With this week’s edition of the RFC Flashback, we have decided to jump ahead about forty episodes in our chronological presentation of episodes of the Radio Free Charleston video progam. The main reason for this is that your PopCulteer has fallen behind in his remastering of classic episodes, so rather than make a mad dash to get them done, we’re going to save them for later this year. After all, there’s no law that says we have to bring them to you in order. I mean, Star Wars started with chapter four and nobody complained.
With that explanation out of the way, we bring you Radio Free Charelston 120, “Zombie Babies Shirt” which was first posted in February 2011 as a tribute to the late David Russell, to promote a benefit show (held at The World Famous Empty Glass) for his memorial fund. You can see the poster for it at right.
The show features music from The ButtonFlies, Sierra Ferrell and The Diablo Blues Band, all of whom performed at the benefit. We also brought you the trailer for Porkchop, the Eamon Hardiman-directed movie on which Dave worked as cinematographer. Little did we know at the time that Porkchop would go on to inspire a trilogy that has been sold on DVD nationwide and developed a cult following. As an added bonus in this episode we have a look at the soundcheck version of “Get Loose” by Beaver Knievel.
It’s been nearly seven years since Dave died. I wrote about it here in PopCult. He was a true positive force for the creative arts here in town, and he will be greatly missed. His sudden passing caught his family off guard and left a void in Charleston’s creative community.
This was one of our most bittersweet episodes, but I think we did Dave proud.
Welcome to PopCult’s 684th post for the year 2017. We have two days left in this year before we get to take it out behind the barn and put a bullet in its brain. 2017 has been a demoralizing year on so many fronts that we can’t help by try to be optimistic and think that things will get better in the new year, so let’s hurry up and bring it on. As has been the occasional norm here in PopCult, we’ll end the year with a poorly-organized rant.
2016 was the year of mortality. 2017 has been the year of morbidity as the deaths of famous people continued at a high rate, but we’ve become so numb that many of them don’t even register. This was the year that we discovered that, like many of us, The Grim Reaper always got John Hurt and John Heard mixed up, so he just took both of them to be sure. He had plenty of helpers this year, in Las Vegas and Texas, and with Mother Nature ramping things up with hurricanes.
Politically in 2017 we were only protected from worst-case scenarios by the ineptitude of the elected leaders, who are luckily too incompetent at governing to do actually follow through on much of their horrible agenda. However, they did manage to squeak out a tax bill at the end of the year that will insure that the rich will get richer and the middle class will pay for it. If the GOP couldn’t find a way to help the rich and hurt the poor, they’d lose their financial backing.
Politics cast a pall over much of pop culture in 2017, with consumers so reluctant to spend money that we will see double-digit drops (or close to it) in sales of toys, comic books, movie tickets, music and DVDs. The only glimmer of hope is that sleazy people who deserve to exposed, like Harvey Weinstein, are finally getting a comeuppance that we can only hope eventually extends to the White House.
You can’t talk about pop culture in 2017 without talking about the #Me Too movement and the repurcussions as, after more than a century, Hollywood and the media are finally being held to basic human standards of decency. This is long overdue. When people like Weinstein and Spacey are so blatant about their actions that they have jokes made at their expense on network cartoon shows, it’s way past time to clean house. Exposing the institutionalized sexual harrassment that has been ingrained in show business since day one is long overdue.
It’s a shame that scandals have taken out some creators whose work I like, but we’re at a point where, at least for the time being, we have to have a zero tolerance policy.
I do feel that distinctions need to be drawn about the degrees of offenses, but those distinctions have to be made after the offenses have been called out. What Louis CK is accused of is not as horrifying as what Weinstein is accused of, but it’s not exactly something that needs apologists covering for it, either. Actually it sounds like one of his comedy routines.
If the end result of this soul-searching and house-cleaning is that more women creators get a fair shot to make movies and TV shows without having to sell their souls or bodies, then there’s no way this can be seen as a negative. The only way the #Me Too movement can go South is if it just turns out to be a temporary distraction before everything returns to the status quo, with just a few people made examples of as a way of paying lip service to the concept of equality.
Time will tell is this turns out to be a genuine, much-needed revolution, or if it’s just an orgy of gossip to take our minds off of the current political climate.
Politics seems to have infected every area of our lives. Marvel Comics bent over backwards to try and cater to a diverse audience, and was met with rather fierce resistance and a retailer revolt before giving the axe to their Editor in Chief at the end of the year. Just in the last week they announced the cancellation of seven titles (and counting), all of which featured gay, female or minority lead characters.
Rather than simply a political decision, this was motivated by sales, which were pretty bad on the titles that were cancelled. It was a pretty major misstep by Marvel to take shortcuts to diversity in the first place, by simply changing the race/gender/sexual orientation of existing Marvel heroes instead of creating new characters with organic stories.
Even Net Neutrality, which is a no-brainer as a populist cause, is in jeopardy. What’s worse, the usual “Facebook Experts” are out in full force mocking people who are concerned about the recent attack on a free internet by Trump’s FCC.
I know that part of the charm of Facebook is watching how people with little or no grasp of an issue suddenly appoint themselves as experts in what are usually unintentionally hilarious attempts to make themselves look smart, but with the Net Neutrality issue some folks are rising to new heights of demonstrating how a “little knowledge” can be a a dangerous thing. One FB friend actually tried to tie the recent FCC ruling to Suddenlink suddenly offering faster speeds.
This was seriously just too stupid to even comment on. Suddenlink is improving their service because Verizon is considering bringing FIOS to West Virginia. If you want to see how Suddenlink will operate under the new FCC rules remember the two years you spent without access to the Viacom channels, then wonder what life will be like without Netflix.
I don’t want to make it seem like everything was lousy this year. We had some cool pop culture high points like the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (left) and the success of the Wonder Woman movie. In terms of corporate pop culture Disney had their usual success with Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel. Charleston actually got to see some cool independent films, if only fleetingly. We were treated to really cool reissues of great music by The Beatles, Rolling Stones and ELP. Exciting new music, while not selling anywhere near the numbers it used to, was released by Dhani Harrison, Lady J and her Bada Bing Band, Kesha and others. Television, thanks to the proliferation of streaming services, is more robust than ever. And indie comics like The Charlton Arrow, The Creeps and CARtoons Magazine all made the leap into Diamond Previews.
So rather than leave you all feeling depressed because 2017 was so much like it turned out to be, how about we get optimistic about 2018. We have a chance at a poltical reversal. Even in hard times, there’s still cool comics, movies, TV shows, music and toys coming out. Most of all, 2018 can’t be any worse than 2017…can it?
That’s the PopCulteer this week and this year. Let’s hope for a better time in the future. Happy New Year!
Billy Boy’s is offering an 8-Ball Tournament…
And one of our favorite spots, The Blue Parrot on Capitol Street is foregoing all the hoopla and having a cover-free night with free karaoke and jukebox, if you just want to hang out and have fun without dropping a ton of money…
Tomorrow we’ll tell you about the live music you can enjoy on New Year’s Eve.
Tuesday we bring you the final Radio Free Charleston of 2017 to get you through the post-Christmas blahs. It’s one of those weeks where the holiday schedule will have you all out of sorts and many of you may still be shell-shocked after Christmas, so The AIR offers up a tiny bit of stability with this week’s NEW RFC at 10 AM and again at 10 PM Tuesday, with replays Thursday at 3 PM and Saturday at 1 AM and Midnight. Here’s what you can hear this week on RFC…
John Radcliff “Give It Away”
Kerry Hughes “Denouement”
Hawthorne Heights “Stranded”
The Company Stores “Another Place”
Crazy Jane “Out of Nowhere”
The BrotherSisters “Paradise Bar”
Byzantine “The Subjagated”
4OHM MONO “Void In All Between”
HARRAH “Blood Moon (First Strike version)”
Membrane Cell “Dogs and Kings”
We had promised new episodes of all of our afternoon music shows this week, but after careful consideration, we decided to take it easy this week and return with all-new programming next week, the first week of the new year, so this week at 3 PM we plan to encore our personal favorite 2017 episodes of The Swing Shift, Curtain Call, Radio Free Charleston International and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. Thanks for suporting The AIR, and check out our schedule, embedded right here for your pleasure…
Our art on this day is a big ole wreath, done up in digital-paints, based on the gigantic wreath in The Shops at Northgate in Chicago. Click to see it bigger and have a merry Christmas.
And while you’re at it, how about you take part in a PopCult tradition?
As we do every Christmas since we made this clip, we bring you Radio Free Charleston Big Shot and Resident Diva, Melanie Larch, performing “Ave Maria,” live from the fifth floor fire escape outside LiveMix Studio. We send glad tidings and our sincere wish that our readers have a happy, joyful and peaceful holiday.
Our non-readers can fend for themselves.
We have a few more Radio Free Charleston Christmas episodes and holiday treats to share, so let’s jump into it as Santa revs up his hot rod sleigh and prepares to break and enter worldwide for a good cause…
Below is the Radio Free Charleston Christmas show for 2014. Hosted from Capitol Market we brought you holiday music sung by lovely female voices.
You will hear Melanie Larch accompanied by Mark Scarpelli, Marium Bria, Lady D-Doris Fields and The Laser Beams, plus we have an epic cartoon about the war on Christmas by Jacob Fertig.
But before we jump into the music we bring you some incomprehensible words from Santa Claus.
Next up let’s go back to 2015 for The RFC MINI SHOW number 75, a Christmas Special with more music from The Laser Beams…
Back in 2010 Radio Free Charleston went caroling with CYAC and the cast of MARY…
In 2008 I didn’t produce a full-blown Christmas episode because I was a bit waylaid by an early December car accident, but I did manage to cobble together a Chrstmas treat, featuring Molly Means from that year’s production of MARY…
I hope that helps you get into the Christmas spirit. 2017 has not been the merriest of years, but we can go out on a high note if everybody stays happy and healthy and looks to a major course-correction in the coming year.
This show features music from the Charleston Gay Mens Chorale, a duet from Lee Harrah and Pepper Fandango, a special “double trio” from the cast of “MARY: A Rock Opera,” and Prank Monkey. Also in this episode, we have the Ghost of Animation Past, a holiday message from Razor Sharp Studios and Burt Flemming, and a quick musical tour of The Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville, WV.
“Marx Toy Museum” was episode 176 of Radio Free Charleston, and it’s also one of our strongest. It’s made just a wee bit bittersweet by the knowledge that the Marx Toy Museum has closed its doors, but there’s always hope that the museum will reopen, if only for brief moments here and there.
We will bring you more RFC holiday videos tomorrow, and I want to remind you that you can check out all kinds of cool Christmas stuff on our companion radio station, The AIR.
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