Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘the muse’ Category

Take to the Territory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

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.

Is Something Wrong?

In anxiety, Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, Maureen Ferguson, mental health, mid life, new journalism, new orleans, on tour, PDX, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, poetry submission, Portland, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, sober, sobriety, Spoken Word, Submitting, submitting poetry, the muse, therapy, TOUR, travel, travel writing, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 22, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Does a bear shit in the woods? Does the Pope wear a funny hat? Is the government corrupt? Did your parents lie to you about what it was really like out here, in the wide world slaving the hours away for some shekels and a piece of bread, 4 walls and the game on Sunday? Yes, something is very wrong here and Mr.Jones ain’t the only one who don’t know what it is.

Another 4 days, another email sent. Christ.  Had I started walking with the message it would’ve got there sooner than it did when I finally hit ‘Send’ this morning. Things I’m not up for are things that must be done. Unless I don’t mind the dayjob and am perfectly happy being a wage slave, locked in a gilded cage and living in a yellow mansion here in Babylon-Hippie Town-Austin Texas-the Velvet Rut of the world. This town is like a mirage but the livin’s easy, nowhere near as brutal as Hostile City but never as real either. It’s where the Californians come to die, tech babies and plutocrats live in gauche condos in the sky and the artists and Mexicans beat the heat in pools far east of any metropolitan action. Fuck. Sorry. I  drank too much coffee and the jackhammers up the street seem to be boring into my skull.

Why anxiety? Dunno, good reader but after talking with pillar of strength and badass redheaded wicked witch of the North-none other than the lovely whipsmart Maureen Ferguson-this morning, I think it high time to up the ante. Time to book myself within an inch of my life, lest it take me days to send an email and too long to book a tour and I’ll find myself napping away what precious time I have left in my 40s to do this thing.

“This thing” is be an artist. Which, as discussed in blogs previous, is foregone-and right now looks like publishing 1 book a year at the IPRC and hitting the road every summer on the Gulf Coast junket and the East Coast in the Fall. It’s taking me too long to do things though. I feel retarded and unworthy.
Which as you know by now good reader, is only how I feel about it. The truth is I’ll have hit 6 of the 12 new cities I said I would’ve by the end of October. If I ever get back in front of the Great White machine I’ll have punched 6 submission deadlines to the pubs with flash fiction, essays and poems by the end of August. So, I am busy. And I don’t feel like I am. And rest never comes easy when you’ve got a chip on your shoulder and no college degree.

Be good to hit the ground running, in a Honda 2-door instructing Yoga and playing gigs until I can get out on the road again. Streamline the MAMU so that wherever I land will be a portable War Room and the fun doesn’t have to stop. Perhaps I should be grateful. I’m in good health and beside an enlarged prostate and being out of breath when I tie my shoes, I do get out of bed every morning. The words keep coming even though I’ve stopped offering libations and black hash smoke to the muse. I’ve no lovers in my life but no trouble either. When I look at the map of the Continental U.S. on the wall of the office I think I can do it. And when I reach out for help, I usually find I’m the most able-bodied and ready soldier in the room.

So what the fuck is wrong? Dunno, good reader. Dunno. One thing’s for sure though and that is it don’t take much to bring me around. I just hit the 679 mark on this post and it’s my 4th and last day off before I report back to the dayjob. Have I slain the dragon of anxiety? Hardly. But now I’m up on the mast again. Me and Ahab. Coursing the deep and ready to take another stab at nailing down the East Coast, compiling the new effort and booking the room.

See you on the road motherfucker.

Trainer
Going for the Throat

 

 

UNTITLED

In poem, Poetry, the muse, Uncategorized on May 25, 2016 at 9:51 pm

poems are anonymously
hoisting a black flag
in dark sunglasses
and taking the hills with fire
filling your pockets with dead coins
till you’re sunk to the bottom of the sea’s blue dream
pulling you in to croci of sheets and hair and leg
as rain pings off the roof in syllables
and calliope melody rises dark on the wind

Papa

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

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

papas grave

Kingdom Found

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

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