PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Sunday Evening Video: A Rerun For Super Bowl Sunday

Today, since hardly anybody will be online due to it being Super Bowl Sunday, and because anybody who is online probably only cares about really cool stuff instead of boring old football, we are going to repeat our Sunday Evening Video that originally ran in this blog six year and six days ago…

Daniel+Roebuck+AFI+FEST+2012+Presented+Audi+ySy_iKjlHCTlDaniel Roebuck is a big-time Hollywood actor who’s been in everything from Lost To The Grumpy Cat Movie, and he also played Jay Leno in the HBO Movie The Late Shift. He’s been in The Walking Dead webisodes, episodes of CSI and Weeds and in the movies The Devil’s Rejects and John Dies At The End, among dozens of other movie and television roles. He’s also a hell of a nice guy and a collector of really cool toys and monster movie memorabilia, and in this short and very funny film (which you can see below) we get to see a tiny part of his epic collection.

Keep your eyes peeled for quick shots of GI Joe, Captain Action, Captain Lazer and way more cool things.

Daniel, My Brother from Daniel Roebuck on Vimeo.

The RFC Flashback: MINI SHOW number 44

This week we go back to December, 2014, for an episode of The RFC MINI SHOW starring Total Meltdown. This band used traditional mountain instruments to interpret modern songs in a progressive instrumental style all their own.

The band consists of Jeremy Davis, Paul Payne, Jamie Bailey, Kevin Swafford and Parrish French. They’ve been on the RFC radar for months, and we finally got the chance to capture them when they went in for a recording session at WSU EDC on Charleston’s West Side. Big thanks to Eric Meadows for making this happen.

In this episode of The MINI SHOW, you’ll hear Total Meltdown with their versions of “Pictures of You,” by the Cure, and “Sweet Child of Mine,” by Guns and Roses.

The Best Jazz CD of 2007!

The PopCulteer
February 5, 2021

All right, this is a bit of an odd kind of a PopCulteer post, but I have to come clean with you.

I’ve been working (some would say too hard) to restore the older posts in this blog now that we have moved our archives to this new location out from under the GazetteMail auspices. As such, I’ve been scouring the old and musty, dusty hard drives that live in the remote corners of my desk looking for bits of pieces of PopCult that might have fallen by the wayside over the decade and a half that I’ve been cranking this thing out.

Last night I found a piece that I was very proud of at the time, but it was not written for PopCult. You see, in addition to writing PopCult for The Gazz back in the mid-oughts, I was also a contributor to the NewSounds blog at TheGazz.com, which was where all my non-local music reviews were posted. As with most of the other Gazzblogs, NewSounds was left unfed for weeks and months, until one day somebody looked in the bowl and realized it was floating on its back.

The plug was pulled with no warning, and suddenly several record reviews that I wrote, which could have been easily moved over to this blog, went down the drain. I had several hard drive crashes, and a lot of my personal archives from that era are missing in action. So reviews, which I was really happy with, for artists like The Aquabats, Lene Lovich, Roger Waters and others, were gone. Many of them wound up in print, and I do have those around here somewhere, but I have a large house full of stuff and wouldn’t know where to begin to look.

But one of my favorite reviews, which took up the whole back page of The Gazz when it saw print back in May, 2007 was for a Winton Marsalis Quintet album, and I’m going to post it right here, because I managed to find the raw copy that I sent in for the print version (plus it means I don’t have to write a whole column this week).

Please note that this was written almost fourteen years ago, when Bill Cosby was viewed as a respected elder in the Black community, and was not yet a convicted rapist. Sometimes when you look at your old work there are parts that make you cringe, but it’d be dishonest to edit that out.

Obviously race is still a major issue in this country. It doesn’t seem like things have improved much, and a strong case can be made that the rise of the far-right and the takeover of the GOP by Trump and his merry band of racists have made them much worse. At this point, as an old White guy, I feel my job when it comes to race relations is to shut up and listen. Even back when this was written, I was mainly trying to get folks to listen to what Marsalis was saying.

From The Plantation To The Penitentiary

The Artist: Wynton Marsalis
The CD:  “From The Plantation To The Penitentiary”

The latest album by Wynton Marsalis, “From The Plantation To The Penitentiary,” is an impressive statement about the state of this country and the way race plays into it, told from Marsalis’ unique perspective. This is the declaration, by an American who just happens to be Black, that our culture is in serious need of repair. He doesn’t just take the easy route and blame the Republicans for keeping down Black people. There are parts of this CD that sound like Bill Cosby’s strong words set to music. Everyone comes in for their fair share of the blame, conservatives, liberals, Blacks, and he doesn’t shy away from addressing the institutional forces at work.

Lyrically, this is a focused, thought-provoking work. The seven songs all make an impact. Musically, it swings and grooves pretty darned well, too. This is not a pop album, though. It’s Jazz, and if you’re not accustomed to jazz you might find it a bit jarring. It’s more musically challenging for the listener. It’s sort of like when somebody who’s used to drinking Coca Cola or Pepsi gets a taste of a real soft drink like Boylan’s or Moxie. It’s a shock to the system, but well worth broadening one’s taste.

On this album Marsalis has discovered an amazing vocalist, 21-year-old Jennifer Sanon, a winner of the Essentially Ellington high school competition, who breathes life into the lyrics with the soul of Lena Horne and the clarity of Keely Smith. The band is rounded out by Walter Blanding on tenor and soprano sax, Dan Nimmer on piano, Carlos Henriquez on bass, and Al Jackson Jr. on drums.

This crew functions as a tight unit, as though they’ve been together for years (they haven’t). The album opens with the longest, and weakest cut, “From The Plantation To The Penitentiary.”  This isn’t a bad tune, but at eleven and a half minutes, and with a melody that’s not terribly pretty, it’s not really indicative of the rest of the album. The playing is wonderful, but it’s the only song on the CD that isn’t a real winner. The subject matter is important, and the message pertinent but perhaps it overwhelmed the tune.

After that, however, we discover how incredible Jennifer Sanon really is. On the song “Find Me,” listed as “a modern habanera” in the liner notes, her vocals redefine what female jazz singers are in the modern era. Musically the tune runs the gamut from soft jazz to samba to bebop.

The next song, a ballad called “Love And Broken Hearts” is a torch song-styled repudiation of the worst elements afflicting Black culture, starting out with lyrics strong enough to make Don Imus blush, before settling into a beautiful plea for a return to the classy romance of long-ago eras asking “How did we lose our song? When did we forget our dance?” Sanon is again remarkable, but the entire band shines on this tune, which could become a new standard, if not for the shocking opening lyrics.

“Supercapitalism” is a novelty speed-jazz critique of a materially-obsessed populace. The message is clear, and strong. This also has the trumpet solo that Marsalis’ fans will be lusting after.

The standout track, and most impressive vocal on the album comes with the last cut, “Where Y’All At?” The shock is that this song is not sung by Sanon, but by Marsalis himself. And it’s not really sung. His delivery is sort of a cross between a beat poet and a Southern minister. It’s an amazing performance and a searing indictment of all the Black activists from the last forty years who abdicated their responsibilities and let their people down.

In its own way, it’s an updated version of Grandmaster Flash’s classic rap “The Message.” This is a sermon set to music, and nobody escapes Marsalis’ wrath. “All you patriots, compatriots, and true blue believers, brilliant thinkers, over-achievers, all you ‘when I was young I was so naive-ers’ y’all started like Eldridge and now you’re like Beaver.”

This tune is striking, with pristine lyrics and a strong hook that draws you right in. This is not an album that spends all its time bashing people. The underlying theme is hope for the future and faith in what America can be.

As part of the racial dialogue in the country, this is a worthy opening salvo. With any luck it will succeed in breaking down some of the barriers.

Back to today: You have to admit, it was a nice thought. We still have a lot of work to do.

From The Plantation To The Penitentiary can be ordered on CD from Amazon, and is available from all major streaming services. Aside from the still-relevant message, the music is spectacular.

And that’s this week’s PopCulteer. Thanks for indulging my look back at my review of a powerful musical work. Check back for fresh content every day, and all of our regular features.

Special note: PopCult may disappear from this location at The Charleston Gazette-Mail soon. Don’t miss out on our new posts at our NEW HOME. Bookmark the new site, and subscribe to our RSS feed. You can also follow PopCult and Rudy Panucci on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Hard-Boiled Detective Stories (The Kind Men Like)

The PopCult Bookshelf

Nympho Lodge
A Tokey Wedge Swinger
by Jack Lynn
published by Grizzly Pulp
$9.95

Grizzly Pulp has resurrected one of the stars of the sleazy adventure pulps, Tokey Wedge. I have to be honest with you, I’d never heard of the character before now, and it took quite a bit of research to convince myself that this book was not a very cleverly-concocted modern day hoax/parody.

But it’s real. Tokey Wedge was the star of about 20 cheap pulp novels that were originally published back in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Cranked out by proflic “Men’s Adventure” writer Max van derVeer under his “Jack Lynn” psuedonym, these were originally put out by Novel Books of Chicago, reportedly a mob-connected publisher of sleazy pulp fiction who distributed them not through traditional bookstores and newsstands, but through an underground network of bars and establishments that kept them behind the counter.

Essentially, these books were “grindhouse” for folks with no access to a grindhouse theater.

The first book in the series, the subtly-titled Nympho Lodge, is loaded with gunplay, detective-novel tropes and lots of hilariously non-explicit sex. Let’s go to the publisher’s blurb…

​Tough, short, hard as nails (hard in every way) private detective Tokey Wedge is hired by sex-obsessed Janice Bradley for protection from her husband, who she says is trying to kill her. Straightforward case, sounds like. Turns out Tokey’s place of investigation is in a country resort staffed by nymphomaniacs. Fun situation for Wedge, until it all goes to HELL!

I have to give you a warning here: These books are politically incorrect, to say the least. The overwhelming amount of mysogyny, coupled with no small amount of racism and a boat-load of double-entendre made me have to do a double-Google to make sure I wasn’t reading a parody.

The Tokey Wedge adventures are indeed genuine pulp material of the period, following the adventures of a diminutive private eye (variously 5′ 4″ to 5′ 6″ throughout the series) who has an enormous anatomical advantage over the other dicks on the beat.

Yeah, I went there.

This is a cheesy, soft-core adventure porn story filled with fast-paced action and characters who aren’t exactly as emotionally well-developed as the heaving breasts of the women are. There are a lot of descriptions of women in various stages of uncladenness, but in terms of explicitness, these books are like the “adult” movies of the era, where nobody takes off their underwear and the sex is all implied or happens “off-screen.”

For the first time in PopCult history, I do have to give you a trigger warning: The Tokey Wedge adventures are more than a little rapey, and they’re jokey about it. They do not treat women as much more than sex objects. There is also plenty of racism and homophobia on display. In the spirit of the stories, I would say that Tokey could star in a book called “My Trigger Is Huge.”

They are also a fascinating look at how the patriarchy satisfied its more base urges during a time of sexual repression, right before the sexual revolution started bubbling to the surface. I would imagine that a lot of Tokey’s fans back in the day would not want to be caught dead buying a Playboy Magazine at a respectable newsstand, but they still had a couple, and a stack of these pulp novels buried in a shoebox hidden in the garage.

Warnings aside, Nympho Lodge is a brisk, intentionally and unintentionally funny book that can be enjoyed as it was intended, or as a pretty bizarre and amusing artifact of its time.

Grizzly Pulp has done an amazing job here, recreating the look and feel of a cheap pulp novel, with thin cover stock and grayish pulp paper. The book is in the traditional cheap “pocket book” size around 4″ by 7″.

The original plan was to sell these through a network of hip bars and bookstores, but the pandemic put the kibosh on that idea, so you can only get Nympho Lodge, the first of the Tokey Wedge adventures, from their website.

Aside from the period-accurate size, cover stock and paper, Grizzly Pulp has assembled a pretty fantastic package, with new cover art by cheesecake artist extraordianaire, Jim Silkie, and a plain black slipcover (for a paperback!) so you can read it in public without “Nympho Lodge”catching everyone’s eye.

I don’t know if they’re still doing this, but I was able to get free shipping, and when the book arrived it was loaded with extras–a photo of a lovely young woman reading the book; a Grizzly Pulp coaster; a Grizzly Pulp poker chip; a “wearing is caring” sticker and black disposable facemask: and an individually-wrapped peppermint Lifesaver.

Nympho Lodge is not without its charms. It’s crass and crude, without being explicit, and that gives it an air of sleazy innocence, if that makes any sense. There’s a reason Tokey Wedge has a cult following. This one lands squarely in the “guilty pleasure” pile.

Madman’s Ginchy Glider

Today I’m going to plug a Kickstarter campaign that has a little over two weeks left, but it’s no-risk because this cool project met its funding goals in a matter of hours.

In fact, do to very generous stretch goals that have already been met, the value of this project has already more than doubled.

This Kickstarter project is for a new version of a rare promotional balsa-wood glider that was made in 1992 to promote Mike Allred‘s Madman comics. It’s from The Drawn Word, who have successfully funded tons of projects over the years (some of which I’ve mentioned here) and who have already given us all kinds of great Madman projects like action figures and trading cards.

This time it’s a balsa-wood glider, and if you donate at a high enough level, (one that requires ten bucks postage), in addition to your gliders, you will get three Madman Duncan Yo-Yos, and four sheets of stickers, plus postcards and other goodies.

The Madman Ginchy Glider has several reward levels, and all but the most basic will include all the stretch goal rewards.

In addition to a set of three gliders, at higher reward levels you can also get a metal trading card, a Madmania fanzine digest, signed certificates, embroidered keychains and a full-color metal tin.

This is a sure bet, since the project is already fully-funded, and it’ll be cool to see if the mystery stretch goals get met.

I’ve been a fan of Mike Allred‘s work since before Madman. I remember reading his debut graphic novel, Dead Air, during an airshift at WVNS FM back in 1989 (pre-Radio Free Charleston).

Even then his storytelling was impeccable, and Madman was his star turn when Frank Einstein became one of the most recognizable independent comic book characters out there. It’s been about a decade since we last got any new Madman stories, but Allred has kept busy with projects for Marvel and DC, and is currently in the midst of X Ray Robot for Dark Horse. Last year saw the release of his book, BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams, a graphic novel memoir of Ziggy Stardust.

If you’re a fan of Madman or Mike Allred’s other work, or if you just like balsa-wood gliders and fun projects, you might want to take a look at this campaign…

Time Capsule Tuesday On The AIR

Tuesday on The AIR we dive into the archives for classic episodes of Radio Free Charleston, NOISE BRIGADE and The Swing Shift.  If you want to hear the timeless swellness yourself, you simply have to move your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to the cool embedded player right here…

We have a compilation edition of Radio Free Charleston at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday.  This week we go back to February, 2017, to bring you three of our one-hour, all-local music programs, combined into one big three-hour local music extravaganza.

The inside story is that, back in February, 2017 yours truly had some rather extensive medical testing done concerning my then-recent diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis. Because I knew that these would be time-consuming and physically draining, I sat down on one day during the first week of the month, and recorded three episodes of RFC, back-to-back-to-back. Then I scheduled them ahead of time so that there would be fresh episodes of the show to run while I was gettting poked, prodded and shocked.

This week I am tied up with other projects (including restoring PopCult’s early posts to their original state) and found myself with not enough time to do new radio shows. So I came up with this clever plan, since these episodes of RFC volume four have not been heard by human ears since the middle of 2017.

Check out the playlist to see all the goodies we bring you this week…

RFC V5 041

hour one

Wren Allen Band  “Nothing Ever Happens Here”
Bon Air  “Bizarre Love Gun”
Todd Burge  “Another Sunny Sunday”
Deni Bonet  “Palisades”
Calendars and Kerosene “I’m Over You”
Speedsuit  “Falling Star”
Sheldon Vance  “What Remains”
Since We Set Fire  “Halle  Halle”
Wilbur By The Sea  “Stillness”
Rain May Fall  “Remember Everything”
Scrap Iron Pickers  “Searching For The Scientist”
King’s Harem  “Down By The Riverside”
Byzantine  “My New Casket”

hour two

Under Surveillance  “I Don’t Think It’s Me”
Under The Radar  “All Along The Watchtower”
Under Social  “Rock Is Dead”
Bon Air  “Chechez La Femme”
Fabulous Head  “Flame Envy”
Sentinel “Counting Stars”
Embracer  “Anastasia”
No Pretty Pictures  “100 Long 100 Proof”
Wegmann Brothers  “A Friend On The Highway”
Zeroking  “Black Friday”
Broken Romeo  “Broken Man”Scrap Iron Pickers  “Luster Creme”
Chum  “Six Feet of Earth”.

hour three

MFB  “Funkin’ Up The Neighborhood”
Holly and the Guy  “Just Can’t Fake This”
Groove Heavy  “Good Girl and You Know It”
Bugaboo  “Attempted”
Andy Park  “Planets”
Mojomatic  “Crazy”
Under Surveillance  “All I Want”
Tofujitsu  “Cabeza”
Corporate Orange  “Climbing Higher”
Granny’s 12 Gauge  “12 Shots of Pain”
Hasil Adkins  “Big Fat Mama”
Southern Culture on the Skids  “Daddy Was A Preacher”
Travis Stephens  “I Can’t Live Like This”
Stone Ka Tet  “Adam’s Song”

You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 9 AM and 7 PM, Saturday at 11 AM and Midnight, Sunday at 11 AM and the next Monday at 8 PM, exclusively on The AIR.

I’m also going to  embed a low-fi, mono version of this show right in this post, right here so you can listen on demand.

 

At 2 PM we offer up a classic episode of Steven Allen Adams’ NOISE BRIGADE, loaded with the punkiest ska and the ska-most punk you can imagine. NOISE BRIGADE alternates weeks with Psychedelic Shack  Tuesdays at 2 PM, with replays Wednesday at 10 PM, Thursday at 9 AM, Friday at 1 PM, Saturday at 8 AM, Sunday at 9 AM and Monday at 7 PM.

In the spirit of our “time capsule theme, The Swing Shift also brings you episodes recorded in February, 2017 at 3 PM.

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesdays at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM and 6 PM, Thursday at 2 PM,  Saturday at 5 PM and Sunday at 10 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Those are Tuesday’s music shows on The AIR. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Special note: PopCult may disapper from this location at The Charleston Gazette-Mail soon. Don’t miss out on our new posts at our NEW HOME. Bookmark the new site, and subscribe to our RSS feed. You can also follow PopCult and Rudy Panucci on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Monday Morning Art: Pointallism Bhudda

Using Markers on watercolor paper, I spent a couple of hours doing this Pointallism drawing of a Bhudda statue that I saw years ago. I’d love to say that this was a special exploration of a technique that I plan to use more in the future, or that it has some deep spiritual meaning, but it’s really just a case of me wanting to use up a bunch of markers so I can justify buying new ones.

If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image.

Meanwhile, Monday at 9 AM on The AIR, we bring you six special episodes of Curtain Call that pay tribute to great Broadway creators like Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hal Prince. Then you can tune into a recent episode of  Prognosis at 3 PM. On this show Herman Linte brings us two hours of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon Immersion boxed set.

You can hear Prognosis on The AIR Monday at 3 PM, with replays Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursday at Noon, Saturday at 10 AM and Sunday at 2 PM.

You can listen at The AIR website, or on this embedded radio player…

Special note: PopCult may disapper from this location at The Charleston Gazette-Mail soon. Don’t miss out on our new posts at our NEW HOME. Bookmark the new site, and subscribe to our RSS feed. You can also follow PopCult and Rudy Panucci on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.