Jim Trainer

Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#30, Dear Jim

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2019 at 10:00 am

Hello Jim,

Thank you for your letter.  Things are relatively well in New York.  I have lived here for almost 10 years and I like it, but because New York is an amorphous and ever-evolving/devolving place, my reasons for being here have to be reevaluated every six months or so.

It feels as if the changes occur when one looks the other way:  every couple of months I am riding my bike down a once familiar block and I find that every square foot of it has been replaced with high-rises and fusion restaurants.  I don’t get angry (I am the white gentrifier, I created the path for these changes and I am not proud of that) but it can be very disorienting.  It feels as if I am an actor who blacked out in a scene and once I am reorientated to the ways of my character I find that the set had been switched behind me.

I don’t have much nostalgia for the old New York.  If you live here long enough I think that goes away.  I have been lucky to have met many of the great artists of the old guard such as Henry Grimes, Eileen Myles, Daniel Carter and John Giorno.  I have seen others walking on the street:  Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Pharaoh Sanders, Sam Shepherd.

The good of New York is that it feels like the great equalizer.  You can spot these legends on the street but they are all poorer and less famous than any person that may be deemed a celebrity.  Regardless of what I know of their work they still appear as people trying to uphold their niche hustle who in the meantime are trying not to walk into traffic.  I am not sure if this city has ever truly served these people in the ways that they deserve. I think outsiders created that myth.  It is still feast or famine here.  On any given day someone might write you a check and change your life so the daily gamble is still worth it.  For some artists, that gamble has sustained a lifetime but that doesn’t make the hustle any less real.

I have had an interesting week.  I have spent the winter working as a substitute teacher and I have been surprised to find that I like it quite a bit.  It keeps my schedule flexible and I can always say no to a day of work.  I usually write in the corner while the kids work on whatever they are working on so I am able to be productive while on the clock.

Because of the flexibility of this schedule, I have been happy with the amount of work I have been able to produce this winter.  I am currently mastering  a record that I made with a friend, I have written 2/3rds of a book that I am very excited about and I have a couple of film projects that I am involved with.

This was all disrupted the week before last when a staff member quit the school and I was asked to cover their job until the schools find a replacement.  I accepted because it pays well, I need the money and I have thus far enjoyed working at the school.  I am an administrative assistant aka a secretary.  The agreement is that I am covering the job  while they look for a replacement but I have been encouraged to apply for the job which I am currently working.  This all sounded good to me.

I didn’t go to to college so a well-paid job that doesn’t involve physical labor felt like a godsend but it sucks more than any other sucky job I have ever worked before.  I am making copies and sending emails and scheduling everyone’s meetings and I hate it.  I am taking part in a game I don’t believe in and I miss my projects dearly.  I also miss the kids.  They are cool, doing paperwork for adults is the pits and I can’t stand it.  So, it’s been a lot to feel out and I am pretty exhausted.  At 35, do I take the desk job or do I keep on hustling the art etc.?  The answer is pretty clear.  I have avoided school and offices most of my life, I don’t think you wake up one day and suddenly they seem more appealing just because your hair is grey.  Anyway, I know that you know this struggle well.

I am currently signed up for a residency in Antigua in April.  I thought I was not going to be able to afford to go and would have to cancel but now I am thinking I might work this job through March and then sublet my place and spend the money I made as a secretary finishing my book in Guatemala.  I might even give up my place and set up a series of readings and maybe tour this new album and see what happens.  That all seems like the organic thing to do but money keeps getting in the way.

Someday I hope to pick your brain about these commonalities we share.

Specifically, I’m on the fence about self-publishing and I am wondering if it is worth it to try to get my books published elsewhere.  I like self-publsuihg and I might try to start publishing other people’s work too.

Hit me up if you are ever in the big apple. I am overdue for a trip to Austin.

More soon.  Be well.

Danger Ausche

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