Jim Trainer

Posts Tagged ‘Charles Bukowski’

FOR MADMEN ONLY

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, day job, mental health, Performance, publishing poetry, self-publishing, Spoken Word, Writing, writing about writing on November 2, 2017 at 4:35 pm

There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside of them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.
-Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf

Up until 30 minutes ago you had no idea what I did for a living and now you know more than me? Great. I should just quit and write poetry.
-theoriginal_jem on Instagram this week

The trouble with these people is that their cities have never been bombed and their mothers have never been told to shut up.
-Charles Bukowski

Sometimes I write just to keep from falling.  It’s been the luckiest goddamn thing, the writing.  The other, well, we all have our row to hoe, don’t we Sister?  Some of us toe the line, we fit in to their scheme nicely, or we want to and our days are orderly, it all makes sense or it will someday.  The rest of us run slipshod, in turns raw with fear and bold with alacrity, pioneers of lost and lonely kingdoms, we answer to none and don’t tell anyone.  As treacherous as it gets it’s still safer than living in their world.  I don’t know what kind of voodoo’s been run down on me but–I burn out now on crazy, faster than ever before.  The IG quote above is from an unfortunate interaction on social media this week.  I spoke on corporate culture, which I gladly know nothing of, and should’ve just kept my mouth shut.  On the other hand I wouldn’t have known this person to be so self-identified with it–square life.  I can’t speak to it.  I can’t recommend the road I took.  I’m not proud of it, it still confuses me–but I’ll never suffer anyone’s shame of it.  Out of necessity, really.  Believe me, I’m plenty enough ashamed on my own, that I couldn’t make it, do the thing and participate.  I just happen to be more ashamed of them and their life–the squares.  Which obviously, and again out of necessity, is a perfect intro for this week’s post.

I’m terrified.  I struck out again, left my gig of 5 years.  Couldn’t hang there anymore.  It was the longest job I ever had–which isn’t to say I’m irresponsible.  I could never stick around long enough to let time get on me, which is what happens.  Familiarity can be a pecking away, unless it’s from people who you love but even then sometimes you’ve got to get away.  I never met a more concentrated group of horrible people than I did at my last gig and living where I did, but I never stayed anywhere longer than a couple years either.  The problem is the Fear.  I’m suffering good Reader.  My karma’s wearing me down.  I can’t do it, out here, without some soulsucking handjive day paying jerkaround.  Know what I’m saying?  It’s fucked and I feel fucked.  Terrible depths of despair until I take to the outdoors and the sun and the trees of Hyde Park take me like a familiar but distant planet.  I can let go a little, on my walkabouts here, and forget for a spell that the future looks as fucked to me as the past and I don’t know how I’ll ever get this rig unwound.

I got some side hustles.  Little time sucks for gas and food money.  I’m not starving to death.  I’m booking ’em, too.  December’s shaping up and 15 $100 gigs still seems doable, on paper anyway.  I’m interviewing for another caregiving position tomorrow, I got irons in the fire for everything from moving furniture to hauling trash.  Everything’s fine and I’m terrified.  I regret my decision and pretty much every other one I’ve had to make since I first stepped foot to this savage road over twenty years ago.  I don’t think I’ll make it most days.  The wisdom, I guess, is I never thought I would but yet here I am.  It’s been heavy, man, and harrowing.  Second to second sometimes.  It does add up, though, I’ve got a body of work.  Three books in and my stuff is getting better and better.  Storytelling is second nature to me now.  It only takes a draft or 2 before I can take it to the boards and tell it under the hot lights.  Writing is still one of the only failsafe things that will save me.  Refuge.  Most days feel like falling until I’m beat by night’s billyclub, and then pulled off to dream silly dreams in some thick veldt between lust and madness.   I think I’ll make it, after all, even if it never feels like it.  She wouldn’t last a day.

See you in the territory motherfucker.

 

 

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Take to the Territory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Medium Is My Message

In Activism, art, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, Buddhism, Charles Bukowski, depression, Fugazi, getting old, getting sober, going for the throat, Henry Rollins, Jim McShea, mental health, mid life, middle age, Music, new journalism, news media, Poetry, published poet, publishing poetry, punk rock, RADIO, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, songwriting, Spoken Word, straight edge, suicide, working class, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 24, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Proud and excited to announce this week’s post is featured on Medium!  Please go there and show me some applause (icon of hands clapping at the bottom of, or just beside, the piece).  Feel free to leave a comment, too, so they know we have arrived.

Thanks motherfucker!

 

Charlie Gordon’s Blues

In alcoholism, anger, anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, blues, Buddhism, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, Poetry, police brutality, punk rock, recovery, self-help, sober, sobriety, straight edge, suicide, Writing, writing about writing on August 10, 2017 at 9:07 am

Oh, the work I could get done if my heart weren’t so full of hate.
David Sedaris

I know this is not Church, but get close to the Lord.  The world is getting close to the end.
Little Richard


If it could happen then — in 1980 — then it can happen now.
Scott Crawford

We love your voice.

Rebecca Loebe

I’ve been clean and sober for over 2 years, but you’d never know it looking at my apartment.  It looks like I been riding with the King, drinking with Papa and partying with Guns ‘N Roses.  My kitchen doubles as a place to type, much like Bukowski and Hunter Thompson’s did-but don’t ask.  Boxes full of Farewell to Armor and Anthology Philly (WragsInk), September and All in the wind (Yellow Lark Press) are underneath the War Room table.  The black nest of power cords, USBs and chargers beside it ain’t pretty either, and it’s a fire hazard besides.  Topo Chico bottles and La Croix empties christen the floor like cities and the bedroom at the back of the mansion is sinking in a cyclone of fitted sheets and pillows.  The bathroom is gross and there are piles of clothes everywhere.  “Dude clean” is apt and I’d do well to get a maid-but then I’d have to pre-clean, like Doc does, and her visits would be another deadline for me to stroke out over.  I have no excuse and no one to blame.   It’s a fucking mess in here.

The last 4 days on shift were an epic and colossal laziness, a laziness I needed to recover from, which is why I’m sitting here at 3 in the afternoon sipping cold coffee in my sleeping cargos, writing.  The world is out there and at large.  But I couldn’t get to sleep until after 2 last night, when I finally pulled earbuds from the phone and left Uncle Hank and Mike Patton mid-show.  We’re not even halfway through the summer and I feel fine.  The new lease starts 8/15 and I’ve got a flurry of shit to get cracking on, none of which I started, or even attempted to, since we last spoke.  As per usual, I sat down to write this with the intention to bag my bad blues, let you know what’s bothering me and get right to it.  Besides being beholden to a deadline, and despite all appearances of transparency at GFtT, there’s a lot of shit I’m loathe and even ashamed to admit.  Mostly it’s how I haven’t done much with my time, that I’m depressed and stuck winding down the end days as an indentured servant.  I’ve squandered precious time, that for the last couple years I only sensed running out, winding down, acutely and terrifyingly-fuck.

My other blunders, faults and peccadilloes-I’ve been writing them down, just haven’t posted them here.  They’re in a file called FVK Daily, a draft of a blog post like this one except it goes on and on, listing and enumerating all my dirties and lust, all the venom and corruption that haunts me daily.  Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing, or the imperative of Natural Selection to never be satisfied-but I feel like I can do it, get it all out and fix what’s wrong with me simply by writing it down, posting it or etching it in ink on the lined pages of a store bought yellow bound pocket spiral I call LIGHTNING/RENDERING.  It’s a tradition that dates back to 1992.  I’d buy a notebook at CVS, its color informing me and setting the tone for our time together-me and my Friend the Journal, who would be with me, help me to manifest, worship and smash my idols, and self-actualize.  It’s the power of writing, good Reader, and poetry.  It’ll never fail to get you out of a jam-that is, your head, and help you to fetishize your pain and cast your journey with pomp and grandiosity.  It’s how we mythologize, and how we make ourselves heroes, how we hang it on the fucking wall, find and take from a sense of place, which in turn gives us a sense of ourselves-our shape and color, our small graces and thunderous foibles, our smokes and charms, our roaring and our lightning, the drums of the arena calling for your head in the black and endless rain.

I don’t have any answers this week.  I don’t have any answers most weeks, and I’m loathe to wrap this in a cute or poignant way.  It’s the end of the world.  Thank you for reading.

 

 

“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

 

The Coarse Grind, A Tale of Two Hanks

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, Charles Bukowski, Henry Rollins, new journalism, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, self-publishing, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on February 2, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Fuck.  Well, here’s part 2.  SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS.

I always wanted to be a writer.  That’s not to say that I always knew I wanted to be a writer.  It is to say that for the last 22 years I have wanted to be a writer, but only actualized it and felt like one for the last 2 or 3.  Depending on who’s counting and if it’s the inner critic I don’t want to know.  That bastard.  Too many times he’s shut me down.  Told me I ain’t shit and that I needed to get drunk if I wanted to be like Papa (Bukowski) or lift weights if I wanted to be like Henry Rollins.  The truth is I always wanted to be a writer but I didn’t know how.  I mean I always journaled, but-did that count?  Hopefully any writer reading this has felt the power of it, the magic of writing.  In 20,000 Days On Earth, Nick Cave discovers that he can control the weather with his moods simply by writing about it.
“Now if I could only control my moods.”  He sullenly adds.
Today’s installment of The Coarse Grind is a very Zen offering, so bear with me and don’t let me off the hook.  Too often lofty advice is given for the reader to pore or fawn over while the writer’s slipped out to the alleyway to get paid and hail a cab.  Same goes for Spirituality.  The truth about spirituality is the same as the truth about writing.  Both seem equally impossible, utterly unglamorous and something entirely different than our ideas about them.  But both also are redeemed when  you consider that their road is the only road and that’s the one we are on, good reader.  That if you want to be a writer you must write.  Simple, right?  Perhaps.  Do consider what can keep you from writing.  Or worse-what can take the inspiration out of it until distractions become disasters that can physically keep you from writing.
I don’t need to tell you.  You know your weaknesses.  And I know mine.  But the only thing that will keep you going back, sitting down and spending more long hours on the sinking throne is if you like what you’re doing.  Old Hank B. said it must come shooting out of your fingertips, that if it’s difficult then don’t try.  But old Hank R. would probably say the opposite:  it must be hard, it must be painful, because you are a no-talent nobody who must get up hours before everybody else to be on par.  Now here comes the Zen so hold on to your seat.  Today’s Zen of writing moment is brought to you by The Boss:
“Be able to keep two completely contradictory ideas alive and well inside of your heart and head at all times. If it doesn’t drive you crazy, it will make you strong.”
There you have it, your religion.  What about dogma?  Because who among us wouldn’t rather have written than actually write?
Those 19 years when I wanted to be a writer?  I knew I would be published when I first saw a copy of Rollins’ One From None.  I knew it ’cause he knew it and ol Hank Rollins showed us how.  Also (and here is why Bukowski is my Papa and his contribution to literature can never be underestimated) Papa told me that I could be a poet.  I could write from where I was at.  Which is right here, in my chair, in my house and from within the circus of my mind.  19 years after first seeing a copy of Rollins’ book and 15 after reading Papa for the first time, I started a blog.  Then I knew it.  I was a writer.

The Coarse Grind, New Journalism

In Austin, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, day job, getting old, Jim Trainer, journalism, media, music journalism, new journalism, news media, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, RADIO, Submitting, submitting poetry, TYPEWRITERS, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on January 26, 2017 at 3:17 pm

What follows is the first installment of The Coarse Grind, my column that was never published.  A local zine and arts collective had asked me to write 3 drafts under 600 words.  I ended up writing 5 of them and sent the first 3 to the editor.  We had a correspondence then, that included the phrase “curating for millennials”, but ended with me accusing her of being “disingenuous” and “silly”.  I can see her point now, almost 3 years later, while reading these over.  I don’t know who could be expected to read anything as long as 600 words as even major news outlets race to publish first, and edit and redact later.  Besides the horror in realizing how long ago this was, I’m emboldened reading these, in full faith that you, good reader, will read 600 words every week, even if it’s the same old story.  That’s the boon and bane of the blogging business-you’ll never run out of material as long as you keep writing about yourself.  Christ.
Stay tuned for the next 2 installments of The Coarse Grind.  

New Journalism

Christmas Eve ’95 I slept in Cromwell Park. I’d been thrown out of my mom’s house for not having health insurance. It needed to happen. And the rest…I suppose. What happened was I fell through about 5 years of daylabor and shitjobs, another 5 as a mad Boehme, 3 on the getting-sober circuit and shit about 3 years working down here, in the Pearl of the South.  What also happened is I decided to be a writer.  I had to be, as clichéd as that might sound.  I was working a string of jobs that were boring the life out of me.  I dealt with it the only way I knew how-with a typewriter and booze.

One of the first things I did when I got here was get a library card. Checked out Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, a biography of Charles Bukowski by Howard Sounes. It was profound for me to discover the great poet had started writing poetry at the age of 35. I was 34.  Another thing I did when I got down here was pitch to Verbicide Magazine and write blues legend Steve James a letter, to say hello and ask for an interview. Those first months in Austin were a fertile time, days and months planting seeds and business cards. It was like I landed, dropped my bags and said,
“In 3 years I will be a writer.”

Then I got a job.  Then I got laid off.   I stayed on unemployment way past any reasonable amount of time, and fell sadly short of my goal of becoming a writer in 3 years. I had to go back to work.   It was one of many crises of doubt I had experienced, going all the way back to being homeless in my hometown in 1995.  I wanted to be a writer.
I landed a live in gig, in a big yellow mansion inconveniently located off west 6th.  A perfectly annoying backdrop and foil for this phase of my life which I can proudly announce to you is “being a writer”. This is the being a writer period, the being a writer time. Now it always was, I guess, but I didn’t know it then. Neither do you. But I appreciate you reading. It completes me. I feel received. Like radio-a magic jolt to it, an urgent zing to these words coming at you-can’t you feel it?  Right? Wow.
What do I do now that I am a writer? That I’ve cleaned my guns enough to crank out 8-1,200 words, neat and fine, on a whim or otherwise?  That of anything and everything that ever happens I not only have a ticket out of but a ticket into? That’s right, good reader.  I got an inroad to the best game in town and the players? Well shit the players are me&you darling and isn’t that nice?
Now that I’m a writer think I’ll bring it back for you. Tell you how I got here and that I’d like you to join me. In the late night or in the bright morning, I’d like you to join me on the savage road-this is the new stuff-join me in this new media, this new age-this moment. Let’s do some shit. Send out our signal into the hungry land. Let’s send out a song of love or better let’s send ‘em some anger. Let us burn.

Tonight The Monkey Dies

In anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, day job, depression, getting old, mental health, mid life, poem, Poetry, politics, punk rock, self-help, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on December 29, 2016 at 7:42 pm
Yesterday I got a call from the outside world
but I said no in thunder.
-Jim Harrison

The problem with storytelling is you need an ending.  Closure.  For the audience.  But life is messy.  Some (me) might even say chaotic.  Beneficent, malevolent or indifferent (me again).  I like to consider myself an optimistic nihilist.  Like Maureen Ferguson, I believe in everything and nothing.  It’s because I like to keep the slate clean, and I should hope that if there is a God he exists somewhere outside our grasp, certainly not the God here, in these mortals’ minds, telling you what to do and killing each other just to live.  No.  Not a fan of the plebeian mind.  Simple truths are the best kind but the story doesn’t end until the teller takes his last breath.

I’ve had the title in my draft box for a long time.  I don’t know if this post will do the idea justice, but, fuck it-I’ll have a go anyway, sitting here drinking tea in a dead Confederate’s palace in the Pearl of the South.  Other titles in my draft box are Inner Critic, War and Radio Days.  We both know I confront myself on this platform, because I’m a transmission junkie with an accountability problem.  I’ve melded a need for self realization with the desire to perform.  When I tore the fourth wall down and invited you in, I was able to write about wanting to be a writer-which is the biggest boon and most beneficial thing to ever happen to me.  It’s unfortunate that the subject will always be me, but you see yourself in the work and I’ve built a robust readership for the blog writing about what I know.  Maybe D.C. is right that”blogs are passe”-but the only problem I have with it is coming up with an ending.

Another week has blown by.  The sands of time are wearing away the bulwark of me.  I’m steadied in the storm of it but I’m worn away and getting closer to diminishing returns…All we are is dust in the wind and there’s something extremely important about that-there is no other time to come together and do work.  This is it.  We won’t know what it all meant until it’s over and even then we can spin it in any way that helps us go down to rest, gone forever but here to stay.  What the fuck has just happened here?  I’m scared to die but worse-scared I will have never lived.  It’s our work that will save us.  Every time.  Our work that will connect us, free us, build us up and knock us down (ye tyrants take heed).  I feel a grave need to get on top of these years, get my kicks in and make my mark.  I want to be of service.

Ever since November 8 you’ve heard me say I want to be political.  But I can’t even do my taxes without my eyes rolling back in my head.  There isn’t a positive spin to the calamitous and grasping mind.  Ain’t any closure here, really.  Just some signpost between rage and sloth, a plumb line for us to gauge how far we’ve come, and how much monumentally more we must do.  A slick 600 words like this keeps me from bloodying myself on the bars, helps me paint with all the beautiful colors of pain. It ain’t the end and it’s never over until it is.  But see, if we do our work and put everything into it but the blood on the boards, then we’ll march on.  From the blackest night we’ll yell down through the centuries.  Love is stronger than death.  

See you next year motherfucker.

 

…a question of Fuel…

In anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, Charles Bukowski, depression, employment, getting old, getting sober, hometown, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, music performance, new journalism, new orleans, observation, on tour, PDX, Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, poetry reading, Portland, published poet, publishing, publishing poetry, punk rock, recovery, self-help, self-publishing, singer songwriter, singer-songwriter, sober, sobriety, solitude, TOUR, truth, Uncategorized, Writing, writing about writing, yoga on December 22, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Introjective depression – the autonomous kind, on the other hand, is characterized by intense self-criticism and there is frequently, then, an intense drive for achievement to offset the internalized sense of inferiority and self-scrutiny.  These individuals can be extremely critical of others as well as themselves and can be intensely competitive, often achieving a great deal, but with little sense of satisfaction – no amount of external validation seems to satisfy the harsh and demanding person that they can be in relationship to themselves.
-Karl Stukenberg on Sydney Blatt’s Developmental Theory of Depression

it seems we lose the game,
before we even start to play
Everything Is Everything

Got my walking papers.  Guess this means the gloves are off.  5 years can feel like a lifetime or it can go by way too fast on shift, on the clock and working for the man.  If it sounds like I’m complaining it’s because that’s my voice, I’m charged with it-fiery and riled and launching these missives through the barrel of a gun.  It’s because the last thing I want to do is tell you a lie or waste your time.  It’s this voice I honed and came to grips with, working for Mr. Fox.  The job gave me a bedtime, gave me the morning, still hated but doable, forced me to eat meals and sleep and watch movies and be lazy.  Above all it taught me what I need to be high functioning, and it’s hardly what I thought it would be.

I’ve published 3 books in the last 5 years, written hundreds of blogs and letters, and played more than 120 gigs, not counting spoken word and storytelling gigs, since I was hired on.  I’m glad to put it this way, and catch a rare reprieve from the inner critic.  The first sentence of this paragraph riddles the inner critic with buckshot, stuffs its mouth with gauze and sends it 6 feet closer to Heaven.  I might not be Henry Rollins but I’m gaining on him.  The pace is fucked.  I’ll never be happy with how long these things take and that’s probably because I’ll never be happy with myself.  I feel like I’m behind before I even wake up in the morning and wonder of the wisdom, sung by Lauryn Hill, in that song from days past.  But there’s so much more to it than that.

Up against it as we are, fucked and doomed to play their game should be enough to motivate, and it does.  The specter of death, terribly advancing on us from the day we’re born should be enough, and it is.  Never being Henry Rollins, never being good enough, has been fine motivation these slipshod and lean years-I know where it’s gotten me but I draw a blank when I think about what’s next.  It’s because you can’t build on a negative.  Anybody who’s ever quit anything knows that not doing it is only the beginning.  You must substitute it with something you are doing.  Quitting smoking, for example.  Of course, I had to first stop doing it.  Once I did the space opened up for something else.  Saying FUCK FUCK FUCK in my head seems to work, until I rupture a blood vessel, but certainly got me through terrible and troubling hours at the IPRC a few weeks ago.  At every step of All in the wind‘s production I was struck with the anxiety of never living my dreams-a great dread that neatly incorporates my fear of death and incredible lack of self esteem into a thorny and torrid cocktail called WHY I WORK ALONE.

Fear of dying will get you out of bed in the morning.  You bet.  A voice in your head telling you you’ll never be anything, never were anything, your parents were right and just because you left your hometown doesn’t mean you got away can also be great motivation, but not in the long run.  I’m 41 and I feel like I am just getting started.  Yogic wisdom tells me that all we are ever doing is getting started, and completing tasks with the quickness of Shiva’s wheeling hands.  The twisted cocktail of death and low self esteem, and the example of great men like meteors burning across the small town sky of my psyche can be potent, virile and all the ingredients needed for a bomb-but I feel like I’m gonna need a fire and for a fire you need fuel.

Work in media suits me.  It’s probably the only kind of work besides performing in which I feel like I am making a change.  I’m struck, sitting here, that it was just over 5 years ago when I decided to do something meaningful with my life and said goodbye to the bars with a few answered ads for Caregivers on craigslist.  In the last 5 years I was able to produce consistently as an artist by going to sleep at a certain time every night, and getting up at the same time every morning.  I had to make enough money to fund the first pressings of All in the wind and September , and have enough spare cash to fly out to the many unpaid (if not thankless) gigs in Philly and Louisiana.  HAAM paid my healthcare premiums but I was only able to get behind the trouble in my mouth with a begrudging loan against an inheritance from my mother, who sent me a check made out to the dentist.   Which is nothing I want to get into now.  It should be noted that I’m sitting on a lengthy backlog of posts, inspired by the prospect of being on RawPaw’s payroll in the Fall of ’14 and a request from Bean Maguire to recount my savage road to sobriety.  The point, now mangled and drug down this winding graph, is I only did it with a whole lot of gumption, even more bitterness and a little bit of luck.

I discovered what I need these last 5 years.  What I want has never been in question, but the crossroads of dread and inspiration at the hated age of 41 has me asking other questions.  Like, how will I hit 20 major cities a year and maintain my bedtime?  How can I possibly create without seeming to be in control of what happens within my own 4 walls?  Simply, maybe I’m not Rollins.  It’s not exactly in the cards to be on the road for over 200 days a year.  Knowing what I need is a start, knowing that it’s fuel is even better, and how I can be at my strongest and even ease the grip of this dream, live a little and breathe is healthy, and necessary.  the area of pause, as Papa put it.

Bukowski, as close to an example and road as I have, lived most of his life at War, but the man knew how to rest, too, and the author’s photos on his later works showcase the hard earned, worn and warm smile of Hank-a man aware of his limitations and therefore resting fully in his own power, if not in love then at peace.

FOR CHARLES BUKOWSKI ON HIS 96TH BIRTHDAY

In Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Charles Bukowski, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing, writing about writing on August 16, 2016 at 10:20 am

by celebrating with us
his
shrinking nights
&sharing with us
his fool’s joy
by sitting back
with his booze
for a total eclipse
of the world he knew
and kissing it all
goodbye
Hank gave poetry some balls,
he gave the soggy road some heart
the classical music on hot
San Pedro nights
was nothing compared to the
symphony he played
the man roared
he
played death,
and bluffed,
and won
he bluffed and raised the stakes
for us all
he sat at the center
of humanity’s
blind orbits of idiocy
and sidelined it
on the skid rows of East Hollywood.
he had a toothless smile
as wide as the Buddha he typed in front of
in his last peaceful years,
a far cry from his
cruel factory days
when racked&buckled
under the sad no chance pain
and he looked that pain
in it’s most vicious and glaring
yellow eye
and Hank asked
“Why?”

don’t try.