Jim Trainer

Archive for August, 2020|Monthly archive page

The End of Summer In America

In Uncategorized on August 27, 2020 at 6:19 pm

PART I
Behind every cynic is a disappointed idealist.

180,174 Americans dead at day 158 of this thing. 200k shy of a million world wide.  How does one integrate? How does one even comprehend?  It didn’t have to be this way.  We could’ve had our lives back, in six to eight weeks, but the man in charge of the once greatest country in the word did nothing–which is exactly what he’s always done.  His brand’s been updated but nothing’s changed.  We can’t really be shocked anymore, but the most astounding thing is how his base buys this administration’s snake oil even at expense to themselves. 

We really hate here. In Trump’s America any person, creed, belief or stance that can get punched down on will be.  Cursory psychology posits they bully because they’ve been bullied, but, looking at these people–what have they had to suffer that any and all of us haven’t–and worse?  Working for a living in The America is neither it’s true.  The diminishing returns of the American Century seem to have started at the New Deal and only crumbled ever since.  No doubt these nutters have seen the same shrinking standard of living we all have.  But that’s where the common ground ends. There is no talking or reasoning and no base reality. From a Vaterland fetish to pedophilic, satan-worshipping cabal fears to good old end times fantasy, it’s perverse and tragic that to hide from an admittedly bleak reality human beings have conjured something worse.

I haven’t run into any of them on the street, though Garrett Foster was murdered only blocks from here and where that asshole Steven Crowder had his table shut down and run off in the days following.  Most of what I’ve seen has been on the socials but all that means to me Good Reader is I’ll need to use the internet as a tool of the new media and nothing else.  It’s no arena for politic or affecting change.  I’ll talk it and bring it here, and from my platform, and despite my previous columns at The Coarse Grind I’ll strive to affect change from the desk.  You reading is the torch passed.  I can’t thank Editor Phil enough for the monthly space at Into The Void, and you, for always being there.  It’s a weird fortune to have been reporting on the end of the world so long that when the curtain tumbles down I’m here anyway, at the desk with coffee hot, black and honey-sweet. 

I’ve had to grind the beans finer due to a bad break of the pot last month.  But I’m still here, much as they’re still out there and if this summer’s proved anything it’s this–I should know my lane and battlefield, and stanchion myself there.  Let them rally and rage on the street while in here writing it down.  The guilt’s got me nowhere, though the futility I’ve elucidated has been in service.  It helps knowing you’re not alone. Giving up is better than fighting for a lost cause.  I’m not saying protesting is a lost cause, it’s everything–I’m saying that rueing the fact I’m not out there only takes up precious column space and I might as well get right to it and do what I’ve always done.  Live from a room and with you at the other end.  Aho.

In fact I sat down here this evening, to attempt to peel the veneer off a Biden ad.  Make you know that without presentism our lives are reduced to a shitty and liminal present, locked down and viewing the world from behind a screen, and that no Bruce Springsteen song will ever be able to deliver the future it promises.  So I watched the ad.  And Goddamn if I didn’t get choked up and knew somehow, strangely, obscenely–hope is still lodged somewhere within me.  I believe.  They can’t have it either, this belief.  The fucking nutters.

I can’t grasp how they can still smile like idiots.  Perhaps they’d be happy anywhere their ignorance isn’t interrupted by cold hards of science and diversity.  But let’s be done with them.  Let them be dumb and angry and you and I, we can believe.  I’m struck suddenly, realizing how little we have to lose by hoping for the best.  Crushing disappointment is imminent, sure. It was always a risk. But maybe when the bad news comes like it always does we can hope for the best then, too.  It seems to me I’ve been a doubting Thomas, playing it safe wrapped within my own cynicism.  Don’t get me wrong I’m far from being a Democrat.  Considering the left is the other wing on the same bird I’d be hard pressed to give up being an Anarchist, let alone by an establishment candidate as far right of moderate as Joe Biden.  Of course the right is odious and those people are on a seriously low vibration.  It’s a given.  The Left aren’t much better but they’re looking like an oasis in the desert.  Let’s hope it’s not a mirage.

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Curator at Going For the Throat, columnist for Into The Void, progenitor of stand-up tragedy™. Jim Trainer publishes a collection of poetry every year through Yellow Lark Press. To sign up for Jim Trainer’s Poem Of The Week, visit jimtrainer.net.

Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#62: Going For The Post

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2020 at 8:23 am

Gentlemen:
I am a 70-year old U.S. citizen and a proud American.  I have voted in every election since I was 21 years old.  COVID has made voting in person too dangerous, especially for those of us who are older or who have medical conditions.
The State of Pennsylvania passed a law recently that allowed its citizens to use vote-by-mail, without submitting a reason.  I was so relieved to be able to use it in the June primary.  Now we are coming up on the general election, and many of us are counting on the USPS to enable us to safely exercise our right to vote.
We are at a critical moment in the life of American democracy.  The election of a president is in crisis, largely because the sitting president is using federal departments to work on behalf of his re-election. The United States Postal Service has found itself in the center of that effort.
As members of the USPS Board of Governors, you must act to save the process. Louis DeJoy has proved to be nothing more than an operative of the president, working for political purposes and not those that would best serve the USPS and the American public.  The postal service is the most beloved and revered government service in our country, and is guaranteed in our Constitution.  American citizens pay for it with our taxes and the stamps we buy.
Because of the courage of a USPS employee, who recently spoke with the media, the public has discovered that sorting machines and street mailboxes are being removed, simply because the current president believes that allowing Americans to vote by mail during a deadly pandemic will not be in HIS best interests.  Louis DeJoy is trying very hard to enable him, by slowing down the delivery of mail, which also endangers medications, Social Security checks, and other items routinely sent through the mail.
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO STOP HIM.  In the interest of the country and our sacred democracy, you have no choice but to act.
Remove Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General of the United States. Reverse the policies being enacted.  Ensure that the postal service, which is an absolute necessity in the 80 days leading up to Election Day, will be unimpeachable and beyond reproach.

I don’t have the power to do this.  You do.  You must use it. Thank you.

Respectfully,
Donna Greenberg


Friday is #letterday. Send me your address and I’ll write you a #letter#goingforthepost #goforthepost #jimtrainer #writerslife
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Curator at Going For the Throat, columnist for Into The Void, progenitor of stand-up tragedy™. Jim Trainer publishes a collection of poetry every year through Yellow Lark Press. To sign up for Jim Trainer’s Poem Of The Week, visit jimtrainer.net.

SHADOWTIME IN THE PLAGUE STATE

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Standing on a manhole,
wishing that I’d never grow old
Thinking ’bout a TV show,
how I wanna sit and watch some more

R. Scully

Good morning Good Reader. I am up when I usually am but posting here first thing to meet deadline. The week got away, they all do but now it’s Thursday and I’ve no column in the draft folder. No wrap or recap. No treatise or missive and anyway per-usual pastiche of 600 words on the life of a creative in a crumbling world. As strange as it may sound I’ve too much to say, too many words and ideas at the gate, all the sensory record, quote and news byte on the short tape of the last 7 days of my mind’s life spilling over, waking me with the pounding trash of club beats from next door before 7 this morn. Had a riot in my mind before I had coffee so I cranked on the radio just to get out of bed. Obama’s words pinged off my hollow head as the dark brew came spilling out, over the filter and all over the counter. I got my travel mug, poured the overfull cup in and snapped off NPR’s cute pander. So I’ll shake out my shoddy sleep and this post’ll be off the cuff then. Too close for comfort maybe but without the luxury to preen or edit on deadline. Word count and that’s all. It’s beautiful, it’s raw and it’s making the moment, this day the day, the way I do in this role as a memoir-of-the-future writer, preservator, essayist and free agent of personal journalism for boon or bane.

Some weeks these posts come searing out. Others I trawl and more still I cobble. It seems to me the worst kinds of columns aren’t the ones with nothing to say. Being at a loss has been my biggest inspiration here, bet ’cause when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. I swing high and wide without a plan and get there by being here. When it gets caught though in mind, too much coal and no clinker then what can a writer on assignment do but hack it out and hope for the best? I was dreaming when the bitch’s music came clubbing through the wall. I was dreaming on Monday too but I got up, even earlier then, left Roggie at the ball and burned off whatever we do together in dream and turned to this screen. My dreams will have to trail and dissolve in my wake behind this week that I am living and walking around. She’s been a fine lover but there’s too much else crowding the psyche than to have to carry the dead, too. So who then should I carry and what idea should carry me? There was a man talking to me through a device about democracy, while I lie in bed in boxer briefs and swirling, cool dark air. When I woke up it was morning and the light hurt and was diffuse but I took the pain and stared through until I could see straight. What should it matter to him if things don’t change, this November or ever, to me or to her and you, Good Reader of this weekly where we meet and roundly condemn and cajole and anyway are together?

I come here from out of dream, pulling the dead and parsing the living. I make another cup this one Italian, black with honey and Vietnam cinnamon. Morning has made bright. I can’t stand dawn’s ambiguity, that diffuse light when you’re not sure if the dream is real or is this life. Should you go on, should you leave the ball, where she’s dripping wet and pouting lustily–I make enter, take the day, give purchase the wisdom of my rabbit-luck, be bold and alactritous, out of dream pulling the dead and parsing the living, take breaths as admission of stolen time, be born of murder and again die. Today toward the dusk, another up the flue, surrender and give over life for love and cash this time, spend these fortunes to live and love and lose and be born to another dream.

Curator at Going For the Throat, columnist for Into The Void, progenitor of stand-up tragedy™. Jim Trainer publishes a collection of poetry every year through Yellow Lark Press. To sign up for Jim Trainer’s Poem Of The Week, visit jimtrainer.net.

The Coarse Grind: Part 29

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2020 at 9:37 am

Source: The Coarse Grind: Part 29

SWIMMING IN THE BLACKWATER

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

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The only Beach Boy that could actually surf drowned.
David Sherman

I had huge plans when lockdown started. I was going to finish my book, remake our outdoor furniture, grow fruits and vegetables in my container garden, learn to cook Stacy’s favorite pie (strawberry-rhubarb), run a delivery service for my neighbors for prescriptions and groceries, and connect (and re-connect) with my dearest family and friends.  I didn’t get a chance to do any of those things.
Heather Hogan

If you’re like, ‘People are messaging me about this document that needs to be fixed,’ you’re not stressing about life on Earth.
Jamie Margolin

In a single season, civilization has been brought low by a microscopic parasite 10,000 times smaller than a grain of salt.
Wade Davis

Summer’s freezing here…
Vern Rumsey
1/24/73-8/6/20

House of the filthy, house not a home
house of destruction where the lurkers roamed
House that belonged to all the homeless kids
kids of the black hole..
-ADOLESCENTS

Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht.  I promise that’s just black water in my glass.
-Jerry Falwell Jr.

How could everything go according to plan and so completely wrong at the same time?  Don’t ask me.  I was born lucky in the American Century but it’s all over now.  From a seismic event of magnitude 3.3 in Beirut, killing 158 and making homeless 300,000 more, to the shit-eating face of Steve Mnuchin talking about paying back the payroll tax that any working person in America has already paid, the degradation is picking up acceleration.  But yet I sit here, as awful as it is, and make word count, send the letters out and get these columns to tape.  This is exactly the life I wanted, I’m on top of it and at the wire even if the news coming down is grim and dire and enough to make me want to quit writing and start making pipe bombs.  This should come as no surprise.  Their shock doctrine made you numb too ain’t it, you’re as disgusted and horrified as I am but you got no business reporting on it. I’m at the desk where else, trying to come through with something other than unpublished blurbs on my Patreon and orphans of passages on perversion and personal journalism.

The truth is these columns of words satisfy me in a way nothing else does.  Which should explain why even as it all falls away I’m still here and cobbling some kind of narrative to the sick swagger and black torpor of the Final Century.  2020’s been a year of death and graft.  The Year of the Rat took 165k of us so far and yet, some still doubt the disease even exists or that losing less than a tenth of a percent of the population is a bad thing.  It’s been said before and better but the bright side to all this dim is it doesn’t matter what the experts and scientists are saying.  No one’s listening and a personal journalist like me can get his shots in or at least hack away until I can get to the wisdom and get on with my week.  So you see what the news and media mean to me are a necessary distillation.  When I say the wisdom what I mean is anything that will help us get by.  Survival is this new paradigm.  It used to be art or writing and Rock&Roll but now living in The America is its own end.  There’s nothing past this.  You make it to the end of the month congratulations you’re broke.  You catch this disease or anything under your deductible you’re dead or insolvent.  I can’t crack or get a grip on this year.  I remember being sad we’d only have 11 more but by the end of the decade the landscape ought to be leveled.  The Chinese Century should slide us, nice and sleazy, right off the block and anyway completely render The America to a population of dumb crackers in a corporate wasteland.

I’ve never been so scared and mad or given up so many times in succession.  I was born into some bad business and I’ve been running, from the dysfunction I endured, ever since.  It’s made me hard to kill and bound to be better no matter the shake or odds.  But the order is getting hurled and oblivion’s wrapping it’s black wings on the failed experiment of the Anthropocene.  I can’t remember things ever being worse.  I don’t know if I’ll ever live down the 90s, back when you could be poor and still play, culture was viable and the seasons did what they should.  Everything sucks now but I’ve more to write about than ever before.

JOIN JIM TRAINER IN THE STRUGGLE FOR PERSONAL JOURNALISM
Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 5.42.51 PMCurator at Going For the Throat, columnist for Into The Void, progenitor of stand-up tragedy™. Jim Trainer publishes a collection of poetry every year through Yellow Lark Press. To sign up for Jim Trainer’s Poem Of The Week, visit jimtrainer.net.

Shrieks of Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#61:Bad Vibes From Portage County

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2020 at 5:56 pm

Hey handsome…

I understand that, by asking for a letter, I indicated that I was interested in receiving some kind of random missive from you. So it’s absolutely fair that you would assume that I continue to be interested in that, but I’m not. It took you three months to send me any kind of thing, and the thing you sent me was very difficult for me to parse, and when I called it a “letter” you said it was not a “letter” despite it being sent through the mail with a stamp on it. It’s not offensive, but it’s destabilizing — which is a mild form of gaslighting. And I am not someone with a ton of stability to spare. I’m not inclined to spend it trying to find my footing with you, who offers me little besides half-cocked missives fired off at random. Is this friendship to you? It does not feel like friendship to me, but friendship is an undertaking that I take more seriously, perhaps. Tonally, you assume a kind of familiarity with me that is jarring, and that’s part of the destabilization effort, I think.  If you want to be friends, please take the time to actually know me. This requires care and focus, I am complicated. I don’t expect it of you, or anyone.  If you want my attention, affection, regard, or support — respectfully, you need to do more than fire off 1-3 lines with no context to earn it.

I cannot track your logic.  I would think more time on one’s hands is an ideal time to start writing letters to random people (for example: what I’m doing right now) — but okay.  There’s a bigger idea here, something about being expected to endlessly hold space for people. It’s not really super germane to you and me, but it is, inasmuch as I was basically saying, “Cool, you sent me a letter, you’re off the hook!” And you were like, “No, I’m still on the hook, please continue to hold.” But I don’t want to continue to hold, dude. Three months is way long enough for someone I’ve only known for four months. Enough holding. Do it or don’t do it, but don’t ask me to continue to hold space for it. Just because that space means nothing to you doesn’t make it mean nothing to me.

Having skill as a writer, a working emotional vocabulary, and a desire for attention, when combined with being basically decent to look at, plus the internet — that’s basically all a dude needs to cultivate a following of admirers. I think you have this, I think it helps support your endeavors, and I think you have developed a pretty good script for leveraging it — like, the literal script you ran when I requested a letter, and you just copy-pasted your whole spiel and THEN were like, “Okay, phew that’s done, now let’s be friends!” Haha, Jim, that is still part of the spiel.

I have mixed feelings about spending even this much time and emotional labor in laying this out, but I hope it stands as a good-faith effort to communicate honestly. You know what they say in certain rooms about those people who are fundamentally incapable of being honest with themselves. Their chances are less than average. I wish you bon chance, Jim!

Rubina “Shelly” Shard
Portage County, WI

SEND ME YOUR ADDRESS AND I WILL WRITE YOU A LETTER.
#goingforthepost #letterday

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 8.11.33 AM

Curator at Going For the Throat, columnist for Into The Void, progenitor of stand-up tragedy™. Jim Trainer publishes a collection of poetry every year through Yellow Lark Press. To find out more and to sign up for Jim Trainer’s Poem Of The Week, visit jimtrainer.net.

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2031, JIM TRAINER’S SIXTH FULL-LENGTH COLLECTION OF POETRY, IS AVAILABLE NOW THROUGH YELLOW LARK PRESS.  JOIN JIM TRAINER IN THE STRUGGLE FOR PERSONAL JOURNALISM.

THE INDIGENT, THE ORPHAN AND THE CAPTIVE

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2020 at 5:38 pm

ABHer thighs wrapped around my head like thick boughs, my mouth on her, opening there but tightening at my ears.  We’d be by the pool or somewhere out by the Lake and anyway where we could be alone but it was not to be. Her mother was in town and as I was leaving the sky turned green, bilious and rumbling so I turned around.  I’d never make it to Lakeway.  Even if her mother wasn’t in town I’d be washed out.  I pulled into the Allendale Randall’s on my way back. 

The first thing I seen in there was a high white.  She had slacks on and heels and an ass like a question mark.  Her hair was done in curls, getting loose from the humidity and the rain was coming down on the roof.  Next thing I seen was a thin but hardly slight young Mom in black velour, purple nail polish and dark lipstick.  She looked cruel which I liked.  Then I saw something that racked me, it was seismic, she must’ve stood 6 feet with a big, wide ass that stretched out her shorts when she bent over her cart, right in front of me where I stood smiling, dumbstruck and soaked.
HEAVY AS LEAD

Houston Days

Houston Days, Summer 2012

Another outing botched.  Heading home and climbing 10th, holding it in.  Letting it go.  Breaking through the door and stripping down.  Getting rid of the rest of it and hopping in the bathtub.  It was wet with mucus and bile and the soap only slid off.  I got clean.  I hopped out and lay on my living room floor to dry off and commiserate.  I’d been having problems since ’17.  It started when I was delivering lunches to San Antonio for PepsiCo.  I’d have to hold it in on long stretches of road but when I got to the school it’d be nothing but painful gas.  3 years later it wakes me in the middle of the night.  So I sleep downstairs, mostly, in the big chair.  I’ve changed my diet.  I drink Metamucil.  Eat skinned fruits and prunes.  It’s made me asocial.  Have to to sit out events and gatherings and I dread being intimate with a woman.
-GOING FOR THE THROAT

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But there is action, and action is an easy thing to get hooked on.  It is a nice thing to know that you can pick up a phone and be off to anywhere in the world that interests you—on twenty-four hours’ notice, and especially on somebody else’s tab.
-Hunter S. Thompson

In Personal Journalism, I’m the main character, and my reporting is as, if not more important than what I’m reporting on.  Antiguan Blues, for example–was less about the kind people and God’s arms’ length of sky over a 500-year old cobblestoned and pastel village, resting beneath 2 active volcanoes down below the Tropic of Cancer–and more about the fact I was travel-logged, fagged and coming down with the flu or recovering from it and anyway suffering with a raging case of I.B.S.  I was in a foreign country but the operative subject was the ‘I’ and not ‘foreign country’.

We can get the word out on the street from anywhere in the world and virtually hang with neighbors and friends online.  Listen to what they have to say.  They’re not giving us facts, although they can, but we are listening for a personalized, experientially verified truth.  The objective authority of hard news is neither.  The New Century is a looking glass and authenticity is a hall of mirrors.  The internet changed everything and news media is only coverage now.  The market is wide open.
-PERSONAL JOURNALISM

In the first of many crises-of-faith as a writer, I took off on a 4-city spoken word tour of the U.S. in December of ‘99.  Amtrak offered a multi-ride ticket that ended up costing me a little over $800 for 4 cities. I did the tour by train and when I ran out of destinations, I sold the return leg to PHL to a girl at the hostel in San Francisco, who needed to get back to Chicago–and I booked the same 4 cities for my trip back.  My first stop was Lafayette, which laid me over in New Orleans for free, that is—it didn’t count as 1 of the 4 cities on my multi-ride ticket (Chicago’s another one, by the way, if you’re traveling from San Francisco to Philadelphia on the Lakeshore Limited).

The Philly-New Orleans leg took 24 hours.  There was a bus leaving for Lafayette in the morning and I had the night to myself.  Lafayette was my first gig because the tour was booked on who I knew.  Pearce ran a club there called the Rinky Dink. We read poetry to each other in the dark, over soul food and rye. I kept the phone number of the club, and his Breaux Bridge address, in a black pocket notebook I carried with me from state to state back in those last days of the American Century. I still have that little black book, with the names of people like “Pale Horse” Bob, the meth-smoking trustafarian from Houston and Lindsey the aspiring-sex worker from Holland.  Tour was over by the end of the century.  I spent the next 10 years in Philly playing the blues.
-AN EXPATRIATE IN PROFILE

SAM'S 1997

Sam’s Place, West Philly, Fall 1997

We did the chitlin circuit in 2015, starting in Austin and making our way to Breaux Bridge, Lafayette and finally New Orleans LA for a couple readings and shows. We did it in a Black 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe. We’re doing it again—hitting the road except this time we are getting out of country.
-AN EXPATRIATE IN PROFILE

I rode in blasting the Counting Crows last Saturday and drove 511 miles to look for work.  The Texas Workforce Commission awarded me almost $1,300 but took it away and are now saying I owe it back.  I’m writing this on a kid’s desk in Mid City.  The bass player’s in the pool and Pearce’s been playing a baritone guitar for the last half hour.  We served fifty people Creole brunch today—gumbo, jambalaya, catfish and pork.  It was an 8-hour day and now we’re back here, resting up for our show tonight at the Saturn Bar.  I played with a full band Friday night, with John Wood on drums at St. Roch’s Tavern.  Made a few dollars and screamed my fucking head off to ‘em—doing tunes like Raining In Ybor City and Dan Auerbach’s Shine On Me.  I did some demo last week, with Brother James and I’m making more money than I could’ve hoped in Austin.  Trying to settle in here and think about Europe but I’m still getting emails about subletting my apartment back home.

I wouldn’t drive faster than 10mph down Dumaine if you care about your shocks and suspension.  I pulled in here 9 days ago and it’s been a blur of rock shows and daylabor, while gorging myself on pork and drinking honey-sweet Italian Roast by the mugful.  I ran into Dan Fox at Siberia last night.  We were both there to see James Hayes play, and I told him that I have a lot of respect for Antigravity, dating back to ‘11 when I interviewed him, and when the Lovey Dovies were in Austin playing the Spider House with the Sour Notes.  Dan’s a smart guy, you can see it in his eyes and besides–bullshitting anyone from the Crescent City is only bullshitting yourself.
-ON DUMAINE

sigh

sigh

Darren Aronofsky describes Bourdain’s show as a form of “personal journalism,” in the tradition of Ross McElwee’s 1985 documentary, “Sherman’s March,” in which a story is pointedly filtered through the individual experience of the filmmaker. 

We left America and flew out of New Orleans on the 4th of July.  New Orleans was holding on to its rank as one of the top 5 deadliest cities in America.  Trump’s tax cut was a skewer job and his healthcare bill was cruel. These are hardly revelations. Days before though, Justice Kennedy had stepped down from the Supreme Court and 5 journalists were gunned down in Annapolis.  The screw was in, everybody knew.  The deaths in Maryland at the Capital were a clarion call, even for a hack journalist like me who doesn’t watch the news. I had doubts about taking the trip, especially because I had no place to leave my car while I was gone.  A friend came through for me in Slidell, though.  We locked up my Element behind the gate in his yard, and I told Pearce we were on.  I charged up my camera battery and packed my things…
-AN EXPATRIATE IN PROFILE

En route to Varzulitsa from Sofia BG, July 2018

En route to Varzulitsa from Sofia BG, July 2018