PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Sunday Evening Videos: Upright Citizens Brigade

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518m8srw6mlWe wrap up our midsummer Sunday Evening Videos trilogy of great sketch comedy with a few notable sketches from The Upright Citizens Brigade. The core group that made up the UCB was Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, Matt Besser and Amy Pohler, and all have gone on to further success in the world of comedy after their Comedy Central show wound down after three seasons.

The troupe sprung out of Del Close’s Improv Olympics in Chicago, then relocated to New York City, where they found work on Late Night with Conan O’Brien before landing their own show on Comedy Central and opening their own improv theater (which now has multiple locations on both coasts). The group still works together and has a new show, The UCB Show, on the SeeSo streaming service, that spotlights their students in new sketches.

That’s the Cliff’s Notes version of their history. All you need to do is watch the sketches for some brilliant long-form sketch improv.

Oh…and these are probably not really safe for work.

More after the jump…

Continue reading…

The RFC Flashback: Episode 60

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jh-jr-rudyThis week we go back to February, 2009 for the 60th episode of Radio Free Charleston. This was our post-Valentine’s Day 2009 valentine to Taylor Books. The host segments, and 60 Second Art Show were all recorded at Taylor Books and/or the Cafe and Annex Gallery one night in February 2009. The music was recorded on consecutive nights in January 2009. For some reason, this episode is called “Viva Mexico Shirt.”

Our music this week was from Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen, Joseph Henry (now Hale) and John Radcliff. That your host with Joeseph and John in the photo with this post. The 60 Second Art Show features a quick look at the work of Taylor Book’s Annex Gallery regulars Eric Pardue and Charles Jupiter Hamilton. Our animation this time is by the mystery man known as P-Dox, and is fittingly enough, set in a bookstore.

Taylor Books, of course,  remains a cultural oasis in Charleston. Original production notes can be found here.

Confessions of a Tiki Poser

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98f83fc045241eeb60a828e8cee85792The PopCulteer
July 21 , 2017

I love Tiki Culture.

I love the design, the mythologies, the blending of Polynesian and Easter Island influences with Mid Century American aesthetics. I dig the music. The Hula girls, the Tiki idols, the thatched huts, the tropical look and feel, they all add up to an exciting and attractive environment.

I’ve even subscribed to Tiki Magazine (And More). That’s the cover of the latest issue that you see at the head of this post.

Not being a person who really has any room to collect any new items, I am sorely tempted to start collecting Tiki mugs. They just look so freaking cool! It’s hard to resist the call of the Tiki. I’ve even done Monday Morning Art pieces based on Tiki design. I am really taken with how cool Tiki mugs look.

tiki-vector-image_9343This is not a nostalgic feeling for me. I did grow up in the heyday of the first wave of Tiki culture, when it was simply an unironic fascination with an exciting new culture, one brought back to America by WWII GIs returning from the Pacific Theater.

Even though I grew up in those times, my parents did not exactly want to cart the three (and then four) of us kids out to the local Tiki Hut for food that we were too picky to eat. We all wanted to go to the BBF. They had the satellite out front. I had no exposure to Tiki as a kid, except for what I saw on TV.

It is a genuine appreciation of the look, design, mythology and just the entire milieu that I have come to as an adult. I think this stuff is really, really cool. Amidst the polyglot of post-modern imagery that decorates my home, you’ll find more than a few Tiki-inspired items.

So you’d think that would make me a major-league Tiki aficionado, right?

Wrong.

See, I have a secret about my Tiki obsession…I am but a poser.

Sure, I love the decor and the Hula girls and the bright colors, and the mugs…especially the mugs. But there’s more to Tiki than that, and I’m afraid I fall short in many areas.

20-yellow-hawaiian-tiki-maskFirst and foremost, I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t drink anything alcoholic. I don’t even use mouthwash with alcohol. I can’t stand the taste of it. The stuff that’s supposed to be odorless and flavorless burns and makes everything it touches taste awful to me. I hate beer and our society’s obsession with all things beer. And as such…I don’t drink rum.

Rum is key to most Tiki drinks. In fact, most of those mugs, which beckon to me to start a collection, exist for the sole purpose of enticing people to imbibe drinks that are usually twelve parts rum to three parts fruit juice.

And I’m not that big a fan of fruit juice, either.

Most of Tiki culture is centered around Tiki Bars. I don’t drink. The only reason I go to bars in Charleston is to see bands.

I’m planning a trip to Chicago in a few weeks, and we plan to visit a Tiki Bar. Only we have to find one with a full restaurant because it’s sort of pointless to go to a Tiki Bar when you don’t drink.

That brings us to another problem that keeps me from fully immersing myself in Tiki Culture: I don’t eat pork. A big part of Polynesian cuisine is pork. Pork and pineapple, something else I don’t eat. So we’re going to head off to a Tiki restaurant that will most likely present a challenge to our dietary quirks. I don’t refrain from pork for health or religious reasons. I just absolutely hate the taste of it (yes, even bacon, the most over-rated food on the planet).

So I say I love Tiki culture, but I hate the food and drink part of it.

600d32cc2e46d744bcc037c70cc7135dBut there’s more. I also hate the beach. Actually, I don’t really hate the beach. It’s just that I hate the water, and I’m not too crazy about the sand. While I really like Tiki decor, I prefer to see it indoors, in a dimly-lit room with plenty of air conditioning. I like the nautical elements of Tiki design, but I don’t actually ever want to have anything to do with anything nautical in the real world.

A few years ago I had my living room decorated with MEGA BLOKS Pirate Ships. Friends came over and said, “Wow, you really must love the sea!” I was a bit taken aback. I hate the sea. I have a severe fear of drowning that I have no interest in losing. I consider it a survival instinct. I never want to go on a boat. I just liked the way the toy Pirate ships looked and had fun building them. Seriously, the sea can go screw itself. I got no use for it.

There is yet one more thing that pretty effectively destroys my Tiki cred. I do not now, nor do I ever plan to own or wear a Hawaiian shirt. At least not until I drop a hundred pounds or so. I absolutely refuse to be the stereotypical fat guy in a Hawaiian shirt. Sorry. I don’t play that way. That stuff looks good on other people, not on me.

e6db1f5c97f79baea011ff8f7340853b-tiki-tiki-tiki-totemSo there you have it…I absolutely love Tiki, except for the drinks, the food, the beach, the ocean and the idea of me wearing any of the fashion.

Except for that, everything else about it is really, really cool. I mean, have you seen the mugs?

I am a Tiki poser.

Friday’s AIR Schedule

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friday-7-14The AIR, it’s our internet radio station that plays all kinds of cool programs. You can tune in and hear for yourself at the website, or on this neat little embedded player…

Either thousands of people are discovering it and tuning in, or somebody is going to great lengths to play an elaborate prank on us.  We have plenty of cool stuff all day long, plus new episodes of Radio Coolsville at 2 PM and a full hour of The Third Shift at 9 PM. There’s a graphic running alongside this post, but I’ll fill you in on the highlights.

The morning sees replays of our top programs from earlier in the week, starting with Radio Free Charleston International at 7 AM.

At 9 PM it’s talk time as we run Word Association with Lee and Rudy, On The Road with Mel, Marking Out and Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle Marcum all in a row until 11:30 AM.

That’s when the music takes over. This week’s Friday AIR Music Mix includes The Crazy Show and a classic Radio Free Charleston International. That’s followed by a brand-new edition of Radio Coolsville, with DJ Betty Rock, at 2 PM.

3PM sees Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, bringing you the best music of the New Wave era. At 5 PM it’s time for Beatles Blast.

Our 6 PM tandem of The New Music Show and The BS Crazy Show keeps rolling along, and at 7 PM it’s an encore of this week’s Radio Free Charleston, bringing you Charleston’s only dedicated local music program.

At 8 PM we bid farewell, for now, to The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

The Third Shift takes over for a full hour at 9 PM, and we have a replay of Radio Free Charleston International at 10 PM.

Then it just gets crazy all night long when The BS Crazy Show marathon starts at Midnight.

That’s Friday, on The AIR.

Charlton Comics Take Over The World!

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196288_1109881_1It’s been a while since I last checked in with the Charlton Neo movement, and there has been big news. I believe the last time I told you about this unexpected comic book revival they had just begun what was to be a succesful Kickstarter campaign for the sixth issue of The Charlton Arrow.

Before that issue shipped big new broke. That would be the last issue of volume one of the self-distributed incarnation of The Charlton Arrow. The book will be reborn as The Charlton Arrow Volume Two.

Issue One (sen right) will be published by Americomics, the long-lived Florida-based independent comic book publisher in a couple of months, and it will be available through Diamond Comics Distributors, which means it can be advance-ordered NOW (And I mean NOW. You probably only have a few days to get your orders in for this gem). This new, more available, Charlton Arrrow will feature the return of E-Man, by Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton!

In order to keep up the momentum and get ahead on the production costs for future issues of the new Charlton Arrow a new short-term Kickstarter campaign has begun, and you have less than a week to get in on the action. The rewards for this campaign include an all-new humor anthology, a trade paperback collection of the best of Charlton Neo, plus pins, posters and even vintage Charlton comics.

cover1-4The big item is the first issue of Charltoons, a humor anthology featuring all-new work by Roger McKenzie, Paul Kupperberg, Mort Todd, Stephen Butler and many others.

This book is designed to be a tribute to Saturday Morning Cartoons, and the description sets the tone: “The Charlton Horror Hosts are BACK! …Or are they? Teen Cosplayers role play and solve mysteries… and their supernatural foes would’ve gotten away with it if not for these meddling kids!”

You will find weird humor, teen humor, funny animals, and straight-out comic insanity. Charltoons is the type of fun humor anthology that we simply don’t see published anymore…or at all for the last four decades or so. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

cover1The other big reward item is COMICBURGER DELUXE: The Best of Charlton Neo, a trade paperback collecting the highlights of the Charlton Neo movement, which began as a Facebook page a few years ago, and has blossomed into a full-fledged revival of the comic book company that couldn’t shoot straight, Charlton Comics.

This collection showcases stories and art by over two dozen creators counting Eduardo Barreto, Howard Bender, John Byrne, Sandy Carruthers, Jason Caskey, Steve Ditko, Chuck Dixon, Jean-Emmanuel Dubois, Ron Fortier, Matthew Hansel, Barbara Kaalberg, Gary Kato, Pat & Tim Kennedy, Rene King Thompson, Paul Kupperberg, Batton Lash, Roger Mckenzie, Andrew Mitchell, Lou Mougin, Stephen Skeates, Rick Stasi, Mort Todd, Enrique Villagran, Ruben Vera and Neil Vokes.

The Stories in COMICBURGER DELUXE run the gamut from horror to Western to humor to superhero to fantasy and more as Charlton Neo revisits some of the most entertaining aspects of comics books, including those genre that the industry has abandoned.

There are loads of other cool rewards that you can check out at the campaign. I’m kicking in, and I hope you do too. This is exactly what we need to put the fun back into comic books. Check it out at the widget below…

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thursday-7-20It’s time for our daily look at The AIR, our little internet radio station. We are still experiencing a surge in listenership.  We now have well over 4,000 weekly listening sessions.  For some reason people have suddenly decided to sample us. If you haven’t yet, you too can tune in and see what kind of radio adventures we’re up to on The AIR.

Tune in at the website, or on this swell embedded radio player…

Once again this week your PopCulteer is going to be dragging out some of the early episodes of Radio Free Charleston International that haven’t been heard for almost a year now. This gives our new listeners a chance to enjoy being exposed to the formative episodes of one of our flagship shows, which breaks all the rules of radio programming, and as a side benefit, it cuts down on my workload a little.

Thursday at 3 PM, with replays over the next week, you can hear the seventh episode of RFC International,dedicated to cover songs performed by the likes of Kate Bush, Ben Folds, Todd Rundgren, Adrian Belew and many more. I’ll put the playlist at the bottom of this post, below the jump.

The rest of the day we have replays of this week’s episodes of Curtain Call, The Swing Shift and Radio Free Charleston, as well as an all-new episode of The New Music Show, our beyond-cool music rotation show, which recently saw new tracks added by Pale Nova, The Company Stores, Liam Gallagher, Membrane Cell, Fitz and the Tantrums and more.

At 10 PM we present Mojomatic and others, recorded Live at the Empty Glass. At 1 AM it’s an all-night marathon of The Swing Shift, which is gaining popularity in France and Germany.

I’ve been plugging away at The AIR hard for over a year now. It’s cool to see it finally find an audience.

Continue reading…

TOYBOX TIME MACHINE

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The PopCult Bookshelf

61ctxs6zyolToybox Time Machine
by Marty Baumann
Byron Howard (Introduction), Jim Steranko (Foreword)
IDW Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1631409073
$29.99

Toybox Time Machine has quickly become of my favorite things in the world. I’ve only had it for a few days, but every time I open this book I get a grin on my face that you couldn’t remove with a sandblaster.

It’s really hard to convey in words how utterly clever and charming this book is. It is dripping with so much affection for the toy and children’s graphics of the Baby Boom era that you almost need a towel to read it.

Marty Baumann has created a work of brilliance that manages to hit every nostalgic button in my head without actually depicting any real toys.

You read that correctly. No…real…toys.

toybox-4Toybox Time Machine is filled with over 150 ads for vintage toys, from the golden era of crunchy mid-century goodness (1950-1966). The thing is, none of these toys were ever really made. Baumann created them all, refining his memories of classic toys and pop culture into an outstanding homage to an entire era of specialty advertising and graphic design.

This book is filled with specific parodies, vague tributes, original concepts and indescribable delights. Toybox Time Machine is just that, a time machine that lets you travel back to the time when toys were cool as hell, and the advertising made them look even better.

Baumann is an acclaimed illustrator, graphic artist, and production designer. He has contributed to some of the most popular, Oscar-winning animated films of all time, such as Toy Story 3, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Cars 2, Planes, Mater’s Tall Tales, and many others.

toybox-0003He also helped develop theme park installations, toy packaging, and Pixar corporate branding. That’s in addition to his work for toy companies, magazines and newspapers and his work creating corporate logos.

Lately he was the concept artist for the new Mystery Science Theater 3000, and handled visual development of Sir Paul McCartney’s feature film, High in the Clouds. I won’t even mention his career as a successful R&B guitarist and singer.

What’s clear from Toybox Time Machine is that Baumann grew up in the same era as yours truly, and digested the same Wishbooks, comic books, cartoons and toys that I did. This book takes you to a world informed by Jonny Quest, Marx Toys, Aurora model kits, Carnaby Street, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Big Daddy Roth, Groovie Ghoulies, The Banana Splits and way, way more.

logosThis is a book that has a foreward by the legendary Jim Steranko, and in that foreward, Steranko name-checks Johnny West, GI Joe and Major Matt Mason. How freaking cool is that?

The amount of work it took to create Toybox Time Machine must have been astounding. There is a ridiculous amount of detail on every page. Baumann created a different corporate logo, professional as hell, but also specific to the period, for every page in this book. You see just a few of those in the image on the left.

Some of these logos are like specific toy companies’ logos of the day, and some are all-new, but all of them look like the real thing.

Some of these fake ads are so specific that you can immediately identify the inspiration, like Baumann’s riffs on the “Moon Monster” ad or the old DC Comics ads for Palisades Park. Others combine two toys into one, like a combination of Aurora’s Mad Monsters with Ideal’s Boaterrific. Some of the things in this book I can’t place at all, and I don’t know if it’s because Baumann created something new, or I just have a gap in my pop culture knowledge.

toybox-0002The book is also filled with in-jokes, most of which, I’m sure, flew right over my head. I did see Steranko’s face turn up on one page, and there are a few other faces that look familiar in here. That shows how much fun Baumann had to have had creating this work.

Everything in this book looks so genuine that you don’t need to have grown up in the era in order to enjoy it.

Without the historical context Toybox Time Machine is still a super-human feat of mid-century style ad design.

This has been a difficult review to write because every time I pick up the book to double-check a detail, I don’t want to put it back down.

Part of my job here in PopCult is to say, “Hey, This is really cool! You oughtta take a look at it!”

Toybox Time Machine is really cool! You oughtta take a look at it!

You can order Toybox Time Machine from any bookseller by using the ISBN code at the top of this post, or head over to Amazon. Make sure to visit Baumann’s website for more stunning visual treats.

Your PopCulteer was so taken with this book that I have posted more graphics than I usually do with a book review. If I could get away with it, I’d post even more. You just really need to see this book in person.

 

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wednesday-7-19Wednesday always brings cool stuff to The AIR.  Thousands of people worldwide are tuning in and you can here why at the website, or on this nifty embedded radio machine doohickey…

Wednesday we offer up new episodes of Life Speaks To Michele Zirkle Marcum and Marking Out with Betty Rock and this week’s tag-team partner, Roger.

The morning brings you replays of The Swing Shift and two hours of our special collection of local and international artists in The AIR Music Mix.

At 11 AM we debut this week’s all-new episode of Marking Out, as Betty Rock and Roger regale you about the fallout from the latest WWE and pro-wrestling developments. Marking Out can be heard again at 10 PM.

Noon sees 90 minutes of Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch, first hosting a replay of last week’s all-new Curtain Call, and then in a classic episode of On The Road with Mel.

At 1:30 PM it’s time for an all-new edition of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle Marcum. This week it’s all about dreams. As Michele says, “Dream messages are no malarkey. Tune in when you conk out to receive your insights.” You can hear a replay of Life Speaks at 7 PM.

For the rest of what to expect, just check out that nice yellow schedule graphic that accompanies this post. I made it just for you.

You can always keep up with the latest programming notes on The AIR here in PopCult. It’s our unofficial companion radio station.

 

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tuesday-7-18Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, The AIR will present a brand-new episode of Radio Free Charleston! You can tune in at the website, or on this cool little embedded player…

Along with our other quality offerings on The AIR, today we present yet another brand-new installment of Radio Free Charleston. Today’s show features a load of brand-new releases from our local musical stars, plus some choice cuts from the RFC Archives.  The morning broadcast of Radio Free Charleston is followed by rebroadcasts of three recent episodes. At night you can listen to Radio Free Charleston International immediately following this week’s new RFC.

You can listen to THE local music showcase exclusively on The AIR, and check out our other programs that showcase SKA, Swing, New Wave, Alternative and more. That’s the schedule over on the left.

And below it is the playlist for RFC:

4 Ohm Mono   “The Death and Resurrection of a Salesman”
coverSpeedsuit  “Forever Never Mind”
Kerry Hughes  “Speeding For The Red Light”
Pale Nova  “Fell to Pieces”
The Company Stores  “Strip It Away”
Red Audio  “Radio Blah-Blah”
The Science Fair Explosion  “Demon Burger”
Feast of Stephen  “Needing Only Me”
Scarlet Revolt  “Secrets”
Bon Air  “Free Shot”
Wren Allen Band  “What Are You Waiting For”
Kenneth Brian Band  “Cry To The Dark”
Groove Heavy  “Don’t Stop Believin'”

Save The Bakery

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purity8d
Charleston’s Bakery, a 100-plus year-old building on the West Side that is home to several bands and artistic and creative endeavors, is in trouble. One of their largest tenants is moving out, the building needs some major repairs, and the owner is considering writing it off and turning it over to the bank for foreclosure.

20229468_1611394092218418_5080029927190434310_oLocated in the original Purity Maid Bread Factory, the building currently houses the rehearsal space for Byzantine, Farnsworth, Time And Distance, Beggars Clan and all of John Poole’s musical projects.

It’s also home to the Hole in the Wall Studio, Greg Hunt’s Recording Studio, Limelight Theatre Troupe, HepCatz Design International and Dawghouse Boxxing and MMA Gym.

But there are more than 20 Vacancies. The roof needs repair and the HVAC system has some serious needs as well.

The owner, Phil Shafer, has put his neck on the line providing space for creative people in Charleston, but without tenants, he can only do so much. Without some sign that more people will come in and rent space, he will have no choice but to get out from under the financial burden. The monthly operating costs for such a huge building are enormous, and without renters, almost impossible to maintain.

20024202_1611394928885001_667934194727861176_oChris Ojeda, of Byzantine, has been spearheading this effort to raise awareness of the plight of this incredible work space. He sees potential in the building as an all-ages venue, with plenty of other uses for the rooms in this massive facility.

When Byzantine returns from their US tour with Sacred Reich in October, the plan is to stage a donations-only concert in the loading dock area.

Unfortunately, the Bakery may not make it to October without some immediate action.

Chris has started a Facebook Group, Charleston Music & Art Collective, which you have to ask to join, to raise awareness and brainstorm ways to rescue this building from the fate of the Quarrier Building. In case you don’t remember, the Quarrier Building was home to LiveMix Studio and rehearsal spaces for bands, art studios, martial arts dojos and all sort of creative projects before Sacred Heart got their hands on it in 2010, and booted out all the tenants and let the building sit unused for more than five years.

It was a major blow to the local arts and music scene, and forced Radio Free Charleston to start recording bands on location instead of in a controlled studio environment.

I would hate to see history repeat itself with the Bakery.

If you have a band or need studio space, or instructional space, or just a place to store equipment, contact the number in the graphic below. If you know anyone who needs incubator space for a business, or a place for small-scale manufacturing, please turn them on to this gem on Charleston’s West Side.  And ask to join the Facebook Group so you can keep up with future developments.

PopCult Note: The photo at the top of this post is taken from Jerry Water’s excellent My Home West Virginia website. The rest of the images are taken from Chris Ojeda’s Facebook posts.

20140146_1611497218874772_8272199575687564645_n