Jim Trainer

Archive for January, 2019|Monthly archive page

BLOWIN ‘EM OFF

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2019 at 4:39 pm

They threw bricks and cobblestones at us and even tried to set fire to our vehicles.
Anatoly Babi 

Not only is knowledge no longer power, it isn’t even really knowledge anymore.
-Christina Cauterucci

I did everything I could to get out of the catering business.
Jeff Ross

WHO BRINGS YOU BACK WHEN YOU’RE GONE, GONE, GONE?!
Monster Magnet

This post is not for the weak.  It will run far and ahead of the vitriol and venom regularly dispensed with here.  Hatred gets the best of me most of the time but, usually, it don’t take much to bring my love around.  Not today, Bubba.  I’m cornered and ornry and they’ve been playing Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in this Starbucks on Westgate&William Cannon the whole time I been sitting here.  What’s most striking about the psychic decor of a corporate chain is I could be anywhere from Berlin to German’s Town, Maryland but I wouldn’t know it until I stepped outside.  I don’t have a problem with the jazz they play per se, and it’s not this dark roast either.  It’s the feeling that it’s all phony and phoned in, straight from the boardroom of the corporate office, a facade that we pay for and a norm we’d like maintained every time we lay our money down.  We need things to be the same, and some stanchion of sanity to anchor us through the swirling chaos of a world ending on itself.  I’m not one to speak on comfort and safety, really, I mean I’m shellshocked most of the time, but the vibe in here has me wanting to jump up and rip out this table where it’s bolted to the wall, hop up on the counter like The Savage and demand I be taken to where this music is coming from and proceed to kick it in violently and with aplomb.

My feelings, however overwrought, are the micro to the macro of the cosmic shit hitting the universal fan. The snake is choking on its tail.  The old world is over the rise and the new one is lurching and poised to come down hard, Mother, on the poor and disenfranchised, the criminal and gay, the artist and teacher and anyway anyone not initiated in to this bloodcult of money and greed.  Think about 12 summers the next time you come at me with your complaint, though, Good Reader.  As mentioned I’m insulated in my own way.  I spend sweeping swathes of time stowed away behind a tall fence and carport off the highway in the middle of nowhere, Texas with wifi and a heart full of hate and all the coffee I can attempt to drink.  I’m gulity, too.  You bet.  I’m as complicit as you are, so, have a seat, read up and otherwise quit yr bitchin or take it on up to the Big Boss Man.  We didn’t start the fire but are no less responsible for continuing this parade of misery and death.  They’re playing Frank Sinatra now and I’m feeling like I should get the fuck out of this white man’s prison of comfort and propriety, take to the streets for action or blood and anyway whatever kind of doom and sludge or post-punk I can drum up on thee hated iPhone.
ttyl
Well.  After that ‘graph I showed up to my Dentist a week early but left quicker than Romana could say Arrivedirce!  I looped at the turnaround and burned down Westgate, fuck 35, and took it to 10 with Dopes To Infinity.  I made it, all the way up Lamar in time to hear Dave Wyndorf howl that tough-tender rock and roll coda before pulling in and pulling the gates of the Bat Cave closed behind me.  I started this post with clear purpose.  I was going to be honest with you—about my life and where I am as an artist and where I feel like I should be if I wasn’t depressed or suffered from ADD when it comes to business and marketing myself.  Truth is I accepted I’d be a factotum a long time ago.  I turned off my mind but it wasn’t as noble as it sounds.  It’s coming home to roost, though, and I’ve no one and nothing left to blame except myself about where I am, as a performer and in the world of letters.  Brass tacks.  Real talk.  The amount of time I’ve been derelict is staggering and perhaps I’m only noticing it now.  Without cigarettes and vixen, bourbon and the Chase, I can see plainly how much time I spend as a jerkoff and jerking off or otherwise dull and blank between money gigs, on my loveseat wrapped in a nernie, fucking off the time on YouTube playing with myself and filling my mind with clickbait and yellow journalism.

Beyond being critical and unsatisfied, I’m off to work as House Manager for the Hyde Park Theatre, and, Love And Wages, my one-man show, debuts there Thursday night.  I’ve got to finish recording some poetry for Super High Technology, edit an essay for El Informe, write the Sybil Journal back about running 5 of my poems, go over my interview as a feature in the new Fredericksburg Literary&Art Review and send Editor Amy Bayne some work & PR, write 2 letters Friday and send out 2 more, send a copy of All in the wind to Hollywood and a copy of Love&Wages to be reviewed and respond to poet David Estringel about writing for the Good Men Project.  Not today, Satan, and not this week apparently.  Thank you for reading.  You’re going to have to start charging me for this.  It’s like therapy, but better.  There’s no commute or copay and when I’m done I can slink right back into my delusions.  Ok, that part’s no different.  Pencil me in for the same time next week.

Jim Trainer stars in Love And Wages, debuting for Frontera Fest at the Hyde Park Theatre tonight!  Love And Wages is a one-man show of story and verse, chronicling the savage road Jim first took foot to almost 25 years ago. The show is about writing the story of your life and leaving everything behind, including who you think you should be so you can become who you are.  For tickets please visit the Hyde Park Theatre.  If the show sells out, show up by 7 and get on the waiting list.  The Festival has been running at 100% admittance for folks on the waiting list.  Thank You!

 

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Shrieks of Paradise#21, Dear Greta Jee

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2019 at 4:58 pm

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

G.J.
16 Welting Avenue
New Paltz, NY 

6/3/18, 3:37PM

Dearest Greta-

Shameful, it took took this long, but the timing is perfect so it must’ve took the right amount of time.  March in New Paltz was another life. I’m writing you side straddled at a child’s desk in Mid City with a deflated balloon slowly twisting and fish tank gurgling behind.  I refused the “Princess bed” and took instead to the bottom half of this bunk in a gorgeous and airy, high ceilinged house on Dumaine Street. I just did your puja, and perhaps now we can call it ours—and I’m struck with the idea of writing about it and submitting it to the Elephant Journal.  The beauty of it is its simplicity and I thought, sitting prostrate, that I should continue my Yogic education and do so diligently, as if it were a job which I suppose I always wanted it to be.  

The sun in Louisiana is different.  It’s white. I first noticed that many moons ago on a spoken word tour of the U.S.  I did the whole thing by train and Bernard, who I’m staying with, was there to receive me at my first stop and gig–the Rinky Dink in Lafayette, Louisiana.  That story could practically be about someone else but it’s coming home to roost in ways I can’t even perceive or imagine—but just know. Ok, now I’ve moved to the bed and propped my iPad up on my suitcase but this won’t do either…ok, back at the desk and attacking this letter from the front of it with the iPad propped up on My Big Animal Book.  What was I saying?  I will connect the dots in writing, like you do.  When I struck out in 1998 (99?!) I had something to prove.  I hit 5 cities heading east and the same 5 heading back. Last stop was Wilmington, DE where my old man picked me up in a black Tundra.  We smoked Marlboro reds all the way back to Middletown and everything was covered in 2’ of snow. Talk about proving something—I never wanted to be like him and now he’s gone.  The saddest part wasn’t not getting what I needed but being unable to give him what he did. He was hard to love and whatever I lack from not having a solid Father figure pales in comparison to the regret I feel at having not been able to show him love.  This hurts me now, even after the pain of his passing is gone, it’s a bruise and it stirs up the defenses. I suddenly have butterflies but the house is silent, save for the fish tank and the giant fan above me.

Bernard and Alexi have gone into “town”.  I’m on my own here and trying to work out my nerves.  Our sprawling dialogue of phone calls and texts and prayers sent out–could be summed up as Everything is gonna be alright.  It matters to say it, it matters to hear.  It is a soothing acquiescence to what is and that way to what we are.  Spirituality is only acceptance and we pray for the grace that can come from it.  We accept and are changed. We are undoubtedly fucked and mired here, on earth behind our eyes, with a roaring heart in a roaring world, but the only thing that will save us is admitting that.  Then, hopefully the grace comes.

This city lost itself and this country didn’t really lead the search for it or help to bring it back home.  Help was bureaucratic, a lot of poor people died, but I can still feel a spirit here. Much like I did, twenty years ago now, getting off the train, geeked on a gel tab and jars of instant coffee with my Italian afro raging and workboots kicking clods.  I had my cards read that night. It was auspicious, I remember the card reader telling me she was a Pisces, too, and I believed her. The whole trip was one of belief…in youth and beauty, and poetry—in America, wide orange groves that soothed and assured me, all was not conquered, there was still uninhabited rolling green and jagged monoliths of rock stoic as a God’s mask.  You don’t forget Utah, or Idaho Falls or the Tenderloin at Christmas, impossibly feeling like it might snow, unwrapping handout PB&J’s in wax paper and heading underground before dark.  These things are still with me and I’m still on that tour. The magic of creation is the same magic of our dreaming heart. I didn’t realize that San Francisco, circa 1998, was still with me and I wonder how much that I’ve lost I just haven’t brought to mind lately, that all my loves and friends and even fractured selves are still stalking the psychic veldt beyond these folds of flesh and deep within canyons of bone.  

I’ve no trouble and I’ve all the trouble in the world but I will make something of this page.  A tower of black, brick words and a column leaning to in the static white storm of this page. I’ve made document, a testament and will send it forth, have it rage and roil and yawn awake like a blind baby bird.  It began at the wet corners of my blues, went back to my youth and brought me back into myself, at the school desk propped up by The Giving Tree, in the white sun coming in through a curtain of tea green.  I’ve taken all these and festooned, and set sail, a letter, a gift.

If you are holding this letter then we are together.  All I‘ve given was received.

Yours,
Jim on Dumaine
New Orleans, LA

A CASE OF MISDIRECTED ADVENTURE

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2019 at 5:53 pm

My life has been full of dangers in which I should have lost a lot of blood…but since I have bled only a little, I asked somebody to write God’s words with my blood in gratitude.
-Saddam Hussein

I left America because I thought that if I survived at all I would drown as a writer in bitterness. I wanted to be a writer, not a Negro writer. I wanted to discover how my experience connected me with other people and not how it divided me from them. And I discovered in Europe that I was as American as a Texan or even more if that’s possible. All the Americans I met in Paris had this in common. It did not matter that the origins of white Americans were European and mine were African. They were no more at home in Europe than I was. Once I could accept that we had this in common–and it took me a long time–I was released from the self-delusion that I hated America, and it was time to go back.
-James Baldwin

That Bitch is dead!
Gypsy Blancharde

S leep
L anguidly
U nder god
G oodnight…

Eric Peffley

Ahoy.  ‘Tis I, the intronaut, reporting on the inner weather and grisly turns of a lifelong sufferer of major depressive disorder.  I’m here to work it out and really jam, sock squarely the jaw of my malaise and grind the blues into gun powder.  600 words ought to do it, set me to rights and redouble me for the rest of the week delivering corporate lunch and bartending.  I “took off” last week, except for a couple hours delivering in the afternoon and house managing at the Hyde Park Theatre.  The delivery gig was only to assuage the working class guilt of devoting time to writing that doesn’t pay.  I was developing my one-man show but I’d get nothing done if I wasn’t working, too.  So it was part time and I took stabs at the show before I went in to the theatre and worked the door for Frontera Fest.  Love And Wages, the show, is done.  I stitched 3 monologues together and wrote about Art and writing and my Papa, Hank Bukowski.  The miracle of it is I learned about myself and was able to recast the strapped and miasmic hours of strife and struggle–working the stacks at the University COOP from 11-7AM, the tables at the Spicewood HEB handing out spiced ham and Muenster, the bars at the Whip In slinging ghee and IPA, and bedside watching a congressman die for $9 an hour.  If it sounds like I’m bitter that’s because I am.  But I’d likely be down on myself and downcast those days and hours on hustle if no Wisdom could be gleaned.  Turns out I was doing all  I needed to and in the grand scheme the real work got done, even if the moments felt small and defeated.

Precisely what I wanted to touch on, Good Reader, is those moments.  The arch and aim was easy enough.  Make Art and don’t be like them.  Point and shoot and never look back.  But the days, the afternoons, when I pull in to the carport after bombing through hill country with hotbags full of shawarma and I’m wooed by a dark hand; it’s a familiar oblivion that’s masqueraded as alcohol for a time, marijuana and nicotine, cocaine and the crazy arms of a thick chanteuse or mother intent on fucking me to death.  Whatever it was or is, it takes time and I don’t know I’ve been derelict until my time is gone.  Which would be sad enough if my biggest fear weren’t that depression would take me from my Art as well.  It’s one thing to smoke decades in the thrall of abuse and wanton lust but another to not be creating while that’s going down.  Just ask Editor Phil.  To the credit of said work, I was able to piece together the disparate and despairing episodes of my life into a unified and righteous whole and come away from that exercise with this Wisdom–give in now, lay down and you’ll lose more than your girlfriend, Grim Jim.  Aw…are you tired?  Tough titty.  Hit the keys, make the copies, send out 2 letters this week and pen 600 words here, and another 9-1,200 at The Coarse Grind, and then you can spend some time looking for real work.

That’s what writing a one man show has given me, Good Reader.  I’m able to look at the present moment from the future with the benefit of the past.  I know that how I feel most of the time is bullshit and by that I mean I’ve got shit boundaries between me and the people, places and phenomena of the world at large.  I’m tired and worn down by their world but those feelings aren’t true.  What I seek is peace, easy enough to come by, writing in the morning, but hard to regain once I’ve been out there and at war.  One solution would be to harden my shell but I’ve tried that already and I can’t go back to being closed, I’m afraid.  Besides, being open is what being a poet is all about.  Another option would be to have some kind of boundary or, simply know that most of my fatigue is a desire for peace, that what I seek is refuge and not sleep.  I can find refuge in my work.  In fact that’s probably the only place.  But I need to find it among them and out in the world.  If only because I’m paying the price of not being able to deal with it.  Large swathes of life are gone and often only blowing by while I’m taking cover.  I can’t go back to full time labor, either.  That’s why this matters now more than ever.  I need to reclaim me and pull myself out of the shit I been stewing in for way too fucking long.  I’ve too much to see and do and the world’s only ending in real time and otherwise shrinking behind its own facade. I need to get out there again, in the wild, and celebrate the collision of the Kings and Queens and stake my claim, open and pour my bleating heart into the savage fray, over it all, everyone and everything–reach out to you, where you stand and see you on the street motherfucker.

Shrieks from Paradise#20, Dear Charlie O’Hay

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2019 at 11:53 pm

The Office of Jim Trainer
Eastern European Division
c/o Eco Initiative
Varzulitsa, BG

Charlie O’Hay
Hostile City, USA

7/14/18, 1:16PM

Brother Charlie

Ahoy from the territory.  My partner and I pulled in the day before yesterday, making the nut on 5,800 miles—2 flights, 1 bus, 1 train, 1 metro, 1 cab and 118 miles in a white Citreon 4-door.  The last leg we caravanned in, from the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, taking up the rear behind the Blues Bus—6 roadworn folkies from the Big Easy in a Volkswagen with no AC and a big bull fiddle.  They stopped twice on the way—once to “frolic” in the endless fields of sunflowers here, and once for Raki (pronounced “rock yeah”), a whisky made from grapes that smells like West Philly corn liquor to me.  It was time wasted but they’re young.

I don’t know about you but the most important thing in my life is a good night’s sleep—no matter the country or continent.  Hell, I didn’t even mind the Old House in Obedinenie, as long’s I got some solid hours horizontal, and that place was gross!  The bathrooms stunk of sewage and the shower was a hole in the floor full of grease and hair.  My partner lumbered in at daybreak and woke me with his horrible drowning bear-like snoring.  I put in my earbuds and let him have it.  He’d had a rough night drinking Bulgarian whisky and I don’t like confrontation.  Sadly this tendency has resulted in days of me biting my tongue in the close quarters of taxi cabs and commuter trains, buses and airplanes.

All’s well now, I suppose.  My room at the Eco Initiative has the Internet and stereo, though.  He’s in the garden and outdoor kitchen making Jambalaya but steps in occasionally to check his phone for real estate offers.  He found one for 25k, a 3-bedroom place with a barn and freshly renovated.  Last night, at the “shop” doing Kareoke, I overheard him discussing a place with Clive (UK) for 3 grand about 3 hours from where we’re staying.  Whatever, I’m only here to write about it, sitting on the fold up bed drinking instant coffee and listening to Cory Branan.   I’ve snapped a bunch of photos in the hills—got shots of sunflowers, plum trees, still brown lakes and rolling green hills on a $900 Nokia mirrorless.  He says he’ll pay me for the shots, he says he’ll foot the bill for the trip, but—he’s a good talker, it’s why we’re here.

He wants somewhere in EUR that’s cheap enough for him to post up, ideally get some grant money and import culture and talent from around the world who are seeking residencies and time to work on their craft.  (Our flights from Brussels were $88!). Bulgaria came to him by chance, in conversation working sound at DBA on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans.  Then he met Boyanna, of Blato Zlato—touring Europe in July.  That’s why we traveled all this way, touching down just after noon and sipping iced Coca Cola in the U.S. Ambassador’s garden by 7.  We spent a few days in the city before making the trek out here to the village.  I did A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock&Roll at Kareoke last night, and Daniel by Elton John (by request).  Life is simple here, and dirty, but the only hard sell for me is the plumbing.  Read:  toilet.  I guess I’ll have to keep stakes in the America if only to have a clean, peaceful place to shit.  A half block up from “the store” (bar, convenience store and general hangout here) was a connex, a stall behind a metal door, with no light inside and smelling direly of the business you do in there.  No thanks.  I waited til we got back to the Eco Village but even the toilet here isn’t bolted down and leaks some.

I wanted to write you back properly (off Facebook) because your distress dignifies a response and I opt to let whomever reads my gmail to read this, and not Zuckerberg and the whores at Facebook Inc.  Take your time getting me something.  When I’m blocked, I can always write a letter, and if you find yourself doing that I’ll print it.  I don’t know if you’ve read any of The Coarse Grind (link below), but, politics are making their slow way into my work.  It’s mostly about creation and most specifically, How will I write?  It started when I was hauling freight for a buck forty a day in Austin, brutal work, di riguer of the New Century and dangerously keeping me from the writing desk.  It’s morphed into something else but the thread winds through it.  Now, of course, the question is How will I write while I blow all my savings in a country with no toilets on a 3g?  Point is I can relate—it’s getting harder and harder to make it in the America.  My answer was to temporarily expatriate and see how they do over here.  Writing a letter is only a suggestion.  I can always write a letter and often do it just to get the juices flowing.  Of course I’d love it and love to print it, especially if that would be your intention with it, but—whatever and whenever you can.  I appreciate the letter and I love the poem.  I will find a place for it, if not the column, and soon.  I made the call for writers and artists I admire (basically you and Don) because I wasn’t sure how below the radar I would have to fly.

I’m a purveyor of creative nonfiction and personal journalism, I only write from where it’s at.  At this point I feel like my readers rely on me for it.  The state took my Unemployment Compensation away weeks before I left the mainland so there’s no longer a need to keep my location under wraps is there?  Not that I’m not working out here.  Writing all day has got to be the hardest gig, even if the most pleasurable.  I’ll be flying in to Newark late July, hope to do a reading and would love to have you, of course.  I’ll have a book for you, too.  Write something, if you can, but only because it will make you feel better.  (You know it will.) I’m learning that lesson out here.  As hard and haggard as it is on the road if I don’t devote an hour to the Work every day then my Father was right and I should’ve stayed in school.  That’s the script although I’m going to have to reason that out—a benefit of this trip I is that I can’t go on hating myself for not being the Artist I already am. That’s a great revelation to have and information I can use to steel myself working labor when I get back to Texas.  It’s also good to know that I shouldn’t live in New Orleans, but for months at a time and probably not June.  I’m thinking October but I should have a lady with me and be shacked up in an AirB&B on Elysian with plenty of money gigs booked.

Anything you need, you let me know, and I mean that.  You’ll also find my phone number below, but I’ll be out of pocket until July 25.  Have heart braving the America and thank your lucky toilet.  Freedom isn’t free.

Your Friend,

Jim
The Coarse Grind
intothevoidmagazine.com
512-203-6288

NORMAL

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2019 at 8:36 am

by Charlie O’Hay

Imagine a thunderstorm
that went from one day
into the next. And on
day after day after that.

At first you’d try to function
normally. Maybe
buy an extra umbrella,
or at night leave the radio playing low.

But after a month
you’d find yourself naked
seated before your open oven
and crying at videos of the sun.

Then it would all become routine:
the swim to work
the snorkel resting on the bedside table.
You’d adapt until numb.

And if at last the sun returned
you’d greet it with rage.

 

 

Charlie’s poems have appeared in over 100 journals, including Mudfish, West Branch, Painted Bride Quarterly, Cortland Review, Gargoyle and The New York Quarterly.  He is the recipient of a 1995 Fellowship in Poetry from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.  Far from Luck (2011, Lucky Bat Books) is his first collection of poems and photographs. His second book, Smoking In Elevators was published by Lucky Bat in December 2014.  Since 2010, Charlie’s ongoing photo series Everyone Has a Name has shared images and stories of the homeless in Center City Philadelphia to promote understanding, dignity, and an end to homelessness in America.

 

Grim Jim Rides Again

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2019 at 10:04 am

If you are eating, stop; if you are having a drink, stop; if you are sleeping, wake up. Wake up your neighbors, in all the provinces, all the cities, all the villages — rise up as one and take control of the street.
Lt. Kelly Ondo Obiang

If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles, then this is the year
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year…
-Martín Espada

…How’d we ever stay together love?
-Lou Barlow

When anger coexists with compassion, truth unfolds.
-Jenny Hughes Eaton

Welcome.  This is the life you always wanted, or settled for and anyway the life you have.  The fact you have one at all could glean you some gratitude, depending on where you are on the misery wheel, so let me just say I’m glad and leave that thought for later, if at all.  I’m a dreamer.  The usefulness of my dreams is in their intention.  When I was young I dreamt as a way of being.  I was innocent until I wasn’t.  Then I started dreaming to escape.  I’m probably about halfway between these two, I mean, you can’t ever go back, at least not all the way, but if you dream long enough and shake the dust you’ll find your dreams are not that far off and you can shape your life and your reality with their manifestation.  Or not.  The other end is that we’re just coping, white-knuckling it through the bare minimum until we can make it back to the cocoon, the liquor, the pill and porn.  Like I said I’m about halfway back to innocent, but would hate to find out I’m deluded.  I’d rather live in truth than with comfort and I know that hasn’t made me easy to be around.  I’ve had a hard enough time hanging with myself so I can only imagine.  I hated myself for decades and I hated you even more.  I was insufferable and not fun and I smoked and drank and raged obtusely and bit the wind down the bright avenues of youth until I hit a dead end.  Christ I’ve gone off the rails already, 283 words in–oh well, I like to circle before I land, and I throw these words down from the heart which means write first and understand later, if at all.

I’ll do any number of things before I write.  Without walls I wouldn’t write at all so I’ve at least bought in that much.  I live in a garage.  My rent is all bills.  It’s quiet as a tomb here in the afternoon and in the daytime there’s a wash of traffic out there always streaming by.  I find both to be conducive and necessary.  My fight against American comfort is well documented.  As is my impulse toward sloth due to the emotional drain of a world I seek refuge from.  It’s between these poles, Good Reader, I strive to maintain by writing every day, but hope to break out of, get off day labor or at least get out there more.  I just ended a months-long relationship with an enchanted woman.  She sees me as unparalleled, or, actualized and anyway–everything I dream up for myself is real, in her eyes.  She knows I should be breaking through and out there and part of the world as a performer and speaker, storyteller and troubadour, self-publisher, personal journalist and actor–and you know what?  She’s absolutely right.  I spent too much time hiding from the world when we were together, which sadly meant, at times, I was hiding from her.  Such is the blues and much is the damage.  Of course it’s a balance and all the other pithy adages I’d do wise as a columnist to use and wrap this awful screed on writing and depression.  But I’m not going to.  I hate being cute and if you’re like me you hate being told, so–what the Hell?

I’ve seen the light, Good Reader, and me and Lindsey are never going back again.  I don’t know how to succinctly explain it–it’s the difference between seeing and having vision.  Know what I mean?  For years my heroes have shown me that depression could be like a channel on the TV of the mind.  I’m not saying that depression is a choice.  I’m saying I am better able to discern now and at least more willing.  Simply feeling tired on Friday can result in a cheap and slovenly fast forward to Tuesday, if I give in.  That’s how it goes living under the spell and sway of darkness.  I’m inspired by my dreams now though, like never before.  My dreams have flown me down below the Tropic of Cancer, to sell books and perform.  My dreams will put me under the hot lights this month, doing a piece called Love&Wages for Frontera Fest.  It’s great work if you can find it.  For the fallow times, well, I don’t have to be militant against comfort but I know that feeling tired is a feeling, dig me?  The more naps I take, the longer I’ll be punching a clock and I won’t be getting out there, in the territory, or at least seeing about getting out there–with emails and letters, grant apps and gigs.  This is it.  The life I always dreamed of.  It’s here.  I must resist the life I’ve settled for and had to, at times–let’s be honest.  It behooved me being a jerkoff and the village idiot for a while, but I’m too old for the usual nonsense that comes from feeble minds and shitheeled bosses who settled and gave up, themselves.  You’ve spoken, you called out and you need me out there, in the hungry land with a valise full of volumes and a wild mouth full of reverie and woe.  ’19 is it, Jack.  Send me your address and I’ll write you and come to your town and see you on your street, motherfucker.

Ab irato,

Jim Trainer
P.O. Box 49921
Austin TX 78765

 

 

What the Arab World Needs Most is Free Expression by Jamal Khashoggi

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2019 at 3:01 pm

I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.
Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor, Washington Post

I was recently online looking at the 2018 “Freedom in the World” report published by Freedom House and came to a grave realization. There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as “free.” That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as “not free.”

As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed. They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.

The Arab world was ripe with hope during the spring of 2011. Journalists, academics and the general population were brimming with expectations of a bright and free Arab society within their respective countries. They expected to be emancipated from the hegemony of their governments and the consistent interventions and censorship of information. These expectations were quickly shattered; these societies either fell back to the old status quo or faced even harsher conditions than before.

My dear friend, the prominent Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi, wrote one of the most famous columns ever published in the Saudi press. He unfortunately is now serving an unwarranted five-year prison sentence for supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment. The Egyptian government’s seizure of the entire print run of a newspaper, al-Masry al Youm, did not enrage or provoke a reaction from colleagues. These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.

As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate. There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media. But these governments, whose very existence relies on the control of information, have aggressively blocked the Internet. They have also arrested local reporters and pressured advertisers to harm the revenue of specific publications.

There are a few oases that continue to embody the spirit of the Arab Spring. Qatar’s government continues to support international news coverage, in contrast to its neighbors’ efforts to uphold the control of information to support the “old Arab order.” Even in Tunisia and Kuwait, where the press is considered at least “partly free,” the media focuses on domestic issues but not issues faced by the greater Arab world. They are hesitant to provide a platform for journalists from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Yemen. Even Lebanon, the Arab world’s crown jewel when it comes to press freedom, has fallen victim to the polarization and influence of pro-Iran Hezbollah.

The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power. During the Cold War, Radio Free Europe, which grew over the years into a critical institution, played an important role in fostering and sustaining the hope of freedom. Arabs need something similar. In 1967, the New York Times and The Post took joint ownership of the International Herald Tribune newspaper, which went on to become a platform for voices from around the world.

My publication, The Post, has taken the initiative to translate many of my pieces and publish them in Arabic. For that, I am grateful. Arabs need to read in their own language so they can understand and discuss the various aspects and complications of democracy in the United States and the West. If an Egyptian reads an article exposing the actual cost of a construction project in Washington, then he or she would be able to better understand the implications of similar projects in his or her community.

The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices. We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education. Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face.