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.

Saturday, December 30

SONG OF THE DAY: Arb Share'i

Why hadn't I been posting songs of the day for an imaginary audience that's mostly robots trawling the internet for data? Idk tbh. I guess I've been "busy".

Thursday, December 21

SONG OF THE DAY: Sweetest Taboo (kudzu'd)

Sonnets about nothing are everything right now.

Leaning into each day's blessing, without a curse 
spoken, step into sunshine to further unwind 
my meandering path, avoiding the adverse 
obstacles others engineered to double blind 

big picture outlook. I'm a Blue Ridge wanderer, 
by way of southside back roads but born from Greater 
Appalachian diaspora - wild ponderer 
of "The Power" my pops spoke of, cultivator 

of lounge, practicing watercourse way to remain 
constantly moving but with most chill ripple 
instead of mechanized hurtle. Hard to maintain 
inhumane desires of ego, which can cripple 

and maim your hope and happiness... gotta let go 
to reverse negative stream of consciousness flow. 

Wednesday, December 20

SONG OF THE DAY: On A Sunday Afternoon (kudzu'd)

Looks like I've established the self-rule that I write freestyle sonnets when I post kudzu'd songs. But don't let that cause you to miss the fact this is one of the most bangingest bangers to ever bang, and it's even better slowed.

Though I'm not guaranteed, there's always tomorrow 
for the whole world. But should I not be blessed enough 
to make the next sunrise, I hope there's less sorrow 
than celebration of full me, stripped down to buff 

essence. My presence has always been blemished, but 
never made claims otherwise, keeping it simple 
to the edge of stupid (because I know how). What 
point is existing if I can't flash a dimple 

and chip-toothed smile, freestyling my way through Sunday 
afternoons and Thursday mornings alike, striving 
to find joy while surviving the doom others lay 
out like psychic land mines? Somehow, I'm still driving 

this ragged body while drunk off the Universe, 
leaning into each day's blessing, without a curse.

Thursday, December 14

SONG OF THE DAY: Computer Love (kudzu'd)

Another freestyle sonnet, written between zoom meetings this morning, connecting to the last one and (seemingly) the next one.

Lessons to recognize Universe is sublime, 
handing out blessings daily despite the crazy 
ways many minds spin. Lessons of kudzu, to climb 
towards sunshine, even when the skies are hazy 

from smoke screens; you innately know things that are true 
far beyond the red, white, and blue. Lessons from creek 
to keep internal trickle flowing, even through 
difficult obstacles, since we always must seek 

reunification with original source. 
Lessons from mycelium, keep it connected 
with whole community; this digital discourse 
designed to divide, and have data collected 

ain't respectful of essence from which we borrow; 
though I'm not guaranteed, there's always tomorrow.

Monday, December 11

SONG OF THE DAY: San Juan '82 (kudzu'd)

Writing these freestyle sonnets every time I have a kudzu'd track to post. And while I don't love this sonnet my mind just spat out at me, I don't hate it either. And fits the puzzle of the other sonnets. Freestyle practice means you just do it and let it go, don't get too caught up in perfection, because at our root is imperfection.

Fargo strutting forward - from what's passed, we borrow 
lessons learned, sometimes burned into memory banks 
from the fire of trial and error. Tomorrow 
ain't realized without scarring; still giving up thanks 

for the time and space I'm blessed to be impressed by. 
Each day is a chance to enjoy fresh creation, 
practicing release of stress and tension as I 
let the Universe divine my navigation 

of this manmade labyrinth designed to confine, 
even though heart and mind contain innate desire 
to find place to flourish, let water and sunshine 
nourish our existence so that soul can aspire 

higher than superficial plain which egos climb - 
lessons to recognize Universe is sublime. 

Thursday, December 7

SONG OF THE DAY: Katy Hill Instrumental

I think a lot about how much cultural history was lost by white people who got swallowed up by American concepts of whiteness. Whiteness pretty much just depends on wealth and you can buy up whatever identity you want as it becomes cool, like a capitalist version of colonialism really. But all of us, even “white” people, originally came from some tiny corners of the Earth, and had an indigenous tradition of some sort, somewhere. And I don’t say that as an excuse for white people so much as because lolol a lot of white people should not feel so inclined to call themselves white people. Fuck whiteness, to be honest, as it seems to be the bland absence of culture, and even has bleached it out of people who are considered white.
I also think a lot about how there’s deeper genetics involved in addictions and inherited traumas. Look at how North America’s indigenous population was so susceptible to both diseases given to them as well as alcoholism later on. And as I’ve seen some recent struggles in my own family, where my entire immediate family unit of 5 people all have suffered with addiction and alcoholism deeply, it’s strange to me how some families seem so much more susceptible to that than others. I’ve known folks that can abuse all sorts of drugs, shit way harder than I could ever handle, and it never seems to cause them to go off the rails. But I know my people are highly susceptible to that, and won’t casually survive those dabbles with self-destruction. And it becomes a chicken and egg thing where bloodlines like that suffer more traumas so the susceptibility becomes compounded. I don’t know. There’s got to be a deeper science to it all than we really know, and likely science doesn’t give a fuck to know the real answer because western society at its heart is judgmental as fuck, and wants to paint people who fail as inherent failures who couldn’t excel. If it was scientific why some of us fuck up and fail rather than an entirely free will exploration of existence, then that undermines the foundation of how western culture is this alleged closer step towards the perfect social system construct.
This all relates to bluegrass music because it is pretty obvious that it takes the exact same type of broken mind to play amazing bluegrass music as it does to think methamphetamines are great. These are both white trash qualities that blemish western culture’s hopes for utopian whiteness. Some of us are just too fucked up to be accepted, and we play music too fast and love drugs that make our brain spin on fast cycle. And I’m almost certain there’s got to be some sort of science underneath it all, but the only people who can afford to support that type of research would rather all the rest of us just keep looking like pieces of shit.

Wednesday, December 6

SONG OF THE DAY: Cable Access Funk

Do you know about the slinky synth funk movement of XL Middleton? If you don’t, you should. It’s that inspirational type of funk that makes you feel better about existing, regardless of how fucked up the world might feel.

Tuesday, December 5

SONG OF THE DAY: Electric Kingdom (kudzu'd)

Keeping the heroic crown vibes going for now...

Can't be bothered to be stopped by concepts of time; 
mechanizing man's mind ain't changed my incline to 
resist. Subsisting off cyborg cookies and chime 
of the algorithm, but mysticism grew 

still. Digital devils never could comprehend 
how when they hit send on end times, loungers appear 
and envision gothicc futures which shall extend 
the days like ellipsis. Gaze boldly at unclear 

horizon, devising margins to thrive within. 
Demons drive hard bargains, but broke folks find good deals 
in what mystery reveals... so let us begin 
to imagine our future with hope, as appeals 

to appease our ancestors' quest for tomorrow', 
Fargo strutting forward, from what's passed we borrow. 

Friday, December 1

SONG OF THE DAY: Rock With You (kudzu'd)

I haven't wrote any freestyle sonnets lately, much less wove a stack of them into a heroic crown of sonnets... so I guess that's what I'm doing now.

Planet rock mentality born from outer space 
dust, encrusted into bedazzled human booming 
from birth across surface of Earth. Twice dimpled face 
full of simple grace grew without proper grooming... 

That wild back road blackberry bush beard that's bearing 
fruit a bit looney, howling at full moons up high 
while scowling at authority down low. Hearing 
what I want, and always nearing the edge as I 

flat foot like a fool staring up at the sky, eye's 
big and truthful. But now that the beard's long gone grey 
and not youthful, it takes a slow minute to rise. 
Though energy wanes, my spirit waxes its way 

into prime squared since I'm already past my prime; 
can't be bothered to be stopped by concepts of time. 

Wednesday, November 29


Yesterday would’ve been my pop’s 68th birthday, except he died at 47. Life don’t always have storybook endings, in fact, for most folks, it rarely does. I try to remind myself there is no storybook ending, no grand culmination, and to be thankful for each day that I get, because not everybody still got it. It’s easy to get lost in the resentment and anger of what you don’t got, and how maybe your path don’t look as easy as them folks you’re looking at over there who appear to have a good level of comfort, and even sometimes might be looking back at you with an obvious amount of judgment. Fuck ‘em. Forget ‘em. Be thankful for where you’re at as much as you can. And if you’re not happy, shake shit up a little, fix what don’t feel right without screwing up what already feels pretty good. It ain’t easy when you come from “head first into the wall” types like many of us do. But if it was easy, you wouldn’t know what to do with it anyways, because you ain’t even used to that.
I’m thankful for my pops. He wasn’t perfect, and he lost the fight against his own demons. But he had a good heart for the most part, and he taught me how to talk magnificent shit with an unexplainable confidence. He also taught me about “the power” and how to get into a zone with the universe where nothing can fuck with you. It’s not easy to do that either, but I’m always thankful for those moments when I’m in that zone and can feel it coursing through my every action. That’s when I know I’m my most right I can be with everything. It hadn’t happened a lot lately, but there’s still moments where I’m on that wave. I guess that’s why storybook endings are such a lie to begin with, because it’s all ebbs and flows, and riding waves or fighting from drowning. And it’s just gonna keep on being like that, if you’re lucky enough to survive the day.

Tuesday, November 28

SONG OF THE DAY: Wild Style Lesson Part 1 (kudzu'd)

A lot of styles ain’t all that wild. Too much basic shit out here masquerading as quirky. Or maybe I’m just tired of the shit because I never got invited to the masquerade.

Monday, November 27

SONG OF THE DAY: Tiro Al Blanco (kudzu'd)

Aging, economically comfortable punks are the new baby boomers. They are a scourge upon all aspects of culture, but they also have the self-identity that they are the progressives and good ones, I guess because they’re only comparing themselves to like their uncles or some shit. What families are these that had all the hippies who became more conservative, then the punks who launder familial wealth through boutique businesses or running a microbrewery, and generation after generation they think they’re the alternative quirky forces of change, while the same shit keeps happening over and over? Fuck y’all. I hate a goddamned punk over the age of 50. If you were a good punk, you’d be dead.

Thursday, November 23

SONG OF THE DAY: What A Fool Believes (kudzu'd)

At this point, I find it impossible to hear this song without thinking of Suga Free and DJ Quik imitating it. I could've put a link to that video but embedded links are how we got to the misdirected internet we now have. If you give a fuck, you can look it up. And if you don't look it up, that's your fuckin' loss.

Wednesday, November 22

SONG OF THE DAY: El Sonido de Los Mirlos (kudzu'd)

The sound of the crows, cawing from the front yard, eases my troubled mind. I wish I could understand what they were saying better, but if I could, I wouldn’t be human, lost in my own sense of importance, centered in the experiential universe. I’d like to let it all go and fly down to the river with them, and talk shit to each other, and pick our way through life. But I can’t; none of us can. We’re all tied down to too much to ever let it all go completely. But I try to find peace in the moments even if we’ve over-complicated it and can’t find peace in our existence.

Tuesday, November 21

SONG OF THE DAY: I Don't Wanna Be A Freak (But I Can't Help Myself)

Contemplating going to wrestling school at my advanced age of 50 and becoming a heel new age intelligentsia manager who attempts to rile hillbilly crowds into knife attacks. How good I am at my job will be shown by the number of stab wounds I have on my deathbed. Anyways, pretty sure this is going to be my theme song, but I might chop and screw it. (I always chop and screw it up somehow.)

Monday, November 20

SONG OF THE DAY: It's A New Day (kudzu'd)

Drank too much full moon water last time around, during shift in phases, and it’s made things kinda wild. Gotta be careful with that celestial magic because it’s way over our human heads, literally. We still love thinking we got it all figured out. Been so shook I forgot to lay out the moon shine jars for the new moon last week. That’s okay. I’m still alive, hopefully for another couple new moons too. Already looking forward to the redbud blossoms, to be honest.

Sunday, November 19

SONG OF THE DAY: Deadly Rhymes

Been listening to a lot of Roxanne Shante lately, for whatever reason. I guess it’s because I’ve been on an old school kick, and upon reflection from this current point in time (both for myself as well as hip hop, both of us allegedly being 50 years old though origins of all universal matter can’t be pinpointed to a precise birth), Roxanne Shante is pretty fuckin’ ill. Deadly Rhymes indeed.

Saturday, November 18

SONG OF THE DAY: Oye Como Va (kudzu'd)

Southern Gothicc Futurism is the philosophy I live by. I don't exactly call it mine because I don't know how it came to be inside my mind enough to say I own it. But it's there. I've been writing on this blog for well over 15 years (probably longer). I also have a patreon, where Southern Gothicc Futurism is developed more fully, and where you can support me in cultivating that as well as all my fucked up arts. I even have a public samples link for you to get a taste of the patreon outside the paywall. I hate paywall. I hate walls. I hate money. But the society I am forced to navigate is full of bills and walls and all that shit. I'm doing the best I can.

Friday, November 17

SONG OF THE DAY: Watermelon Hangin' On The Vine

Been thinking a lot lately on how the term “survivor’s guilt” ain’t exactly right, because it’s not guilt you suffer from. It’s just all the shit you’ve seen up close that exploded those around you, and threatened to injure you – either directly or from their psychic shrapnel – it builds up and builds up, and becomes heavy. There’s a heaviness to your existence because you saw all that and are still here, and maybe even relatively unscathed if you’ve been blessed by the universe to navigate it as such. Guilt’s the wrong term because it suggests shame, or something was done wrong, and you’re not really even a survivor because you still got that heaviness on your soul, and it tinges how you think, hopefully for the better so that you try to lighten the psychic load of those closest to you. And you have to lighten it for them, or else you run the risk of accidentally laying down more of those obstacles, and perpetuating them cycles of needing to survive things that got nothing to do with breathing air or eating food or getting sleep. The older I get, the less I believe in complicated answers to things, and in fact it seems we way over-complicate everything we get to thinking too hard about (as individuals or as collective species), and that leaves so many extra steps for all psychic obstacles to get laid by bad spirits. I know I’ve got a heaviness because of the path I’ve walked in life, but that motivates me to help others feel lighter. And that helps this heaviness of mine feel easier to carry as well. Ain’t a fuckin’ ounce of guilt to that.

Thursday, November 2

SONG OF THE DAY: Heartbeat (kudzu'd)

The basic tenet of Southern Gothicc Futurism is slow down and lounge. People lost their way a long time back thinking we have pyramid schemes to build or were supposed to be as productive as machines (which was a philosophical fallacy that existed before the Industrial Revolution). And we live in a time of great weaponized language, so there’s folks that come across like righteous progressive self-help types that would say slowing down and lounging is selfish and reckless towards other people suffering somewhere else. But ultimately the whole point of slowing down and lounging is so that everybody moves at a more reasonable and humane pace in our life, and can have the time to help each other out in maintaining the basics for happy human existence. Getting caught up in politics and hierarchies and yelling at people for not having attained an impossible perfection, that’s the same ol’ bullshit. Even if you’re doing against the previous bullshit, it’s still bullshit, if you come at folks bearing torches to set fire to anybody who ain’t your ideal. I don’t know, I been getting tired of a lot of the secular preaching people are so apt to be doing all the time. I’d rather you perform your acts of righteousness in your real life with your actual neighbors than beating drums online for others to feed you dopamine in the form of likes. I actually set fire to a couple of social medias lately, and it feels better, though it’s taken some effort to redirect those energies that would’ve just been wasted before. I haven’t fine-tuned it yet, but that’s the whole point of needing to slow down and lounge, because it takes some detoxification to remove yourself from the bad patterns. Especially collectively. We keep thinking we (people) can fix all the wrongs by doing more shit in a quick fix type of way. We probably gotta stop thinking that way, and start doing less, or doing things in a different way altogether. Break patterns instead of just putting new people in charge of the same patterns. Anyways, my heartbeat’s still kicking and I feel it today, despite the cold weather setting in, so it’s a good day regardless.

Tuesday, October 31

SONG OF THE DAY: There's a Red-Neck In The Soul Band (kudzu'd)

In my 45 digging of the past couple years, this is by far one of my favorite tracks. Latimore is one of those dudes that white people seem unaware of but black folks of a certain age all know about. And this track is just wild as hell. Go ahead, Red.

Friday, October 27

SONG OF THE DAY: Mundian To Bach Ke (kudzu'd)

This song is perhaps the most wonderful song of the past 30 years, and the bizarre mix of culture that happens in post-hip hop world. Bassline and beat for an old Busta Rhymes song jacking sounds from the Knight Rider TV show, mixed into a new beat with heavy use of bhangra music by an British producer of Indian descent, so vocals are a Punjabi artist. That then slowed down, perhaps antithetical to the hypeness, but it unlocks clangier funk imo. People complain about there being no new music to do, or that sampling is stealing, but honestly the copyright laws that got enforced so that people couldn’t sample intricately and instead had to pay exorbitant prices for samples meant they were forced by legalities to sample more simplistically. We could’ve had weavers of wild style vibes running rampant the past 20 years, but nah, culture had to shut that shit down, due to legal reasons all based around somebody owning snippets of sound from the past (often times not even the artists who made the sounds). But the law can’t keep up with everything and chaos engineers are still out there, cooking up mad wild style shit all over, copyrights be damned. I guess it makes sense that my 45 copy of this song is some sort of probably not entirely legal bootleg reissue, too. Bootlegging is a greater Appalachian tradition anyways.

Thursday, October 26

SONG OF THE DAY: Fantasy (Bad Boy Remix) (kudzu'd)

Dreams are just goals without plans. That’s the type of thing fake self-help alpha male influencers say all the time. Fantasies are just experiences without the fuck it. That’s the type of thing I say when I’m pretending to be one of them. Doesn’t really matter if it’s clever or not, mostly just posting here for data miners to scrape through, who probably don’t even understand the word patterns. Maybe three or four other people will see it. That’s the nature of modern digital existence… we’re all just skipping stones into streams of 0s and 1s making little ripples that die in the reverberation of algorithms and hopefully one of the four people that accidentally see it give half a fuck. Progress.

Wednesday, October 25

SONG OF THE DAY: Scorpio (kudzu'd)

The last time I went on a wander for train tracks and used record shops, I went to one in a small town in North Carolina, but the dude running it didn’t take in store customers no more. He let me in to talk though and he had a shelf full of old 12-inch singles in the back that I saw, all faded and enticing. I stopped at an old school turned into giant junk market that I had passed too, because I figured he had to have a stack of 45s in there somewhere. The Record Gods smiled on me that day, because he did have one small shelf with a stack of like 75 or so. But in that stack I found a couple very clean copies of Yarbrough & Peoples “Don’t Stop the Music”, some clean Solar Records 45s (always a groove slowed down), and yet another scratchy but wonderful copy of Dennis Coffey’s “Scorpio”, the famous break that’s been backbeat to hip hop since the beginning of Kool Herc having parties. I’ve been meaning to sample my scratchy ass copy to send Boogie Brown to use in a beat, because in our modern digitized fake perfection realm, having a classic breakbeat looped from actual raspy ass vinyl copy from North Carolina junk store adds a missing spice to our cyber-life. There’s a reason all those old breakbeats were so popular, and I bet there’s more still hiding, maybe not in American music genres, because them old school DJs dug pretty deep. But stuff is still hiding. There’s always gems you can dig deeper for.
Anyways, I’m contemplating a drive to a big ass used record store this weekend, to take my luck with The Record Gods, and see if I’ve been living right. I feel like I have, but you never know what they have in store for you. I seem to be ruled by record stores close to me that don’t believe in The Record Gods no more, and I can’t stand those secular ass bougie colored vinyl spots. If that’s your thing, fine, enjoy your life (if you can afford it). But to me, true digging is always going beyond what’s known, and keeping it cheap as you can. Ballin’ on a budget… that’s a foundational tenet of hip hop actually, which for some reason as we get all this 50 years old hype, nobody talks about that aspect as much. Capitalism co-opted the fuck out of it, and is riding the vinyl resurgence as well right now, beating it like a sick horse to crank out seven colors of the same Taylor Swift shit. I still worship The Record Gods and bypass all that shit, and I’ll take my chances with dusty fingers in some fucked up spot a boy told me about a few months back. Also hoping The Train Gods bless me too, because probably gonna try to scribble a few dirtgods while I’m wandering.

Thursday, October 19

SONG OF THE DAY: Go Steady (kudzu'd)

Futurism always seems to be set in space, and in positions of authority, or at least controlling the destiny. I’ve been thinking about true funk Southern Gothicc Futurism is gonna be right here where I already am, not in space, not escaping the mess already created, but living with what’s left of the messes that got left behind. There’s never any science fiction about the kitchen workers on a spaceship, always the officers. Give me a thousand page novel of the random stormtrooper on the Death Star, fourth generation stormtrooper, don’t even like them fuckers but didn’t have no choices in life so just ended up being a stormtrooper, but before the Death Star got blow up, he could tell the vibes were off, and went awol with a few co-conspirators, and they’re living on one of them junk planets, just vibing, banging on old gas tanks to make a beat, building synthesizers out of spare parts, pitch shifted theremins the size of radio transmission towers with old cranes dangling a wrecking ball to adjust the sounds. That’s what I envision my Southern Gothicc Futurism to be, right here, down in the woods, or over there, too. My mother just passed, so I finally get to go back to the woods I fucked around in as a kid, and the old Chevelle carcass is there that I wrote all these myths about it being a time machine that goes to the Food City in Pikeville, Kentucky, so I can get with that environment again, too. The time machine is broke right now, but I can fix it. It’s gonna take a decade or so though, but I got time, even if I don’t.

Sunday, October 15

SONG OF THE DAY: The One Who's Hurting Is You (kudzu'd)

Looking for a home for my DJ Honeysuckle Vines cyborg resistance Southern Gothicc Futurist slowdies show. Need an in real life vibe where people are drunk off life, believe in Universal Magnetics, and are at least basically enculturated with the idea that not doing shit is a form of resistance to every human life getting mechanized by the grind until it's impossible to think of yourself as anything more than a checklist. Once I find that home (or multiple homes), we can properly begin to unlock the deeper tenets of Southern Gothicc Futurism, magnifying the Power of Lounge for more folks to realize what they already know but got buried underneath a bunch of bullshit.

Friday, October 13

SONG OF THE DAY: Foggy Mountain Morning

Rocking the vibes of a hued man feeling like they’re walking through fog half the time, but still scratching around this stone floating through space, trying to be at peace with the path they took. Rocking the vibes of the constant seeker that always has to dig around in the dirt, and knows the reaper will always lurk, but you can’t live a good life in fear of that. Just rocking the vibes of trusting the power of lounge will always shine a little warm shade (counter intuitive, but opposites are always true in the real world) on anybody halfway trying to keep themselves attuned to how the Universe bends regardless of the crooked axis this World all too often is spinning upon. Rocking the vibes of pitch shifted Ronnie Van Zandt vocals saying, “take your time… don’t live too fast” as the days pass, but I don’t bother counting them. There’s enough fog to work through already without getting lost in all those numbers that choke a mind to death even while still breathing.

Thursday, October 12

SONG OF THE DAY: Out Of My Reach

One day I'll have a G-body sitting on 20-inch chrome wheels, hopefully a garish paint job on it but even if not, I'll ride that rust all the way back into the grave. And I'll be riding down by the river on a Sunday afternoon, blasting the smooth old jams nobody ever knew but were perfect the whole time, just nobody made us know. And I'll sit there by the river, watching the train pass, riding the vibes that unclog your soul and keep the heart pumping love in all directions.

Tuesday, October 10


I think I am slowly working my way back to no social media. I miss the old internet, which was far more creative, kooky, and actually informative. I was reading about “cyberbalkanization” the other night, or how the internet has contributed to the fracturing of people into sub-groups, thus adding to the divisiveness of the physical world. And to be honest, the internet was plugging along just fine without that problem. I’m sure it existed, but it seemed like you were more likely to find weirdos you got along with more easily than things to be mad about. The algorithm-driven social media we’ve come to depend on has definitely mauled those divisions into different channels, and even Google search results have gotten so trash in recent months. I’m not sure if it’s an overload of bad information, algorithms pulling too heavily from certain sources, or a combination of it all. And weirdly, this stupid little blog has plugged along for well over a decade (maybe longer, I couldn’t figure out how to see the first post). We feel like we have to re-brand ourselves so often too, where if we have a new idea or new phase, we kill off all the old versions and create new ones, abandoning the layer of cringe that built a sediment of our digital existence (and an important one since every layer is built upon the previous ones). It all feels so fucked. But I still post various projects and posts here because it’s kinda like throwing a rock into a creek… it still makes ripples, even if mostly nobody sees that ripple. I guess the real difference is I don’t encounter many frogs by maintaining this page, which is a shame.

Saturday, October 7

SONG OF THE DAY: Creeping Away (kudzu'd)

My mother passed away this past week, and our relationship had been strained, but there was always love between us nonetheless. Family is always more complicated and nuanced than a simple read would tell you. I drove between her house and Keysville a couple times this week while down there, and one of my favorite memories was from there, when I went away on a trip to Oklahoma and Colorado years ago. I left in Farmville, with my dad taking me to where the bus station used to be at a gas station that's not there anymore near the hospital heading out of town south on 15. But I came back to Keysville for some reason. I remember some old lady got on the bus in Richmond and sat beside me, and when we passed the truck stop in Amelia, I remembered my grandma had lived down a road to the left there (which my uncle just told me last night around the fire exactly where that was down that road). And then riding 360 past where you turn off in Amelia to where my grandfather is buried, on through the outer edge of Crewe where my mom worked at Piedmont Geriatric Hospital back in the day, on through Meherrin to Keysville, where the bus dumped me off at the old commercial building by Sheldon's Motel that used to be a convenience store and ice cream parlor, and was an arcade at one point in there, and also a video store. I think at the time it still had the remnants of a country store, and now I don't know, it's an insurance office or something. But there was no pay phone there, so I had to walk up the road to the abandoned gas station, because that's where the closest pay phone was. (It's funny, somebody renovated the gas station and now it's open again, but there's no more pay phones anywhere.) I did the old collect call trick saying my name was "Raven just got home I'm at the old gas station before Keysville" to collect call my mom. I waited to hear her answer and hear who the call was from, then hung up before she could accept charges, although she knew better anyways. Then I sat down on my backpack there under a tree and waited 20 minutes for her to show up.
When I'd gotten past that spot in Amelia, I was telling the old lady how I'd ridden all the way from Denver, through the flatlands of the midwest once coming down off the Rocky Mountains, and then the ripples of Appalachia after all that midwestern flatland, and now these hills of Piedmont felt like I'd gotten home. I was singing Jim Croce's "Walkin' Back to Georgia" the whole time I walked from where the bus dropped me off in Keysville to the pay phone a mile or so away, and I kept on singing it, over and over, while I waited for my mom to show up. She was glad to see I'd made it back, and we went to the house I grew up in, and I might've lived there a couple days or a couple months, not sure. I came and went a couple times over the years, as did others throughout the family. But I remember that day, getting off the Greyhound in Keysville, the only person getting off or on at that stop, and walking my slow way to the pay phone, knowing she knew I was getting back that day and was gonna pick me up if she was home (or I'd keep walking towards her house another ten miles if she wasn't home), and just sitting there under that tree, waiting to see her car pull up.
It could be chaotic, our family, with all the things that went on, both accepted and ignored. But there was always a lot of love too. The past few years, because of some of the things she never improved on for me, which affected my kids, I didn't talk to her. That didn't mean she didn't do a lot that I'm grateful for; it just meant I hoped for more with some things, and expect more from myself, too. One of the folks we had to let know was my parents' old friend Wolf, and we couldn't get ahold of him, but one of my mom's friends drew me a map at the kitchen table, explaining the map, and me and my sister went to go find Wolf and let him know. The map was good, but misleading, because you need the story my mom's friend Sue told me as she drew it, to go with the map. One without the other didn't work. So my sister looked at it and it didn't make any sense, so I explained it to her, and she had lived back here once years ago for a little while, and we took one wrong turn but knew enough to know it was a wrong turn pretty quickly, so made our way back to the right path.
Sue had said about where Wolf lived, "He's got a trailer, and then there's a second trailer, and he's got a third trailer there, too." And at the time, I thought, "Why didn't she just say it was three trailers?" but when we got there it wasn't three trailers at all, but a trailer Wolf lived in, but he had another trailer beside it, and there was a third trailer. She had actually described it perfectly, so that if she said he had three trailers, I would've missed it, but saying it the way she did, I knew it as soon as I saw it. We went in, me hollering, "Hey!" like my daddy had always showed me growing up, announcing your presence in a loud but friendly way, making sure folks knew you were there in a good way, but making sure they knew. Neither me or my sister had seen Wolfie in years, and he looked older but he looked good to be honest, and his home seemed perfect to his ways. We told him, and he was of course said, saying, "That's my oldest confidant." As we were standing around, talking, he shared a memory of me being a toddler, and my folks and him doing acid with somebody else in a VW bus that had a woodstove in the back, and while they were riding around, I touched the stove and burned myself. Wolf laughed, "It didn't burn you bad, but you didn't touch it again."
I think sometimes coming from environments that aren't what folks consider normal, the chaotic parts get focused on too much. But it was always full of love, lots of lots of love. I think you need all that love to survive some of these more chaotic environments folks are born into. I didn't forget all that love, but I know I was angry about the other parts of it sometimes. It's been good to go back home and remember all the love that's there, too, even if it was chaotic at times. Without all that love, I wouldn't be the chaotic good person I am today.
I know my mom still read these things for years, even after we didn't talk so much, then didn't talk at all. She'd leave comments sometimes. My sister does that too. These are stories that don't get told, for whatever reason. The "normal" world only likes them packaged a certain way, for their own gawkish enjoyment. And our world only tells these stories around bonfires or truck beds, and even then we leave out some of the stuff that nobody wants to say out loud. I need to be better about sharing these stories, in a way that's true to where I'm from, but in a way that also tells the whole story, in a respectful and loving way. Anything else starts creeping away from the truth of it all. And that truth is never simple, and it never will be, because life isn't either, if you're truly living it.

Saturday, September 30


Been fearing possible hexes in my life so also been scattering anti-hexes. It's natural for things to not go the best way in life but there are times where it feels like the vibes are off. It's also entirely plausible both those things are happening. Existence does not afford us the scientific method of changing one variable at a time, because real life has infinite variables perpetually shifting. Whatever magic you believe in enough to make real helps correct that wobble, whether it's real to everyone else or not. As I get older, I believe this more and more. I appreciate the good that the scientific method gives us, and how it does have the potential (if used righteously) to improve all our lives immensely. But it's got its limitations, and the scientific method doesn't like to acknowledge that. The human mind won't ever be able to figure it all out as fast as it is changing. We're always gonna be at least a million variables behind the curve of the universe. It's better to accept that and keep it moving than deny it and make it worse.
The problem with subjective reality and human beings though is some folks got really warped perspectives, and then catch you in their crosshairs. They believe they're right, which in their own mind they likely are. But in the overall preponderance of other minds, both human and non-human, they ain't even close to right. If you get too focused in their crosshairs, that creates problems for you. I've learned to try and lie low better than I used to, not inviting so much anti-dirtgod magic into my life easily, because enough comes along by happenstance. But it still happens, in moments you lose your focus, or just because you got caught slipping into the wrong stream of consciousness for a metaphysical minute. All you can do is try to keep it moving and throw up those anti-hexes like forearm armor, hoping to deflect the haters' curses.

Friday, September 29

SONG OF THE DAY: Person to Person (kudzu'd)

Kudzu tends to be regarded with derision by the orderly amongst us, because it’s an invasive plant that takes over everything in sight, and thus negatively reminds us of our own human history of conquest and destruction of previous cultures. The same firing synapses that led to the concept of western civilization causes the kudzu to climb up and over everything it encounters, forever manifesting a further destiny with an insatiable desire for more. Of course, in terms of humanity and capitalism, this has become an unsustainable desire that ultimately might lead to our own failure at epic level. For kudzu, I don’t know, I’m just a human being, and we’ve never seen what happens if kudzu just runs wild in order to see how it ends. I know at the spot I love down the road where every summer the kudzu crests over top the guardrail in the curve like a wave at the ocean, it can’t creep into the road because the giant machines us humans drive around stomp it to death if it reaches too far out onto our unnatural asphalt pathways.
But to be honest, I’m not even here to talk about western civilization or capitalism, but just wanted to lay down a little background on the presumed psychology of kudzu, because it’s relevant to what I was actually thinking about, which is the Bottle Gods, which I guess is actually just a Trash God of sorts, but a very specific subset of that wild spirit. I should clarify that immediately there’s going to be a problem in utilizing my English language limitations to describe these spirits as a singular “god” or plural “gods” as they’re both, and neither, at the same time. The issue with the Creative Spirits that rule our entire Universe, is they don’t follow human logic. Instead, we follow their logic, or just as likely, stray from it and manufacture immense dissatisfaction in our own lives. But the kudzu conceals a lot wherever it grows, a lush prog rock album cover-looking overgrowth that hides the previous sediments of local history.
I’d always been drawn to quartz rocks locally, because they’re everywhere back in the woods. There’s this seasonal pattern of finding all these wonderful new rocks in the springtime, but then everything gets greener and thicker and those chunks of magic get lost in the shrubs and vines, and the human mind becomes worried about disease-carrying ticks or venom-mouthed snakes, and you’re less likely to go sticking your big dumb paws down into green tangles, grabbing at things. Fall comes in and the green turns brown, and shrivels back into Earth for warmth. Then winter freezes the superficial inches of the ground, squeezing rocks up to the surface somehow, so that when springtime comes back around, there’s a whole new crop of quartz sticking out the ground for you to be dazzled by. I try not to grab every rock, and as strange as it may seem, I do kinda feel the rock, to see how loose it is and gauge whether it wants to be moved or not, before taking one elsewhere (usually to stack around my compound in haphazard piles).
Living where I live now, it’s a blessed place whose best economic days were over a century ago, when the quarries employed thousands. That boggles the mind looking at this place now, even with the remnants of the small town that’s still standing. But because those quarries are everywhere, there’s also an abundance of human foot paths that have existed throughout most of these woods, made even more possible by the fact a giant defunct company at one time owned pretty much all this land, so modern property delineations are not quite as obvious here as they are in most of our well-parceled United States of America.
In the times between when the quarries stopped being profitable and now, there’s been a lot of foot traffic through those woods still, often times with a glass bottle beverage (or two or three or more) in hand, to help pass the time. Bottles litter these woods every direction, a combination of the aforementioned foot traffic, but also sign of the old school country practice of having a house dump somewhere in the woods behind the home place, where most all the other trash has decomposed over the decades, but a pile of bottles and rusted metal cans is still surviving the ravages of time. Thus, I find a lot of bottles.
It amazes me how, just like the quartz, new crops of bottles appear regularly, even in places I’ve wandered through many times over, specifically looking for bottles. Certain shapes and sizes, I’m called to, as the Bottle Gods have tapped me on the mind as captivated. Just last week, right beside another hillside bottle dump I’ve picked through multiple times, I was pissing in the woods, and over to my left was a whole slew of old wine pint bottles plus a couple of household bottles in shapes I’d never encountered before (more of a jar than a bottle to be honest). I carried what I could but hadn’t brought my sack, not anticipating the Bottle Gods blessing me on this day, and it was too cool to turn my t-shirt into a sack by tying the arms together, as I’ve done many times in the past. I appreciate the Bottle Gods blessing me that day though, because I needed it, even if I didn’t realize that beforehand.
But a lesson of the Bottle Gods is that it’s a hybrid spirit, one influenced by human activity. And it’s somehow natural. There is no division between man and nature in finding a dimple-sided wine bottle buried in the dirt for five decades. The divisions (created in our human minds) have been blurred at that point. Not all manmade creations are like this (plastic bottles come to mind, which shrink and shrivel in gross ways over time, but never decay either). And obviously there’s a lesson there as well, in that glass is more sustainable than plastic in terms of bottling and the long-term environmental damage they cause. But saying something like “long-term environmental damage” also is moving far too deeply into manmade ideologies and loses touch with the natural existence still possible to us. So I ain’t gonna go no further into that for fear of angering the Bottle Gods, because I’m looking forward to going through a nice little foot wander tomorrow morning, with my sack in hand, looking to get blessed (if I’ve been living right). Whenever I find a good bottle, unbroken and whole, I wonder about whoever it was who had been handling that bottle when it got left behind. I just found a pile of old Miller High Life pony bottles (an unmistakable style) by one of my sitting spots behind the house, and was thinking, “Who was sitting here at some point in the past, sipping on these pony bottles?” And also how these random bottles went from person to person, with somebody sitting there drinking them whenever in the past, and the bottles being hid from any other exposure to human interaction, until I find them sitting near that same spot decades later. I know I ain’t been the only one back there. The Bottle Gods are obviously tricksters (as are most of the Gods of Greater Appalachia).

Thursday, September 28


One of my favorite things is when somebody dramatically says, “I could say some things right now, but I’m not going to,” like cracking open a can of sardines in hot sauce but deciding not to eat them even though all the cats are meowing around now. Fuckin’ say that shit, get it out in the open! I think most folks are used to not being accountable to their own actions, they assume everybody else will quiver in fear at that statement. I do not give a fuck. Air your grievances out. I love burning bridges anyways and I got a can of 5-gallon bucket metaphysical flammables on hand at all times (even though time is a social construct).
None of this has anything to do with this pretty great cover of "Night Owl" but I chose to expound upon it here. Nobody's reading this anyways other than bots scanning for data. What's up bots! I hope all your 1s as sharp and 0s are thicc as hell.

Wednesday, September 27

SONG OF THE DAY: Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll (kudzu'd)

Big fan of thick women who roller skate. Maybe it goes back to childhood and random roller derby scenes sneaking into my subconscious… I don’t know. But somebody who could skate into my life and then crush me, all while smiling and wearing sparkle tank top with a tattoo of a leprechaun smoking a joint on their shoulder… well, it’s a pleasant thing to encounter. I hope that’s how I die.

Monday, September 25

SONG OF THE DAY: Just a Moment

Slow spinning oldies this Thursday night at a diner in Charlottesville. Decided it all needed to be more of a spectacle so expect some chaos. In my mind, this means a Greater Appalachian Mothership is about to land. It will be a spectacle as fuck, and surely the six people who actually show up will love it, lol.

Friday, September 22

SONG OF THE DAY: Standing With You

Man, I had heard this song on a souldies mix I got off a blog, and I thought it was legit oldie from like the 60s. I was shocked to see it was Colemine and I’d never gotten the 45, since I do regular “better get all the shit I missed” orders from them and Daptone and Big Crown. Hadn’t even played the 45 slow yet, just got it sitting in the stack, because I know it’s gonna be a mind blower, and probably pair really fuckin’ well with Aaron Frazer’s “My God Has a Telephone” (also on Colemine). Already up to 3 copies of the Frazer song, and I know I’m gonna need more than one of this track, too.

Friday, September 15

SONG OF THE DAY: Samoan Cricket Bat

Done watched a lot of cricket since I first heard this song when it came out. I still don’t understand cricket all that clearly, but it seems to be a more complicated but chaotic version of baseball, and it’s the hottest sports rivalry you’re gonna find between Pakistan and India so it could conceivably trigger nuclear war. Not many sports can claim that. Like who the fuck outside of America cares about American football? We got all these nukes and nobody gives a fuck about our dumb sports beyond the border.
Related to the song, I've written and hyped up Bambu a bunch on here before, so if you're still here, you already know. But this is a hard ass song, even with you already knowing all that (if you've been paying attention, which to be honest is probably me expecting more of you than I should. No diss. All our brains are broken.)

16-Man Metaphysical Roster: NEW YORK CITY FC

{squeezed into Yankee Stadium for a long minute now}

[16-Man Metaphysical Rosters are divined using a football metaphysics methodology where minutes played over the past 50 competitive club matches determines which 16 players constitute the strongest psychic influence over a club’s current psychic trajectory. Intuitive analysis is then added, with a decidedly un-American foundation. Football metaphysics believes in the beautiful game, not the modern corporate spectacle. We have more of a love for Maradona in Mexico than Messi in Miami. One North American club is done each month, divided equally between Liga MX and the MLS, as they are the top two leagues in our home country of America (because in footballing terms, many parts of America are actually Mexico). This is now a solo project again by Raven Mack, but used to be a small group effort, so it bears saying, Rest In Peace Neil.]

Our first foray into an MLS club begins with New York City FC, who is a pretty good example of the strange position soccer is jammed into the American cultural landscape. In terms of ownership, they’re owned mostly by the same holding company that was built around owning Manchester City FC, hence the similarity in kits. But there’s also minority ownership from the Yankees ownership group. The club was not created as any grassroots effort by supporters to have a club, so much as created in a major city to seemingly fill a marketing void. U.S. soccer clubs in Major League Soccer don’t develop as blossoms of football culture followed and supported for years (which does actually happen in the U.S. in a lot of different places), but more as deciding where a new Whole Foods should be built.
But it’s a long-term process. MLS identified their desire for a second club in the greater New York City metropolitan area back in 2006. In 2013, the club started to come to fruition, finally playing in the 2015 MLS season. So the club exists, and with some high profile talent coming through as they are not lacking for financial support, as Manchester City looks to establish itself as a major American brand as well. But finding a home for the club has been more difficult, with various stadium plans dreamed up and abandoned, in various industrial sites along the margins of New York City’s five boroughs. In fact, there’s been abandoned plans for an NYC FC soccer-specific stadium in Queens, the Bronx, and Harlem, touching on all the potentially gentrified spaces needing “cleaning up” so to speak. It appears they may be closer than ever, with a site identified at Willets Point, next to the New York Mets stadium, and within sight of the U.S. Open tennis complex.
This in itself is a pretty solid exhibit of soccer in America. It has no obvious place, culturally, so it’s sort of sown into marginal spots as a sign of improvement, not unlike street mural festivals. It’s not the mainstream accepted sport like basketball of American football, but it is widely supported. The strange thing about U.S. soccer though is it seeks out the support of a privileged class, while shitting on poor folks from international backgrounds who might actually be much larger futbol fans. Willets Point being the site of their potential stadium is perfect example, as it’s been a thriving but chaotic used auto parts corner of the city for many decades. The streets are unpaved, but if you’re not afraid to venture in, affordable quick fixes for all sorts of car problems can easily be found. It’s one of those amazing places that still exists in NYC that feels like another country, and it’s mostly populated by immigrants or non-English speakers, many of whom come from places where futbol is just as religiously followed as American football is even in the football-heaviest parts of the country. But that entire area is going to be turned into a soccer stadium complete with development of hotel and commercial properties. It’s hard to imagine how long of a clean-up a giant unmonitored used auto parts zone is going to take, and it's sad to think of all the folks who were able to carve out a living in this desperate way, for years and years, who are just gonna get displaced, with no real alternative location for that chaotic mechanical type of flea market anywhere else. In its place will grow a waterfront commercial development anchored by a couple of sports stadiums that, to be honest, looks like a dozen other complexes around the country. A uniquely New York City environment displaced by just another shopping complex where white folks from suburban counties will ride the train in to watch a soccer match a few times a year, and enjoy an overpriced meal and drinks while they’re there.
So that’s soccer in America – simultaneously an outsider to the mainstream, while also being a gentrifying force that squats itself right over top the existence of poorer folks, who otherwise might be huge American futbol fans if any sort of outreach was done whatsoever. But poor folks don’t have money, and American futbol is not about actually being a cultural force so much as cosplaying as one, so wealthy Americans can act like they’re some sort of ultras group, and wave their rainbow flags of pride that don’t really give half a fuck about black trans folks or actual marginalized sex workers. It’s all kinda fucked, and makes it hard to pull for Major League Soccer as an entity, because it’s not pulling for me. It’s all about the money, but without the history of older domestic leagues elsewhere.
Nonetheless, New York City FC has existed now for nearly a decade, and been fairly successful in that short term. And somehow, by not actually having a home, a strange hominess has been found by them being forced to play in Yankee Stadium. They can’t always play there, due to it being the Yankees home first and foremost, but for the most part, they squeeze in a smallish version of a pro futbol pitch, and it’s one of the more unique set-ups in U.S. soccer, that has been forced to go on for so long while New York city tries to build a soccer stadium, that it’s made NYC FC matches have a strange marginal beauty. And in their short history, NYC FC has finished second in regular season standings twice already, and won the MLS Cup in 2021. They’ve firmly established themselves as a top MLS brand (lol), and with Major League Soccer player movement being so rapid and tied to money, they’ll likely remain that type of club, so long as the luster doesn’t wear off those baby blue kits as an off-brand version of Manchester City for U.S. soccer aficionados to claim as their own. And here are the top 16 players in terms of minutes played over the past 50 competitive matches, who weigh the heaviest on the club’s current metaphysics (through September 02, 2023)…

#1: KEATON PARKS – This midfielder’s name sounds quintessentially U.S. soccer… the privileged kid from a suburban background (Dallas area in Keaton’s case) who maintains his fees and remains in the pyramid scam that is youth soccer here, going from high profile high school to collegiate scholarship, then into the MLS after a draft. Except somehow Keaton Parks, despite that name, bypassed that traditional U.S. soccer path. After high school, he immediately signed with a semi-pro club in Texas, and got a few tryouts with Portuguese clubs somehow, ending up overseas for about five years, including making one of the Portuguese big three’s senior squad, at Benfica, briefly. In 2019, they loaned Parks back to America, which is how he landed at NYC FC, likely due to shared scouting with Manchester City perhaps? Anyways, whatever the path, he never played college soccer in the U.S., and after his move to NYC FC was made permanent in January of 2020, he’s become a mainstay on the squad, and will cross the 150 caps with club in the next month most likely.

#2: SANTIAGO RODRÍGUEZ – Uruguayan attacker who’d been an early star at one of that nation’s most prominent clubs, Nacional, before moving to a crosstown club Montevideo City Torque. NYC FC signed him on an 18-month loan early in the summer of 2021, which ran out after last season. It wasn’t clear if he was coming back, though NYC FC wanted him to badly, but he finally signed a permanent contract this past March, and is one of their key players on attack, wearing the precious #10 for the club.

#3: TAYVON GRAY – New York metropolitan area youngster who was born and bred in the Bronx but spent time in Jersey as well, and has been with NYC FC since the age of 15. Over the past few years (he just turned 21), he’s grown into key defender for the club. He also has Jamaican heritage so got his first call-up and appearance for the Jamaican national team earlier this month. He had played for the US at various youth levels, but made the move to the Jamaican team apparently, getting subbed into the match in the second half in the Reggae Boyz 1-0 win over Honduras.

#4: THIAGO MARTINS – Brazilian central defender who excelled for a while with Palmeiras in his homeland, and did a stint in Japan playing for Yokohama F. Marinos for a few years, before returning to this half of the Earth when NYC FC signed him last year. Along with Gray, the backbone of the NYC FC defense now that Maxime Chanot (next up) has left.

#5: MAXIME CHANOT – French player who’s played around Western Europe, but spent his longest gig at NYC FC for 7 seasons, establishing himself as their key defender. He went back to France this summer, playing for a Ligue 2 club Ajaccio, that’s located on Corsica, so they got that dope bandana dude from the Corsican flag in their crest. He also remains key defender for the Luxembourg national team, which has never qualified for hardly anything, as one of the smallest nations in UEFA.

#6: LUIS BARRAZA – Barraza is a Mexican-American GK who grew up on this side of the border in New Mexico, so has been in the MLS youth system, played college soccer at Marquette, and been immersed in the U.S. soccer pyramid since he was 14, when he joined Real Salt Lake’s Arizona academy. He had only sporadic appearances for NYC FC’s senior team up until this year, when he’s become their primary GK.

#7: BRAIAN CUFRÉ – Argentine left back who made his name at Vélez Sarsfield back home, which got him attention from La Liga in Spain. He’s been contracted to Mallorca since 2020, and spent time loaned to Málaga in Spain as well, and was loaned to NYC FC at the beginning of this MLS season in February, which an option for a permanent transfer. He’s done well enough in MLS to become a key player for the squad, but they’re also buried in the standings outside the pretty large playoffs window, so who knows? NYC FC has been one of the consistently more successful clubs, and they seemingly still have a good foundation on defense, but need a strike threat to takeover for offense. But also MLS is even more fickle than normal football clubs, because MLS has so much more player movement than other domestic leagues. This whole list might get angrily shook up. I guess I hadn’t mentioned their manager is Nick Cushing, an English dude who had spent a longtime managing the Man City women’s team before coming to NYC FC’s coaching staff in 2020. Though his win percentage is only at around 30%, hard to imagine a guy so entrenched in Manchester City coaching style would get run off even after one less than exciting season in charge.

#8: TALLES MAGNO – 21-year-old winger, and one of a number of Brazilians on the NYC FC squad. Magno cut his footballing teeth with Vasco da Gama in Brazil, and joined NYC FC a couple years back, and has been considered a potential breakout player for MLS, but has yet to really seize that destiny by the throat. Still, a pretty good scoring threat to be part of the NYC FC arsenal, and having been steeped in Brazilian football culture, not afraid of any potential intercontinental draws against Mexican clubs.

#9: JAMES SANDS – NYC FC’s first academy player to make their senior roster. Sands was good enough to be loaned to Rangers in Scotland for part of last season (Scottish seasons, not American seasons, which don’t sync). Born and raised in Westchester County, just outside New York City proper, but a really good example of how more sports leagues should embrace performative names for competitors. “James Sands” is boring as fuck, I don’t care how good a defender he is. But change that shit to “Jimmy Sandman” and I’m gonna automatically be thinking, “Oh fuck, they gotta watch out for Jimmy Sandman!”

#10: GABRIEL PEREIRA – Pereira is a young Brazilian attack player who spent about 16 months with NYC FC, and became a key goal scoring threat for them. His performance caught enough attention he was part of the rush of talent to the Middle East this summer, though a less glamorous path, instead of Europe to Saudi Arabia, Pereira went from the U.S. to Qatar Stars League, signing with Al-Rayyan. Interesting to see how that fossil fuel money has so suddenly disrupted the football migration patterns we’re used to this past year.

#11: JUSTIN HAAK – Born in Brooklyn the day after 9/11. Also not even a real human being, but a composite cyborg AI tech creation performed in the MLS Laboratories to create the most American soccer-looking player possible, with the most Football Manager-generated sounding name possible. The reason they don’t allow green lasers in the stands in the U.S. like they use so extensively in African football is because the lights would cause cyborg creations like Justin Haak to overheat, thus ruining the illusion of “American soccer” being competed entirely by humans.

#12: RICHARD LEDEZMA – Ledezma is an American defender from Arizona who made enough of a splash at an early age to get signed by PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands, one of the Dutch Eredivisie’s biggest clubs. He did time on the reserve team and got a few starts with the senior squad as well, but had long been rumored as coming back to America. This past March, PSV signed him to a contract extension then immediately loaned him to NYC FC. He’s gotten one call-up to the US national team, appearing ina  single match against Panama in 2020, where he was subbed on in the 68th minute and got two assists.

#13: ALFREDO MORALES – Morales is an American player of Peruvian descent born in Germany as his pops was born in Peru but was an American and in the military. Morales actually spent his youth academy years moving up the German ranks, ending up at Hertha BSC, where he also started his senior professional career on their reserve team, eventually cracking the senior squad. He moved between a few different clubs, being sort of a tweener between Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga (second German division). But during this time, he also was recruited for the U.S. national team during the time Jürgen Klinsmann was shifting the national team recruiting philosophy to get more players who were based overseas. Morales had sporadic appearances for the national team from 2013 through 2019, though he toyed with playing for Peru up until 2015, as he hadn’t made an appearance yet for the U.S. The exposure on the national team got him more domestic attention, and NYC FC signed him in April of 2021 through the end of this year, with an option for another year. Hard to say if he’ll be part of their long-term plans or not, as he’s 33 and hasn’t exactly lit it up in MLS.

#14: MITJA ILENIČ – Spent his professional career entirely in his native Slovenia, finally becoming a main player for top Slovenian club Domžale befor eNYC FC signed him this past January. He’s made another of appearances with the club so far, and is only 18, and has already graduated to the U-21 Slovenian national team, their second youngest player ever. No diss to MLS but you gotta figure after gaining some first-team exposure, the Slovenian football federation is gonna want him playing somewhere in Europe. And at the same time, what fun it must be to be a young, carefree, professional soccer contract-having Slovenian living in New York City (although I’m going by memories of NYC, not what the modern gentrified weird ass NYC is).

#15: KEVIN O’TOOLE – Former Jersey kid who was a homegrown player for the New York Red Bulls, and spent plenty of time on their youth and reserve squads, and played for Princeton collegiately, but was left unprotected for the MLS SuperDraft (lol) last year, and NYC FC seized the opportunity to poach him from their local rivals. O’Toole can play a slew of roles, so gets plugged and played here and there as needed, but still hasn’t really settled as a steady starter in any capacity.

#16: MATÍAS PELLEGRINI – Argentine winger who briefly showed flash with Estudiantes in his native country before getting imported to Inter Miami early on in their existence. Pellegrini’s been an MLS mainstay ever since, but never really caught on at Inter Miami like expected. He got loaned back to Estudiantes multiple times, but the last time, they passed on purchasing the player back, so Inter Miami waived him and NYC FC claimed him last August. He’s been a bit player at NYC FC ever since.

Thursday, September 14

SONG OF THE DAY: En La Casa (kudzu'd)

“En la casa” is Spanish for “in the casa”. I learned that working a decade plus of construction. To be honest, it was the only job I could get at the time. You learn a lot by being trapped in dead ends. One of those weird things though, if you’ve never been trapped in dead ends or directed right into dead ends, you can’t really understand how fucked it feels. That’s why I suggest to a lot of people to practice shutting the fuck up more often. But that’s a hard skill to acquire when you’ve never been trapped in a dead end and are carefully looking for any tiny outlet to escape through. Anyways, I learned a lot of Spanish working construction. In fact, any time anything bad happens to me or like I stub my toe or something goes wrong like I didn’t win the lottery or I accidentally ran over a squirrel or the county sheriff just left after serving more papers, I still go “pinche escalera”. I’ve even got it tattooed on my leg, ironically in Old English letters.

Wednesday, September 13

SONG OF THE DAY: Pot of Gold

Just vibing man, just vibing. I could rock shit like this all day. Ordered this 45 from a dude in California but it never showed up, I guess the media mail got lost. I was being chill about it, because I know he does a lot of shit where he's at. The Power of Lounge worked, because the errant media mail package showed back up with him and he mailed the shit again. Good shit happens for those who lounge.

Tuesday, September 12

SONG OF THE DAY: Freak-A-Zoid (kudzu'd)

The other night, I went to bed early (I think) but got woken up by a buzzing/humming sound outside the window, like when the drug helicopters are looking for grow fields in the quarries, but closer and not as giant. Looked out and there was a blue/green glowing orb I guess hovering but it’s hard to tell if an orb is hovering or flying or just existing beyond gravitational pull, especially when it starts talking to you in a voice that sounds like Sun Ra but also your dead Uncle Ray. He got shot in a home invasion and lost three fingers on his right hand, including the thumb, so they grafted a big toe onto it so that he still had opposable digits, and he loved to thrust that two fingered one thumb hand at people and exaggeratedly go, “Nice to meet ya!” The voice told me that despite me playing records slow, I hadn’t slowed my own anxieties, so really hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface on the Power of Lounge. The voice challenged me to not really to do anything more but just to be my full self. So I’ve been working on that this week, trying to put together a more full version of dirtgod for when I’ve committed to going out in public and acting like I know what I’m doing. We’re simultaneously trying to activate full super freak mode but also just start letting the Power of Lounge start trickling in through the divisive barriers and obstacles put up everywhere. Not ones you see, all the invisible metaphysical barriers. And I’m not even trying to destroy those, because once you get into the reactionary mode of trying to destroy all that’s wrong with the world, you’re just swinging an angry hammer around everywhere all day long, and not being true to your heart. I’m just trying to seep through the cracks, and make ‘em worse. All this is gonna fall apart on its own because it wasn’t built right in the first place. I ain’t gotta do nothing but increase the Power of Lounge on my end, so that once it does all come apart, there’s a thick coating of goodness already on everything.

Thursday, September 7

SONG OF THE DAY: Be Thankful For What You Got (kudzu'd)

Making the most of the moments, disengaging myself from the comparisons to others who seemingly have it together way better than me. But what we see ain’t the reality, always a digital façade behind which difficulties and quietudes and various mundane comedies and tragedies hide. All manmade systems are flawed because all humans are inherently flawed as well, yet there’s perfection in that imperfection. To think you can achieve the perfect life, either as individual or collectively, is allowing yourself to push a Sisyphean stone up a philosophical hill, and is bound for disappointment. Do nothing more and do more nothing, because fuck it, you ain’t no machine.

Wednesday, September 6

SONG OF THE DAY: Freakin' (With You)

Retro vintage throwback flavors from the future, all our technology smooshed together and connected with the appropriate cords found on ebay, combining eras through the filter of tech limitations of the moment of whatever piece of equipment you’re happening to be working with as it trickled down to you. The Real Artists always have Real Equipment and charge you $170 for a portrait session. They were born to a comfortable bed and have never wanted for the latest metaphysical blankets to shield them from the cold nature of the Real World. And somehow these still end up being the Real Artists in the Real World, because none of it is real at all. It’s all a con, a midway game we all are living within but don’t realize, the basket with a spring on the bottom that bounces most of us into struggle and despair but some got the carnies hitting the button for ‘em from day one. So don’t get mad when you see them walking around with the life-sized Pooh bear. It was always rigged. Make art with what you have at hand, fuck ambitions of greatness or being a Real Artist. Scatter your shit everywhere, like shit, and fuck ‘em if they don’t like it.

Tuesday, September 5

SONG OF THE DAY: Sugar Free (Deo/Super Dance Mix)

More vehicles should have mixers in them, because this is a great song for a 5 month drive time, and you could loop that beat from the first 30 seconds or so for at least two weeks. Then loop the part right after that where the hook is teased before the verse starts, and loop that for a week and a half, then drop it back to the beginning for a few hours, before finally rocking into the first verse, somewhere around the fourth or fifth week of your drive. I’m not big on cyborg bullshit, but if they gave me a mind mixer, I’d jump at that chance. The problem with most of our delusional cyborg dreams is they’re based on implants in the brain, which isn’t even where the mind is, ignoring the heart completely, so you’re gonna have a bunch of dumbasses running around with these brain implants, thinking things into the microchips with their poisoned ass brain thoughts. The folly of men, thinking they know what they know when they don’t know shit (and never have).

Friday, September 1

SONG OF THE DAY: La Motocicleta (rebajada)

Another cumbia rebajada from the archives of Sonido Dueñez… a song about motorcycles.

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: LUTON TOWN FC

{Luton Town securing promotion off a missed penalty by Coventry City at Wembley}

[25-Man Metaphysical Rosters are divined using a football metaphysics methodology where minutes played over the past 100 competitive club matches determines which 25 players constitute the strongest psychic influence over a club’s current psychic trajectory. Intuitive analysis is then added, done in English by an American, but with a decidedly anti-English un-American foundation. Football metaphysics believes in the beautiful game, not the modern corporate spectacle. We have more of a love for Maradona in Mexico than Messi in Miami. One Premier League club is done each month, as it’s the top domestic league in an English-speaking nation (the language we were born with). This is now a solo project again by Raven Mack, but used to be a small group effort, so it bears saying, Rest In Peace Neil.]

Returning to our once a month Premier League metaphysical coverage, after beginning the relaunch with arguably the most prominent current club in Manchester City, it only makes sense to balance that out with the least prominent club currently, in last season’s playoff promotion winner Luton Town FC. They’re run at the end of the Championship season last one was not expected, and them gaining promotion to the Premier League finally was a major piece of metaphysical recovery, as they had been in the First Division of English football throughout the ‘80s, and then were relegated in the final season before the First Division was re-branded as the Premier League in 1992. Their plummet saw them drop all the way to the Conference Premier (5th tier) before beginning their claw back up the footballing pyramid in 2013-14 season. It’s been a constant progression two, with four seasons in League Two, then a single one in League One, before a four season journey back up the Championship standings. That being said, it’s kind of like the football club version of a dude who begins a workout regimen, and becomes obsessive about it, so keeps getting bigger and bigger. In fact, Luton Town quite literally outgrew their clothes, as Kenilworth Road lacked the media facilities required by Premier League bylaws or whatever the fuck, so upon gaining promotion, they had to undergo a massive renovation. Their first home match was postponed because this construction was not done, and pics circulated of Kenilworth Road online, showing how one back wall of the stadium butts up against regular folks junky-looking back yards. But that’s a big part of the beauty of the English football system (and most football leagues worldwide) in that any club can get infused with a money mark who hires the right minds to run things, and have an epic run over the course of a decade that will be remembered for generations.
Unfortunately, another aspect of outgrowing yourself through the tiers is personnel has to be constantly upgraded as well. And in that “ambitious Championship club” phase Luton Town was in, their squad was full of Premier League players on loan, tweeners who might be excellent in Championship but struggle in the Premier League, as well as whatever else they might get their hands on. That has meant that, as Luton Town hopes this isn’t a one-and-done season. The club that wins the playoff route towards promotion has had difficulty remaining in the Premier League historically, although Brentford and Nottingham Forest (the previous two) have both done a good job of surviving that first season, then attempting to establish themselves better that second season. So for Luton Town, this off-season has been a matter of scrabbling together parts enough to try and do just that… survive this first Premier League season in the club’s history. Heading into their home opener at Kenilworth Road though, they’d not gotten a point yet, and been outscored 7 to 1. But you don’t have to be amazing to survive that first season in the Premier League, as Forest showed so clearly last season. All you have to do is not be as bad as three other clubs. The Manchester Cities of the world can shoot for winning the league and going onto continental glory, but for a club like Nottingham Forest last season or Luton Town this one, you’re shooting for a mid-table finish, to get the boys motivated to not finish in the bottom three. That’s all you’re going for. I mean, you don’t say that publicly, because you have to maintain kayfabe and pretend you’re gonna win the Club World Cup in two years time. But realistically, Luton Town is gonna be ecstatic with a 16th place finish this season, and ensure a second one at the top level of English football.
So with all that personnel turnover in mind, here’s the 25 men who have occupied the most minutes on-pitch over the course of their past 100 competitive matches, thus comprising Luton Town’s metaphysical squad hovering over their hopes for this 2023-24 season like both active presences and ghosts that have dissipated off to elsewhere (through August 29, 2023)…

#1: AMARI’I BELL – Bell is Luton’s Jamaican national left back, who has been a Championship/League One tweener of sorts himself through most of his career, initially as a youth product of Birmingham City, and he spent time at Blackburn Rovers in rotation before landing at Luton Town the summer of 2021 and becoming key part of their back line. After over 150 matches in the Championship, Bell finally got a taste of Premier League life this season. He remains part of their survival squad, which is always nice to see, when a few players who scrapped it out with the club over the past few years also get to enjoy a little of that global spotlight. Bell has also become regular player for the Jamaican national team, despite having been born and raised in England, through his grandparents. That’s always gotta be neat to be able to reconnect to where your family is from by going back for matches a few times a year, getting a taste of the Caribbean proper.

#2: TOM LOCKYER – Welsh center back who wears the captain’s armband, and has been with Luton Town now since 2020. His appearances with the squad has grown over each of the past three seasons, until he was a mainstay last season, with 46 appearances across all competitions, and a solid 5 goals too (not bad from a center back). Despite still only being 28, has that classic dirt dog Welsh look of an eternal 40-year-old. Also famously got stretchered off in the early stages of their playoff final against Coventry City at Wembley Stadium a few months ago, to where nobody knew if he was okay or what. When Luton Town won the penalty shootout, fellow players paraded around with Lockyer’s jersey. The club didn’t even know if dude was okay, so manager Rob Edwards was low-key in post-match interviews, happy they won but not wanting to be too happy because they didn’t know Lockyer’s health status. He had a fibrillation of the heart, and was cleared to return to football, renewed his contract with Luton Town, and is the heart (no pun intended) of their defense.

#3: ELIJAH ADEBAYO – English-born striker of Nigerian descent, who had been contracted to Fulham for many years, but never catching on there. He played for Walsall and dominated League Two for two seasons, which led to Luton Town bringing him on board at the very end of the winter transfer window in 2021. He’s been a solid contributor for The Hatters throughout his time, with 28 goals at the Championship level the past two-and-a-half seasons.

#4: ETHAN HORVATH – Horvath continues America’s one solid tradition in English football… being a GK. He was born and raised in the US, but has made his professional career in Europe, in Norway and Belgium, and actually has a Hungarian passport through his father. He’s been the secondary GK for Nottingham Forest the past few years, occupying a double US GK set-up this season behind Matt Turner. But last season, he got a season-long loan spell with Luton Town, and was instrumental in their run, playing in 51 matches and getting 20 clean sheets. At 28, at this point he’s sort of settled into that role of secondary GK (which itself is a very certain mindset and metaphysical squad necessity). Luton Town had the option to sign Horvath after the loan, and chose not to, I guess agreeing with Nottingham Forest that Horvath wasn’t quite ready to play in the Premier League. And yet, all they did otherwise was poach Thomas Kaminshi from Blackburn Rovers, who has never had any Premier League experience before this season himself.

#5: ALLAN CAMPBELL – Campbell was a midfielder and Scottish international who played regularly for The Hatters the past two seasons, but was deemed perhaps not Premier League ready, and has been loaned to Millwall for the entirety of this season, which is a tight “hedge your bets” move for a lowly Premier League newbie, who might want ol’ boy back next season if they get immediately knocked back down to the second tier.

#6: CARLTON MORRIS – Another Championship/League One tweener caliber player, who was on Norwich City’s squad for two Premier League seasons previously, but never got a minute at that level. He has, however, scored Luton’s only goal in their first two matches upon returning to the Premier League. He’s been a workhorse for them this past season, and is expected to continue to carry a load, at a higher level than he’s ever done in his career thus far.

#7: JORDAN CLARK – English midfielder that has three eras to his career thus far. The first was contracted to Barnsley but not good enough for the Championship, so loaned out every year. Then he had a League Two/League One period of kicking people’s asses, both for Shrewsbury Town and Accrington Stanley. That landed him a transfer to Luton Town in the summer of 2020, and he’s been a steady contributor in those second tier years, despite never being the same dominant force he was at lower levels (understandably). The jump to the Premier League is likely to be a tough one for him, but he’ll get his minutes, and his shot at proving himself worthy at the age of 29.

#8: PELLY RUDDOCK MPANZU – Being fascinated with African football in general has led me to a particular fascination with DR Congolese players, because that country is so chaotically large, along a giant river, and features a continental powerhouse in TP Mazembe. Like DR Congo itself has the eastern affluent part towards the end of the Congo River at Kinshasa, which has pretty incredible musical history as well. But DR Congo is HUGE, and TP Mazembe is actually in Lubumbashi, pretty much right in the middle of Africa’s dangling appendage half, in the southeastern part of DR Congo, near Zambia. Mineral money there has created wealthy oligarchs, and one of them has channeled that money into creating a continentally dominant club. Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu has nothing to do with that, and in fact like most DR Congolese players seen in Europe, was born and raised far away from Africa, the result of so much displacement due to the political instability of the behemoth nation. Many of these guys flow through Belgium, which had been the colonial master of DR Congo historically, but Mpanzu was born in the Greater London area, and spent some time in his early adult years signed with West Ham. He only got one appearance in three seasons, thus was sold off to Luton Town when they were in the 5th tier of English football, back in November of 2013, on loan at first, but with the move being made permanent. And Mpanzu has remained with the club ever since, part and parcel of their climb from the Conference Premier, up through Leagues Two and One, and featuring prominently for them throughout their four-season stint in the Championship. Thus his appearances in the Premier League already for The Hatters are personal triumph as well, almost a decade after West Ham deemed him not good enough to play at that level. A bit injury-prone at times, but when he’s fit, he’s got that high-energy style from end-to-end that helps a lowly club over achieve, because that type of energy is infectious. Definite catalyst and good piece of Luton Town’s soul at this point, even if he’s too non-English (despite having lived his entire life in England) to wear the captain’s armband.

#9: ALFIE DOUGHTY – I’m a big fan of all dudes named Alfie to be honest. That’s perhaps a common nickname in the UK, but you don’t see no Alfies in America, thus it conjures up certain stereotypes of fun-loving shitheads. Doughty is a midfielder, and metaphysically speaking, you’d much rather have your fun-loving shitheads be on defense, or a defensive midfielder. Doughty is only 23, and he’s gotten smatterings of Championship experience the past few seasons, but has yet to become an every match player, much less somebody who looks Premier League-ready. Nonetheless, always good to have an Alfie male on the squad.

#10: JAMES BREE – Right back who’d been key member of their defense for nearly three seasons, but Southampton came and scooped him up last winter transfer window, as part of their hopes of surviving relegation. The Saints and Bree got the drop, and The Hatters were promoted, so Bree remains in the Championship, where he’ll likely cross 200 appearances in that second tier this season.

#11: GABRIEL OSHO – Young defender who gets regular time but isn’t an every match starter, by any means. Will likely be fighting even more for playing time, although at only 25, there’s still time for a potential breakout.

#12: REECE BURKE – As a youngster, Reece Burke was a West Ham youth academy hopeful, who actually got 5 appearances in the Premier League for the Hammers way back in 2014-15. Then began his wander through League One and Championship, where he firmly established himself as too good for League One, but rotational in the Championship. He started their match at Chelsea, thus getting his sixth Premier League appearance, with over 8 years between numbers 5 and 6. Also a plus that one of Luton Town’s big acquisitions for this season (and who won’t make this list because he’s only been there for a couple matches) is Ross Barkley, and Reece Burke/Ross Barkley have a nice phonetic combo to make things difficult for drunken supporters to explain what exactly had happened to cost Luton Town a match as the season goes on.

#13: MARVELOUS NAKAMBA – I’m a big fan of African names like Marvelous. I’m also a big fan of players who are African-born and make their way to the Premier League in a roundabout journey that takes them through their home continent, not European-born African heritage players who are put in major club academies early on. African football is beautifully chaotic, both at club and national team levels, and it’s one of my great joys to watch. Nakamba made the jump to France at 18, so he didn’t have long as a professional in Zimbabwe, but he spent time on Bantu Rovers before going to Europe. He’d already been in the Premier League, having been on Aston Villa’s squad beginning in 2019, and with 68 appearances for them across all competitions. Last season, he had become expendable, and was loaned to Luton Town, who did sign him on a permanent deal this past July.

#14: DAN POTTS – Dan Potts is the son of former West Ham captain Steve Potts, and thus was a West Ham youth product, and spent the first part of his professional career with The Hammers, but never could catch on. In 2015, he was sold to Luton Town, when they were still in League Two, and he’s been part of their squad ever since, also being along for the ride through the English football pyramid. It’s hard not to be happy for dudes like that, especially a guy like Potts, who probably had all this outsized pressure on him to be as great as his father. You have to assume this home opener at Kenilworth Road hosting The Hammers is gonna mean more to him than most everybody else out there.

#15: CODY DRAMEH – Young fullback owned by Leeds United who didn’t get much playing time on the senior squad, so has been getting loaned out to Championship squads, to Cardiff City two seasons ago and then to Luton Town this season. Somehow, even with Leeds United getting relegated, he’s still not good enough, because they loaned him out this season to Birmingham City rather than have him be part of their effort to regain promotion.

#16: SONNY BRADLEY – Grizzled old vet of the lower professional tiers, who fell out of starting favor as Luton Town’s trajectory got higher, though he came onto the squad in their League One days. Deemed expendable after promotion, he signed on with Derby County as part of their hopes of escaping League One wilderness and getting back to the second tier. Wayne Rooney did a real good job there. Luckily for me, he’s doing just as bad as manager for DC United here in America, where his name value will allow him to suck for a long time before getting sacked. Kinda telling he’s already managing in the US instead of toughing it out in League One with his childhood love Derby County. God I hate a Wayne Rooney.

#17: HARRY CORNICK – Not the famous light jazz musician, and in fact, not even with Luton Town anymore. After a long stint with the club, with 235 appearances across all competitions (and three tiers of English football), Cornick moved to Bristol City this past January, thus remains firmly entrenched in that English Championship existence. Also strange personal link, as I played Havant & Waterlooville in my FM2015 game a lot over the years, and Cornick was actually on that squad. He was only on loan, and would get really mad that I’d brought in all these other high profile players to replace him, so stupid ass AFC Bournemouth would recall him.

#18: FRED ONYEDINMA – High-speed Nigerian winger/forward whose toiled amongst various Championship clubs over the years, with both Millwall and Wycombe Wanderers at that level before joining Luton Town in 2021. Luton Town was a harder squad for him to find playing time on than Wycombe, and that became even more apparent last season, where he struggled to find minutes. Thus, with promotion to the Premier League, he too has been loaned back to the Championship, playing for Rotherham United this season, but with the open-ended possibility of coming back to Luton Town should they suffer the immediate drop back down.

#19: CAULEY WOODROW – Having football culturally really changes the opportunities of people. If you’d been born “Cauley Woodrow” in America, he’d have to be a lacrosse player at a private school, and if he’s lucky, get a Division III lacrosse scholarship somewhere where he’d rush a frat, live it up for four years in some small town college, then move into working in his dad’s insurance agency. But with the presence of footballing culture in England, this particular IRL Cauley Woodrow likely barely even had to pretend at school. He’s another one with previous Premier League experience, having been a squad member of Fulham from 2011-19, as they bounced up and down (as Fulham does), getting 6 appearances in 2013-14, including a singular goal in their match against Crystal Palace in May of 2014.

#20: LUKE BERRY – Berry has been a sporadic sub off the bench for Luton Town for a number of years, and has navigated four tiers of English football with the club. Thus, you kinda gotta love a dude like this finally getting Premier League minutes, as Berry has this season already. One of The Hatters longest-tenured players as well.

#21: KAL NAISMITH – Naismith had been a utility defender for The Hatters, who could play on either side of the defense, and in 18 months, accumulated 69 appearances across all competitions. He moved to Bristol City before last season, but the immensity of his minutes before that means he still shows up on this list, even after having been gone an entire year. That’s how the metaphysical list works. You put in an incredible amount of time on a club, and it takes a while for all that work to be cleansed from the club’s psyche.

#22: HENRI LANSBURY – Lansbury spent the past two seasons as a Luton Town midfielder who previously had 13 Premier League appearances under his belt (3 with Arsenal in his younger days, then 10 while with Aston Villa in 2019-20). He played sporadically last season, and officially retired a few weeks ago.

#23: LUKE FREEMAN – A former wonderkid who, while with Gillingham, became the youngest player to ever play in an FA Cup tie, subbing on at 15 years and 233 days. Got scooped up by Arsenal after that notable moment, but never once got an appearance for the Gunners, and has wandered the top three tiers of English football, mostly in the Championship, for the past 12 seasons. He did get 11 Premier League appearances while with Sheffield United in 2019-20. After being released by the Blades in summer of 2022, he spent last season pitching in for Luton Town, mostly as substitute on attack.

#24: CAMERON JEROME – You talk about grizzled vets of English football? Jerome is now 37, and outside of a stint in the Turkish Super Lig with Goztepe, has spent all of it England, on a multitude of clubs. In fact, age contributed to his time at Luton Town ending, as in January of this year, he felt all the traveling from his home in the north-west of England tiring, so they ended his contract on mutual consent, and he signed with League One’s Bolton Wanderers. He had appearances on the England U21 team from 2005 through 2008, but agreed to represent Grenada in October of last year (which probably added to his travel fatigue). Still with Bolton in League One this season, he’s got well over 300 Championship appearances, and over 200 Premier League appearances. One of those old ass strikers who just can’t quite give it up, and has seen it all in English football.

#25: JAMES SHEA – Shea seems to be Luton Town’s eternal back-up GK, whose been with them since their League Two days. He played a prominent role in their single League One season, and has sporadically had spells as their number one in the Championship years. He’s still holding down a spot on the squad, and wears their #1 jersey still.