The Week of April 8th - April 14th


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


My Burgeoning Distaste For the Commonplace

Yes, here I go again. Look, I am not stubbornly suggesting that every designed space in this world has to be the equal of The Palace of Versailles, that 17th Century French exaltation of art and creativity, but why, in the design sense, must modernity be so hellishly monotonous? Back in 1977, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager must have been feeling the very same thing. Appreciating that space, in actuality, is the uniting of haven, sanctuary, and hideaway into an oasis from the gathering storm clouds of the mundane. If you ever stepped foot inside Studio 54, you know exactly what it is that I am talking about, don’t you?


What Do Brexit and Halloween Have in Common?

Damned if I know, but because of one helluva calendar-sized irony, we’re about to find out. Someone in the EU surely has a gallows sense of humor. Hopefully, Theresa May already has her costume picked out seeing as she is going to be extraordinarily busy in the days, weeks, and months to come. In giving thought to her costume choices, I am wondering whether, in Greek Mythology, there is a female counterpart to Sisyphus?

Mary Magdalene – Luke’s Demon-possessed Harlot or Divinity Proselyte?

One of my all-time favorite lines from the lyrics of a song is “If the Bible tells you so” from the second verse of Don McLean’s American Pie recorded in 1971. For many, many centuries, the rhetoric surrounding Mary Magdalene that had been contrived by the Catholic Church and Christian scholars was that she was Christ’s courtesan, a fallen woman. So did the Bible get this one wrong, or was Mary’s alleged fall from grace merely a case of mistaken identity (I’m looking at you, Luke)? Or, was something more perverse at play? Truth be told, Mary Magdalene was no Jezebel. Instead, she was another innocent victim of the misogynistic misgovernance of the patriarchal aristocracy of man. The Catholic Church made a feeble attempt in 2016 to correct the record it perverted many centuries ago by scarcely announcing that Mary Magdalene was no whore but the 13th Apostle. Really, Rome? Is that all you have to say for yourself?

The Larcenous Monetization of That Which Does Not Belong to You

In this case, I am talking about thievery for commercial purposes of another’s artistic or creative efforts by a poaching third party who has no moral, ethical, and, most times, no legal right to appropriate or take by piracy. Unfortunately, artistic and creative works are pilfered every day to the creator’s detriment by those who have no legitimate entitlement to the end result of the artist’s creative process.

For instance, Caroline Caldwell (@DIRT_WORSHIP in TwitterLand) is a creative whose work we very much appreciate. About four years ago, Caroline tweeted “In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” These words were Caroline’s. In the literary, and lexical sense, Caroline’s statement is an aphorism. The law of copyright is intended to safeguard works of creative authorship. Whether Caroline’s aphorism was rightfully subject to copyright protection is debatable; after all, short phrases and sayings are not always protectable; even when, like Caroline’s, they are distinctively original. Although I’d like to think that Caroline’s saying was indeed protectable, that’s not the point of this observation.

Immediately following Caroline’s Tweet, it’s fair to say that her Tweet went viral. More importantly, it is also fair to say that since then others have misappropriated her words to her detriment, and their commercial advantage, meaning they profited from her creative authorship, and they did so without any attribution at all acknowledging her as being the source of these prognostic words. The point is, these degenerates stole from Caroline and they should account to her in some fashion for their thievery. It’s time for artists and creatives to unite and confront those who take from us without first asking for permission.

Like Caroline, Raven Vanguard is constantly doing battle with others who attempt to misappropriate our creative work. Our current antagonist is a dubious China-registered company that is brazenly trying to steal our trade names, branded image, and the artistic and creative design of our Website, as well as our original works of authorship. Did I mention that I am also an attorney? Well, I am, and this company will soon rue the day they fucked with Raven Vanguard. On to hell with them, and to every other who attempts to take what does not belong to them!

King Crimson, the Many-Headed Beast Turns Fifty – Happy Birthday, Gentlemen

King Crimson formed in 1969. Since its inception, it has existed in many different incarnations and configurations. In reality, far too many to recount in this Once-over. Through it all, there has been but a single constant and mainspring around which this artistic and visionary behemoth has been both tethered and untethered – founder, composer, maestro, and guitarist extraordinaire, Robert Fripp. Without Fripp, there is no Crimson; plain and simple. But, it is also true that over the seven or more different embodiments of this Band over the past fifty years, Crimson would not have reached the dizzying creative heights that it has without the uttermost contributions of the nearly two dozen extraordinary musicians that for varying periods of time called Crimson home.

King Crimson is touring this year in celebration of this momentous occasion. Even though this Tour will not cross paths with Buffalo, I must somehow find a way to witness what Fripp considers to be the most perfect specimen of Crimson to give voice to Crimson’s wide-ranging aesthetic palate. So, Toronto or Montreal here I come. Happy Birthday, KC.  

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

Husband should be proud. I’m writing this Weekly Once-over completely unprompted. Well, I don’t have much else to do on this plane ride since I forgot my headphones and book. Plus I need something to distract me from the screaming pint-sized banshee a few rows up. I don’t know if I should offer to buy some vodka for the Heathen Child or for his mother- who already looks like she is ready to ditch her kid intentionally after we land at the airport. This video from Grinderman for their song Heathen Child was actually filmed aboard my flight.

I’m heading down to Florida for a long weekend to visit some family, and surprise my niece for her 21st birthday. And selfishly I needed a break. Work has been a lot for the last couple of years, and I haven’t taken a vacation in a long while. Husband is back in Buffalo holding down the Ravens’ Nest, although we all know Dakota is in charge of him when I’m not there.

I was genuinely looking forward to just zoning out. Putting the headphones on and listening to some music. It’s funny because as much as music is such a large part of our lives here at Raven Vanguard, I can’t listen to it as much as I would like. I can’t listen to music, and work at the same time, and well, I work a lot. Listening to music upends my concentration. Especially if I’m doing math. The RV crew knows when I’m doing math, it’s a quiet time for all. Shhh! Silence yourself, Husband! In truth, I’m so sensitive to music that I can’t truly concentrate on much else when it’s on.

We attended a Tea Party concert this past weekend. Actually, Husband and I went to two sold-out performances over two consecutive nights at the Town Ballroom here in Buffalo. If you haven’t experienced the Tea Party before, I strongly suggest you do. However, listening to a Tea Party recording doesn’t compare to witnessing them in person, so if you get the chance to do that, I extra, extra recommend it. I know, that’s the case with any good band (provided they have actual musical talent, not just studio gimmickry to fall back on), but there is an unexplainable something in the air when the Tea Party walk on stage, and the way Jeff Martin sings that makes me consider retiring at 35 and becoming a groupie. Husband, do you approve? Jeff’s voice has been described as “perfect pitch,” I couldn’t agree more. It’s a perfectly deep baritone that is accompanied by the deepest and most passionate of lyrics. I actually finally feel what all those girls felt like with their boy band obsessions, for a hot minute. Plus there is something devilishly handsome about him. Not that I was really looking, I promise- Husband.

Do you know when you can just tell that someone has been through a lot in their lifetime? I get this same sense with Jeff Martin from the intensity of his music. It comes from a very dark place; he lives in a deep, dark place but he sees things in an intensely profound way. An incredibly deep place in the sense that he feels it all, and it can be a lot, a fucking lot. He's sensitive. Wow, really sounding like a teen boy band fan here. But really, I can relate to his sensitivities and can see that spirituality plays a dominant role in his life and I can also see that being an awoken person haunts him at the same time. It’s not always an easy thing to deal with; in fact, more often than not -it’s beyond difficult, sometimes unbearably so.

Sensitivities. I have them. Oh so many of them. Always had, and it feels like I’m continually getting more with each passing day. Sensitivities to smells, foods, energy, my ENVIRONMENT, sounds, other people, lights, colors, you name it, and I feel it on a level that seems so extra that at times it’s incredibly overwhelming, often intolerably so. I mostly keep this bottled-up and to myself; close friends know about some, and my closest friends know I’m processing an infinite shit ton.

Is it a creative person trait? Do creatives have more sensitivities? Some of the very best and most creative seemed to have struggled so profoundly. Is this why so many creatives turn to substances? To block it all out? To have something that helps make it more manageable to cope? There is a lot to process in this world to begin with, but when you are extra sensitive how do you cope, and what is your survival mechanism?  I personally don’t turn to substances. I don’t want to block it or numb it, but I want to channel it and use it to the best of my abilities. And it took me a bit to realize that. I spent years trying to block and pretend my sensitivities weren’t there — years of trying to ignore the reality that I was different. My sensitives are what makes me the designer that I am; I have finally come to embrace the realization that my sensitivities are a gift. In turn, it’s now up to me to channel them into something beautiful, into a space that feels good. That’s how I cope and deal. Maybe that’s why my work has become my life. It is my substance, but in no way is it a damaging dependency, in truth, it is the opposite, it is my salvation.