Jim Trainer

Archive for May, 2018|Monthly archive page


In Uncategorized on May 31, 2018 at 1:08 pm

The best work anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.
–Arthur Miller
…it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…
–Charles Dickens
I’m like a 4-leaf clover ’cause I hide from everyone…
Dan Auerbach
I’m still alive.
Arkady Babchenko

Welcome to the greatest country in the world. Unless you’re poor or black or young and trying to get an education.  Unless you’re sick or think the Police are to protect and serve like the civil servants they swore to be, or you’re not blindly patriotic and a jingoist, or you think working yourself to death to pay for what you already own is unhealthy and insane.  Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?  Trump lost by three million popular votes and what that pusbag railed about on the stump was the bait of a bait and switch as old as the founding of this country.  Campaign coverage was hardly that.  Instead of paying due diligence to the candidates’ policies, the for profit 4th Estate focused on the salacious.  We the bored or enraged bought it, read it and kept coming back for more.  What difference does it make?  At least that’s what I ask myself out here in Paradise, suffering the second hottest May in recorded history.  The weather ain’t right and you don’t need Stephen Hawking to tell you we’re on the verge of an extinction event, but–the real winner of the 2016 Presidential Election was voter apathy.  A lot of people in this country didn’t vote.  You didn’t even bother to, a disillusionment Putin had long since anticipated and so struck while the iron was hot.  Almost half of you said fuck it, and fuck it–I did too. It took me a good graph to warm up and admit this heinous and disgusting fact but it doesn’t matter.  This country is over.  Instead of bemoaning it for the nuclear summer, I’m getting out.

I’ll be realizing a dream of mine and staking other frontiers.  I’ve paid all my bills.  I’ve no gigs, no bad health, just some irritable bowels that have come to be the symptom of a roaring anxiety.  I drive a Japanese car and I got some money in the bank.  I’ve been unemployed since April.  The next time we meet I’ll have a Lumix mirrorless and Austin will be 511 miles away.  My singing is better than ever and I’ve got every Sunday in June at the Saturn to prove it.  I’ll need to maintain my breathing and vocal exercises and, at this late stage, maintenance should be the name of the game.  I’m 43, wandering just beyond the cusp of the New Century as the dark wind blows.  I’m not young enough to fancy wasting any more time but I ain’t dead either.  I think I’ll be a journalist because it’s the only way I can see myself getting involved without getting my hands dirty.  Some people are called to feed children on the streets of Mayanmar.  I’d rather stick it to the man from a sweaty outpost and press box or ride shotgun in my shirt sleeves with a digital recorder where the real winds blow.  Sleep isn’t as important now.  Not that it’s been.  I’m bolted upright every day at 4, blasted awake by a searing anxiety and gripped by a terrible fear.  I’d do wise to get up, get to it and get cracking but instead I lay prostrate on the big chair until NPR gently nudges me awake, hours later.  That ought to sum it up…I’ve a taste for the high drama and I’m thinking of other climes, so I stanchion myself here for my weekly 600 but have only just woke, fully clothed, late and mossy-mouthed, like the spoiled and privileged white American male I am.  Poison and antidote ain’t it though.  No remedy, no problem.

It’s time to shake the rust and roll the bones good Reader.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here.  After posting this I’ll ride out to the Austin Book Arts Center and pick up 55 perfectly bound copies of Take To The Territory.  I’ll sell a good chunk of them tomorrow night at Malvern Books and the rest will undoubtedly sell out to my People in Philly and some good folks in New Orleans I ain’t met yet.  I’ll need to get this place together.  Simonize the Element, load up the iPod and consistently pull, item by item from the load, until what’s left is necessary–a tight little package of the media and sundries needed out on the road in the America.  I’m hoping you’ll join me and I’m hoping to get some coins to rub together, in the wild beyond and funded by Empire ain’t it though.  HAVE CAMERA, WILL TRAVEL.

This country is over.  See you in the Other Hemisphere motherfucker.



In Austin, Jim Trainer, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writing on May 24, 2018 at 2:24 pm

It starts like this.  One word after another.  I snag you from out the ether and I pull you in.  Now you’re three sentences deep–we’ll need no introduction, but you’re gonna need a payoff.   The risks can be steep working in the creative nonfiction business and wasting your time is never an option.  Time wasted is incremental murder.  Time is as serious as death itself and that’s because it’s the only thing standing in her way.  Time is the frontier on which she advances.  I clap my hands around a chigger and it has no more time.  I’m a pacifist but I kill.  I’ve a big heart but people are horrible.  I write 600 words every day sipping sweet espresso and I never have enough time to become who I am.  The risks of working in the creative nonfiction business can be greater than its boons.  You’ve total access and I never wanted to hide but now I’m weary and the enemy has won the round.

Just remember you are also a person, she writes, in response to my declaration that people are horrible.
I am horrible!  I respond, which is no revelation.
We are all horrible, she writes finally and almost sage-like if not for being utterly passive-aggressive and horrible.

There is so much I wish I could tell you that I’ll only regret later if this post should fall into the wrong hands.  The need to stay undercover is strong and could trump my resolution to bring you 600 words of the Real, from the life of a Writer, weekly annals mired both in the daily and dirty of it.  I need to rethink it and I’ll need some time away.  For every horrible person I’ve transacted with in the last 3 weeks there is one of you out there who is golden–a guru of friendship and compassion that can hold Lady Death at bay, for a spat of hard laughter from the gut and a gleaming look in your eye worth more to me than a diamond.  You know who you are and I love you.  I just need to get away to get this rig unwound.  I go live in the truest sense this Autumn and I’ll need to lay low and recharge.  You should have more than enough to go on next Friday, when I unleash Take To The Territory unto the world like a map into the wilds of my unction heart.

I’ll still be here, you know I will, but I’m going deeper–hiding out until you find me, and from what I build, you can bet they won’t be able to get to us there.  We’ll be free and in love, in the thrall of real work, across the borderline tilling the hungry land. When I come down from the mountain you won’t be alone. They will be cast aside. The enemy will join us at the table or learn to gnash on themselves.

Calling out to hungry hearts
everywhere through endless time
You who wander, you who thirst,
I offer you this heart of mine.
Calling out to hungry spirits
everywhere through endless time,
Calling out to hungry hearts
all the lost and the left behind.
Gather round and share this meal
your joy and your sorrow
I make them mine.
–Zen Buddhist Invocation

Join Jim Trainer next Friday June 1, at Malvern Books, in celebrating the release of Take To The Territory, his fourth full-length collection of poetry, through Yellow Lark Press.  Featuring Brown Thought and Christine Schiele.  7PM


In Uncategorized on May 17, 2018 at 5:15 pm

Punk’s not dead, it just sucks now.
–Grafitti in the Men’s Room at the Black Cat Lounge

I smashed my heel falling off a makeshift ladder in my bathroom.  Handsome Dan caught me but it was too late.  The hard tiles crushed the bones of my ankle together and now I can’t rest my foot anywhere–not up or down–for longer than a few minutes before I have to move it again.  My IBS is flaring up, probably from the half&half I’ve been adding to my coffee and I think a filling is loose which is probably from all the high fructose corn syrup in the non-dairy creamer I’ve been drinking to curb my IBS.  My joints are sore, and practically arthritic because I haven’t been taking my Glucosamine.  Anxiety bleeds the corners at the edge of my day and goes full roar at night.  Who knew I had too much energy, and that all those gallons of bourbon I’d been drinking were only a stopgap for the cackling and torrential madness within me?  I did, for one thing.  I always knew, ever since my “straight edge” days in High School–without a band I’d have no way to kill it my head.  It was only a matter of time before I was set to self destruct and bourbon was only the beginning.  I’d drink until I slurred, snort coke until I was good, and then crush a Xanax and lick it to come down.  Mornings were hard then, Good Reader, but I assuaged the hangover with a cocktail.  Then I got old and mornings got dark as midnight.  It got bad before it got better and now I’ve uncovered the Beast.  Too much energy is the worst reason not to get anything done and Sister Kim was right–I’ve got all the tools to work it out, and Sister Maureen–I’ve all the reason to.

I was offered $50 last night to act like I was into the band.  They were a punk band.  I didn’t realize until just then how important it is to me.  We both know the scene got so jaded wth itself, violent and worst of all the music suffered.  I dropped off right before Greenday hit, but, for reference and to assure you I am not cooler than you, when Greenday hit I was into them.  They were a return to form for me.  They weren’t anything as dumb as something called metalcore and better than anything on the radio at the time–bands like Korn and Disturbed and this kind of shit.  It was, or seemed to be, pure punk rock.  These days I wouldn’t listen to Greenday if you payed me but I might act like I was into them if you offered me $50 on a rainy Tuesday night in Bro Country.

“It is pretentious, isn’t it?”

Lance turned away from where we sat on oversized lawn recliners in the rain.  Lance lives across the street from Joey Ramone’s parents in North Jersey and was more punkrock than the band on stage and lot of us getting paid to be in the crowd.  When the band started I was in the bathroom but made my way to the stage beside a white dude in dreads who smelled like dreads.  He annoyed me but when he stepped away I felt vulnerable and exposed.  A phony among phonies.  There wasn’t one fan there who wasn’t offered money to be.  It felt like work.  They did Pretty Vacant and it was alright, but, let me tell you something–if you’re a punk band and you’ve no attitude–you’re doing it wrong.  You didn’t get the memo that you’re not supposed to be up there.  It doesn’t matter what you play as long as you’re playing it as important as death itself.  The 10 minutes I spent talking with Lance were as real as it got for me.  A “punk” band playing to a canned crowd in the most insincere city deep in the heart of Bro Country.  I wore my Eulogy shirt, though.  At least I repped my friends.

The best news I got for you is I’m getting my voice back.  I’ve been seeing a specialist which hasn’t been cheap but worth every penny.  My vocal chords were out of sync with my breath.  I leave the Doc’s office ringing and resonant, and I try to carry it over at home on my sessions with the Guild.  This hair-brained and willy-nilly post is what you can expect from me after I’ve been in the thrall of anxiety too long.  It takes me away from The Work which is no bueno.  Every morning I pray nothing takes me away from my art.  Not the maddening search for subletters, not explosive bowel movements, not getting up at 4 to drive a 16′ stake bed or any number of niggling ailments and conditions that can bore through our workaday lives and rattle us fuckall trying to make a living in the America.  Besides a bit of recon in the territory and seeing how the other half live, I’ll be keeping the blades sharp and getting 600 on wax before noon every day.  It’s the least I can do and it’s what’s expected of me.  I’m a journalist now.

See you on the internet, motherfucker.

John Crow Blues

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2018 at 8:10 am

My youth was nothing but a lowering storm, occasionally lanced by sudden suns…
–Charles Baudelaire, The Enemy

This may sound dire.  Because it is.  If I don’t make it now I might never, but–if you take the theatrics out and the drama away I’ll adjust, and adapt, and find a way for my Art to survive.  This is the struggle.  Ain’t it though.  I been cut free from the slog.  My mornings are quietly constructing columns of words on writing, the ruling class, the America, travel plans, and the nighttime is for poems and letters.  Unemployment’s been good to me, it’s the anxiety that’s been unkind.  I’m faced with the most impossible and fuckall obstacle of all–getting everything I want.  It makes me anxious, like I’ll lose it somehow and not just be back where I started but nowhere, Pal.

As if I could.  I’m not 20 anymore.  Not thirty or forty either and that’s ok with me.  What I remember about striking out into the city are freezing, November morning rides crossing the South Street bridge in workboots.  It wasn’t long till I was in the know, though, living in converted warehouses and steeped in trysts with rockettes and independent film stars.  Philly was savage, the frontier, with plenty of places and people to get lost in.  I fell in love enough times to be considered terribly lucky or desperately low.  I can’t compare my roaring youth to what’s happening now.  I don’t even know why I’m writing about the end of the century, to be honest, except to say that there really is no way I could ever go back but if I could, would that be so bad?  I live like a monk compared to that fast and sleazy decade but I’m on point and I started this writing you to let you know I’m struggling.

I’m fighting the good fight but I’m losing.  I’m confronting the Self and this battle is making the case to start smoking again.  I stared the 10 pages of the CORE app blind.  I did what I could, I’m here today.  I’m working for cash and booking the Fall.  Playing every Sunday night at the Saturn.  I might have to take work out of country and while I might be writing a hell of a lot less than anything else I’m doing with my time these days, it’s a hell of a lot more than it used to be in those sanguine end days of the 20th Century, living with a mattress and a Remington manual.  Those were mad jungle nights compared to these evenings of copacetic cardboard.  The difference is if it makes it to the page and if I get it on wax ain’t it though.  That’s all that matters now and I suppose it’s a great way to sublimate all that anxiety–that perches on my shoulder like a grey turkey vulture, egging me on with rue 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 keep at it, too.

The days go creaking by.  The road is clear.  The worst fears I’ve suffered, and the story that I won’t live my dreams have given way, yielded to a great fear that I’ll be happy and get what I want.


In poem, Uncategorized on May 3, 2018 at 2:29 pm

Celebration is the way I walk
legs scissoring through
downtown stares on the avenue
pull heavy on the door
and posit, here, behind the glass
decaf appears like a familiar, like
a black unblinking seer’s eye
it’s steam caught, mid-air
in present tense
the gay bike messenger boy
leans to, his posture a question?
and his eyes so I’m sure
fuck outta here
I’m between cities like Jesus on the
weekend and the platinum out the window
is heaps more my speed
she’s the kind you get lost
with and never found
towers reaching up around her
like they could poke the somnabulant
sky and make it rain
I leave him in there
and the steam in the air
catch my betty’s eye
and hold it like a prism
I walk, North, into my city
holding the rain in its clouds
arms out like a scarecrow at a yellow
the wind on a florist’s awning
makes it flap to
and ripples through the rows of blooms
like all the flowers are laughing