Jim Trainer

Posts Tagged ‘upper darby’

New Century Blues

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

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

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

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

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

See you coming out the grave, motherfucker.

…for your young idea…

In Fugazi, hometown, music journalism, music performance, new journalism, Performance, Philadelphia, punk rock, straight edge, youth on March 30, 2017 at 3:05 pm

“Fuck all that shouting, nothing happened!”
Billy Idol

The rise and fall of the post-Nirvana boom I don’t care about. I think we can all agree it didn’t represent a takeover of anything.
J.Robbins

There’s always room for bros.
Alex Rawls

Rock and roll was a dangerous weapon, chrome plated, it exploded like the speed of light, it reflected the times, especially the presence of the atomic bomb which had preceded it by several years. Back then people feared the end of time. The big showdown between capitalism and communism was on the horizon. Rock and roll made you oblivious to the fear, busted down the barriers that race and religion, ideologies put up.
Bob Dylan

And after two years of trying our best to convince you that all these things were true, it turns out that we, the media, were the ones who were lying.
Brian Joyce

I’ve been listening to nothing but live Fugazi.  They’ve got to be the greatest rock and roll band of all time.  That’s only slight hyperbole, used to convey the utmost respect and admiration I have for this band.  Throughout their career they managed to maintain form as content. Despite a complaint against the proselytizing of singer Ian MacKaye, the lyrics of Steady Diet of Nothing show a marked shift from direct moralizing into more abstract and artful tropes.  Fugazi will always represent the spirituality of salt to me.  Without drugs or alcohol, they explored deep and archetypal forms-which is a very fancy way to say they managed to let their imaginations run wild without any outside influence.  It’s very pure.  In “Latin Roots”, co-frontman Guy Piccioto’s journey of a regressing young adult laying on his parents’ bed and falling backwards through the centuries of his genealogy, happens without even the smoking a cigarette.  Perhaps this is only how I imagine it, I’ve conflated the narrator/performer/writer with his subject matter.  It only speaks of the mythology at work with this band, as there is with any great band, performer or artist.  The other thing Fugazi share with great art is that they’re in the air, or, in the water, as poet Bernard Pearce wrote.  Fugazi is the east coast, where I grew up and first saw them perform, at 15, in the gymnasium of Drexel University in their backyard of Philadelphia.  They’ll always sound like adolescence to me.

Fugazi will always be crystalized into one moment, walking down some forgotten street in Clifton Heights, as a 14-year-old skinhead, being picked up by one of the only skaters in High School at the time, him having their s/t album on cassette, rewinding it to the beginning and listening to the whole thing.  So many things are gone from the day, the most tragic being a time when I could holler out and hop in the pickup truck of someone I didn’t exactly know but trusted more than family because of how he wore his hair and the fact that he knew.  We knew.  We knew what was coming, what was happening, and it wasn’t punk rock, that was our older brother-the generation before.  This was now.  This was brand new and it was kids, like us.  They were just like us.  That feeling would last until the release of Nevermind 2 years later, when jocks and squares started dyeing their hair and it all became a silly fad-repurposed and sold.  Fugazi continued touring and putting out albums throughout it all, until the apocryphal announcement of their hiatus at the dawning of the New Century.

Fugazi will always be a winter band. There’s a resourcefulness that comes from living in winter climes, and I always think of them with their knit caps on, a chill in the air and chimney smoke mixed with the smell of wet stone just before it snows.  I’ve become a new man so many times while listening to them, on so many levels, not the least of which having shaved off my long hair and starting High School, a new man but barely one…in the Fall, which is when I received their last album from WKDU’s Stevie D., and played the whole thing front to back on a Monday evening just a short walk away from the gymnasium where I’d seen them play 13 years before-they sounded ebullient, and they always will, jaunty and fresh and political, just like youth.

FUGAZI

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Goodbye bravery.

In Uncategorized on May 13, 2013 at 2:29 pm
I time every journey 
To bump into you 
Accidentally I
Charm you and tell you
Of the boys I hate
All the girls I hate
All the words I hate
All the clothes I hate
How I'll never be anything I hate
You smile, mention something that you like
How you'd have a happy life
If you did the things you like 
-Franz Ferdinand, The Dark of the Matinee

I come up from the boiler room. She’s turned off all the lights. There are candles burning in every window. The windows are open but the furnace has stopped blasting the room with hot air. She’s left no note. In the kitchen a sole lamplight is glowing above the type and made brighter reflecting off the blank white sheet in the reel.
I sit down. I crank the silver arm of the President XII, advance and return the reel. My hands are black with furnace grease. My breath is musty, wet&cold.  I’m still exhaling cellar air. I start typing. I begin…
…South Philly…by the sign of the cross on a Monday morning. I am overcome with complete and utter sexual exhaustion. I can feel her in the ease of my joints and in the cracked fascia of my arms and legs. I can taste her and the salt of our sweat. Catholic School kids make their way down the cold pavement in twos and threes. Church bells crack the autumn air.  I walk down the steps to the orange line and sink into another dream…
…A dark rainy morning at the shop.  Auggie and his weed.   Spicer cracking wise.  Led Zeppelin and Bush and Live.  Lightning out through the double doors and then thunder booming down the suburban sky.  The nervous feeling in the bowels of a 19-year-old kid, standing there, waiting for the storm to come.  He’s trying not to hope for the day off.  He doesn’t want to jinx it.  But he is hoping for the day off  just the same…
…Up on a high hill above Wheeling.  It’s just him&her and this connection of feeling between them.  She’d never be so old again.  He’d never be less bitter.  He had the rest of his life to wonder about the wound and the opening.  He was 23, wearing wingtips and innocent to his own game.  They pile into the van and bomb their way through Appalachia.  They’re coming home…
Then this, the blurry amalgamation of my youth in three memories.  I keep typing…
…the yard is filling with water.  It’s up to at least 4″ by now and me&my sisters can’t get inside.  The doors are locked and we don’t have our key.  Mom’s Nova’s in the driveway but Dad’s pickup isn’t.  We run around to the backyard and find the rabbit,  floating by the porch drain, dead.  His solid black eyes seeing nothing.  His paws stretched out, waterlogged and useless.
and then…
…He comes in, hulking and quiet.  The silence of the house is weighted.  It hurts.  There is a shame coming from an anger unexpressed.  I look into his room from the hall  and see him sitting with his freckled back to me on the bed.  He is sinking and silent.  Then I see her face,  giant, pursed, as she shuts the door.
this is much later and I’m 14 now…
…we’re at Dunkin Donuts smoking and drinking coffee before school.  We’re late for homeroom  but we’d make first period and slide right in.  At 8:20am we get up, slap 1$ bills and quarters down and make our way out into the working class morning.  We walk down the length of the counter.  I’m ready to explain to anyone in my way that what I’m doing is my own goddamn business and if they don’t like it then they’ll have a big fucking problem on their hands and a fight they will not win…
It’s the bravest I ever remember being, then this…
…the last day of 9th grade at Upper Darby High.  Someone’s playing I’ll Stop The World in the parking lot.  She’s coming out from the stands toward me.  The sunlight catches her hair, her legs, her eyes.
She’s incredible, gorgeous as always but not so much the cheerleader anymore.  There’s something softer in her eyes and sad.  Her movements have an openess to them now and she’s moving toward me with the unmistakable language of her budding sexuality.  I want to tell her I want her, that I’d stop the world and walk away with her, across the parking lot and across the street from school, through the cemetery and into summer forever.  See you next year, I say instead, and walk away.    I don’t find out til the beginning of sophomore year.  Her father died that day, in the parking lot, when I walked away with more conformity than the lot of them rallying  in the stands behind me and yelling into the hot open air.  Goodbye bravery.  

I rip the sheet from the reel and sit there in front of the President XII.  Goodbye bravery, hello Blues.

This Perfect Machine

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