PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Radio Free Charleston and The Swing Shift both begin two-part specials today on The AIR. You can tune in at The AIR website, or just listen on this little embedded radio doohickey…

At 10 AM and 10 PM our latest Radio Free Charleston digs into the archives of our video program and brings you songs recorded especially for RFC between eight and ten years ago. Opening with the now-Mrs. PopCulter, Mel Larch performing a wordless song composed for the FestivALL Catfish, this episode contines with music from The Clementines, InFormation, Doctor Senator, A Place of Solace, T.J. King and more. Many of these songs were recorded on location at The Empty Glass, The Blue Parrot, UUC, Sam’s Uptown Cafe and other recognizable venues around town. This is the first of two special installments of Radio Free Charleston that dip into the vaults to bring you classics that you won’t hear anywhere else. Next week we bring you part two of our raid on the video vault.


Mel Larch “Siren Song of the Catfish”
The Clementines “Soundscape #1”
InFormation “Angry All The Time”
Barrelhouse Bonnie and Ko “Memphis In May”
Doctor Senator “Awkward Social Situation”
Synergy Collective “Awry”
A Place Of Solace “Thirty Seconds”
The Coal Men “Outside Looking In”
Lonely Town “Lonely Town”
Marcie Bullock with Steve Himes “Just So You Know”
T.J. King “Bad Things, Good People”
The Button Flies “Butch Bottom”
Hellblinki “Bella Ciao”

Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM and Saturday at 11 AM and Midnight, exclusively on The AIR.

At 3 PM stay tuned to The AIR for the beginning of another two-parter, The Swing Shift, devoted to one of the most important concerts in the history of pop music.  This week you can hear the first half of Benny Goodman’s historic 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall, which prior to this show had been reserved for classical music only. With a band that already included Harry James, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa and more, for this performance Goodman invited a host the best Swing musicians around to sit in for extended jam sessions. You will hear legends like Count Basie and Lester Young jumping in on these recordings.

Next week we’ll bring you part two of this historic concert.

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

I hope you enjoy these special episodes of the show, and return next week for the conclusions. These shows were assembled so that we’d have something special for you guys laid out in advance, since your humble correspondent will be tied up in Wheeling this weekend

Monday Morning Art: Blue City #2


During the month of June, Monday Morning Art will present a series of four pieces called “Blue City.” These numbered works are all inspired by a recent trip to New York on a sunny day where things were particularly bright and blue. Each piece was created using a slightly different style.

Click the image to see a bigger version.

Also today, on our sister internet radio station, The AIR, at 3 PM we have a new episode of Prognosis, our Progressive Rock showcase, temporarily being hosted by yours truly, with a 2015 live concert by the legendary Dutch prog band, Focus.  Check it out at the website, or on this magical little embedded player…


The 20th Anniversary Marx Toy Convention happens Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16 at The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia. This year there are even some events on Thursday for early arrivals. We will be telling you about the show all week long, and PopCult will be there (we wouldn’t miss it for the world).

Tonight we bring you video from last year’s Marx Toy Convention, along with a couple of bonus clips.

The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum is an incredible place to visit, a huge building packed full of displays featuring the coolest toys from the last hundred years or so. The top floor is dedicated to toy trains and slot car sets, while the main floor has rooms devoted to dolls, action figures, games, vehicles and more.

Each year they host the Marx Toy Convention to celebrate what was once the biggest toy company in the world, and one that had a major manufacturing plant located in nearby Glen Dale, West Virginia. This annual event is something that your PopCulteer does not intend to ever miss. It’s one of the most fun toy shows in the nation.

Not only will their be dealers selling all kinds of Marx toys, from classic playsets to tin toys to Johnny West, board games and Big Wheels, along with the famous Marx Toy Trains, but you can also wander the museum and look at the coolest toys from your childhood, and maybe your parent’s childhoods.

Regular readers of PopCult probably also know about the Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville, which closed its doors two years ago. This museum, founded by Francis Turner and housing his epic collection, was devoted solely to The Marx Toy Company. Last year, one year after closing its doors, The Marx Toy Company reopened for one night for a special sale, and to announce that the History Channel show, American Pickers had visited the museum after its closing.

When the episode of American Pickers aired last fall, intrest in The Marx Toy Museum and Marx Toys in general spiked. Hit counts on this blog and on the videos I’ve made skyrocketed. The interaction of Mike and Frank with Francis Turner was priceless, as can be seen in this clip…

With interest in Marx Toys at new peak, and with this being the 20th anniversary of the Marx Toy Convention AND with the possiblity that Francis will once again open his museum (located just 12 miles away from The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum) for after-hours events and sales, this may be the most-attended Marx Toy Convention ever. Check out this video of last year’s after-hours sale…

Check PopCult every day this week for more info on the Marx Toy Convention, and more video from our Marx vaults.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 162


Once again dipping into the FestivALL well, we go back for the second part of our coverage of FestivAll 2012, from June of that year. In this episode we kicked off with The Bob Thompson Unit, captured at The Shops at Bridge Road, performing on the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame bandwagon.  With the Bob Thompson Unit’s smooth jazz playing behind them, we cut to footage of the West Virginia Dance Company, recorded at the Charleston Town Center Mall. From there, we raced over to Davis Park at the Appalachian Power Stage to bring you a lovely, new “murder ballad” by Oak Hill’s virtuoso Americana band, The Boatmen. A quick trot up Capitol Street took us to the BB&T Stage in front of Taylor Books for the Raqs Shakti collective (seen right), with this performance featuring Jenna Brooke Swanson dancing to music provided by Amanda Jane and Dwayne Swanson (The Snake and The Pot) and violinist extraordinaire Alasha Al-Qudwah.

We returned to Davis Park for music from the Rich Collins Three-O, over which we brought you footage of artist Ian Bode, working on his epic FestivALL painting. At breakneck speed, we then jogged up to the Verizon Wireless Children’s Stage across from the Kanawha County Public Library, where Todd, Sophie, and Will Burge treated us to the song, “The Bugs Are Coming.”

All that running had us tired, so we paused for a moment to take a look at a theatrical event that wasn’t really officially a part of FestivALL. It was the Alban Arts and Conference Center production of David Alburn’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize  winning play, “Proof.”

Having returned from the drama, we found Duo Divertido performing at the BB&T Stage, over which we dropped in footage of FestivALL’s Princess, Jude Binder and Dizzy Doc’s Balloon Sculpture.  Eduardo and Beth treated us to a lovely version of “The Girl From Ipanema.” Next up, we had music from Bob Shank and Sam Morgan, combined with dance from Carli Mareneck and Friends.  We followed that with the Katzendrummers and a troupe of kids at the Verizon Wireless Children’s Stage, combined with scenes of the Children’s Art Fair, the ShockaCon alien, and the Rocky Point Farm horse carriage.

That’s not all. We also had the David Smith film, META, The Leon Waters Blues Band, and scenes from Dr. Sketchy’s and Bare Bones. It’s a loaded show, and typical of the vast riches of art, music, dance and more that you’ll find during FestivALL.

This Bogus Generational War

The PopCulteer
June 8, 2018

A note about today’s PopCulteer: I originally considered using political cartoons or memes to illustrate this post. However, after spending way too much time looking at candidates and finding all of them to add to the problem that I’m writing about rather than helping to explain it, I decided to just use pictures of vintage toys that have nothing to do with the subject matter at hand. I thought they looked cool, and weren’t stupid. So that’s why the images have nothing to do with this post. Sorry for any confusion.

I’m not a big fan of generational labelling. There is supposedly a generational war going on right now between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials, and while many of my friends seem to be heavily invested in one side or the other, the entire conflict strikes me as bogus and unneccessarily divisive.

I was not a Baby Boomer when I was born. The first time I heard the term, I was still not a Baby Boomer. It was only in the last twenty years or so, after the folks in charge of demographics stopped caring about precision, and started moving the goalposts, that I somehow got lumped in with people who were born twenty years before I was.

I don’t mind it, since I don’t really care about such arbitrary labels, but it offends me on a logical basis. It seems to me that a demographic generation ought to run no longer than ten years, if that. People born even five years apart over the last century can have vastly different cultural and technological experiences, and it’s sort of pointless to herd everyone into such a large group. There shouldn’t be any single generation that can include parents and children, as the current definition of Baby Boomers does.

At the moment, the storyline for this latest generational conflict is drawn out of a fantasy world. In this world, all the Baby Boomers are selfish oafs who conspired to destroy the world’s economy so that the Millennials would be stuck paying for their sins. On the other hand, Millennials are all spoiled brats with entitlement issues who have no idea what it means to actually work, and who are devoid of common sense.

This is, of course, garbage. You can’t blame an entire generation for the bad consequences of poor choices made by our government. The truth is that our economy and the general state of the world is a result of the manipulation of people in power by the folks with the most money. They don’t want to share their money, so they work to destroy the middle class and unions and promote division among the working class to keep them fighting among themselves rather than realizing what’s really being done to them, and by whom.

And that’s what this nonsense war between the Baby Boomers and the Millenials is about. It’s a manufactured conflict designed to keep two of the largest demographics fighting each other instead of uniting against the people who are actually doing them harm. It’s a great way to keep anyone from noticing that income inequality is the real issue at play.

It’s only one tool in the arsenal of the powers that be. Using advances in technology over the last century, the forces of evil, who at the moment are operating the right wing of our government, create division and distraction so that they can actively work to undermine our constitution and run the show to suit themselves.

They also benefit from racial division, school shootings, low-level scandals, addiction, crime and military conflict. While those things get all the attention, they’re quietly re-writing laws to make it harder to vote, harder for poor people to have access to court, harder to hold a business accountable for anything and impossible for Democracy to work.

Back to the generational war, one of the biggest beefs is that Baby Boomers supposedly didn’t have to go into debt to get an education. This is not entirely true. Plenty of people around my age were caught in the student loan trap as it was being set forty years ago. The forces of evil persuaded states to slash their funding for universities, forcing them to raise their tuition while, at the same time, creating the current student-loan system, which is the closest this country has come to indentured servitude since before the writing of the constitution.

I have friends of all ages. I know people in their 90s, and I know people in their 20s. I know a lot of Baby Boomers, and a goodly number of them are in rough shape, financially. They are not all rich. They are not all sitting back laughing at the Millennials who have to clean up their messes.

I also know a lot of Millennials. Most of them are either struggling with student loan debts, or struggling to make ends meet without an education. However, more than a few of them are buying their own homes and don’t spend all their time bitterly griping about how everything is the Boomer’s fault.

The worst sin of the Baby Boomers as a generation is shared by the Millennials. Neither generation bothers to vote. In general, the Boomers were the most left-leaning, progressive demographic in history until the Millennials showed up, but neither group bothers to go to the polls. Over 30% of Boomers don’t bother to vote, but over half of Millennials stay away from the polls.

This is exactly what the folks like the Koch Brothers want. They actually refer to Democracy as “The tyranny of the majority,” and work hard to push their own brand of tyranny instead. They have put their resources over the past four decades into promoting the idea that there’s no reason to vote because your votes don’t matter. If that were true, do you really think they’d be passing voter ID laws and doing what they can to suppress voter turnout?

We’re all getting the short end of the stick here, and we need to stop buying into false divisions so that the folks opposed to Democracy can’t keep beating us with it.

Especially here in West Virginia, where “Democrat” Joe Manchin sold us out to the ALEC crowd when he was governor, we see this at work. In West Virginia the only growth industry is people moving back home to take care of their dying parents. Nothing else is bringing people into the state.

As our infrastructure, educational system and regulatory agencies are allowed to decay, our state is getting less and less appealing by the day. This is all because our state doesn’t really matter to the richest of the rich, so they just buy legislators who will refuse to raise taxes or legalize new business opportunities to allow us to improve the quality of our lives. That’s because our lives don’t matter to them. To folks like the Koch Brothers, the president and even our own governor, West Virginia is just a potential dumping ground. They might as well change our state slogan to “The Landfill State.”

So maybe folks should look around and see how screwed everybody is, regardless of age, and quit posting memes attacking the wrong people. Those were probably made in Russian Facebook farms anyway.  Yes, old people have their annyoing quirks, just as young people do. It’s nothing to fight over, especially when there’s a common enemy.

That’s it for this rant-y edition of The PopCulteer. Check back for all our regular and irregular features. We have at least one new post every day.

A Heaping Helping Of Creeps

The PopCult Comix Bookshelf

A few years ago I told you about The Creeps Magazine, a wonderful homage/continuation of the classic Warren Comic Magazines, Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. The Creeps is still going strong and is now available from any comic book store through Diamond Distribution, and can also be found at Barnes & Noble (Books A Million is really missing out on this).

The early issues are getting harder to find, and this August Warrant Publishing, the folks who bring us The Creeps on a regular basis, will be reprinting the best stories from those early issues in their first annual oversized The Creeps Spooktacular. You can order it in advance HERE. It’s also avialable from Diamond Previews, but you’d better let your local comic shop know you want it now. Check out the details in the graphic below…

The Return of MEGO!

The PopCult Toybox

The news I hinted at last Sunday is true. MEGO is back. At the recently-concluded MEGO MEET in Columbus, MEGO’s president, Marty Abrams, announced that his much-loved company, which ruled the action figure roost in the late 1970s, is back. Abrams was accompanied by Paul Clarke (AKA Dr. MEGO), who I know has been twisting Marty’s arm for years to get him to jump back into the game. With the help of some well-heeled investors, his dream has finally come true.

The MEGO Museum is a major source for info on this post, and you should bookmark them to keep up with all the latest details as they come to light. We swiped our graphic at the head of this post from their story. There is a planned “official announcement” that will spill all the beans planned for mid-June at the Long Island Comic Con.

What we know so far, thanks to the MEGO Museum and the live-stream of Marty’s panel on Facebook, is that there will be 20 figures in the first wave, from a variety of pop culture licenses. The only one we know for sure is that there will be a figure (or figures) of Jimi Hendrix, officially approved by the Hendrix estate.

There will be figures in the traditional MEGO 8″ size, but also in a variety of other scales due to licensing issues. Abrams mentioned fourteen-inch tall figures as one possiblity. Aside from the Hendrix figure, it was hinted that some of the favorites from the original run of MEGO will be in the mix, along with several new properties. Speculation is running rampant, and we’ll resist the urge to indulge in print, but we have some ideas of what might be coming. I’m certain there will also be a lot of surprises in store in just a few days.

Best of all, these figures will be aimed at the mass market, which means you should be able to find them at Walmart and Target, along with any other retailer that sells toys and collectibles. At left you can seen some vintage MEGO in a photo from the PopCult archives.

PopCult will keep you posted on future MEGO developments, but if you’re a fan of the original toys, you really need to make the MEGO Museum a regular stop on your internet travels and like their Facebook page. If you are really a die-hard fan of MEGO, then you need to sign up to be a “MEGO Ambassador” for regular email updates directly from the new MEGO Corporation.  If you employ the search engine which should be to the right of this post, you can find several PopCult posts from previous years devoted to MEGO. Most of them still have the photos online along with them.

Wednesday brings another round of new episodes of some of our most popular shows on The AIR.  Tune in to the website, or on the embedded player below for the lastest editions of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle, Curtain Call and Beatles Blast…

At 1;30 PM, Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle: This week Michele talks about going off course and finding your true path. She recounts a strange experience while driving on the Interstate and how that relates to the personal choices we make every minute of every day. Change the course of your life and trust your internal naviagation system.

Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle can be heard Wednesday at 1:30 PM and 7 PM, with replays on The AIR Friday at 9:30 AM and Monday at 12:30 PM.

At 2 PM Beatles Blast presents part eight of The Beatles Story, a legendary BBC radio documentary from 1973. In this week’s installment, things start to wind down as the band digs their way out of the aborted “Get Back” sessions.  Beatles Blast can be heard Wednesday at 2 PM, Thursday at 11 AM and 9 PM, Friday at 5 PM, and Tuesday at 9 AM.

At 3 PM Wednesday on Curtain Call Mel Larch takes a look at this year’s Tony Award nominees for best musical and best revival of a musical. You’ll hear songs from SpongeBob Squarepants, Frozen, The Band’s Visit, Mean Girls, Carousel, My Fair Lady and Once On This Island. As a bonus Mel brings you a couple of tunes from last year’s hit musical, War Paint. This year’s Tony Awards ceremony will be broadcast by CBS this Sunday, June 10 at 8 PM EDT.

Curtain Call debuts Wednesday at 3 PM, with replays Thursday at 7 AM and 8 PM and Saturday at 6 PM.

Stay tuned all day, every day, for incredible music, thought-provoking talk and gut-busting comedy exclusively on The AIR. And check out the full schedule below…

Radio Free Charleston and The Swing Shift are new today on The AIR. You can tune in at The AIR website, or just listen on this little embedded radio doohickey…

At 10 AM and 10 PM our latest Radio Free Charleston opens this week with a track by Charleston’s Three’s Company Blues. We also have new tunes from Johnny Compton, Sheldon Vance, The Stars Revolt, In The Company of Wolves and more, plus we have classic tracks from Tom Rader, Farnsworth and Stonebeard. Just check out this new hour of great local musicians…


Three’s Company Blues “Burns Like Whiskey”
The Stars Revolt “Be Careful What You Wish For”
Adam Cox and Independent State “The City”
Anthony Thaxton “That Song”
Tom Rader “Castanets”
Speedsuit “Riddle”
Sheldon Vance “Keep On Talking”
Stonebeard/Deck of Fools “Full Moon Rose”
Poor Man’s Gravy “All For You”
In The Company of Wolves “Forgot To Wait”
Johnny Compton “Parasite”
Bobaflex “Long Time Coming”
Farnsworth “Now That You’re Gone”
John Radcliff “Muse”
Kerry Hughes “Loaded, Corroded, Scapegoated”


Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM and Saturday at 11 AM and Midnight, exclusively on The AIR.

At 3 PM stay tuned to The AIR for a special new hour of The Swing Shift, devoted to the city of New Orleans, considered by many to be the birthplace of Jazz and Swing. We have assembled a top-flight hour of the best bands singing about the Big Easy…

The Swing Shift 045

Ingrid Lucia and The Flying Neutrinos “Delta Bound”
Louis Prima “Basin Street Blues/It’s Sleepy Time Down South”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Save My Soul”
Royal Crown Revue “Take A Long Drink For Me”
Jools Holland “Blues For New Orleans”
Louis Jordan “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans”
Gorilla Rodeo “House of the Rising Sun”
Jimmy McPartland “Basin Street Jump”
Louis Armstong “Boy From New Orleans”
Dr. John “Down In New Orleans”
Brian Setzer Orchestra “Hoodoo Voodoo Doll”
Woody Herman “Sumptious Mardi Gras”
Ella Fitzgerald “Basin Street Blues”

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Monday Morning Art: Blue City #1


During the month of June, Monday Morning Art will present a series of four pieces called “Blue City.” These numbered works are all inspired by a recent trip to New York on a sunny day were things were particularly bright and blue. Each piece was created using a slightly different style.

Click the image to see a bigger version.