Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘getting sober’ Category

Betting On The Muse

In alcoholism, anger, anxiety, art, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, day job, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, mental health, mid life, middle age, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on September 21, 2017 at 4:40 pm

I quit my job of 5 years and worked my last shift Tuesday night.  When I got this gig I was scared straight.  My Unemployment Compensation had run out and I’d been overpaid.  I owed (owe) $1,645 to the state.  I was doing promotions work and hospice care.  Shit went from blue to black.  On the other hand, the months of extended leave from shift work and days of liquid gambol gave my writing some swagger.  It was out front and walking around.  My poetry, always bold, gained confidence.  My prose, too-from weeks of forcing myself to sit here and post, and sending out long and angry letters to the world.  What I found, driving drunk and falling through the Night Kitchen, was the vast and rolling fields of my psyche.  By devoting to the muse above all she gave me continuous inspiration.  She still does and will.  All’s I’ve got to give her is time.

There’s been talk of going straight, parlaying the longest work history I’ve ever had into a note, or loan, and get a condo while I can.  Luckily I have a friend who told me that ain’t me, and she was right.  Riding around town today, down South Congress and Nathan Hamilton came on shuffle…sooner or later, we all hit the wall.  I haven’t been in a good mood in way too fucking long.  Driving down South Congress Avenue in the warm sun, with the rockabilly skyline giving rise is often what my good mood looks like.  I won’t say I fell in love with Austin again, because the Austin I fell in love with is gone (Bro), but I let it all go and just took her for what she is–a cool town in the middle of nowhere.  Some of the best roots music is still being written and performed down here.  There are still sawdust joints like the Continental Club and the White Horse that remind me why I came.  I pulled in on a heartbroke blue morning in May of 2009.  That night I played Evangeline Cafe and I been runnin’ and gunnin’ ever since.  I got tripped up here, though, at the mansion–I needed a home and gainful employment never existed in my world.  It was always cash and carry, flying my jolly roger to the next hitch, room and situation.  Not much has changed but everything’s different now.

I got my certification to teach Yoga.  I put out 3 collections of poetry and prose (and wrapping work on my 4th).  I’m taking to the territory, with only vague leads on employment.  I’m not worried, maybe I should be, but what I know beyond a doubt is 2 years ago I realized it was too late for me.  Too late to become who I always wanted to be.  That I never rose to the occasion and fear got the best of me.  I was being kept–by my Boss, this house and my situation.  I was 40 and next thing I knew I was 42.  I had to get out.  There’s a whole lot of other shit I could say, to slag and distance myself from where I worked and where I was at for the last 5 fucking years of my life.  I’ve somehow confused my life with the last 5 years, and hanging on by a thread when I  look back, thinking–how could I have blown it so bad?

I still get excited about the creation of Art.  I’m still writing songs that I must live up to, and can still prophesy and actualize with rock and roll on a Martin DR-S1.  Poetry’s as necessary to me as self esteem.  If I don’t squeeze one out every week or so, the bolts tighten in my mind and the world starts slanting down and there’s too much confusion and I can’t tell love from the blower man on the landscaping crew, and everybody’s high and no one cares, and everyone thinks we should go to War, and punk rockers die young at the age of 56, which is, I mean–it gets bad and poetry is necessary then.  Which is far from ideal.  Necessary.

Necessary sounds like those old scrapping days, playing it safe with no love or gamble.  Necessary sounds like 50-hour weeks moving safes and pianos for $7.50/hr.  Necessary is every job I’ve ever had, all the way back to 1987 when I was a 12-year old dishwasher at Martinichio’s Restaurant and delivered the Philadelphia Inquirer.  A lot of things are necessary.  I’ve removed most of them from my life.  The creation of Art was thee necessary salve and in a lot of ways it still is–but there’s a bottom I won’t go to anymore.  It’s very safe and sad.  I’m not sure if I’ll need those blues or that abyss.  I’m 42.  I write poetry and I play music.  Performing is one of the only places I feel completely me.  Those hot lights are a prism.  They burn doubt out of you and send out the good word of love.  They let the people know.  Survival isn’t celebrated enough.  Then again, at almost 3 years sober, I don’t know how to celebrate anything anymore.  I’m sure I’ll be floating a broom and glowering over some this is fucked wisdom again before too long, but–maybe not.  Good reader maybe not.  With no prospects and no real direction I know I’ve got to go this way.  Take to the territory.  It just feels right, and I’m gonna go with that.  Time to GTFO.

See you out in the territory motherfucker.

 

 

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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?

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!

 

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 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 telephone 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.

Our Art

In Activism, alcoholism, anger, ANTI-WAR, Being An Artist, depression, getting sober, mental health, politics, PROTEST, self-help, sober, sobriety, straight edge, suicide, travel, yoga on June 15, 2017 at 12:35 pm

…when you’re sitting across from a doctor in New York and you know that you’re going to have to live out the rest of your life without drinking, and know that it’s entirely impossible to do, to almost 17 years without a drink-it’s impossible not to have some sense of gratitude.
Richard Lewis

You don’t just fucking fall into the abyss
.
-Vinne Paz, BSBB

without which
bones
are the only trace
of our being
having been
-Christia Madacsi Hoffman

Bury me in the colors that everybody hates, and I can take them with me.
Omar Lahyane

You are God hiding from yourself.
-Hafiz

Aho.  This could be some kind of epilogue to the “suicide blog” I wrote last week, drinking Americanos and Bui at the bar in Paradise.  I’m back from the island and healthier than ever but I’d still kill for a cigarette.  I’m in love with Yoga again and it’s a healthy love.  It’s devotional and daily.  I think I might’ve mistaken it for a panacea, and rightly so-the way it made me comfortable in my own skin, something I hadn’t felt for decades before that shiny Fall day in South Austin when I first went to a Yoga class.  Of this I don’t need to remind.  My time at Bat Manor is well documented.  Scroll back through the letters and screeds, the posts, rants and interviews for a Portrait of the Artist As A Beer Swilling Pussy Hound.  Somehow in the middle of all that anger and madness I found Yoga and it’s blossomed in me, and put me through the ranks from a pouch of Norwegian Schag and 6-pack a day to the odd and dysfunctionally sober writer before you.  I still fantasize about smoking, but my desire for bourbon in the a.m. has ceded.  I left it in the sand, out front the patio of my hut where I talked about alcoholism with my friend Jenni.

It’s back to Babylon and putting the time in, on the job and living out my end days in this commune, waiting for some warm thing to come along.  Politics are fucked, that’s nothing new, but I can’t in good conscience sit here in apathy, typing in my underwear with a cold cup of Italian Roast, and not reach out to my congressmen.  It’s the least I can do, especially considering I don’t do anything else politically, or actively, barring this blog and opening the channels of communication about sometimes feeling like you should end your life.  When Affordable Care first came through I really had to reevaluate my anarchistic beliefs about government and man, but that was back in the heady days of the New Century, when Obama was the man.  It was a gravy train.  I was high on the hog living here, sleeping with my Editor drinking whisky in the jar.  Then the other party moved in.  They fucking swarmed.  They had you behind them, The America, because you’re afraid of black people.  So they’re trying to take it away.  It’s business.  It ain’t a two party system but a system that either fucks you outfront or from the back and it used to be the best show in town before you voted in a pro wrestler to lead the free world.

As far as mental health and suicidal blogs are concerned, y’all really surprised me.  You get it and I’m never alone long, here at my outpost in the wasteland.  You understand being in pain so acutely the only way you can see out is the Great Exit.  Or, you don’t, and frankly, some of youse’s ideas about depression and suicide are as archaic and ineffective as bloodletting.  Shame on you if you’ve ever blamed someone for mental illness and what the fuck is wrong with you?  You know that’s their game, right?  Mike Pence would love to try and fix you if you love anything other than a hetero partner you call Mother by your side at all times to keep you from getting The Gay.  Christ.  Sorry.  Ain’t even been back a week and anger’s rising, the angst and ire, my friends and fuel, flooding the veins like a fix.  Now I’m at a loss and I don’t know what to tell you, Brother.  Except this…

Shit’s fucked.  We know this.  People like Mike Pence and Tucker Carlson are walking around breathing the same air as me and you.  But in the other hemisphere they’re learning that empty patriotism and tired American tropes are deadly, Sister-taking out villages full of mothers and children who, like you, only want to live and see another day on this shrinking black ball.  If you can get away then you must.  Disengage. Get the fuck out of dodge and get the world off a you.  I’ve pulled myself, back from the brink, and I’m here to tell the tale and do what I can.  You’re not alone.  You’re one of us.

And if you’re one of them, well, I’ll see you on the street motherfucker.

The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me Today

In depression, getting old, getting sober, mental health, mid life, middle age, self-help, sober, sobriety, straight edge, suicide, travel writing, Writing, yoga on June 8, 2017 at 1:23 pm

All they will find is my beer and my shirt…
Tom Waits

The obstacle is the path.
-Angie Knight

Now he’s just a mean old bastard when he sings the blues…
Master of Disaster

The number one thing that makes us grow as human beings is pain.
Damien Echols

I came down to fix myself.  Didn’t know how hard it was gonna be.  Last night I woke from a nightmare with a bright ringing of pain down my neck.  My first two nights here were shot through with headaches and soreness and that ain’t the half.  When they ask you, in Paradise, how you’re doing-do you tell them you fantasize about suicide and you’re harboring a daytrip to one of the bars inland to remember and forget over shit bourbons paid for with weak American dollars?

“Good!  How are you?”

On the bright side, it only takes one connection to save you and I’ve made two.  Sweet Jenni, the medicine woman, has shown me more warmth, wisdom and compassion than three Kerrville hugging lines.  Coffee with Paulie has sometimes lasted an entire day.  He just adds water to his and I’m happy laughing and bullshitting long after my Americano’s drained.  We practice twice a day down here, which is also good news, but Yoga’s only a tool.  It won’t take the pain away but maybe give you something to do while you’re working through.  Doom and suicide ideation are my evening practice, when flow is slowed and we’re urged to just be.  I don’t need to go into how I fell out of love with Yoga, but will instead say that the Tao that can be named is not the Tao.  Yoga is a practice, not a cure all, and certainly not an extension of my crumbling vanity.

It’s only because wisdom can’t be communicated, Good Reader, and ha ha, nothing lasts.  Not vanity, not what you thought would save you.  Not your looks or lightning wit.  The money’s gone and the good times too.  I don’t mind telling you like it is because it’s the end of the fucking world.  Maybe I’ll get myself sorted.  I’ll win the next round and put depression back in its cage.  Then we’ll watch the world burn to an ashy rind.  Or we’ll get firebombed on vacation.  Or we’ll be picked off by anything worse than a common cold because we can’t afford Affordable Heathcare.  I’m sure there’s a Buddhist way to turn all this around but I’m spent, Brother.  I spent it all.  I haven’t been breathing right for over a year, I’m fat and indentured with nothing to show for the last 5 years except three books of poetry and a rickety and newfound sobriety.  My shitlist grows every day and it’s a reel of resentment I go over in my head, late at night here in Paradise.

If all this sounds dirty and grim, well, you got that right Sister.  I didn’t realize how bad it was until my second night here, when my health and grand mal disatisfaction stood in bas relief to the warm wind through the palms, and the gulf outside my window, and Yoga and vegetarian cuisine three times a day.  I’ve really let myself go.  I haven’t felt this rotten since I was 15, but I’m 42 now, and my own death is a spectre looming longer than the sky.  I’ve wasted too much time.  I’m where I am and not where I thought I’d be and no amount of dreaming will save me.  Apparently the third year of sobriety is the real bitch, which could explain this falling apart and dire need for motherfuck change that has risen.  Of course I stayed too long in college town and probably drank and/or fucked away my intellect and movie star looks.  I guess I should mention, since y’all are such beautiful, caring and compassionate people-I’m ok.  This ain’t my first rodeo.  We tell it like it is at Going for the Throat, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it’s dark down here.

And that I’m getting better.

See you on the mainland motherfucker.