Jim Trainer

ANOTHER HOSTILE CITY BREAKDOWN

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Sooner or later, we all hit the wall…
Nathan Hamilton

Between trouble and the blues, how will we ever survive? Between mental illness and class it’s a wonder we’ve done anything for ourselves, let alone the ones we love.  I had to get gone from the hometown but I should’ve left a long time ago.  There are some folks back there still making it.  They still got some love for me, their hearts would only betray ’em otherwise and anyway they’re too stubborn to die.  Most of them I’m better friends with from a couple thousand miles, though they’re not to blame, or anything or anyone besides anger and addiction and the crushing blow of loss.  I’m never a stranger back home, which is good considering all the years I was there and all these years I feel on the outside practically anywhere else.  They love me in Philly and I love ’em right back but that’s only because years have passed since I danced on a burning bridge making drunken midnight phone calls singing songs full of broken glass.  I was an asshole of the highest order but we all take a turn.  When I go back some are still cautious around me but they’re usually the ones I never liked anyway.  If you thought this was going to be a humbling apology from me you’d be half right–I’m not humble but I am sorry.  I shook up some squares, forfeited any good reference, drank to blurry shakes and fought out on the street but mostly that was just another long, boring night in Hostile City.  Ain’t it though.

They say you oughta be nice to the people you meet on your way up because you’re only gonna meet them coming back down.  I’m not coming down and just because I’m coming back doesn’t mean I should need to kiss the ring or stand on ceremony. Those 317 baleful words above are only a loquacious lathering, a fancy way for a straight edge Big Mouth to announce I’m heading back to the yard and I got a job moving furniture starting Wednesday.  Sister Sarah suggests I may be overthinking it but words like failure and colossal mistake seem apt when you’re interrupting your status as a full-time artist to attend the same shuck & jive as your first ever full time gig, striking out on the mean streets of West Philly at the end of the Twentieth Century.  My first apartment was the biggest 1-br I could find for $400 in 1996, on the corner of 45th&Locust–right next to the Watusi II where, seated on a stool on a grey Fall day, Lucien Blackwell Jr. kissed me on the cheek.  Where my Gary Fisher Marlin was stolen in a snow storm.  Where it snowed heavy in the winter and they drank just as heavy next door, closing the bar every night with the syrupy down beat of 90s R&B, when the line was 45th and no Penn kid would be caught dead or robbed below 40th&Pine. Kathy Change burned herself alive that Fall, and it was as fitting as it was foreboding–she was right about everything.

Worse than reminiscing about ritual suicide in Hostile City is that I’ve headed back to the yard.  Oh well.  If I can’t be sorry and I won’t ask for forgiveness then the best I’ll get from memory lane and a 40+-hour daylabor gig is a chance to really see how far I’ve come.  You can’t go home again.  You can stash your shekels though, if you’re lucky, and live to walk sideways another day.  You can stay in the city of Philadelphia long enough to play some music and read some poetry, revisit the ties that bind and use your hometown advantage to get on the air and up under the hot lights of those same haunts and barrelhouses you said you’d never go back to.  It’s really doing a number on me, Brother.  I’m staying up late at the keys like I used to, back when I had to get it in while I could, on a manual Remington in the hot summer lit up with blunts and Pirate Radio.  What a long, strange trip it’s been.  Just when you think you’re out they pull you back in.  At midlife the past is mythic, you’re a testament but a song of the future is still being sung.  Anything can happen, if by anything you mean the same exact thing only 3 wars and twenty years later.

See you back there somewhere, motherfucker, in the blue mystery, on winding streets of smoke and drunk on the bloodwine of history–wandering, wondering, captivated, free.

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  1. […] and failure, reaffirming the worst parts of my story…and wooing me back to an oblivion of the past…the clacking of keys, it’s a good remedy…it’s worked before, and I’ma […]

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