Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘hometown’ Category

New Century Blues

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Buddhism, buddhist, christianity, employment, hometown, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, new journalism, Poetry, poetry reading, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, Spoken Word, working class, WRITER'S BLOCK, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga on June 29, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Greetings from the wasteland and hello from the high rooms.  I’m writing this from the War Room, a kitchen in an apartment of the last Confederate Governor of the U.S.’ old place, in sweltering downtown Austin.  I’m writing it on a Monday so I can get the world off my neck.  The afternoons are best for poetry but I blew it out yesterday with a poem so bitter I won’t be able to share it with anyone, except maybe the Devil himself.  Although, when it comes to offending folks, the creation of Art usually wins out.  As it does over:  sentimentality, decency and even privacy-yep, all of these and especially privacy are rolled over in favor of getting product out.  Be it a poem, blog post, Youtube clip or article-content trumps everything.  Which isn’t to say I wanted to hurt you.  That’s not true.  There are some of you I was trying to hurt.  At least I’m not trying to offend.  Whoops.  That’s not true either.  What do you want from me?  I’m a digital garbage man so stick out your can.  If I don’t put out at least 600 words a week, black detritus piles up in my mind and I start weighing heavier and less savory options, if you know what I mean.

I started this blog 7 years ago, emulating Dr. Thompson and all but killing for his place on the pulse, his connectivity and prescience, his wit and high drama and even his gloomy war drum tone.  His predictions always came home to roost, leading Frank Mankiewicz to dub him the “least factual but most accurate” reporter on the Campaign Trail in ’72-and we all know what’s happened since then.  Trust me on this, Brother, if it got too weird for Hunter Thompson then you know we are in for one hell of a ride.  Nutter’s Rule.  I’ve written on it before.  A future on the order of raining frogs and swarming clouds of locusts is all but imminent-because that is the power of dreaming and it’s all those Nutter’s could hope for.  The music they play in mass alone should hip you to the sad imagination of folks who don’t have premarital sex and are afraid to die.  In their defense, we’re all afraid to die-it’s just that some of us have the sense to understand the Wisdom that living their way is just like dying, so we may as well get on with it, which is probably what Dr. Thompson was thinking on that black day in Febuary 2005.

That’s what is wrong with my generation but don’t get me started on my generation.  Or, do.  It’s only Monday.  My next 600 ain’t due up until sometime Thursday, and that’s plenty of time for me to examine my place in this culture and where I fit in to my Generation-because I certainly didn’t know it or fit in at the time.  Shaving your head and donning braces and boots wasn’t popular where I come from.  Neither was skateboarding, or doing anyting except getting your 12 year old girlfriend pregnant and drinking a case of Bush big boys at the trestle on a Friday night.  Playing in a band wasn’t either, believe it or no, at least not the type of music we were playing-but we did it anyway.  Of course I’d want to go back there, like the song says, but if I can’t then I’ll settle for the attitude we had back then.  Because goddamnit, the Buddhists were right, attitude is everything.  We did shit back then, that no one else was doing.  Because we were bored and our parents didn’t care.  We smoked and drank post-Nevermind, and we wrote.  Those journals are gone, or burned, or on a shelf in a cold garage in Middletown, Delaware at my father’s house.  It’s a shame what happened to those journals and the young idea is gone.  We’re all alone in the New Century but connected somehow in the hall of mirrors of social media.

It’s all fucked and I guess it always was.  The real kick in the balls is that never stopped me before.  I haven’t been breathing right for the last year and a half.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here.  I got a Monk’s Robe Orange 2009 Honda Element with 53,000 miles and some hail damage on it that bothers me way more than it should.  I’ve got 64 copies of All in the wind’s pressing of 150 left, and orders are still coming in.  I’ve got clips of me reading and telling stories that I shouldn’t post if I cared about certain poets in my commnuity’s feelings, which I don’t, so I will.  In 23 minutes I’ll have to report back to my boss, smoke him out and make a dinner run.  5 years ago I walked out of the food service industry for good.  I threw out my serving blacks and began the search for meaningful work.  I’ll let you fill in the blanks as per if I’ve ever found it, and offer that the only meaningful work there is is for yourself.  You can be a slave in the service of another but you’re still a slave.  You can draw your own conclusions, of course, but I should’ve been gone 2 years ago, when I looked back at my life in horror and knew that if I stayed any longer I’d only be dying.

See you coming out the grave, motherfucker.

Eunuch Blues

In alcoholism, anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Bevan McShea, Charlie O'Hay, getting old, getting sober, hometown, Jim Trainer, mental health, mid life, middle age, on tour, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, solitude, Spoken Word, straight edge on April 20, 2017 at 11:22 am

Recorded live at Brickbat Books, Philadelphia, September 2016.

Catch Jim Trainer speaking in Boston next Wednesday April 26, at the Middle East Corner, with the Reverend Kevin O’Brien, Duncan Wilder Johnson, The Droimlins, and Jim Healy.
8:30PM, $5 advance tickets, $8 day of the show.  Please click here.

Jim Trainer will be speaking and reading from All in the wind, his latest collection of poetry and prose, at Toast Philly on Thursday April 27 with local favorites Charlie O’Hay and Lamont Steptoe.
7PM, Please click here.

Jim Trainer returns to the Mill Street Cantina for a special 90 minute set on Friday April 28.
9PM, Please click here.

Won’t Stop

In austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Charlie O'Hay, hometown, Jim Trainer, Lamont B. Steptoe, music performance, National Poetry Month, new journalism, news media, on tour, Performance, Philadelphia, poem, Poetry, poetry reading, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, Spoken Word, TOUR, travel, travel writing, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on April 13, 2017 at 2:35 pm

…to live outside the law, you must be honest…
-Bob Dylan, Absolutely Sweet Marie

It’s a good thing I don’t care about what you think then, isn’t it?
-Your Writer on Facebook this week

Last week on Writing On The Air cohost Martha Louise Hunter asked me where I get the time to do it all.  God bless her.  We were talking about this blog and how 600 words a week is the least I can do if I’m going to call myself a writer.
“Of course there’s Letter Day,” I told her and cohost Joe Brundige, “and I’m posting a poem every day for the month of April celebrating National Poetry Month.”
I told them that All in the wind was book 2 of the 10 that will be published through Yellow Lark Press, beginning with September in 2015 and ending with a collection, as-yet-unnamed, in 2025.
“10 books in 10 years is great, a fine goal,” I went on.  “-but I’m only making up for lost time.”
Brother Joe and I share a symmetry, and experience the joy of communication that can happen between two stringently honest people.  It took appearing on the show twice for me to realize-I am doing the thing.  It’s good when that happens, as opposed to the slave driving I’m usually doing with myself and the crippling feelings of despair anyone reading this blog is, by now, all too familiar with.

I finally booked Boston.  I’ll be speaking at the Middle East Corner with the Reverend Kevin O’Brien and bussing down to Philly the day after, for the Philly release of All in the wind.  Joe and I recorded an episode of Chillin Tha Most at the mansion last week, and it should be on the net next Thursday.  Last week was the kind of week I’d like to have every week, with gigs and radio appearances almost every day.   I kept on pushing till the light of day.  Which is heaps different than the life I’m living in my head, where it’s never enough and I’m only a day working coward.  What’s next is complicated but simple in terms of intent.

I’m quitting this gig.  Moving out to the east side.  Minimizing.  Scaling down.  I’m not sure how it will look or how to even vaguely monetize poetry and the spoken word-but I’m full of ideas and already making half my imminent rent with the gigs I’m already playing.  It’s strange to be striking out now but hardly unlikely.  I’ve long since abandoned anything resembling the common tropes of being an American.  I don’t have any kids, don’t even have a girlfriend.  But I’ve got a passion for media and all forms of communication.  I hope to get further invested in print and broadcast media.  Before I fly out to Beantown the MAMU should be fully assembled and my next purchase will be a touring vehicle.

It took me a while to wrap my head around it.  I had to keep it to myself and it made me resentful.  I couldn’t talk about my plans on here, there was some bad blood about me leaving but there doesn’t have to be.  I’ve started paying my taxes, I got a new dentist and a healthy line of credit.  Everything is moving as it should.  My next venture will be some time researching topics for the blog, so’s to avoid the kind of soul searching pap and whine that she hates and can appear on Going For The Throat when its weekly deadline is on my neck.  Your ideas are welcome, as are paying gigs-do you have a story for me?  Can we find a way to pay my freight so I can come to your town, speak and play?  Please chime in, in the comments below, or drop me a line at: jamesmichaeltrainer@gmail.com.

This east coast jaunt will be a short one but I’m thrilled to be sharing the stage with the Reverend Kevin O’Brien, Duncan Wilder Johnson, The Droimlins, and Jim Healy in Boston.  The Philly release of All in the wind is stacked, with award winning poets Charlie O’Hay and Lamont Steptoe reading.  By the time I go back to work I’ll have played at least 3 shows on the east coast, sold some books and burned hundreds of miles.  I’ll be exhausted, which is how I like it, and plan to be in the coming months.  Into it, no stops, full bore.

See you on the East Coast motherfucker.

MIDDLE EAST CORNER 4:26

…for your young idea…

In Fugazi, hometown, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, punk rock, straight edge, youth on March 30, 2017 at 3:05 pm

“Fuck all that shouting, nothing happened!”
Billy Idol

The rise and fall of the post-Nirvana boom I don’t care about. I think we can all agree it didn’t represent a takeover of anything.
J.Robbins

There’s always room for bros.
Alex Rawls

Rock and roll was a dangerous weapon, chrome plated, it exploded like the speed of light, it reflected the times, especially the presence of the atomic bomb which had preceded it by several years. Back then people feared the end of time. The big showdown between capitalism and communism was on the horizon. Rock and roll made you oblivious to the fear, busted down the barriers that race and religion, ideologies put up.
Bob Dylan

And after two years of trying our best to convince you that all these things were true, it turns out that we, the media, were the ones who were lying.
Brian Joyce

I’ve been listening to nothing but live Fugazi.  They’ve got to be the greatest rock and roll band of all time.  That’s only slight hyperbole, used to convey the utmost respect and admiration I have for this band.  Throughout their career they managed to maintain form as content. Despite a complaint against the proselytizing of singer Ian MacKaye, the lyrics of Steady Diet of Nothing show a marked shift from direct moralizing into more abstract and artful tropes.  Fugazi will always represent the spirituality of salt to me.  Without drugs or alcohol, they explored deep and archetypal forms-which is a very fancy way to say they managed to let their imaginations run wild without any outside influence.  It’s very pure.  In “Latin Roots”, co-frontman Guy Piccioto’s journey of a regressing young adult laying on his parents’ bed and falling backwards through the centuries of his genealogy, happens without even the smoking a cigarette.  Perhaps this is only how I imagine it, I’ve conflated the narrator/performer/writer with his subject matter.  It only speaks of the mythology at work with this band, as there is with any great band, performer or artist.  The other thing Fugazi share with great art is that they’re in the air, or, in the water, as poet Bernard Pearce wrote.  Fugazi is the east coast, where I grew up and first saw them perform, at 15, in the gymnasium of Drexel University in their backyard of Philadelphia.  They’ll always sound like adolescence to me.

Fugazi will always be crystalized into one moment, walking down some forgotten street in Clifton Heights, as a 14-year-old skinhead, being picked up by one of the only skaters in High School at the time, him having their s/t album on cassette, rewinding it to the beginning and listening to the whole thing.  So many things are gone from the day, the most tragic being a time when I could holler out and hop in the pickup truck of someone I didn’t exactly know but trusted more than family because of how he wore his hair and the fact that he knew.  We knew.  We knew what was coming, what was happening, and it wasn’t punk rock, that was our older brother-the generation before.  This was now.  This was brand new and it was kids, like us.  They were just like us.  That feeling would last until the release of Nevermind 2 years later, when jocks and squares started dyeing their hair and it all became a silly fad-repurposed and sold.  Fugazi continued touring and putting out albums throughout it all, until the apocryphal announcement of their hiatus at the dawning of the New Century.

Fugazi will always be a winter band. There’s a resourcefulness that comes from living in winter climes, and I always think of them with their knit caps on, a chill in the air and chimney smoke mixed with the smell of wet stone just before it snows.  I’ve become a new man so many times while listening to them, on so many levels, not the least of which having shaved off my long hair and starting High School, a new man but barely one…in the Fall, which is when I received their last album from WKDU’s Stevie D., and played the whole thing front to back on a Monday evening just a short walk away from the gymnasium where I’d seen them play 13 years before-they sounded ebullient, and they always will, jaunty and fresh and political, just like youth.

FUGAZI

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

In Nine Hundred and Three Words

In anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, blogging, depression, getting sober, hometown, Jim Trainer, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, RADIO, recovery, self-publishing, sober, sobriety, solitude, Spoken Word, straight edge, therapy, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on March 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm

…it is in the shelter of each other that the people live…
Pádraig Ó Tuama

Let’s keep hustlin’.
Brian Grosz

…without you my address would be the wind…
-from All in the wind

…you’re going to have to accept that a lesbian chainsaw dominatrix or two might be involved.
broliloquy

My name is Jim Trainer and I wish I was somebody else. I mean, there’s something in the way. I mean, I took the last 2 days off work, for my birthday and to “get some stuff done” and the result was only epic laziness. Lunch and gift swapping with a friend. Driving into dusk to see musicians perform in plays. Eating water ice and falling in love with Austin again. Before I chalk up the last 2 days to “not living my dreams” or being lazy, allow me to invoke the wisdom and language of psychotherapy, and ask-what am I getting out of it? The answer is dumb-I had a peaceful couple days with no torture, no monkey, no blues. Basically I was hiding. This doesn’t bode well. Psychologically speaking, I’ve set it up so I will have to live my dreams. Using the alchemy of inner dialogue I told my Self, “If you live your dreams I won’t come down on you for being a piece of shit.” There are so many ways to deconstruct this deal I have with my Self, and none of them are good! Ah, but don’t too wise, for writing is my rabbit in a hat, and this blog my weapon of choice-and this is how. By the end of this graph I have had some insight, a revelation that there within the dialogue with my Self is the kernel of it-the micro and the blueprint. My life has been always being 2 steps ahead of the whip.  What a fucked up way to live, let alone think and react.  Out of fear, like a slave or Catholic.  For shame.

Not to mention I feel great.  I mean, today I woke up at 7:45AM, like always, but I went back to bed after I put the coffee on.  I dreamt that my boss had wiped his hands on my tux shirt and when I went to confront him about it, his door was closed and his room was dark with a note on the door (and it was my Mother’s bedroom door wtf).  Tangential but relevant.  It’s a circus in my mind.  Fear is the carnival barker and the crowd has lined the tent 2 times round, clutching their dirty children and tickets in hand.  I’m sitting here typing this in the bright light of day with my Hugh Hefner robe over the clothes I wore to bed last night.  I feel rested, which is necessary.  Hell I even refused sex a couple weeks ago because the call came in after I was already in PJs.  Do you have any idea how baffling it is for the male mind to refuse sex?  It can short out the man-wires.  I woke up the next day confused and ashamed, like I had done something wrong-but I was so rested I forgot about it and got on with the day.  My point is I feel rested today, after 2 days of  hiding from the whip, instead of hustling 2 steps ahead of it, and somehow not being a “piece of shit”, according to myself anyway, the Mind.  In body I couldn’t feel better.  I just wish I was somebody else and here’s why.

It’s been a long time that I should be far from here. I know that my desire for the artist’s life is how I got this far. It’s not what I thought it would be and I know I could do so much more. Knowing you could be more is strange. Well, not strange-it’s evolution, it’s growth. It’s savage, amoral and bloody. Birth comes from death. Knowing you could do more is heaps more manageable, if slippery. I can’t say I’m not accountable to myself. I can’t say that there isn’t a chasm between who I am and what I’m doing and who I think I am and what I’m doing. It’s all so very twisted and fucked and I can’t see the bottom. All I can do is live my best today, try harder this time.  (Do you know how exhausting that is?).     It’s just so fucked because I know I’ll find myself here again. Dissatisfied. I need a life coach who’ll tell me that everything’s gonna be ok before she fucks my brains out and kicks my ass out the door.  Sorry.  If I’ve lost you it’s because I lost myself.

What I am trying to describe here is what has gotten me this far.  Dissatisfaction is why I dropped out of college, left the hometown, found work as a DJ, singer songwriter, orator and spoken word poet.  Dissatisfaction is why I spent weeks on the road, sleeping and driving for as many as 7 weeks a stretch, across Canada and the midwest, along the Gulf and up the West and East coast.  Dissatisfaction is why I’ve had 3 books of poetry published in the last 5 years and dissatisfaction is the sole reason that 2 of them were published by my own press.  Dissatisfaction is why I left Philly, and tried my hand hawking wares and doing everything from handing out lunchmeat to donating plasma to walking around campus dressed like a Hershey Kiss.  I’ve lost you.  I’ve lost me.  Is seeking and forging the life I want born of dissatisfaction?  Or is it something else?  Is knowing I could do and be more the same as hating myself?  That’s certainly how it feels.  And as far as how it feels, this, we know, is my remedy.  These 903 words.  This post.  This time at the knives, hacking and working it out.  We do it ’cause we have to.  As far as pace and productivity, goals and the ability to relax and unkink without fear that the whip will come down but yet still pushing on?  You know if I had the answer, good reader, I would give it to you.  Right before I fly out the door and hit the streets after the heart of this dream.  A lonely hunter indeed.

It goes on.

 

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

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

…a question of Fuel…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Low Drama

In alcoholism, anger, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, depression, getting sober, going for the throat, hometown, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, news media, Philadelphia, publishing, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, travel writing, WRITER'S BLOCK, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on October 27, 2016 at 11:55 am

So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here―not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.”
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, Hunter S. Thompson

When I first got into the blogging business, I was up to my knees in a day gig.  It didn’t pay much, $7.50/hr, and not much was expected of me—40 or so hours a week putting tags on orange merchandise for the University of Texas COOP, in a cold building on the corner of Real&Alexander.  I could’ve played it right so many ways back then but I didn’t play it at all. I was young, 34, new to town and working the warehouses. I didn’t have the luck or what some call confidence to go for the Rockabilly Dream I had come to Texas for.  But I had my first piece of journalism published by the end of my 5th month here so it looked like I was leading in with the writing and I went with it. I started blogging soon after that.

Laid off as a bartender and emboldened by articles appearing in Verbicide magazine, along with the news that I’d be receiving $444 biweekly from the state of Texas in unemployment compensation, I felt the time to be a writer was now, or, then.  The Fall of ’10 saw me suffering one of many crises of faith I’ve suffered throughout a lifelong career in the arts. A crisis of faith can best be described as do or die. If I didn’t make it as a writer, while on unemployment in Texas and during my 35th year, I’d be doomed to factory warehouse or promotions work, bartending or hospice care.  That’s what life offered me then, what my choices were and what it looked like. What a wild, reckless time it was, trying to be a writer.

The image of me standing up bourbon drunk in a black convertible speeding through the barrio with a sexy redheaded nurse at the wheel is a good one, a fine image to hold on to.  But also, there were many black mornings, much anger and frustration, and much banging of the head against the wall. I upped my writing regimen from an hour of writing 1,200 words a day and it was nothing but pain.  Looking back I was learning the hard lesson that whatever you do in the Arts, and more importantly, despite what you think about whatever you’re doing in the Arts, doing something is not doing nothing. It all counts.  If you’re diehard and Irish like me, something’s got to give and if you’re up against the wall, does it really matter what gives? Your head or the wall, Pilgrim—but let me tell you something, there are many ways through a wall and you can make your Art about that and many will join you and celebrate through you, get behind you and push you until you’re through.

This blog is what it looks like on the other side.  I know that with the littlest amount of discipline, I can come up with a 644 word missive and whale-killer of a blog that’ll sink any amount of blues and malaise, anger or sexual frustration I’m dealing with.  I know how to do it because I put so much time in to doing it. My blogging medicine is strong. When I say the littlest amount of discipline, I mean that what you’ve read so far took me 20 minutes. Most blogs do.  It’s the excruciating tweaking and editing that takes up the nut of time needed to get these up and posted for you good reader, but 20 minutes to wrap it and dull the jagged edges of sobriety and Kelvin depths of loneliness.  What a blessing. What a goddamned miracle. You know how I can do all this in 20 minutes? Because I’ve spent days doing it. Yep. 1,200 words used to take me 8 hours, a 6-pack of Black Lager and a late night drive through the barrio.  Now I do 600, for your benefit, and at the speed of the Age of Information we are living in, and I do it in 20 minutes. Is it good? I’m happy with it, and extremely proud at times, but ultimately I am comfortable in the knowledge that if you want to write good you need to write bad.  At the helm, in the War Room, at your desk or easel, even on the road at the MAMU—there is no wasted time creating Art. This, right here, is the best 20 minutes I’ve spent in the last 3 weeks. Now if I could only find something to do with the other 1,420 minutes of the day.

See you next Thursday motherfucker.

Vote with a bullet.
Trainer, Going For The Throat
Austin, TX-Nationwide