The Week of March 18th - March 24th


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

TRIGGER WARNING: Today’s Weekly Once-over Trigger Warning has nothing to do with the fact that it is another Raven-styled menage a trois (although it is just that). Rather, today’s cautionary admonishment forewarns of the gratuitous and shameless self-promotion of our soon-to-be-finished Music Room.


It’s All About the Feeling!

For me, same as it ever was, I suppose. Unfortunately, I can’t explain it in any objective or tangible way. And as hard as I try, I simply can’t conjure the appropriate words to precisely describe exactly what it is that I am feeling. I am speaking about my feelings surrounding the ongoing and unfolding transformation of our sacred space, Raven Vanguard's Music Room.

This feeling of mine, while it may be inexpressible at this very moment in any grammatical sense, is nevertheless positively palpable, compelling, and uplifting. Undeniably, it is all at once intuitional, visceral, emotional and epic in its grandeur, and it is unquestionably propelling us forward as if it is a supernatural force of nature that is entirely unstoppable. These feelings also come with a keen sense of awareness, an internal knowledge, that is comprised in equal measure of a mystifying confluence of sorts between my consciousness and subconsciousness.   

Over the last six months, we have toiled away countless hours in near obscurity recreating a space that, by every rational manner of measure, was already impeccable in its transcendence. Throughout, we often pondered whether we were courting with disaster trying to improve something that was already ideal, or at least as close to the archetype as humans are capable of reaching and embracing. Those that were already intimately familiar with the experiential wonders of our Music Room cautioned us with their warnings of impending calamity if we started messing around with what we had previously achieved.

Those who exist within my inner circle will tell you that I am bedeviled by an insatiable emotional and psychogenic need to appraise myself differently than others by holding myself to principles and benchmarks that are rarely attainable. Perfectionism is, at times, a curse; but, at times, it has also proven to be my salvation. Who am I kidding ( I don’t need saving); so, in my case, it is almost always a pathological curse. If left unchecked, perfectionism can mutate into a malignant monstrosity that cannot be conquered or appeased; in other words, it can swallow you alive. Therefore, the perfectionist must find a way to make peace with oneself, either that or be left in a perpetual internalized state of war. To counter this potentially destructive force, I embrace it instinctually in ways that inspire, motivate, and awaken, and in ways that bring clarity, enlightenment, and, ultimately, revelation.

In my ever restless mind, a task completed is not truly complete unless executed with faultless integrity and exactness. To me, perfection, while it may be both art and science, is never anomalous. And perfection should always be pursued even if, at times, it seems out of reach, with the ultimate goal still being the realization of that which is categorically perfect. I am never content finishing a job in a merely acceptable manner. Conventionally completing work is utterly incompatible with my way of going about things. I am not saying that conventional is always wrong, although, in most cases, I believe that to be the case. So, if you are someone who looks to achieve only that which satisfies bare minimum requirements, you and I will never see eye-to-eye, and the feelings I am trying to describe here will surely escape you.

Our Music Room is just the latest example of my unfinished battle with the demons of perfectionism; fetishizing every single detail, the crucial ones, some slightly less significant, as well as the those that were either middling or mundane. But, dammit, I think we are on the verge of something utterly remarkable.

As creators, we believe we live in a world where there should never be limits, constraints, or even boundaries placed upon artistic conceptions and interpretations of beauty. Perceptible perfection cannot exist if prerequisites and conditions heavily burden the artist. Thus, we set out to make our redesigned Music Room the showpiece of our collective unbridled imagination. We conceived of this renewed space in ways that looked both forward and back, and in ways that only glanced reflectively inward. The newest incarnation of our Music Room is Raven Vanguard’s homage to the nocturnal, out-and-out sensuality, beauty, elegance, and boundary-pushing unpredictability.

When conceiving a space’s visual aesthetic, very rarely do I ever consider or reference the work of any other designer or artist, and I surely didn’t in the case of our Music Room, but I did find spiritual inspiration in the sexually-suggestive spaces of Salvador Dali’s Dream of Venus Pavilion from the 1939 World’s Fair. Also, floating around my head during this period of inner-directed creativity has been my romanticized conceit of the ascendancy of the French courtesan during the 17th and 18th Centuries (or, as Wife will explain it, my Nun, as dominatrix obsession)(think the bordel sequences with Monica Bellucci in Christophe Gans’ Brotherhood of the Wolf, aka Le Pacte des Loups, and you will better understand my conception). And, if you know me, you are already well aware that current and past design trends are altogether godforsaken and trifling in my eyes.

So, as I said, I gotta feeling; and this feeling has everything to do with the rebirth of our Music Room. If you love music, the night, design, art, fashion, Salon culture, sensory indulgence, or consider yourself a visual aesthete, you’ll have to make time to experience our Music Room for yourself starting in June 2019. The time is nigh at hand to encounter the unification of beauty, darkness, and eroticism in the way God Herself always intended; call it our spiritual lifeline in our unwavering quest to discover and unravel the essence of God Herself.


Staring Into the Bleak Void of Political Correctness

I have no interest whatsoever in achieving cultural immortality in any way, shape, or form. I genuinely don’t give a shit about what others might think of me. Today, I speak out against the fallacy of advocating political correctness at the expense of fruitful dialogue. Indeed, right now, I don’t have a single extra fuck to give about preserving the debilitating aura of political correctness that not only impregnates but derails most meaningful attempts to have an honest conversation over undeniably opposing points of view. What will it take to bring us to a marriage of opposites? Surely not mincing words, or beating around the bush to the point of obfuscation, as seems to be the case every time the absurd conventions of rigid adherence to political correctness overarches every attempt to communicate with one another honestly.


The Brexit Doomsday Clock is Tick Tocking Away

The Council of the European Union has thrown Theresa May a life preserver in the guise of an iron anchor by extending the United Kingdom’s EU withdrawal date to April 12th. What does this mean, and what, if anything, does it accomplish? Unfortunately, for Prime Minister May, absolutely nothing. 

Whether Brexit is ultimately a good thing or a bad thing for the people of the United Kingdom is undoubtedly up for reasoned agreement, or, better yet, continued disagreement as the case may be. No matter which way this pending withdrawal plays out in the coming weeks, the consequences will not only directly impact the United Kingdom and the European Union but will also have economic repercussions felt the world over. Because Raven Vanguard does business in Europe, Brexit will undoubtedly impact us, no matter which way the wind blows across the increasingly turbulent Atlantic.

Words according to Brooke, Co-Founder and Boss Lady of Raven Vanguard

Hi there, Brooke speaking, it’s time for some Raven rambles! It's been a good week. Maybe it’s this worm moon? Why the name worm moon? It honestly does have to do with actual worms. Apparently, this is the time of year when the worms start coming up from the ground. Freaky. Wonder what else is rising from the earth?

Whenever there are full moons, I live the life of an insomniac for three straight days. I know the moon cycles affect our sleep, but let’s be real- the sun cycle, or lack thereof in Buffalo, is most definitely affecting me. How so, you ask? Because this cold gray weather keeps interfering with my diet plans! Skipping the kale smoothie and opting for a warm meal with cheese and extra cheese just seems more appropriate when the sun don’t shine — enough talk about the weather.

I went to my nieces’ orchestra concert this week. As I sat there in their school auditorium, that I haven’t been in for twenty-two years (now I feel old, or hopefully I did the math wrong), it was like I was viewing the place for the first time. I remember what it looked like, but I didn’t remember many details of it. It just made me think about how you see things as an adult that you are oblivious to as an adolescent.

Why don’t we remember every part of our lives? Why is it that we don’t remember our birth? Except for the few people that get to remember it during an Ayahuasca trip. Why do some random useless memories stick with us but the ones we would love to remember fade away into some place that we can’t recall? Where do they go? It’s a strange thing that we can’t recall every moment of our lives, yet each and every moment adds up to make us who we are at this very second. You would think that we would recall it all.

In fact, the one thing that I do remember about the auditorium was that “legalize it” was NOT carved into the nice wood entry doors when I was a student. Some brilliant student (or badass faculty member) clearly felt that was the best way to promote the legalization of “it.” Wonder what “it” was that they could have been referring to?

Sugar babies, I’m sure you have heard of them- but have you heard of Sugar Baby University? On online site that has more than 1.2 million students who are looking to pay off their student debt by chatting, flirting and probably sending some naughty photos to their wealthy elders, all while earning close to an average $2,500 per month doing so. The best part is there is no minimum GPA required. I’m sure these conversations are deep, and the pictures are all worthwhile. I wonder if it would make sense to have Tom enroll in community college so he can qualify as a Sugar Baby University Student? I’ll give this some more thought.

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

Ah. Another Once-Over has snuck up on me. Not only has it snuck up on me, as the week has flown by, but I am in the final 45-minute stretch of the work day, thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner at my 5:45 reservation. (I mean no offense to my work environment – aka Tom working on his portion of this Once-Over behind me – when I say I am currently in a food-centric daze, I am just a very fucking hungry person who loves food.)

Fortunately, this time around I know what I want to talk about, at least a little.

I am not sure how I managed to be living so far under a rock that I had never listened to a single podcast before this past weekend. For some reason they always seemed to have a tedious and time-consuming nature about them, and I never have time to do anything remotely time-wasting right? Well shit, I was wrong. I have a 35-minute commute every morning and every evening Monday through Friday. On Wednesdays, I have been learning to tattoo at my apprenticeship, which is a 50-minute commute from Raven Vanguard. On Saturdays, I have a 20-minute commute, and up until lately, I have almost always done my drawing work in silence. Crazy right? I love music but I often work in silence. Why? Well, shuffle never seems to know my mood, YouTube is terribly un-predictive, Apple Music doesn’t exactly match up to Spotify’s suggested music (no, I do not have Spotify Premium and it is just short of sinful) and I am the world’s most distracted individual. A song comes on that I do not like and I’m putting down my pen to change it. Next thing you know, I’m scrolling through my notifications, responding to texts, and fuck, how did I get so distracted that I am now giggling at a cat meowing with subtitles? Sigh.

The Miracle and Absolute Addiction That Has Entered My Life – My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

This past weekend I took a solo road trip down to Philly to surprise a friend for her birthday. On the way down, I managed to shuffle through way too many genres, just to stay entertained. It worked though. I sang a lot. Tapped the steering wheel a lot. I needed the upbeat stuff to get me through night-driving. Fast-forward to Sunday afternoon, and let’s just say, I was wildly hungover. Yeah, Saturday night had been a really good time. I got in my car, hardly ready to drive for 5 hours, the first song came on my Bluetooth-linked speakers and I was super fucking annoyed. The next song sucked. And the next hurt my head. BUT WHAT COULD POSSIBLY MAKE ME FEEL BETTER? The answer? Murder.

Before you jump to conclusions, I did not kill anyone. Although Tom seems to think I have the ability to do something of that nature, I never would.

I had already heard about the podcast My Favorite Murder, as it is wildly popular amongst those who are fascinated by true crime and by people who commit hellacious crimes. (Something I have always been shamelessly interested in, as my mom says, “how can you watch this stuff?” in the background.) My friend Madison had brought it up again before my trip, mentioning that one of the hosts on the podcast has a cat named Elvis, who often meows loudly for a cookie in the background of their discussion. SOLD.

I hunted down the Podcasts app on my phone, typed it in, scrolled all the way down to Episode 1 – My Firstest Murder. (There are currently 165 Episodes and 114 Mini Episodes, the regulars being around an hour and a half each, and the minisodes being 20-25 minutes. So much to catch up on, and I’m stoked.) I love these girls, I mean they are witty and funny, and *mostly* accurate while they discuss serial killers, one-off murders, cold cases and more. I think it’s common for people to cringe at the thought, but I just think it is wild that there are people who dedicate their life to plotting, scheming and killing. Their concerns revolve around getting caught (if they feel anything at all) and then there’s me, freaking out over sleeping through my alarm. It’s crazy.

Their podcast is my newest addiction. So, in the My Favorite Murder fashion, I will wrap this Once-Over up with their tagline:

 Stay Sexy, and Don’t Get Murdered.