Jim Trainer


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.

  1. […] 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. […]

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