Jim Trainer

Posts Tagged ‘America’

81 south

In blogging, travel, travel writing, Writing on July 30, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Leaving town can make you nostalgic, and whether you’re looking back fondly or no, you won’t be looking back long.  As the highway rises in front of you what can you do but punch it, forward and move-go.  1,483 miles to Austin.  2 and a half days in sleepy Shepherds Town in our belt.  Ben driving, jamming some Dylan covers record, and me beside, writing this.  Boss in the back strapped in with all our gear.  We’re driving into a panorama of large, lush trees.  I feel fine but I could do better.  Been juicing on the road, before coffee and smokes.  Found a Sheetz in Shetown that sells Black Spirits for $6 a pack.  These last 15 days, 10 states and over 2,000 miles have been a trial of sobriety, a wits-end, raw-nerved, white-knuckled keeping it together, and knowing that there’s nothing that can ever help you with the road. It starts to get into your bones and then you’re done for, just surrender, let it pass through you, bore you out and wear you down-exhaust you in the middle of a god foraken nowhere town somewhere in America and only taking solace in the fact that as bad as it gets out here it’s better than being back home. People are dumb everywhere, stuck in their own ruts, trying to survive in a cruel and dark world. But back home they know you. And there’s hardly any wiggle room in their perception of you. The streets sting, there’s nothing new around every corner, it’s familiar and staid. It’s the same out here, you can never outrun your demons-but you can try and exhaustion and frustration and the countless tests of dealing with people in their own arenas of dysfunction will have you reaching for it-sex, booze, cigarettes, sleep (if only you could!). You must bear down. There is no escape. The more I stay sober the more I realize that life is a series of jobs to do. You could fall off the grid for awhile, like I did for a sleazy decade in Philly, but there is a job to do and you might as well saddle up and get to it. Otherwise you’ll lay in bed thinking about it. Don’t do that to yourself. Jam that fucker until you have nothing left. Pack your gear. Load up your shit. Do the miles. The road awaits…you’ll sleep better at night and nothing helps cut through the bullshit more than a clock winding down, the sword of time. You’ll sleep better and your life will be your own.

Thank you for joining me out here in America. See you in Texas motherfucker.

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A Thousand Down

In alcoholism, TOUR, travel on July 17, 2015 at 8:27 am

We pulled into the Crown Plaza Louisville at 8, or what I thought was 8.  We had just spent the last 10 hours in the van burning through Arkansas (thank Christ), Mississippi, Tennessee and a 1/4 of Kentucky.  The trees gave way to the hills, the hills to rock and then finally back to the hot and flat sprawl of downtown Louisville.  Last night at the Quality Inn we had to walk through 2 police officers and an African American gentleman in his PJs.  There were 8 shots fired outside my window just after 11, but I slept soundly and we were back on the road by 10:15 the next day.  The contrast between these two hotels is stark, but I’ll take the squalor of the Quality Inn in the ghettos of Benton, AK over the many floored splendor of the Crown Plaza any day.  Know why?  Cause I’m from Philly and I find most ghettos laughable or at least very doable for a 6’2 Italian-American with an anger problem.  But also because, despite the police, we were able to slide in to our rooms at the Quality nice and sleazy.  No problem.  In the lobby of the Crown Plaza there was a line to the front desk.  Me and the Boss waited the length of an Aerosmith song.  And then we waited some more.  When we finally got to the desk the clerk asked us where we were from, then regaled us with the story of his roadtrip, when he was younger, and was bestowed an ’88 Bronco on the condition that he drive it all the way from Big Sur to Louisville, but of course he broke down…he broke down in Vegas and
“You ever been to Vegas?”
We got our room keys.  Flagged a bellhop.  Loaded the cart.  With Ben’s bags, my bags and git, and the assorted necessaries of a quadripilegic’s bedroom.  Unloaded Blair.  Unloaded Ben.  But when we set up the baby monitors for a test, all Ben could hear at his end, around the corner and down the hall, was static.  This wouldn’t do.  We went back down to find the line had quadrupled.  Flights out of Louisville had been cancelled due to weather and the line was full of anger and pouting children.  Our man Chris (the bellhop) was able to butt in line, but not for long.  He got us a new room for Blair and we headed up.  Loaded Blair onto the cart again.  Loaded Ben.  Went to our new rooms.  Repeat.  When we finally got to my room I had lost the key.    Me and Chris went down AGAIN, got a new key and unloaded me and a $20 into the palm of his hand.  I looked at my phone.
“9:30?!”
We’d lost an hour.  Eastern Standard.  We’d already lost a half hour looking for the place and God knows how long doing the Hotel Shuffle.  Now it was 9:30, I’d been up since 8 and drove five hundred miles through 3 states.

Now I’m in my room.  It’s quiet here.  A far cry from the Quality Inn.  Loading in here was a CF of the highest order.  I would’ve thought a room over twice the price would’ve been easier to get into but that’s the road for you.  Today was the day the universe wanted me to drink.  It REALLY did.  But I said no.  Had a shortrib.  7 seltzers with lime.  Dessert.  Some smokes.  I should really get to bed.  We’re doing this whole thing again tomorrow.  I really can’t complain.  I’ve been on tours where something terrible happened EVERY SINGLE DAY.  No exaggeration. These things can happen when the band you’re driving has blown their tour support on coke, and the manager is a jilted X-member on psychotropic drugs that he should under no circumstance drink on. Which of course he does and wakes you at 2 in the morning, kicking your bed for yelling at the girls you hung out with earlier about the war in Iraq.  This fuckaround?  This little snag?  Ha.

800 to go.
Trainer
Louisville, KY

Leonard Cohen Was Right

In American History, poem, Poetry on February 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm

fell through Kerouac’s backyard in American summertime
clotheslines snapping like the iron curtain
belts humming along with our fathers
up there
bright on the billboard with a Lucky
and a smile
with Vietnam came the hard autumn
and TV and rock&roll
we might not have got fooled again but
the skies stayed grey
to the brink of Nuclear Winter
and to substitute for our phony youth
we took on a phony naivete.
Autumn in America,
with doom and catastrophe
always
someplace else, far away
from where we grovel at the feet
of celebrity
and clog the information super highway,
the single greatest advent and benefit
to the village of humanity,
with nothing but our vanity.
a great man once said
“I detest history.”
and I agree but I’m including you
and telling you
I don’t believe in anything
this poem isn’t political
this brief rundown of American history
incomplete
but what do you want from me?
I just live here.

gftt

End of Thee Hated Roadtrip, Lost&Found in America

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2013 at 9:54 am

The road was not fun. The mountains were not fun. But we made it out and down.  When we pulled off the road on Wednesday, that placard of the state of Texas up on the highway, just this side of the Texarkana line, was like a vision. The wastelands of Arkansas gave way to rolling plains with cows sleeping under trees. Those crazy, lazy browns and the heat&the drawl of Texas was welcoming me with open arms.  A somnabulant southwestern “breeze” was blowing.  It pasted my balls to my leg and opened my eyes dry&wide.  It was good to be home.

The trip sucked, for all the usual reasons, but that wasn’t the worst of it. I was plunged into a bad dark up on the mountain, which could only be the grim&undeniable reacquainting of the self with the self.  My time up in the mountains was like the part of a Stephen King novel when his protagonist has really gone off the rails. I could see no end to the drunk rain and when the sun finally showed itself in Hewitt, the boss told us to load it up and head for the border, only to get popped for weed on the Canadian side at dusk.

Sunday I was stuck at the BP in Five Points, Nashville, waiting for a cab and Facebook messaging a girl back home. She’d been reading the blog. She’d been feeling my pain. That somehow someone out there was reading-registering my blues and following these mad chronicles of heartbreak in America, well, shit-it’s really touching, to tell you the truth. And it’s Art.  Aho and good goddamn.
I’ve been feeling like it’s time to retire this blog and I was especially feeling that way out on the road.  I would read over what I’d posted and hate life even more. Aho even the work wasn’t enough to carry me through and, greasy and despondent in some hotel room in Malvern, Kentucky, I would curse myself for not being able to write through the misery; opting instead to watch the most horrible television, jerkoff and go to bed. But this story ain’t over; rather, you’re still reading it. And, just as I was deriding myself for not having the discipline of Papa or because I never put in the hours that great writers like Jason Woolery do, the blog’s views spike up to the second biggest day in Going for the Throat’s history.

My point is that she was feeling me. And you kept reading. The blog’s got up and started walking; your steady trickling of views is what pleases me, no matter the road or consequence. You’re reading and my pain has been received and transmuted, framed and stuck on the wall for us to marvel or laugh at on better days. Better days are coming, brother.  You can count on that. Even as that deathead crowns the horizon and the Man takes a pound of flesh for a pound of gold, we’ve got each other, and isn’t that nice?

The high wind up north is really something. Up Vancouver or Niagara way, the north wind bids you to keep travelling on, keep going. I remember walking the streets of Vancouver in the fall of 2008. I had just bought the woman I was living with back home a black dragon Kimono robe, in Seattle the night before. The thing made me hard just looking at it, picturing her in it. When I called to tell her I had bought her something special, she told me that all my “shit” was packed up on the lawn. It would be there and ready for me to move out when I got back to Philly, she said.
(That never came to pass. She had moved all my shit back inside by the time I got off tour and was back in Hostile City. There it sat in the living room, still packed but no longer outdoors.  I loaded it up and headed down to Texas.)
Besides that rueful telephone call, what I remember best about that incredible fall day in Vancouver was this feeling that I could keep on walking forever, leave the guys in the RV behind me, keep going North and never come back.
I was feeling that way again a couple weeks ago up by the Canadian border. The north wind in Niagara was blowing through and I felt like it could carry me on and blow me away. We had just got pinched at the border for the old man’s weed. It was a disaster on top of the nightmare that the trip already was. I was thinking felony and no more trips to Tulum or anywhere outside the U.S. I was thinking a lot of things but mostly I was thinking what I would tell the Canadian border guards should they sequester me in a small room for questioning. I would absolve myself completely. I would tell the truth. They’d cut me loose on the streets of upstate NY and I would ramble. Leave the job, taking only what I could carry. Goodbye President XII. Goodbye workingman blues. How could it be any worse?

One learns survival by surviving.
-Charles Bukowski

Jimbo’s back.  I have lots to tell you and share.  Friday is letter day at the Office and I want to hear from you. Send me your address and I’ll send you the things I write when I can’t write-letters. When inspiration is lacking and the body is wrecked, I look to you and am renewed. I wrap up a day’s work with a walk through the garden, past the rainbow Kale and Neapolitans, through the pride of Barbados and to the tall blue mailbox on Rio Grande, and I send out my love to you.

Please keep reading.  You’re keeping me alive.
w/ Gratitude,
JMT

Memphis BP

Your Writer at the BP in Five Points, Nashville TN

Guest Blogger Don Bajema

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm

It was through no fault of  novelist, screenwriter, actor and spoken-word performer Don Bajema that it took me this long to find him. But now I’ve got him in the arsenal and there is no finer an ally to have in your corner as we enter these early-dark days of Autumn in America.

I came across Boy In The Air sometime around its release through 2.13.61 (Henry Rollins’ publishing company).  That would be around 1996 for me and the beginning of a hardheaded&balls out decade of my post-adolescence.  I don’t think I was ready for Bajema then.  I wanted nothing to do with rock&roll and I wanted to forget all about America and where I come from.  I might have superficially judged the former world-class athlete and football player but more than likely I was intoxicated with my own young&dumb ideas about immortality and romance and rebellion.
To reconnect with the creator of rockabilly fused insider/outsider Eddie Burnett now is not only right on, it begs the question:
How was I fighting this long w/o the words of Brother Don?

Do yourself a favor and take the 3 minutes it takes to read this post by Bajema.  It sums up my appreciation and respect for the man.  Not only was he there, he was watching and he was beautifully awake.
He’s been there.  He’s done it.  His prose just gives it to you-slices of life replete with the wonder of being young&alive in America and the strange, diaphanous rites of adulthood that could take it all away.

Like I said, it was through no fault of Bajema that it took me this long to truly connect with his work.  I had to drop the anger&outrage I had been spewing out towards the world and take a look down at my own feet, on the ground and in my own country.  Bajema has that effect on you.   Some writers take you down the road of their characters’ psyche with nary a good luck.  Bajema drops you on the road in your own shoes, maybe offering a nod to the signs that are always there, until it’s too late.  I think the man’s been seeing the signs for a long time.  Not only that, he has remained beautifully awake.

It’s no accident that I hear rock&roll when I read Don Bajema.  The man believes in rock&roll.  Rock&roll is true.  It burns off the phonies.  It keeps you warm at night and kicking against the pricks in the morning.

He’ll be posting some road blogs up on Going For The Throat and chronicling his spoken word tour in support of Winged Shoes and a Shieldout now through City Lights Bookstore.

As we move towards election day and deeper into a Schadenfreude of national politics, do yourself a favor and spend some time with a true patriot and rock&roller.  Stories from the street and damn fine writing to ignite us and keep us warm through the coming Winter in America.

Brother Don