Jim Trainer

Posts Tagged ‘one from none’

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing Another Book, The Sophomore Effort&The Battle Within

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm

one from none
I credit this book with kick-star
ting my life and getting me going.
-Dr. Vasquez 

When I was 17 years old I came across a copy of Henry Rollins’ One From None.  I had already been a huge fan of the man.  I loved the  1/4 Stick era Rollins Band.  Turned On helped me through the wreckage of adolescence and was on repeat on my boombox throughout sophomore year of High School.  And like many others of the postpunk youth demographic, I looked up to the man.  He had a bead on how to keep himself contained.  He had what Adrienne Rich has called a visionary anger.

From the moment I saw the cover, a blurred black&white photo of Rollins rocking out on stage, some part of me knew, or wanted to know, that I would be published one day.  My verse and anger-my words, could be realized and achieve book format.  I wouldn’t have to change a thing or subscribe to what seemed like a permanent zeitgeist of the shiny, happy set.  One From None was punkrock but it went further.  It was a book.  It wasn’t a stapled&xeroxed zine from the underground but a perfectly bound book of poetry.

I read most, if not all, of that volume on the steps of my friend J’s house in Upper Darby.  In four years time I’d go from graduating high school and auditioning for the University of the Arts to being homeless in the suburbs of my hometown while working as a day laborer.  I won’t lie.  Those years weren’t kind.  Nothing was.  Eventually I fell in love but that was even worse.

Life happened.  I eventually pulled stakes and now I’m living in Paradise.  The girls are pretty.  The beer is cold.  I have health insurance  as a gigging musician.  Every year at the beginning of March there is an electricity in the air that could only come from being in the center of the rock&roll universe.  Down here we’re glad to be alive.  The weather is killer and the people are nice.  There’s a line that connects any number of singer-songwriters working  down here that stretches all the way back to the Father of the Blues, Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Allot has happened since that cold night on J’s stoop in 1991.  Our movement was usurped, it got flooded with posers and trend chasers.  Fugazi, one of the greatest rock&roll bands of all time broke up.  The aftermath of 9/11 resulted in a backlash that set this country back 40 years and doomed us all to never knowing peace in our time.  I self-published 3 chapbooks and took them on the road.  Of all the shit that’s happened over the decades since I read One From None, it’s what I used to get me through that persists.  And unfortunately for me what persists are these filthy habits.  The dirty ways that helped me squeeze through.    Battle&recon&hatred and fear-which is the root of it all, really.  Smoking a pack a day and ending most of my shifts with a 6pack and a glass of Scotch might’ve worked when everything felt like War.  I’ve written about this before and plenty.  The sad news about Molina passing Saturday at the age of 39 reminded me of it.
You just reach a point in your life where there’s no more battle and a no more worthy adversary.  You confront yourself and this will be the hardest fight of your life Brother.
Which is basically where I’m at.  I can honestly say that whatever I have dreamt I have made so.  Some weird subconscious manifest energy has made me a published poet and an accomplished singer/songwriter with my fingers in several journalistic outlets inlcuding the column platform of this blog.
I wanna kick it to the sky Brother.  For true.  I threw out my black&whites yesterday and I don’t want to work for anyone else ever again.
I have received nothing but the most positive and heartfelt encouragement from you all.  The fact that we’re discussing my work AT ALL pleases me to no end.  It means that it’s up and walking around.  It’s real.  I think it’s time for it to be so much and all too-real.  Viable.  Keep checks like this one coming in and a smile on my face.  checkMy work has demanded that it be taken seriously.  My work ain’t got time for that deprecation kick.  I’m here to tell you that you can live your dreams.  Trusting that your boot will hit ground ain’t a long shot.  I believe in my work.  You believe in me and, my People, I believe in you.  Keep fighting.

Help does not
just walk up to you
I could have told you that
I’m not an idiot.
Jason Molina
12/16/73 – 3/16/13
RIP DIXIE BLUESMAN