Jim Trainer

Archive for the ‘working class’ Category

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 mid-September or 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 phone and Sister Sarah at the other end of a computer screen.  I’ve got friends like blood, holding vigil and corroborating and besides all this big love-a fear of death that is all too real.  The prime motivator.  The best time to hit it was a long time ago.  The next best time is now.

I better see you on the streets motherfucker.

More News From Nowhere

In alcoholism, anger, anxiety, art, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, Buddhism, buddhist, day job, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, journalism, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, news media, on tour, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, suicide, TOUR, travel, travel writing, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 3, 2017 at 2:14 pm

…it all just seems so sensationalized.
Aziz Ansari

I know ppl like u think it’s “cool” to theorize about quantum fluctuations, but the heat death of the early universe isn’t something to romanticize.
Frances Bean Cobain

…I say hey Janet
you are the one, you are the sun
and I’m your dutiful planet…
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

This Guns N’ Roses weekend is over.
-Your Writer on Tour with Ironwhore, July 2005

Waking up with a hardon is the best thing to happen to me in years.  Never mind I quit smoking, drinking and the Life, that I’ve published three collections of poetry and prose and survived as a working singer songwriter for the last 5 years, or that we just wrapped 4,484 miles pulling in to Hippie Town at 9pm last night.  Waking up erect is good news from the Gods, like we’re gonna win this thing.  Know what I mean, good Reader?  As we were leaving Austin 19 days ago, it dawned on me that I probably have arthritis, if not in my left middle finger, then certiainly on my right thumb.  Anyone reading this blog on the regular knows I haven’t caught my breath in over a year-and there are other, less savory conditions and maladies that’ve fell on me in these paling years, not the least of which being a lack of libido.  I let it all slide, rather than jump through the bureaucratic hoops of health insurance that only led nowhere-but decreased interest in sex was, at the time, viewed as an improvement.  Sex seemed to always land me in trouble somehow, and, by and large the partners I had were colossal wastes and the biggest drains of my time, on my health and my career as a day worker, writer and performer.

The truth is I’ve let a lot of things go.  I’ve insulated myself from the world with this gig.  I’ve maintained at minimum, and pushed harder when I needed to, but when I look back at the last 5 years and think about the fact that I’m 42, I’m terrified and disgusted-the former boring through nights pocked and shot through with anxiety, and the latter beating the opposite sex to the punch.  I couldn’t fuck and I didn’t want to.  It’s called depression, and low self esteem, which can intermingle in a vicious cycle that the worst people will blame you for, but actual compassion for, even if welcomed, can veer too close to commiseration and in any event is a shit substitute for understanding.  The silver lining is the coffee’s done, it’s time to wake up, this gig is over in less than 2 months and, like the Buddhists say-the best time to start was last year, the next best time is right now.  Lest we forget, I taught myself how to write these last 5 years, and the dream of being a columnist has been realized, thanks in no small part to you and your wonderful Readership.  I’ve got a 2009 Monk’s Robe Orange Honda Element and a Tacoma Guild.  I live in a post-gentrified Paradise and every dumb ailment and malady I’ve mentioned can be treated by swallowing a pill-ok, I still need to look into why I can’t catch my breath, it’s true, and wish me luck as I enter their world and try to get the help I need.

This blog has always been the balloon to my wet cement blues.  I talk myself down from the noose here, and you read me and it’s perfect.  Healing myself with my own medicine bag, sitting down to type and hang it on the fucking wall, feeling supported and, most of all, seen by you is terribly important to me-a rudder in the shitswells of a dark and calmitous world, the biggest boon and best thing to happen to me in years besides waking up with a hardon this morning.  Oh yeah, that.  It seems like the weeks get away from me.  I mean, sure, I work full time, and I just spent 18 days on the road with my Boss, but time gets away from me-that is, the time to address the many peccadilloes and tragic breakdown I’ve been skirting since I turned 40.  I feel like I should address it, tacitly, get up on it like Ahab, and chronicle the savage journey I’ve undergone since deciding to stop being depressed (I am NOT saying that this decision cured my depression AT ALL).  Brother Bean has asked for it, in the past, and I feel like I’d do well to bring it back for you-hip you to the saga of a working class ex-Pat punkrocking rockabilly New journalist with a a whole lot of time on his hands, a new car and a rekindled libido.  I’ll still try, good Reader.  You bet.  But I’ve got to wrap this.  I still believe in my dreams and I feel like I’ve got something to live up to, until the next time we meet, so I should get cracking.

May your crown be a halo.  See you next Thursday motherfucker.

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Friend

In alcoholism, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, journalism, Kevin P.O'Brien, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, news media, observation, PACIFIST, PACISFISM, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, police brutality, politics, PROTEST, publishing, punk rock, recovery, self-help, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, straight edge, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga on July 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm

Let’s focus on the steak, not the peas.

-Minchia

Liberals want our country to be more like Canada. Conservatives want it to be more like Mexico.

-Realist

Raising a kid with medical needs is a very, very steep climb in the best of circumstances, and so when we say Medicaid is like the handholds that you’re using to scale up and get your kids to help-without those, there’s nothing below, there’s no safety net once those supports get pulled out, you just fall off the cliff.
-Robert Howell 

If they were to collaborate they could strangle data access to parts of the internet, it’s not an understatement to say they could influence history.
-Elliot Brown

One need only look closely at such drag queens as Michelle Visage or Violet Chachi on the RuPaul show to suss out the cruel, cold-blooded lizard that lurks behind the eyes of the Illuminati elite.
-Stephenson Billings

What the hell.
-Jared Yates Sexton

I wish I had let go long ago.  Not long after I quit smoking I began to experience a shortness of breath.  I’ve had to teach myself to sing again.  Psalmships’ “Little Bird“, again and again.  Up high in the mountains of Minerva and out here on the blistering plains.  What felt like the broken middle finger on my left hand has moved to the thumb on my right.  If it’s arthritis, then, what the hell?  I should’ve never quit, shoulda kept drinkin’ and womanizin’ and waking up dead in a dead confederate palace, with my pants at Kim’s pool and the aching yellow sun splitting my skull like a shiv, until I could down 400mg and tell her to get…OUT. It’s painfully apparent, these are the end days.  I should’ve never left the life but I wish I’d let go a long time ago.

The stupid truth is the life never helped me let go either.  I was as hung up then as I am now and drugs never worked.  You’re not going to believe me but I could never enjoy myself on drugs because I knew it was only a drug.  How terribly unfun and what a fucking drag, eh Brother?  The closest I came was on mushrooms down at Stone Harbor, on the shore in the dark, with the Reverend and Butch as a storm rolled in. I lost myself that summer but never before and never again.  I’ve kept myself locked tight, fought against it in my 20s but embraced it until now.  I perfected my isolation and my Father’s poker face.  Like him, the world only hurt my feelings and to be obvious was to be played. What the hell? How did this thing rear and turn into a psychoanalytical journey and examination of why I’m no fun but still wishing for the days?

Oh well, if it brings us to the truth then I can live with that.  However we got here, we’re here, and these days I prefer to drink dark coffee with honey, read the news and pretend I’m smoking cigarettes in my mind, like a mid-life Cassavetes and type here in the center of a crumbling palace amidst:  piles of poetry collections, poster-pressed covers, a copy of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, CDs and receipts and guitar strings, stacks of typed and handwritten poetry-edited in red ink, the trusty NAS plugged in and humming beside and a cold cup of Italian Roast, in the blasting AC in what I thought at one time was the center of the Rock and Roll universe, in one of the most expensive zip codes in the country-the Pearl of the South and the Velvet Rut, Austin Texas Hippie Town U.S.A.

Incidentally, that moniker and euphemism for the good vibes and pretty white girls that grow on trees down here has become outdated.  All the hippies live in Smithville now and I’m outta here, too.  Call it The City of Izods&Boots, or, the Town of Technocrats or simply, Bro Country.  Call ’em the New Rich or Fancy Dog Walkers, call ’em whatever you want because I am outta here.  It’s been a long time that I should be far from here and 5 years since I wrote that elegiac paen to my departure from the barrio.  Facebook says I been on there 8 years today, which makes for an interesting capsule of my time down here-beginning with my very first post, a video of Cory Branan singing “Survivor Blues” and ending with, well, “The End” by The Doors.

I’ve learned a lot.  I’m a different man.  I’m making the seismic changes that come from staying in place.  It was real and it was fun but it wasn’t real fun.  I’m staying on this side of the river but I am getting the fuck out of dodge.  I’ve got 4 gigs booked in the next 2 months and 2 pages of contacts on legal yellow, letter-sized paper.  Work in media suits me.  I don’t mind the world, from a good safe distance, and writing about it transforms it somehow, makes even the horrid and unconscionable worth going through.  I’m a fire walker on here, a hard bitten scoop in the hard lands.  And, lovely and overwrought I bring it on home to you, good Reader, my Friend.

See you in Hyde Park motherfucker.

New Century Blues

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

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

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

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

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

See you coming out the grave, motherfucker.

Won’t Stop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you on the East Coast motherfucker.

MIDDLE EAST CORNER 4:26

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

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

 

Won’t You Celebrate With Me?

In activism, alcoholism, anger, ANTI-WAR, anxiety, Austin, austin music scene, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, birthdays, blogging, blues, day job, depression, getting old, getting sober, hometown, Jim Trainer, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, music performance, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, therapy, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS, yoga, youth on March 2, 2017 at 4:12 pm

…this way or no way, you know I’ll be free…
-David Bowie

In 92 hours I’ll be 42 years old. That sounds heaps better than I could’ve ever imagined in the angry, useless days of my youth. I’d been pushing it hard until 30. I didn’t think I’d make it, which was a perfectly dumb and tragic thing for a young punkrocker like me to say. The reality was I didn’t want to make it, but to say I wasn’t afraid of dying is only half true. I was obsessed with it, caught up in its vicious thrall, and those were the days. With a profound and fortunate bit of sorcery I had somehow sublimated my utter fear of death with growing up to be anything like my old man.  So on my 25th birthday I began celebrating my birthday properly-I celebrated myself. If I wasn’t doing anything to get closer to my artistic ideals for 364 days of the year, then I would deliberately do something to further that end on March 6, every year until I died.
On my 25th birthday I strung up my old bass.  It was a small gesture that eventually brought music back to the fore, as I’d been concentrating all my efforts on spoken word ever since I failed my audition for the University of the Arts in the Fall of ’94. I couldn’t have known the importance of planting that seed but many birthdays to come were celebrated by playing a show. I bought myself a 1969 Gretsch Single Anniversary Archtop, and switched from playing upright bass to being at the front of the stage, singing and belting ’em out for years in Philly, until I pulled stakes and followed that high, lonesome sound to Texas. The pendulum swung back to poetry and spoken word with the publication of Farewell to Armor, but the healthier I get the more I feel the need to get back up under the hot lights and scream my fucking head off in a post-punk or junkrock outfit. Getting healthy took me out the birthday game.  My 40th only found me circling the chimneya outback with a young redhead in knee highs, smoking all my Marlboros ’cause I didn’t want to wake up a smoker.

I’m back in the birthday game, mon ami, and I’m going full throttle into the Arts and doing what I love. I’ve got the resources and, after years of going without, I know what I need to get by. As much as I loathed another day on the planet, let alone aging another year back on the too-small, working class streets of Philadelphia, I couldn’t be more excited about being 50, and that’s because it’s 8 years from now-8 years tightening the screw and devoting more and more of my life to Art. It’s incredibly strange and ironic that I’m swinging upward as the world begins to really roil and spin, darkly and further out from our beautiful potential. Far be it from me to ignore what’s going on out there on the street, I must be steady and find a way to affect and interact with the people that I love. We both know it’s fucked out there. My point is, it’s been fucked in here, for as long as I can remember, but now I can feel something resurrect, and I ain’t stopping but considering my health and sanity and what I can give to those in need. There’s a war raging out there that never had anything to do with me. I know that these days it’s probably acceptable to fault me for that attitude. But concentrating on my community is the only way I know to get higher. The rest, it seems, is just furor and hyperbole, diverting us from the heart of the matter. For my 42nd birthday I’ll be doing me and I is another.

It’s never been more important to be punk rock then now, Brothers and Sisters. We are all we have. Let us do work.

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

by Lucille Clifton

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.

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, employment, getting old, hometown, journalism, mid life, middle age, new journalism, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, self-help, self-publishing, working class, Writing, writing about writing on January 5, 2017 at 11:00 pm

The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein’ seen
but that’s just because he doesn’t want to turn into some machine

Ahoy, good reader.  Tis I, the rageful poet, about to turn it out and kick out the jams.  I been kept too long, cooped up and strung along working for the man.  I just blasted some Dylan and now all is quiet in the mansion, so I’ll sit down and get to work.  It’s what I do.  600 words is sometimes all that keeps us from a landslide-ain’t that right Brother, Sister?  It’s a shame that issues of interest are often times only tossed off by the Author.  The problem with storytelling, last week, for example.  I’m not sure I’m making a point most of the time and honestly I’m ok with simply making sense.  I need to keep my pen and wits sharp, so I tie it on and have a go as a lion tamer and therapist.  I peel my skull cap back, lower the fourth wall and invite you in.  A most narcissistic exercise, this.  Maybe D.C. Bloom is right but if it wasn’t for your devoted readership and wonderful comments I might hang it up.  The answer may be to do it more but in the meantime I’m glad to be doing it once a week, while I remodel and even find another model altogether for getting my literary&journalistic ya-yas out.  In short, I couldn’t be happier to find that what’s wrong with me has taken a seat at the literary table.  This is literature, you know, you don’t believe me ask Brother Ignacio.  Whether or not it’s journalism will be my charge and challenge in the dark “post-racial” New Century.

The old model was set by a 17 year old skinhead standing on his homey’s steps on a stupid night in the suburbs.  It’s when I first saw a copy of Rollins’ One From None.  Allot has happened since then.  Things have transpired to disabuse me of my dreams, had me do a double think- which is what homelessness will do to a guy.  Maybe I never had what it takes, I got scared and cold, sold out and went all in and the middle class jackoff caregiver before you is only a product of fear.  If I hadn’t heard this story so many times I might believe it.  I’m old, and wise, enough to know that life is made of choices we make and there are choices that are still being made.  The music still plays.  As tired and oft repeated are the voices of doubt within me, there’s a stubborn kernel of a dream I’ve had for so long it’s a part of me.  It’s driven me, gotten me through the countless times when I thought I blew it, flipping burgers in Crum Lynne, working as a sexton at First Lutheran 17th&Spruce, a landscaper in the projects of North Philly and, the second longest job I’ve ever had, working as a busboy for the White Dog Cafe (2004-2005).  Maybe I should consider my current gig as the second longest and reconsider that I’ve been working at my Art, however inconsistently, for 24 years since that night in Upper Darby when I knew I’d be a published poet.  But here’s where things get screwy.

I’ve had 3 books published while working here and it’s been nothing like the 17 year old man in me’s dream to be a punkrock renaissance man, full time and on the road for most of the year-like Hank.  It pains me to consider plugging in to another machine-an $800 1 bedroom apartment, a rental company requiring your income to be 3 and 1/2 times that, with 6 months prior rental history, while I’m making payments on a new car and being gouged by AT&T.  The rub is, as much as it pains me, maybe this is the way.  Despite myself and the dream, I’m able to be the Artist I always wanted to be, I just need to be nestled in somewhere, warm&quiet, working full time for a monthly payment that goes nowhere.  If it’s what’s right, why does it feel like failure?  Am I so fucking hardwired that I don’t know what is good for me?

Something has presented itself and it’s a return to my roots.  Ain’t the best neighborhood and a bit out of town.  Super cheap and solitary.  The point is I worry, will I sacrifice too much comfort, and only be raw and uncomfortable out there below the red line-and my work will suffer?  Or, if I choose comfort, and care for myself in the prescribed and proven effective way, working full time and trying to keep my head up AND do Art-will my work suffer?  No easy answers here.

Looks like I solved the problem with storytelling.  You’re welcome.

Took a woman like you
to get through to the man in me
-Bob Dylan, The Man In Me