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.

Friday, July 5

SONG OF THE DAY: Eternal Ridin' (XL Middleton remix)

[Wrote this all out because XL Middleton is the purveyor of a genre of funk I like to call "driving a customized van through the hills of Appalachia in 1978". It's an unparalleled vibe.]
As some of y’all may or may not know, I got a time machine behind my mom’s house that’s an old ’69 Chevelle Supersport. Unfortunately, like most things in my life, it’s raggedy, so my time machine only goes to the Food City in Pikeville, Kentucky, around 1978 now. (You can keep turning the dial to the left to go further back in time, but now that I’m not floating bad check at the Food City for groceries, I hadn’t been turning the time machine dial back anymore, for fear of hitting the end. 1978, where I’m at, is about 91/92 on the old school FM dial, so it ain’t gonna go too much further back, and I don’t know how to calibrate timeframes on my haphazard time machine.)
I think at some point, while getting mad about vintage clothes resellers, specifically selling old biker and wrestling t-shirts at astronomical prices, I got to thinking about old school customized vans from the 1970s. (No diss to vintage resellers, but I just can’t abide those prices. I know folks can get it, but just as there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, not sure there’s ethical vintage reselling either. But I also accept the fact we’re all just trying to survive capitalism, too, so I’m more pissed off that this is the shared collective existence we have, more than individuals selling old school redneck shit at astronomical prices to extremely online hipsters.) And since I could always go back ton 1978 Pikeville, Kentucky, I decided, what if I got a custom van?
The problem is, well first off, money. Today money don’t look like back then money. But I had found a meticulous workaround (buying old money) that took a lot of time. I saved up money to get a car, but they didn’t have a lot of nice custom vans in Pikeville, Kentucky, back then, at least not like what I hoped to get. So I bought a ’72 AMC Matador instead, blue, because I briefly had one in the ‘90s, and it was an awesome car, even if I pretty much blew it up the first month I had it. Once I had my ’72 Matador in ’78 Pikeville, I realized a much quicker way to get old money that worked in those days was to steal it, not really robberies, because that’s not cool, but stealing it from unsecure stores because they didn’t have the same surveillance technology back then. But I usually tried bigger places away from Pikeville, kind of finding the sweet spot being going up 119 toward Charleston and hitting bigger towns in southern West Virginia (Williamson, Logan, Madison… where I contemplated trying to find a young Jesco White before realizing I probably didn’t wanna get involved in some 1978 White family chaos and derail getting back to nowadays indefinitely over some stupid shit). I mostly did my robbing there, and right before coming back to the time machine in Pikeville, so I’d park my Matador, and come back to now with the old cash, which remained old. Later, in a few days, after I knew any heat that might’ve arrived at the time died down, I’d go back. Eventually I’d built up enough of an old money nest egg through various robberies in southern West Virginia, I could go looking for an old school customized van.
I was hoping for the full deal – bubble windows, shag carpet, wizard murals on the side… all you’d imagine if you used your now brain which has been polluted with the faux infinite possibilities of digital imagination. But that type of van, customized to that level, wasn’t easily found in Kentucky. I also didn’t wanna go looking for vans in West Virginia with money I’d stole there (because maybe I was wanted, which also lolol imagine my simple 2024 ass being wanted in 1978 West Virginia). I started creeping up 23 on the look, and actually found the first cool customized van I wanted in Prestonsburg, not far from Pikeville. It was basic customized, with captain’s chairs and nice powder blue shag, and a spade bubble window, but no mural, nothing too outlandish. So I bought it.
The problem was, my time machine was just a ’69 Chevelle Supersport, so I couldn’t bring the customized van back in the time machine. So I bought it and left it parked at the Food City in Pikeville, Kentucky. And I’m not really gonna be able to bring them to now, ever. But I did keep looking. Well actually, I started going to Ashland, Kentucky/Huntington, West Virginia area, more to draw dirtgod monikers on the coal and freight cars there. I hadn’t done it ton, maybe only a couple thousand monikers there in 1978, enough that’ll be known to train riders and railroad workers of that time frame, at least there, but not wider. I hope to eventually get thousands and thousands more in those yards. That Ashland CSX yard was just a Chessie yard back then, so it’s got those beautiful yellow cabooses, which I never mark on, out of respect for the workers, and to keep them off my ass. But hopefully eventually I’ll hit enough freight cars back then that the dirtgod moniker will become known as a famous old school one like Bozo Texino or Palm Tree Herby, and the ones I do now will be disregarded as some new school hipster copycat stealing from the old legend. I don’t mind getting cancelled in the nowadays if I can thrive in the past though.
But I found a really nice customized van for sale, with a Frank Frazetta Death Dealer style mural on both sides, which this was even before Molly Hatchet had come out, so that was ahead of its time there in Huntington. I definitely bought that one, and got it back to Pikeville and parked it by the other one at the Food City, on the far corner of the lot furthest from the road, so kind of out of the way to be safer, although leaving a car parked somewhere like that was way safer back then I think. The worst person around was most likely modern me when I went back looking to rob stores in West Virginia lol.
I tried to be happy with the two vans, and my time machine fits another person, so occasionally I’ll take one of my homies with to go driving in the vans, but only certain people, because most folks can’t handle time travel and will blow up the whole thing by telling too many folks about our secret spot. Mostly, it’s made best sense to take the graff crew homies, one at a time, because they enjoy going to the Chessie yard and doing panels on old school freight in ’78, putting them way ahead of the freight graffiti movement, and actually happening at the same time graffiti was blowing up in New York City on the subway trains. Eventually, that’s gonna fuck with somebody too, to “discover” there was full-blown graffiti happening in Appalachia at the same time it was blowing up in New York City. But the graff homies know how to not run their mouth, and it’s fun to drive the vans around the mountains, even though instead of each of us driving one, it’s more fun to both ride in the same. Kinda weird to have one dude per van tooling around like that, lol, but we did it for a while before realizing that shit was weird.
But I did get to wandering on my own, and once I got to Lexington, Kentucky, the customized van scene was strong enough there were more options. I actually bought two more in 1978 Lexington, also now parked in Pikeville at the Food City, because again, I can’t transport them back. I actually put the first one I bought up for sale again, by the road, but I’m never actually there in 1978 for the most part to meet anybody to buy it, and I don’t have a phone number back then, especially not one that would work now so I could answer it here and be like, “Yeah, I can meet you on Saturday morning” to somebody from 1978 Pikeville. It’s a lot to juggle. But I’ve got it parked by the road, with a For Sale sign on it, and the other three just sitting there in the back corner of the parking lot, chilling, three nice ass customized vans, like the nicest vans in all of Pikeville.
So anyways, if you end up having a weird ass time machine that’s calibrated all fucked up like that to go to Pikeville, Kentucky, and you see the three vans parked in the back corner of the lot, with the Frazetta mural and wizard mural and bubble windows and purple to pink fade glitter paint on the one, those are mine. Leave a note for me if you want.
And even though already having four old ass vans in the parking lot there feels like a lot, I’m already contemplating driving all the way to Louisville, or maybe even taking a long week off and going up to Cincinnati and seeing what I can find. I know there’d be some wild shit in Cincinnati, for sure. But again, as always the risk with that type of trip is knowing how I am, and I could get too intricately wrapped up in some 1978 bullshit that I never make it back to 2024. And while that can seem enticing, the lack of family support and real roots in that time period leaves me feeling very out of place a lot of times driving around. If I got stuck there, it’d be way worse. And I guess once I started thinking about, “What if one of my vans got stolen?” from the Food City parking lot, it dawned on me that while I was galivanting around robbing stores in West Virginia or cruising in a van or looking for shit to get into somewhere further away, that would be massively fucked up to come back to Pikeville and see my time machine Chevelle gone. I’d be trapped, and limited to whatever I had on hand. I’d have to get a job in that time and live the rest of my life in the past, which would absolutely suck. A lot of people act like they might want that, but it’d drive them crazy if they actually had to do it. Trust me… visiting for a day or two is more than enough.

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