RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Sunday, February 27


I was gonna write some new stuff about Jimmy Valiant, the professional wrestler, and his influence on me, but then I wrote a piece years ago for the homeboy Reverend Axl Future's Clawhold magazine about Valiant, and that sums it up as good as anything I'd ramble out my brain today, so I'll just throw that back up here for the Boogie Woogie Man write-up. Really, me and Rev. Axl Future kinda reiterate the Street People Philosophy as developed by one Handsome Jimmy Valiant. I used to keep up tight with this dude, we sent mail back and forth between post office boxes, even working on a few writing projects together that nobody ever saw but us I think. And I haven't heard from that dude in years - I would imagine his kid is like 8 or 9 now maybe, but he's out there. And if we came together or in wide traveling circles crossed paths, it'd be good times. That's how Street People are - we wander away and meander together and find new Street People all the time. It's very much like the Cockroach People that Oscar Zeta Acosta wrote about (get that book if you don't have it... most important work of the Hunter S. Thompson Gonzo movement wasn't even written by HST, it was written by his crazed lawyer). We are all in this together.
When I was living in Hamlet's Trailer Park in southside Virginia, I went to a show with Boogie Woogie and talked about going to wrestling school. At the time I was working like crazy and just redeveloping my relationship with my wife, who was obviously not my wife at that point. I was in my mid-20s, and made the executive decision that spending long weekends on the road all the time to wrestle in front of a couple hundred people, if I was lucky and if I could cut it in the training, was not worth not soaking up the love of this woman. It's hard to imagine what kind of person I'd look like at this point if I had sunk myself into the strange sub-culture of shallow south (as opposed to deep south) independent professional wrestling. I would imagine the blend of character and real person would be pretty heavily criss-crossed, which is fine. No one should know your true reality; everything is putting on a character, in order to entertain yourself. And the great thing about that is the characters you portray end up contaminating your true self at the same time, so you end up warping who you are in the process of acting slightly warped. It's great. There's a lot of things I have written over the years that people wonder if it's real or not, or assume it's real, or assume I'm crazy. I can tell you with a straight face that every word I have ever written is completely true, even the stuff I made up.
So here is my thing about Jimmy Valiant and his war with the nefarious and middle managerial Paul Jones...
“I guess a lotta people think I’m crazy, Boogie…but this chain means I’m tied up…and once I take this chain off, it means freedom…and you know what freedom means? It means get down, get nasty, and boogie. I’m here for the jam, baby…I’m here for the jam, Boogie.” – The Junkyard Dog in a promo with “The Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant
America’s a great place because there’s all kinds of weird shit around to occupy time, whether it be drugs or porn or weird chicks with tattoos on their lower back highlighting the fat ass they’re barely covering up with a pair of blue jeans. But the seventh grade social studies lesson that anybody can become anything in America is bullshit. Some of us are born poor and the most we can hope for is to knuckle and claw and scrape our ass up to middle class at best. And it’s not so much that there are buffers against certain types of people succeeding; it’s just that some of us don’t fit in with that successful white collar crowd. I couldn’t in good conscious cut my hair. I can’t make the bad homemade tattoos on my fingers disappear. That’s me now; there’s no turning back.
Similarly, in the world of the squared circle, there are some guys who just aren’t designed for Wrestlemania main event status. Some people you just can’t polish off enough to sell to all the mainstream squares who have the loose purse strings that you’re average sleazy wrestling promoter is looking for. These are the guys the mid-carders that get bloody and battle for the TV title and make the social misfit kids excited and do their job, but they lack that clean and sterile look the main event heel or babyface has.
My favorite wrestlers have always been mid-carders. Shit, anything in my life – music, movies, whatever, I automatically hate it when it gets successful. Success equals sell-out in my book, because I’m all screwed up in the head from growing up a poor white kid sucking down King Vitamin mom got with her WIC check. I’m full of resentment and hatred for anything even suggesting success. When I was young, I didn’t care about Ric Flair versus Harley Race or Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle vs. Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood. What got me going was that evil Jap the Great Kabuki with his bald-headed sweaty bastard manager Gary Hart and their war with the motherfuckin’ King of My World – Jimmy Valiant. Whereas, the Steamboats and Youngbloods and Wahoo McDaniels looked like wrestlers fighting for good, Jimmy Valiant looked like the type of guy I’d see hanging with my folks on the weekends. He represented us, the insane Southern white underclass. He truly was down for the “street people” he always rambled about in his promos. Valiant looked like the type of guy that would be stabbing one of my dad’s friends for bending the corners of the threes to get them to run together at the poker table. The bad tattoos, the abundance of facial hair, the satin jackets with his name embroidered above the left breast…it all adds up to white underclass.
There has never been a feud in wrestling history that I followed like such a mark as the multi-year Jimmy Valiant/Paul Jones feud. Valiant, in his street clothes with KISS MY emblazoned on the ass end of his trunks, and his wild hand clapping and street slang and wild partners like Rufus R. Jones and Bugsy McGraw and Superstar Graham in a tie-dye shirt, he represented the white underclass that just wanted to be themselves - to get down and boogie, to spend half their paycheck on a Friday night at a shitty bar shooting pool and sucking back Old Milwaukees. On the other hand, Paul Jones, self-titled as “Number One,” as a manager, represented management – the wannabe upper level white losers who wore the goofy dress-up clothes and did whatever was necessary to become a financial success. And the soulless bad guys lined up to serve Paul Jones managerial needs against the subversive nature of the Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant. But all the One Man Gangs and Barbarians and Baron Von Raschke’s didn’t matter to Valiant. They were natural enemies.
You gotta understand, this Valiant/Jones feud played for years in Crockett country, main eventing all the small-town shows and mid-carding the major monthly house shows. And the reason Valiant was a main event draw in the small towns that got one wrestling card a year was because he was the wrestler under contract to Crockett that spoke strongest to the rural types. My favorite wrestling card I’ve been to live to this day is seeing NWA in Buckingham, Virginia, at the Buckingham County High School on the middle of the football field. The main event that night was Jimmy Valiant vs. Shaska Whatley. And therein lies the beauty of the Jones/Valiant feud.
Like I said, Paul Jones represented management, and Jimmy Valiant represented getting drunk and having three ol’ ladies. The two didn’t mix. But Paul Jones would convince Valiant’s best buddies, first Pistol Pez Whatley, and later “The Ragin’ Bull” Manny Fernandez, that going the way of management was the way of success. Pez became Shaska, with a shitty militant African attitude as opposed to just being a street person and getting down regardless of what their race was. Jones changed Whatley. And the Manny Fernandez turn, that was absolutely sick and out of nowhere. Valiant disappeared, as it was the ultimate betrayal. It takes a trashy looking woman with the most gigantic natural breasts, aptly title Big Mama, searching for Valiant, to find him in front of a liquor store moaning the blues about losing his best friend. Who the fuck heard of that? A wrestler so distraught over losing his tag team partner he’s playing a damned harmonica in front of a boondocks liquor store? Absolutely fuckin’ beautiful.
But the culmination of the feud was the Great American Bash. It started slow, with Valiant and his old best buddy and newest enemy Shaska Pez Whatley battling in coal miner’s glove matches and the such. Eventually, it came down to hair vs. hair, with Valiant putting the long locks and long beard on the line. Of course Whatley lost.
But it got worse. By the end of the summer, Paul Jones was bald and Jimmy Valiant had no beard left either. It was a true professional wrestling war, where both sides took losses and bladed nightly and did what was necessary to pack the working class stiffs in the seats.
And that’s my problem. There’s nobody doing that for me today. All the guys trying to represent the white underclass culture seem like MTV-style cartoonish portrayals of trailer trash. How many wrestlers take the time to grow a long-ass beard nowadays, much less have shitty eagle tattoos? The world ain’t what it used to be; the Paul Joneses have won.
It makes me happy though, that a couple of hours down the road, at a cinderblock compound on the side of a mountain in Shawsville, Virginia, “The Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant runs Boogie’s Wrestling Camp, where he trains the new breed of wrestling fan how to take a bump and be insane. Valiant’s a lot older now, and he moves slower, but he is still apt to bust out a kiss on the lips for the big black dude in the front row, and most likely he’ll put a clawhold on the bad guy’s dick. And in big crude letters across his chest is “COME TO PAPA”. Writers and booking committees and corporate sponsored pay-per-views, none of that has room for a crazy hillbilly with a “COME TO PAPA” tattoo. And that’s why the fuck I could give a shit less about wrestling anymore.

So that's an older style than what I rock now with words, but still, the point holds true. And if you're out there my spiritual brother RAF, much love bro. Hope all is good.

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