The Week of February 18th - February 24th


Words according to Thomas, Co-Founder, Jack of all Trades, and Creative Director of Raven Vanguard


So, the less we say about this, the better; instead, we’ll leave it to the machinations and fertility of your overly-productive and perverse imaginations to fill in all of the missing visual gaps.

So, in chaotically random order, here’s my take on this past week’s rollercoaster ride through the graveyard of the living.

It’s High-Time the Interior Design Industry Perishes

Yes, it’s most definitely time for the present-day field of interior design to fuck off and die; in a manner of speaking (well, in mine, anyway).

Meaning, the over-commercialization of the interior design industry must immediately come to an unceremonious end with a Rome-styled sacking and burning.

Now, mind you, I’m not talking about the artistry, beauty, and creativity of interior design, or its sphere of aesthetic influence, or its ability to catapult the imagination, or even as a vocation. Instead, I condemn it as an industry of big business and mass production, with its rapidly expanding commercial sector that is so myopically focused on profit margins and making things very cheaply from the cheapest materials available just to appease the soul-crushing bottom line.

To make matters even worse, the interior design industry thrives by continuously telling you that your recently completed interiors project is already out-of-style and by sending you on a never-ending wild goose chase in search of the next newest trend (one that is also sure to be poorly-conceived, cheaply-made, and momentarily fleeting).

There are global consequences to the perpetual mass proliferation of cheaply produced and poorly made goods, especially those made of synthetics, plastics, toxic chemicals, or other human-made Frankenstein-materials that threaten the livability of our environment. Everything, even cheap and cheapness, has a high social cost; think about the disenfranchised labor pool of inadequately paid workers that were compelled to toil long hours to make that mass produced item that likely won’t outlast its measly 90-day warranty.

So, for enduring beauty to survive, the current archetype of interior design must immediately cease and go away. Thus, if you too are a sworn enemy of the ordinary, take part in the artisan-led revolution by hiring Raven Vanguard for your next design-related project.


And I Was Just Finally Wrapping My Head Around Genderqueer Being a Thing

According to Wife, an inter-governmental plot now exists to block out the sun by discharging a form of toxic fairy dust into the stratosphere with the intention of unnaturally reflecting and manipulating the rays of the sun, all in an effort to control the Earth’s rising temperatures. Wife assures me that this is about to be “a thing.”

Be that as it may, Wife, not every single thing existing in a corporeal, material, inanimate, or tangible sense transcends its practical or secular limitations to become “a thing” in the Wikipedia, urban legend, societal, or pop culture’s what is surprisingly and suddenly fashionable sense.

Now, genderqueer, in my eyes, that’s most definitely “a thing.” And its something that took me some time to comprehend. Now, thanks to artist @BunnyMichael, whose work I follow on Twitter, I better understand and appreciate genderqueer in its non-binary context, rather than in my former rebuking they’re-just-dazed-and-confused way of thinking.

Whether or not thermal geoengineering and blocking out the sun ever become the next big “thing,” Wife is undoubtedly right about one thing, we’d better stop fucking around with Mother Nature, and be damn quick about it.

Every little thing she does - thanks for being true to yourself, Wife.


Please, Say It Ain’t So Jussie

Being entirely candid, before January 29, 2019, I didn’t even have a clue who Jussie Smollett was. Smollett, who is both black and gay, claimed that he was attacked on January 29th by two hooded men who tied a noose around his neck, doused him with an unknown liquid, and berated him with racist and homophobic slurs.

Now, nearly one month later, Chicago Police allege that Jussie’s allegations were entirely contrived and utterly false. I don’t know whether Smollett’s claims are true or not, but this is a really bad look if his story was entirely made up for selfish reasons.

By every measuring stick imaginable, Edray Herber Goins (@edraygoins) is an impressive human being. Goins is African American and a Professor of Mathematics (and a research mathematician at that). He is also an eminently important role model, no matter your gender or the color of your skin. Goins has spent an entire lifetime trying to successfully navigate the turbulent waters of predominantly white institutions as an underrepresented minority. And succeed he has, but not without monumental hardship and personal struggles each and every day.

If Jussie’s allegations are false, he surely owes an apology to the Chicago police force, but, more importantly, he owes an apology to Edray Goins, and to everyone like him, who experiences the real effects of discrimination each passing day in an attempt to just live a decent life. I wonder whether Jussie stopped to consider, for even a second, if his fake claims of racism and bigotry would in any way undermine the legitimacy of the struggles faced by good people, like Edray, daily.

Whether someone is genuinely deserving of achievement, advancement, or success, should never be about the color of their skin, their gender, age, religious beliefs, sexuality, or their place of birth.


What Of the Recent Supermoon?

Don’t ask me; I slept through it, but that was never my intention. Who doesn’t want to stare longingly into a moon known as snowmoon or hunger moon? So, the next time some spectacular celestial body rises high in the night sky, I will surely remember to set my alarm.


Shamima Begum, US Style

So far, the United Kingdom has made it clear to Shamima that she is not welcome to return to the UK following her multi-year dalliance with ISIS.

Did you know that there are currently many women who previously held US citizenship now sitting, like Shamima, in Syrian refugee camps, but who now wish to return to the United States after years of extremist activities abroad while married to or girlfriend to male members of ISIS? What should these women be told? For starters, go to hell, certainly works.


Trump’s Declaration of a National Emergency in an Attempt to Build His Border Wall

Living in today’s Post-Truth Age is it any wonder that Trump’s National Emergency declaration is riddled with half-truths and cherry-picked data? I’m not saying that we don’t need beefed up security to protect our southern borders and elsewhere, but we should be going about this in a way that does not lead to many millions of dollars wasted on taxpayer-funded litigation over whether a national emergency declaration is a proper mechanism to address potentially legitimate concerns over immigration.


Juul Junkies – Can This Possibly Be Another Thing?

Oh yeah, what’s a Juul junkie? Well, for one thing, it is an urban slang descriptor for someone who is addicted to vaping nicotine salts. Vaping, as most everyone knows by now, is the act of inhaling the aerosolized vapors produced by the combustion of oils in an electronic or e-cigarette.

Juul is also the branded name of a company that manufactures a vaping device and a combustible pod containing nicotine, preservatives, and other ingredients in a so-called proprietary formulation. Since the fictitious branded name Juul is now used interchangeably as both a noun and a verb, it’s probably safe to assume that Juuling and Juul junkies are a thing.

Too bad, because although Juul claims that Juuls are marketed to adults only, there is growing evidence that Juuling is now a popular thing among minors, even grade school aged children. The fact that Juul liquid pods come in many kid-friendly flavors seems to cut against the Company’s claim that there was never any intent to appeal to a new, and younger generation of nicotine or tobacco abusers.

Parents of young children need to know that Juul pods contain significant amounts of nicotine and other potentially unsafe ingredients. Parents also need to be reminded that nicotine can be highly addictive in any form. Parents should also assume that if their child Juuls, that their child may already be addicted.


Can, And Should, Humans Practice the Art of Untethering One’s Spirit From the Shackles of Their Conscious Reality?

Untethering one's spirit from the shackles of one's conscious reality - how do you go about this? I’m not quite sure, but you should definitely give it a try sometime.

In reality, what, if anything, did you do this week to liberate your soul from the trials and tribulations of your physical existence?

Words according to Dakota, SHE II, and Raven Vanguard’s third member, also known as Sloth


Another Once-Over has come our way and for once, I did not have to think too in depth about what I want to talk about. A lot has been on my mind regarding relationships, my own future, the way we perceive our lives via social media, the way we perceive others, specifically celebrities, through social media, and how fame and moral codes do not correlate.

Starting on a light note, as some of you may know, I was in the process of buying a house back in August. Thankfully, that did not work out, seeing as the person I was buying the house with is no longer in the picture. I will get back to talking about him, his social media fame, manipulative behavior, and narcissistic morals, later, because I’m not in the mood just yet, and I want to talk about myself first. As of last night, I was looking at houses once again. Not because I’m desperate to get out of my current situation, or am longing for some sense of permeance, but because ever since I was a kid, I was a visionary. Not the type that imagines becoming famous through international politics, solving world hunger, or becoming the next best pop star. I was just really good at visualizing the next version of me. Simply speaking, who I wanted to become next. What was getting old in my closet, how I would dress in a year from then, what kind of music I would listen to, what I would paint on the side of my motorcycle helmet (you know, once I got a motorcycle license and a motorcycle.) That kind of stuff. I’ve always loved painting pictures in my mind of what could be. Last night I found a cute house in North Buffalo, and for the first time I was not just visualizing what the interior would look like. I was thinking about how easy it was to walk to the nearest ice cream place, and the taco restaurant. Why? Because I was visualizing taking my niece there once she is old enough to walk and eat “adult food.” That moment was when I realized how much my life had changed, just by becoming an aunt, and how much my values have changed because of my amazing family and support system. It feels so good to know that what I already have brings me so much happiness.

That is not to say that I’ve grown beyond the materialistic approach to future planning, as I was looking at a literal house. (ALSO – That’s literally my job.) I love putting together manifestation boards and planning out aesthetic approaches to my future. Aesthetics and design bring me happiness, and I do believe in surrounding yourself with beauty that is pleasing to your soul. That is why I always wish I had endless cash. (LOL. Not just for selfish reasons – but that could be fun.) I wish I could develop my visions, especially for our city. Every morning I drive into downtown Buffalo and I gaze upon tons of beautiful potential. Buildings that have phenomenal architecture, having been left to sit, empty, just waiting for something that can fill its halls with life and windows with light once again. What makes me sad is that many times, more often than not, these buildings get renovated and retrofitted with interiors that are cheaply constructed and serve to provide no historical significance. We need interiors to do these buildings justice, especially in a city that stays indoors for so much of the year. We need these spaces to be memorable. So, I’ll say it again. I wish I had endless cash, because there are so many places that I can envision being more than they are now, and I wish I could make it happen.

Subject change: social media and internet people, how deceiving it truly is.

So, we all know about the pressures, positives, and negatives of social media in the modern world. Everyone has heard of cyberbullying, FOMO (the fear of missing out), the rose-colored glasses effect, and how people only show us what they want us to see. We hear about photo altering, false perceptions, and how that Instagram model selling tea who is seemingly always on vacation is truly only posting multiple photos from one trip. And you can not actually make a living from selling that powdered bullshit. Why have I been thinking about Instagram, so much, again?? Well, because I run not one, but four Instagram’s, and 3 of 4 are for business. I have my personal, my art branding account, the Raven Vanguard Instagram and the Nest Interiors Instagram. And truth be told, that shit is a lot of work and a lot of upkeep when running a business. Constantly creating content and a feed that looks curated is time and thought consuming. I get frustrated when I think of how hard it is to build 4 completely different visual brands and upkeep a digital presence, when there are people famous for absolutely nothing. Which brings me to the topic of my ex-boyfriend. He owns cars. Nice ones. Ones that people wish they had. And total strangers love him for it. 10.9k to be exact. Why does that matter exactly? Truth be told, it doesn’t. He does not matter, but it baffles me that people can be so devoted to false perception. People who are not kind, who cheat and lie and steal. And total strangers will put them on a pedestal, just because of what they put on the internet. Just because of what they own.

People are misguided by real celebrities too. Like Ryan Adams. People fell for his music about love and emotional lyricism. People praised him for having an open heart in his art. But no one ever had any fucking clue who this guy really was. REALLY. Everyone just listened to his music and loved him. Until now. Until we all found out that this man was entirely emotionally manipulative, trapping young women into toxic unhealthy relationships in order to “further their music careers,” hanging opportunities over their heads until they were in situations that they did not want to be in. Adams has also been accused of having sexual relations with a minor, who at the time was turning 16, while Adams was around 40. There is texting evidence, including a message where he compares himself to R. Kelly. R. FUCKING KELLY. Who, as of today, was officially charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse, all involving underage victims. Talk about comparing yourself to a monster. The Ryan Adams situation has left a lot of people speechless, especially those who praised him and his work for YEARS, critics who gave his albums high ratings for his emotionalism. Looking back, many people have started to pick through the warnings, such as the track Nobody Girl which includes the lyrics,

“They don't know you anyway

They don't know you and they don't watch you walk away

Just a nobody girl

With a radar to the scene

When the emptiness finds you

You find all the numbers you need

Say you follow your heart

Well, honey you're just being lost

You could follow your gut

But how much would it cost?”

Hmmm sounds like he is dissuading her from her future in order to be with him? What kind of sacrificial bullshit is that? And people found that romantic? Mandy Moore sure didn’t, as she was married to him, feeling trapped and smothered by his emotional abuse. What’s the lesson here? Well, I think we could all try to be a little bit more careful of who we decide to praise, put on pedestal, speak for. Because the truth is, we don’t know any of these people. And we can sure as hell stop defending political and celebrity racists, abusers, frauds, homophobic assholes and the like. YOU. DO. NOT. KNOW. THESE. PEOPLE. They did nothing to deserve your defense because you only know their media filtered, press secretary screened, manager approved content. (Except for Trump. That man is a blubbering mess on Twitter, and if you choose to ignore those horrors and defend his non-existent honor, you’re probably pretty fucking shitty.)

Was that a rant? Somewhat, yes. But you get the point. Create beautiful things, focus on your immediate relationships and nourishing them, and be cautious of the deceptiveness of internet personas. Oh. And have a good weekend!