PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

gg-dhaniOur music pick today for the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is the first album that Dhani Harrison has released under his own name, IN//Parallel. Harrison is, of course, the son of a Beatle, and that makes this album all the more remarkable because I’m NOT suggesting that you get this for the Beatles fan on your shopping list.

IN//Parallel is the perfect gift for the fan of experimental, ambient, progressive electronica. It has echoes of Nine Inch Nails, Prodigy, Jon Micheal Jarre and Ultravox.

While Harrison bears an uncanny vocal resemblence to his father, the music he pursues here is his own. If you get this as a gift for a Beatles fan, make sure that they’re a completist who wants every album released by Fab Four offspring, because this is not terribly Beatlesque.

This is an impressive album, which takes the sounds he tinkered with on his albums as thenewno2 and explodes them into a bold new style. With elements of drone, EDM and industrial music in his arsenel, Harrison delivers ten tracks that sound completely original, which is quite a feat these days.

After dedicating the last several years to preserving his father’s musical legacy, it’s a real kick to see Dhani Harrison cut loose and explore and establish his own musical territory. You can find IN//Parallel almost anywhere that sells music, or head over to his website for some cool bundles with T Shirts, signed posters and other cool stuff.

For a taste of his music, check out the (possibly not safe for work) video for “All About Waiting”…

gg-hibertEye See You: The Art of Oliver Hibert
Angelo Madrigale & Oliver Hibert, Foreword by Wayne Coyne
ISBN13: 9780764354434

Today’s book pick in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is a trippy tome that is perfect for the fan of cool, psychedelic art, Eye See You: The Art of Oliver Hibert is a terrific coffee table book that presents tons of work by, and a career overview of, the man who’s been chosen as one of the favorite artistic collaborators of Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, who contributed the introduction to this book.

In this first survey of his career, you’ll find beloved, neo-psychedelic artist Oliver Hibert blending in as living art among examples of his fine art, illustration, and design, including his unique recreation of the tarot deck. Building off of features in publications including Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose, and Beautiful Decay, this title breaks down Hibert’s quest for the “Superflat” using his favored medium of acrylic and addresses the question of what happens when an artist tackles commercial assignments.

His body of work is connected through color and inspiration from the 1960s, an aesthetic that has attracted the likes of The Flaming Lips for whom Hibert has created posters, tour apparel, and album covers. With well over 200 images, Eye See You also shows just how prolific the artist is, covering his paintings, sculpture, and drawings, as well as his many projects for clients such as Nike, Fender Guitars, Miley Cyrus, and Creature Skateboards. This is a must-have and insightful work for collectors and fans of contemporary art.

Hibert has brought new life to the psychedelic art scene that flourished in the 1960s with artists like Heinz Edelman, Milton Glaser and Peter Max, and he’s done it while imposing his own stamp on the genre. This great collection of his art will be perfect for the aging or aspiring hippie on your holiday shopping list, or for anyone who just enjoys cool and colorful art. You can order it from any bookseller using the ISBN number, or purchase it directly from the publisher.



This week’s Monday Morning Art is a digital abstract, a color study of nothing, as it were. I call it “Green Stuff,” because that’s pretty much what it looks like.

At first it does, anyway. If you look long enough you might find something else in there. I’m not saying what, though. I’m not confirming it, but there may be more to this piece than a simple color study. Click to enlarge.

We are, of course, in the midst of our annual holiday tradition here in PopCult, so today the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide continues. Be sure to check out all our unique gift suggestions.

air-logo-b-0001Also remember that you can tune in and hear cool stuff on our internet radio station, The AIR.

You can listen at the website, or on this familiar little embedded player…

We’re bringing you more of the best independent radio that you’ll ever hear anywhere on our humble little internet station. Your PopCulteer is still a little preoccupied with the 2018 PopCult Gift Guide, but all week long you can hear the coolest stuff on The AIR, including a new episode of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle Marcum on Wednesday, and special holiday music all week long. Take a gander at this ever-changing embedded schedule…

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: Cyber Monday Preview

gg-cyber-mondayThe Monday after Thanksgiving has been dubbed “Cyber Monday,” because, in past years, that’s one of the busiest days for internet shopping. Some suspect that this is because people go to stores to see items, then wait until they’re at work so they can find them cheaper online. There’s also the idea that people are ordering stuff at work so that nosy loved ones can’t snoop on their browser history.

Whatever the reason, on Monday many online retailers are offering really good deals or free shipping or all kinds of other perks, and since we try to suggest cool gift ideas that other blogs and websites don’t mention, we’re going to give you a quick guide to ten offbeat online retailers who have a wide variety of cool gift ideas that will make you look like a genius this holiday season. This is the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide Cyber Monday Preview:

American Science & Surplus

American Science & Surplus has been around for decades and publishes one of the most entertaining catalogs on the face of the Earth. They sell surplus items that include electronic components, gadgets, tools, toys, military pouches, cooking supplies, art supplies, pop culture oddities, educational materials and anything else they can get their hands on, cheap.

This is a great place to find gifts for the science enthusiast on your shopping list. They sell all kinds of motors and lights that can be used for home robotics. They also have military suplus gear that can be repurposed into all sorts of things. And where else can you find a three-foot-long test tube, listed in their catalog as “Test Tooooooooooobe?”

The American Science & Surplus website is the first stop for gag gifts, or “different” ideas for the “different” people on your holiday shopping list.

Archie McPhee

Archie McPhee is another online retailer that produces a great catalog. Originally a surplus novelty house, back in the 1980s, Archie McPhee quicky exhausted their supply of weird stuff, so they had to start making their own. You find products created for Archie McPhee under their “Accoutrements” label all over the place now, but if you want to go to the source, visit their website for a wide selection of things like rubber horse heads, super librarian action figures, squirrel underpants, chicken-flavored candy canes and stuff like that. It’s fun, and perfect for the person on your holiday shopping list with a healthy sense of the absurd.

Retro A Go Go

Retro A Go Go just makes cool stuff. Whether it’s jewelry, T shirts, parasols, tin signs or giant Ben Cooper Halloween masks that you can hang on your wall, this is THE place that just epitomizes coolness. You can find designs by Mitch O’Connell, licensed Ford and Chevy stuff, Monster stuff, Betty Page clothing and decor and all sorts of the coolest things on their planet.

Visit their website for the perfect gift for the coolest person on your holiday shopping list.

Cotswold Collectibles

Full disclosure: I’m friends with some of the folks who work here. Who wouldn’t be? I buy tons of their GI Joe-compatible figures, toys and equipment every year. Cotswold Collectibles carries a great assortment of vintage GI Joe and Action Man items, ranging from the 1960s to the revival toys in the 1990s and beyond, and they also make their own Elite Brigade items that bring back the glory days of The Adventure Team and also veer into the military side of things.

Lately Cotswold Collectibles has reached out to import terrific new 1/6 scale items from Spain, Brazil and France and they also offer a great selection of products from Dragon Models, Sideshow Toys, Hot Toys and many other top 1/6 high-end companies. If you have a collector of the original 12-inch GI Joe action figure on your holiday shopping list, you need to shop at Cotswold Collectibles.

Figures Toy Company

If the adult action figure collector on your list is just a little bit younger, you may want to visit Figures Toy Company, who are currently creating an insane amount of MEGO-style 8-inch action figures. Their bread-and-butter are their DC Comics figures, and the offshoot Classic Batman TV Show figures, but they also create 8 and 12-inch figures of KISS, The Monkees, The Three Stooges and several other pop culture icons.

In addition to that, they also make wrestling action figures in the same scale as the popular WWE figures. You can find Ring of Honor figures of A.J. Styles and Kevin Steen (Owens) from before they joined WWE, and several independent and legendary wrestlers.

But the real meat of the Figures Toy Company website is the MEGO style stuff. Not only can you get classic DC Comics figures (tons of ’em), you can also get carrying cases and reproductions of the MEGO Batmobile, BatCycle and Mobile Bat-Lab. If you have a MEGO collector (or indie wrestling fan) on your shopping list, Figures Toy Company is the place to go.  They even offer a MEGO-style Santa Claus!

Check out the second half of our Cyber Monday Preview after the jump…

Continue reading…

gg-martinToday I have cleverly managed to combine our Sunday Evening Video for the week with an entry of the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide.

Above you see “Santa Fe,” a brand-new mid-centurty design-style animated music video by Steve Martin And The Steep Canyon Rangers, and it’s on their BRAND-NEW album, coincidentally titled “The Long Awaited Album,” which we are recommending as the pefect gift for the lover of traditional and old-time music (some people get irate if you call it “Bluegrass”) on your holiday shopping list. It’s also great for fans of Steve Martin’s comedy, as he has managed, with this album, to combine comedy with Bluegrass without venturing too far into the field of novelty music.

You will find Martin’s trademark comedy here, and it’s accompanied by first-class musicianship. Martin sings three funny tunes, and turns the vocals over the Steep Canyon Rangers’ Woody Platt for songs that require prettier singing. There are also some short instrumentals, just to keep the record moving at a brisk pace.

You can find The Long Awaited Album anywhere that sells music. I’ve even seen it at Cracker Barrel.

Later on Sunday check back for the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide Cyber Monday Preview, a guide to ten offbeat online retailers who have tons of cool stuff turn you into the guru of gifting this holiday season.

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: Seal “Standards”

gg-sealOur music pick today for the 2017 Popcult Gift Guide is a surprising new release from legendary British Soul singer, Seal, Standards. Over the course of his astounding career, acclaimed singer-songwriter, Seal, has sold over 50 million albums globally.  With this album Seal takes on Rat Pack-era standards, with some terrific arrangements, and shows how versatile his voice can be.

To add authenticity to the album, Seal chose to work with musicians who played with the legendary artists he covers on the record. Standards includes contributions from pianist Randy Waldman (Frank Sinatra); bassist Chuck Berghofer (Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles); and drummer Greg Fields (Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder).

Seal also recorded much of the album in some of the same spaces where the original classics were put to tape, including the iconic Capitol Records in Los Angeles as well as Frank Sinatra’s United Studios (where “It Was a Very Good Year” was recorded).  According to the man himself, “This is the album I have always wanted to make. I grew up listening to music from the Rat Pack era, so recording these timeless tunes was a lifelong dream. It was a true honour to collaborate with the same musicians who performed with Frank Sinatra and so many of my favourite artists, in the very same studios where the magic was first made – it was one of the greatest days of my recording career.”

Standards find’s Seal’s signature, velvety warm vocals bringing to life classics made popular by Frank Sinatra (“Luck Be A Lady,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “It Was A Very Good Year”), Ella Fitzgerald (“I’m Beginning to See The Light”) and Nina Simone (“I Put A Spell on You”). He tackles many classic tunes, and you’ll probably want to get the Deluxe edition, which boasts three bonus songs, including a couple of Christmas classics. Some of the tracks on this album swing hard enough that you’ll be hearing them on upcoming episodes of The Swing Shift, on The AIR.

This is the perfect gift for any fan of Seal, and anyone who loves songs from the Great American Songbook. Standards can be found in any store that sells new music. Check out the sampler video below…

Sticks ’n Stones ’n Dinosaur Bones: Being a Whimsical “Take” on a (pre)Historical Event
gg-sticksTed Enik , Illustrated by G. F. Newland
ISBN13: 9780764353949

Next up in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide we have a terrific gift for the young reader on your holiday shopping list. Sticks ’n Stones ’n Dinosaur Bones: Being a Whimsical “Take” on a (pre)Historical Event is the first book in a fun series, and it’s a really cute take on the early days of dinosaur fossil hunting.

This first book in the Unhinged History series is a ripping yarn, full of adventure and deceit, that brings to life the best-known public spat in all of paleontology: the bitter rivalry between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh. This frenzy of discovery and one-upmanship, known today as “the Bone Wars,” was a gold rush–like scramble to find the most and “best” dinosaur fossils, thus bringing to glory to their respective home-base universities. Lively and witty rhymes plus wonderfully demented illustrations reveal how the paleontologists’ infamous rivalry began, and how, despite making genuine and lasting contributions to the field, their mutual obsession with outdoing one another spun out of control.

Author Ted Enik has worked as an illustrator for most of the well-known New York publishing houses, applying his versatility to both original art as well as classic and current children’s book characters, including The Magic School Bus. Illustrator G. F. Newland’s doodles have made their way onto buttons, bags, posters, and T-shirts, and have been published by the likes of Scholastic, Hachette, and Pixel Mouse House.

Sticks ’n Stones ’n Dinosaur Bones is a great way to get five-to-eight year olds interested in reading, paleontology and the quirks of historical eccentricities. You should be able to order it from any bookseller using the ISBN number above, or get it directly from the publisher.


deniThis week we bring you a really cool episode of Radio Free Charleston from August, 2009. Despite debuting in the summer, it has a huge element of April Fool’s Day in it. “Kirby Captain America Shirt” is loaded with great stuff. Our 78th episode included music by Tofujitsu and Deni Bonet (pictured), plus brilliant animation by Nina Paley.

The April Foolish part of the show is the fact that the host segments, in which I claim to be on Charleston’s West Side, were actually shot in Pittsburgh. Although many people thought that this was a sly comment on the number of movies set in West Virginia that are actually filmed elsewhere, the truth is that we shot these during a last-minute surprise birthday week trip to visit my sister who lives in the Pittsburgh area. If we hadn’t shot our host segments while we were up there, the show would have been delayed.

That wasn’t really an option. Deni Bonet was included on the show to promote an appearance at the late, lamented LiveMix Studio, and delaying the show would have meant that the show and the accompanying notes in the Charleston Gazette would have hit after her performance. So we sort of had to multi-task and turn a quick fun trip into a host segment shoot.

Which was a minor bummer, because shooting in one city while claiming that we were still in Charleston was an idea I had planned to use in an April Fool’s Day show. Eventually I did exactly that and pulled the same stunt in April, 2011 for episode 125. We just used a different city. Original production notes are HERE.

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: SHOP LOCAL

gg-shop-local-01Small Business Saturday happens this weekend, and today’s entry in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is a strong suggestion that you get out and support our local stores. 100% of every dollar spent with a local retailer stays relatively local. There are all kinds of folks who have cool stuff and gift certificates. If we missed any, please feel free to give ’em a plug in the comments section.

While we’re plugging local merchants, I want to let you know that, at The Bakery, this Sunday, the Arts Flea Market will help raise funds for Charleston Music & Art Collective’s project, creating Charleston’s newest all ages music venue. Vendors will sell arts supplies, music equipment, as well as finished works at the Bakery at 1007 Bigley Ave from 1-7PM. It’s going to loads of fun and you can check out the new performance space while you’re there. The big debut of The Bakery will be the first three days of December, but it’ll be cool to get a feel for the place ahead of time. But that’s Sunday. We still have Small Business Saturday to tell you about.

As we try to do every year, we’ve compiled a list of local merchants who you really ought to patronize this holiday season: Last year we told you about Oddbird Gift Emporium on Capitol Street. They’re still stocked to the rafters with cool gift ideas. Other cool area merchants you can support are Art Emporium,Collage, Stray Dog Antiques, The Purple Moon, Taylor Books, Sullivan’s Records, Budget Tapes & Records, plus Kid Country Toys and Eclectics, and the other Bridge Road shops.

gg-shop-local-02Over on the West Side of Charleston, you might want to check out Elk City Records for your jazz vinyl needs, and around the corner, Kin Ship Goods and Base Camp Printing have pleny of unique apparel and paper gifts to offer, respectively.

Heading back to the heart of Downtown, you’ll also want to hit up Taylor Books and Capitol Market for even more great gift ideas. Most of the books I recommend in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide can be ordered through Taylor Books, simply by using the ISBN number. Don’t forget Charleston Bread, either, for the gift of tasty bread and cookies and cake and stuff.

The main thing is to get out there and shop local. I know it’s convenient to click away, and lord knows I’ve included tons of online-only items in the Gift Guide, but the local touch means so much more, and you make your immediate world a better place. The 2017 PopCult Gift Guide will return with a couple of posts Saturday, and our Cyber-Monday guide on Sunday, and then we’ll be back to three great gift ideas per day on Monday.

And don’t forget this Sunday at the Bakery…


2017 PopCult Gift Guide Black Friday Bonus

Black Friday looms large, and your PopCulteer usually stays in to avoid the insanity, but tomorrow I will likely venture forth to Nitro for the huge Black Friday Sale at Third Floor Comics and Collectibles. There will be sales on all the comics, toys, cards and antiques in the shop, plus pro-wrestling legends, Kevin Sullivan and Shane Douglas will be on hand from 11 AM until Noon to sign autographs and take photos. You want gifts for people? This is the place to find them.