There were many cool things/events/people and places that we encountered this last year, and here, in no particular order (the numbers are for my convenience) is The PopCult Universe list of 50 Cool Things about 2008:
11) Due to the leap year, February had an extra day. We spent February 29 at the UUC recording Barrrelhouse Bonni and Lady D for Radio Free Charleston. You can see Bonni here, and Lady D here and below.
12) Radio Free Charleston hits episode 50, with The Concept and Hasil Adkins, plus animation from Frank Panucci, cameos from Johnny Fairplay, Unknown Hinson, Kevin Pauley and Mad Man Pondo, plus Kitty Killton and Mel Larch singing the National Anthem.
13) WV Rockscene’s blog continues to keep us posted on the latest music in the local scene.
18 ) Marcie Bullock releases her CD, “Spent.” You can read my review here, and see her on Radio Free Charleston in January.
19) Mega Bloks begins their “King Arthur” line of building sets.
20) I know it’s been around for a while, but Melanie and I just started eating at The Bluegrass Kitchen on a regular basis this year. Great food and ambience.
21) Season Three of “Moral Orel” on Adult Swim was real art. You can catch the entire third season New Year’s Eve, when AS runs a marathon.
22) Kanawha Players production of “Bright Ideas” starring Jason and Jamie Dunbar was a juicy dark comedy, with a brilliant cast. My first time in KP’s new building, too. Won’t be the last.
23) The Book Exchange reopens on Charleston’s East End. It quickly threatens to become a Mecca of cool in the Capitol City.
24) My nephew Willy starts to call me “Unca Rudy.” (Hey, it was cool for me)
25) Mattel finally releases the 1/18th scale George Barris Batmobile. Mel gets me one for my birthday.
26) The Vandalia Grille opens as a Tapas restaurant. Really good, adventurous food at a very reasonable price. My only gripe: if your fries come with two dipping sauces, they shouldn’t both be white sauces, and neither of them should ever be mayo. Ketchup or honey mustard is a must.
27) Smoking is banned in bars. COOLEST THING EVER. Sorry smokers, but those of us who still have working lungs like to go out without getting cancer.
28 ) The March 2 benefit for Emily Gunter Haynes at The Blue Parrot is an amazing day of great music to help out a great lady. Too many bands to list here put on an all-day show, and I’m glad to report that Emily is doing much better now. Kudos to Tom and The Blue Parrot for Hosting such a cool event.
29) Local cool guy (and friend of RFC) Paul Mullins appears as one of the main villains in Billy Tucci’s new “Sgt. Rock” comic book from DC Comics. Issue three goes on sale next week.
30) Not a new thing, but Graziano’s Pizza is always cool.
31) CYAC’s 12th production of the rock opera “Mary” was a thing of joy and wonderment this holiday season. See for yourself, below.
32) Saw the ex-wife for the first time in 22 years as I took her and her family to Olive Garden in October. Laughs were exchanged and no blood was shed.
38 ) LiveMix Studio, in addition to being the home base for Radio Free Charleston staged an array of cool events throughout the year. It’s a unique venue in Charleston, the very nexus of cool.
39) The IHOP in Kanawha City has filled the void left by the demise of The Southern Kitchen, due largely to having one of the coolest staffs in town working their overnight shift.
40) “The Bridge” who held several great all-day music shows in Davis Park. Free music, food and clothing if you needed it–one of the coolest things we’ve seen.
41) Watching Captain Crash and The Beauty Queen From Mars, AKA Jonathon and Laura, progess, getting even better every time we hear them.
43) The No Pants Players, who continue to crack up the valley with their feats of Improv astonishment.
44) Long overdue recognition for John Nelson of Budget Tapes and Records, who sold me my first albums by DEVO and Kate Bush 30 years ago. Check out John here.
45) Local Author Brian J. Hatcher (right), who was published in Weird Tales Magazine and Legends Of The Mountain State volume 2 this year.
46) The Empty Glass was rightfully named one of the top 100 bars in the country. They marked the event by holding an all-day music blowout that saw a one-time-only reunion of The Pistol Whippers. The Glass also held a series of way-cool cookouts at Coonskin Park.
47) New episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Squidbillies ran on Adult Swim at the same time, early in 2008.
48 ) Kind words about Radio Free Charleston from new fans like Dhani Harrison, Coati Mundi, Wayne Coyne and Ade Edmondson.
49) Charleston’s two cool coffehouses, Taylor Books and Capitol Roasters. We’re lucky to have two cool places to hang out, meet people and hear great music.
50) Getting to meet, hear, film and/or hang out with great musicians like The Synergy Collective, Chuck Biel and the Underdog Blues Revue and Punk Jazz, The Ghosts Of Now, Stephen Beckner, Tofujitsu, Spurgie Hankins Band, Corporate Orange, Jonathon Wood, Marcie Bullock, Steve Himes, The Coal Men, The Buttonflies, The Hellblinki Sextet, Anthony Hoey, Ric Cochran, Rich Allen, John Lilly, Drop Ded Phred, The Science Fair Explosion, Dime Store Heist, In Formation,Unknown Hinson, The Drunken Gentlemen, Dog Soldier and way too many others to mention.
Tomorrow, come back to PopCult for “50 Things That Sucked About 2008.” To be honest, originally the plan was for these lists to be “100 Things” but one of the things that has sucked most for me in 2008 is this repetitive stress injury, or whatever it is, that has left my right hand virtually useless. After I got past number 30 on today’s list, I decided to truncate the list in order to preserve my sanity. It’s not easy typing regularly with one hand, and peck-typing with the other.
So…come back Wednesday for the list of suckage, and apologies to the fifty cool things, events and people that got lift off this list.