The Week of March 25th - March 31st


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

Never Compromise Who You Are

We are who we are. How many times have you heard or uttered this self-limiting five-word death sentence?

Who we are is not unchangeable or immutable; at least it does not have to be. No state of existence is permanent – God Herself bestowed a remarkable gift upon all humankind – this gift, our innate ability, is called inconstancy. And because of this capability, we live in a continuous state of flux. But do we?

Well, some of us do, and most of us don’t. So, when I say “never compromise who you are,” I am not telling you not to change. Change and compromise are not synonymous. By all means change – grow, adapt, develop, flourish, abound. Always strive to become a better version of who you are, not a lesser one, a compromised one. Those who refuse to change, to grow, to become, are compromising. If you abide stagnation, you are compromising your intrinsic right of evolutionary transformation and, ultimately, enlightenment.

In last week’s Once-over, I spoke of my personal quest to achieve perfection. Extolling perfection makes most people uncomfortable. While utter perfection may be elusive, perhaps even unattainable, I do not think the pursuit of perfection equates to tilting at windmills. However, most people couldn’t possibly care less about something than they do about creating or chasing perfection. This is because these very same people live obligingly in a perpetual state of compromise.  

Not me, not I. Never.

As a creator, without exception, perfection is my objective, my aspiration. And, as a creator, I will never achieve perfection if I allow myself to exist for even a moment in a state of abject compromise. Nor will I ever achieve perfection if I tolerate boundaries or constraints to infiltrate my creative process. Perceptible perfection cannot possibly exist if either prerequisites and conditions, or fallibility or compromise afflict the artist. Perhaps these afflictions are why we currently live in a world overburdened by the mundaneness of the commonplace.

Take heed – remove your blindfolds, don’t avert your gaze, and, by every means possible, rage against the dying of the light. Oh yeah, that, and fuck compromising yourself.

Mourning the Loss of Another

Music is a deathless lifeforce of interconnected meter, rhythm, melody, dynamics, timbre, texture, and, sometimes, even heavenly chaos. For me, music is one of those things that make life entirely worth living no matter how difficult it can be at times. Music lifts my spirit in a way that most other things cannot.

This past week Scott Walker died. It is a travesty that most of you will not mourn his loss one bit, and his passing will surely not affect you in the same way that it has impacted me. Scott Walker, born Noel Scott Engel, was, in recent years, considered an experimental artist. But Walker, at one time, was considered a pop icon of sorts while in the 1960s trio, The Walker Brothers. The three Walkers, who were not brothers, had a series of hit singles and Top 10 records in the mid-60s and during their mid-1970s reunion.

Scott Walker also enjoyed a successful career as a solo anti-pop artist from 1967 through 1974. Following the news of his death, I played 1969’s Scott 4 over and over again throughout the week. Scott 4 is one of my favorite records of any genre, and one of the reasons for this is that the music within is nearly unclassifiable. To my ears, Scott 4 and his recordings that followed it are perfectly timeless.

I recommend starting your post-Scott 4 musical journey with the last Walker Brother’s reunion album titled Nite Flights released in 1978, then his solo follow-up album titled Climate of Hunter released in 1984, up through his recent soundtrack for the film The Childhood of a Leader released in 2016. Other essential releases during this period include Tilt; his soundtrack for the film Pola X; The Drift; Bish Bosch; and his 2014 collaboration with the experimental band Sunn O))).

First David Bowie, then Leonard Cohen, and now Scott Walker, a kindred trinity, now sadly departed. Thankfully, each left us with an unparalleled legacy of music for the ages. When our Music Room reopens this June, we will feature albums from these prodigious artists throughout the month. Until then, Scott 4 will remain on repeat.

Brexit’s Bamboozlement

So, three strikes and your out? Not in Brexit-land apparently. Today is March 29th, the day the United Kingdom was supposed to leave the European Union as the result of the to stay or go referendum.

Today’s third vote on Theresa May’s EU exit plan ended in the same fashion as the first two; Parliamentary indignation and another blow against the Empire. With the April 12th withdrawal deadline fast approaching, May’s next move will likely be her last move if the United Kingdom is forced to exit the Union with no deal whatsoever in place.

Brinkmanship in politics is nothing new, especially in the United States and the UK, but the Brexit stakes are different in that what is being leveraged by the political machine is the mandate of the People. No matter the result, social intemperance will surely follow, and more consternation over the subject of immigration.

Same As Coral Way Back When, Terra-cotta Can Fuck Off Too

Please don’t misunderstand me; I’ve nothing against the hardened, fired clay, that is often used to make architectural ornamentation, structural components, pottery, and sculpture. These particular manifestations of terra-cotta I admire. And my disdain for coral has nothing whatsoever to do with those tiny marine polyps that secrete calcium carbonate in the form of an exoskeleton.

So, what am I railing on about? Design trends; precisely, the absurd popularity of color trends. Over the past two weeks, I have been inundated with emails proclaiming that terra-cotta, the color, “is taking over the interior design industry.” Similarly, I received countless emails late last year and earlier this year announcing that coral, the color, had also taken over the interior design industry.

I call complete bullshit on these harmless and blameless colors if the designer makes the color selection merely to be on trend. Trends, especially as applied by the design industry, are utterly asinine. Designers are expected to be originators and innovators, not lemmings that blindly follow overindulged trends by rote. But, unquestionably, this oft-repeated practice has led to the degeneration of our entire industry to the point that today’s momentary nine-day wonders are the new opiate of the masses.

Our Clients pay Raven Vanguard good money to provide them with one-of-a-kind designs that are the exact opposite of the current “in things.” Ordinary, typical, and cliched fads are not part of our design vocabulary. Rather, our Clients hire us for our promise of extraordinary creativity, and to conjure up something uniquely different and timeless. When it comes to embracing trends, Raven Vanguard is entirely free from mortal sin.

Our Company name is something we agonized over in that it had to capture in a nutshell our vision of what makes us distinctive. Ultimately, we conjoined the words Raven and Vanguard because each one is transcendent by nature and essence, and both fearlessly surpass and expand beyond the realm of ordinary experience.   

More to Come