Jim Trainer

Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#38: Dear Keith Richard Pierce

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2019 at 11:45 am

The Hipster Coffee Shop
4th&Bettie Naylor
Austin TX

Keith Richard Pierce
Northern Arms
Hostile City, USA

6/20/16, 1:51 PM

The Killing Moon.  That’s all I have to say about this place for you to know that I am fucked.  This place is the worst. I prefer the ‘Bux downtown for anynimity but I had to come through here to get some air in my tires and long is our suffering in the Land of the Free.  Is there anything worse than bad music? I need to include high powered headphones in the MAMU(Mobile Area Media Unit) from now on, if only to insulate me from the kids and their culture of pretentious faux-punk and reverb soaked whine.  Juan Pelote is Austin chic, too cool for itself, overpriced and self-satisfied. With the right tools (earphones), this place can go to Philly in my mind, and get destroyed there. Not that I’d want to be back on those streets in the terrible summer, but as a state of mind Philly is something caustic and deadly I can stuff these feelgoodies into and they’d never survive.  It could always be worse but I miss the ease of self-destruction. I’m closer to straight edge than I ever was, and that includes my years as a hardcore skinhead in the suburbs of adolescence, and I must forge better coping mechanisms and lines of defense against their bright smiles. I dress in black and chew Nicorette like a fiend. My break is over in 49 minutes and I’m glad to be alive, glad to be writing and letters are the best way for me to keep writing, even when I need to flee the mansion and get out of my own head.

The truth about sobriety is harrowing but I’d rather lose a fight with reality than be the king of my own delusion.  Life is good for me now, which can mean utterly boring and horribly copacetic. The goal of each day is exhaustion and eight hours of solid sleep is my prize.  My long range plan is invariably about serving my Art, which makes planning simple:


Songwriting is as hard as it ever was but complicated.  Without the heartbreak and high drama of the drinking life of a day laborer, I have the choice of what I want to say and sing.  I don’t have a world-sized chip on my shoulder anymore and playing shows is a professional venture. It’s not as exciting as my punkrock killit days but it’s better than. climbing a ladder or swinging a baby sledge in the hot sun.  I took your addressed envelope with me down to Houston this weekend and I thought I’d write you about the first time I played the club I was playing. Notsuoh (Houston spelled backwards) is a very Philly place, and it’s downtown, which adds to its hidden, dirty-jewel charm.  First time I played there was a warm night in December, 1999. I’d eaten acid for every leg getting there. I was doing an 8-city spoken word tour by train and took 2 gel tabs for the Philly-NOLA leg, met some people who had more acid, and took that leaving Lafayette. I remember walking the aisles a lot and not sleeping except in a weird lysergic way.  I had 2 bottles of Evan Williams White Label in my green army issue duffle. I got off the train in downtown Houston just before midnight, made my way up the hill and found the place. I walked in, introduced myself to the barista and asked for a mug. I dropped my bags, filled the mug, climbed on top of a table and turned the PA ON.

“Houston…”. I said, and earned my road wings.  I’d never be nervous reading poetry again, if I ever was, and I am equally proud and ashamed of that moment.  Perhaps I’ll never live it down. Ultimately no matter how fat and old I am now, if I had a picture of that moment I’d hang it up right beside portraits of Rollins, Bukowski and Dr. Thompson in my kitchen/office, if only to show up the voice of failure that has been my reluctant company all these years on the savage road to living my dreams and becoming an Artist.

I’m excited for what’s next, Keith, and I’m excited for all of us.  Those of us doing the work that is. Teetotallers or not, any of us fighting against death, bringing forth life and books and songs and albums and poems. The voice of failure is fading and I keep thinking about the Bad Brains:

…and now a big surprise we can thrive and stay alive…

And the way through all of it, the shadows of our Fathers and poisoned milk of society is that we enjoy it.  We can create a life to enjoy. It’s the only measuring stick we’ll need–a simple and perfectly aligned intention and endless source of inspiration.  Some call it love and I’m ok with that. But not the easy kind. It’s got to mean something to the folks down home. I don’t suppose I’ll ever gladly suffer the charmed and uppper-middle class, with their easy dreams and saccharine rock and roll, and that’s fine. I’m just passing though.

En la Victoria,

Jim Trainer
Austin TX


  1. Your letter brings to mind the old Hollywood adage, “Living well is the best revenge.” And you can interpret that any way you wish!



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