PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Jack T. Chick, This Was Your Life

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Jack T. Chick, the legendary evangelical cartoonist, passed away Sunday night at the age of 92. I have written about Mr. Chick in the past in PopCult, and wanted to note the end of an era. Chick was a private man, often described as a recluse, but his work is known all over the globe.

He was arguably the most successful self-published cartoonist in the world, with over 750 Million of his tracts in print in over 100 languages. These are the little comic books that you find scattered about that try to get you to accept a very judgemental versioh of Jesus as your only way of getting into heaven. The man was skilled at conveying his simple messages in cartoon form and doesn’t get enough credit for being a talented, if idiosyncratic, stylist.Even his targets find his work so charming that they find them entertaining, in an Ed Wood sort of way.

9fa4c28c60c781c166d50ac6fb4fed37615452baPart of the reason Chick never got credit as a cartoonist was the content of his work. He was a master propagandist, using all the tools of comics and cartooning to deliver messages that, more often than not, veered well into the territory of hate speech. Jack Chick was intent on delivering his most important message, which was “Live the way he thinks the Bible tells you to, or you’re going to go to hell.”

Among the people that Jack Chick was confident were going to go to hell: Catholics, Muslims, Hindi, disobediant children, rock musicians, Satan worshippers, pop musicians, country musicians, people who watch The Walking Dead, people who like Star Wars, people who like superheroes, people who play Dungeons and Dragons, people who read any translation of the Bible besides the King James Version, Jehovan’s Witnesses, vegetarians, vegans, people who are gluten-intolerant, Democrats, evolutionists, fans of Harry Potter, Wiccans, fans of Family Guy, fans of The Simpsons, environmentalists, homosexuals, homosexuals again because he was so hung up on that one, Pagans, feminists, Heavy Metal Musicians, The Beatles, Contemporary Christian musicians…actually, pretty much everyone but him and his family and whomever else could be persuaded to subscribe to his end-timer with a particularly angry God philosophy.  For someone who proclaimed himself to be a man of God, Jack T. Chick sure seemed to hold a lot of hate in his heart.

popenThe man’s views were controversial, to say the least. “Abhorrent”is another good descriptor. Yet, his narrow and didactic worldview and manner is part of what made him such an effective cartoonist. The man’s sincerity was never in doubt. He really did believe that there was only one, true, narrow path to salvation, and it didn’t matter if it didn’t really make sense to anyone else. You can’t fake that kind of dedication, no matter how wrong-headed it seems. His work was so over-the-top that much of it is simply hilarious. The best self-parody is that which is unintentional, and Chick fits that description to a “T.”

chickflickcoverChick was aware that the vast majority of his “fans” actually mocked the ideas that he was trying to put forth. He didn’t mind. In his view, if a hundred people thought he was crazy for every one person who was “saved,” it was worth it. Though he was not interviewed on screen, he did cooperate with my friend Kurt Kurstainer on his documentary, “God’s Cartoonist,” which viewed the Chick Publishing empire through the lens of The Church of the SubGenius. (you can order it HERE, along with a great companion book). Chick did not mind being the butt of jokes if there was a chance he could reach more people.

That’s an admirable quality, even if he was a person who probably did as much to promote hate and divisiveness as anyone else in the last 60 years. His work shaped much of the anti-intellectual evangelical movement of today, with it’s rampant xenophobia, homophobia and sexism. Yet he has a huge folowing among liberals, atheists, gays, anarchists, and a lot of the people that he swears are going straight to hell.

Sure, it’s hate speech, but it’s got such a goofy, naive charm to it.

jack-chick-01Now we can imagine Jack Chick, lined up at the gates of heaven, looking in the giant book of names, seated in front of the giant faceless God on the giant throne, being judged for what he did in his life. Then we can hear the booming voice of “The Great I Am” bellowing forth, “You know, this is all crap, but it’s so damned funny that we’re gonna let you in anyway.”

Then, because God has a twisted sense of humor, he puts Chick in the section of heaven with all the Catholics.

Chick Publications is still a going concern. You can order assortments of his tracts as well as his other works HERE. There is an official Facebook Page devoted to his work HERE. An unofficial Facebook Page, which is much, much more fun, can be found HERE.

Tuesday on The AIR

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AIR color 0036Tuesday is laying low on The AIR, but we still have a killer line-up of programs. Radio Free Charleston and The Swing Shift are both in reruns this week, but we bring you the best reruns on the face of the planet. Heck, we’re going t give you FOUR FULL HOURS of  The Swing Shift, starting at 3 PM. You can see the whole schedule below, but remember to stay awake for part two of The Stand at Midnight!

You can hear The AIR at the website, or on this swell and somewhat nifty embedded player…

Tuesday’s Schedule:

7 AM       Prognosis (War of the Worlds)
9 AM       Curtain Call 010
10 AM     Radio Free Charleston 028
11 AM      Radio Free Charleston 027
Noon       Mystery Hour (No Doubt)
1 PM        Radio Coolsville 008
3 PM        The Swing Shift 009
4 PM        The Swing Shift 002
5 PM        The Swing Shift 010
6 PM        The Swing Shift 011
7 PM         The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy 01
8 PM         Sydney’s Big Electric Cat 013
10 PM       Radio Free Charleston 028
11 PM        Radio Free Charleston 027
Midnight   Stephen King’s The Stand
2 AM         All Night New Wave Marathon

Monday Morning Art: Autumn in Woodbury

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Autumn in Senoia 02

We kick off this week with a digital painting of Main Street in Senoia, Georgia, a cool town that is better known as the shooting location for much of the hit AMC series, The Walking Dead. TWD began its seventh season last night, but if you were watching back in season three when the Governor was running around creating all sorts of depth-perception-challenged trouble, you might recognize this main drag and the watertower looming overhead.

I chose this image for this week’s art as a way to salute The Walking Dead and kick off Halloween week here in PopCult. Click the image to enlarge.

CovOne cool part of Halloween week is that we will have special programming on The AIR, our blog’s obscure internet radio station. You can hear it at the website, or on this cool little embedded player…

Today at 3 PM, Prognosis, hosted by Herman Linte, presents Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of the Worlds. Tonight at midnight you can listen to part one of a reading of Book One of Stephen King’s The Stand. That will run all week long at midnight, with a marathon on Halloween Day.

Sunday Evening Video: Walk With The Dead

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Img_3378Not the Grateful Dead. We’re talking about The Walking Dead, which returns to begin its seventh season tonight on AMC. Last year your PopCulteer and his lovely wife, Melanie Larch, traveled to Senoia Georgia, where they film much of the hit AMC series, The Walking Dead. Mel directed this brief look at the town and its Official Walking Dead store, The Woodbury Shoppe.

Since the show begins a new season tnight, and we’ll finally find out which regular cast member gets knocked out of the park by new series bad guy, Negan and Lucille (his barbed-wire-wrapped bat) AND since this video is getting close to the 2,000-view mark, we’re going to bring it to you again.

Fans of The AIR might note that it was this clip that inspired Melanie to begin her radio show about travel, On The Road With Mel, which can be heard on The AIR Wednesday and Sunday Afternoons at 1PM, and Mondays at 12:30 PM..

Ten Years of RFC Flashback: Episode 19

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This is the nineteenth episode of Radio Free Charleston, “Ian Rotten Shirt,” from May 2007, with music from Go Van Gogh and The Ghosts Of Now, plus a Pentagram Flowerbox cartoon, which has been restored to its original place in the show.

This show marks the RFC debut of Lee Harrah, who is still a frequent guest and a valued production team member in addition to being my co-star in Word Association with Lee and Rudy, which can be heard Wednesdays at 7:30 PM, with replays throughout the week, on The AIR.

You can tune in to The AIR and hear all kinds of cool stuff, like our new addition, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, at the website or in this neat little embedded player…


The Mystery camera person who shot the original footage of Go Van Gogh turned out to be none other than Melissa Beezley (now Melissa Beezely Johnson) who has been a friend of RFC since the radio days.

You can read the original production notes here.


FUK YOU PSPSydney Fileen hits a macabre milestone this week as Sydney’s Big Electric Cat marks thirteen episodes and devotes two hours to New Wave Music by “People Who Died,” beginning with The Jim Carroll Band.

You can hear Sydney’s Big Electric Cat at 3 PM on The AIR at the website on on this scary little embedded player…

Jim Carroll, the author of “The Basketball Diaries” did indeed front a New Wave band that had one hit with “People Who Died” in 1979.  Since Mr. Carroll has since joined those ranks, BEC host, Sydney Fileen, decided to make deceased New Wavers the theme for her 13th show. Other notable departed musicians you will hear include Joe Strummer, The Ramones, Wendy O. Williams of The Plasmatics, Ian Dury, Lemmy of Motorhead, Ian Curtis of Joy Division and a whole hearseload of other late greats.

Sure, it’s a dark topic, but Halloween is coming up, so why not roll with it?

The playlist:

Jim Carroll Band  “People Who Died”
The Clash  “London Calling” (Joe Strummer)
The Cars  “Just What I Needed” (Benjamin Orr)
The Ramones  “Beat On The Brat” (Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Marky)
The Plasmatics  “Butcher Baby” (Wendy O. Williams)
Ian Dury and The Blockheads  “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”
Motorhead  “White Line Fever” (Lemmy)
The Divinyls  “I Touch Myself” (Christine Amphlett)
INXS  “Suicide Blonde” (Michael Hutchence)
Suicide  “Ghost Rider” (Alan Vega)
The Cramps  “Human Fly” (Lux Interior)
Klaus Nomi  “You Don’t Own Me”
Mink Deville “Spanish Stroll” (Willy Deville)
Dead Boys  “Sonic Reducer” (Stiv Bators)
Joy Division  “New Dawn Fades” (Ian Curtis)
Baltimora  “Tarzan Boy” (Jimmy McShane)
David Bowie  “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”
X Ray Spex  “Oh bondage, Up Yours” (Poly Styrene)
B 52s  “Rock Lobster” (Ricky Wilson)
Pretenders  “Space Invader” (James Honeyman-Scott, Pete Farndon)
Kirsty MacColl  “They Don’t Know”
Divine  “Kick Your Butt”
Robert Palmer  “Looking For Clues”
The Slits  “Typical Girls” (Ari Up)
Falco “Rock Me Amadeus”
Visage  “Fade To Grey” (Steve Strange)
Big Country “In A Big Country” (Stuart Adamson)
The Knack  “Good Girls Don’t”(Doug Feiger, Bruce Gary)

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat replays throughout the week, with a prime-time airing next Tuesday at 8 PM.

The remainder of The AIR’s NEW schedule Friday goes like this:

5 PM  The Swing Shift
6 PM  Curtain Call
7 PM  The Mystery Hour
8 PM The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
9 PM  Laugh Appalachia
9:30 PM  Word Association with Lee & Rudy
10 PM  Radio Free Charleston International
Midnight  All-night Comedy

9780764351259The PopCult Bookshelf

The Amazing Toys of Marvin Glass
by Linda Grant
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
ISBN-13: 978-0764351259

The Amazing Toys of Marvin Glass is an absolute treasure. Pure eye candy, this book is a long overdue tribute to one of the most prolific toy inventors in American history. Joyce Grant has compiled an amazing archive of images of the toys designed by Marvin Glass and Associates.

Marvin Glass was a toy inventor of humble beginnings who formed his toy design and engineering firm in Chicago in 1941. MGA became the first independent design firm in the toy industry, placing their creations with different toy firms, eventually creating a stable of iconic toys that were manufactured by Hasbro, Mattel, Ideal, Milton Bradley, the Marx Toy Company, and dozens of other toymakers.

The roll call of toys invented by Marvin Glass and Associates includes such classics as Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, the game Mousetrap, the game Operation, Mr. Machine, Lite Brite, SSP Cars, the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, Mystery Date, Inch Worm, and hundreds of other memorable toys. You will find photographs of well over a hundred of his inventions in this book.

Continue reading…

Singapore-Restaurant-Week-2012-VisualThe PopCulteer
October 21
, 2016

Your PopCulteer doesn’t write too much about food here in PopCult. Food is a huge part of popular culture, but since I don’t worship at the altar of beer or bacon, and don’t obsess over every gourmet detail, I don’t offer up much in the way of opinion. Other people can write authoritatively about such things. I just know what I like.

However, I do eat out a lot…too much, some would say. I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend for the last several years, and I feel it’s responsible for the recent lousy economic performance of many national restaurant chains.

Last week The Wall Street Journal published a piece by  Julie Jargon and Lillian Rizzo that covered the recent woes of chains like  Così.Don Pablo, Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, Bob Evans and Ruby Tuesday, which have entered bankruptcy or closed restaurants over the past few years.  The article posits that we are entering an industry shakeout that will see a huge drop in the number of restaurant locations over the next five or ten years.

QSR chains included in the Hudson Institute studySome people blame the economy, but the problem goes further than that, and the WSJ article addresses many reasons for this, like supply outstripping demand, the low price of groceries making eating at home more affordable than eating out and the rise of “To Go” restaurants crowding out sit-down establishments.

All of these reasons help to explain the recent downturn, but there’s another major factor that affects chain restaurants that the article doesn’t mention. For the last ten years or so, consultants to the foodservice industry have pushed a stock agenda that has been adopted by almost every major restaurant chain. These consultants have advised restaurants to eliminate items from their menus as a cost-cutting measure. Almost every major chain restaurant now offers 30-to-50 percent fewer menu items than they did a few years ago. On top of that, some of them have cheapened up some of the recipes that they have retained.

We are now seeing what happens when restaurants eliminate menu items or change things. Customers who liked those items go elsewhere. Loyal customers are lost forever. Once they are freed from the habit of going to the same place over and over, they start eating at other chains, or more often, locally-owned restaurants that offer bigger menus with fresher, better-tasting food. These are not customers that can be won back with a short-term promotion or a splashy ad campaign.

Continue reading…

dont panic airOur week of tinkering with The AIR continues as we bring you a brand-new episode of Radio Free Charleston International and welcome The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to the channel Thursday. You can tune in to The AIR website, or listen right on this little player thingamajig…

At 3 PM you can listen to a new edition of Radio Free Charleston International. It’s two full hours loaded with an insanely eclectic assortment of interesting music from all around the world. The full playlist appears at the bottom of this post. At 5 PM check out a replay of this week’s local showcase edition of Radio Free Charleston.

Then at 6 PM you can hear the debut of the BBC Radio production of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a classic science fiction comedy radio series written by Douglas Adams (with some material in the first series provided by John Lloyd). It was originally broadcast in the United Kingdom by BBC Radio 4 in 1978. It was the success of the radio series that inspired the series of books.

The series follows the adventures of hapless Englishman Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect, an alien who writes for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a pan-galactic encyclopedia and travel guide. After Earth is destroyed in the first episode, Arthur and Ford find themselves aboard a stolen spaceship piloted by a motley crew including Zaphod Beeblebrox (Ford’s semi-cousin and Galactic President), the depressed robot Marvin and Trillian, the only other human survivor of Earth’s destruction.

We are thrilled to bring you this series on The AIR, by special arrangement with the BBC. Each Thursday at 6 PM we will present two of the original episodes, giving you a full hour of Panic-free goodness. The show will repeat Friday at 10 AM and 8 PM, Sunday at 11 AM, Monday at 2 PM and occasionally in one of our late-night timeslots.

Following The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on Thursday evening, you can hear The Comedy Vault and Curtain Call, and cap the night off with Live From The Empty Glass.

Continue reading…

All New Wednesday On The AIR

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NEW WEDNESDAYWednesday is all bright and shiny with tons of great programming in a new line-up today on The AIR. All-new episodes of On The Road with Mel, Life Speaks with Michele Zirkle Marcum, Curtain Call m The Gibby Hunters and The Comedy Vault are joined by new-to-The-AIR editions of The Best of The Real with Mark Wolfe, and The Goon Show. We are also replaying Life Speaks and Prognosis tonight.

Wednesday is loaded with great talk, comedy and music. Listen at the website or on this sweet little radio widget…

Kick off your day with a replay of yesterday’s episode of The Swing Shift at 7 AM. That’s followed at 9 AM by a replay of Radio Coolsville, and then a special treat for fans of Van Morrison at 11 AM. At Noon a replay of last week’s Curtain Call leads in to a special brand-new edition of On The Road with Mel at 1 PM that takes us on a musical tour around the country.

At 1:30 PM Michele Zirkle Marcum hosts a new Life Speaks that features part two of her interview with her mother. 2PM sees The Best of The Real with Mark Wolfe as we dig back into the archives for his third show, an interview with your PopCulteer.

At 3 PM Curtain Call expands to two hours, with Mel Larch hosting the best of musical theater. This is followed at 5 PM by an hour of random local music from The AIR archives. At 6 PM it’s an hour of The Goon Show. Life Speaks replays at 7 PM, followed at 7:3o by Word Association with Lee and Rudy.

Prime Time kicks off at 8 PM with a nighttime replay of Prognosis, hosted by Herman Linte. This week Herman brings you two hours of Emerson Lake and Palmer. We close the night with The Gibby Hunters at 10 PM and The Comedy Vault at 11 PM.

Midnight ushers in a full night of mysterious programming that will thrill, delight and mystify you.