Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


In Uncategorized on July 12, 2018 at 12:44 am

The Office of Jim Trainer
New Orleans Division
c/o CC’s Mid-City
New Orleans, LA

Moe Flake, Chief Editor
The America

Our mother has been absent, ever since we founded Rome
but there’s gonna be a party when the wolf comes home…

The Mountain Goats

Ahoy Chief-

Greetings from the Big Sleazy. It’s hard to argue with the way natives of this city live but fighting about anything down here could get you murdered. It’s grisly in the Easy. New Orleans has maintained one of the 5 highest murder rates for American cities for the last 10 years. If I keep my wits I’m sure I won’t get shocked or got, but—I hail from Hostile City, where they shoot you for your shoes and even Santa gets pelted with snowballs. Bernard Pearce, born and bred here, says you can’t treat people like dogs and expect them to be civil and not kill you over some shit in the deathly heat on Decatur Street, when the cops are running interference and pulling over tourists at Crescent Park. I can’t complain, this town’s been good to me. It’s kept me fed and in roses. I’m flush with cash, drink dark coffee all day at CC’s in Mid-City and bump & grind at the Saturn Bar to the raucous goodness of King James and The Special Men late into the greasy night.

I wanted to get this off to you before me and Bernard leave the mainland—in thanks and for luck & prescience. I know the ink you gave me in The Flake News didn’t come easy, nor would any argument about why the Personal Journalism of an ex-Pat punkrocker should appear on its pages, but—why not, as Dr. Thompson used to say. Why shouldn’t I perpetrate truth and call it journalism, and why can’t we get our hard news from a satire site and divine our fate in pubs that make light of the extinction event stakes of living in our time, that poke at the Godhead and attempt to shock the squares in a post authentic world? It makes perfect sense to me and besides bi-weekly thrusting nine hundred words into your inbox, I thought I’d approach you personally, with gratitude and gravitas.

I appreciate journalism for the urgency of its language. The hard deadlines of this business prompt me to be informed. I couldn’t even watch the news for a year after the election. I couldn’t shit either, which should come as no surprise—tension, anxiety and dread are your bedfellows when a grifting ponce who lost the popular vote by 3 million becomes the most powerful man in the world. Perhaps that could explain why I fell out of circulation this month, got out of town and pocket and took to a saltwater pool off Dumaine in Murder City. By the time I rented out my garage in Wilshire Wood, loaded up the Element and headed east, Donald J. was the last thing on my mind. The news caught up with me, though, and not long after I landed I got word from poet Brown Thought, who wrote while visiting some poor, non-English speaking folks holed up in Taylor, TX by the authorities. I’m sleeping in a kid’s bunk in the meantime, at a housesit in New Orleans, and I only got caught up with current events in time to leave.

An American dollar won’t get you a Euro but that says nothing about what it takes to make it here since the Great Recession. Murder and gun deaths are grim realities we’ve acclimated to living in the America, and the only thing more shocking is that we can go on living this way. I’m not in the business of getting my hopes up, but even living on luck can lose its charm when it takes 2 months for a contusion on my left foot to heal and without 8 hours of sleep I feel all 43 of my years like a weight and bane, and besides—it’s time to GTFO, know what I mean Chief? You got to rattle your chains. Leave the homeland, go abroad, become the dark Other your country fears, lurk like a stranger in the shadows and see how they do in other climes and hemispheres whose doors aren’t darkened by American hegemony. Our destination is The Republic of Bulgaria. We leave America on the 4th of July. There are eco villages filled with ex-Pats in the mountains and they are not without WiFi in the Balkans. $11 a night sounds good to me, Brother, especially after getting brutalized for $140 a day hauling freight in the America. We’ll hit AMS in the meantime, and Brussels because it’s cheaper to fly to and from these hubs, and we’re in no rush. We’re not on a schedule at all, and will probably fly out of Warsaw—the cheapest flight being around $300 to JFK in the first half of August. My partner is well known in the Arts. He’s hoping to hang his lantern over there, buy or rent a barn or bungalow and offer space to artists around the world. Spending money makes me nervous but if I’m writing it won’t feel a total waste and, besides—who knows what will be waiting for me back in the States this Fall as the wretched Year of the Cock winds down?

I’m taking a mirrorless with me, too, lest readers think my column at The Flake News is only bluster and jest. This country is over. I’d like to file with you and The Flake News some of the chronicles of being at large in a wide world and among swathes of people who don’t give a fuck about America but will gladly take its dollars. This long-winded and rageful post is simply in thanks and warning: I should like to submit and hope you are onboard. I know we waited for the humor, the site is satire, and I appreciate it, I feel like it could come, eventually—if and as soon’s I pick up and maintain the healthy habits of a daily writer. I know we discussed a column and I know I’ve told you to look out for some not-at-all-sane correspondence (check). I’m spitballing here, am open to suggestion and at large on a shoestring with an anger addiction and caffeine problem, desperately in need of ink and drawn to hard news only if I have to write about it, and, as always

Your Writer,
Jim Trainer



In Uncategorized on July 6, 2018 at 3:13 am

“You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
‘til you spend half your life just covering up…”
—Bruce Springsteen

“You’re in Louisiana, that’s how things work out there.  Everybody’s down, bad, so you gotta help out.  Material items are bullshit.  It could all be gone one day on a storm so share with people.”
—Brother Jacob

What follows wasn’t written by Henry Rollins.  I wish it would’ve had the same ringing clarity no matter who wrote it, but, before I became friends with its author on Facebook, I probably would’ve just scrolled on.  This is our world now.  I suffer a terminal defeat and worse—I poo-poo on the rabble rousers because it’s how I was raised.  There’s something more visceral to being jaded, and I can only assume that apathy keeps me protected and anyway I’m too goddamned to believe in this system anymore.  That said, and as much as I bitch about the Election of 2000, I’ve never lived in a country that’s been bombed, or under a government that comes for your people in the night.  Don’t get me wrong that shit was a sham—W. won with less than 600 votes in FLA and just like that the American Century was over.  Anyone who thinks Jeb didn’t hand Florida to his little brother probably believes in God and supports our military without a sleepless thought about it.  This is our world now.  I asked the crowd at Siberia a couple weeks ago—what kind of discourse is available when we’ve lost the narrative?  Like Sicko, I want to know—when did Facism become a viewpoint?  Christ now I sound like the rah-rahs, the world changers—God love ‘em.  I’m sorry I’m a shit about all this.  Bruce Springsteen was right.  I should like to do my part but even if I don’t, the decisions I make aren’t for me.  They’re for the people who can’t make them, the ones who can’t vote—the locked down, the silenced and the powerless and the insane. Truth is, the triumphant screed below wouldn’t of made a shit to me if it wasn’t misattributed to one of the biggest influences of my life.  I rely on Uncle Hank to tell the truth so I don’t have to.  I can go on writing apathetic screeds about how hard it is to be a writer while 5 journalists in the greatest country in the world are shot down and killed in cold blood.  The news out of Annapolis had me shook.  It steeled me though, and I took to the territory.  We traveled 26 hours yesterday and today, making thousands of miles, crossing an ocean and 2 time zones.  Have heart and give of it, if you can.  I will too, Good Reader.  This is our world now.


I hate “we’re fucked.”
I mean, I don’t want to shame anyone who has said it, thought it, or posted it. I have too. But as a philosophy, as a statement of belief, I hate it. Because it means you’ve given up.
We are absolutely NOT fucked.
Things are so bad. This country has taken a turn that I could never have predicted. It is absolutely fascist, nativist, and extremist. It’s every bit as scary as it seems.
But we are not fucked.
I read a long-form article on the Russia hacks in the New Yorker not long ago. However much you think that influenced the outcome, it was an instructive piece of journalism. There is very little indication that there was a specific political agenda that was being wished for. The goal was simple: Sow chaos and undermine the faith of Westerners in their own institutions.
This is really important to think about right now.
I have a high regard for Mueller and I think his investigation will have some influence. But don’t wait on him to save us. He can’t. And don’t wait on impeachment. I would support it fervently, but it is nothing to bank on. And especially don’t assume Trump can’t win again. He absolutely can. Our best bet – better, even, than all of our protests and actions – is actually voting.
It’s so square. It’s so old-fashioned. Many of us involved with the hard-left or anarchist scene have been trained to disregard it.
Fucking don’t. NOT NOW, guys. It is the best tool at our disposal. Yeah, you can say that they will sabotage it, reject it, whatever. “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.” In other words, don’t create troubles before they exist. Anything seems possible to me right now, but it remains the case – despite hacked voting machines and gerrymandering – that there is no known mechanism by which our government can deny massive voter turnout.
Take back the House in November. Then take back the Presidency in 2020. The worst thing we could do is pretend that these are givens. I never, ever, ever thought that this piece of shit could sit in the Oval Office. I was so humbled by my error. Therefore I assume he could take it again – I know he could – unless we accept the threat as real.
When we say, “We’re fucked,” we roll over. We defeat ourselves. We do their job for them. Don’t do that. We are NOT fucked. We are in a fight. It sucks. It’s hard. People are suffering. The earth is suffering. It will get worse.
You know, since everyone loves the Nazi comparisons, there were people during the HEYDAY of the Third Reich who NEVER said, “We’re fucked.” They said, “We’re in a fight.” And you know what’s interesting? Nazi Germany went from the worst regime in the world to a liberal democracy within a lifetime.
Look at Japan. Take the historical view. Stop pretending that the worst of what’s happening now is what is going to always happen. This is what is happening RIGHT NOW. That’s all you know. If you think it’s going to be this way forever, read a book.
Countries slide into fascism for long periods. It happens. Countries also have short-term extremist right-wing governments. Happens in Europe all the time. They get voted out. The threat remains. The threat of fascism will remain in America in a way it never has before. It’s a real movement. But we’re not fucked. Not even close. We can get off the ropes in the mid-terms and knock them out in 2020. But only if we stop saying that we’re fucked, and start seeing this as a fight.
I’m no Pollyanna. Things are so unutterably bad that I walk around in a constant state of nausea and horror. But you have to take the historical view, and you can’t lie down and say we’re doomed, or else they have beaten you.
Again, I don’t want to shame anyone who says, “We’re fucked” as an emotional reaction. I get it, I really do. But if you say that as a historical reality, then you SHOULD be ashamed. We are so far from being fucked. It’s time for that warrior spirit, from everyone.
Our best bet, actually our only realistic bet, is to mobilize the vote. There has always been a silver lining to this situation. I have always hesitated to state it, for fear of sounding like I am not taking the horror seriously. Fuck that; I do. But there has always been the possibility, there remains the possibility, that this is a time when our country faces up to its worst reflection, sees it truly, and breaks the fucking mirror. A time when the last bastion of white power and male supremacy and oligarchy attempts to enact fascism, but the antibodies of the American system and American multi-culturalism kick in to reject it.
Where do you want to stand in that equation? As someone who rolled over because we’ve have had two awful years of shit that much of the world has already experienced many, many, many times over, so you decided that we’re finished and done for? Come on. Look at Europe, look at Africa, look at Asia. Back and forth with this shit, and much worse.
I have your back. Get up. Here’s my hand. Let’s fight.
It can’t become hip to give up. It can’t become hip to say we are fucked. Look at history. People have been so much more fucked than us, and won. If you truly believe we are finished, I’m sorry, but you were the first to fall. Stick a fork in you, turn you over, you’re done. I don’t want to see you do that, if only for the selfish reason that we need you.
Do all the protests, do all the direct action, make all the phone calls, then mobilize in October and November. That’s when we can get off the ropes and start punching again. Take the long view, my sisters and brothers. Don’t let them take you out of the fight.
And if you need me for anything, I am here.

Will Stenberg
June 27 at 3:10 AM

The No News Blues

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2018 at 12:25 pm

It is what it is.
Cory Branan

You got to rattle your chains.  I came down to Murder City with 2 iPads and 7 sets of uncderclothes.  It was a hard ride and a long drive.  I’d been up til 4 the night before and I had to pack and load up the iPod before I finally hit the road at 2 o’ clock Texas time.  I pulled on to Dumaine in the sticky night 8 hours later and posted up in a kids bunkbed in a small blue room.  What happened next was a whirlwhind of catfish and pork, barrels of dark and honey sweet coffee, readings, shows and nightswimming.  This town’s been good to me and I was able to catch a glimpse of who I really am.  That can go both ways and in my case I saw I’m a man of talents and the hush of the crowd is sometimes a good thing—and that, I’m a man of worry, that rehasing and hemming and hawing is my way of trying to stay in control and if I lived everyday like I did this week then at this time next year I’d probably be sitting right here in this chair, at this CC’s in Mid-City, working on a letter or blog post.

As such, this blog’s been a boon and a bane.  You got to get it out.  For reasons beneficial and perverse, I’ve done it live, with you and on the page.  Sometimes I nail it and the feeling that gives is enough to keep doing it every week.  Other times I cringe and worse, wonder that the hell I was really on about—I mean, I understand it, but, I wrote it.  Some posts on here are fatuous, conviluted, heavy and morosely obtuse.  The truth is I’m in love with language and I was often trying to rope a bad blues.  Ennui and depression, high anxiety, the aforementioned worry and need for control.  Ultimately I’m happy for the release that 600 words affords me.  It means I’m writing and that I am a writer, so win-win.  The truth is it’s got to come out and that’s because there are venues where my voice is needed.  You got to clean your guns.  I should need to weigh in on the nasty New Century.  You should need to hear from me while out in the territory with a mirrorless and flanked by a loud Alpha tourmate.  I need the release and Personal Journalism needs me.  I need to get out of town before the loathing sets in and I need to clock in daily, somehow, with the work.  I dread getting back to it but there is some hope there, too.

My worst fear is that life will bulldoze over me and take my Art and creative expression away.  Now the longer I hang in, the larger the body of work becomes and the weight of it sways the mechanism.  I might have to report again, first thing, to a slog that’s brutalizing me.  But I’ll do it with 4 books published.  Fear is fear and will be.  As far as this blog is concerned, well—if my worst fear is that my Art will be taken away then I’ve probably got bigger problems than that, namely some fundamental psychological flaws rooted in greed and narcissism.  Ain’t it though.  I write it here to get it out.  I clear the chamber and reload.  After 600 words I’ll feel better, I’ll hit publish and send the out the word.  Once I’ve thrown in and close this window, I’ll log on to the New York Times, get a letter to the Editor off and pitch to the travel mags and poetry pubs.  It’s got to mean something to the folks down home.  See you on the streets motherfucker.

Live In The Writer’s Room ATX

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2018 at 7:07 pm

Go Where The Work Is

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2018 at 8:12 pm

I got two girls, one’s in heaven and one’s below
one I love with all my heart and one I do not know…
—Townes Van Zandt

It’s hot here, and humid. It rains almost every day and clears up just as fast. A lot of buildings in town are leaning to. It adds to the charm. A lot of folks down here are living the Life. Alcohol and cigarettes over table candles and under street lights.  I’ve been hanging out in bars. Sundays at the Saturn, St. Roch’s Tavern and Siberia. The biggest crowd so far was Monday at Bud Rip’s and the highlight of the show was singing Two Girls with Stumps the Clown.

It’s 7:19PM and I’ve been sanding floors all day. I write this under a big fan, by the fishtank in a small blue room. A bird on a wire sang to me at an intersection today, and it was the most incredible thing to happen to me in a long time. His song was congruous with the sun and sky, the lurch of us at the light and electric wires cutting through nimbus clouds fat enough to pop. I sat on a white sofa at the Orange Couch for 3 hours yesterday, and talked on the phone the whole way home in the rain. Labor will never work again for me but I suppose it will if only for the next 3 weeks. I could busk uptown, and I sitll might, but not before I have a go at where the money’s steady and see how much misery I can stave or shrug off with nightswimming, catfish and cornbread pudding and mugs of honey sweet Italian Roast.

The only way to beat the heat is to get up before the sun. Concurrently that could be the only remedy for me as writer and daylaborer. I’m writing this after work, with coffee, so I know it’s a victory. The pinky side of my right hand is numb from working a palm sander for 7 hours—but I type on. I wanted this post to be obsequious, to get in and get out and fulfill my weekly obligation of 600 words, and for it to remain true like it should while not giving too much away. I’d rather be coy with you then lie and I’ll never be fake, certainly not in writing anyway. My stay here has been bountiful.  I’m cared for and I’m playing shows. It’s a good life, it’ll be 2 weeks Saturday and I can’t wait to come home.

I’m up under the hotlights at least 2 times a week. I got a rocking little combo and a spokenword gig and double header on Sunday. I’m racking my brain, gestating as they say in the Personal Journalism business—on how to approach An Ex-Patriot In Profile. Bernard Pearce is Louisiana born and bred, a Breaux Bridge boy. He spent years booking bands at the Rinky Dink and Pussycat Lounge and opened the Feed&Seed in Lafayette. Now he’s looking into other markets. The American dollar can go a lot farther almost anywhere other than here. Pearce wants to post up, out in the wild, maintain an outpost and hang a lantern. He hopes to open an Artist In Residence program at the southern edge of the Eastern Bloc. I’ve got a mirrorless and obligations to 3 different pubs including this one. 900 every other Friday shouldn’t be too much to ask of a working writer and my column at The Flake News keeps my head in the political game. The Coarse Grind is good fun and has become, in the words of Into The Void’s sage editor Philip Elliot, a spiritual quest. It’s my way of giving back and sounding out to all ye writers pincered in the savage night or too-bright mornings trying to get it down, neat and fine.

It took me about a week down here to find my groove again. It’s become an antidote, really. If I can bang a column of words out of thin air I’ll feel better. Ideas will take shape in the mist and the impossibility of my dreaming heart becomes tangible and very real. Whatever it is, the story, I’ll keep telling it and writing it down. Wherever I am, hither and yon and on this or the other side of the deadly stakes of American hegemony, I know I can reach out, send out a signal and raise it up the pole. I know you’ll always hear me and we’ll be together again. Whatever peak or valley this raucous mortal carnival has in store, you know I’ll be poking the Godhead and grasping at the why, armed with this new media in a holy and perseverant quest for wisdom. I’ll always be your writer.

The Territory


In Uncategorized on June 7, 2018 at 11:48 pm


In Uncategorized on May 31, 2018 at 1:08 pm

The best work anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.
–Arthur Miller
…it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…
–Charles Dickens
I’m like a 4-leaf clover ’cause I hide from everyone…
Dan Auerbach
I’m still alive.
Arkady Babchenko

Welcome to the greatest country in the world. Unless you’re poor or black or young and trying to get an education.  Unless you’re sick or think the Police are to protect and serve like the civil servants they swore to be, or you’re not blindly patriotic and a jingoist, or you think working yourself to death to pay for what you already own is unhealthy and insane.  Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?  Trump lost by three million popular votes and what that pusbag railed about on the stump was the bait of a bait and switch as old as the founding of this country.  Campaign coverage was hardly that.  Instead of paying due diligence to the candidates’ policies, the for profit 4th Estate focused on the salacious.  We the bored or enraged bought it, read it and kept coming back for more.  What difference does it make?  At least that’s what I ask myself out here in Paradise, suffering the second hottest May in recorded history.  The weather ain’t right and you don’t need Stephen Hawking to tell you we’re on the verge of an extinction event, but–the real winner of the 2016 Presidential Election was voter apathy.  A lot of people in this country didn’t vote.  You didn’t even bother to, a disillusionment Putin had long since anticipated and so struck while the iron was hot.  Almost half of you said fuck it, and fuck it–I did too. It took me a good graph to warm up and admit this heinous and disgusting fact but it doesn’t matter.  This country is over.  Instead of bemoaning it for the nuclear summer, I’m getting out.

I’ll be realizing a dream of mine and staking other frontiers.  I’ve paid all my bills.  I’ve no gigs, no bad health, just some irritable bowels that have come to be the symptom of a roaring anxiety.  I drive a Japanese car and I got some money in the bank.  I’ve been unemployed since April.  The next time we meet I’ll have a Lumix mirrorless and Austin will be 511 miles away.  My singing is better than ever and I’ve got every Sunday in June at the Saturn to prove it.  I’ll need to maintain my breathing and vocal exercises and, at this late stage, maintenance should be the name of the game.  I’m 43, wandering just beyond the cusp of the New Century as the dark wind blows.  I’m not young enough to fancy wasting any more time but I ain’t dead either.  I think I’ll be a journalist because it’s the only way I can see myself getting involved without getting my hands dirty.  Some people are called to feed children on the streets of Mayanmar.  I’d rather stick it to the man from a sweaty outpost and press box or ride shotgun in my shirt sleeves with a digital recorder where the real winds blow.  Sleep isn’t as important now.  Not that it’s been.  I’m bolted upright every day at 4, blasted awake by a searing anxiety and gripped by a terrible fear.  I’d do wise to get up, get to it and get cracking but instead I lay prostrate on the big chair until NPR gently nudges me awake, hours later.  That ought to sum it up…I’ve a taste for the high drama and I’m thinking of other climes, so I stanchion myself here for my weekly 600 but have only just woke, fully clothed, late and mossy-mouthed, like the spoiled and privileged white American male I am.  Poison and antidote ain’t it though.  No remedy, no problem.

It’s time to shake the rust and roll the bones good Reader.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here.  After posting this I’ll ride out to the Austin Book Arts Center and pick up 55 perfectly bound copies of Take To The Territory.  I’ll sell a good chunk of them tomorrow night at Malvern Books and the rest will undoubtedly sell out to my People in Philly and some good folks in New Orleans I ain’t met yet.  I’ll need to get this place together.  Simonize the Element, load up the iPod and consistently pull, item by item from the load, until what’s left is necessary–a tight little package of the media and sundries needed out on the road in the America.  I’m hoping you’ll join me and I’m hoping to get some coins to rub together, in the wild beyond and funded by Empire ain’t it though.  HAVE CAMERA, WILL TRAVEL.

This country is over.  See you in the Other Hemisphere motherfucker.



In Austin, Jim Trainer, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writing on May 24, 2018 at 2:24 pm

It starts like this.  One word after another.  I snag you from out the ether and I pull you in.  Now you’re three sentences deep–we’ll need no introduction, but you’re gonna need a payoff.   The risks can be steep for this author, working in the creative nonfiction business, but wasting your time is never an option.  Time wasted is incremental murder.  Time is as serious as death itself and that’s because it’s the only thing standing in her way.  Time is the frontier on which she advances.  I clap my hands around a chigger and it has no more time.  I’m a pacifist but I kill.  I’ve a big heart but people are horrible.  I write 600 words every day sipping sweet espresso and I never have enough time to become who I am.  The risks of working in the creative nonfiction business can be greater than its boons.  You’ve total access and I never wanted to hide but now I’m weary and the enemy has won the round.

Just remember you are also a person, she writes, in response to my declaration that people are horrible.
I am horrible!  I respond, which is no revelation.
We are all horrible, she writes finally and almost sage-like if not for being utterly passive-aggressive and horrible.

There is so much I wish I could tell you that I’ll only regret later if this post should fall into the wrong hands.  The need to stay undercover is strong and could trump my resolution to bring you 600 words of the Real, from the life of a Writer, weekly annals mired both in the daily and dirty of it.  I need to rethink it and I’ll need some time away.  For every horrible person I’ve transacted with in the last 3 weeks there is one of you out there who is golden–a guru of friendship and compassion that can hold Lady Death at bay, for a spat of hard laughter from the gut and a gleaming look in your eye worth more to me than a diamond.  You know who you are and I love you.  I just need to get away to get this rig unwound.  I go live in the truest sense this Autumn and I’ll need to lay low and recharge.  You should have more than enough to go on next Friday, when I unleash Take To The Territory unto the world like a map into the wilds of my unction heart.

I’ll still be here, you know I will, but I’m going deeper–hiding out until you find me, and from what I build, you can bet they won’t be able to get to us there, we’ll be free and in love, in the thrall of real work, across the borderline tilling the hungry land. When I come down from the mountain you won’t be alone. They will be cast aside. The enemy will join us at the table or learn to gnash on themselves.

Calling out to hungry hearts
everywhere through endless time
You who wander, you who thirst,
I offer you this heart of mine.
Calling out to hungry spirits
everywhere through endless time,
Calling out to hungry hearts
all the lost and the left behind.
Gather round and share this meal
your joy and your sorrow
I make them mine.
–Zen Buddhist Invocation

Join Jim Trainer next Friday June 1, at Malvern Books, in celebrating the release of Take To The Territory, his fourth full-length collection of poetry, through Yellow Lark Press.  Featuring Brown Thought and Christine Schiele.  7PM


In Uncategorized on May 17, 2018 at 5:15 pm

Punk’s not dead, it just sucks now.
–Grafitti in the Men’s Room at the Black Cat Lounge

I smashed my heel falling off a makeshift ladder in my bathroom.  Handsome Dan caught me but it was too late.  The hard tiles crushed the bones of my ankle together and now I can’t rest my foot anywhere–not up or down–for longer than a few minutes before I have to move it again.  My IBS is flaring up, probably from the half&half I’ve been adding to my coffee and I think a filling is loose which is probably from all the high fructose corn syrup in the non-dairy creamer I’ve been drinking to curb my IBS.  My joints are sore, and practically arthritic because I haven’t been taking my Glucosamine.  Anxiety bleeds the corners at the edge of my day and goes full roar at night.  Who knew I had too much energy, and that all those gallons of bourbon I’d been drinking were only a stopgap for the cackling and torrential madness within me?  I did, for one thing.  I always knew, ever since my “straight edge” days in High School–without a band I’d have no way to kill it my head.  It was only a matter of time before I was set to self destruct and bourbon was only the beginning.  I’d drink until I slurred, snort coke until I was good, and then crush a Xanax and lick it to come down.  Mornings were hard then, Good Reader, but I assuaged the hangover with a cocktail.  Then I got old and mornings got dark as midnight.  It got bad before it got better and now I’ve uncovered the Beast.  Too much energy is the worst reason not to get anything done and Sister Kim was right–I’ve got all the tools to work it out, and Sister Maureen–I’ve all the reason to.

I was offered $50 last night to act like I was into the band.  They were a punk band.  I didn’t realize until just then how important it is to me.  We both know the scene got so jaded wth itself, violent and worst of all the music suffered.  I dropped off right before Greenday hit, but, for reference and to assure you I am not cooler than you, when Greenday hit I was into them.  They were a return to form for me.  They weren’t anything as dumb as something called metalcore and better than anything on the radio at the time–bands like Korn and Disturbed and this kind of shit.  It was, or seemed to be, pure punk rock.  These days I wouldn’t listen to Greenday if you payed me but I might act like I was into them if you offered me $50 on a rainy Tuesday night in Bro Country.

“It is pretentious, isn’t it?”

Lance turned away from where we sat on oversized lawn recliners in the rain.  Lance lives across the street from Joey Ramone’s parents in North Jersey and was more punkrock than the band on stage and lot of us getting paid to be in the crowd.  When the band started I was in the bathroom but made my way to the stage beside a white dude in dreads who smelled like dreads.  He annoyed me but when he stepped away I felt vulnerable and exposed.  A phony among phonies.  There wasn’t one fan there who wasn’t offered money to be.  It felt like work.  They did Pretty Vacant and it was alright, but, let me tell you something–if you’re a punk band and you’ve no attitude–you’re doing it wrong.  You didn’t get the memo that you’re not supposed to be up there.  It doesn’t matter what you play as long as you’re playing it as important as death itself.  The 10 minutes I spent talking with Lance were as real as it got for me.  A “punk” band playing to a canned crowd in the most insincere city deep in the heart of Bro Country.  I wore my Eulogy shirt, though.  At least I repped my friends.

The best news I got for you is I’m getting my voice back.  I’ve been seeing a specialist which hasn’t been cheap but worth every penny.  My vocal chords were out of sync with my breath.  I leave the Doc’s office ringing and resonant, and I try to carry it over at home on my sessions with the Guild.  This hair-brained and willy-nilly post is what you can expect from me after I’ve been in the thrall of anxiety too long.  It takes me away from The Work which is no bueno.  Every morning I pray nothing takes me away from my art.  Not the maddening search for subletters, not explosive bowel movements, not getting up at 4 to drive a 16′ stake bed or any number of niggling ailments and conditions that can bore through our workaday lives and rattle us fuckall trying to make a living in the America.  Besides a bit of recon in the territory and seeing how the other half live, I’ll be keeping the blades sharp and getting 600 on wax before noon every day.  It’s the least I can do and it’s what’s expected of me.  I’m a journalist now.

See you on the internet, motherfucker.

John Crow Blues

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2018 at 8:10 am

My youth was nothing but a lowering storm, occasionally lanced by sudden suns…
–Charles Baudelaire, The Enemy

This may sound dire.  Because it is.  If I don’t make it now I might never, but–if you take the theatrics out and the drama away I’ll adjust, and adapt, and find a way for my Art to survive.  This is the struggle.  Ain’t it though.  I been cut free from the slog.  My mornings are quietly constructing columns of words on writing, the ruling class, the America, travel plans, and the nighttime is for poems and letters.  Unemployment’s been good to me, it’s the anxiety that’s been unkind.  I’m faced with the most impossible and fuckall obstacle of all–getting everything I want.  It makes me anxious, like I’ll lose it somehow and not just be back where I started but nowhere, Pal.

As if I could.  I’m not 20 anymore.  Not thirty or forty either and that’s ok with me.  What I remember about striking out into the city are freezing, November morning rides crossing the South Street bridge in workboots.  It wasn’t long till I was in the know, though, living in converted warehouses and steeped in trysts with rockettes and independent film stars.  Philly was savage, the frontier, with plenty of places and people to get lost in.  I fell in love enough times to be considered terribly lucky or desperately low.  I can’t compare my roaring youth to what’s happening now.  I don’t even know why I’m writing about the end of the century, to be honest, except to say that there really is no way I could ever go back but if I could, would that be so bad?  I live like a monk compared to that fast and sleazy decade but I’m on point and I started this writing you to let you know I’m struggling.

I’m fighting the good fight but I’m losing.  I’m confronting the Self and this battle is making the case to start smoking again.  I stared the 10 pages of the CORE app blind.  I did what I could, I’m here today.  I’m working for cash and booking the Fall.  Playing every Sunday night at the Saturn.  I might have to take work out of country and while I might be writing a hell of a lot less than anything else I’m doing with my time these days, it’s a hell of a lot more than it used to be in those sanguine end days of the 20th Century, living with a mattress and a Remington manual.  Those were mad jungle nights compared to these evenings of copacetic cardboard.  The difference is if it makes it to the page and if I get it on wax ain’t it though.  That’s all that matters now and I suppose it’s a great way to sublimate all that anxiety–that perches on my shoulder like a grey turkey vulture, egging me on with rue and failure, reaffirming the worst parts of my story…and wooing me back to an oblivion of the past…the clacking of keys, it’s a good remedy…it’s worked before, and I’ma keep at it, too.

The days go creaking by.  The road is clear.  The worst fears I’ve suffered, and the story that I won’t live my dreams have given way, yielded to a great fear that I’ll be happy and get what I want.