This is not a promotion

©2022 Michael Raven

Today, for whatever reason, I have New Model Army’s Winter on repeat in my head. I actually haven’t listened to the album for a long while, but a number of songs are spontaneously playing in my head and getting me thinking about other things going on my head… Or maybe it’s the other things going on in my head that is prompting the auto-replay of the album. It probably is not asynchronous, but an ebb and flow of thoughts that feed each other in the synchronous manner of things.

It is quite just as likely the touch of fox fur on Saturday at the Expo, or the chill of the air reminding us that one can never be certain of summer in Minnesota, or the chiding of a murder of crows chasing each other from tree to tree in the neighborhood, or even the trill of a cat before it long-rubs my calf in a tease that means anything but “pick me up”. Or, perhaps it is contemplating the new tarot deck I received yesterday, The Wildwood Tarot, and the meanings that have been modified and moved around a bit from the classic Rider-Waite interpretations, but not so far as to be unrecognizable.

No — it is not the last. This has been building for a few days, maybe a week, culminating into an album stuck in my head like a Barry Manilow Best of collection. No, it isn’t the tarot deck, but the deck itself might be a reflection of whatever it is.

I’ve gone from dreamless, restless nights to a return of the dream-filled restless nights, and I am as exhausted as ever. Exhausted and uncertain why I live the way I live, but not seeing a pathway that changes everything to something more desirable. The dreams are both agonizing and beautiful in a way that can never be put into words. They are like the album that fill my head from beginning to end, on endless repeat with honey-coated promises of something that isn’t here, but may have been, or should become — just never now now now.

I’m going back to the Nature Gods, the only thing that’s real

Echo November

Grind on, baby, grind on.

And so, I am doing this crazy thing that I don’t want to do anymore, this job that I’ve hated for most of the time I’ve worked there because of the security, living in a home that seems bent on driving me mad, eating recycled chemicals because that’s the only thing anyone around here can agree to eat, watching all kinds of identity politic meltdowns that serve no one, and coming down to the conclusion that we sold out souls for a pittance somewhere down the road, for something we don’t even really want. I know I did, I did, I did.

What I want to do is dig two hands deep into the loam and crawl down and make amends with the grubs, bugs and worms, replace my hair with long fronds of green and play the idiot wise sitting under the hillcock tree. I want to toughen up my soles and walk barefoot again and reject all there is to reject about this crazy celestial theater we are participating in while Shiva tries to fuck us with dancing, destructive knives this kalpa or, perhaps, longer.

I was hoping for summer, but as it progresses, I think I might be ready for a winter of sorts, something to cool the tempers and to cool the rising bile when I think of all the things that are onerous and painful. Something to chill the world quiet and let us crawl into cave dens, yawn and hibernate until the real summer comes by, something to wash away the sour taste of this false summer making its way into our heads so we can go back to the beginning where I woke up one spring morning and, instead of kissing you, I became the dream cascading like water into something beautiful instead of this wretched bleak wasteland that I am.

16 thoughts on “This is not a promotion

    1. I hope the album resonates with you. It’s not an easy one to recommend because it’s one of those albums that either sets hooks into you and earworms you to hell, or seems too rough to delve into and you don’t give it it a chance to open up like a complex wine or a truly handcrafted shot of espresso poured by an artiste barista. Or, I’ could be a little mad for calling it my favorite NMA album… who knows?

      Anyway, I hope it catches you and you can see the beauty in the grit like I have.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have that same impression. Gritty shove-off, but darkly-atmospheric and although a bit unfriendly, showing signs of depth that are an omen of a future love affair in the making… Thank you for sharing my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I think, in one way or another, we all did. Did we even really have a choice (I’m thinking of how everything ‘edgy’ eventually (as you rightly said) becomes homogenised and part of the mainstream)?
    Great post, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the complement on the post, Chris.

      I find myself both wanting to watch and recoiling from the idea of the new limited TV series coming out this week: “Pistol”. Part of me wants to believe the director (the same as “Trainspotting”, I believe) when he claims to have attempted to make something visceral that echoes the time period, and part of me thinks it might jest be so much Wonderbread piled onto “punk is dead” (with everyone in the denial stage for 35-40 years).

      Punk is Dead! Vive le Punk!


      Anyway… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure that it is possible to go back and recreate the atmosphere of a particular era – especially from the point of view of anyone who lived through it. Mind you I remember the hype surrounding Trainspotting and then how unmoved I was when I watched it!


        1. Yeah, Trainspotting was… meh… but it was chaotic and frenetic, which would suit the Pistols, but can one capture it? Like every attempted biopic of Joy Division, I’m afraid it will seem lacking and have a bit too much treacle in it to suit me.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tara — I’m glad you and several others liked it.

      I honestly didn’t expect much of a favorable response to it. Even when I’m not actively trying to chase a certain level of palatable to the average reader, I find myself still doing so and I think I need to stop giving a shit and just writing. This was (unintentionally, mind you) one of those posts where I wasn’t being self-conscious on most levels, and just pouring out the cup, dregs and detritus included, to see what fell out.

      I need to do it more often, not for any intended effect other than to be more true to who I am as a writer.

      Thank you, always, for your support. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You had me at New Model Army, further proof we jive in the same realm of underground music that resonates for few, but resonates hard. The rest of the post, whew, man. Brutal, exquisite, yearning and aspirant. Go forth, never stop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ray.

      Yeah, aside from a few minor hits in the UK, NMA is one of those bands that was never destined to be big just because Justin is a bit like me with respect that he likes music from too many genres and hates being pigeonholed into any one sound when he writes his own. Goth, metal, Irish revival, folk, rock… And folks don’t like it when they can’t put you in a box and keep you there forever. And yet, that’s what I appreciate most about NMA, even as a Johnny Come Lately (I had a friend who liked them back in the 80s/90s, but only “discovered” them for myself around 2017).


  3. It’s an interesting syndrome, how fans claim bands for their own, especially when the band is just coming up and the original fan base either stays ferociously devoted and looking down upon the Johnny Come Latelys, or they lament and diss if the band finds any sort of success on their career path. Metallica being the most glaring example. So many of us there at the beginning cringed and crucified when they reached a broader audience and changed to accommodate. It happens. You evolve like NMA The Beatles or The Clash or The Pogues or U2 or you just plain sell out. You’re spot-on about people liking to pigeonhole or have an identifiable genre. Mr. Bungle proved they could mash up like nobody’s business to the point no writer or fan at the time could wholly call them metal. Just like Mars Volta/At the Drive-In can’t be contained to mere alternative or math metal. Prog, for sure, but there’s so much more going on. Herbie Hancock, straight jazz to fusion and electronica.

    What’s best in life is discovering music you’ve overlooked through the passage of time and staying confined to one or two genres, that suddenly resonates and catches your fancy and imagination. So much music is out there if you keep your mind open to it. It’s a euphoric thing to appreciate all the styles of music you possibly can digest. There are so many intelligent artists out there breaking molds, testing the waters, mashing around. I think of Alabama Shakes in that regard as I do a Japanese metal act nobody’s heard of, Gonin-Ish, or Taiwanese black metallers Chthonic. So much forward-thinking.

    One of the nicest compliments I ever received when I was in the music biz was from a black metal band who hasn’t really done anything that I’m aware, but long ago, I heard The Cure all over what they were doing and cited it in my review. They reached out and thanked for me that since I was the only one at the time who’d heard it and they very much were fusing The Cure into their brackish extreme tones. Anyone who’s spent time in anger or lament with the Pornography album would agree it was a paving stone for black metal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never understood why someone would want to go to a vending machine when you can attend an all-you-can-eat buffet.

      I have a few genres that I tend to avoid, but even then there are exceptions (I dislike most Country, but would have a hard time arguing that Todd Snider is not New Country, for example).

      I hadn’t thought about it, but sure, Pornography could easily be a cornerstone to most black metal, especially if they wanted to break away from the typical tropes of the genre. Pornography happens to be one of my favorites, by the way (although I’ve leaned more into Faith as I age).

      I used to do absolutely horrible things to folk music back in the day (Fisherman’s Blues as an acoustic reggae tune… without drums… LOL, or a frenetic version of The Blacksmith done almost punk) because it was a great way to make songs your “own”.

      Thanks for the comments, Ray. Love having you about and around.


  4. “I never understood why someone would want to go to a vending machine when you can attend an all-you-can-eat buffet.” Brilliant! So true. The entire world serves an ala carte of music. I am into Japanese koto and taiko as much as Celtic or African tribal. I love German music from metal to Krautrock to electro and even schlager has a goofy appeal to me. Black Space Riders and Long Distance Calling are two of the finest German bands out there. I think about how much goodness comes out of Sweden and Denmark, The (International) Noise Conspiracy coming to mind.

    I too love Faith and meant to cite that and even Seventeen Seconds to a degree as other black metal influences. It’s interesting to me what constitutes as modern alternative (or alt) has little connection the original years, though retro new wave was staging a comeback for a moment. The Cure are dear to my heart, as are the majority of the classic alternative/new wave bands. I go to an entire dimension as I would metal and punk, but anyway…lol…

    I used to blow raspberries at country, but I do like old school country (Hank Williams through Emmylou Harris) and kind of have a cutoff around the mid-to-late 80s. Country today is just pop with shitkickers, meh. I did enjoy myself thoroughly at the County Hall of Fame and the other museums in Nashville. Then, of course, I love psychobilly and cowpunk. Nekromantix (back to Denmark) is one of my major go-tos. Nothing like a long drive by yourself with brisk-moving slap bass in your ear.

    I can go on and on, and I appreciate your kind words, brother. Keep doing what you’re doing, including butchery of folk, lol! There’s been so much tinkering and expansion to folk, especially out of Portland, Oregon (which might be the new Bohemia and I need to visit it)…when you also have Gogol Bordello and Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution, hell, man, no turf stands to be left unblazed!

    Liked by 1 person

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