Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘Charles Bukowski’ Category

Take to the Territory

In alcoholism, anxiety, art, austin music scene, beat writer, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Charles Bukowski, day job, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, mental health, mid life, middle age, Poetry, poetry submission, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, Spoken Word, straight edge, Submitting, submitting poetry, suicide, the muse, TYPEWRITERS, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on September 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm

Since I started so late, I owe it to myself to continue.
Charles Bukowski’s letter to John Martin

After fourteen years delivering and sorting the U.S. Mail, and at the age of 50 Henry Charles Bukowski began his first novel. John Martin (Black Sparrow Press) saw something in “Hank”, and offered him $100 a month to quit the Post Office and write full time.  Hank started writing at the same exact time every day.  It wasn’t an arbitrary time, but when he would’ve had to clock in to the Post Office–every day for over a decade working a job that was killing him. He finished the aptly titled Post Office in a month.

For many tragic and dull reasons, I don’t have any clear signposts in my life.  No one took me under their wing and no one showed me the way. My Father wasn’t exactly a company man, which I admired, but he worked all the time, which I didn’t.  My relationship with my elders was often toxic–I loathed what they’d become, or they were Christian, and I abhorred my hometown.  I’ve no real world examples of how to live. I got some heroes, though, 3 to be exact.  Of course Hank is one of them, the holy ghost of the trinity.  Bukowski showed me the way.

Life happens to you.  It’ll rattle you senseless.  I don’t consider myself a great writer, but I’m happy with my work.  I’m happy to work, above all, and that simplifies things.  All people like me need is rent and a desk.  We don’t seek more from life.  We whittle our needs down.  We need less and less and therefore have to work less and less hours at the job–until we don’t need anything.  With a lack of social climb and without the flash of material wealth, the world will leave you be.  We work the bare minimum at shit jobs that take the least from us.  We’re not paid to think or feel or consider someone else’s dollar anywhere in the simple hierarchy of walls, food and art.  It’s that simple, and beautiful, if impossible to explain to virtually anybody else.

What’s the sin in being poor?  Chinaski asks in Post Office, when it’s clear all the county can do for his alcoholic girlfriend is let her die.  Being poor can be devastating.  For years I lived one gas bill or dental procedure from total poverty, but it wasn’t that bad.  I probably could’ve called home if it really hit the fan, but–young and dumb and for years, the bar of sustainable catastrophe was constantly raised.  I’ve had months in rooms 5×10 wide.  I’ve lived without a phone or bathroom.  I’ve lived in places that would make family and friends from back home blanch–for $150 a month in an unbeknownst health hazard.  I lowered my rent every year for 5 years living in Philly, only ponying up to $500/month for a huge 1br on Buckingham Place because I came in to some money when my Father died–Life Insurance he had promptly paid all those years working.  God bless him.  After that place I got back to lowering my rent, and did so every year until I finally left Philly (and paying $135 a month for a room at 10th&McKean) for good on New Year’s  Eve 07.

My next move is counter to the artist’s imperative to live way below my means.  Moving across town, taking a roommate and paying $850ABP/month isn’t the same as being an artist full time.  But what the fuck is?  The rent’s steep, if Austin affordable, but it’s a sublet and I’m not locked in to the criminal contract you have to sign to get an apartment in Texas.  I’m quitting my job of the last 5 years with no parlay, as of today I’ve nothing imminent, other than almost through applying for Uber and Instacart.  I’ve some gigs booked, starting tomorrow, which isn’t nothing.  My roster might not be robust but a couple to three hundred dollars is nothing to sneeze at while unemployed, even if all that can be sapped with one phone bill and a car insurance payment.  It could be worse.  It could always be worse.  I could be banging 50 signs into the hard ground on the median of William Cannon for $50.

That was one of my first jobs in Austin, before I resigned to be a writer.  The search for a day gig became a full time enterprise.  I would sometimes work around the clock, get off graveyard and sleep until the afternoon when I’d head out for a promotions or catering gig.  Nothing was guaranteed.  I had to take everything that came my way because of course the money was shit and none of it was steady.  Which was ridiculous, and not what I’d come over 1,600 miles for.  It drove me to drink and write.

The shit hit the fan for this country in the financial crisis of 08, and by the time I came down in May of 09, competition was steeper than it should’ve been for the shit jobs I was applying for. It felt like a whole other level, especially considering I hadn’t worked in almost a year living with Laura.  Looking back, 2-3 months really isn’t that long to be looking for a job and shit eventually turned.  My 7.50/hr job filling book orders at the University COOP parlayed into a full time position at their warehouse on Real&Alexander.  From there I got hired on at the Whip In, and when they laid me off I lived off unemployment compensation for a year after that–until I landed this gig.  Five fucking years later and I’m heading back out into the America.    This morning I started writing this at 8, which is when I’d have to get the old man out of bed.  Something in me knows that as much as I hate the grind, I’ve got to love the real work that much more.  Sleeping in is bullshit.  Perks and the good life.  I’m up against it now, the anxiety is dizzying and I’m immobilized with dread.  I got up anyway, sat down here and got started like I’ve done thousands of times before, 497 times at Going For The Throat alone.  I sat down and got to work.  Like Hank.  What else?

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The Medium Is My Message

In Activism, art, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, Buddhism, Charles Bukowski, depression, Fugazi, getting old, getting sober, going for the throat, Henry Rollins, Jim McShea, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, new journalism, news media, Poetry, published poet, publishing poetry, punk rock, RADIO, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, suicide, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 24, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Proud and excited to announce this week’s post is featured on Medium!  Please go there and show me some applause (icon of hands clapping at the bottom of, or just beside, the piece).  Feel free to leave a comment, too, so they know we have arrived.

Thanks motherfucker!

 

“We are not the dreamers of dreams. We are the word become manifest.”

In alcoholism, Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Charles Bukowski, depression, getting sober, going for the throat, hometown, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, poem, Poetry, poetry reading, poetry submission, Portland, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, solitude, Spoken Word, straight edge, submitting poetry, working class, Writing, writing about writing on March 16, 2017 at 2:25 pm

 

The Coarse Grind, A Tale of Two Hanks

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Charles Bukowski, Henry Rollins, new journalism, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, self-publishing, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on February 2, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Fuck.  Well, here’s part 2.  SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS.

I always wanted to be a writer.  That’s not to say that I always knew I wanted to be a writer.  It is to say that for the last 22 years I have wanted to be a writer, but only actualized it and felt like one for the last 2 or 3.  Depending on who’s counting and if it’s the inner critic I don’t want to know.  That bastard.  Too many times he’s shut me down.  Told me I ain’t shit and that I needed to get drunk if I wanted to be like Papa (Bukowski) or lift weights if I wanted to be like Henry Rollins.  The truth is I always wanted to be a writer but I didn’t know how.  I mean I always journaled, but-did that count?  Hopefully any writer reading this has felt the power of it, the magic of writing.  In 20,000 Days On Earth, Nick Cave discovers that he can control the weather with his moods simply by writing about it.
“Now if I could only control my moods.”  He sullenly adds.
Today’s installment of The Coarse Grind is a very Zen offering, so bear with me and don’t let me off the hook.  Too often lofty advice is given for the reader to pore or fawn over while the writer’s slipped out to the alleyway to get paid and hail a cab.  Same goes for Spirituality.  The truth about spirituality is the same as the truth about writing.  Both seem equally impossible, utterly unglamorous and something entirely different than our ideas about them.  But both also are redeemed when  you consider that their road is the only road and that’s the one we are on, good reader.  That if you want to be a writer you must write.  Simple, right?  Perhaps.  Do consider what can keep you from writing.  Or worse-what can take the inspiration out of it until distractions become disasters that can physically keep you from writing.
I don’t need to tell you.  You know your weaknesses.  And I know mine.  But the only thing that will keep you going back, sitting down and spending more long hours on the sinking throne is if you like what you’re doing.  Old Hank B. said it must come shooting out of your fingertips, that if it’s difficult then don’t try.  But old Hank R. would probably say the opposite:  it must be hard, it must be painful, because you are a no-talent nobody who must get up hours before everybody else to be on par.  Now here comes the Zen so hold on to your seat.  Today’s Zen of writing moment is brought to you by The Boss:
“Be able to keep two completely contradictory ideas alive and well inside of your heart and head at all times. If it doesn’t drive you crazy, it will make you strong.”
There you have it, your religion.  What about dogma?  Because who among us wouldn’t rather have written than actually write?
Those 19 years when I wanted to be a writer?  I knew I would be published when I first saw a copy of Rollins’ One From None.  I knew it ’cause he knew it and ol Hank Rollins showed us how.  Also (and here is why Bukowski is my Papa and his contribution to literature can never be underestimated) Papa told me that I could be a poet.  I could write from where I was at.  Which is right here, in my chair, in my house and from within the circus of my mind.  19 years after first seeing a copy of Rollins’ book and 15 after reading Papa for the first time, I started a blog.  Then I knew it.  I was a writer.

…a question of Fuel…

In anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, Charles Bukowski, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, hometown, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, music performance, new journalism, new orleans, observation, on tour, PDX, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, Portland, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, TOUR, truth, Uncategorized, Writing, writing about writing, yoga on December 22, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Introjective depression – the autonomous kind, on the other hand, is characterized by intense self-criticism and there is frequently, then, an intense drive for achievement to offset the internalized sense of inferiority and self-scrutiny.  These individuals can be extremely critical of others as well as themselves and can be intensely competitive, often achieving a great deal, but with little sense of satisfaction – no amount of external validation seems to satisfy the harsh and demanding person that they can be in relationship to themselves.
-Karl Stukenberg on Sydney Blatt’s Developmental Theory of Depression

it seems we lose the game,
before we even start to play
Everything Is Everything

Got my walking papers.  Guess this means the gloves are off.  5 years can feel like a lifetime or it can go by way too fast on shift, on the clock and working for the man.  If it sounds like I’m complaining it’s because that’s my voice, I’m charged with it-fiery and riled and launching these missives through the barrel of a gun.  It’s because the last thing I want to do is tell you a lie or waste your time.  It’s this voice I honed and came to grips with, working for Mr. Fox.  The job gave me a bedtime, gave me the morning, still hated but doable, forced me to eat meals and sleep and watch movies and be lazy.  Above all it taught me what I need to be high functioning, and it’s hardly what I thought it would be.

I’ve published 3 books in the last 5 years, written hundreds of blogs and letters, and played more than 120 gigs, not counting spoken word and storytelling gigs, since I was hired on.  I’m glad to put it this way, and catch a rare reprieve from the inner critic.  The first sentence of this paragraph riddles the inner critic with buckshot, stuffs its mouth with gauze and sends it 6 feet closer to Heaven.  I might not be Henry Rollins but I’m gaining on him.  The pace is fucked.  I’ll never be happy with how long these things take and that’s probably because I’ll never be happy with myself.  I feel like I’m behind before I even wake up in the morning and wonder of the wisdom, sung by Lauryn Hill, in that song from days past.  But there’s so much more to it than that.

Up against it as we are, fucked and doomed to play their game should be enough to motivate, and it does.  The specter of death, terribly advancing on us from the day we’re born should be enough, and it is.  Never being Henry Rollins, never being good enough, has been fine motivation these slipshod and lean years-I know where it’s gotten me but I draw a blank when I think about what’s next.  It’s because you can’t build on a negative.  Anybody who’s ever quit anything knows that not doing it is only the beginning.  You must substitute it with something you are doing.  Quitting smoking, for example.  Of course, I had to first stop doing it.  Once I did the space opened up for something else.  Saying FUCK FUCK FUCK in my head seems to work, until I rupture a blood vessel, but certainly got me through terrible and troubling hours at the IPRC a few weeks ago.  At every step of All in the wind‘s production I was struck with the anxiety of never living my dreams-a great dread that neatly incorporates my fear of death and incredible lack of self esteem into a thorny and torrid cocktail called WHY I WORK ALONE.

Fear of dying will get you out of bed in the morning.  You bet.  A voice in your head telling you you’ll never be anything, never were anything, your parents were right and just because you left your hometown doesn’t mean you got away can also be great motivation, but not in the long run.  I’m 41 and I feel like I am just getting started.  Yogic wisdom tells me that all we are ever doing is getting started, and completing tasks with the quickness of Shiva’s wheeling hands.  The twisted cocktail of death and low self esteem, and the example of great men like meteors burning across the small town sky of my psyche can be potent, virile and all the ingredients needed for a bomb-but I feel like I’m gonna need a fire and for a fire you need fuel.

Work in media suits me.  It’s probably the only kind of work besides performing in which I feel like I am making a change.  I’m struck, sitting here, that it was just over 5 years ago when I decided to do something meaningful with my life and said goodbye to the bars with a few answered ads for Caregivers on craigslist.  In the last 5 years I was able to produce consistently as an artist by going to sleep at a certain time every night, and getting up at the same time every morning.  I had to make enough money to fund the first pressings of All in the wind and September , and have enough spare cash to fly out to the many unpaid (if not thankless) gigs in Philly and Louisiana.  HAAM paid my healthcare premiums but I was only able to get behind the trouble in my mouth with a begrudging loan against an inheritance from my mother, who sent me a check made out to the dentist.   Which is nothing I want to get into now.  It should be noted that I’m sitting on a lengthy backlog of posts, inspired by the prospect of being on RawPaw’s payroll in the Fall of ’14 and a request from Bean Maguire to recount my savage road to sobriety.  The point, now mangled and drug down this winding graph, is I only did it with a whole lot of gumption, even more bitterness and a little bit of luck.

I discovered what I need these last 5 years.  What I want has never been in question, but the crossroads of dread and inspiration at the hated age of 41 has me asking other questions.  Like, how will I hit 20 major cities a year and maintain my bedtime?  How can I possibly create without seeming to be in control of what happens within my own 4 walls?  Simply, maybe I’m not Rollins.  It’s not exactly in the cards to be on the road for over 200 days a year.  Knowing what I need is a start, knowing that it’s fuel is even better, and how I can be at my strongest and even ease the grip of this dream, live a little and breathe is healthy, and necessary.  the area of pause, as Papa put it.

Bukowski, as close to an example and road as I have, lived most of his life at War, but the man knew how to rest, too, and the author’s photos on his later works showcase the hard earned, worn and warm smile of Hank-a man aware of his limitations and therefore resting fully in his own power, if not in love then at peace.

FOR CHARLES BUKOWSKI ON HIS 96TH BIRTHDAY

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Charles Bukowski, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing, writing about writing on August 16, 2016 at 10:20 am

by celebrating with us
his
shrinking nights
&sharing with us
his fool’s joy
by sitting back
with his booze
for a total eclipse
of the world he knew
and kissing it all
goodbye
Hank gave poetry some balls,
he gave the soggy road some heart
the classical music on hot
San Pedro nights
was nothing compared to the
symphony he played
the man roared
he
played death,
and bluffed,
and won
he bluffed and raised the stakes
for us all
he sat at the center
of humanity’s
blind orbits of idiocy
and sidelined it
on the skid rows of East Hollywood.
he had a toothless smile
as wide as the Buddha he typed in front of
in his last peaceful years,
a far cry from his
cruel factory days
when racked&buckled
under the sad no chance pain
and he looked that pain
in it’s most vicious and glaring
yellow eye
and Hank asked
“Why?”

don’t try.

 

17/30

In Charles Bukowski, Jim McShea, poem, Poetry, THIRTY FOR THIRTY CHALLENGE, WRITER'S BLOCK, Writing on April 17, 2015 at 3:16 pm

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE 30 FOR 30 CHALLENGE

contests have nothing to do with poetry
and confessional poetry is a very hard dollar
great poetry is born of great consequence
but often comes to none
Hank said great poetry’s got blood in it
so tell me, who bleeds on command?
your praise has been encouraging
and I appreciate it
truly
it’s good to know you’re out there
while I panhandle the muse
suffer 30 deadlines
and blow smoke in the face
of the inner critic.

something Papa taught me

In Charles Bukowski, Poetry on August 16, 2014 at 10:18 am

what does the fish get?
the hook
what do you get?
the same.
living in eternal victory
is a lonely enterprise
the world is full of losers
looking for a shoulder,
validation,
proof,
or a target.
don’t go in for it, man
break away
sit deep in your throne
and let them roil in small worry.
proving how special you are
takes the magic out of love
makes it
a competition.
don’t do it, man
in a contest of fools
just surrender.

Papa

In alcoholism, beat writer, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blues, Boredom, Broken Heart, Buddhism, buddhist, Charles Bukowski, day job, depression, employment, Love, magic, mental health, mid life, poem, Poetry, punk rock, solitude, suicide, the muse, TYPEWRITERS, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 16, 2013 at 10:09 am

I first read him in a bookstore when I was 19.
Reading him was like being given a key,
it was before I became acquainted
with the shrinking room
before such wrong&wicked love-
the kind that leaves powder marks
the kind that betrays
streets who’d curl up beneath me-
it was before that part of town
and before I developed such dire fondness
for brown mash,
before the strangling roots of comfort
before the burgeoning bitterness
and bouts with homelessness
it was the beginning of a couple
decades on the dayshift
falling in and out of love.
at that young age I felt so misunderstood
I ached for something,
anything
to break me out&he showed me how
as I stood in the aisles
I knew this man was giving me something
he was showing me how to burn
before my hell had even began.

papas grave

Kingdom Found

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Buddhism, buddhist, Charles Bukowski, day job, depression, employment, Love, magic, mental health, mid life, Poetry, punk rock, solitude, the muse, TYPEWRITERS, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 17, 2012 at 12:01 am

Henry Charles Bukowski humanized poetry.  The stoicism of his anti-heroes perhaps betrayed a respect by many writers of the 20th Century for Ernest Hemingway.  They called Hemingway Papa.  Hemingway is not my Papa.  In plain-spoken, dispassionate prose, Bukowski included the sometimes gross and hairy minutiae of life to arrive at a greater truth.  He was not resigned to this-sometimes there is no greater truth.  Some nights there is no peace.My Papa helped me through many war-like years and he still helps me, when I must ruefully look back on those years and try and find some peace with it all.  Giving up is easy, the fight is painful.  Losing the game is painful, until you find your own game and are eternally Victorious.He wanted to “frame the agony” and get in touch with magic, the miracle. He had more to say at the street level because that’s where he lived and spent most of his time.  What is so important culturally about Bukowski is that, for all intents and purposes, he was part of the Beat Generation. The difference is he had to hold a job throughout America’s boom&twilight.  He had no aunt with a house in New Jersey where he could sober up and dream of America.  He watched the new school from out in the yard with all the other hopeless scabs.  He watched them come and go and he outlived them all.  Life went on for Papa.  It always did.  He had to contend with elements unleashed after the dark curtain of a right-wing backlash fell in the 80s. And for all intents and purposes, we are only living in the post-80s.
He found courage, acceptance, defeat and ultimate glory in the mastering of his own game.
The poetry coming from Papa during the August years of his life in San Pedro is some of the most indelible ever written.  It smacks of one of his heroes, Li Po, with its all-inclusive sentimentality and the beautiful realities uncovered once grand notions of entitlement&romance are stripped&thrown away.
It coudn’t be taken away from him in his early years either, even if he didn’t know it, while under the spell of his “assault”; bad cases of the blues he wrote about so unflinchingly.  Underneath all his armor was something his father couldn’t take away with a razor strop. So that, years later, when looking back at a  “decade of 12 hour nights”, he was suddenly touched by magic and left the job for good.
I’ll give Hemingway cred for the emotional subtext of Bukowski’s man’s man, but as it turns out, his writing owes allot more to Raymond Chandler.  It’s fitting that his last novel was a detective one, and his protagonist hired to find Lady Death.
Papa had some luck.  But luck won’t help the truly bitter and the ungrateful.  Luck didn’t help him continually submit work to the literary journals and magazines while he was:  unemployed, shitfully employed and homeless (although he was perhaps his most creative while sitting on a bar stool in Philadelphia for 10 years, but, weren’t we all?)
Many lived like Papa but did not become a celebrated writer/poet/movie writer.  Many just died in madness with their women or in a gutter all alone.Throughout his literary output and life, Papa knew what those eastern mystics&Taoists were saying.  He moved about a destitute metropolis of 80s America, admiring cats and simple distractions like the race track&the mockingbird.  But through it all he knew succinctly what another great Taoist writer, Lao Tsu, knew:little fears eat away at man’s peace of heart. Great fears swallow him whole.
Make your best peace with things, a deal, because the game is rigged.  The real action, the best game, is inside.  Be alive with the gamble, be touched by magic but don’t get so wrapped up in trying to beat the game.  Be like Papa and lose everything.  Lose it all, you don’t need it.  It’s a rigged game and a burden.  When you put down the burden of who even YOU think you’re supposed to be, you can just be who you are.
Thanks for the courage, Papa.