PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

The PopCulteer: Inaugural Edition

Welcome to what I hope becomes a regular Friday feature here at PopCult. It’s a random assemblage of random thoughts, observations, show plugs and shameless self-promotion courtesy of Rudy Panucci, your loyal PopCulteer.

Pigs At The Trough

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more brazen display of what must be either arrogance or incompetence than the scene last Tuesday at the WV State legislature. I’m talking of course, about the biscuit feeding frenzy that took place immediately prior to the spiking of the menu-calorie labeling bill. This shameful, yet hilarious display was so astounding that it crosses the line from politics into pop culture. This tops the idiotic Barbie ban bill in terms of reinforcing West Virginia’s “ignorant yokel” stereotype. Either the lawmakers knew how bad it made them look to accept free breakfasts from the chief opponent of the bill they were about to kill and didn’t care, or they honestly didn’t see anything wrong with such an obvious display of “one biscuit, one vote.”

In case you missed it, members of the WV House of Delegates Government Organization Committee were debating the fate of a bill (SB419) that would require chain restuarants to list the calorie counts on their menus, decided to kill the bill right after gorging themselves on biscuits provided by Oshel Craigo, the former legislator, and owner of Tudor’s Biscuit World and Gino’s Pizza, and a chief opponent of the bill. Some senators were laughing at the impropriety of the situation while shoving the lard-laden calorie bombs into their faces,

When you sell yourself for a biscuit….geez, folks, even crack whores have more dignity than that.

One can rarely go wrong overestimating the arrogance or stupidity of a state legislator, but this was amazing even by the remarkably low standards by which they usually operate. On one hand, these legislators were displaying a “let them eat biscuits” mentality, where they feel they’re above any code of ethics. On the other hand, it is possible that these folks are so innocent and naive that they couldn’t see how accepting free food from a person of power and then immediately doing his bidding could create the appearance of impropriety. Either way, they’re either too evil or too stupid to serve in the legislature.

Here’s a list of the evil or stupid delegates in question: Randy Swartzmiller, Dale Martin, Roy Givens, Pat McGeehan, Thomas Michael Porter, Carol Miller, Greg Butcher, Tom Azinger, Ruth Rowan, Sam Argento, Daryl Cowles, Daniel Hall, Jonathan Miller, Mike Ross, Joe Talbott and William Hartman.   Take a bow folks, and wipe that drool off your chin.

The reason this whole sordid affair is so galling is that this bill is a simple, common-sense measure that battles food ignorance by arming the consumer with more information. Opponents have no valid moral or logical points. It would apply to chain restaurants, not mom-and-pop places. It would be a boon to diabetics and heart patients and other people who really need to know what their caloric intake is. It might dissuade someone from loading up on extras or super-sizing, and thusly combat obesity, which is a major health problem in this state,

A vote against this bill is a vote FOR ignorance. Oshel Craigo is apparently West Virginia’s foremost supporter of ignorance. Why would a man who owns a beloved state fast-food institution be so opposed to the idea of the public knowing what kind of food he’s been serving to them? Could it be that, without the calorie labelling bill, fewer people would know that the average Tudor’s Biscuit contains 6,000 calories*? Who’s to say? Maybe it really is because it would cost too much for Mr. Craigo to have his food tested for nutritional value. It’s gotta be cheaper to shovel a ton of crappy biscuits down the gullets of eager legislators. Why let the public’s best interest get in the way of the bottom line?

So with the bill tabled for three years (Until 2012? Can they even do that?) the Oshel Craigos of the world are free to attack West Virginia, Dresden-style, with massive calorie bombs that will leave nothing but a path of destruction in its wake. A really fat, greasy path of destruction.

For my own personal protest, I am boycotting Tudor’s Biscuit World and Gino’s Pizza. This won’t have much effect, since I don’t really eat there much anyway. In the rare case when I want a biscuit, I’ll go to Suzi’s or McDonalds, where they are consistently better than Tudors’. Gino’s Pizza is easy to skip. They say that pizza is like sex….even when it’s bad, it’s pretty good. Gino’s is the exception that proves the rule. While there’s a raging debate over who has the best pizza in the area, it’s no contest when it comes to the worst. Gino’s wins hands down. Your money is better spent at Little Ceasar’s.

So while my boycott will likely have no effect whatsoever, at least I won’t be sitting in the Legislative Chambers looking like a moron with greasy crumbs all over my face.

Paul Calicoat on Up Late

RFC guest and the co-owner of Route 60 Music in Barboursville, Paul Calicoat, will appear on the Marshall University TV Lab program, “Up Late” this Saturday night on My Z at 11PM. Paul is an incredible musician, steeped in Americana, and you really ought to check him out when ever you can. In a few days I’ll be posting my review of his CD, “The Wayward Truth” in the NewSounds blog here at the Gazz.com. Keep reading PopCult because Paul and I are cooking up a contest to give away a guitar to some lucky viewer of Radio Free Charleston.

The Day The Earth Stood Stupid

Last Tuesday FOX released the 2008 remake of the sci-fi classic “The Day The Earth Stood Still” on DVD and Blu Ray. The remake featured a script so awful that federal law mandated that Keanu Reeves star in it (“The Horrible Keanu Reeves Movie Act” signed into law by President Bush in 2002 as part of the Patriot Act). Bonus features on the disc include behind the scenes footage, as well as the entire original movie. A special deluxe edition will cost you ten bucks more. This version contains all the bonus material and the original 1957 version of the film, but it comes without the remake. Critics agree that the deluxe edition is the one to buy.

Suicide (Don’t Do It!)

Don Dixon, who discovered R.E.M. and produced their early albums, will be bringing his musical artistry to Tomahawks in South Charleston on April 18 with the Carpenter Ants. In addition to his acclaimed production work, Dixon is also a singer/songwriter/musician who wrote and recorded the song “Suicide (Don’t Do It) for the 1989 cult movie Heathers. ‘Coincidentally, Heathers is currently being reworked as a stage musical, courtesy of Andy Fickman, who directed “Race To Witch Mountain,” but also worked on the musical version of “Reefer Madness” that was made for Showtime a few years ago.

Help Chewey

T.J. King, the Electric 103 DeeJay who’s appeared on Radio Free Charleston solo and as part of The Spurgie Hankins Band and Corporate Orange, had a bad week last week. Somebody shot his dog, Chewey. Chewey is on the mend, but T.J. is left with a huge vet bill. Several area bands will be performing at The Empty Glass Sunday to raise money to help pay Chewey’s expenses. Tear yourself away from Easter dinner and you hear TJ and his friends The Concept, Spurgie Hankins Band! Diablo Blues Band! Tom Daugherty,Andy Park, the Carpetner Ants and more!

The show kicks off at 5 PM and you get in with a minimum donation of five dollars. You oughtta give more to help Chewey.

Cool comic of the week

This week’s cool comic is ECHO by writer/artist Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise). Published by Moore’s own Abstract Studios, ECHO tells the story of a woman who witnesses the explosion of an experimental aircraft, and is showered by molten metal debris, which bonds to her skin and forms a breastplate that gives her remarkable powers. Powers that she doesn’t want. She’d much rather deal with the other issues in her life, like a messy divorce and a mentally-ill sister. Being chased by competing government agencies and the military get in the way of that.

Moore’s trademark is creating believable female characters and weaving complex and mysterious adventures. ECHO sees him at the top of his game.The first few issues have been collected into graphic novel form, and a second collection is due out soon. Fans of “The X Files,” “The Fugitive,” and “Love And Rockets” should definitely check this out.

Coming Attractions

Next week in PopCult: The return of “Cool Toy Of The Week,” a commentary on IWA East Coast being kicked out of South Charleston, Radio Free Charleston episode 66 with Electro Biscuit (no relation to Tudor’s) and a song from the CYAC production of “American Paradise,” and special Easter editions of Sunday Evening Videos and Monday Morning Art, Plus, you should prepare yourself for the amazing talent of Bradley Wilkerson, unleashed, on Radio Free Charleston.

*okay, I made up that number for the calorie count of a Tudor’s biscuit. It may be a tad high, or maybe not. Unless Tudor’s is forced to reveal the caloric count of their biscuits, we’ll just have to speculate.