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.

Wednesday, March 31

SONG OF THE DAY: Dickies Black Chucks

 

As a young poor, I never had brand name shoes as a kid. Motherfuckin’ kids were relentless too, even poor kids who somehow had nice shit. In fact, those kids were the worst about being relentless, mocking your “bobos” back in the day. Where I grew up, 8th grade was in the high school, and I begged and pleaded with my folks to buy me a fuckin’ pair of black Chuck Taylors for 8th grade. They weren’t but like $20 back then, but I guess that was still big money to my folks, with three kids, and a mostly unemployed dad who also had drinking and drug habits. They got them though, and man I was so fucking proud. Some rich kid had a summer pool party at his house, and I convinced my mom I could wear them early to that, like a couple weeks before school started. I swore I was styling. I don’t think nobody noticed shit though to be honest. That’s the problem with norms – you don’t notice normal shit, but man do you ever fucking clown on abnormal shit. Anyways, fuck norms. And sadly, there used to be a couple things I stubbornly prided myself on – never having paid for a haircut, never having bought Nikes, never having flown on an airplane. The past decade’s class transition into bougie-adjacent bullshit, has meant I’ve done all three, though still pretty minimally. I’ve got some work to do to get myself right again. Honing the machetes as we speak though, so don’t worry. You can’t ever assimilate fucked up feral hearts whose mind won’t listen to their brains, which get washed too regularly. Heart remains dirty with the truth. That’s why “brainwashed” is a word but “heartwashed” ain’t. Heart is pure (if you have it still) and ultimately doesn’t need cleansing, because all that dirt and grime that gives you heart, that’s reality. Or some shit. Who the fuck knows?

MY N4TVR4L W4ND3RLVST...

my natural wanderlust 
got tied down by lines, widgets, 
and wi-fi’s barbed wire fences 

Tuesday, March 30

SONG OF THE DAY: Hands


Sometimes I still miss Richmond, but then other times I also tell myself it’s nothing like it used to be. They’ve gentrified the gentrification at this point. I was thinking about how so many suburban punks who went to VCU became the first wave of gentrification from the late ‘80s through the ‘90s, and how that forever altered Richmond in ways that most of the folks probably don’t feel complicit in. In fact, the former lead singer of Avail constantly says “Richmond not RVA!” as if the RVA shorthand itself was guilty of gentrification alone, when it really was just building off the foundation that all those punks laid down previously. The city was hyped as the Austin of the East Coast or the Portland of the East Coast multiple times over. The only reason I probably didn’t help contribute to this gentrification then was that I didn’t have any familial wealth to borrow off of to buy a house in Fulton Hill or Southside or Northside or wherever the fuck else all those punks bought up places together. Gentrification has fucked up so much of America’s urban environments, and yet almost everybody who is directly involved in that gentrification process somehow feels like they’re completely innocent of it, and it’s other, wealthier, less cool people who did it. Being a fortysomething punk is about as bourgeoisie as it gets most of the time. The American pyramid scam – you never see the people below you you’re standing on top of; you only look up at those above you who you blame for having it all. 

Monday Night Rumble of The Discourse - episode 7

We returned to our abandoned concrete factory repurposed as a battleground for The Discourse last night, after taking last week off in observance of the spring equinox. Comments sent in to our team complained about the lack of female representation, and the fact a woman has yet to win The Discourse. This became a theme in last night’s episode. Drop your thoughts on any of this in the comments.

H4RD T0 1M4G1N3 4LL TH3S3...

hard to imagine all these 
half-abandoned buildings once 
housed the hopes of so many 

Monday, March 29

TH1NGS F4LL 4P4RT R3G4RDL3SS...

things fall apart regardless 
of how plumb they got put up; 
we never notice fault lines 

Sunday, March 28

SONG OF THE DAY: Mudzimu Ndiringe


People are selfish, and generally only thinking about themselves. I want everybody to leave me the fuck alone. This also is selfish. It's a vicious cycle, simply existing as a human on this fucked up planet.

TH3 W0RLD WH1CH G0T BV1LT 4R0VND...

the world which got built around 
me ain't always welcoming; 
"I'm just passing through" mantras 

Saturday, March 27

Friday, March 26

SONG OF THE DAY: Love Rap


I have decorated my beard with forsythia blossoms, for it is spring. Love is in the air, which I’m allergic to, so I’ve been taking drugs for that. My eyes sting, but I can’t feel them.

4N0TH3R M1DN1GHT 3SC4P3...

another midnight escape 
a couple hours down the road, 
to soak up aesthetic vibes 

Thursday, March 25

B34VT1FY1NG D34D 3NDS BY...

beautifying dead ends by 
any means necessary, 
deemed bad by law and order 

Wednesday, March 24

SONG OF THE DAY: Drums of War


Forgot to write something really clever earlier for this, and could do it now, but I like to post these with the sunset, and I need to feed the cats and then go on a walk. And I know how my walks go - I might end up being gone for 20 minutes but sit on the block in the yard for three hours, staring at the sky; or I might end up walking to Gladstone 30 miles away. I might follow a logging path and discover a portal to another realm (again). Walks have a lot of possibilities, especially when you are descended from chaos monkeys. So instead of writing something clever, I wrote this. That's why I'll never be a verified bluecheck. Then again, verified bluechecks is digital eugenics, and they don't allow the descendants of chaos monkeys anyways. Algorithms were one of Hitler's favorite scientist's favorite creations.

TH3 GR34T3ST 4RT1STS M0R3 TH4N...

the greatest artists more than 
likely mostly unknown, lost 
in brilliant obscurity 

Tuesday, March 23

Monday, March 22

SONG OF THE DAY: Pana (chopped not slopped)

Acknowledged culture and actual culture don’t actually cross over all that obviously. A marginal tendril of our meritocracy myths is that the best, most important shit ends up being what we looks back on 25 years as “culture”. But that’s often determined by the power structures we live by, or means of consuming culture in our capitalist ass system. Like superhero movies… that shit is gonna be considered huge because it’s such a giant, expensive part of our American culture. You can argue with random ass people you only met once about superhero movie bullshit pretty easily. I’ve hardly watched them, and wasn’t a big comic book kid either, because I couldn’t afford shit as a kid (baseball cards took my limited surplus collecting shit as a kid income), and I’m not one to drop $10 on going to a movie either, so for the most part I’m too contrarian to be part of the superhero movie demographic. I guess it’s not really contrarian, because I don’t do it in a reactionary way; I just don’t care. A dude I work with got superhero advent socks and was stoked, and I was confused as hell as to how we sat in the same general vicinity of each other. Identity built through consumer culture is such a weird fucking aspect to life in this late American Empire, especially as it’s incubated in the internet Petri dish, where hardcores hassle newbs, and the standard American college fraternity system of extreme hazing has been replicated in relatively simple shit like “enjoying a thing”.
DJ Screw was a minor blip culturally, and is rightfully remembered as the originator of chopped and screwed music, and I’ve listened to a ton of that shit. I’ve got actual Screw tapes from the Screwed Up Shop (well, my kid took them, to be honest), and have most all the mixtapes on an external hard drive. This doesn’t mean shit, and doesn’t get me any special passes into secret societies. Basically it just means I’m a meticulous dork. But there’s a lot that’s grown off that simple “chopped and screwed” concept, including other dudes from Houston performing the same way, most notably OG Ron C (and also Michael 5000 Watts). Ron C has formed a whole ChopStars crew who have continued the movement, chopping and screwing (calling it “chopped not slopped”) their way through many more genres. But you’ve also got the discovery of Sonido Dueñez in Monterrey, who was selling slowed down mixtapes of cumbia music there at the flea market, back before Screw’s heyday, although completely separately. Most of these mixtapes have never seen the internet yet. (Trust me, I’m still a meticulous dork.) And on top of this, there’s individuals worldwide now experimenting with chopping and screwing various music in a multitude of programs, not to mention people (like me) just straight up slowing music down for a new listen, like I do playing old 45s at 33 rpms on my turntables, loud as fuck, scaring the cats, as Charlie Rich ominously bellows about going behind closed doors.
All of this is to say, what is considered “culture” is still subjective, and society doesn’t give a fuck about anything in any real meritocratic way. The fact everybody you know will watch the same new shows on Netflix or HBO Max or whatever shows us this – we are all very much motivated by what is throw in front of us, in Pavlovian ways. University of Houston has a DJ Screw collection, but to be honest, even having academia validate you doesn’t make you memorable culture. There’s a lot of academia at this point, with it being a pretty big industry that whole “go to college and get a degree” foundational tenet of the meritocracy. I’ve been guilty of that one myself, thinking, “Oh shit, somebody taught my book in a college class!” What does that even mean really though? It’s all so random and lacking any deep meaning.
Unless it gets stuck in people’s minds, without having to be maintained. Superhero shit lives in people’s heads, but that takes constant marketing and pushing new stuff out. The market is manufactured to an extent, like teaching kids to ride a bike, going downhill. Eventually it gains enough momentum that it just keeps going. But there’s also a good chance without the marketing continually pushing it along, and keeping it propped up, the whole thing will crash and just get left laying there in a broken hump.
I tend to imagine real culture as honeysuckle vine-esque, in that it will go uphill, even with nobody looking, and continuing growing in neglected corners of society. That’s actual culture, because it can sustain itself without marketing, or manufactured involvement. I’d suggest chopped and screwed music is a way more sustainable culture than superhero movies, because I know like half a dozen people chopping and screwing music, personally. I don’t know nobody making no superhero movies.
That’s actually sad. WHY ISN’T ANYBODY MAKING THEIR OWN SUPERHERO MOVIES? It’s because we think it requires too much money, and a certain level of special effects. We’ve been trained to price ourselves out of entertaining ourselves. But that’s a whole ‘nother meandering essay, to be honest. Then again, Nollywood laughs at this whole tangent of wonder, on a monthly basis. Culture is not the practice of doing what is acceptable to do so much as doing what the fuck you want to do, regardless, to enjoy yourselves. And the practices that stick around are culture, and the ones that only stick around in certain marginal environments are fringe culture, and the ones that get constantly marketed so consistently that we come to expect them and react accordingly, that’s our pop culture. But I have so much more respect for that Nollywood mentality of, “fuck it, let’s make a superhero movie by the Friday after next!” than I do the American empirical practice of getting the proper funding beforehand to do everything in the most accepted and respected manners, to get the best “quality” (which again, is also still subjective rather than objective believe it or not). Just make shit, fuck thinking too hard about how it could look more validated if you did it in more complicated and expensive ways.
All of this is preliminary ramblings to share a song from a chopped not slopped by OG Ron C disciple, SlimK, where he did chop but not slop a bunch of African bangers. Also like a honeysuckle vine, I eventually get there. And this is there.

T3ND T0 F33L T4NGL3D VP 1N...

 

tend to feel tangled up in 
grey most days, making to-do 
lists where nothing gets crossed out 

Sunday, March 21

B4L4NC1NG 1NDVSTR10VS...

balancing industrious 
thoughts with “fuck it all, I ain’t 
doing a damn thing” respites 

Saturday, March 20

W4SN'T BL3SS3D W1TH W34LTH, BVT 1'V3...

wasn’t blessed with wealth, but I’ve 
always had the good luck of 
ancestral angels watching 

Thursday, March 18

SONG OF THE DAY: Mi Abuelo (rebajada)

 

slow it down slow it down slow it down
you ain’t got to keep up with all this shit
slow it the fuck down
stop for a minute if you got to
and forget to count the minute
sit there and look around
wait til you hear five different birds
say seven different things
let the moon come up
eight or nine times
then get back up
if it’s still worth chasing

TH3 B0TTL3S 1 L3FT B3H1ND...

the bottles I left behind 
used to help blur my vision, 
dulling most painful angles 

Wednesday, March 17

SONG OF THE DAY: Mali Kady

 

Tried to get my shit together today, but it didn’t work. I should’ve picked a smaller task, or broken it up, but nah, I wanted to get the entirety of all my shit together, all at once, today. It didn’t work. My eye hurts now though, and I’ve gotta go to the grocery store, and it’s not warm like last week so I can’t rock it with the windows down. Fuck it, might open the windows, blast the heat, and pump up Luka Productions loud as fuck, stop at the river and sit on a rock until the rock says, “ain’t you supposed to be getting some groceries?” and then go get those groceries. Time it right and they might have an 8-piece of fried chicken marked down for quick sale. Then I’ll ride home and throw the chicken bones out the window, as is the way of my people.

W1LL 4LW4YS F1ND 4 GR3YH0VND...

 

will always find a Greyhound 
before the kudzu gets too 
tight a grip round my ankles 

Tuesday, March 16

Monday Night Rumble of The Discourse - episode 6

For the past six weeks, every Monday night at 8 pm EST, we've had a Monday Night Rumble of The Discourse, where a collection of political entities comprised of actual politicians and some political stereotypes do battle in an abandoned concrete factory. I've hyped it on my social media feeds but have forgotten to post it here. Well here you go - the March 15, 2021, episode of Monday Night Rumble of The Discourse.


Previous winners:
Joe Rogan Podcast fan
President Joe Biden
Antifa Black Block
Senator Bernie Sanders
Covid 19

1'V3 B33N BL3SS3D T0 B3 B4CK R04DS...

I’ve been blessed to be back roads 
since birth; born Raven, cursed with 
that self-trickster wanderlust 

Monday, March 15

Sunday, March 14

SPR1NG T1M3 TH0VGHTS 0F M4CH3T3S...

spring time thoughts of machetes 
hacking unnecessary 
growth, both real and imagined 

Saturday, March 13

Friday, March 12

SONG OF THE DAY: 100 Years Ago (Piano Demo)

Over a century ago, the house I live in was some sort of supervisor’s house for the soapstone quarry down the hill. The old road is my driveway, and I can walk the dog down paths back there still that go down to some abandoned and gutted buildings, plus a lot of debris. This was one of the first places with electricity in America, apparently, and the smokestacks from two defunct power plants are visible a couple stones throws away, both of which got washed out in hurricane floods in 1969. The area itself got washed out economically by the Great Depression though, long before that. This quarry operation used to employ thousands of people, had a local narrow gauge train line that ran between quarries, and ran to connect to north-south mainline a few miles west of here, and the east-west mainline a few miles south of here. There’s an old stone church a half mile away, which used to be Episcopal but is not occupied by Mennonites, though not Old Order because there’s cars parked there on Sundays, not buggies. Houses everywhere are old company houses, strings of them identical looking still, even though a hundred years old, in varying states of care or disrepair. And there’s soapstone slag everywhere, giant rocks piled here or there that got blasted and cut but wasn’t up to snuff to be used back when it was used. It’s all a really neat and beautiful place, but one that was literally built and blasted by business, left to rot for the most part, and has gradually become one with the Earth again, though full of litter. I find old bottles all the time on my walks through woods and along the river, and have been writing poems on the more appropriate bottles.
The river right below my house, where the bridge and one of the power plants got washed out in 1969, still flows like always, diverted by the dam that’s still there but not powering anything now. I wonder what the river’s decline in this area was before the dam, how steep was it originally? Seems like the land slanted hard there, so I imagine there was a natural waterfall at one point that caused them to put a dam there. A hundred years seems like such a solid slice of time, but it’s similar to flying to Chicago, in my opinion. The years are still relatively arbitrary chunks of time, although the days represent one cycle of sun and night, and the year is meant to mark a full circle around the sun in our little corner of infinite space. But all the minutes and seconds get lost, and you just end up a hundred years away, like landing at O’Hare, missing all the little pieces and parts that got you there, from point A to point B. Chances are I won’t know “one hundred years” personally, at least not as this collection of molecules as their currently arranged into a dirtgod raven mack. Humans chase “knowing” more than their fair share of space on the timeline through reciting history and writing shit down like mad, but when I get lost in the tiny steps of walking along the river and through the woods, not keeping track of them nor wanting to, it seems like I might be happier as a human if I let that shit go entirely – all the minutes and hours and days and years, stop fretting over age or wasted time or grey hairs signifying failures of fulfilling mechanistic checklists of being a “productive” member of society. I ain’t got to do shit really. Time is a goddamn chain, tying me up in the yard of my life, leaving me stuck there, barking at the river down the hill that I want to go run to and dip my bare feet in, because I’m trapped. My oldest kid has a concept they always drive home called Time Destroyers United, and I’ve come to love that concept – just destroying time, not in some big revolutionary explosion of cataclysmic change, but just little pokes and stabs and monkey wrenches, sabotaging our concepts of time wherever we can. So I hope you destroyed some time today, and also enjoyed yourself, free from clocks, or phones, or clock phones, or phone clocks, or anything.

3MVL4T1NG S1MPL3 TR33S...

 

emulating simple trees 
rather than complicated 
but haphazard power grids 

Thursday, March 11

SONG OF THE DAY: For God So Loved The World

 

I saw a picture of a chunky white couple drinking beer in their yard in Portsmouth, Ohio, on the internet today, and they were throwing empty bottles up at a police drone. I am ten years sober, but I would ask of you all, that if you are outside drinking, alcohol or not, and you see a police drone flying over you, you best be throwing your empty bottles up at it. Maybe that’s why we get everything in plastic now, because they’re not projectiles no more. Back in the day, I loved sitting on my shitty apartment’s balcony and throwing our empty Mickey’s bottles across the street at the pesticide place. And today, I love finding old empty drunkard bottles in the woods everywhere where I’m living. Plastic litter is disgusting but glass bottles were meant for throwing at shit, especially on a beautiful day like today. Where I live doesn’t recycle glass bottles, which is convenient since I just keep them in a big trashcan now to drive down an old unused warehouse and throw against the wall when I’m bored. There are few more pure sounds than glass breaking in a cavernous abandoned warehouse, the crash ever so slightly toned down by grapevine, honeysuckle, and if you’re lucky some kudzu, growing through the broken windows. Ahh, the simple pleasures in life.

TH3 C0GN1T1V3 D1SS0N4NC3...

the cognitive dissonance 
involved in believing we're 
more connected than ever 

Wednesday, March 10

SONG OF THE DAY: El Cavilante

 

I was trying to think of some sort of timely and clever write-up to add to this song of the day, but it’s really nice and I have the windows open and the sheer curtains I got for cheap as fuck off ebay are blowing gently, like spring time is wearing lingerie. So I’m not thinking very clearly.

C0MM0D1F13D 3X1ST3NC3...

commodified existence 
combined with algorithmic 
brain inputs leaves us all lost 

Tuesday, March 9

SONG OF THE DAY: Ojuelegba


Not gonna lie, I will listen the fuck out of some Wizkid. I have always wanted there to be a website which had people from all over the Earth drop the hottest hip hop shit from their corner, like Ozone scene reports back in the day. Without local guides though, all someone like me can do is randomly download tracks from various West African music blogs, and see what sticks. Wizkid is a superstar there, and relatively unknown here. Being known is overrated though. Anonymity will always be five-stars.

SVNSH1N3 4LW4YS PR0M1S3S...

sunshine always promises 
spring-like hope though - those warm mind 
daydreams where it all works out 

Monday, March 8

SONG OF THE DAY: We Can't Make It Here

Went for a long walk down the dirt road I live along yesterday, teases of spring in the early March environment. Some ol’ dude with a beard in overalls (classic style) was hacking away some grapevines that were trying to cobra clutch some apple trees into submission. “How you making it today?” I asked, in my yokel ass ways. The guy stopped, sighed deeply, and said, “Well… slowly but surely, I reckon.” The “surely” was more “shorely”, and this of course unlocked about twenty minutes of shooting the shit. He and his wife lived in the garage apartment of the place up the road, where the big house was owned by some big doctor and his trust fund wife from the nearby university. They owned that place, an old logging chunk across the road with a five-acre lake, and 155 acres across the river too, which had just been logged. They weren’t hurting for money, but they logged it anyways. I guess according to ol’ boy, they had two grown kids who spent like a month there every summer, but lived in San Francisco and Boston. The couple themselves lived only half an hour away, but only stayed there in the summer, sporadically. But ol’ boy I was talking to and his wife were paid servants, to caretake the property. Ol’ boy, of course, told me about his triple bypass he had a couple years back. Got me to thinking about that old phrase “living off the fat of the land,” and how that used to be the rugged individual notions of America that feed our mythologies to this day. Much of the MAGA talk as well as neoliberal dreams are built off that living off the fat of the land. But there ain’t no fat on the land anymore. It’s all bought up. There no new worlds to find, to colonize, to continue the great western civilization ponzi scheme with. It’s just super rich folks, and the rest of us trying to find enough use to them to be on their payroll. We live off the fat of them, sucking sustenance out of the bones and scraps they throw us, after they’ve cherry-picked all the good parts. This is true of wealth, of land, of jobs, of non-profits, of the entirety of American civilization. They pick what they want, and toss us the rest. Some do it begrudgingly, and others do it sugar-coated with progressive mantras, convincing themselves they’re one of the good ones.
I’m luckier than ol’ boy. I bought my house – an old company house on executive’s row of a quarry that’s been mostly unproductive for the past century. But I could afford the house – one of the only ones I could afford in this entire area. But I’m first generation college graduate and affording a low end house (value-wise, not aura-wise… this house is dope as fuck). All I’m gonna have in this life is what I personally earn, no inherited wealth will ever come to me. When my dad died, my mom – whom he was no longer married to – had to take a personal loan out so we could bury him. And we put a collection pickle jar in the small engine repair shop he worked most all his life when he wasn’t too drunk to go in. I don’t say all this to bemoan anything about my life, because like I said, I’m doing good. No triple bypass yet, and hopefully after a few years, I’ll have more life insurance than Earthly debt, and maybe my kids can keep this house briefly after I’m gone. It’s all a gamble. But there is no fat of the land to live off at this point. Our culture has parceled it out, to where obscene factory farms rape our food from the depleted soil, and boutique elite folks create little organic operations to convince themselves they’re doing good in this late capital hellscape. They don’t farm it – others living off their fat do that, college-educated farm managers for the cheap and interns drunk off promises of a better world still being possible. Humanity has triple bypassed that shit though.
We’re not doomed though. We’re never doomed. I mean, because of the unrealistic greed of those who have hoarded all that fat, a lot of us will die, and continue to needlessly suffer. But people will keep scratching out lives upon the Earth for a long ass time. We’re too goddamn stupid and stubborn not to.

RVSH1NG B3TW33N 3RR4NDS TH4T...

rushing between errands that 
ultimately don't mean shit, 
blind to all the small magic 

Saturday, March 6

Friday, March 5

TH3 M0RN1NG M1RR0R'S SMVDG3D VP...

the morning mirror's smudged up 
with hopelessness, frustration, 
anger, and "fuck all this"-ness 

Wednesday, March 3

Tuesday, March 2

Monday, March 1