PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

A Rebuttal, and More…

Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

Back in May Courtney Forbes wrote an editorial about why she was leaving Charleston. I took issue with it and wrote this rebuttal. A lot of folks were really unhappy with what I wrote and felt that I missed the point. A lot more folks agreed with me, and some felt that I was too soft on Ms. Forbes. I stand by what I wrote, even if it does seem mean.

Audience-Exodus-002The PopCulteer
May 22, 2015

Sometimes you have to be the person to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

It’s been almost two weeks since the infamous Courtney Forbes “Don’t Settle, Charleston” editorial. I’ve been trying to decide the best way, or if I even wanted, to craft a response to Courtney’s piece. On my Facebook newsfeed, reaction to Courtney’s piece ranged from about a quarter of the people who felt that it was dead-on, while the remainder thought it was outrageous hogwash. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure initially that her piece needed a rebuttal. The need to answer Courtney built up in me over a few days.

My gut reaction was to respond with a goofy Lewis Black-style rant. Then I thought a cool, calm, reasoned approach might be best. After having considered the issue and listened to Courtney’s appearance on The Front Porch podcast from WV Public Broadcasting, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best response will be to alternate between the two approaches. After all, her original editorial seemed like two unrelated essays spliced together, so a similar approach might work for me.

The reason I feel the need to respond is that Courtney has managed to parlay her editorial into some measure of local minor celebrity with appearances on local podcasts and her name on the lips of people who talk about such things. People are heaping praise on her for her editorial. I don’t want to burst her bubble here, but I think most of that praise is undeserved. Her “conversation starter” didn’t really start the conversation that she thinks it did.

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Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

As I mentioned a few hours ago, we have seen too many friends pass before their time, and one that hit us particularly hard was earlier this year, when Tom Medvick, one of the best people I ever knew, died suddenly of natual causes. I dedicated a whole episode of The RFC Podcast to Tom’s music and life.

RFCv3 #24

We have a bittersweet episode of Radio Free Charleston on New Appalachian Radio this week. Not long ago Tom Medvick suddenly and surprisingly passed away. This was a shock to his friends in the music scene and where he worked at the West Virginia Department of Transportation and also people whose lives Tom touched in college and coaching his kid’s in sports.

And of course it has been an unimaginable horror for his wife, Wendy and their children, and the rest of Tom’s family. Our thoughts are with them as we take two hours to remember the music of Tom Medvick.

This edition of Radio Free Charleston on New Appalachian Radio can be heard in the Voices of Appalachia archive right HERE, or right in this widget, HERE.

Tommy was a great guy and one of the most powerful drummers I’d ever seen. Always upbeat and hilarious. He was a frequent guest on the original Radio Free Charleston broadcasts and he was not just a good friend, but a great friend. I am going to miss him terribly, and I’m hoping that this tribute can help his friends remember him, and let those who didn’t know him understand what a wonderful person he was.

Over the course of two hours you will hear music from The Swivels and The Feast of Stephen, two of the major musical projects Tommy worked with. You may also remember, if you are elderly enough, that The Swivels started out as The Swivel Rockers, then shortened their name late in 1989.He was also the lead figure in Tommy Spear and The Mints, but sadly I don’t have any of their music in my archives.

What we do have is pretty incredible. Tommy was an amazing musician and I hope that you can get an idea of how fantastic he was in this show. We are going to kick off the show with some rare demos that the Swivels recorded, which come to us courtesy of Tom’s bandmate in both the Swivels and Feast of Stephen, John Radcliff.

You can listen to Radio Free Charleston’s streaming radio incarnation at 10 AM and 10 PM on Tuesdays (and again at midnight Thursday) at New Appalachian Radio, part of Voices of Appalachia. If you miss it, check our the archives for previously-aired shows. You can also listen to Radio Free Charleston Saturday at Midnight. Saturday, RFC airs for six hours, starting at midnight.

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Madwoman of the Sacred Heart

Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

In January 2013 I added two more regular weekly featurs to PopCult, The PopCult Toybox and The PopCult Bookshelf. With these regular features added to Sunday Evening Videos, Monday Morning Art, and The PopCulteer, and soon to be joined by The RFC Flashback on Saturdays, it didn’t take much to ramp up PopCult to having fresh content every day. Since August 18, 2013, we haven’t missed a beat. This is one of my favorite book reviews from October of that year.

The PopCult Bookshelf

“Madwoman of the Sacred Heart”
madwomsacheartby Alexandro Jodorowsky and Moebius
Humanoids
ISBN:978-1-59465-046-8
$29.95

Imagine a wicked satire of philosphy academia with a lot of sex, violence, surreal psuedo-Christian imagery, geo-political intrigue, a dash of Carlos Castaneda-style mysticism plus a mid-life-crisis and wish fulfillment thrown into the mix. Welcome to the world of Alexandro Jodorowsky.

“Madwoman of the Sacred Heart,” written by Jodorwsky with art by the legendary, Moebius, collects and translates three graphic albums originally published in France in 1992, 1993 and 1998. This is a superb work. That it has a cinematic quality is no surprise, given the extensive film work of both Jodorowsky and Moebius, but the disparate elements that blend so seamlessly make most attempts at describing in sound like a train wreck.

“Madwoman of the Sacred Heart” most assuredly is not that, but it does require a bit of a synopsis to explain. We meet Alan Mangel, a very popular philosophy professor at La Sorbonne University who seemingly has everything a man could want…until his 60th birthday.

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Hail To The King

Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

Way back in 2005 I was championing the cause of Jack Kirby, the man who created or co-created a huge number of the most iconic comic book creatins in history. Without him there would be no Marvel Cinematic Universe, no major villain in DC’s upcoming Justice League movie, and no “inspiration” for George Lucas to put Darth Vader or The Force in the Star Wars movies.

Last year Disney settled with the Kirby family for what is reported to be tens of millions of dollars, but more importantly, Kirby will be credited fairly for the characters that sprang forth from his mind. This is what I wrote in PopCult nine years and eleven months ago…

Jack-Kirby_art-of-jack-kirby_wyman-skaarOkay, there are few things cooler in this world than the creative legacy of Jack Kirby (1917-1994).

This is the guy who co-created Captain America in the 1940s, and gave the comic book world loads of memorable characters like The Newsboy Legion, The Vision, Sandman, The Challengers Of The Unknown, among other classics.

galactickirbyWith his partner Joe Simon, he was responsible for the first horror and romance comics. Simon and Kirby split up in the 1950s, and on his own, Kirby was responsible for great work for DC, Marvel, and newspaper comics.

Kirby teamed with Stan Lee at Marvel Comics in the 1960s, and together, they created the Fantastic Four, and laid the groundwork for the Marvel Comics empire. When you see The X Men, The Fantastic Four, The Silver Surfer, The Hulk, and almost all the other Marvel heroes, you’re looking at Jack Kirby creations.

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Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

Okay, for this post I’m cheating. I’m cramming four posts into one. From eariler this year I’m giving you the post with the headline you see above. As a bonus, below that you’ll get one post from each of those legendary action figures, taken from various points in PopCult’s history.

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Photo by Mykol Blackwell

The PopCult Toybox

This week in the PopCult Toybox we’re going to catch up with three titans of the 1960s 12-inch action figure scene, GI Joe, Johnny West and Captain Action.

We will learn why GI Joe no-showed his fiftieth anniversary last year, the cool NEW Johnny West figure set that commemorates his fiftieth anniversary, and the very busy Captain Action Enterprises crew as they gear up for the Good Captain’s golden year in 2016.

Derryl DePriest (photo by Mark Otnes)
Derryl DePriest (photo by Mark Otnes)

First up, with GI Joe, we have a very good interview with Hasbro’s Derryl DePriest. Mark Otnes of The Joe Report and Patches of Pride caught up with Derryl at the 2015 JoeCon a couple of weeks ago, and heard firsthand why Hasbro is focusing on other action figure lines.

It’s a little sad reading the logic behind Hasbro’s moves, but it’s not hard to understand why Hasbro sees the future of GI Joe in other scales than 1/6. Collectors of 12″ GI Joe, after being a bit spoiled in the late 1990s, simply did not support collector-centric product like 2004’s Fortieth Anniversary line, and more recent attempts to revive interest in the scale failed to perform at retail. DePriest does point out that Hasbro’s “Titan” 12-inch figures with limited articulation (I panned them when they were first released) are among the best-selling action figures on the market right now. While that’s sort of depressing, it does give one hope that we will see a revival of quality 12″ action figures at mass-market retail in a few years, once the children of the 1990s are feeling the pangs of nostalgia.

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Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

We had to include at least one batch of our digital doodlings taken from Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. We’ve been a fan, supporter and participating artist in Chase Henderson’s Charleston chapter of this international group since day one, and it was really hard to narrow it down to just one choice, but we picked this one with Pepper Fandango and Kitty Killton, from November 2011.

We’re kicking off this week with some digital paintings based on photos taken from last night’s edition of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art Show. Above you see Pepper Fandango and Kitty Killton fed through the Stark Charleston filter. After the jump you’ll find digital paintings of each of last night’s models. You can click the imagrs to see them bigger. And you can find a folder with even more images over at the Radio Free Charleston Facebook Page.

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Meet The Marx Toy Museum

Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

While we’re posting photo essays, I had to include this one, the first of five, in fact, featuring the Marx Toy Museum, one of the coolest places in West Virginia. This one links to the other four Marx Toy Museum essays.

The PopCulteer
August 24, 2012

The Marx Toy Museum
Photo Essay Part One

Welcome to our first multi-part photo essay in The PopCulteer. As a sort of early present to our readers, just a few days away from PopCult’s seventh anniversary, we are bringing you photographic evidence of a trip we took last week to The Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville, West Virginia.

It was an incredibly pleasant trip. The weather was perfect. The museum was easy to find. Francis Turner, founder of the museum and Candy, who was working as a docent the day we showed up, were warm, friendly and gracious. I’ve been reading about Francis and his amazing collection for years, and it was great to finally meet him in person.

The Marx Toy Company was, at one time, the biggest toy company in the world. One of their main factories was located in Glen Dale, West Virginia, only a few miles from the site of The Marx Toy Museum. There’s a real sense of community on display here, as so many people in the area worked for Marx. At the museum you can learn about the history of Louis Marx, his wonderful toys and the people who made them.

This photo essay cannot possibly replace the actual experience of going to The Marx Toy Museum. You can’t imagine how cool it is to see this much toy history in one place. It’s a great day trip, and I recommend it to anyone in the Charleston area. If you grew up any time before the 1980s, The Marx Toy Museum will bring back many childhood memories. You may overdose on nostalgic glee. If you’re younger, you will still find the toys of yesteryear to be fascinating.

This photo essay is broken into five parts, so that the graphics don’t overwhelm your browsers. Convenient links will be posted at the top and bottom of each essay, so that you can jump around at will.

Enjoy!

The Marx Toy Museum Photo Essay
Part One–Meet The Museum (You Are Here)
Part Two–Marxism In The Toy World
Part Three–Playsets And Plastic People
Part Four–Girl’s Toys
Part Five–Johnny West And The Cowboys

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Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

We wanted to bring you at least one photo essay from ArtWalk, and we chose this one from October, 2011 because not only do you get ArtWalk photos, you also get the Charleston return of Brian and Brad Diller.

The PopCulteer
October 21, 2011

The big story at last night’s ArtWalk was the triple dose of Diller at Taylor Books last night. Brad Diller was on hand, signing copies of his book of cartoons, “The Neighbors Have Two Flamingos,” while his brother, Brian, and nephew, Nathan, were performing in Taylor’s cafe. When the matriarch of the Diller clan, Polly Diller, showed up, the family reunion was nearly complete,

But that’s not all that ArtWalk had to offer. The Charleston Ballet entered the fray with a cool exhibit, Art Emporium had a dazzling show by April Waltz, The Purple Moon offered up a room of way-cool vintage items like the one at the head of this column and the other galleries all made their mark.

We will jump into the photo essay after the “read more” link, right after this PopCult Instant Video of Brian Diller performing an old Stubby Dill classic.

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Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

Over the course of ten years, PopCult has seen its fair share of deaths. One of the worst was the sudden heart attack that took Dave Russell from us. He was a great guy, and we dedicated an episode of Radio Free Charleston to his memory.

Radio Free Charelston 120, “Zombie Babies Shirt” is online now, and posted right above this text. This show is designed to promote Friday’s benefit show for Dave Russell at The Empty Glass.

We feature music from The ButtonFlies, Sierra Ferrell and The Diablo Blues Band, all of whom will be performing Friday. We also have a trailer for “Porkchop,” the Eamon Hardiman-directed movie on which Dave worked as cinematographer. As an added bonus we have a look at the soundcheck version of “Get Loose” by Beaver Knievel. Next week we’ll have the full-blown song, plus an additional Beaver Knievel tune.

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Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

In 2009 we brought you clips of Nina Paley’s animated feature, Sita Sings The Blues. A year later we brought you the whole film. Sometimes the Sunday Evening Video is an entire, feature-length movie.

You may remember that I posted Nina Paley’s feature film, “Sita Sings The Blues” here in PopCult about a year and a half ago. At the time, I could only post YouTube clips here, and had to put it up in ten chunks.

Now, thanks to the wonders of technology, I can post the entire movie right there above this text in one piece with higher quality.It’s well worth a second, third and fourth look.

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