Jim Trainer

Archive for August, 2018|Monthly archive page


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 brutalized, 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 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.

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.


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.


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…

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.




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.



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.