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.

Thursday, October 26

Park Bench Review: 38°01'09.6096", -078°28'54.6168"

This is an official dirtgod park bench review. Today I am reviewing the bench in Belmont Park just to the right of the main entrance by Druid Avenue, the opposite side from the basketball court, between the sidewalk entrance and the first trash can walking right. Above in title are the latitude/longitude coordinates. I choose to use the stars for navigation though.

IMMEDIATE LOUNGE-ABILITY: For no real reason other than to give my 13-year-old time alone at home to secretly listen to god music on Spotify, I parked my minivan by IX Park, and walked around Belmont, while drinking a doogh. As I walked up Elliott Avenue towards Avon Street, I thought, “Oh, I should go do some quality loungin’ in Belmont Park,” but I had finished my doogh already, and I would obviously need a beverage to occupy my fiddle hands while bench lounging. Luckily for us all, Brown’s is right there (Charlottesville’s home to for-real fried chicken… You can literally get a free piece of chicken with ten gallons of gas on their old ass gas pumps), so I went it to cop a beverage. They had no mineral waters, though I imagine it won’t be long, as the strong high credit rating arm of gentrification has ran roughshod through much of Belmont already, so I got a Deer Park instead. Between Brown’s and Belmont Park, there appeared to be active gentrification going on, with an uninhabited house having bushes machete’d by men who appeared like they really wanted to look like Gogol Bordello but still maintain good employment. But still, as I walked into Belmont Park, it was chill, there was a crazy kid at the picnic tables talking numbers really loudly in a potentially troubled way (which I found soothing to be honest, because let’s face it, the numbers of this world are troubling if we really get down to it), and I had walked past strong fried chicken smells to sit down. Leaves were gently McTwisting off the trees, and single parents were with their kids. The bench itself was metal, but spacious, and though the metal was cool in the autumnal air, there were unpainted spots from sanding, either by actual proliferation of constant parade of human asses, or perhaps the city did it to remove graffiti lacking in conventional approval. I do not know, but the imperfection of the bench was comforting, because I myself am fairly imperfect, and thus I fit well sitting there. Immediate Lounge-ability was a 17 (out of 23 possible).

RIPPLES OF AMBIANCE: In the distance before me was Carter’s Mountain, plus a pretty nice sky, and the undulating foothill bosoms of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and being Charlottesville is foothills itself, the basketball court was shielded from my view but the goal was not, and some kid (I assume) was throwing some insane looking multi-neon colored ballish thing up into the goal over and over, and it looked like it surged from the well-manicured Earth itself. I could see where Monticello Avenue goes downhill and splits into four-lanes to become Scottsville Road and shoot under the interstate, and little ant-like cars were driving over there on that little bit of Monticello Avenue, and that’s a chunk of asphalt I go down, and how often did someone sit here at this very bench and see a distant microcosmic Raven Mack zip by, inundated with my unseen insanities, which ultimately mean nothing when viewed from that distance? Behind me, at the house where things were being made progressive, I could hear white people white people-ing, but it was easy to ignore with Earth titties laid bare before my eyes. Ripples of Ambiance was a 19 (out of 23 possible).

CULTURE OF BENCH: Belmont itself was a working class neighborhood, which is the nice way of saying regular people lived there, who then became poor people as capitalism began to fail us all, and now are being replaced by wealthier people. The process of gentrification is happening all over. Where I parked – IX Art Park – was a wacky urban park next to the projects where they had big graffiti murals and concerts and it was free, but then they just tore out one mural to make way for a giant microbrewery place in the warehouse space, and also there is word the property taxes will now be enforced which means it can’t be a free art park so much, and there are hipster businesses galore but no one from the projects is ever there, nor does it feel welcoming to POCs or poors and most definitely not to anyone who is both of those things.
Belmont Park itself has existed for nearly a century, so there is deep lounge baked into the grounds there. A crack distribution ring got busted there a number of years back, which let’s be honest, that’s usually a sign of quality all day lounging going on if people are selling drugs at a park. Even now, post-gentrification, if it is warm and you sit at Belmont Park, you’re gonna see a lot of chill comings and goings. Me and my boy Deric played dominoes there a couple of times, and it made perfect sense. But that sort of forces the issue on discussing gentrification as a philosophy – if people have put in the time and labor to make a place chill, don’t they deserve to not be property-valued out of that power zone of lounge? It is easily conceivable that someone would open a “farm-to-table southern cuisine” restaurant in the abandoned warehouse formerly known as IX Art Park, but would their fried chicken ever compare to Brown’s? Of course, the clientele for a farm-to-table southern cuisine sit-down restaurant would tsk-tsk at the idea of getting gas where you get your chicken, thus would not be as excited as normal folks about getting a free fucking piece of chicken with 10-gallon gas purchase. Belmont, and Belmont Park has a strong culture of bench, but also we are talking about where the townies lived that were looked down upon by Thomas Jefferson from his Monticello perch, and on the opposite side of the small city from where he built his much-revered University of Virginia. People who are forced into the shadows of more impressive psychic statures tend to learn the survival skills of the lounger, and create sanctuary in that shade. The flipside of that is eventually the more impressive psychic statures, which also have more impressive ability to be approved for loans, start coming in, calling in for more space. By consuming sanctuary, they mistakenly believe they have built it. Culture is cultivated, slowly, over years (and generations), until the microflora of chill permeates even the ugliness. You cannot hack that away with your good credit machete, and keep what you like while running off the undesired uglies. Your privileged machete kills the culture that is there, a symbiotic one that cannot be parted out like code inside a robot.
Thus I feel the culture of bench at this particular bench is deep, but endangered. I’m not sure how you protect metaphysical truths like that, because the law is more about words and most of those words are written in English which is a great language of conquest and exploitation, so we may be at a loss here. But for now, Culture of Bench rates as a 14 (out of 23), scaled down due to instability of that culture in current socio-economic trends at neighborhood (and city) level.

TOTAL SCORE: 50 (out of possible 69). Not a bad bench at all. I’m likely to return, probably more than once, and it’s a bench fitting for daily lounges, should one desire such a thing (which they should, in my opinion).

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