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 31

S3V3N G4LL0NS 0F 01L C00K3D...

seven gallons of oil cooked
inside of each tire, rendered
useless by worn away tread


[I ain't really feel like writing about no damn Lizzo, so instead 
I wrote a freestyle sonnet I guess triggered by this song, but idk tbh] 

Cyborg self-marketers claiming soul, screaming "SOUL!" 
through digital fog of polluted innerstates. 
We all so fragmented from birth from feeling whole, 
chasing love-based serotonin to lighten the weights 
of physical dread. This world's hard, can take its toll 
on simple folks focused on heart first, trusting fate's 
gonna follow what you sow, despite seeing hole 
in that thinking daily... far more multiple hates 
indulged by too many, poisoned brains trumping heart, 
mushroom clouds of toxic thought pushed upon "time" lines 
no longer chronological. We're pushed apart 
by our own alleged progress, these strange designs 
of how to most deeply connect... divisive art 
of our entered nets as collective care declines. 

Wednesday, October 30

Tuesday, October 29

W4S G0NN4 WR1T3 4 H41KV...

was gonna write a haiku
with "the thin black line" and "blue
skies matter" but then didn't

SONG OF THE DAY: Tamaditine

The checklists of basic human desire - to find a home, and love, and feel the freedom to seek both those things, free of obstacles and fences and razor wire so on and so forth. This is the "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" trinity, which is not the intellectual property of the United States, cannot be patented or trademarked as an exceptionally American quality unseen in the rest of history. This is innate to being a live, and wandering this confusing existence seeking shelter. One wants a home to rest, and to recognize the geography as a space they understand and understands them and in fact are like symbiotic in relations. And one wants to feel the spark of blood pumping with tingle from heart muscle because there are others of the same creation who share those feelings and you all shelter each other to continue to generate that buzz, the dopamine and serotonin of sustained emotions in generally-speaking safe space, or if those things are not entirely stable, being able to wander further to find it. That's all the fuck anybody wants. Being a human is not nearly as complicated as we make it with all our damn rules and regulations and hoarding of abstract signifiers of more.


try to keep myself grounded,
but still got dreams that transcend
this corner I'm living in

Monday, October 28

SONG OF THE DAY: What Am I Afraid Of

BlackLiq’s been dropping a mixtape from his archives of freestyles every month this year. He just dropped Volume 10 last night. I ain’t even processed all the earlier ones. This track is off the one from all the way back in May. I love crazy prolific creative types, that ain’t even fucking around with waiting on you to catch up. It’s very inspirational. BlackLiq’s actually inspiring me to try and fuck around and make more music in 2020. But seriously, check out his fuckin bandcamp – it’s full of great shit.


spreadsheets of humanity,
each windowed cell full of lives
concatenating events

Sunday, October 27

R04M TH3 34RTH WH3R3V3R...

roam the Earth wherever
my path accidentally
takes me, ain't yet found a home


Tobe Nwigwe been dropping a video a week for a thousand weeks in a row, straight lineage to Houston style, just like Rap-a-Lot having a thousand tapes in a row, just like DJ Screw doing a thousand mixtapes in a row, the endless productivity of creative lane that nobody can fuck with because everybody else is afraid to even occupy it. Tobe was a D-1 football player (North Texas, just like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mean Joe Greene), but had that lane roadblocked by injury, and found himself accidentally switching into this lane. First generation Nigerian-American as well, so culturally, though steeped in Houston, has a larger global flavor to what makes him uniquely him. But damn, Houston always seems to pop out these amazing forces in hip hop over the decades, and absolute game-changing things. Is Tobe a game changer? I don't know, because the current modus operandi of music industry is something ferments locally, the lactofermented bacteria blossoms on a larger scale, usually through the internet petri dish circulation, and then gets signed somewhere and has that natural energy pasteurized into something not quite so tingly. So enjoy this Tobe Nwigwe run for as long as it lasts. He's already blessed us.

S3TT1NG MY 4W4Y 3M41L...

setting my away email
message for vacation at
work to the shrug emoji

Saturday, October 26


wandering through Washington,
feeling dissociative,
with phone battery dying


There’s so many creative geniuses operating out here in the wild that the majority of people have no idea about. Richmond remains a breeding ground for that energy, and I’ve never been able to figure out why exactly (and hopefully they don’t gentrify/pasteurize it away) but it remains an incubator of wild ass spirits. I still feel more connection to Richmond than Charlottesville, even after all this time since I moved. Lately I’ve been listening to Nickelus F like crazy. Dude is just straight brilliant, wandering through infinite styles, left and right (and all directions otherwise). It’s very inspiring to just hear a dude going off on incredible tangents constantly, and it makes you wanna do your own shit. You know there’s a ton of hard work, practice, and raw intelligence involved in doing that, but honestly man, if you feel inspired by a wild ass artist, that’s good, and part of what’s supposed to happen. Lockdown and make a thousand mixtapes.
I ain’t really trying to crush dreams, because we all gotta dream in this shitty cold ass world, but too many rappers (and really all artists) get attached to hyping themselves up and building online marketing buzz, without putting in the constant practice and work. You build a large volume of work, it’s like dandelion seeds, it’s gonna start sprouting somewhere, in the cracks over here, in a vacant lot over there… if you’re scattering your creative seeds enough, they can’t be stopped from blossoming. I feel like too many folks think there’s a shortcut to success (which there is – be born rich, so you can buy access to everything), but it’s not.

And the beauty of wild ass artists is that when you finally stop sleeping on somebody like Nickelus F, fuck there’s like this whole giant catalog of amazing shit to dig into. Your art you consuming ain’t got to be brand new. We’re not on no time-table here. None of us have to be pop culture curators of the newest hottest shit. In fact, you go find Nickelus F on bandcamp and there’s two Gold Mine releases of shit he found on a hard drive that you can pay what you want, and that shit all fuckin’ rocks as well.
I don’t know if people still read websites like this anymore. Hit up the comments with some unknown brilliance you’re aware of… let’s start connecting to this wild ass geniuses running around in semi-obscurity out here.

Friday, October 25


small towns where those forgotten
by flyover know-it-alls
still build most meaningful lives

SONG OF THE DAY: g01n' d0wn sl0w

The act of screwing previously recognizable music is an intentional act of sabotage upon the defining shackles of accepted time management. The concept of time is taught to us at a very young age in order to stifle our innate desire to play and wander and roam and explore life, and is the beginning of tethering our human existence to the mechanistic expectations of productivity. The creative act of song composition, as originally done, was potentially a shot at breaking free of these confines, but generally speaking if you’ve heard a song from back in the day, it was already compromised and perverted by the materialistic and exploitative actions of the music industry. Why would anyone make an “industry” of music? What a horrible idea.
Taking this original composition and then further fucking it up, altering the speeds at which it is heard adds nuance, and also resists the notion that an accepted standardized length is the only one acceptable. The single beginning length can be altered longer or shorter (longer is always better in my opinion, it jibes with my personality which has been baked into loving sloth by the southern humidity for over four decades). It is often argued that the human mind won’t be able to handle time travel, because we are three-dimensional creatures (x-axis, y-axis, z-axis… so firm in this belief we make them the end of our alphabet) and time travel is a fourth-dimension, where you exist along multiple points on the time continuum. I’d suggest even further that true transcendence of three-dimensional slavery is to accept there are no longer even points on that space-time continuum, to be charted like a colonizer’s map, but instead just the full oneness of time itself. This is the abolition of time, and true freedom. Fuck your clocks, and fuck your appointments, and fuck your expectations that I be “on time”. I am always on time, simply by being alive.

DR0PP1NG 4 T3SL4 3NG1N3...

dropping a Tesla engine
in a classic Chevrolet
body, then getting some Daytons

Thursday, October 24

Wednesday, October 23

SONG OF THE DAY: Tip On In (Part 1)

Motherfuckers don't say "sock it to me, baby" nearly as often as they should anymore. And yet people still say "motherfuckers" all the time. Like me. I am the people, and also problematic af still. Part of being people is being problematic. If somebody's perfect, they ain't real people. And there's a lot of that type around. Motherfuckers.

TH3 PR1V1L3G3D D0N'T R34L1Z3...

the privileged don't realize
that when things get ugly, their
blood will be the first to flow

Tuesday, October 22

SH4R3D QV4L1TY 0F L1F3'S SL0W...

shared quality of life's slow
decline not always mentioned,
even though it's obvious


Woke up this rainy morning imagining what if I operated a food truck except it'd be a food winnebago, and I know I'd have to sell chicken gizzards, and it'd be an anti-hipster spot, and I'd be bumping Choosey & Exile this morning most likely. But of course being anti-hipster ends up becoming hipster because in this day and age of self-loathing, where few things are whiter than white people making fun of white folks, and nobody decolonizes so much as recolonizes in a different more exciting way, and I'd hate my own creation and set it on fire one night, by accident on purpose, to save me having to interact with the filthy self-important privileged human beings that one is required to interact with to have a successful business in late stage capitalism.
But I'd definitely have chicken gizzards, because nowhere makes good gizzards. There was even a soul food spot in the gentrified portion of Belmont, and they had gizzards, and I got them, thinking they'd be great, but they wasn't. Most places don't even fuck with them. My favorite gizzard spot right now is a gas station outside of Dillwyn, true Southside Virginia, where the last time I stopped they still had peach Perriers a dollar each if you got two, and the lady working the food counter was talking shit to a logging trucker who stopped in for lunch and threatening him with the butcher knife, and he was like "You see how she do me?" to me, and then I got involved, and we all talked shit together like a bunch of bumpkin ass multi-racial hicks in true and living southside Virginia style, while she filled up styrofoam clamshells with gizzards and livers for the both of us. That's my five-star review, but I ain't telling you what gas station outside Dillwyn, or where Dillwyn is. Find it, then try all the gas stations that got gizzards. Do your own research, bitch.
My dad's favorite meal was fried chicken livers, made them on his birthday every year, big heaping plate full of livers with onions and mustard. I always preferred the gizzards but looking back I wonder if that was one of those trickle down things, like I knew he was gonna eat all the damn livers so I trained myself to love the gizzards. Although I guess nowadays livers are sold separately, and gizzards and hearts come in packs together.
I love chicken hearts too, from when I was younger at a big ass drunken cookout as a kid, and one of my dad's friends put the hearts on the grill (which was an old grate from a long gone kitchen stove sitting on cinderblocks over a fire), and at first I was like "eww, hearts," but then I had them and loved them.
The process of writing is always beneficial because some barbaric shit will make itself obvious when you type it out. Reading "I love the hearts of chickens grilled over a fire on an old stove grate" is kinda shocking to the cultured ass word typing side of me. But then again both sides aren't really sides, and it's all 69ing inside of me - big ol' spiraling ball of dirtgod energy. All of this is who I am, and I love it.

P00R CH01C3S 1S MY M1DDL3...

"poor choices is my middle
name," I once told a woman
outside Nashville bus station

Monday, October 21

1 C4LL TH1S MY 4B0VT T0...

I call this my "about to
play dominoes with Tupac
in Malaysia" ensemble

SONG OF THE DAY: Gimme a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer)

This “Gimme a Pigfoot” song was made famous at first by Bessie Smith, but this LaVern Baker version ain’t really fucking around none. The song was originally written by Kid Wilson and Coot Grant, a husband and wife songwriting team who performed on the southern black vaudeville circuit, and DID NOT GIVE A FUCK. Kid Wilson was really named Wesley Wilson, but went by Kid, although also had the nickname Sox so that he was more often than not billed as Kid “Sox” Wilson. He had previously been in a duo with another dude, billed as Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie. (Wilson was Catjuice.) There is never any lack of need for more songs about FUCK Y’ALLS BULLSHIT LET’S JUST LOUNGE, OKAY, because with microbreweries and the gentrification of the entire Earth, and establishments making themselves only available to the segment of society with the most discretionary income, places of great indiscretion are fewer and farther between. And while I don’t eat pork, so ain’t trying to gnaw on no pigfoot, plus am almost nine years sober, I WOULD GLADLY TRADE ALL THESE FUCKIN’ LAME ASS PLACES PEOPLE GO TO FOR A SPOT THAT HAD CHEAP ASS BEER AND PIGFEET, READY TO ROLL. We’ve progressed beyond being able to fuckin’ chill.
There’s a great lesson from the survival mode of rural juke joints and the Chitlin’ Circuit, that despite the prevailing rules of the larger finer society, you can create these autonomous zones to get wild and happy within. I’m not sure people realize that any more. Everybody seems so keen on getting a seat at the table, that nobody thinks, “man, fuck y’all’s table” and does their own damn thing out where the assholes ain’t bothering to look. AND NO MATTER HOW MUCH THE ASSHOLES GET INTO YOUR HEAD, TRYING TO CONVINCE YOU HOW POWERFUL THEY ARE, THEY CAN’T LOOK EVERYWHERE.

Sunday, October 20


the twisted geometry
of master planners high off
their own lack of innate chill

SONG OF THE DAY: Baby Makin' Beats

rainy sunday bumpin beats 
drankin corny ass coffee w/the hazlenut drip 
thinkin about how I miss the rain on the tin roof 
and the leak on the front porch 
but it's alright 
the laundry room light went out 
in this moldy basement apartment 
and I ain't gonna bother the landlord to fix it 
bc they assholes anyways 

everybody is strugglin 
everybody feels doomed 
everybody is one tragedy away from contemplating suicide 
to a deeper level than they'd publicly admit 
none of us alone right now 
though the ways we been trained to connect 
make us feel more disconnected than ever 
that's by design 
them devils know the divide & conquer trick
and it's multiple forces of devils using it
devils every goddamned where

but so is good
shit's embedded in our heart
just gotta pay attention to it
start calculating more heart math
listen to the rain
put a pen in your hand and write shit down
scribble words pictures truths
don't share it where these devils can see it
with their self-ordained all-seeing eyes
which ain't really everywhere

pass notes
we're all strugglin
we all feel doomed
that's by design
so let's pass notes
draw up something new
for after this falls down
they say this way is cancelled
we gonna hit the end
it's gone too far and gotten too old
I say fuck it
let's make a new baby
and keep growing
like mycelium not economy
keep it underground
connecting tendrils of real life people
who help each other feel safe
to admit all the shit troubling us all
to one degree
or another

TR4D3R J03'S P0T ST1CK3RS F0R...

Trader Joe's pot stickers for
breakfast before sun rises,
long day of meandering

Friday, October 18

SONG OF THE DAY: Flag of Hate



running between two lines of
bed sheets drying outside, like
a space portal for children

Wednesday, October 16

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: MANCHESTER CITY FC

{I decided to keep it positive}

[25-Man Metaphysical Roster is a football metaphysics methodology utilizing dork methodology of minutes played over the past 100 club competitive club matches to determine which 25 players constitute the strongest psychic force on a club’s current trajectory. Then intuitive analysis is conducted utilizing football metaphysics, performed from an un-American soccer fan’s perspective. We do this every 1st and 15th of the month, cycling through the 20 clubs currently in the English Premier League, because it is the top domestic league based in an English-speaking country, which as un-American miscreants, we were all born to be saddled with this limited, segmented tongue of the global colonizer, oppressor, and capitalizer. Also, it is what comes on TV here in the USA most prominently, where we live. And yet, it is really important we clarify we hate English, and also America. Maybe we hate ourselves. Our panel consists of chairman Raven Mack, director tecnico Paul Robertson, and director rudo Neil Bulson Our individual contributions to this 5000 words of gibberish will be noted by our name at the end of the blurb. If you enjoy this absolutely free internet content from an un-American soccer perspective, venmo us tips @ravenmack23. You may also enjoy the Sportsball 69 podcast.]

Discussing the football metaphysics of Manchester City requires the ability to pan out beyond the immediacy of nowness which most of our consumer-based world systems depend upon. In the here and now, Manchester City is a Big Six club, and not only that but one of the most dominant, who seems to be faltering because they’re in second place, not their destined first. They have everything they could ever want, with the chosen manager in Pep Guardiola being given access to any chosen player he wants every transfer window. And yet, in the short history of the Premier League (since the early ‘90s), Man City’s been relegated twice, and even dropped all the way to the third tier in 1998-99. It’s easy to forget that actually other clubs you wouldn’t think of automatically like West Ham and Everton, and even Aston Villa and Newcastle United have had more seasons in the Premier League than Man City. But ever since that Emirate money got involved in 2008, benefitting from Sheikh Mansour’s interest (and nutmegging financial fair play rules), they’ve appeared to be impervious and unparalleled.

And this is one of the greatest things about football culture, because in many nations, clubs have existed longer than the nation, and in fact might have outlasted multiple ruling governments over the course of the history of club. Manchester City was an original Premier League club, so part of that incorporation of traditional football culture into a marketing entity. But even more so they’ve become one of the most obvious faces of post-Soviet collapse and global oligarchical capitalism, where oil money flows directly into clubhouse, and so long as this era of global existence remains intact, Man City will likely appear impervious and unstoppable. Thus it becomes a thing where you have a club with few real old school supporters so much as bandwagon brand fans, who want to root for the probable winner. And on the opposite end (where I am), you have people who support the traditional belief systems of football gods, and hope for instances like last spring’s shock loss in the Champions League semifinals; or this season where not only are they not in their expected first place in Premier League table, but they’ve fallen far behind Liverpool, all things considered. And they do seem jinxed by the football gods. The 3-2 loss at Norwich earlier this season was shock enough, but the 0-2 home loss to Wolverhampton earlier this month has to be seen as more than shock. That’s a defibrillated jolt that perhaps all the global economic grease in the world can’t make you actually be the best. It is a suggestion that there still are football gods, and they haven’t entirely turned a blind eye to the top leagues.

So these are the 25 men who have had the most minutes in past 100 competitive fixtures for this Manchester City Football Club, and thus have the highest metaphysical stake in their current trajectory. But make no mistake about it, this list is mostly hired guns, outside assassins brought in. And Pep Guardiola is their Chief Operating Officer. They are Football Manager with an editor that has given them unlimited funds, and a couple magic sponges. So we football metaphysicians cast our opposing spells and hope the gods still hear us, which they do, because gods can never be entirely bought, as gods are always of the Earth, not the banks… [RAVEN]

#1: EDERSON (up from #2 last time Manchester City was metaphysically ranked on 01-Nov-2018; thus his FIRST METAPHYSICAL STAR!) – Much as I despise Manchester City (such that, for all its snarky triteness, I have to think not to write “Man Shitty”), it would be very, very difficult not to like Ederson. There are several goalkeeping archetypes in world football: the bookish English/Scottish/Irish/Welsh asshole with a stock portfolio and a place in law school when he retires, the unhinged Slav born to sleep off a fentanyl hangover between two ass-length purple-fabric braided-hair West Virginia weasel-girls at a gathering of the Juggalos, the Francophone white-skinned cyborg genetically engineered by Dr. King Leopold V in a high-tech breeding facility constructed underneath a mountain in Algeria. Ederson here is in the South American Ogre goalkeeping class, hulking and squint-eyed, perpetually lurching about in a fog of sex stank and coca juice drool. He’s even got that prominent neck tattoo that was surely expensive as fuck, but yet it still manages to look (commendably) like complete shit. As I’ve stated previously, I tend to mistrust the raw abilities and playing consistency of goalkeepers from countries usually associated with creative-attacking football (Argentine and Brazil, specifically). Yet Ederson here seems to be more than ok, despite being saddled with that abominable “sweeper-keeper” tag, which just by its presence ensures that he will fuck up horribly in an important clutch match at some point. Reading that Ederson was one of the most expensive goalkeeping signings of all time (upwards of 30 million pounds) further highlights the mad money glut of the EPL. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the goalkeeping position is the Peter-Rock position of any competitive squad and clubs skimp on it at their peril. But Ederson is nowhere near in the class of cat-got-into-your-Angel-Dust stash dependable shot stopper that would justify half of that fee. You could probably buy 3-4 very solid keepers out there with what Man Shitty outlayed for Ederson. [PAUL]

#2: KYLE WALKER (up from #4 last time) – I wrote about Kyle Walker last time for Tottenham, and I don't really feel like writing about him again. I mean, I guess I should write about him better, since he's the #2 man for Man City at this point, holding things down on that defensive line ever since Vincent Kompany turned into a broken man. [RAVEN]

#3: RAHEEM STERLING (same as last time) – There was a time when Raheem Sterling was my Spirit Warrior, but then he decided to fuck around on me, and now he is a filthy rat and he has lost the spirit wars. That may not be fair, but fuck fair, this shitty little idiot is a wretched thing. He could have been glorious, but instead he chose this path and I want to see him weep and beg for forgiveness before Klopp gives him a gentle kiss on the forehead and then flushes this sewer rat down the toilet. It didn’t have to be like this, Raheem, but it is like this now, and there is no room for you in Valhalla. I am Krishna, and I am offended that I had to use this Neil character to put my eyes on you, and now Neil is Krishna and has no time for a sewer rat like you, Raheem Sterling. [NEIL]

#4: BERNARDO SILVA (up from #10 last time) – Silva was key to Man City (and Pep Guardiola) success from the moment the midfielder made the move from his native Portugal. He was instrumental in five trophies over his first two seasons, which allowed him to get settled in enough to make a problematic racial tweet about Benjamin Mendy, who of course is only his friend, and not somebody he would say racist things about. I always love that defense, because it doesn’t admit to the racial tones of the thing that was problematic, but instead assumes one wouldn’t do racist things to their friends, which seems to me to suggest they might still do racist things to non-friends. I don’t know. Racism is weird, and complicated, and it’s easy enough to be racist without meaning to that it’s easier to just accept it, and do better. I mean if you compare an African friend to a cartoonish chocolate monster, maybe you didn’t mean to consciously be racist, but there’s a good amount of sub-conscious racism involved in doing that, maybe just say, “Okay, I fucked up,” and move on. Nobody’s saying you’re hitler, just that you did something racist. Anyways, Silva has been swatted on the fanny by UEFA over the racist tweet, and I’m sure we’ll all move on. Pep Guardiola could’ve squashed it right away had he just had Silva apologize instead of doubling down on how it wasn’t racist. The logo for Conguitos itself is racist, so comparing anybody to it is going to be dabbling in racism. I think that’s the key here – everybody feels like they’re being accused of being the worst racist in history, when a lot of times people are just saying, “whoa, don’t dabble in racism” which is a good thing to say because that’s a bad look. (Also perhaps this could go without saying, but your African friends don’t look like racist caricatures; you have just been conditioned to think a certain way, which causes you to make that connection. Disentangle that shit, bitch.) [RAVEN]

#5: ILKAY GUNDOGAN (up from #11 last time) – Fuck—here I am having to write about a Turko-German dude what with Trump and Erdogan doing Midnight Express sex-game international geopolitics role playing recently. I’ve long been fascinated by the socio-historical connections between Germany and Turkey. Based on what I know of World War I, it seems like the slow-collapse Ottoman Empire was looking towards Imperial Germany as a model for holding itself together, up to and including being Germany’s best bud in that there conflict—and I’m admittedly going to respect any country that damn-near suffocated Winston Churchill with its collective national stank ballsack (see: Gallipoli). But then I also remember reading about the rise (resurrection? reveal?) of a new far-right in 1990s Germany and that there was this popular underground pre-Internet floppy-disk video game wherein the Fourth Reich was tasked with genociding (via concentration camp and gas chamber) Turks (not Jews, as the Third Reich had tried to do the first time around). Apparently, this choice was an amalgamation of not being able to outright have the victims be Jews, to skirt some heavy penalty legal repercussions, and that significant Turkish immigration to Germany in the 1990s was viewed by the more assholish elements of white German society as a problem. So, go ahead and make shitty video games about exterminating Turks. I’m guessing Ilkay here grew up with that environment simmering around him. And man, what is it with these Turkish-German dudes kissing Erdogan’s ring? Seems like there’s a solid 8-10 Mussolini-style “strongmen” dictators flexing the world over, and if I’m being honest, it’s mighty disgusting seeing sports figures (footballers, MMA lunkheads, etc.) essentially swearing their fealty to some puffed up dickhead. Y’all acting like white American baseball players and concussion ball coaches with this shit. Don’t act like white American baseball players and concussion ball coaches. Anyway, Gundogan seems like that oh-so-necessary box-to-box move-and-harry central midfielder that’s a necessity for any balanced club. I see that he came to ManShitty after a long stint at Borussia Dortmund, which makes me feel bad for that club. Seems like their just the upper-best-of-the-rest feeder club for the EPL at this point (Klopp, et. al.). And yet they won the Champions League themselves back in 1997. Man [Ure/Shitty], do I hate the EPL. [PAUL]

#6: DAVID SILVA (same as last time) – David Silva's time as Premier League premier club top midfielder is coming to an end. He's still the club captain, but that time may come to an end as well, and at this point they are likely just trying to ride things out with everybody (Pep, Silva, the rest of the posse) looking good. Silva's already been lined up as David Beckham's big major transfer for the expansion Inter Miami club in the MLS, furthering American soccer football as the retirement destination of big names who want to help progressive neoliberal Americans with hella discretionary income cosplay a real football league. [RAVEN]

#7: AYMERIC LAPORTE (up from #14 last time) – Alongside Ederson, another ManShitty player that I tentatively can’t help but like. Got a name like either some 70s/80s French filmmaker churning out the brooding nihilism through hot pale women with hairy armpits who can’t be bothered to wear clothes 18 hours out of every day or the head of some south France medieval penitent sect into self-flagellation and omni-directional orgies. Basque origins and time spent at Atletico Bilbao are of course gonna lead to associations with another central defender, Goiko the Butcher—the dude that almost wasted Maradona before he could become MARADONA. To be clear, I don’t condone football players trying to wreck the careers of other players (well, mostly, because Gazza and Landon Donovan could’ve/should’ve got fucked), but for the genius of Diego to transcend, you definitely need an absolute animal of a central defender/defensive midfielder a hair-breadth away from taking all that they hold dear. Playing for ManShitty, I really doubt that Laporte has that kind of psychic weight in him. [PAUL]

#8: SERGIO AGUERO (up from #9 last time) – So I have to admit I actually enjoy watching Aguero, because he’s a very non-European striker who can’t really avoid just fucking daggering other human beings with goals. Aguero was not reared in European academies, and in fact came from the streets of Buenos Aires, actually being the youngest player to crack Argentina’s top division back in the day, breaking the record that had been set famously a few decades before by Diego Maradona. And thus far, Aguero has had the loyalty of a global southerner, only playing for Atletico Madrid and now Man City. It’s always so interesting to note the style of play for guys from different parts of the world and the various environments that entails. Aguero will not stop being Aguero. There seemed to be a period of learning to accept each other betwixt him and Pep Guardiola, and I’m not sure that’s completely settled, because Guardiola has a European ego, and expects everything to bend to his way – maybe not break, but definitely bend. Aguero is gonna be Aguero, and even at 31, you have to let him be that. And on top of that, despite the manufactured greatness of this Man City club, even within that context, they’re greatest footballing gods spirit warrior moment was the last day of Aguero’s first season, when he nailed the winning goal in stoppage time to seal the title. He is a rare old world god of football still trying to find a way to shine in global consumer systems, where old world gods are not as worshipped as golden idols, which must always be shiny and new. I really look forward to whatever the next phase of Aguero’s career, and holy fuck I hope I am laying about on my couch watching him play in Copa Libertadores five or six years from now as an Argentine swan song back in his native land. [RAVEN]

#9: NICOLAS OTAMENDI (down from #5 last time; plus ONE METAPHYSICAL STAR previously, for Manchester City on 15-Nov-2017) – Another north-of-20-million bank draft, another player of recognized quality. But no soul that I can see. Not that Nick-O here doesn’t have one, but that if he does it will never, ever, never see the light of soul-day in Manchester. Though I do read that Otamendi was willing to play at right back for the national team, such is his devotion to the Argentine cause. I watched that Maradona HBO documentary the other night, and while it was just ok, it did get me to thinking about my perceptions of players dedication to their national squads. We hem and haw and bullshit in these here screeds about wanting to see this or that player, with the necessary lineal eligibility, turn out for a country other than the one of his birth. But truth be told, I don’t really know how much any of it matters to European-based players anymore. I have no concrete evidence, but it’s difficult not to sense that most players just want the exposure of playing for a highly ranked national team and any other considerations are secondary at best. Relatedly, players with no real affinity-connections to a national squad will turn out when they seem that they have no other international options (for instance, a current regular Scotland international that was ignored for years and almost threw in his lot with the USMNT because his grandmother was born there and stayed for maybe five minutes before moving back to Canada/Scotland—and damn, talk about a footballing rock and proverbial hard-place). But 1) back in the day (1980s, maybe 90s) players really seemed to give a damn and international competitions seemed to be taken hella serious, even to the occlusion of club football; and 2) South American players, for whatever reason, seemed to be DOWN especially for repping their national teams. Maybe Maradona’s spirit warrior decimation of England in 1986 forever linked Argentine players to the national team—as if you cannot ever disrespect/reject the calling because of it. The single greatest sporting moment of a white-ass colonial power getting comprehensively wrecked will do that. [PAUL]

#10: FERNANDINHO (down from #1 last time; thus has ONE METAPHYSICAL STAR previously) – This Brazilian midfielder has had a weird career. The meat of his footballing life wasn’t played in Brazil or in England or Spain or France, but in the Ukraine, where he was considered one of the best foreigners in that crazy cat of a country. With Shakhtar Donetsk he spent eight years living it up as a Brazilian sex god in the Ukraine, which means he must have plowed through their spectacular women, living as a bronze king in this anything goes country. His black Brazilian blood mixed with girls who look like exotic panthers like Mila Kunis or Milla Jovovich could have created a perfect new race, but instead he decided to come to England, where everything is pale white and limp. There is Spirit Warrior energy in there somewhere, but he made a poor choice and that’s a goddamn shame. [NEIL]

#11: OLEKSANDR ZINCHENKO (up from #20 last time) – Hockey name, what the fuck? [RAVEN]

#12: KEVIN DE BRUYNE (down from #8 last time) – Like Alderweireld at Spurs, here we have another white Belgian dude that I’m going to dislike. In fact, I pretty much hate De Bruyne. Even though he’s Belgian, I tend to lump him in with the likes of John Stones and Harry Kane—footballers that seem somehow Extra White. I read this popular culture/film studies monograph once that rather convincingly talked about how Americans, while very much enmeshed in our own white supremacist imperial maintenance and ambitions still had a mistrust (contempt even) for this perceived extreme white “aryan” European-ness. [Neal (not this one) King’s Heroes in Hard Times—I can’t believe I’m actually putting a fucking scholarly citation in this shit] It’s why, supposedly, Gary Busey (and now his son Jake) got traction playing arch-villains. It’s also probably why that fair-pale dude that got his start on Friday Night Lights is now getting paid for playing contemptable sociopaths on Breaking Bad and Black Mirror. So maybe I am pop-culture poisoned into to disliking De Bruyne on that count. But all that said, he also reminds me (with a more than passing resemblance) to one of the shithead nazi punks that infested my high school back in the day—a dude that we mutually probably came closest to incarceration over some heavy violence we may have visited on each other. Seriously, I tried to set up a hillbilly feud-grade family ambush on his ass once. So also not helping my perceptions of a dude that, according to his bio, may have a pretty direct and recent connection to African colonialism (his mom was born there). But in keeping with my wack metrics for de-colonialist metaphysics, if Kev was tearing up in midfield for Burundi in the African Cup of Nations, I’d probably be positively impressed. I realize that makes no goddamned sense, but my heart wants a jumbled up world. Come to think of it, the only in-real-life Belgian person I’ve ever known was in college, some Tilda Swinton-looking older arty-woman that was best friends/bi-sexual buddies with this girl I was seeing. They totally tried to get some threesome action going, but I was painfully yokel-ignorant in my youth—like what fool questions mid-buck-naked sex suggestion that said Belgian friend should be called over to come hangout because she was “flirting with us all night”? Shaking my damn head. So back to De Bruyne (but I guess we never left)—supposedly he’s one of the top ten players in world football, but he’s a pasty-ass Belgian white dude that plays for Manchester City. The only positive thing I can say about him is that he indirectly reminded me of a threesome that I almost had some 20 years ago (which probably would’ve been pretty damn hot, because one of the women was Mediterranean-heritage and thick and the other was all Belgian and pale and thin-fit, so that contrast—that aforementioned “jumbled world” I’m wanting, sounds sweet). [PAUL]

#13: RIYAD MAHREZ (up from #22 last time; also previously ranked #9 for Leicester City on 15-Jan-2019) – As an avid follower of African national football, I was on the Mahrez bandwagon when he was at Leicester. Algerian football tends towards brutality on the back end, but is boosted by the flair of guys like Mahrez up front. In fact, the season after Leicester one the PL, I was pretty amped to see both Mahrez and Islam Slimani at Leicester, but they couldn’t recreate the lightning in a bottle of the previous season. That Mahrez/Jamie Vardy combo remains an insanely scrappy all-time striker combo. When the Mahrez-to-Man City talk started happening, it made perfect sense, but also felt exactly like when Wilfried Bony was fucking domineering the Earth at Swansea City, went to Man City, and was relegated to sitting around, losing his fire, and plummeting back to mortal existence. I feared the same for Mahrez at Man City, but somehow he’s been able to maintain fire. Perhaps that was the benefit of the shared strike force with Vardy, learning to be the man without being the man, so to speak. And as Man City has struggled (lol, only in second), Mahrez has stepped as the go-to guy. He might be their savior, which is extra interesting at global metaphysical level, because Liverpool is led by Mo Salah, and Egypt and Algeria have a notorious football blood feud. [RAVEN]

#14: GABRIEL JESUS (down from #13 last time) – Shit, when a Brazilian shows up named Jesus you have to consider strong Spirit Warrior potential. And this dude who grew up playing street football is now getting a chance to do it big boy style at Man City. He even wears the number 33 because that’s the age that Jesus, the other Jesus, you know, the good Jewish one, was crucified. I can get down with that because I too thought that I would die at 33, but I didn’t. I’m 39 now, and I have moved past Jesus and become Krishna. But Gabriel Jesus is a dude who can certainly channel deep Spirit Warrior energy, because Jesus was a Spirit Warrior. Krishna is a Spirit Warrior. I’m Neil and also Krishna and a Spirit Warrior, so I can tell when these dudes come around. And that is what Gabriel Jesus here brings to Manchester City. [NEIL]

#15: LEROY SANE (down from #7 last time) – Leroy Sane is a German, who could also rep Senegal if he wanted to, as his dad is a Senegalese footballer, and his mom is a German Olympian, so this dude has a lot of strong blood flowing through him. That he chose Germany to represent speaks poorly to his Spirit Warrior energies. I have nothing against Leroy Sane. A dude follows his mama’s way more often than he does his father’s and so Leroy Sane is a good German.  He is also a member of Manchester City, which means that he is doubly vexed. For there are no good Germans, and there are no good Manchester City people either. That he has chose this life like the sewer rat Raheem Sterling is a shame. So fuck Leroy Sane. The Senegalese don’t need your poison. [NEIL]

#16: JOHN STONES (down from #12 last time) – I will be honest, I am the last person to finish my part for this write-up and I'm not feeling it. I was gonna write a long thing about how many trophies I won with John Stones in FM15, which is still the version I play because the clutch hasn't gone out in it yet. But then when i thought "stones" I just wanted to listen to U.G.K., so I did. And I don't plan on stopping. [RAVEN]

#17: VINCENT KOMPANY (down from #15 last time) – Kompany was once the main dude at Man City, a hero to their legions of fake ass fans. But injuries seemed to chase him, and age started creeping in, and it became an amazing feat if you had Vincent Kompany in the XI for two months straight. He became a hobbled version of himself, though still a club leader (allegedly). He did help them win their domestic treble last season, which was sort of a swan song/fitness test for Kompany, but it became clear his best days were behind him. That meant it was time for a return home, which he did, signing on to be Anderlecht’s player-manager back in Belgium. However, they started this season’s campaign with their worst beginning in two decades, so Kompany resigned from managerial duties and is now just a player. That’s gotta be a weird situation, though he has retained his captain’s armband. There’s no denying his greatness as a defender in his prime, and how instrumental he was for some of Man City’s high points. He also joined Man City in that initial rush of signings after the Abu Dhabi money got infused into the club, so had very much been the face of that era for the club. Perhaps that’s had an effect on the squad as well, and is part of why they seem to be struggling, relatively speaking. But also I am a sucker for dudes who begin somewhere in a real life, transcend their origins and blow up on the world stage, as Kompany did, only to return home, as he has done at Anderlecht, where he began his career at 17, after joining their youth academy at 14. And to be honest, despite his almost comical ability to always get injured, I liked Kompany too. This Belgian golden age of players was led by him as well, and that’s been a fun bunch to watch. But age tombstone piledrives all of us eventually, whether we want to sell for it or not. [RAVEN]

#18: DANILO (down from #17 last time) – Another Brazilian, Danilo has already moved on to Juventus, leaving Manchester like any right minded dude should do. He is now in Italy, where his caramel flesh can mingle with the dark exoticos that mingle with the Moorish when you get to Sicily. All to make a glorious new hue of human flesh, golden and dark, not like the shriveled up pink people in Manchester. Danilo has a chance to make a real life for himself now that he has escaped the pink people, but the pink people hang on like parasites and it will be interesting to see how the Spirit Warrior energy gets mixed and fucked with here. [NEIL]

#19: RODRIGO – Rodrigo was Man City’s most recent “record transfer fee”, to be broken next transfer window most likely. Actually, let’s recap record transfer fees for this club since the emirate money came into play. First Robinho came from Real Madrid for 32.5 million ampersands. (I am a fucking American so I don’t have the pound sign and my pound sign is now a hashtag, so I’m calling it an ampersand.) That was an English record. Then July of 2011, Sergio Aguero came over from Atletico Madrid for 38 million ampersands; followed by Raheem Sterling in July of 2015 for 44 million ampersands, Keven De Bruyne from Wolfsburg August 2015 for 54 million ampersands. Things settled until Pep came into town, and January 2018, he got Aymeric Laporte for 57 million ampersands from Athletic Bilbao, Riyad Mahrez from Leicester for 60 million ampersands, and the Rodrigo this past July for 62.8, like I said. Also he used to be called just Rodri but now is Rodrigo. Rodri seems like a stupid thing to call an expensive human, tbh. [RAVEN]

#20: PHIL FODEN (up from #24 last time) – Foden has set a lot of those "youngest English player to ever feature in a Champions League knockout round away on a Wednesday afternoon in history" type things, but also he is at Man City, which means he is doomed. Of course, Pep be saying shit like "he's gonna be our boy for the next decade" but how the fuck can Pep even say that? Few people manage that long, much less a guy like Pep who will get bored if they dominate or get fired if they do anything less than dominate. I imagine Foden will eventually have a long illustrious stint at Arsenal, and then finish out with like Southampton or some shit. But the great thing is he's a Stockport boy, so you know there's fucking weirdo Hatters supporters for Stockport County who have Foden on their Football Manager Stockport County, winning the FA Cup, sitting around naked with a towel under their ass on their shitty computer desk chair so their stink ass doesn't make it worse than it already is. WAIT A SECOND ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME? [RAVEN]

#21: BENJAMIN MENDY (down from #19 last time) – Seemingly talented left-back (a position, as mentioned earlier, in which a truly capable player is as rare as the storied hen’s teeth), that’s struggling to establish himself in the Man Shitty team owing to some ugly injury problems. Like Ederson, he’s another player that for all his seeming talent, I can’t wrap my mind around Man Shitty putting 50 million pounds on the table. Dude is in his mid-twenties early peak, with only a handful of international caps and one exceptional season at Monaco (who, like Borussia Dortmund, seem to get strip-mined of talent on the regular). I realize that Man Shitty are but the most egregious example of a “business model” run rampant in the EPL (buy and horde all the best established and speculated talent in world football with a septic-flood stream of television dollars, American Running Dog Capitalist/Russian Oligarch/Middle Eastern Oil Sheikh cash, and merchandising deals—all whilst treating their fans like so many half-dissolved urinal cakes) but I’m desperately hoping that this is the season their shit, in particular, comes completely apart—and by “apart” I mean that they come in second to Liverpool (have to have reasonable goals in this age of nihilism). Mendy is also in the news of late because he (supposedly) shrugged his shoulders over teammate Silva social media comparing him to some Spanish variant of the damn British golliwog racist mascot. As an Unamerican American, I can’t pretend to know the complete dynamics of European racist iconography—although I have a notion that as much as Euro-folk tsk-tsk (often understandably) over American savagery and general jacked-uppedness, this is one particular discursive field where they need some hard self-examination. But shit, that one Griezmann dude pulled blackface more thoroughly than a “progressive” Virginia governor (in other words, Canadian Prime Minister-Class) and he suffered next to no fallout. I bet the Touré brothers would’ve set aside their customary professional sweetness and beat his ass, or at least I’d hope so. [PAUL]

#22: FABIAN DELPH (down from #16 last time) – Brought up through the English system, Fabian Delph first poked out at Leeds United before going to Aston Villa. From there he became a Manchester City man, and now has been sold out to Everton, making him a barely prized whore. I also see that he has a DUI or whatever the fuck it’s called in England, drink driving if my wiki skills are on point. Drink driving is no good, but if you make a game out of it, maybe you might have something. Drink and then drive your ass off. That’s the game. It ain’t no joke. But sadly, for Fabian Delph, he is indeed a joke. [NEIL]

#23: JOAO CANCELO – I accidentally had Arijanet Muric on my list, and forgot to replace him with Joao Cancelo, so I’m just going to write about Muric instead. More Yugoslavian diaspora, again from Switzerland, as the young Muric grew up a Swiss. He played for the Montenegrin national team early on, but was one of the slew of dudes the Kosovan national team recruited as they gained UEFA recognition. Muric moved to the Kosovan team, and one of my many international preferences for the ultimate football club line-up is an eastern European (preferably Balkan) GK. Muric’s only 20, and got recalled from a loan last season as Claudio Bravo got thrust into a starting role, so Muric was the back-up, and also played in a number of League Cup matches. This season, he is on loan again, at the Championship with Nottingham Forest, but he will likely either be their GK of the future, or someone they cash out to a non-Big Six Premier League club at some point. And then eventually he’ll get to play for Qarabag or Astana or some cool ass sounding shit like that, where you know motherfuckers, despite being actual Caucasians, are not too goddamned white to serve goat. MORE GOAT, MOTHERFUCKERS. I WANT TO EAT ALL THE GOAT. [RAVEN] 

#24: CLAUDIO BRAVO (down from #18 last time) – I dig the grizzled old Chilean, who came up with Colo-Colo in his native home, with the nickname Condor Chico. (He does look about like a condor.) He played in Spain for almost a decade for Real Sociedad, before transferring to Barcelona, where he excelled for two seasons. This led to a transfer to Man City, but his transition to the English Premier League was unforgiving, as a couple high profile errors caused the failure demons to swirl, and the public to turn on him. With the younger, more promising Ederson just sitting there waiting to be played, it was only a gaffe or two more before ol’ Pep relegated Bravo to cup duty and backing up the younger Brazilian. I believe his contract runs out at the end of this season, so like with all South American players in their final playing days, I anxiously look forward to him in Copa Libertadores next year. (FYI, Copa Libertadores is far superior to UEFA Champions League, in my opinion; don’t at me.) [RAVEN]

#25: ERIC GARCIA – Eric Garcia is the perfect name for a tinder date, and god why do we do this every couple weeks? I am bored to death at work, but have to sit here because that’s what work is – being available to do shit for somebody else. Can’t society hurry up and end? Anyways, my perfect tinder date is a teen Spaniard, obviously brought in as Pep grooms him, for various things. In footballing terms, it is grooming a crew to be your back-up in the locker room, of same nation and language. But idk, look at Pep… could be grooming dudes for anything for all I know. I don’t trust Pep, like not at all. Little weasel-looking dudes with weirdo nicknames like “Pep” tend to be huge degenerates who also have large egos. One or the other may be tolerable in normal environment but a large ego that’s also a gigantic degenerate? That always ends horribly for everyone involved, though that type of person is also super Type A-plus and ends up being great things like the manager of Manchester City or President or discovers America or some fucked up shit that seems great but actually is not if you parse it all out and realize how many souls have to be stepped on to achieve it. [RAVEN]