should learn how to feel sad without actually being sad.
-Laurie Anderson’s Buddhist Teacher

Self-editing is humiliating. I didn’t start a blog called Going For The Throat to censor myself. There have been times over the years and I’m sure I’ll be called to do it again, for whatever dumb reason life may deal me at that moment. Admittedly, I’ve steered away from skewering certain individuals because it would’ve only esteemed them. Those come out in the wash, though. It took me a couple years but I was able to call out certain cunts on here who’s name I never would’ve mentioned before. Of course there are professional considerations, but if you’re a dayworker like I am you have very little control or catharsis-I’ve found that biting your tongue on a shitjob only rears in the end. You can abstain from speaking your mind but if some boss deserves it, it’s only a matter of time before your hands are on him in the alley behind the break room. Things have their way of working themselves out. Living in fear is worse than dying which might soudnd idealistic to you but any jerkoff who posts at least 600 words about himself on the world wide web every week isn’t playing with a full deck of practicality to begin with. What that means is if I’m crazy enough to dream it, you know I’m just plain crazy too. Self-editing, or censoring, is bullshit and I only do it if I’m at an impasse. If I’ve stared at the same post, and re-read it enough times to know it by heart, then it’s time to flush it and start anew. This isn’t poetry. At best, Going For the Throat is a gun-I’d only point it at you if I’m shooting to kill.

Greetings from the Hewitt Lake Club, Population 7. It looks like rain on Lily Bay, but it’s looked that way since 9. The sky is turning silver, there’s a low thunder rumbling and a high wind swaying the gingkoes and lone evergreen to the left of the screen porch where I write this self-censored post. Whether it rains or not means little. I’ll be wet by the time I get to the greasy barn and it’d be great to build a fire in the pod. Two days ago I would’ve had a completely different answer, with Ben in Brooklyn and the rain coming down it was just me and Blair sitting around the fire-in our pod, all day long. I was worried my resentments had ruined this trip, but woke up charged, on my day off yesterday, bounding out of bed at 6:30AM and writing over a thousand words about the horrid grind my life has become. Thank Christ that’s over with.

Out on the drive behind the cabin, by the garage where I sing, working on a tune called It’s Been A Long Time That I Should Be Far From Here-I realized something. Music, songs and songwriting, lyrics-these could be the last haven for wonder in these paling years. Fantasy. Myth. What I’ve rued since giving up the life-otherness, lust, change. Of course the fear is that perhaps I only use songs to help me through rough and large transitions. SWAMP EP, for example. I must’ve buried 3 exs alone by the end of The Winner, SWAMP‘s opening track. I resolved some issues I had with my dead Father in So Many Roads, acknowledged that I loved her in Back (I Want You) and laid out LA Telegram and Back In The Game like a dream map of the South, the Rockabilly Night and my new Spring in Austin ever dawning. I’ve penned some tunes since then and unearthed even more. I wrote down the titles to anywhere from 12-15 solid songs, songs that I’ve written that I like…which ain’t bad for someone who thinks he doesn’t write enough songs. So the fear is that, at the end of this ordeal, I’ll have 3 or 4 tunes that have helped me through, but I won’t be closer to my songwriting heroes. I’m sensing a theme here, and just wrote to Compatriot Cole this morning about never realizing what I call the Rollins ideal. Oh well. At least with songwriting it’s easy to keep in mind that it’s good work if you can find it. Songwriting is a different kind of spell-it’s writing and self actualizing but it involves the Gods on an intimate level. As a songwriter you can become anything (or anyone) you want to be. It’s instantaneous and only a fool could ask for more.

When peace comes it’s profound. The blood in my head sinks at the same rate as the sun, and I’ve expereienced dusks here both utterly sublime and completely ordinary. That’s all I ever wanted. I don’t need fireworks. I never wanted Heaven though I guess I settled for Hell. Didn’t I Brother. I never wanted a panacea or a cure all, but that could be depression talking (why bother trying to feel good when it’s such a short ride from the good life to the blues?). Know what I mean Sister? Life is…life. I got a good feeling about leaving this gig even if I only heard back from 3 of the 20 booking emails sent out from the greasy barn last Friday. I wrote another verse for an old tune and revisited one that’s been brimming from the heartlid before 10AM yesterday morning. This tenuous balance, periods of synchronous bliss coupled with torrid maelstroms of anger and irritation, sounds like life to me and of course there’s so much more I could do.

Sorry for the hodge-podge, good Reader. I tried to salvage the high points of my charge and kept the low points of the original missive to myself. No good deed goes unpunished ain’t it though, ’cause now I’m out here in the garage writing this. I flew the screen porch and came out here to wrap this fucking thing. Our pod got too full of good vibes and company, no room for me and my bitterness, which, truth be told is only killing me. Jill just walked by and said I could turn on the light if I wanted to. I told her I’d just suffer in silence and we laughed, this 86 year old Artist and me, hard, because she’s right. I could turn on the light if I wanted to.

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Hecate’s Road

In alcoholism, anger, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, day job, death, getting old, getting sober, journalism, magic, magician, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, on tour, Poetry, punk rock, sober, sobriety, straight edge, TOUR, travel, travel writing, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on July 20, 2017 at 6:04 pm

How is it that we never completely comprehend our love for someone until they’re gone?
-Patti Smith, M Train

Magic comes to me in fits and starts.  Yesterday, out front Tops Grocery, I heard the crow first, looked up and waited.  Another appeared.  There are always more and of course there is always the shadow of crow, there on the ground in front of me but looking up again see one flying just overhead.  That made 3, from none, that I first heard, and one.  Something else catches my eye.  The boy in orange crocks, looking up too, at the same crow, watching.  Later that night, after swatting the horseflies from my face and belting out the lyrics to a new song in the driveway of the cabin, a woman came from out of the brush with the boy beside her.  His name was Remi and he played drums and guitar and bass.  Remi is 8 years old.

In the kitchen I show him open D and teach him Mona, the Bo Diddley song perhaps better known as Who Do You Love?  It’s a simple 2-chord vamp and Remi picks it up instantly.  He teaches me No Sleep Till Brooklyn while refusing several offers of cold seltzer and philosophizing how he’s only concerned with being alive and what could kill him.  The scrapes on his shin, the scratches and bite marks on his hands (from Bandit the Maine Coon), his poison ivy-they don’t worry him.
“Only if I die and that I’m alive,” he offers not sagely but just like a boy.
He shows me some drum patterns.  Tells me how he fell off the stage but climbed right back up behind the drums in time for the solo.  Talking and interacting with him is unassuming, simple, and factual but enthusiastic.  Mentions that he’s been here for a long time. His mother wraps it up with Blair on the screen porch.  They leave and me and Blair part ways.

I’m sitting out front of Cafe Sarah in North Creek, at an impossibly small, aqua-colored garden table.  I can’t see the bugs but can feel them biting me.  I haven’t caught anyone staring at me but can feel it acutely.  The family just to my right give off a toxic, American vibe.  Whatever charm there is on these streets is bled out, the bitter rasp of smokers’ laughs never puncturing the heavy meanness.  I’d do much better at the beer garden up the street, or even Laura’s, but I don’t drink and I don’t want to spend any dollars anywhere up here, only to have to fight for my psychic place all over again. They think I’m a golem and that’s fine. I’m a man and I mask my sadness masterfully by only shining back anger.

I finished Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, by Carrie Brownstein, and am just about through M Train.  Brownstein put me back in the 90s, the last time it meant anything anywhere. The detrimental rigors she suffered on tour with Sleater Kinney were all but ignored by me-I was going for the glory and read on as, unsurprisingly, Brother Vedder rose from the pages to affirm the power of rock and roll, like only he can again and again.  Patti Smith understands better than anyone that to be a poet is to stake your claim in the magic of the world.  Her existence is shamanic.  Her inner life informs her outer life, and her outer life always becomes manifest.

Guess you could say I’m out here in the territory.  North Creek sadly feels like the end of America, and it just might be.  My inner life is populated with legend.  My outer life is having to fend for myself psychically, with the flags flowing and thousands of miles travelled and thousands to get back.  I’m off hitch here-disconnected.  My only way out is in a greasy barn with a ping-pong table, up the hill from the cabin where Ben, Blair and I bunk like untoward and swoll dorm mates, away from home and girlfriends at University.  I talked with Jill this morning, who I adore.  She’s 86, out there cutting back the long leaves and talking about the effect of sobriety on Art.  She’s twice my age and if I had a wish beyond this ordinary, cold water phase, it’d be to have her faculties, at her age, and drink chilled vodka in a squat glass while smoking Camel straights.

The road was fine-exhausting as it always is, like a Goddess, an event of endurance.  Seems fucked that this is the prize-at this cafe with the chiggers and Americans, but it’s nice by the lake and I heard my first loon call, late yesterday afternoon.  I’ve got some things turning in my mind, aspirations that sprung up and surprised me, and, despite my road and ageworn body, I should do wise to take note and make these seeds sprout and make happen.  What else is there but the idea and its manifestation?  I never fit in anywhere, let alone upstate where it seems like all anyone ever does in America is wait around to die.

Ab irato,
Trainer
North Creek, NY

Beautiful Friend

In alcoholism, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, journalism, Kevin P.O'Brien, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, news media, observation, PACIFIST, PACISFISM, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, police brutality, politics, PROTEST, publishing, punk rock, recovery, self-help, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, straight edge, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga on July 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm

Let’s focus on the steak, not the peas.

-Minchia

Liberals want our country to be more like Canada. Conservatives want it to be more like Mexico.

-Realist

Raising a kid with medical needs is a very, very steep climb in the best of circumstances, and so when we say Medicaid is like the handholds that you’re using to scale up and get your kids to help-without those, there’s nothing below, there’s no safety net once those supports get pulled out, you just fall off the cliff.
-Robert Howell 

If they were to collaborate they could strangle data access to parts of the internet, it’s not an understatement to say they could influence history.
-Elliot Brown

One need only look closely at such drag queens as Michelle Visage or Violet Chachi on the RuPaul show to suss out the cruel, cold-blooded lizard that lurks behind the eyes of the Illuminati elite.
-Stephenson Billings

What the hell.
-Jared Yates Sexton

I wish I had let go long ago.  Not long after I quit smoking I began to experience a shortness of breath.  I’ve had to teach myself to sing again.  Psalmships’ “Little Bird“, again and again.  Up high in the mountains of Minerva and out here on the blistering plains.  What felt like the broken middle finger on my left hand has moved to the thumb on my right.  If it’s arthritis, then, what the hell?  I should’ve never quit, shoulda kept drinkin’ and womanizin’ and waking up dead in a dead confederate palace, with my pants at Kim’s pool and the aching yellow sun splitting my skull like a shiv, until I could down 400mg and tell her to get…OUT. It’s painfully apparent, these are the end days.  I should’ve never left the life but I wish I’d let go a long time ago.

The stupid truth is the life never helped me let go either.  I was as hung up then as I am now and drugs never worked.  You’re not going to believe me but I could never enjoy myself on drugs because I knew it was only a drug.  How terribly unfun and what a fucking drag, eh Brother?  The closest I came was on mushrooms down at Stone Harbor, on the shore in the dark, with the Reverend and Butch as a storm rolled in. I lost myself that summer but never before and never again.  I’ve kept myself locked tight, fought against it in my 20s but embraced it until now.  I perfected my isolation and my Father’s poker face.  Like him, the world only hurt my feelings and to be obvious was to be played. What the hell? How did this thing rear and turn into a psychoanalytical journey and examination of why I’m no fun but still wishing for the days?

Oh well, if it brings us to the truth then I can live with that.  However we got here, we’re here, and these days I prefer to drink dark coffee with honey, read the news and pretend I’m smoking cigarettes in my mind, like a mid-life Cassavetes and type here in the center of a crumbling palace amidst:  piles of poetry collections, poster-pressed covers, a copy of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, CDs and receipts and guitar strings, stacks of typed and handwritten poetry-edited in red ink, the trusty NAS plugged in and humming beside and a cold cup of Italian Roast, in the blasting AC in what I thought at one time was the center of the Rock and Roll universe, in one of the most expensive zip codes in the country-the Pearl of the South and the Velvet Rut, Austin Texas Hippie Town U.S.A.

Incidentally, that moniker and euphemism for the good vibes and pretty white girls that grow on trees down here has become outdated.  All the hippies live in Smithville now and I’m outta here, too.  Call it The City of Izods&Boots, or, the Town of Technocrats or simply, Bro Country.  Call ’em the New Rich or Fancy Dog Walkers, call ’em whatever you want because I am outta here.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here and 5 years since I wrote that elegiac paen to my departure from the barrio.  Facebook says I been on there 8 years today, which makes for an interesting capsule of my time down here-beginning with my very first post, a video of Cory Branan singing “Survivor Blues” and ending with, well, “The End” by The Doors.

I’ve learned a lot.  I’m a different man.  I’m making the seismic changes that come from staying in place.  It was real and it was fun but it wasn’t real fun.  I’m staying on this side of the river but I am getting the fuck out of dodge.  I’ve got 4 gigs booked in the next 2 months and 2 pages of contacts on legal yellow, letter-sized paper.  Work in media suits me.  I don’t mind the world, from a good safe distance, and writing about it transforms it somehow, makes even the horrid and unconscionable worth going through.  I’m a fire walker on here, a hard bitten scoop in the hard lands.  And, lovely and overwrought I bring it on home to you, good Reader, my Friend.

See you in Hyde Park motherfucker.

The Area of Pause

In alcoholism, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Boredom, day job, depression, getting old, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, music performance, Performance, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, Spoken Word, suicide, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on July 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm

There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life.
President Trump

In general, “The president has tweeted X.” is an overblown story.
Rachel Maddow

They think we’re stupid. And maybe they’re right.
Jonny Coleman

Attacks on established knowledge have a long pedigree, and the Internet is only the most recent tool in a recurring problem that in the past misused television, radio, the printing press, and other innovations the same way.
Thomas M. Nichols

People don’t choose the President anyway.  America is not a democracy. America is a Republic. 

Dr. Umar Johnson


Learning to kill
is a matter of habit

The more you have done it,
the better you’re at it.

Izhar Ashdot

July 6, 2017, 1:01PM
Hippie Town, USA

Quiet as a tomb up here in the high rooms.  Not even a blower on Judge’s Hill.  I’ve just consumed a week’s worth of media over a cold cup of Italian Roast.  Last night, Doc&I went out to Cold Town for the return of Austin’s No Shame Theatre.  We both told stories about The America, as Uncle Hank calls it, this young frontier of bounty and bloodlust.  Nothing has changed since last week, although some of you might’ve lost your shit a little.  The President said or tweeted some things, I’m sure, and North Korea had its own fireworks display as the world turned darkly on.

This War Room has everything I ever wanted.  A MacBook, replete with its NAS, plugged in and humming beside, an extra monitor, a pair of Nearfields on the floor and a Lexmark copier/scanner/printer on standby.   I feel better than I’ve felt in weeks.  I should be out this shitshow by late September and I’ll need to start compiling the poetry and prose for this year’s collection, due out through Yellow Lark 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 stayed.

I’m apartment, or room, or house hunting-looking for something equally comfortable and private in which to plot and amass and roll out the grand machinations of this dream.  To play every night and write every day has been my goal and charge for as long as I can remember.  I’ve been maintaining both at dayjob levels and even sacrificing a little of my artistic life for this gig.  That was a mistake but nothing compared to the last 5 years of my life, which is a dangerous way to think-a dark focus that could shame every thought and endeavor I’ve had since dropping out of music school and going homeless in the hometown at the dawning of the New Century.  Brother K.O. has offered me a place on tour with the Dropkick Murphys, tenting every show and working for the Claddagh Fund.  The road is always calling, like it did then and it does any time the present moment catches up with me and hangs itself around my neck.

This terribly blasé post could be summed up in a few different ways.  We could frame it as duty and say that even without anything to report, I’m reporting-the medium is the message.  It could be psychological-a check in and my way of keeping us connected.  It could be even more personal than that.  You either hang yourself or hang it on the wall, right Brother, and week after week we’ve been thankfully and sometimes begrudgingly doing the latter.  To the chagrin of a cold world we’ve been holding on to each other, and isn’t that nice?  The truth is that this is a pause, and, I’ll even offer, a moment of gratitude.  I’m going to need my strength and you, too, very soon.  You can bet I’ll be coming for you in these coming months.  We all need someone to bleed on, and in these grim, outrageous and diabolically narcissistic times, in this cultural freefall and with the death of our Mother, a little bit of peace and quiet can feel like Heaven.  It’s a good chance for us to remember the others out there, ease back into it, this lull in the terrible summer and suffer some contentment for a change.  The worst kind of trouble is no trouble at all, right Sister?

Is fear rith maith ná drochsheasamh.  

Peace and love to you, motherfucker.