PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

SNOW DAY

snow day 01The PopCulteer
January 22, 2016

For the first time since I started writing The PopCulteer as a weekly longish essay, back in April, 2009, I have scrapped an already-finished column to talk about the weather.

Snow is coming. The National Weather Service is predicting over a foot of snow for the Charleston area, starting about as soon as I get this posted, and continuing through Saturday afternoon. Roads are already cold, so the snow will stick instantly and won’t begin to melt until Sunday or Monday.

Originally in this space I planned to run an essay about Mayor Jones’ dccision to dismantle the tent city made up of homeless people down on the banks of the Elk River. My conclusion was that it was something that had to be done, but that it was handled poorly and the timing was bad.

Now I’m not so sure. Most of the folks who had been living in the tent city are indoors now, not outside living in tents that could wind up buried under a foot or more of heavy, wet snow. This storm has been slowly headed this way all week long. While it may have seemed brutal in the timing and execution, this may have been the most merciful way to get these poor folks sheltered before this storm.

I have harshly criticized Mayor Jones in the past, but in this case I think he made a tough decision that was actually in the best interest of the people affected, even if it didn’t seem so at the time. Sometimes practicality has to come before diplomacy.

I also had a lengthy “Stuff To Do” section, which I cannot in good conscience run. I normally encourage every PopCult reader to get out and support the local scene. This week, you should support it from home. It is not worth risking your life to go out into inclement weather to hear live music or see anything cool theater-or-art-wise. Stay at home and surf the net. If you want to support a local band go to their Bandcamp page and pay to download an album.

To keep up with the latest details on the storm I direct you to a special Facebook page dedicated to Winter Storm Jonas. This West Virginia Emergency Response page was set up by the state’s department of Homeland Security and is your best source for the latest developments on this storm. Kudos to them for coming up with a great way to communicate quickly with the people of West Virginia.

snow day 02

I am going to leave you with the latest episode of Radio Free Charleston. I would suggest that, if you have not yet stocked up your house with food and essentials, you do so immediately. Also, if you have satellite television, spray your dish with a non-stick coating (like PAM) so that snow won’t stick to it. Then, you should stay in and watch RFC or other TV shows or read a book while checking on the progress of this storm. We don’t want to lose any readers to extreme weather.

The Politics of Art

The PopCult Bookshelf

cover75407-mediumStrike Art!
Contemporary Art and the Post-Occupy Condition
by Yates McKee
Verso Books
ISBN     9781784781880
$26.95

Strike Art! is a comprehensive academic study of politics in modern art, framing the history of this interaction and focusing on post-Reagan and Clinton-era developments and especially on the extremely recent post-Occupy movement. The publisher’s blurb promises an examination of “The collision of activism and contemporary art, from the Seattle protests to Occupy and beyond.”

Yates does a terrific job chronicling these movements with wonderful balance between academic dissection and top-flight journalism. You can tell that he not only fully understands his topic, but he also knows how best to explain it.

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Toy Trains Cut The Cord

The PopCult Toybox

Bachman's new battery-operated trains
Bachmann’s new battery-operated trains

After years of holding out as a maker of traditional electric train sets, Bachmann Trains is introducing its first battery-operated trains: the HO scale passenger United Railways Express and freight Fast Rail Flyer. Following the lead of Lionel, who started making battery-operated versions of their popular larger-scale trains, Bachmann will try to broaden the hobby with these simpler and safer versions of their HO scale trains.

Both sets feature a diesel engine with locomotive, whistle, and bell sounds plus an operating headlight. These ready-to-run sets come complete with a 63″ x 45″ oval of snap-together track and include either two passenger cars, station, crossing gates, and signals (United Railways Express) or three freight cars, crossing gates, signals, and trees (Fast Rail Flyer).

This is a great new entry-level train set that won’t break your budget, but may well infect your kids with what can be a life-long obsession with model railroading. All you need is two AA batteries and you’re in business. Look for these to hit stores later this year.

Midweek Stuff To Do Jan. 19-21

There are cool things happening in and around Charleston, and here are some handy-dandy graphical highlights:

Tuesday:

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Loads of Music and an Alien Trump on RFC 214

Image11This is the first RFC of 2016, with music from Mojo’s Root Cellar, Under Surveillance, Jordan Andrew Jefferson and The Dread Crew of Oddwood, plus we have animation and a cool announcement.

We shot our host segments on a very cold Sunday afternoon on Hale Street in Charleston. Our title shirt this week is a mash-up of John Carpenter’s classic movie, “They Live,” and the most frightening threat to the future of this country, Donald Trump. This comes courtesy of the world’s greatest artist, Mitch O’Connell. If you want a shirt like this, visit Mitch O’Connell’s website and hit the Buy Stuff link.

Image3Before we jump into the meat of the show, we have some very important announcements from Ultraman, He-Man and She-Ra. Please pay close attention as these are serious topics and deserve your undivided concentration.

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alien neon sign 001

This week we start the art with a digital painting of an Alien Neon Sign. Nothing special or cryptic about it. It is what it is. Click to enlarge.

Check PopCult later Monday for Radio Free Charleston 214. “Trump-They Live Shirt” features music from with Mojo’s Root Cellar, Under Surveillance, Jordan Andrew Jefferson and The Dread Crew of Oddwood, plus very important messages and animation.

mst3kSome days you just need to slow down and watch the Mystery Science Theater 300 guys tear apart a delightfully awful movie. It’s like stopping and smelling the roses, only the odor isn’t as pleasant and you’ll be laughing a lot more.

Enjoy “Manos, The Hand of Fate.”

RFC Flashback: The First RFC MINI SHOW

5075207This week we’re going back to September 2013 for the very first RFC MINI SHOW. That episode featured Jabberwocky, a Huntington-based dance band that has since morphed into the band Mojomatic, with many of the same core members.

We recorded Jabberwocky at The Blue Parrot and chose them because they were primarily a cover band. The reasons for the creation of The RFC MINI SHOW were twofold: First, I wanted to create a nearly-weekly presence for Radio Free Charleston, and this shorter format was intended to fill in the gaps in the weeks between full-length episodes of RFC. Second, I wanted to include more cover songs, but if I drop a cover song into a full-length episode, then it might wind up blocked in some countries or with an advertisement running in front, and that wasn’t really fair to the bands that do original music.

We recorded Jabberwocky performing Eddie Floyd’s “Knock On Wood,” and Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s All Right).”  You can read the original production notes HERE.

Golden Year

MV5BMTkzNDY5NTg5MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzI4NzM1MjE@._V1_SY317_CR16,0,214,317_AL_The PopCulteer
January 15, 2016

2016 is going to be the year of the Golden Anniversary. So many iconic pop culture events happened in 1966 that this year is shaping up to be a massive nostalgia-fest for those of us old enough to remember.

The classic Batman TV show with Adam West and Burt Ward debuted fifty years ago this week. Other iconic television shows that debuted in 1966 include Star Trek, The Monkees, Mission Impossible, Hollywood Squares and Dark Shadows. in addition, TV shows with cult followings that first aired in 1966 include Ultraman (in Japan), Rat Patrol, Green Hornet, Time Tunnel, and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

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A Look At PopCult’s Favorite Comics of 2015

The PopCult Bookshelf

latestYou might be wondering why it’s taken me two weeks into the new year to run down my favorite comics of 2015, and I have to admit, this has been a tricky post to write. My list of five favorite comics of 2015 is pretty much identical to my five favorite comics of 2014.

My picks for 2014 were Multiversity, Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland, All-New Silver Surfer, Weird Love, and The Charlton Arrow. This year all five title stayed among my favorites.I could have gotten away with simply re-posting my best of 2014 column, but that’d be too lazy, even for me. So here’s an expanded look at the comics I really enjoyed in 2015:

STK667159DC’s Multiversity and IDW’s Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland were both limited series that wrapped up in 2015, and both maintained their high level of excellence throughout their runs.

Collected editions are out, or soon will be, and it looks like Little Nemo will grace us with a new mini-series from the same creative team (Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez) soon.

Multiversity, Grant Morrison’s re-sorting of the DC Multiverse, seems to have had a lasting effect that paves the way for DC to back out of the creative miasma that is their current convoluted universe.

Marvel’s All-New Silver Surfer wrapped up its run and was then relaunched with a new writer, Dan Slott, but still kept its strong sense of fun.

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