Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Don Bajema’s Hero

In American History, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Don Bajema, Football, War, Writing, writing about writing, youth on November 7, 2017 at 8:39 am

The following interview first appeared in Philadelphia Stories in 2013.

Great writing has heart.  It really is that simple, although it’s not easy.   Former world class athlete Don Bajema presents a baby boom generation that is wide-eyed and innocent.  His self-styled anti-hero Eddie Burnett is taken to the horrible edge of things-but Bajema stops there, allowing the reader to bear witness and Burnett to make up his own mind.  Winged Shoes and a Shield (released last fall through City Lights Booksellers) follows the track and field star-cum-dropout’s trajectory through diaphanous rites of adulthood, dysfunctional family life, drug and spousal abuse and the terrible reality of American racism-all under the specter of the draft for the Vietnam war. Bajema’s take on the dire nature of our National character during sunrise in America is crushing, but there is always a choice offered in his work.  His hero strives to remain beautifully awake. Don Bajema’s hero has heart.

I’m struck by the innocence of some of your character (s) and point(s) of view.  Their attitudes and perceptions seem to be from a more innocent time, almost like the adolescent idealism that was somehow forgotten in the generations following baby boomers, after what I would call “Sunrise in America”.  
I think I’ve done all I can to deliberately retain innocence and an adolescent idealism in my life and work. Trauma fixes personalities in time and place and from ages thirteen to twenty I saw that generation I write about, a perspective I will forever view the world from…as the Kennedys were murdered, King, X, I saw riots, burned cities, dogs set on kids, National Guardsmen open up on peaceful protesters, I watched our military annihilate hundreds of thousands in a country of farming peasants, commit massacres of villages and napalm children running naked in dirt roads. Then I was told Vietnam was our tragedy, and I watched my generation buy that lie, while I refused to believe it and became ‘unpatriotic’-an epithet I cherish since I am not a patriot. We saw cops billy clubbing hundreds of kids, watched the FBI pull Civil Rights workers out of swampy dams, saw churches bombed. We had grown up in duck and cover drills but saw nothing to alleviate this stupidity and arrogance, wastefulness and corruption in our society. My perspectives are at once innocent and outraged.
I’ve felt sorry for the existence and fate of every generation that followed mine knowing full well that I, and my generation, have failed miserably to realize the glimpse of what it could have been.

What do you think is a fundamental difference between the once-hopeful flower power movement of the 60s and subsequent generations?  Are things more or less dire now? 
I think these are the best of times and the worst of times. I think the 60’s are perceived in error as the ‘flower power’ era. Nobody bought that flower in your hair shit. That’s Wall Street advertising and appropriation. The Beatles were laughing behind ‘all you need is love’. We fought in the streets. Our rebellion was an affront to the police and dangerous as hell in most of the country. These times are worse in that we are at the beginning of ecological collapse, deprivation and constant foreign and domestic war in battlefields from Sandy Hook to the Middle East and back again.

Your perspectives, “at once innocent and outraged”, are very similar to Eddie Burnett’s.
I’m better at busting a lie than telling the truth. I don’t think we can know the truth. The world and our existence is chaos. We do all we can to delude ourselves, personally and through agreed upon delusions like government and the economy, to go forward in an overcrowded and unmanageable zoo. A zoo that is our over populated planet and a circus in which we observe it. Is there hope? Yes, if we just face the fact we are highly complex primates conscious of our own mortality and freaked out by it. We do not have a god, we are not created in superman’s image, science cannot save us and most of our beliefs are ridiculous, especially any ones even remotely religious. But we are a very, very young species and we grow exponentially in intelligence if not in emotional compassion.
Eddie and I in respect to these qualities? Yes, I think they are inseparable. So, the short answer is yes.
The choice to remain “innocent” despite the horror and atrocities of the world, to choose good or to champion the inherent good within our human nature is quite insane, considering what is going on in the world around us.  
It does run contrary to the ‘fight or flight’ concept to champion…that which generates, protects, or provides for love and life…to be kind, to be generous, to be willing to extend these qualities first, in any given situation, is to be regarded or open to suspicion that one is weak, or a sucker.
I used to tell athletes enjoying their newly discovered power, and this is also true ethically and spiritually, that ‘strength gives the option to be kind’ but nobody ever knew wha I was talking about.
It’s our values-as much as one neurosis or another. People want it simplified, and it’s the singular ego that holds sway over their thoughts and actions, especially in a competitive context. Yes, nature appears to be competitive but it’s really a kind of dance. Self interest is important but it shouldn’t be paramount in our psyche. Nice guys finish last and “the meek shall inherit the earth” but to be meek is to be despised. For me, its war or not war, and my choice is not war. Which doesn’t mean if you invade my home with bad intentions I won’t go for it, but-and I have been in various potentially disastrous circumstances, given the chance I’ll opt for kindness every time.
The whole question of any individual and the world is a tale of heroic struggle, and I think a lot about Faulkner’s comment “the only story worth telling is the story of the human heart in conflict with itself”.

The inside look into Eddie Burnett in Winged Shoes and a Shield reveals the troubles of a seemingly well-adjusted athlete, at least you would think he’s well adjusted, a star on the track and field, an operator like his dad, but then you find out his back story, and all is not as rosy as it appears.
Jim you are 100 percent right…Eddie Burnett’s and my own challenges are derived and contorted by being at once too sensitive and too afraid to admit it. Burnett is a winner, celebrated for his athleticism. He is victorious and stoic on the outside but, within, he is both too sensitive and too scared to admit it.

In Too Skinny, Too Small, your latest work, we find an adult, if not grown up, Eddie Burnett as a mega football star in a bloated and self-important NFL.


Too Skinny Too Small was a disappointment as an experiment. I found myself too nauseated by the values of the corporate game and industry of the sport, and the ignorance and appalling lack of compassion and voyeuristic jack-off of the fans, commentators and just about every disgusting value the game has to offer that I bummed out hard on the topic. But I’ll keep writing it to a conclusion. I overwrite when I am unclear of what I want to convey. Basically, I’m predicting the inevitable–on field, nationally televised death that will occur fairly soon.
Too Skinny Too Small is going to make reappearance during the play-offs.
I enjoy writing on Going For The Throat and I like the idea of people being able to read it off of a blog.  I’m not sure where it’s going to go but I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens.

What can you tell us about your writing process? What does a day of writing look like for you? You once said to me, “Never try to please your audience”.


Carmen and I both work and we have two young kids, so I write when I can. Frequently late at night or early in the morning. I used to write listening to music, but lately I haven’t been and find that I write better without it.  
Music, for me, even if I’m only barely aware of it, takes some of what would be in the writing away.
Almost everything in Winged Shoes And a Shield …was written to be read on stage and most of the stories in it were written the day of a show. I found that it gave the work an immediacy. Almost everything in the collection is a ‘one take’ kind of thing, with very little or no re-writing. Rewriting, for me, is a bad thing. I tend to over write, not so much in terms of flowery, self indulgent stuff, but when I re-write I frequently find myself adding a lot of material so that the work is ‘new’ to me. But then it may not necessarily have the impact of the original words first set down on the page. So, for the time being I’ve been convinced, and most of my friends and collaborators almost insist, that I should never rewrite my work. I think my best material comes from writing that is done on the day of a show.
The idea of ‘pleasing your audience’ means that you are writing to an effect rather than just sort of channeling whatever it is that is coming out of you. That does not mean do not be aware of your audience. A writer should be considerate as all hell of the audience-but not necessarily doing anything to please them. What that means is don’t make them work too hard, don’t make them wade through a lot of stuff. So, my best writing addresses the audience as though they were in a club or wherever it is I’m reading. But I never try to please them. I don’t even try to please myself. I just write it and then read it and let the chips fall where they may.
I also read what I’ve written out loud, this reveals the clunkers in the work and I can change them on the spot. So it might be a page and then read it out loud, then go on.

What’s next for you and Eddie Burnett?

Eddie will stare me down as less than the man I was born to be and I’ll try to provide him the words…since he is the universal observer he’ll be around or in anything I ever write.
I’m looking forward to my reading with you on December 11th.

Too Skinny, Too Small by Don Bajema appears serially on Going For The Throat throughout the 2014 NFL Season. To read more visit jimtrainer.wordpress.org.

Advertisements

Fuck

In alcoholism, anger, anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, Boredom, depression, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, news media, politics, PROTEST, punk rock, self-help, sober, sobriety, solitude, straight edge, TOUR, War, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, youth on May 18, 2017 at 10:53 am

It’s beautiful down here.  Great weather. No stress. People come here, they live to be 100.
Joey Merlino

We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death.
GY!BE

As long as we live in this world we are bound to encounter problems. If, at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face up to what challenges us. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves but everyone who has to undergo hardship, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome what troubles us.
-The Dalai Lama

We are living in a news cycle that can be measured in nanoseconds.
-Dan Rather

If this doesn’t take you down,
it doesn’t mean you’re high
-Soundgarden

Yo.  Trainer here, at the bougie coffee shop, where the jazz is smooth and the skin is white.  I can’t complain but I will.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here, and I’m way past being sick&tired of my own bullshit.  Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to spend some time with others, hang out and fraternize, but-most of them are worse.  What an existential stalemate I’ve reached and for shame, too.  I’m in the prime of my life with money in the bank but all I can do is bellyache about how easy living is down here in the Pearl of the South, crank out another 400 words and go home and jerk off.  Oh well, it could be worse, I could be satisfied with life, like any of these feel goodies here at the coffee shop seem to be, listening to Curtis Mayfield, eating bananas and grinning like imbeciles.

This could be a great opportunity to take to the streets, or hit social media and throw my complaint onto the pile.  I can’t even pretend to care anymore and it could be because the whole thing has been at hysterical pitch too long.  No wisdom can be discerned.  I see outrage and I understand.  I see smug complacency and I didn’t think I could ever understand but-look at me, with my fat stomache and apathy, black clothes and apolitical angst.  Whichever side you’re on, one thing is certain and that is the genie can’t be put back into the bottle.  Racism is the biggest problem in this country, barring imminent ecological disaster, and the American experiment has failed.  We ain’t gonna make the nut.  It’s all over baby blue, big business has trumped all and the thing that really spurred it on was as dumb as the color of our skin.  I can’t pretend I’m not entitled, no matter how much I ignore the national scene.  Does my apathy anger you, Good Reader?  If so, then use it-impeach the fucker, eat the rich people, start a riot in the street and burn it all down.  Let these be the chronicles of a sorry bastard who didn’t care, or whose own emotional load was too close to capacity to affect anything except putting out fires.  It’s that bad.

We came up with a soft date for my departure, and it’s after the summer and the over 3,000 miles we’ll be doing up to the Adirondacks and back.  I looked at a car today.  Lady wanted to sell it to me at almost a grand over the Kelly Blue Book value, and that was after my mechanic found about $500 worth of repairs she claimed unaware of.  It goes on.  Psychologically I suppose I’m at a crossroads.  The worst is done.  I’m sober now.  I’ve survived and I don’t even entertain the bad drama needed to get laid anymore.  Mr. Excitement has retired, the dreamer is fully woke.  I suffer bad anger and terrible boredom though, the former flaring in my abdomen and stiffening my neck and upper back, literally getting my haunches up and cursing to myself in the dark.  I can’t carry that burden anymore, either, Brother.  I feel like there’s an opportunity here, that I could do a lot better than cranking out 600 word complaints to you and generally just getting by.  My first time on the therapist couch I’d been up for over 72 hours on whisky&cocaine.  Safe to say I’m over that.  I’ve survived.  Maybe it’s time I give my man a call and see if we can thrive.

See you next week motherfucker.

The Coarse Grind, Becoming The Media

In activism, ANTI-WAR, Being A Writer, blogging, journalism, music performance, news media, observation, PACIFIST, PACISFISM, Performance, punk rock, War, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on February 9, 2017 at 10:25 am

Whoa.  Part 3&the final installment of The Coarse Grind, written in better and far less ominous days.  The message is the same.  VOX POPULI VOX DEI (the voice of the people is the voice of God).  See you next week motherfucker.

Aho, good reader.  Hopefully you’ve been keeping up with The Coarse Grind because today I’m going for it.  Last we spoke, I confessed that after 19 years I finally knew I was a writer and it was all ’cause I started a blog.  It’s true.  I won’t get into the vast saga of a backstory  behind it but I tapped into a medium that was immediate and honest.  I had, or felt like I had, an instant audience.  I’ve always looked at writing like performing so blogging really gave me a charge.  The way you feel right before you go on stage.  Super, all too, human.From that saga of a backstory I will offer this- my heroes have taught me well.  My heroes were on the outside and they broke in.  The rules didn’t apply to Hunter Thompson which was hardly always glamorous.

This will not be a recipe for how to be a successful writer, at least not the accepted definition of success.  Do consider however, if you want to be a successful writer, one who gets paid, then you must write.  Have a system or M.O. that you know will keep you writing.  Willing.  Enthusiastic, even.  The thing that keeps me writing is my interest in it.  Sadly what is of most interest to me is myself.  Nothing else.  In fact, current events really bum me the fuck out and opinion pieces are odious.  It all feels like programming to me and all of it just swirls into a hulking barrage of sights and sounds, horrors and “truths” that I must isolate myself from.  Thank god for writing because it has become my refuge from the dark spinning world.
My point is why would campaign manager Frank Mankiewicz attribute Hunter Thompson as “the least factual, most accurate” reporter on the Campaign Trail in 1976?  And, why are we finding out now that this country was dragged into war under false pretenses, that the freedom we were fighting for was only being taken away from us by those same warlords, when we have a free press in America, and reporting is held to a high standard of objectivity and truth?  Without the internet or a distant relative living in the middle east-without Twitter, for Christ-we would have no idea what the Arab Spring was all about.  Well, some idea, and probably a spun one, provoking a reaction that could then be reported on until it was true.  I started Going for the Throat just as Arab Spring started rumbling, just as the stanchions under memorials to dictators were giving way in the parks and out on the street.  I’m not a journalist.  But I am a reporter.  And that, good reader, is the magic of writing.
None of these are reasons why after 19 years on the daylabor circuit I knew I was a writer.  I know that I’m a writer because I write.  I don’t ever not write.  And it’s all because I have found a medium that is as inexhaustible as it is exhilarating.  I have instant material simply by getting out of bed in the morning and with the click of a mouse it’s out there with all the “real” journalism.  I have stepped into the Arena.  I’m up there in the hot lights with all the shit-savvy  polished faces and grim intellectual voices of news media.

Is what I write true?  Better believe it.  Or, don’t.  And start your own blog now.

MOVE

In Activism, activism, alcoholism, anger, ANTI-WAR, anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, depression, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, PACIFIST, PACISFISM, politics, PROTEST, punk rock, recovery, revolution, sober, sobriety, War, working class, Writing, writing about writing on January 19, 2017 at 3:01 pm

There’s colors on the street
red, white and blue
-Neil Young

…I have no worries.
-The Dalai Lama

Time is runnin’ out I’m comin’ right down to the wire
gotta go do something to get myself higher
-The Velvet Underground

I’m sitting on a backlog of posts that chronicle my road to recovery from my homeless hometown beginnings to my modern day battles with depression in Paradise. These posts offer a more definitive and specific timeline than my unusually hyperbolic tellings of devastation, sexual conquest and ego mania.  They’re a good answer to questions like “Did that really happen?”.  I’m at the end of my rope here but not for creative reasons.  The blog is cutting too close to the bone.  I’m sober now, and there’s a whole world of drama and conquest I’ve sworn off.  I’m reduced to surgery on myself, without anesthesia, and live on the world wide web.  There was no better grist for the wheel than my decades long fall through the Night Kitchen.  Boredom could be a root cause of alcoholism, which is to say, existential dread.  Down here at the Office we got nothing but, good Reader-malaise and anger, agitation and the rest.  These are the colors of my palette and of course the canvas is you.

Those posts and essays were drafted for what I thought would be my weekly column.  My work was refused though, and I never tried that again.  I figured I had you and we had this blog and I’ve always done better aloof, on my own and conquering my own world.  The truth is I’ve only drifted further and further out-dangerously into my own orbit.  I suffer 100% less of their bullshit, but the full 100% of my own.  I’m depressed.  The beast in me is winning the round.  Stories on the radio have profound psychic effect.  I’m paralyzed in the prime of my life with almost any option I choose open to me.  Weeks gone by, Thursdays, 3 and 4 day weekends sleeping late and staying in.  I’ve held to my obligations, I work, but I haven’t been writing, and this blog’s been the only thing that’s kept me in line.  It’s not as bad as it used to be and to the depressed mind this is somehow supposed to be good.

There are certainly more important matters on the dais.  Tomorrow this country could roll back to the 20th Century, we could find ourselves working around the clock to pay exorbitant medical bills or just fuck off and die.  People are enraged and roiling and the New Dumb would rather wage war than show compassion for their fellow human beings.  I’ve never been here before, where the storm within is only matched by the storm without.  I feel fucked and the world is getting there.  It’s not news to me, or you or anyone that somewhere someone is always getting fucked and it’s usually by this country.  It’s gone unchecked for too long, our selfishness and exceptionalism have gone too far.   The beast is eating itself.  Then again, if you ask the poor, the black, the disenfranchised, it’s been going on from the beginning.  I have no solace for you, good reader, let alone a point of light for us to focus on.  All I know is, I’m getting depressed again, I can’t stay here and the New Century is about to take a dark turn.  I’m hoping my backlog of posts written at the request of Brother Bean and Raw Paw Magazine will get us through.  The shit is here, it’s landed and I’ve got to move or I’ll be crushed.

Hope to see you on the streets motherfucker.

…outside is America…

In austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, christianity, day job, journalism, new journalism, news media, PDX, Poetry, politics, Portland, PROTEST, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, War, working class, Writing, writing about writing on December 15, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Hello darkness my old friend.  I’ve got a kink in my neck.  It’s a few twists away from being a real fucking problem.  There’s a leak coming from my kitchen ceiling.  I went up and talked to the Kid, but we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.  I came home from Portland on Sunday, after being snowed in for 2 days, with three-hundred Letterpressed covers for All in the wind, but no books.  I’m scheduled for a binding session at Minuteman Press on Monday.  We hope to have 150 copies done by end of day Tuesday.  I’m playing House Wine tonight, beneath the palms for 3 hours in 50 degree weather . There are far worse ways to make a dollar.  I oughta know.  I missed deadline filing my income tax for 2015 so there’ll be a gap in my healthcare coverage.  The Boss tells me the plumber will be by at 9:30 tomorrow morning, and I go back on shift at 5.  I’ve been fighting with one of my homies, and it all seems stupid and trite, and that’s because it always is.

These are my problems on a warm winter afternoon in Hippie Town.  Everything happens at once or nothing happens at all.  That’s this life I’ve bought into.  These years I’ve traveled down, trying to be anything other than a company man, a factory man.  Never wanting to be anything like my old Man.  The years slide past, nice and sleazy, while I crank out poetry on the dayshift, and play rock and roll music in wine bars, to women and friends and have an unbelievably sober and fine time.

Things are different in the other hemisphere.  Folks are dealing with a whole other hierarchy of problems-shit that could relegate 90% of what’s wrong in America to an entitled and candy ass complaint.  Which isn’t to say there aren’t dark corners right here at home.  Somewhere someone is paying and you always do-unless you’ve got healthcare and your country isn’t being bombed and you’re white, and you can afford security to stand down the high walls of your gated community.  To watch Vice’s A House Divided is to be lividly reminded that what split this country between hateful racist yahoos and the rest of us was Universal Healthcare.  Which is what we deal with over here-each other and pitted so by an oligarchy with a Christian hardon.  As hard as it is and as undignified is the slough we feed from in the end days of Empire–it’s probably better than anywhere else in the world.  Except maybe the Netherlands.

See you in Amsterdam motherfucker.

Out of the Bag

In Activism, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, news media, observation, PACIFIST, PACISFISM, politics, PROTEST, RADIO, recovery, revolution, self-help, sober, sobriety, War, working class, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on November 17, 2016 at 3:35 pm

For years they had me locked in a cage
then they threw me onto the stage
-Bob Dylan

Ho hum.  Howdy motherfucker.  Trainer here, with the wisdom.  In the days following the election I didn’t know what to feel, let alone how to put it into words.  That’s because the focus of this blog has always been myself.  I didn’t have it in me to be selfish, and would never expect you to be into it either, after Tuesday night’s rude awakening.  I didn’t want to say I told you so, as if that ever helps anything except the pride of the fool saying it.  I know why I didn’t vote, and I’ve seen the readership of this blog decline for making that known, but I was still horrified at the result, and suffered bad constipation (among other things) as the reality sank in.

We’re fucked.  I’ve lived long enough to feel that way 3 other times in my life, and all of them have to do with the highest office in the land.  This feels different though, and I’m different, and as twisted and dark as it is right now, I’ve nowhere to hide.  The last time a candidate who won the popular vote was denied the Presidency, I was 25 years old.  I had, or thought I had, plenty of time to fuck around.  I got lost in West Philly.  I devoted myself to the Arts, even got involved in the battle for free radio.  I fought as much as I wanted to and even though between me and myself it’s never enough, I can look back proudly on that time, my Radio Days.  The truth is it wasn’t enough and it’s never enough but it was the end of the Century and I sure had a good time.

The next time I knew we were fucked was in the next race, 4 years later, and the country had gone stark raving mad for War, and persecuted you for saying otherwise.  The news media in the Land of the Free was onboard.  It was fucked.  It still is.  If we can’t agree on the intricacies of hegemony and U.S. interventionism, then surely we agree that the luring of our young men and women to fight for a lie and come home to a country that doesn’t care about its mentally ill is treacherous, inhumane and wrong.

The collapse of the market and federal bail out that ensued is the watershed moment, good Reader.  It’s when the capriciousness of the Bush dynasty came home to roost.  As progressive and even glorious were the advances made by President Obama, the mess he inherited and how he handled it, has fucked us, the People of the United States for the remainder of this country’s existence.  Something exceptional would have to happen.  Vigilance was needed and a tireless commitment to righting the vessel.  None of those will be forthcoming.

I think it’s worth mentioning that little would be done under Hillary, either, and business is as business does could be the slogan of either party in this cracked oligarchy we will be living in for the rest of our lives.  The little that Hillary would’ve done might’ve been enough to keep spirits up, and her election might not have emboldened the homogeneous bigotry of this country like Trump’s has, but they would still be out there and deals would still be cut in there, hand over hand in her Oval office or his-certainly our inhumane actions abroad aren’t going to change no matter who is President.

The DNC is broken, or, it’s only fulfilling what it always had in mind.  The Republican Party should be over and done with, except that they rule the House and the Senate.  The fact that a reality TV star ran on a non-policy of hate and fear, lost the popular vote and will be President is fucked.  His attitude and bias is piggish and without compassion but even the 47% of people who voted for him will tell you that.  Great writers have already concluded that this is the American character.*

You don’t need to hear it from me that we’re fucked.  If you’ve tuned in and read me-I thank you.  The fact that I started this blog aiming for an outsider’s voice either more critical or accurate than mainstream media, but only came up with a self-help journal and reason to go on, spend a couple hours writing instead of going out to the bougie store for a pack of triple 5s or hanging myself from the chandelier in a dead confederate palace on a slow Tuesday night in Hippie Town is what it is.

I want you to know, though-despite your kind words and appreciation and readership that’s kept me from swinging-I have really let myself go.  I’ve let my writing go because on the eve of ruin in the Land of the Free, I was without words and the only thing I could come up with was a parable about getting old.  Don’t get me wrong, getting old is a thing and a very sad thing when you consider how far I am from my goals and how slow going it’s been.  Every shock of the world and hysteria brought on by charlatans of the news media was dealt with by putting my head back in the bag.  Now I’m sober and the story is the same.

I’ve been here almost 5 years, been posting on here for 6.  I don’t have the spring of youth in my step and I’ve retreated so far inside myself that it took the election of a diabolical asshole to wake me up to the reality-I’m not living to my potential.  It’s a popular refrain down here at the Office.  I’ll never know if the Inner Critic is just on overdrive or if I should just be doing more.  I’ve still got a monkey on my back though, and Art has been re-purposed again as vital, life saving and something to live up to.  This is just the beginning.

See you on the streets motherfucker.

Ab irato,
Jim Trainer
Going For The Throat
Austin TX-Portland OR

Refuge

In Activism, American History, anger, ANTI-WAR, journalism, mourning, new journalism, news media, on tour, PACIFIST, PACISFISM, police brutality, politics, PROTEST, punk rock, RADIO, revolution, TOUR, travel, travel writing, truth, War, working class, writing about writing on July 21, 2016 at 11:29 am

…I found in him an expression of the American spirit at its worst. Progress was their obsession. More machines, more efficiency, more capital, more comforts-that was their whole talk. I asked them if they had heard of the millions who were unemployed in America. They ignored the question. I asked them if they realized how empty, restless and miserable the American people were with all their machine-made luxuries and comforts. They were impervious to my sarcasm. What they wanted was success-money, power, a place in the sun. None of them wanted to return to their own country; for some reason they had all of them been obliged to return against their will. They said there was no life for them in their own country. When would life begin? I wanted to know. When they had all the things which Americans had, or Germany, or France. Life was made up of things, of machines mainly, from what I could gather. Life without money was an impossibility: one had to have clothes, a good home, a radio, a car, a tennis racquet, and so on. I told them I had none of those things and that I was happy without them, that I had turned my back on America precisely because these things meant nothing to me. They said I was the strangest American they had ever met. But they liked me. They stuck to me throughout the voyage, plying me with all sorts of questions which I answered in vain. Evenings I would get together with the Greek. We understood one another better, much better, despite his adoration for Germany and the German regime. He too, of course, wanted to go to America some day. Every Greek dreams of going to America and making a nest egg. I didn’t try to dissuade him; I gave him a picture of America as I knew it, as I had seen it and experienced it. That seemed to frighten him a little…
-Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi

Well. Hullo there good reader. I’m about as cracked from the earth as can be, despite Confederate flags draped in storefront windows and puerile mugs on the faces of North Creek citizens when I must go into town. I been into town quite a bit this trip, to shop and to drop off Ben in Ticonderoga to catch his train to Canada, but the heft of my days has been spent on my feather down double at 125 in the Hewitt Lake Club. I heard the news of 3 more cops shot dead in Baton Rouge by another unhinged vet this morning, and I can only think that in these dark times paranoia verges strangely close to prescience. It might take the actions of murderous soldiers to wake us up to the fact that we are at war. It’s easy to get wrapped up in hysteria no matter which side you’re on, but you don’t want to find yourself talking politics, or much of anything else, in Trump Country with an Appalachian redneck, 1,800 miles from home. It may be best to go back to bed after coffee and NPR and watch the wind through the trees in your cabin while on working holiday in The America.

Not that the city fares any better. We spent 3 days in Louisville-an antebellum phantom of the urbane and what the bitter end of Big City America looks like. There isn’t anything doing there or anywhere, with death and mayhem and senseless violence on the the TV above the deserted hotel bar. Downtown’s shut down. Starbucks closes at 7. There isn’t even a wind blowing in Hunter Thompson’s hometown, but had we pushed any further beyond the city limits, we might have had to deal with a Duck Dynasty situation not unlike North Creek. At Hewitt tonight they’re listening to the Republican National Convention, but what do Big Politics have to do with it? They mean less to me than they ever did. I’m alone in my cabin, with Henry Miller to read and a feather down bed to lie on and dream my silly, poetic dreams.

It would seem that it’s all a wash, we’ve spiraled down too low and there’s hate and fear entrenched in us. Of course the rut is within, but it’s without, too-the cities are deserted, corporate run neon wastelands and the country’s full of ignorant and vile yahoos, who’re overweight and codependent but think that the enemy is you if you won’t get behind the white man’s imperialist wars abroad and don’t have the backs of a murderous and militant police force here at home. Welcome to The America. Unless you’re a nigger-loving muslim faggot and we never liked you anyway.

Which isn’t to say that it’s all bad, or that the trip this year has only amounted to 3 weeks away from the real work in the War Room back home. I’ve had some reflections this time through the savage land. I’ve been thinking about the only kind of change I can muster and I’m proud to report it back for you good reader, because in fact, all we have is each other.  As the dark takes its deeper turns and we lose another source of light.  I’m sick of heroes…and television and politics and the rich and the poor, sick of Garrison Keillor abridging Hunter Thompson’s “suicide note” (on what would’ve have been his 79th birthday, on Writer’s Almanac this morning) sick of a world that pushes our visionaries to suicide but spends 146 million on The Secret Life of Pets.
What’s new to me is a gratitude, that comes from seeing myself clearly, away from home, away from Hippie Town, out of Eden and out in the backwoods underbelly and urban desolation of America, clearing my lungs of stinking Texas oak and cedar, and finally being able to breathe and hold a note-and I can see myself through the mire. What am I, but a pilgrim seeking refuge? Maybe even Bodhisattva?  Sure, now, you know I can get behind that. I have much to report, much to share-and all of it could somehow conclude nicely with the problem I’ve been having with storytelling and even this blog.

We know how bad it can get. I’ve come to you from the bowels of twisted and dire situations, reported live from the belly of the beast and always sought to come through what Dr. Thompson has called the Wisdom. The Wisdom is like a diamond in the dark.  Wisdom, to paraphrase Richard Hell, makes any situation bearable, any screw or fuckaround worth it. If not the prize or zenith, then a regrouping and a breath, a trust…and that’s where I’m gonna have to leave it, and you, good reader, for now.  There doesn’t seem to be any kind of wisdom or resolution or end to this grim parade of murder and persecution and maudlin effrontery.  It would seem to be fucked which could be Wisdom but won’t really help me now, as I gear up and head back into town to pick up Ben in Ticonderoga.  Out on the highway in The America with an open heart and a 50 pack of Nicorette gum.  Wish me luck.

I was told by a friend
that this great quest would only begin
if I’d stop circling in circles behind my own bars
and spiral on out to the fiery stars
-Mischief Brew, Seeking The Brave

In ANTI-WAR, PACIFIST, PACISFISM, poem, Poetry, PROTEST, Uncategorized, War on May 30, 2016 at 1:50 pm