Jim Trainer

Archive for 2018|Yearly archive page

Is An American Gun

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2018 at 10:11 pm

I either live in a dignified country or I be remembered as a Ugandan who died trying to make a better Uganda.
–Bobi Wine 

For many are called, but few are chosen.
Matthew 22:14

I think everybody in those places is going crazy inside.
Joe Rogan

Whoever gets the vision gets the task.

I’m lucky.  I got the call early and been around long enough to answer.  It’s not easy, nor has it ever been, but I’m not interested in that.  It would’ve been easy to stay in the hometown, stay in school, get a full time gig, get married and step into a pre-fab life, tailor-made for a sucker on the vine.  There’s plenty of people who are perfectly happy doing it.  I’m not putting them down.  Just saying that it always felt like death to me.  In between cops who had nothing better to do than hassle me and my friends about our tattoos and noserings, and grown men prowling the suburbs offering us blowjobs.  There was something especially seedy and unsavory about my hometown, and I can only look back derisively and with the most scorn.  As far as college and a full time job, well—look at me now, Good Reader.  Before I clock in to the temp shift, I’ll give the fifteen or so poems I’m submitting tomorrow a once over.  I might even grind one out on the Selectric before I shower and press my serving blacks.  I got one out before work yesterday and it felt like victory.  It always does.  I write poetry out of vengeance and that’s all I can say about my inspiration and romantic inclinations.  Y’all know I’m a romantic—I write on a typewriter for Christ, and the sorry circus of the world needs a tent and a cyclone fence.  That’s what it is, too—my way of getting my arms around it, framing the agony as Papa wrote and earning my roach wings like Uncle Hank.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not celebrating filth or think I’m some kind of anti-hero outlaw poet.  My drinking days are done, as are the ramshackle nights of smoke&ruin and man-made blues that were my answer to the chemical imbalance in my brain.  A diagnosis was the turning point, and one of the biggest motivators for me to change.  When I got diagonosed with Major Depressive Disorder, it took all the shame out of it; and when I found out I could treat it and all I had to do was quit drinking—well, it wasn’t exactly like a light coming on but, after some time insisting on getting drunk instead of getting better, I decided that no matter where sobriety took me I’d rather not be dumb.  Point is, the opportuntiy to rid myself, or even deal with a monkey that’d been on my back for decades presented itself and I instead decided to keep getting drunk until I realized how dumb that was.  It’s not a cureall.  My aversion to being stupid was stronger than my alcoholism.  Again, not easy, nor is it black and white.  Sometimes my alcoholism is stronger than everything else in my life and it still manifests, and I’m still a jerkoff temp sugar junkie trying to get free.  Point of all that, believe it or not, is I am still writing.  I’m still a writer and I am still writing it down.  It’s a world I know.  One I curated on a manual in an apartment on the corner of 45th&Locust, on a Brother electric at 47th&Chester, on those pocket-sized CVS jawns—with covers black, grey and red, on the heralded President XII Tower, on the beautiful machine—a fire engine red IBM Selectric II, on a MacBook Pro that’s overheating and finally on an iPad typing like a praying mantis on this Logitech mini-keyboard.

I write from the hip and we know this. I go for the throat, theirs and mine, and we know that too. I throw these words down, tight little nuggets of filigree and rage and make sense of it later if at all. I write letters, 2 times a week when I’m on my A Game, which I hardly am. I’m working as a temp—for 13, 14 and $15 an hour, loading tables and humping luggage, slinging drinks and serving dinner. While typing a letter the other night, there was this fucker on his back, on the tiles by the machine—a tree roach, judging by his size. They’re coming in out of the rain and one of them even ran the fuck up my back. This place is all bills though and month to month, and I’ll stay because mostly, during the day, it’s as quiet as a tomb. My writing desk takes up about 30% of the space in here, just underneath a Full XL loft bed that I never sleep in. I slept in it the other night but that’s when the visitor ran up my neck and if I think about it too long I’ll draw a bleak conclusion. I know I chose this. I know that anything can happen. I know we’re terribly inured here, enslaved and entitled by our comforts and our politik, and we voice our paltry protest online but come Monday morning fall right back in line. I got just over 60k on a Japanese car and I’m as free as I can manage but I’ma have to get freer. You know the deal. We rant. We rave. We suffer sorrow and celebrate joy. The world’s still turning and the end is coming soon. Shit’s about as fucked as it can get but I guess it’s gonna have to get worse. It can always get worse and it can always be better. I’ll be at my desk if you need me or on campus plating dinner for 80 and thankful for another day I’m not living in my hometown.

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NOTES OF AN INTERIORIST

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2018 at 7:44 pm

The hearings don’t matter.
Emily Bazelon 

Another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage.
Alice Stewart

The false, even, belief that you have agency is what keeps us alive and keeps us actually surviving and going beyond trauma.
Jennifer Fox

Maybe you’re a baby who can write.
Maroline Martin

My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.
President Gerald Ford

I still got one of his hickeys. It won’t go away. It’s a scar.
Kids In The Dark

Quantitative scientific measures are almost always more accurate than personal perceptions and experiences but our inclination is to believe that which is tangible to us, and/or the word of someone we trust, over a more “abstract” statistical reality.
Gabriel Weinberg

I got an hour here before I have to take a call.  It’s been a rough day writing-wise and that’s because I’m not prepared.  I’m never prepared and that’s because I loathe doing this–well, I hate drudging it up and “coming to a conclusion” and talking myself into continuing the charade.  It’s as hopeless as it sounds but, maybe it’s not.  The price I pay for sensitivity, I could tell myself.  What I mean is I woke up knowing I’m not Hunter Thompson and that, it being Thursday, I’d solve the crisis of either writing or hating myself by coming through with 600 words neat and fine or otherwise.  But I gave up on that before noon and started looking around for something to post that wasn’t personal or current and wouldn’t remind me that I’m a fraud.

I came across my filmed performance, at Metaphorically Challenged last January, and started singing a different tune.  Sometimes I need my friends to tell me I’m a writer but sometimes I can figure it out all by myself on a day off as a luggage handler in a small garage apartment in the Pearl of the South.  I couldn’t download the video to my desktop though.  My Mac tells me I’m out of space on the cloud.  I don’t know why that should matter but it seems like a brilliant business move to have some of the machine’s functionality out of sight and as invisible as a cloud so that you only notice it when it’s gone and that’s when you’ll need it the most.  These are the shakes and breaks, the little pin pricks that can pop your balloons, not to mention the device and ease that’ve trained us to be consumers and send us out into the hordes on a perfect day of solitude to get what we need–Christ.  Tangential fits of filigree and rage like that are exactly why we tune in here ain’t it though.  Why you’re here reading and why I sit here writing it down.  It’s also exactly the kind of thing I’d much rather avoid but the video is still loading and my MacBook’s only heating up tallying my bill for storage for its master.

You gotta serve somebody and life here is inuring and mad.  It don’t feel right to complain but it don’t feel right besides.  Over there they’d kill for what we have and over here we kill ourselves.  I spent too much money this summer but I’m changed now and I can’t go back.  There are over a thousand shots in my Dropbox and I’m playing in town some, getting back into the groove.  It feels good but none of it is a cure for the malaise that comes from building your own cage.  I know I’ve got to get free.  I can see the way out and it’s what I’ll be working towards for the rest of my days.  There’s a tally I know I’ll need to settle.  There are universes of misunderstanding between me and Them but it’s nice to know I won’t have to fight against a dull idea of living anymore.  Being alone has made me strange and being independent’s made me queerer still.  I wasn’t understood in the hometown so I left.  I’m not understood in Austin but I live behind a tall wooden fence off the highway and people leave me alone.  I’m still trapped by my own comfort and the Machine has got me coming and going too.  I wake up most days a failure but sometimes I can convince myself otherwise.  I can still hump luggage for $14/hr even if I have to shit my brains out the whole time.  I suffer tension headaches, hardons, fear and lusts great and small.  The sun is always setting and the moon is always giving rise.

I’ll take it, too–another breath, diminishing returns, this uncanny strength in ease.  I’ll always be glad for another day, one I’d rather have than not, no matter it’s outcome, despite its reward or travail and whether or not it’s Thursday and I have to write another fucking blog.

TOM WOLFE’S BLUES

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2018 at 10:01 am

To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
—Lao Tzu

We realized this was all lies.
Jiri Pehe

Lest you doubted it, this is grotesque.
Village Voice

I had a dream that I died twice yesterday
and I woke up still not dead again today…
Willie Nelson

Where is Bobi Wine?
Andrew Tabz 

None have clean hands. 
Charles Garraway

Your blog is a beacon.
Danielle Cole

I’m posted up in one more strange nowhere, next to an empty lot where Mama sits. She offers me Cokes in front of her burned down house as I head out to Walmart for a hotspot. John McCain was an unctious hawk kept alive by publicly funded healthcare he voted against for his entire career.  The 2 gunned down in Jacksonville were only a blip and a byline in a grisly newscycle this week, as we continue to be inured with random murder in the America. Bobi Wine was granted bail, after being held on the grounds of treason and likely tortured and brutalised and unable to stand out front of a Uganda courthouse. What a wonderful world.

That graph is the sum total of formal writing I was able came up with this week, if you don’t count letters or poetry, which you probably shouldn’t. I’ve a stack of white business-sized in the outpile, 2 new poems and 5 or so more I’m tinkering with, but you’re here for the hard stuff and I’m afraid I’ve let you down. There was no shortage of news, and life in the New Century continues to be compelling if not fascinating, worthy of pause as the Buddhists say and worth writing about in any event. You either hang yourself or you hang it on the wall. Writing is my way of keeping the world off my neck and getting my arms around the swirling chaos of a life fantastic and cruel. I’ve no excuse, except to say that mornings I fired on all four but evenings found me falling out with what felt like soft cotton between the ears. It’s a dullness and boredom I’ll regret someday when I’m older and in fact already do and that’s because the world is wide and if I’m diligent and quick, I should be able to punch my ticket to anywhere as long’s I’m toting an iPad and a mirrorless with editors on the wire.

I suppose I’ll get a column out of why I didn’t write which is common if not perverse. My “neighbor” sits in front of her burned down house all day, except there’s no burned down house there—just piles of Coke cans, a dead Lincoln and Sentra, and some folding chairs in the shade with a cooler full of iced water and soda. I can hear her talking out my window constantly so I put the AC on fan and the radio on NPR until I’ve had enough. Those radiocasters talking in a creampuff tone remind me of square teachers you knew you could get over on in middle and high school. I feel bad for those teachers sitting here writing this but someday I hope to have those newscasters’ jobs. Begs the question ain’t it though—who the fuck am I kidding, if all I can come up with in 7 days is a 5-lede graph, a few poems and a stack of not-at-all-sane correspondence? I guess you could say I failed, well, I’m saying it anyway. I failed. My life is forfeit.  LIFE OVER, GO HOME, TRY AGAIN TOMORROW.

I go home on Saturday—can you fucking believe it? Besides a tote full of handwritten journals and a shoebox full of radio shows on cassette, all my belongings fit into a 5×10 storage unit. I got a Japanese car with less than 60k miles and a webstore full of 4 titles and a 5-song EP. It’s amazing the power of clarity that can come when you just put your cards on the table. I wrote I’m a failure above and as soon’s I gave it up the blessings came, that is—once I got being a failure out of the way, I was able to enumerate on what does work, what is working and all that I truly am looking forward to. I had a gentle moment eating an ice cream sandwich and reading David Sedaris to my lady friend last night. The world needs more gentleness and I know this even if I’m terrified of getting soft and it’s a fear I try and assuage by being way too hard on myself. You can’t wear army fatigues every day ain’t it though. Some nights you’ve got to wear terry cloth, and some weeks you’ve got to putz and fuck around and let the world go to soft focus while you circle your prey. I ruminated this week and I let it all hang out. I slept you bet and I dreamed. There were at least 4 compelling stories the world piqued me with. I know I’ve got to map this season out and get back to grant writing. I’m moving luggage next week which should be as fun as it sounds, but—at least I was able to come up with this column. It’s got to count for something, right? I admitted I failed but found I am still sitting here, sipping cold french press in my robe with the AC fan on full blast and the whole wide world waiting. Dorothy Parker was right.

See you in Wilshire Wood, motherfucker.

IN THE CITY THERE’S A THOUSAND THINGS I WANNA SAY TO YOU

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2018 at 1:33 pm

Do not interfere with an army that is returning home.
Sun Tzu

We’re seeing, in real time, what the GOP is really made of.
Paul Krugman

The fall of any empire, even empires of the soul, is the beginning of a Renaissance…
Moriah Marston

Just a friendly reminder that you’re fucked.
—responding to @realDonaldTrump

Punk rock isn’t a genre.
Jewel

Greetings from Bro Country.  I didn’t think I’d be so ecstactic to be back and yet so bludgeoned by the heat.  There was no one was on the street when I pulled in to East Austin Tuesday night.  Why would there be?  The heat and humidity made it hard to move and drove a breathless pressure through the top of my skull.  Everything in me screamed to get behind closed doors but I needed pizza and baby wipes so I did my business and suffered in silence.  I ate 2 pepperoni slices in the stifling dusk and when I saw they’d closed down the super CVS off 35, I called it and made my way back to my AirB where I cranked it to High Cool and stripped down.  What a long, strange trip it’s been.  It’s hard to look at the country the same and it’s hard to look at Austin in any way but fondly.  Hostile City did me in, the way it does, and I couldn’t find a damn thing to do in Delaware, but the truth is, I was too exhausted to even try.  I shudder estimating how into the City of Philadelphia I am for parking there for 8 days straight, and I regret not being more proactive with my family or even swimming more.  I’m an Indoorsman, though, an Interiorist and a recovering depressive.  Take this morning, for example.  As good as it feels to be back I’ve been in here all morning drinking instant coffee, hot and black with white sugar, and gleefully reading the news without saying a word to anyone.

What great news it was, too, coming out of Washington Monday, though it still feels queasy to me.  My limited political scope only affords me the knowledge of how little my stakes are in this Democracy, and my dysfunctional upbringing and Irish dispostion have me hemming the endless bottom.  Country simple—it’ll get worse, like it always does, and I’ll bow out, like I always do.  Vigilance is in the fighting, though.  I’ve heard it said and better.  Showing up to the polls is its own reward though I tire of the newscycle and loathe being pandered to.  Truth is, my fatigue with the game is neck and neck with feeling powerless. I don’t spring out of bed in the morning but I don’t pass out exhausted at night either.  I know I’m not doing enough, and I know desperately what I want.  It’s hard watching life as we know it get eclipsed, even though it won’t matter what happens on the Hill.  States will catch fire, islands will fall in the sea and creatives and sideliners like me will have to find other enclaves beside Wishire Wood and West Philadelphia to live in and create.  The Dems could take over and usher in a whole other bag of business that has nothing to do with you and me and the working poor.  The die is cast and it’s all fucked (Sorry Will) but at the same time, I feel like it’s now or never.  Strange, this age, my 40s.  Death has never been so close but yet I have never felt more inspired or able.

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If all this is confusing good Reader, don’t despair.  I write this column to wrap a bad blues and find meaning in the final days of the human race.  It often resembles therapy here and I know many of you apprecaite that, as I do you.  I start these blogs woeing but end up on a good note.  I think I’ve reached critical mass working for the man.  I really want to push my work further and get more involved but I don’t know how this is any different than when I quit my job of 5 years last October, and went into almost $8,000 of credit card debt trying to live my dreams.  I know I’ve got some books out, and that Take To The Territory isn’t even 3-months old.  I know I can’t do the same grind I did all those years getting by.  It’s brutal and hopeless and the world is full of folks who can’t do it either but have to.  I don’t have to.  If I don’t get busy living, depression could win the round and I’ll find myself coping like a controlled denizen—which will never do.  Henry Rollins was right.  It is punk rock time and down here at the Office of Jim Trainer we won’t get fooled again.  I can’t go back to that life and my days in Philly are over.  Same with driving a truck to write poetry and get drunk on the weekends.  Everything is different now but I am the same.  I’m still in love, still seeking refuge, still finding for a way to steep myself in the magic of idea and get lost in the wild music of my heart.  I’m still your Writer, too—at large or in the homeland and you can bet I’ll see you on the streets motherfucker.

VOX POPULI, VOX DEI.

Trainer
Austin, TX

 

“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…
GODSPEEDYOU!BLACKEMPEROR

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.

 

 

WEIRD WAR

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 Julian 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 will 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.

 

UNMOORED

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.

Zdrasti!

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2018 at 12:02 pm

A local greeting in any number of cold countries used by a foreigner to indicate she or he has lost grip of reality and all appending realms.
Urban Dictionary

It’s 143 miles to the Black Sea and 4,772 to Newark, New Jersey. I’ll be in EWR next Wednesday night and just long enough to get the fuck out of there, but I won’t be this close to the черно море for some time.  My partner thinks that Plovdiv will be booked to the gills and with nowhere to stay due to the Hills of Rock Festival in town this weekend, and a cursory glance on AirB&B reveals he ain’t wrong. I’m sitting on the foldup bed at the Eco Village, high on instant coffee with sugar and blasting Steady Diet of Nothing into my brain via earbuds I bought in Sofia for 3 leva before we headed for the country.

We been here 4 days and hosts Adam and Michelle couldn’t be sweeter. Adam took us to the lake last night, about a 20-minute walk from here. They threw their lines in but I left them there to snap pics of the crescent moon through the walnut trees, walk a while past shuttered factories and a chained up mare. The pace isn’t so slow in Varzulitsa, Russian built trucks are as likely to barrel past me on these dirt stone roads as a black Mercedes or family in a horse drawn cart. Twigs the dog came out of the dusk to greet me on my way back to Adam’s, following me when I had to double back after discovering I was locked out without the key. Looks like they’re preparing dinner now.  I see Michelle walk past my window with a large, white bowl.  The sunflowers in the garden rock in the hot sun glowering.

Such a generosity of spirit these good folks have shown me and my partner since we pulled in behind the Blues Bus last Wednesday and unloaded on the town square. Blato Zlato played to the general and varied fanfare of the village and even the mayor herself crewed up with some lady friends to sing authentic Bulgarian folk songs and give each member of the band a rose. Rose water is a major export of Bulgaria—and sunflower oil, judging by the endless rolling fields of them, with their heads heavy and bowing down in the July heat. They drink their beer here, and Rakia (pronounced rock yeah), a whisky made from grapes that smells like West Philly corn liquor. These are a hearty and authentic people. They don’t waste time on a smile in the village but are curious and interested and willing to talk. Bulgaria’s had a hard time of history and is scrappy because of it. All of the people we met hate Russia and Trump and in that order. They know what’s up and there’s no bullshit on their faces—just hard lines from smoking, worn smooth and sun-browned.

We decided to stay another day at least. My partner’s out of money but the rental’s due back to Sofia Thursday. I think we can make the drive in under 3 hours but we might go to Vargas or Plovdiv after all.  We’ve been traveling somewhere between suitable and lean but leaning on the austere side for this, our village leg. I’m hoping for the best on Friday. I got an $80 room somewhere in Berlin and it will be the beginning of my solo journey. I’m looking forward to luxuriating in the singular chaos of my own mind, writing in cafes where I don’t speak the language, remaining outside the America and at large on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested….Aho.

See you in Germany, motherfucker.

 

 

Bad Stories, Bad Sources & Bad People

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2018 at 4:14 am

The Office of Jim Trainer
New Orleans Division
c/o Bernard Pearce
2822 Dumaine St
New Orleans LA

Steve Almond, Journalist
stevealmondjoy.org

6/23/18, 10:21PM

Sir

I have been ruminating over this message too long. I’m sending it tonight, bleeding heart and slipshod as it is. I’ve compromised edified tenets of journalism, and squandered precious time with those two sentences (and my archaic heading) and am wasting more still with this one. I loved Bad Stories. It turned some lights on for me and confirmed a queasiness in my craw about the failed democratization of media. I have some questions for you, if you wouldn’t mind. If you do, well, I appreciate the time you spent reading this far. Aho, and, here goes.

How am I, as a self-taught journalist and industry outsider (read: punkrocker) supposed to cull sources and material in what Bruce Springsteen has aptly coined this hall of mirrors of authenticity? Ok so it’s just that question, loaded as it is–perhaps that will forgive the filigree and arrogant tone of this letter. Because, Steve, as the dark new century rolls right over the once proud institution of a free press, I will be perpetrating truth and calling it journalism. I won’t mind being viewed as a hack as long as ink is making it to page. I’d just like to know where to get my facts these days, when the truth is a commodity and Google and Zuckerberg are more than happy to oblige me and whatever suits my antisocial-romantic narrative.

As mentioned I won’t mind never being considered a real journalist, and perhaps living out a paltry career on satire sites where the truth can be taken seriously. I suppose if I had a follow up it would be what you’re probably already thinking…should I go to school for it? Just kidding. Thanks for your work and the time it took to come to whatever conclusion you’ve reached about a too-long letter from an ex-Pat punkrocker living in the wasteland about to fall off the edge of the Earth and land where the dollar is strong and healthcare is guaranteed.

Hope to hear from you. Keep fighting. If the kids are united they shall not be divided.

Yours,

Jim Trainer
Going For The Throat
The Coarse Grind
The Flake News
The Republic of Bulgaria

AT LARGE

In Uncategorized on July 12, 2018 at 12:44 am

The Office of Jim Trainer
New Orleans Division
c/o CC’s Mid-City
New Orleans, LA

Moe Flake, Chief Editor
theflakenews.com
The America

Our mother has been absent, ever since we founded Rome
but there’s gonna be a party when the wolf comes home…

The Mountain Goats

Ahoy Chief-

Greetings from the Big Sleazy. It’s hard to argue with the way natives of this city live but fighting about anything down here could get you murdered. It’s grisly in the Easy. New Orleans has maintained one of the 5 highest murder rates for American cities for the last 10 years. If I keep my wits I’m sure I won’t get shocked or got, but—I hail from Hostile City, where they shoot you for your shoes and even Santa gets pelted with snowballs. Bernard Pearce, born and bred here, says you can’t treat people like dogs and expect them to be civil and not kill you over some shit in the deathly heat on Decatur Street, when the cops are running interference and pulling over tourists at Crescent Park. I can’t complain, this town’s been good to me. It’s kept me fed and in roses. I’m flush with cash, drink dark coffee all day at CC’s in Mid-City and bump & grind at the Saturn Bar to the raucous goodness of King James and The Special Men late into the greasy night.

I wanted to get this off to you before me and Bernard leave the mainland—in thanks and for luck & prescience. I know the ink you gave me in The Flake News didn’t come easy, nor would any argument about why the Personal Journalism of an ex-Pat punkrocker should appear on its pages, but—why not, as Dr. Thompson used to say. Why shouldn’t I perpetrate truth and call it journalism, and why can’t we get our hard news from a satire site and divine our fate in pubs that make light of the extinction event stakes of living in our time, that poke at the Godhead and attempt to shock the squares in a post authentic world? It makes perfect sense to me and besides bi-weekly thrusting nine hundred words into your inbox, I thought I’d approach you personally, with gratitude and gravitas.

I appreciate journalism for the urgency of its language. The hard deadlines of this business prompt me to be informed. I couldn’t even watch the news for a year after the election. I couldn’t shit either, which should come as no surprise—tension, anxiety and dread are your bedfellows when a grifting ponce who lost the popular vote by 3 million becomes the most powerful man in the world. Perhaps that could explain why I fell out of circulation this month, got out of town and pocket and took to a saltwater pool off Dumaine in Murder City. By the time I rented out my garage in Wilshire Wood, loaded up the Element and headed east, Donald J. was the last thing on my mind. The news caught up with me though, and not long after I landed I got word from poet Brown Thought, who wrote while visiting some poor, non-English speaking folks holed up in Taylor, TX by the authorities. I’m sleeping in a kid’s bunk in the meantime, at a housesit in New Orleans, and I only got caught up with current events in time to leave.

An American dollar won’t get you a Euro but that says nothing about what it takes to make it here since the Great Recession. Murder and gun deaths are grim realities we’ve acclimated to living in the America, and the only thing more shocking is that we can go on living this way. I’m not in the business of getting my hopes up, but even living on luck can lose its charm when it takes 2 months for a contusion on my left foot to heal and without 8 hours of sleep I feel all 43 of my years like a weight and bane, and besides—it’s time to GTFO, know what I mean Chief? You got to rattle your chains. Leave the homeland, go abroad, become the dark Other your country fears, lurk like a stranger in the shadows and see how they do in other climes and hemispheres whose doors aren’t darkened by American hegemony. Our destination is The Republic of Bulgaria. We leave America on the 4th of July. There are eco villages filled with ex-Pats in the mountains and they are not without WiFi in the Balkans. $11 a night sounds good to me, Brother, especially after getting brutalized for $140 a day hauling freight in the America. We’ll hit AMS in the meantime, and Brussels because it’s cheaper to fly to and from these hubs, and we’re in no rush. We’re not on a schedule at all, and will probably fly out of Warsaw—the cheapest flight being around $300 to JFK in the first half of August. My partner is well known in the Arts. He’s hoping to hang his lantern over there, buy or rent a barn or bungalow and offer space to artists around the world. Spending money makes me nervous but if I’m writing it won’t feel a total waste and, besides—who knows what will be waiting for me back in the States this Fall as the wretched Year of the Cock winds down?

I’m taking a mirrorless with me, too, lest readers think my column at The Flake News is only bluster and jest. This country is over. I’d like to file with you and The Flake News some of the chronicles of being at large in a wide world and among swathes of people who don’t give a fuck about America but will gladly take its dollars. This long-winded and rageful post is simply in thanks and warning: I should like to submit and hope you are onboard. I know we waited for the humor, the site is satire, and I appreciate it, I feel like it could come, eventually—if and as soon’s I pick up and maintain the healthy habits of a daily writer. I know we discussed a column and I know I’ve told you to look out for some not-at-all-sane correspondence (check). I’m spitballing here, am open to suggestion and at large on a shoestring with an anger addiction and caffeine problem, desperately in need of ink and drawn to hard news only if I have to write about it, and, as always

Your Writer,
Jim Trainer
MSY-BUL