Jim Trainer

Posts Tagged ‘Don Bajema’

Don Bajema’s Hero

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

The following interview first appeared in Philadelphia Stories in 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

What’s next for you and Eddie Burnett?

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

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

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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 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  depend 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 telephone 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.

The Real Work

In Activism, Being A Poet, Being An Artist, Don Bajema, Jim Trainer, journalism, Maureen Ferguson, mental health, new journalism, PDX, Poetry, politics, Portland, PROTEST, publishing poetry, self-help, self-publishing on November 24, 2016 at 3:17 pm

 

I got bored of Bob then, so squinted,
to make him look more like the other poet, Cohen…
…would have looked up Iggy on my phone,
but we didn’t have mobiles in nineteen-eighty-two.
Me and Bob in Barmouth, Caroline Stockford

…it’s every bastard for himself
the last Century hasn’t ended yet
bring us the head of the King
the last Century hasn’t ended yet
–Unwound

Warmest Greetings from the War Room. The Wisdom is hard to come by these days. I’m sure we’re all at loss. I’ve been tits deep in the work and I’m thankful. It always gets my juices flowing and it kept me off Facebook for a couple weeks. Y’all have been busy! I’m proud of you. Really, I am. There’s a photo going around now, on social media, with a list of phone numbers to call and officially register a complaint, from the White House Situation Room to your local legislators to a pigfucker Sheriff from North Dakota who, when the credits roll will be on the wrong side of history. Aho. That wasn’t nice. I don’t know how that pigfucker can sit around a table with his family today, after blowing Sophia Wilansky’s arm off during a peaceful protest this week-which isn’t nice either. Wilansky’s conviction is what we’ll need now. If I’ve learned anything from my experience with neo Nazis, violence will be part of the conversation.

These are interesting times. Brother Don is emboldened and, as usual, carrying a torch of inspiration that’s astounding. Sister Maureen Ferguson writes that she’s “uncomfortable”, which sounds to me like she’s resolved.  You better watch out Brother. The lady does work. I get to watch these tremendously bright and strong people rise and shine. All I’ve done is footnoted a blog post, meant to get back to later-basically I felt like I should back up my dark intuitions. That’s the change in me. On my way to Starbucks this morning (and I really should just stop right there), I had my guard up, like I do, but was hipped to the reality of a rogue shooter, a Vet or failure of a failed mental health system that doesn’t care for the mentally ill at all. What I am trying to say is it’s always been dark for me. I won’t say I told you so because then I would be a dick but also, I’ve got some issues-I’ve been fighting depression for over twenty years. I’m a poet for Christ, sitting in a mansion writing you about my insights on the way to Starbucks. The world has risen (or sunk) to my expectations but I won’t say I told you so. There have been some real dark turns in the New Century.  It shouldn’t surprise me but it does. The change in me is that it’s not enough for me to write a post that says “We’re fucked.” three times and call it a day. I need to back my dire statements and grim predictions with fact.

These things take time. Time I haven’t had. The new book is practically in the bag. Text and pages laid out in InDesign.  I’ll do a final pore today and tomorrow, and finish a draft of the cover before I send the file to Minuteman for 150 insides to my third full-length collection of poetry. I fly out to Portland on Wednesday, to Letterpress the covers and bind and cut them at the IPRC. I’m 17 copies away from breaking even on September‘s second pressing, and I can’t thank y’all enough. Christmas is coming. Holler at yr homeboy. If your relatives piss you off, buy them copies of my dark and romantic poetry. That oughta fix their wagon. Support local artists. I do and I’m really happy about it. I might even make it easy and generate a list of artists who I respect, which is the real currency. I see you my Brother, my Sister. Let’s do our work and take some time out of our very privileged lives to give back. It’s always been dark but in the strangest turn of events, it’s gotten brighter for me, the littlest bit. You showed me how.

Vox populi vox dei.

See you in Portland motherfucker.
Trainer
Austin TX-Portland OR

 

Nicorette Blues

In anger, anxiety, Being A Poet, Being A Writer, Being An Artist, blogging, Charlie O'Hay, day job, depression, Don Bajema, getting old, getting sober, Jim Trainer, media, mental health, mid life, middle age, new journalism, new orleans, on tour, Performance, Poetry, poetry reading, politics, self-help, singer songwriter, sober, sobriety, songwriting, Spoken Word, therapy, TOUR, travel, Writing, writing about writing, WRITING PROCESS on August 8, 2016 at 10:49 am

The blog’s been on lockdown.  Letter Day.  Poetry and songwriting-don’t get me started on songwriting.  We’ll save that can of worms for when we’re up the road a piece, with some space between me and this anxiety ridden nest of calendars and seltzer cans, Amtrak itineraries, rental car agreements, press releases and road maps.  It’s a mess.  I’m excited to get out on the road with wonderful poet and friend Bernard Pearce in a few weeks.  I’m looking forward to hitting the east coast with Brothers Don Bajema and Charlie O’Hay in the Fall-and I feel compelled to this life.   It’s time to transition out of that old skin-book the dates, order merch, press the EP and sink deeply and irrevocably into a dream.  But it took me 4 days to send 2 emails last week.   I’m sunk with the day job, sometimes sleeping and lying around for the whole shift.  My identity as an Artist isn’t on the line.  My heels aren’t licked by the maleficent flames of personal anguish.  I ain’t on the run.  Everything is fine and it’s not fucking fine. I don’t need to write myself out of anything-unless it’s this, six hundred words with myself and with you, good reader, to stir the pot and galvanize, get this rig the fuck unwound and smoke the day job with real work.  Because in the meantime it’s been torture.  I’m slothfully doubled down in middle class comfort.  I eat ice cream by the pint and take naps on the hour.  I hit literary target and I’ve smoked the idea that this is a hobby.  But instead of getting to it, I’m horizontal, watching old episodes of The Howard Stern Show and listening to Henry&Heidi, or worse.

I’ve asked you to consider me, the Artist-consider my work and know I’m here and what I’ve come for.  I had a breakthrough in therapy when Ol Don Jones said
“We’re just gonna do away with you thinking that you’re not an Artist.”
So we did.  And now I’m out here in the wide world.  Blowing off ordering more books.  This morning I wanted a cigarette more than, in the last 8 months, I ever have.  I needed something to bring me out and set me straight.  I jerked off and laid down, tried to sleep off a caffeine headache and forget that today is a day I won’t get back.

I try to keep in mind that I’m lucky.  I’m closer to living my dreams than I’ve ever been.  I’m practically straight edge, unless you count Nicorette-which I chew incessantly.  As good as life’s been to me it feels pretty fucked and I guess there’s no one to blame but me.  I feel locked in, stuck and without drink or drug or sex  I often have nothing to reach for.  Just these words and you.  So I do.  It don’t take much to bring me around.  Five or six hundred words with you and the undeniable power that comes, if not from solving, then identifying the problem.

We start where we are.  Now we begin the practice of Yoga.  Were it not for this blog and our time together, I might have stared down another couple hundred baleful miles of Facebook feed or engaged in self-important dialogue and discourse on the Dog and Pony of Presidential politics.  Without this blog, I could’ve wasted the diminishing hours of my life fucking off in any myriad of pointless and self-destructive American ways.  Of course I could’ve done nothing but then that’s the fucking problem now isn’t it Pilgrim?  I can see the problem.  It has been identified.  The enemy is within my sights.  Writing like this.  Banging on the temple door.  Going for the throat.

Return of the King

In Being A Writer, Writing on June 10, 2014 at 6:10 pm

This post is brought to you by Weezer’s first album, a bottle of Guilhem White and hash oil. Too much hash oil, in fact, but I had been drinking when I loaded up my ecig with the stuff. I couldn’t be sure if I was high so I kept smoking it and now-this. Christ. It’s the opposite of paranoia, but why should I be paranoid? All of my dreams have come true. I’m down here in Paradise listening to rock&roll and drinking wine. Everything is fine.

Everything is fine? Are you fucking kidding me?

There was a time, brothers&sisters, when everything was NOT fine, and we beat back the hammer of night with drugs and madness and we drove too fast and there was never too great a risk and we did not fear death. Although we probably should have, in that hostile city and at that time, at the end of the American Century. But ultimately it has only made our love strong and redoubled our faith in the God of Luck. He ain’t failed us yet. I mean, shit. How ya like me now? Living in the Last Confederate Governor of the U.S.’ old place, in the Live Music Capital of the World?
Let’s just say that my worries are few and my joys are many.
The last 4 days in Hostile City were incredible. I did an On The Hill Session with stellar musicians Mark Furman and Phil Dagostino the day after I flew in from Hippie Town. Then I blew the doors off Melodie’s Cafe the following night. Saturday I read with incredible writer Don Bajema and wonderful poet Charlie O’Hay. Sunday night I got stood up at the airport. My ride was lost in daydrinking and thought that as a “rockstar” I could just “get a cab”; but instead I was picked up by the lovely Courtney Bell. She drove me home for whiskeys at the Star Bar and I slept all day today. Only to wake up and swoop into this evening like a bat, turn it out and bring it back for you pretty babies, oh good&cherished Reader.

What can I say? All of my dreams have come true. And life is good.

Except that I am due to appear at Texas State on Friday, presenting myself to faculty and attempting to explain to them why I write, how I got my start and how they might better serve and inspire their students when it comes to their desire, or lack thereof, to write.
What could I possibly have to share with them?
That my writing was the only way out, and the only way in?
That I tried to break out the President XII and etch some poetry out of the savage dark and blue-black ink of a quiet Spring night working as a caregiver? And that it didn’t work and I am instead penning this missive to you, wine drunk and stoned to the gills?

I mean, if you’re still around (like I am) at this late stage of the game, pushing 40 and tempting death, and you can still sit here and crank out 800 words while jamming Monster Magnet-if you can still host your own party, long after you’ve given up on the lot of them-shit, that is winning. What else?

According to my calculations I’ve got at least 10 more years of good living attempting to execute pure writing. I should certainly be able to bring it all back home for you and the faculty of Texas State on Friday.

Am I right, Brother?
Let’s take our crown and win awhile. We earned this.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-An Evening of Poetry&Spoken Word at Big Blue Marble Bookstore-Saturday June 7 at 7 PM

In Performance, Philadelphia, Poetry, Spoken Word, Writing on May 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 5/29/14

Please join us for a great night of poetry and spoken word. Jim Trainer returns to Philly to perform and read with great writer Don Bajema and wonderful poet Charlie O’Hay.

Jim Trainer is a communicator. Growing up in the hardcore punk scene of the early 90’s taught him everything he needed to know about real work. Jim Trainer believes in rock and roll. It may be our only salvation in this dark world. He’s carried the torch for independent media, broadcasting as one of the early voices of Radio Volta(88.1fm)and writing for the Philadelphia IMC’s Wire in the early aughts. He’s appeared as The Reason, broadcasting on WKDU 91.7fm while writing for its Communiqué. He’s been the driver for several internationally touring bands, taking him to every state in the Continental U.S. He’s followed that Americana sound all the way down to Austin, TX where he works as a Singer/Songwriter and contributes to Verbicide Magazine.
Farewell to Armor, his debut full-length collection of poetry, is out now through WragsInk Press and available on Amazon.com. Trainer is the founder of Yellow Lark Press and serves as contributor, curator and editor of Going For The Throat, a semi-daily publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence and romance. If you hear his voice on the air or read his words on the page, Jim Trainer is trying to break down the separation they have built between us. Jim Trainer believes you can be set free and that communication is the key.

landing 2

Novelist, screenwriter, actor and performer Don Bajema was born in St. John’s, New Foundland, Canada in 1949. He is the author of two highly acclaimed collections of short stories, Boy In The Air and Reach, now published as one volume, Winged Shoes and a Shield, by City Lights. As an actor, Bajema first appeared on stage in the West Coast premiere of Sam Shepard’s “Curse of the Starving Class”. With a lead role in the 1983 film “Signal Seven”, Bajema began a long-time collaboration with groundbreaking independent film director Rob Nilsson. He had a lead role in Nilsson’s 1988 Sundance Film Festival Grand Prize winner “Heat and Sunlight” and he wrote and starred in the 1996 film “Chalk,” which Nilsson directed. He has appeared in more than a dozen feature films, most recently Carl Franklin’s 2002 film “High Crimes”. A favorite on the “spoken word circuit”, Bajema has toured extensively in the US, Canada and Europe, performing at hundreds of clubs, theaters and universities. He has shared the spoken word stage with the likes of Hubert Selby, Lydia Lunch, Henry Rollins, and Jim Carroll. He is a former world-class track and field athlete who competed in the 1972 US Olympic trials and played football for legendary coach Don Coryell at San Diego State University. He currently lives with his family in New York City.

Brother Don

Charles O’Hay is the recipient of a 1995 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship in poetry. His poems have appeared in over 100 literary publications including Gargoyle, South Carolina Review, Brooklyn Review, West Branch, Mudfish, and New York Quarterly.
The author lives with his wife and daughter in eastern Pennsylvania. Far From Luck, his first full-length collection of poems is out now through Lucky Bat Books and available on Amazon.com

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An Evening of Poetry&Spoken Word
with
Jim Trainer (Farewell to Armor) WragsInk
Don Bajema (Winged Shoes&A Shield) City Lights Booksellers
Charlie O’Hay (Far From Luck) Lucky Bat Books
Saturday June 7
at
Big Blue Marble Books
551 Carpenter Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19119
7pm

CONTACT: Jim Trainer: 512-203-6288
jamesmichaeltrainer@gmail.com,
jimtrainer.net
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“summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street”

In Poetry on May 15, 2014 at 8:07 am

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Bob Dylan’s Birthday Bash
Hosted by D.C. Bloom
at the Whip In
1950 S I H 35
Austin, TX 78704
7-11pm

You ain’t going nowhere else than to the Whip In on May 24th to celebrate Bob Dylan’s 73rd birthday! And the time it ain’t a-changin’ … It’s pretty firm. It’s gonna start at 7 pm in the beer garden! … The Man in me – D.C., that is – is gonna host this million dollar bash that will cost you NOTHING to attend! (Tips appreciated, though, natch … ) I want you, I want you, I want you (to come) so bad! … I pity the poor immigrant and/or native born citizen who misses this party!! Bob’s gonna be 73, but we’re gonna be forever young on the 24th cuz not even a hurricane or an idiot wind is gonna keep the following folks from singing a few Bob Dylan songs for ya’ll! … As host of the evening, all I really wanna do is open the evening by singing a couple myself and then introducing Ashley Monical, Don Pedigo, Mo McMorrow, Jim Trainer, Nathan Hamilton, B Sterling Archer, Pete Minda, Danny Fast Fingers, Amanda Pearcy, Josh Luckenbach, Dana McBride, Leeann Atherton, Amy Zamarripa, Cary Cooper, Jean Synodinos, Penny Ney, and the Girl From the North Texas Hill Country. Pete Minda’s band will be serving as the house band for the evening! And we’re gonna be callin’ em the Elston Guns, after the stage name a youthful Robert Zimmerman used in Hibbing, MN. Performers being added hourly, so check back! … Oh, and there WILL be cake!!! Come!!!

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Bedpost Quickies

A Sex&Relationship Based, Open Performance Series, And Spinoff of the Wildly Successful Bedpost Confessions

Tuesday June 2
at the
ND
502 Brushy Street
Austin, TX
Sign Up’s at 7
Show Starts at 7:30

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Friday June 6
Melodie’s Cafe
Cardinal Arms
Mark Thousands
Jim Trainer
Kettle Pot Black
Andrew Meoray Milgore
2 E Lancaster Avenue
Ardmore, PA 19003
7:30pm

After cutting his teeth for years backing legendary bluesman Shakey Lyman in Philadelphia, Jim Trainer came down to Austin, TX following that Americana sound. He wanted to emulate the taut economy of song and high lonesome poetry he heard coming from all those great Texas folk and country outlaws.
Enlisting the talents of Justin Kolb (Jesse Dayton/Bobby Flores) on upright bass and Billy Brent Malkus (The Texas Sapphires/Nathan Hamilton) on telecaster and harmonies, Trainer was able to realize his roots-rock sound and vision. The acoustic combo has performed at Momo’s, the Scoot Inn and Romeo’s when not attending to residencies at the Whip In and the Beale Street Tavern. Trainer now plays solo the Third Thursday of every month at House Wine in the 04 (details below).
The characters Trainer writes of know pain and heartache but it doesn’t stop them from being in love with the gamble of life. His songwriting takes the listener with him down that dusty road where his anti-heroes might find redemption and Victory even if it means losing on their own terms.

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Saturday June 7
An Evening of Poetry&Spoken Word
Don Bajema
Charlie O’Hay
Jim Trainer
Big Blue Marble Bookstore
551 Carpenter Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19119
SHOW TIMES TBA

Please join us for a great night of poetry and spoken word. Jim Trainer returns to Philly to perform and read with great writer Don Bajema and wonderful poet Charlie O’Hay.

Jim Trainer is a communicator. Growing up in the hardcore scene of the early 90’s taught him everything he needed to know about the real work. Jim Trainer believes in rock and roll. It may be our only salvation in this dark world. He’s carried the torch for independent media, broadcasting as one of the early voices of Radio Volta(88.1fm)and writing for the Philadelphia IMC’s Wire in the early aughts. He’s appeared as The Reason, broadcasting on WKDU 91.7fm while writing for its Communiqué. He’s been the driver for several internationally touring metal bands taking him to every state in the Continental U.S. He’s followed that Americana sound all the way down to Austin, TX where he works as a Singer/Songwriter and contributes to Verbicide Magazine. “We are not that different, you and I.” If you hear his voice on the air or read his words on the page, Jim Trainer is trying to break down the separation they have built between us. Jim Trainer believes you can be set free and that communication is the key.

Novelist, screenwriter, actor and performer Don Bajema was born in St. John’s, New Foundland, Canada in 1949. He is the author of two highly acclaimed collections of short stories, Boy In The Air and Reach, now published as one volume, Winged Shoes and a Shield, by City Lights. As an actor, Bajema first appeared on stage in the West Coast premiere of Sam Shepard’s “Curse of the Starving Class”. With a lead role in the 1983 film “Signal Seven”, Bajema began a long-time collaboration with groundbreaking independent film director Rob Nilsson. He had a lead role in Nilsson’s 1988 Sundance Film Festival Grand Prize winner “Heat and Sunlight” and he wrote and starred in the 1996 film “Chalk,” which Nilsson directed. He has appeared in more than a dozen feature films, most recently Carl Franklin’s 2002 film “High Crimes”. A favorite on the “spoken word circuit”, Bajema has toured extensively in the US, Canada and Europe, performing at hundreds of clubs, theaters and universities. He has shared the spoken word stage with the likes of Hubert Selby, Lydia Lunch, Henry Rollins, and Jim Carroll. He is a former world-class track and field athlete who competed in the 1972 US Olympic trials and played football for legendary coach Don Coryell at San Diego State University. He currently lives with his family in New York City.

Charles O’Hay is the recipient of a 1995 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship in poetry. His poems have appeared in over 100 literary publications including Gargoyle, South Carolina Review, Brooklyn Review, West Branch, Mudfish, and New York Quarterly.
The author lives with his wife and daughter in eastern Pennsylvania. Far From Luck, his first full-length collection of poems is out now through Lucky Bat Books and available on Amazon.com.

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Austin’s No Shame Theatre
5 Minutes Anything Goes
Salvage Vanguard Theatre
Manor Road
Austin, TX
Sign Up’s At 9:30 PM
Show Starts At 10:00 PM

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Third Thursdays at House Wine
Roots, Blues&Rockabilly provided by
Jim Trainer
every Third Thursday at
House Wine
408 Josephine Street
Austin, TX 78704
7-10 PM
The Next Third Thursday is Thursday June 19

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From the First Row of a Poetry Reading

In Uncategorized on February 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm

“No doubt about it. If you had stayed on the path you were on when we met, you would most certainly be dead by now.”

The girl had a point. My downward spiral during the Never Ending Summer of Evil Kanevil veered dangerously close to the other side of life. So much so that I eventually had to pack up my world entire into a Ryder van, cross St.George’s bridge and ride on down to the slower-lower on New Year’s Eve 2007. There were too many close calls, even for someone born in the Year of the Rabbit, like I was. Too many blank nights and too much Jersey off-roading in the Sentra, too many sad and angry walks of shame home from the Republican in the wee hours with nothing but vengeance on my mind. Philly will only let you push your luck so far before you’re standing on the corner of Passyunk East with a bike lock and a broken nose, no cash and a 20 bag of baking soda.
We were having dinner at Raphael’s when she brought it up. Natalie and me. I remember this part of our conversation well, but little else. The night devolved into too many pale ales at Rembrandt’s and the next day I was on a plane to Houston, so I don’t remember much else, except for our drunken writer’s pact. Aho, it was over the aforementioned too-many pale ales that me and Natalie made our vow. We would publish the blogs we had been holding on to. We would outsmart our shared and most hated writer’s block with a promise to each other to post. This is her end of the deal. Here’s mine.
The reading went off without a hitch and the promotions too. The promotional machinery assembled by me and the publicist cranked out the good stuff in fine gear. I penned a 1,600 word interview with Brother Don Bajema for Philadelphia Stories and attendance at the reading was strong. The film of the reading, done by the good folks at Keystone Pictures, looks great. We’re in the final stages of editing now. But more on all that later…here is great writer Natalie Kelly’s version of events on December 11, 2013.

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a series of moments

jim and maleka

The hum of a fluorescent light fills the silence of a room full of people. The floors are concrete, the ceiling is high. For reasons unknown, no one is speaking. Perhaps the acoustics generate an uncomfortable level of self consciousness. If you were to speak in an environment like this, the words would be absorbed by everyone in the room. That’s kind of the point for a poetry reading but not so much for small talk before the reading begins.

I walk in feeling enthusiastic to see my friend Jim from Austin. People are sitting quietly, waiting for words to be read. I make my way past a legitimate looking piece of filming equipment and whisper hello to Jim. Neither of us are sure why everyone is whispering but our discussion continues at the same volume you would use before funeral services begin.

Jim Trainer and Maleka Fruean are what…

View original post 1,271 more words

Farewell to Armor

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Got the raw, red window open to the wide, waiting world. These 3 roses on the broad oaken table will not drop their petals. The fuckers will not die. There’s a tour bus parked on 8th, the kids from Khabele are loading up for some kind of trip and I’m thankful for it. The bus is loud. It drowns out the sounds of construction workers building that insipid tower on 7th and the insufferable blower on the landscape crew (I know he’s out there lurking around I heard him earlier). I thought I’d just get back into the swing of things down here at the Office.  Pay no mention to my near three-week absence from this blog and life as we once knew it. But I’d be nothing if not honest and you are my People so-here goes…

The last two and a half weeks have not been fun.
Sorrow had marooned me in seas of cold linen and I was shot through with nightmares of loss and devastation. Waking fared little better, and it was nothing but pain in the black morning. I started every day of the last two and a half weeks with a ritual. The burning kind. The ritual was administering a type of pain I could control. 2 MCDs, 2-3 Espressos and the written word, first thing in the morning, every day for the last two and a half weeks.

It was a ritual of pain that I am very familiar with.

And what do you think I came up with in those bitter&burning hours, good&cherished reader? Poetry. That’s right. Motherfucker. Sadder than Morrissey on a codeine bender at the mink store. Ok, maybe it was somehow better than all that. I mean, we both know how pathetic that romantic shit can get and the stuff I came up with may be better artistically, but ultimately it was really much worse-for Life. That’s right, ol Grim Jim was holding court and trying to kill love by setting his heart on fire with carcinogens and hot, black coffee.
Whoa. I didn’t expect it to sound so…sad.

But I spoke to Brother Don Bajema on Sunday. He was in Central Park, feeding the mallards with his beautiful children.
“This is it Brother Don,” I told him. “Y’all are gonna have to carry me out of here.”
“Jim, Jim, Jim.” Don said sagely. “Your blues are chronological man.”
“What do you mean?!” I shrieked into the phone.
“It’s like you’ve been saying, what a drag it is, getting old? I’ve had chronic back problems ever since my Quadruple bypass. I’ve been using my 5 floor workout routine. The best single exercise is to walk up 5 flights of stairs with 10lb dumbbells extended over your head.”

Hearing from a great American writer who just one year after quadruple bypass surgery is walking up flights of stairs with dumbbells over his head almost quite shamed me, but ultimately snapped me out of it and I knew I’d have to get back to the task at hand.

“Got it, Brother Don.”  I snapped back.  “Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna turn this motherfucker out. I’m going to interview you and we’re gonna put it in print and we are gonna make ‘em know. We are going to kill it, sir, and kill it good, at our reading in Philly. I’ll get the publicist on it, we’ll send out promotional postcards, we’ll send out a bangup press release and launch jimtrainer.net any day now; I’ll be coming home in style. Return of the King. Good Goddamn. Yes sir. Fuck it. Let’s go.”
“Atta boy! Don bounded. “Now, how right on is Too Skinny?!”  Of course Bajema was referring to the silly and shameful shenanigans going on in the Miami Dolphins locker room; but if I know Brother Don at all, he’s probably figured out a way to tie it all together, and ram home what it says about this violent&doomed nation of ours.
“I’ll send you an installment for tomorrow night.  Readership dropping means I am not giving readers what they want. I’ll have to think about that. I would also like to invite critiques from readers-pro, con, in between.  The story is topical but I am not giving readers what they want. I’m gonna have to think on this. Let’s keep fightin’ Brother Jim! It gets weird for writers but then things line up and we realize we were entitled to write by virtue of intuition.”

And that was that. I was suddenly looking down the barrel at the fuckton of a workload.  It was far from the end of my bad blues, but I’m open now.
Aho I decided to open myself up to someone who I knew would hurt me. It brought me a lot of pain, but I’m a better man for it.  I chose to open myself and I am open now.
Now what about that ream of bitter, sullen bravado, those poems&screeds I wrote while conducting Kauai in my kitchen in the black&burning-bright November mornings?
That’s Art, brother. A fun way to spend your time and sometimes the only alternative to the suicide option. Don’t get me wrong, Art is great. It helps you to visualize, to see a little further down the savage road, maybe to a night when you’re not so choked with love and the world takes its boot off your fucking throat. Art can be a means of survival. It’s always worked for me.
But it won’t take me further.
And it accomplished nothing for what I was under. It was a pill but it wasn’t the cure.
Aho the reams of shit I came up with for the last fourteen days were more of a tribute to death than any kind of paean to love lost or heartbreak. I paid tribute to death by dying and I wrote it all down. I bound them all up and wrapped them in a pink chiffon slip I found strewn downstairs in the old man’s library. I titled it “the last day of mourning” and just fucking got on with it. The rain and the winter. The readings, the shows and the website. You know, life. Simple, ordinary and solitary-life. Aho.  Brother Don’s words rang true. They redoubled me.

Well, the tour bus is moving out. Those kids are off on their own adventure. Innocence is theirs, as is love. Hopefully many of them haven’t reached the zero point in their lives just yet…That day Dean Koontz has described so well, when the world as you know it is turned upside-fucked, and everything in your life from then on out is yoked by the senseless absurdity of it all, and your only refuge is some distant point in the past before that tragic day.
But warriors like us, baby, we know.  And tramps like us baby we were born to run!
Innocence stolen and true hearts broken? It comes with the territory. It comes part&parcel with the human experience and it’s one of the conditions for those of us walking around on this side of the sun. It’s the only game in town and what a life it is, Brother. For true. If winning was everything we would have said quit a long time ago.

Which of course is a gross oversimplification. I’m not out of the woods yet. There is so much more that I could say and in fact I probably will over the next couple of weeks.  But now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to work.

You have renounced putting on a new suit of armor.
You have renounced growing a thick, hard skin.
You are willing to expose naked flesh, bone, and marrow to the world.
Smile At Fear: Awakening The True Heart Of Bravery by Chogyam Trunpga

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Too Skinny, Too Small Chapter 5 by Don Bajema

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm

You begin thinking about the game from television and hours out in the street with friends. Getting the rudiments of the game, catching, throwing, running with the ball. In grade school the game is kind of an elaborate tag game with a ball. Two hand touch-pretty benign, maybe a shove here or there skids a kid in the dirt, or the drive for a reception might bring an accidental collision. But fun to play and we played for hours from the school days end to dark. Nobody got hurt. Because the game demands at least a handful of players on each side to make it any fun at all-the little kids got to play too.

And on Saturdays and Sundays you watch a game on TV thrilled the whole time as you place yourself in the uniform of you favorite players and dream of that sound and that glory, those announcers praising you, the camera adoring you on the sideline. The camaraderie the whole manly getting off the beach, pulling on the helmet out onto the field for combat. You go to High School games on Friday nights, you see the fans full of cheering girls and unfortunate boys sitting there in the stands beside them. You see the players in the grocery store wearing jackets and manhood walking through the cereal aisles like gods.

All those years as a kid, out on an asphalt field on the playground with the cold making noses run, breathing like smoke as they gather for the huddle and the plans, the defense trying to listen in from the other side of the line of scrimmage, watching fingers drawn on the ground of pass routes, counting to three after the ball’s snapped to rush the quarterback, hands up jumping in the air.

Then there’s the uniforms, if not Pop Warner pre-high school plastic armor, helmets, pads and the beginning of ‘contact’. Then into high school where ‘contact’ becomes tantamount to the game. Impact. Knocking people down. The game’s ballet disappears and it becomes a chaotic scrum a kind of barroom brawl of awkward pushing and shoving and grabbing and pulling the ball carrier to the ground.

But in a short time the game gets more sophisticated, the coaches instruct technique, “Get your pads under the man.” So that the leg drive from your levered advantage and the mass chaos becomes more mano-a-mano combat on the line, buying time for plays to develop so that the running backs can learn to run through moments of open space made in the line, and then with that, later, the quarterback can take a moment to see a receiver crossing or running a quick out pattern and if he runs faster than the defender to the point where the ball is most likely to land-makes a catch.

While high school play gets pretty sophisticated and violent, and there are casualties along the way, awkward pinnings of knees in piles that blow ligaments apart, wrench and twist bones off their mounts and send kids to the surgeons table. There’s fingers broken, noses banged up, shoulders in young men are vulnerable being as they frequently are exposed in the ball and socket without the benefit of any muscle to pad them.

Depending on the program at a four year college a player might enjoy an extension of some of the harmless level of play in highschool. But some programs begin the corporate approach and every snap, every pre-season moment, every thought in your head, every aspect of your identity and all import in the world comes down to football.

It becomes your corporate church. And you’re rewarded with stadiums packed with a hundred-thousand people to watch you distinguish yourself on the field. Scouts get serious, if you’ve been scouted in highschool your courted now. Observed from a judging distance, your future being assessed. And then there’s the promise of money. Lots of money.

And on the grade school field where the game is actually fun there’s no locker room. And then when the pads come on and the need for a changing room comes into the game the beginning of the football player mentality begins to reveal itself. Suddenly individual personality becomes part of what fits into a team, you can be the joker, you can be the inspiring one, you can be the specimen, you can be the bully.

And those archetypes move on through high school and into the college locker room. But when you put men into constant unremitting time together in endless meetings, endless practices, dorm rooms, airplanes, motel rooms and the locker room, the gathering place before and after every practice and every game. All I can tell you, and I’ll tell you more, is that it gets real weird. Very strange. One thing, there are players, the warriors of a Sunday, rich, giant, freaks of speed and strength, agility and drive who are like little babies. Outside of the violence on the field they are helpless whining, Bible thumping, narrow minded, giants and physical geniuses ensnared forever in a kind of arrested development. Yet the import of the game must be stressed, the live and die of it, the laying your body on the line ethos, the playing through pain and injury. The entire cold military, police, goose stepping organizational hierarchy of veterans and coaches and rookies and starters and depth players.

The news guys hanging on every word. The groupies. The families and the whole top to down abuse and rank within the corporation.

I think the game makes suckers of every fan in the stands and in front of the television, this game is the most cynical con that ever became a billion dollar industry unless its when you send guys off to war.

Donna woke me up, it was all one of those dreams where it’s demanded I give my opinion, My head ached and the thoughts disappeared like steam.

Don Bajema will be reading  from his latest work at a very special night of poetry and spoken word, presented by the Moonstone Arts Center, with Jim Trainer and Maleka Fruean, at the Brandywine Workshop 728 S. Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19146 on Wednesday December 11 at 7pm.  For more information check out the events page on Facebook.

Brother Don