Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘day job’ Category

More New Century Blues

In Activism, activism, alcoholism, anger, ANTI-WAR, anxiety, art, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, day job, death, depression, Don Bajema, employment, getting sober, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, music performance, new journalism, Philadelphia, Poetry, publishing, punk rock, RADIO, recovery, revolution, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, submitting poetry, suicide, the muse, therapy, TYPEWRITERS, working class, WRITER'S BLOCK, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga, youth on August 17, 2017 at 1:02 pm

It’s been a while but I am at a loss.  The world may have gotten in more than it usually does but I haven’t been without inspiration since the early days at Going For The Throat.  Those days the crisis was real.  If I didn’t make it as a writer I’d be stuck behind a bar or working hospice for 9 an hour.  Dressed like a Hershey’s Kiss on campus or test driving the Golfquick LE in Sugarland.  My definition of “making it as a writer” is broad and wild.  I can sit down and come up with 600 words out of thin air, and by keeping it simultaneously all too and not personal at all, the thing will find its legs and walk its way into you.  The archetypes are free to roam.  The fact that I’ve become a character in my own story, coupled with a 10-ton outrage and Black Irish honesty has made Going For the Throat a success.  My definition of success, too, is unorthodox-but if anything is true about my 20+ year career trekking down the savage road of New Journalism, it’s that the medium is the message.  That means that I’ve got my transmitter, just like in my Radio Days, and I can feel you out there listening.  I’m a writer so I write.  I still got a day gig, one that’s winding down, and I’m not 100 on what’s in store.  I’m booking overtime-I hope to play every night and write every day.  That’s been my dream and charge for as long as I can remember.  “Writer’s Block” is less than a memory for me, but waking up today, fully clothed, in a dead confederate palace with all the curtains pulled back-is taking me back to when I knew I had to be a writer, and tried to do every day what I now do every week.  Back then it was 1,200 and pure agony.   I volleyed the imminent avalanche of self-hatred that would fall if I didn’t become a writer with the agony of coming up with 1,200 words every day.  There was beer involved.  And cigarettes you bet.  It worked but it drove me out of my mind.

I’m just as fond of those hardbitten scoop days for what happened away from the desk.  Hopping fences, getting shitty.  Falling through the Night Kitchen, driving down dark barrio streets with my tongue in Gwendolyn’s teeth.  My hangovers were grim back then, nothing compared to what was coming.  It was beginning to get old but I saw no other way to assuage both the loneliness of writing and my utter dread of never becoming a writer-as the money ran out.  I caught some breaks.  I got a good job.  I met Rich Okewole and Najla Assaf.  I found my community.  I was taken in by the good folks at the IPRC in Portland (and taken right back out by Trump’s America but that’s another story for another time).  Perhaps my hesitation to pull the trigger this morning is indicative of the end of those Salad Days as a struggling writer.  The gravy train has left the station.  Of all my myriad blues and woe, movement seems to be the answer.  As proud as I am of what I’ve become, I’m terrifed here at the midway.  Possibilities that ain’t been realized won’t be and I could die at any time.

It’s got me shook.  I quit my gig of 5 years, should be out mid-September or October 1.  I bought a car.  I enrolled in this year’s SWRFA and sent 22 booking emails out into the Live Music Capital of the World, even canvassed West 6th.  Survivors Wisdom tells me it’s time to grind it out, hit the road and stop being such a pussy.  Maybe the truth is that struggle is over.  Not this one, but that one.  The battle with self can conclude.  It’s I and I and a good night’s sleep contending for top place on my list of priorities.  I’ve found myself.  I am who I am.  Cruel time has showed me who I am and branded me with the wisdom that there’s not enough time to change that now.

We both know there would never be enough time but that didn’t stop us before ain’t it though.  We rebelled.  We clanged against the deathhead, came for the Gods and offered them the head of the King.  We bled for it, we had something to prove.  It was useless, futile and fatal and the biggest waste of time.  We squandered our youth.  The youth is gone.  It’s time to get off social media and take to the territory.  Our lives are depending on it.  I got witchy women mixing up the medicine for me and an Ayurvedic scholar laying out a diet plan.  I got Brother Don on the phone and Sister Sarah at the other end of a computer screen.  I’ve got friends like blood, holding vigil and corroborating and besides all this big love-a fear of death that is all too real.  The prime motivator.  The best time to hit it was a long time ago.  The next best time is now.

I better see you on the streets motherfucker.

More News From Nowhere

In alcoholism, anger, anxiety, art, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, Buddhism, buddhist, day job, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, journalism, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, news media, on tour, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, suicide, TOUR, travel, travel writing, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 3, 2017 at 2:14 pm

…it all just seems so sensationalized.
Aziz Ansari

I know ppl like u think it’s “cool” to theorize about quantum fluctuations, but the heat death of the early universe isn’t something to romanticize.
Frances Bean Cobain

…I say hey Janet
you are the one, you are the sun
and I’m your dutiful planet…
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

This Guns N’ Roses weekend is over.
-Your Writer on Tour with Ironwhore, July 2005

Waking up with a hardon is the best thing to happen to me in years.  Never mind I quit smoking, drinking and the Life, that I’ve published three collections of poetry and prose and survived as a working singer songwriter for the last 5 years, or that we just wrapped 4,484 miles pulling in to Hippie Town at 9pm last night.  Waking up erect is good news from the Gods, like we’re gonna win this thing.  Know what I mean, good Reader?  As we were leaving Austin 19 days ago, it dawned on me that I probably have arthritis, if not in my left middle finger, then certiainly on my right thumb.  Anyone reading this blog on the regular knows I haven’t caught my breath in over a year-and there are other, less savory conditions and maladies that’ve fell on me in these paling years, not the least of which being a lack of libido.  I let it all slide, rather than jump through the bureaucratic hoops of health insurance that only led nowhere-but decreased interest in sex was, at the time, viewed as an improvement.  Sex seemed to always land me in trouble somehow, and, by and large the partners I had were colossal wastes and the biggest drains of my time, on my health and my career as a day worker, writer and performer.

The truth is I’ve let a lot of things go.  I’ve insulated myself from the world with this gig.  I’ve maintained at minimum, and pushed harder when I needed to, but when I look back at the last 5 years and think about the fact that I’m 42, I’m terrified and disgusted-the former boring through nights pocked and shot through with anxiety, and the latter beating the opposite sex to the punch.  I couldn’t fuck and I didn’t want to.  It’s called depression, and low self esteem, which can intermingle in a vicious cycle that the worst people will blame you for, but actual compassion for, even if welcomed, can veer too close to commiseration and in any event is a shit substitute for understanding.  The silver lining is the coffee’s done, it’s time to wake up, this gig is over in less than 2 months and, like the Buddhists say-the best time to start was last year, the next best time is right now.  Lest we forget, I taught myself how to write these last 5 years, and the dream of being a columnist has been realized, thanks in no small part to you and your wonderful Readership.  I’ve got a 2009 Monk’s Robe Orange Honda Element and a Tacoma Guild.  I live in a post-gentrified Paradise and every dumb ailment and malady I’ve mentioned can be treated by swallowing a pill-ok, I still need to look into why I can’t catch my breath, it’s true, and wish me luck as I enter their world and try to get the help I need.

This blog has always been the balloon to my wet cement blues.  I talk myself down from the noose here, and you read me and it’s perfect.  Healing myself with my own medicine bag, sitting down to type and hang it on the fucking wall, feeling supported and, most of all, seen by you is terribly important to me-a rudder in the shitswells of a dark and calmitous world, the biggest boon and best thing to happen to me in years besides waking up with a hardon this morning.  Oh yeah, that.  It seems like the weeks get away from me.  I mean, sure, I work full time, and I just spent 18 days on the road with my Boss, but time gets away from me-that is, the time to address the many peccadilloes and tragic breakdown I’ve been skirting since I turned 40.  I feel like I should address it, tacitly, get up on it like Ahab, and chronicle the savage journey I’ve undergone since deciding to stop being depressed (I am NOT saying that this decision cured my depression AT ALL).  Brother Bean has asked for it, in the past, and I feel like I’d do well to bring it back for you-hip you to the saga of a working class ex-Pat punkrocking rockabilly New journalist with a a whole lot of time on his hands, a new car and a rekindled libido.  I’ll still try, good Reader.  You bet.  But I’ve got to wrap this.  I still believe in my dreams and I feel like I’ve got something to live up to, until the next time we meet, so I should get cracking.

May your crown be a halo.  See you next Thursday motherfucker.

 

 

 

 

 

Have Heart on the Hard Road

In alcoholism, anger, anxiety, art, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, Buddhism, buddhist, day job, death, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, going for the throat, Henry Rollins, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, Performance, punk rock, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, song, songwriting, straight edge, suicide, travel, travel writing, truth, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on July 27, 2017 at 1:53 pm

You should learn how to feel sad without actually being sad.
-Laurie Anderson’s Buddhist Teacher

Self-editing is humiliating. I didn’t start a blog called Going For The Throat to censor myself. There have been times over the years and I’m sure I’ll be called to do it again, for whatever dumb reason life may deal me at that moment. Admittedly, I’ve steered away from skewering certain individuals because it would’ve only esteemed them. Those come out in the wash, though. It took me a couple years but I was able to call out certain cunts on here who’s name I never would’ve mentioned before. Of course there are professional considerations, but if you’re a dayworker like I am you have very little control or catharsis-I’ve found that biting your tongue on a shitjob only rears in the end. You can abstain from speaking your mind but if some boss deserves it, it’s only a matter of time before your hands are on him in the alley behind the break room. Things have their way of working themselves out. Living in fear is worse than dying which might soudnd idealistic to you but any jerkoff who posts at least 600 words about himself on the world wide web every week isn’t playing with a full deck of practicality to begin with. What that means is if I’m crazy enough to dream it, you know I’m just plain crazy too. Self-editing, or censoring, is bullshit and I only do it if I’m at an impasse. If I’ve stared at the same post, and re-read it enough times to know it by heart, then it’s time to flush it and start anew. This isn’t poetry. At best, Going For the Throat is a gun-I’d only point it at you if I’m shooting to kill.

Greetings from the Hewitt Lake Club, Population 7. It looks like rain on Lily Bay, but it’s looked that way since 9. The sky is turning silver, there’s a low thunder rumbling and a high wind swaying the gingkoes and lone evergreen to the left of the screen porch where I write this self-censored post. Whether it rains or not means little. I’ll be wet by the time I get to the greasy barn and it’d be great to build a fire in the pod. Two days ago I would’ve had a completely different answer, with Ben in Brooklyn and the rain coming down it was just me and Blair sitting around the fire-in our pod, all day long. I was worried my resentments had ruined this trip, but woke up charged, on my day off yesterday, bounding out of bed at 6:30AM and writing over a thousand words about the horrid grind my life has become. Thank Christ that’s over with.

Out on the drive behind the cabin, by the garage where I sing, working on a tune called It’s Been A Long Time That I Should Be Far From Here-I realized something. Music, songs and songwriting, lyrics-these could be the last haven for wonder in these paling years. Fantasy. Myth. What I’ve rued since giving up the life-otherness, lust, change. Of course the fear is that perhaps I only use songs to help me through rough and large transitions. SWAMP EP, for example. I must’ve buried 3 exs alone by the end of The Winner, SWAMP‘s opening track. I resolved some issues I had with my dead Father in So Many Roads, acknowledged that I loved her in Back (I Want You) and laid out LA Telegram and Back In The Game like a dream map of the South, the Rockabilly Night and my new Spring in Austin ever dawning. I’ve penned some tunes since then and unearthed even more. I wrote down the titles to anywhere from 12-15 solid songs, songs that I’ve written that I like…which ain’t bad for someone who thinks he doesn’t write enough songs. So the fear is that, at the end of this ordeal, I’ll have 3 or 4 tunes that have helped me through, but I won’t be closer to my songwriting heroes. I’m sensing a theme here, and just wrote to Compatriot Cole this morning about never realizing what I call the Rollins ideal. Oh well. At least with songwriting it’s easy to keep in mind that it’s good work if you can find it. Songwriting is a different kind of spell-it’s writing and self actualizing but it involves the Gods on an intimate level. As a songwriter you can become anything (or anyone) you want to be. It’s instantaneous and only a fool could ask for more.

When peace comes it’s profound. The blood in my head sinks at the same rate as the sun, and I’ve expereienced dusks here both utterly sublime and completely ordinary. That’s all I ever wanted. I don’t need fireworks. I never wanted Heaven though I guess I settled for Hell. Didn’t I Brother. I never wanted a panacea or a cure all, but that could be depression talking (why bother trying to feel good when it’s such a short ride from the good life to the blues?). Know what I mean Sister? Life is…life. I got a good feeling about leaving this gig even if I only heard back from 3 of the 20 booking emails sent out from the greasy barn last Friday. I wrote another verse for an old tune and revisited one that’s been brimming from the heartlid before 10AM yesterday morning. This tenuous balance, periods of synchronous bliss coupled with torrid maelstroms of anger and irritation, sounds like life to me and of course there’s so much more I could do.

Sorry for the hodge-podge, good Reader. I tried to salvage the high points of my charge and kept the low points of the original missive to myself. No good deed goes unpunished ain’t it though, ’cause now I’m out here in the garage writing this. I flew the screen porch and came out here to wrap this fucking thing. Our pod got too full of good vibes and company, no room for me and my bitterness, which, truth be told is only killing me. Jill just walked by and said I could turn on the light if I wanted to. I told her I’d just suffer in silence and we laughed, this 86 year old Artist and me, hard, because she’s right. I could turn on the light if I wanted to.

Hecate’s Road

In alcoholism, anger, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, day job, death, getting old, getting sober, journalism, magic, magician, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, on tour, Poetry, punk rock, sober, sobriety, straight edge, TOUR, travel, travel writing, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on July 20, 2017 at 6:04 pm

How is it that we never completely comprehend our love for someone until they’re gone?
-Patti Smith, M Train

Magic comes to me in fits and starts.  Yesterday, out front Tops Grocery, I heard the crow first, looked up and waited.  Another appeared.  There are always more and of course there is always the shadow of crow, there on the ground in front of me but looking up again see one flying just overhead.  That made 3, from none, that I first heard, and one.  Something else catches my eye.  The boy in orange crocks, looking up too, at the same crow, watching.  Later that night, after swatting the horseflies from my face and belting out the lyrics to a new song in the driveway of the cabin, a woman came from out of the brush with the boy beside her.  His name was Remi and he played drums and guitar and bass.  Remi is 8 years old.

In the kitchen I show him open D and teach him Mona, the Bo Diddley song perhaps better known as Who Do You Love?  It’s a simple 2-chord vamp and Remi picks it up instantly.  He teaches me No Sleep Till Brooklyn while refusing several offers of cold seltzer and philosophizing how he’s only concerned with being alive and what could kill him.  The scrapes on his shin, the scratches and bite marks on his hands (from Bandit the Maine Coon), his poison ivy-they don’t worry him.
“Only if I die and that I’m alive,” he offers not sagely but just like a boy.
He shows me some drum patterns.  Tells me how he fell off the stage but climbed right back up behind the drums in time for the solo.  Talking and interacting with him is unassuming, simple, and factual but enthusiastic.  Mentions that he’s been here for a long time. His mother wraps it up with Blair on the screen porch.  They leave and me and Blair part ways.

I’m sitting out front of Cafe Sarah in North Creek, at an impossibly small, aqua-colored garden table.  I can’t see the bugs but can feel them biting me.  I haven’t caught anyone staring at me but can feel it acutely.  The family just to my right give off a toxic, American vibe.  Whatever charm there is on these streets is bled out, the bitter rasp of smokers’ laughs never puncturing the heavy meanness.  I’d do much better at the beer garden up the street, or even Laura’s, but I don’t drink and I don’t want to spend any dollars anywhere up here, only to have to fight for my psychic place all over again. They think I’m a golem and that’s fine. I’m a man and I mask my sadness masterfully by only shining back anger.

I finished Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, by Carrie Brownstein, and am just about through M Train.  Brownstein put me back in the 90s, the last time it meant anything anywhere. The detrimental rigors she suffered on tour with Sleater Kinney were all but ignored by me-I was going for the glory and read on as, unsurprisingly, Brother Vedder rose from the pages to affirm the power of rock and roll, like only he can again and again.  Patti Smith understands better than anyone that to be a poet is to stake your claim in the magic of the world.  Her existence is shamanic.  Her inner life informs her outer life, and her outer life always becomes manifest.

Guess you could say I’m out here in the territory.  North Creek sadly feels like the end of America, and it just might be.  My inner life is populated with legend.  My outer life is having to fend for myself psychically, with the flags flowing and thousands of miles travelled and thousands to get back.  I’m off hitch here-disconnected.  My only way out is in a greasy barn with a ping-pong table, up the hill from the cabin where Ben, Blair and I bunk like untoward and swoll dorm mates, away from home and girlfriends at University.  I talked with Jill this morning, who I adore.  She’s 86, out there cutting back the long leaves and talking about the effect of sobriety on Art.  She’s twice my age and if I had a wish beyond this ordinary, cold water phase, it’d be to have her faculties, at her age, and drink chilled vodka in a squat glass while smoking Camel straights.

The road was fine-exhausting as it always is, like a Goddess, an event of endurance.  Seems fucked that this is the prize-at this cafe with the chiggers and Americans, but it’s nice by the lake and I heard my first loon call, late yesterday afternoon.  I’ve got some things turning in my mind, aspirations that sprung up and surprised me, and, despite my road and ageworn body, I should do wise to take note and make these seeds sprout and make happen.  What else is there but the idea and its manifestation?  I never fit in anywhere, let alone upstate where it seems like all anyone ever does in America is wait around to die.

Ab irato,
Trainer
North Creek, NY

Beautiful Friend

In alcoholism, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, journalism, Kevin P.O'Brien, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, news media, observation, PACIFIST, PACISFISM, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, police brutality, politics, PROTEST, publishing, punk rock, recovery, self-help, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, straight edge, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga on July 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm

Let’s focus on the steak, not the peas.

-Minchia

Liberals want our country to be more like Canada. Conservatives want it to be more like Mexico.

-Realist

Raising a kid with medical needs is a very, very steep climb in the best of circumstances, and so when we say Medicaid is like the handholds that you’re using to scale up and get your kids to help-without those, there’s nothing below, there’s no safety net once those supports get pulled out, you just fall off the cliff.
-Robert Howell 

If they were to collaborate they could strangle data access to parts of the internet, it’s not an understatement to say they could influence history.
-Elliot Brown

One need only look closely at such drag queens as Michelle Visage or Violet Chachi on the RuPaul show to suss out the cruel, cold-blooded lizard that lurks behind the eyes of the Illuminati elite.
-Stephenson Billings

What the hell.
-Jared Yates Sexton

I wish I had let go long ago.  Not long after I quit smoking I began to experience a shortness of breath.  I’ve had to teach myself to sing again.  Psalmships’ “Little Bird“, again and again.  Up high in the mountains of Minerva and out here on the blistering plains.  What felt like the broken middle finger on my left hand has moved to the thumb on my right.  If it’s arthritis, then, what the hell?  I should’ve never quit, shoulda kept drinkin’ and womanizin’ and waking up dead in a dead confederate palace, with my pants at Kim’s pool and the aching yellow sun splitting my skull like a shiv, until I could down 400mg and tell her to get…OUT. It’s painfully apparent, these are the end days.  I should’ve never left the life but I wish I’d let go a long time ago.

The stupid truth is the life never helped me let go either.  I was as hung up then as I am now and drugs never worked.  You’re not going to believe me but I could never enjoy myself on drugs because I knew it was only a drug.  How terribly unfun and what a fucking drag, eh Brother?  The closest I came was on mushrooms down at Stone Harbor, on the shore in the dark, with the Reverend and Butch as a storm rolled in. I lost myself that summer but never before and never again.  I’ve kept myself locked tight, fought against it in my 20s but embraced it until now.  I perfected my isolation and my Father’s poker face.  Like him, the world only hurt my feelings and to be obvious was to be played. What the hell? How did this thing rear and turn into a psychoanalytical journey and examination of why I’m no fun but still wishing for the days?

Oh well, if it brings us to the truth then I can live with that.  However we got here, we’re here, and these days I prefer to drink dark coffee with honey, read the news and pretend I’m smoking cigarettes in my mind, like a mid-life Cassavetes and type here in the center of a crumbling palace amidst:  piles of poetry collections, poster-pressed covers, a copy of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, CDs and receipts and guitar strings, stacks of typed and handwritten poetry-edited in red ink, the trusty NAS plugged in and humming beside and a cold cup of Italian Roast, in the blasting AC in what I thought at one time was the center of the Rock and Roll universe, in one of the most expensive zip codes in the country-the Pearl of the South and the Velvet Rut, Austin Texas Hippie Town U.S.A.

Incidentally, that moniker and euphemism for the good vibes and pretty white girls that grow on trees down here has become outdated.  All the hippies live in Smithville now and I’m outta here, too.  Call it The City of Izods&Boots, or, the Town of Technocrats or simply, Bro Country.  Call ’em the New Rich or Fancy Dog Walkers, call ’em whatever you want because I am outta here.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here and 5 years since I wrote that elegiac paen to my departure from the barrio.  Facebook says I been on there 8 years today, which makes for an interesting capsule of my time down here-beginning with my very first post, a video of Cory Branan singing “Survivor Blues” and ending with, well, “The End” by The Doors.

I’ve learned a lot.  I’m a different man.  I’m making the seismic changes that come from staying in place.  It was real and it was fun but it wasn’t real fun.  I’m staying on this side of the river but I am getting the fuck out of dodge.  I’ve got 4 gigs booked in the next 2 months and 2 pages of contacts on legal yellow, letter-sized paper.  Work in media suits me.  I don’t mind the world, from a good safe distance, and writing about it transforms it somehow, makes even the horrid and unconscionable worth going through.  I’m a fire walker on here, a hard bitten scoop in the hard lands.  And, lovely and overwrought I bring it on home to you, good Reader, my Friend.

See you in Hyde Park motherfucker.

The Area of Pause

In alcoholism, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Boredom, day job, depression, getting old, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, music performance, Performance, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, Spoken Word, suicide, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on July 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm

There is nothing more tragic for a parent than to lose a child in the prime of life.
President Trump

In general, “The president has tweeted X.” is an overblown story.
Rachel Maddow

They think we’re stupid. And maybe they’re right.
Jonny Coleman

Attacks on established knowledge have a long pedigree, and the Internet is only the most recent tool in a recurring problem that in the past misused television, radio, the printing press, and other innovations the same way.
Thomas M. Nichols

People don’t choose the President anyway.  America is not a democracy. America is a Republic. 

Dr. Umar Johnson


Learning to kill
is a matter of habit

The more you have done it,
the better you’re at it.

Izhar Ashdot

July 6, 2017, 1:01PM
Hippie Town, USA

Quiet as a tomb up here in the high rooms.  Not even a blower on Judge’s Hill.  I’ve just consumed a week’s worth of media over a cold cup of Italian Roast.  Last night, Doc&I went out to Cold Town for the return of Austin’s No Shame Theatre.  We both told stories about The America, as Uncle Hank calls it, this young frontier of bounty and bloodlust.  Nothing has changed since last week, although some of you might’ve lost your shit a little.  The President said or tweeted some things, I’m sure, and North Korea had its own fireworks display as the world turned darkly on.

This War Room has everything I ever wanted.  A MacBook, replete with its NAS, plugged in and humming beside, an extra monitor, a pair of Nearfields on the floor and a Lexmark copier/scanner/printer on standby.   I feel better than I’ve felt in weeks.  I should be out this shitshow by late September and I’ll need to start compiling the poetry and prose for this year’s collection, due out through Yellow Lark Press December 1.  We’re heading out in a couple weeks, and doing roughly 3,000 miles up to New York and back.  It should be a thankless slog, rivaled only by the grisly heat of Texas summer if we stayed.

I’m apartment, or room, or house hunting-looking for something equally comfortable and private in which to plot and amass and roll out the grand machinations of this dream.  To play every night and write every day has been my goal and charge for as long as I can remember.  I’ve been maintaining both at dayjob levels and even sacrificing a little of my artistic life for this gig.  That was a mistake but nothing compared to the last 5 years of my life, which is a dangerous way to think-a dark focus that could shame every thought and endeavor I’ve had since dropping out of music school and going homeless in the hometown at the dawning of the New Century.  Brother K.O. has offered me a place on tour with the Dropkick Murphys, tenting every show and working for the Claddagh Fund.  The road is always calling, like it did then and it does any time the present moment catches up with me and hangs itself around my neck.

This terribly blasé post could be summed up in a few different ways.  We could frame it as duty and say that even without anything to report, I’m reporting-the medium is the message.  It could be psychological-a check in and my way of keeping us connected.  It could be even more personal than that.  You either hang yourself or hang it on the wall, right Brother, and week after week we’ve been thankfully and sometimes begrudgingly doing the latter.  To the chagrin of a cold world we’ve been holding on to each other, and isn’t that nice?  The truth is that this is a pause, and, I’ll even offer, a moment of gratitude.  I’m going to need my strength and you, too, very soon.  You can bet I’ll be coming for you in these coming months.  We all need someone to bleed on, and in these grim, outrageous and diabolically narcissistic times, in this cultural freefall and with the death of our Mother, a little bit of peace and quiet can feel like Heaven.  It’s a good chance for us to remember the others out there, ease back into it, this lull in the terrible summer and suffer some contentment for a change.  The worst kind of trouble is no trouble at all, right Sister?

Is fear rith maith ná drochsheasamh.  

Peace and love to you, motherfucker.

Won’t You Celebrate With Me?

In activism, alcoholism, anger, ANTI-WAR, anxiety, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, birthdays, blogging, blues, day job, depression, getting old, getting sober, hometown, Jim Trainer, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music performance, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, therapy, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga, youth on March 2, 2017 at 4:12 pm

…this way or no way, you know I’ll be free…
-David Bowie

In 92 hours I’ll be 42 years old. That sounds heaps better than I could’ve ever imagined in the angry, useless days of my youth. I’d been pushing it hard until 30. I didn’t think I’d make it, which was a perfectly dumb and tragic thing for a young punkrocker like me to say. The reality was I didn’t want to make it, but to say I wasn’t afraid of dying is only half true. I was obsessed with it, caught up in its vicious thrall, and those were the days. With a profound and fortunate bit of sorcery I had somehow sublimated my utter fear of death with growing up to be anything like my old man.  So on my 25th birthday I began celebrating my birthday properly-I celebrated myself. If I wasn’t doing anything to get closer to my artistic ideals for 364 days of the year, then I would deliberately do something to further that end on March 6, every year until I died.
On my 25th birthday I strung up my old bass.  It was a small gesture that eventually brought music back to the fore, as I’d been concentrating all my efforts on spoken word ever since I failed my audition for the University of the Arts in the Fall of ’94. I couldn’t have known the importance of planting that seed but many birthdays to come were celebrated by playing a show. I bought myself a 1969 Gretsch Single Anniversary Archtop, and switched from playing upright bass to being at the front of the stage, singing and belting ’em out for years in Philly, until I pulled stakes and followed that high, lonesome sound to Texas. The pendulum swung back to poetry and spoken word with the publication of Farewell to Armor, but the healthier I get the more I feel the need to get back up under the hot lights and scream my fucking head off in a post-punk or junkrock outfit. Getting healthy took me out the birthday game.  My 40th only found me circling the chimneya outback with a young redhead in knee highs, smoking all my Marlboros ’cause I didn’t want to wake up a smoker.

I’m back in the birthday game, mon ami, and I’m going full throttle into the Arts and doing what I love. I’ve got the resources and, after years of going without, I know what I need to get by. As much as I loathed another day on the planet, let alone aging another year back on the too-small, working class streets of Philadelphia, I couldn’t be more excited about being 50, and that’s because it’s 8 years from now-8 years tightening the screw and devoting more and more of my life to Art. It’s incredibly strange and ironic that I’m swinging upward as the world begins to really roil and spin, darkly and further out from our beautiful potential. Far be it from me to ignore what’s going on out there on the street, I must be steady and find a way to affect and interact with the people that I love. We both know it’s fucked out there. My point is, it’s been fucked in here, for as long as I can remember, but now I can feel something resurrect, and I ain’t stopping but considering my health and sanity and what I can give to those in need. There’s a war raging out there that never had anything to do with me. I know that these days it’s probably acceptable to fault me for that attitude. But concentrating on my community is the only way I know to get higher. The rest, it seems, is just furor and hyperbole, diverting us from the heart of the matter. For my 42nd birthday I’ll be doing me and I is another.

It’s never been more important to be punk rock then now, Brothers and Sisters. We are all we have. Let us do work.

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

by Lucille Clifton

The Coarse Grind, New Journalism

In Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, day job, getting old, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, music journalism, new journalism, news media, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, RADIO, Submitting, submitting poetry, TYPEWRITERS, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on January 26, 2017 at 3:17 pm

What follows is the first installment of The Coarse Grind, my column that was never published.  A local zine and arts collective had asked me to write 3 drafts under 600 words.  I ended up writing 5 of them and sent the first 3 to the editor.  We had a correspondence then, that included the phrase “curating for millennials”, but ended with me accusing her of being “disingenuous” and “silly”.  I can see her point now, almost 3 years later, while reading these over.  I don’t know who could be expected to read anything as long as 600 words as even major news outlets race to publish first, and edit and redact later.  Besides the horror in realizing how long ago this was, I’m emboldened reading these, in full faith that you, good reader, will read 600 words every week, even if it’s the same old story.  That’s the boon and bane of the blogging business-you’ll never run out of material as long as you keep writing about yourself.  Christ.
Stay tuned for the next 2 installments of The Coarse Grind.  

New Journalism

Christmas Eve ’95 I slept in Cromwell Park. I’d been thrown out of my mom’s house for not having health insurance. It needed to happen. And the rest…I suppose. What happened was I fell through about 5 years of daylabor and shitjobs, another 5 as a mad Boehme, 3 on the getting-sober circuit and shit about 3 years working down here, in the Pearl of the South.  What also happened is I decided to be a writer.  I had to be, as clichéd as that might sound.  I was working a string of jobs that were boring the life out of me.  I dealt with it the only way I knew how-with a typewriter and booze.

One of the first things I did when I got here was get a library card. Checked out Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, a biography of Charles Bukowski by Howard Sounes. It was profound for me to discover the great poet had started writing poetry at the age of 35. I was 34.  Another thing I did when I got down here was pitch to Verbicide Magazine and write blues legend Steve James a letter, to say hello and ask for an interview. Those first months in Austin were a fertile time, days and months planting seeds and business cards. It was like I landed, dropped my bags and said,
“In 3 years I will be a writer.”

Then I got a job.  Then I got laid off.   I stayed on unemployment way past any reasonable amount of time, and fell sadly short of my goal of becoming a writer in 3 years. I had to go back to work.   It was one of many crises of doubt I had experienced, going all the way back to being homeless in my hometown in 1995.  I wanted to be a writer.
I landed a live in gig, in a big yellow mansion inconveniently located off west 6th.  A perfectly annoying backdrop and foil for this phase of my life which I can proudly announce to you is “being a writer”. This is the being a writer period, the being a writer time. Now it always was, I guess, but I didn’t know it then. Neither do you. But I appreciate you reading. It completes me. I feel received. Like radio-a magic jolt to it, an urgent zing to these words coming at you-can’t you feel it?  Right? Wow.
What do I do now that I am a writer? That I’ve cleaned my guns enough to crank out 8-1,200 words, neat and fine, on a whim or otherwise?  That of anything and everything that ever happens I not only have a ticket out of but a ticket into? That’s right, good reader.  I got an inroad to the best game in town and the players? Well shit the players are me&you darling and isn’t that nice?
Now that I’m a writer think I’ll bring it back for you. Tell you how I got here and that I’d like you to join me. In the late night or in the bright morning, I’d like you to join me on the savage road-this is the new stuff-join me in this new media, this new age-this moment. Let’s do some shit. Send out our signal into the hungry land. Let’s send out a song of love or better let’s send ‘em some anger. Let us burn.

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, employment, getting old, hometown, journalism, mid life, middle age, new journalism, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, self-help, self-publishing, working class, Writing, writing about writing on January 5, 2017 at 11:00 pm

The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein’ seen
but that’s just because he doesn’t want to turn into some machine

Ahoy, good reader.  Tis I, the rageful poet, about to turn it out and kick out the jams.  I been kept too long, cooped up and strung along working for the man.  I just blasted some Dylan and now all is quiet in the mansion, so I’ll sit down and get to work.  It’s what I do.  600 words is sometimes all that keeps us from a landslide-ain’t that right Brother, Sister?  It’s a shame that issues of interest are often times only tossed off by the Author.  The problem with storytelling, last week, for example.  I’m not sure I’m making a point most of the time and honestly I’m ok with simply making sense.  I need to keep my pen and wits sharp, so I tie it on and have a go as a lion tamer and therapist.  I peel my skull cap back, lower the fourth wall and invite you in.  A most narcissistic exercise, this.  Maybe D.C. Bloom is right but if it wasn’t for your devoted readership and wonderful comments I might hang it up.  The answer may be to do it more but in the meantime I’m glad to be doing it once a week, while I remodel and even find another model altogether for getting my literary&journalistic ya-yas out.  In short, I couldn’t be happier to find that what’s wrong with me has taken a seat at the literary table.  This is literature, you know, you don’t believe me ask Brother Ignacio.  Whether or not it’s journalism will be my charge and challenge in the dark “post-racial” New Century.

The old model was set by a 17 year old skinhead standing on his homey’s steps on a stupid night in the suburbs.  It’s when I first saw a copy of Rollins’ One From None.  Allot has happened since then.  Things have transpired to disabuse me of my dreams, had me do a double think- which is what homelessness will do to a guy.  Maybe I never had what it takes, I got scared and cold, sold out and went all in and the middle class jackoff caregiver before you is only a product of fear.  If I hadn’t heard this story so many times I might believe it.  I’m old, and wise, enough to know that life is made of choices we make and there are choices that are still being made.  The music still plays.  As tired and oft repeated are the voices of doubt within me, there’s a stubborn kernel of a dream I’ve had for so long it’s a part of me.  It’s driven me, gotten me through the countless times when I thought I blew it, flipping burgers in Crum Lynne, working as a sexton at First Lutheran 17th&Spruce, a landscaper in the projects of North Philly and, the second longest job I’ve ever had, working as a busboy for the White Dog Cafe (2004-2005).  Maybe I should consider my current gig as the second longest and reconsider that I’ve been working at my Art, however inconsistently, for 24 years since that night in Upper Darby when I knew I’d be a published poet.  But here’s where things get screwy.

I’ve had 3 books published while working here and it’s been nothing like the 17 year old man in me’s dream to be a punkrock renaissance man, full time and on the road for most of the year-like Hank.  It pains me to consider plugging in to another machine-an $800 1 bedroom apartment, a rental company requiring your income to be 3 and 1/2 times that, with 6 months prior rental history, while I’m making payments on a new car and being gouged by AT&T.  The rub is, as much as it pains me, maybe this is the way.  Despite myself and the dream, I’m able to be the Artist I always wanted to be, I just need to be nestled in somewhere, warm&quiet, working full time for a monthly payment that goes nowhere.  If it’s what’s right, why does it feel like failure?  Am I so fucking hardwired that I don’t know what is good for me?

Something has presented itself and it’s a return to my roots.  Ain’t the best neighborhood and a bit out of town.  Super cheap and solitary.  The point is I worry, will I sacrifice too much comfort, and only be raw and uncomfortable out there below the red line-and my work will suffer?  Or, if I choose comfort, and care for myself in the prescribed and proven effective way, working full time and trying to keep my head up AND do Art-will my work suffer?  No easy answers here.

Looks like I solved the problem with storytelling.  You’re welcome.

Took a woman like you
to get through to the man in me
-Bob Dylan, The Man In Me

Tonight The Monkey Dies

In anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, depression, getting old, mental health, mid life, poem, Poetry, politics, punk rock, self-help, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on December 29, 2016 at 7:42 pm
Yesterday I got a call from the outside world
but I said no in thunder.
-Jim Harrison

The problem with storytelling is you need an ending.  Closure.  For the audience.  But life is messy.  Some (me) might even say chaotic.  Beneficent, malevolent or indifferent (me again).  I like to consider myself an optimistic nihilist.  Like Maureen Ferguson, I believe in everything and nothing.  It’s because I like to keep the slate clean, and I should hope that if there is a God he exists somewhere outside our grasp, certainly not the God here, in these mortals’ minds, telling you what to do and killing each other just to live.  No.  Not a fan of the plebeian mind.  Simple truths are the best kind but the story doesn’t end until the teller takes his last breath.

I’ve had the title in my draft box for a long time.  I don’t know if this post will do the idea justice, but, fuck it-I’ll have a go anyway, sitting here drinking tea in a dead Confederate’s palace in the Pearl of the South.  Other titles in my draft box are Inner Critic, War and Radio Days.  We both know I confront myself on this platform, because I’m a transmission junkie with an accountability problem.  I’ve melded a need for self realization with the desire to perform.  When I tore the fourth wall down and invited you in, I was able to write about wanting to be a writer-which is the biggest boon and most beneficial thing to ever happen to me.  It’s unfortunate that the subject will always be me, but you see yourself in the work and I’ve built a robust readership for the blog writing about what I know.  Maybe D.C. is right that”blogs are passe”-but the only problem I have with it is coming up with an ending.

Another week has blown by.  The sands of time are wearing away the bulwark of me.  I’m steadied in the storm of it but I’m worn away and getting closer to diminishing returns…All we are is dust in the wind and there’s something extremely important about that-there is no other time to come together and do work.  This is it.  We won’t know what it all meant until it’s over and even then we can spin it in any way that helps us go down to rest, gone forever but here to stay.  What the fuck has just happened here?  I’m scared to die but worse-scared I will have never lived.  It’s our work that will save us.  Every time.  Our work that will connect us, free us, build us up and knock us down (ye tyrants take heed).  I feel a grave need to get on top of these years, get my kicks in and make my mark.  I want to be of service.

Ever since November 8 you’ve heard me say I want to be political.  But I can’t even do my taxes without my eyes rolling back in my head.  There isn’t a positive spin to the calamitous and grasping mind.  Ain’t any closure here, really.  Just some signpost between rage and sloth, a plumb line for us to gauge how far we’ve come, and how much monumentally more we must do.  A slick 600 words like this keeps me from bloodying myself on the bars, helps me paint with all the beautiful colors of pain. It ain’t the end and it’s never over until it is.  But see, if we do our work and put everything into it but the blood on the boards, then we’ll march on.  From the blackest night we’ll yell down through the centuries.  Love is stronger than death.  

See you next year motherfucker.