PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture


PopCult has relocated from its original home, here at The Charleston Gazette-Mail. We began this process in late 2020, but have reached a point where most of our traffic has followed us to the new location.

This version of the blog still gets a couple dozen Google hits each day, so I’m leaving this post pinned here and have changed the header image to include our new URL. If you found us via a search engine, please follow this link to our new site.

For the last two years, most new posts here have carried this warning:

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.

So this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. Two years ago, when first announcing the move, I wrote the following:

There is no acrimony or bitterness, it’s just that PopCult has never really been a priority at the newspaper, and I can’t really expect them to keep hosting what is really a personal blog that they could never figure out how to monetize. That they did so for fifteen years was pretty damned generous of them.

I want to thank The Charleston Gazette-Mail for letting me get away with writing this blog on their servers for so long. I also want to thank Douglas Imbrogno for hiring me in the first place, and to  my colleagues over the years who supported me in print for the first ten years of PopCult.  I wrote about my fifteenth anniversary just a few months ago, and leaving the Gazette-Mail was sort of a looming concern then.  This move shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone.

But now the time has come to stop updating this version of PopCult. It will save me quite a bit of time, since I had to format the posts differently. If you haven’t seen the new version of PopCult (complete with all our archives dating back to 2005) then please check it out. We have more graphics and video and content that we were not technically able to include here at The GM. And to be fair, the prestige I once had the benefit to bask in back when PopCult was a Gazzblog, hosted at The Charleston Gazette, has long since dissapated. The media landscape in Charleston (as with everywhere else) has drastically changed, and I fear that our city may soon find itself without a legitimate daily newspaper.

But PopCult will persevere, so please visit our new home for fresh content every single day.

It’s Tuesday on The AIR  and that means it’s Radio Free Charleston time, and we’re back from our week wandering around in Chicago with another new three-hour episode of Radio Free Charleston. You simply have to point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay here, and  listen to the cool embedded player right here…

We have three full hours of music, much of it new, local and not, at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday.   This week our latest Radio Free Charleston has killer new tunes from Byzantine, John Radcliff, Nina Hagen, The Puncturists and many more artists.

Yours truly is back from the City of Wind, where he had a wonderful time that he will tell you all about this Friday. I think the vacation helped me recharge a bit, and this week’s show is pretty awesome.

Throughout the show we continue our mix of local, independent and major-label artists, just to keep you on your toes.  Byzantine’s new EP is incredible and we’re happy to open the show with a track from it.  Nick Carter, a New England-based singer/songwriter was brought to our attention by our Chicago connection. The Puncturists contacted us from the UK, and had the perfect song to kick off a punky set in our first hour. The rest of the show has tons of new tunes from Bottle and Bride, John Radcliff, NOFX, Adrian Belew, Frenchy and The Punk, J. Marinelli, Novelty Island and more.

I loaded this week’s show up because next week RFC will be bumped for the premiere of The AIR Christmas Party, which will hopefully include segments introduced by all of our music specialty show hosts.

Check out the playlist below to see all the goodies we have in store. Live links will take you to the artist’s page…

RFC V5 111

Byzantine “Purity”
Nick Carter “My Guitar Is My Compass”
The Anchoress “Sweetness Follows”
Jim Lange “Love Is Casual”
Zhang Ling “Salmon Love”
Jonathan Mason “Mourning The Ghosts”
Frenchy And The Punk “Oxygen”
The Puncturists “I Hate Living In A Place Like This”
Payback’s a Bitch “Star Star”
Nervous Twitch “Social Chameleon”
Unmanned “Rose Colored Lashes”
Todd Burge “Rapid Fire”
J Marinelli “What Columbus Wants”
Nina Hagen “United Women of The World”

hour two
Sierra Ferrell “Whispering Waltz”
John Radcliff “Tangle”
Buni Muni “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”
The Routes “Radioactivity”
The Long Lost Somethins “Great Bottom Lake”
NOFX “Don’t Count On Me”
Remnant Collective “Laika”
The Company Stores “There Went The Neighborhood”
Adrian Belew “Good Morning Sun”
Dukes of Stratosphear “Tin Toy Clockwork Train”
Andy Prieboy “All Your Hard Times”
Tautologic  “The Gospel Lady”
Wren Allen Band “Before Hello”
Tyler Childers “Purgatory”
Frank Zappa “City of Tiny Lights”

hour three
Novelty Island “Over & Over”
Bottle and Bride “Brighter”
Elk City “Your Time Doesn’t Exist”
Bane Star “I Almost Said Goodbye”
The Alright Maybes “Man Who Plays The Part”
Ann Magnuson “Blow Away”
Jobriath “Heartbeat”
Heavy Set Paw Paws “Song of Solomon”
Mediogres “Fever Dream”
The Paranoid Style “Alive And Vexing”
Alan Licht “Jump”
Elvis Costello “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea”

You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Wednesday at 9 AM,  Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 9 AM, Saturday at Noon and Midnight,  and  Monday at 11 AM, exclusively on The AIR. Now you can also hear a different episode of RFC every weekday at 5 PM, and we bring you a marathon all night long Saturday night/Sunday morning.

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.


After RFC, stick around for encores of  MIRRORBALL at 1 PM and Curtain Call at 2 PM.  At 3 PM we have two recent episodes of The Swing Shift.

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.

Monday Morning Art: Union Station Tree


So, I was in Chicago most of last week to celebrate my beautiful wife’s birthday, and that’s the real reason we did Marathon Week on The AIR and last week’s posts might’ve seemed off a bit, since they’d all been written a week earlier.

However, I did not cheat for this week’s art. We got back Friday morning, and on Saturday I did this small painting, using thick acrylics and plastic eating utensils for brushes. It’s based on a few photos I took of the Christmas Tree in Union Station in Chicago last Thursday, as we were waiting for our train back home.  If you’re looking at this on a computer monitor, you’re probably seeing it at the actual size it was painted, if not a little larger.

I did this on paper for pens and photographed it using a small ring light because it was not dry enough to scan.  I also didn’t want to smoosh the brushwork, because I think it looks pretty cool. Once in the computer I cropped the borders and tweaked the white balance to make it look more natural. I usually do some kind of Christmas-y art this time of year.

To see it bigger try clicking HERE.

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we wrap our December marathons with a day split between Nigel Pye’s Psychedelic Shack and yours truly hosting Beatles Blast.  Our programming stunt to cover my trip to Chicago is over, so Tuesday we’ll be back to whatever passes for normal on The AIR, with a new RFC that’s loaded with new music.

Sunday Evening Video: Mystery Of The Batman Concludes

This week PopCult brings you the final two chapters of a previously unknown 1939 movie serial based on what was then a very new comic book character, Batman. Or do we?  You can find the first two chapters HERE. The second two chapters can be found HERE.

Here’s what is says in the YouTube description for this amazing discovery:

Here it is… Chapter 1, completely uncut, with a special introduction by Michael Monroe, Dean of Film Studies at the Dini College of Arts. Monroe is the author of “WHAT’S IN YOUR SERIAL? THE BUSTER CRABBE STORY.”

Discovered in December, 2015, MYSTERY OF THE BATMAN is a little-known serial which would have featured the first appearance of DC Comics’ Batman, in any medium, outside of comic books.

Young “Batman” author, Bob Kane, had gone to Hollywood, early in his career, in the hopes of pitching The Caped Crusader as the star of a film series. This was just as the character was being introduced in the pages of DETECTIVE COMICS magazine.

Originally intended for twelve chapters, MYSTERY OF THE BATMAN was produced by BJC Pictures, an obscure poverty row studio, which went bankrupt with only six episodes filmed and completed.

All of the studio’s assets were thought to have been destroyed, until a massive collection of 16mm prints, video transfers and original posters turned up in a barn outside of Beeville, Texas.

Thanks to the passionate effort of historians and fans, the existing chapters of MYSTERY are currently undergoing an extensive digital restoration.

It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Well it is. See this isn’t really a long-lost find, but is, in fact, a meticulously-produced fan-made hoax, which is a loving tribute to Batman and to the early days of movie serials.

They give it all away further down in the description:

Before anyone feels too clever, I’m sure by now it’s obvious this project was produced in 2016, and in NO WAY is intended to be anything other than a loving parody.

This short film was done in good fun, as a love letter to the history of Batman and his family. Please stay tuned till the very end for the proper credits.

Thank you!- Ryan Bijan, Director

This is a real blast.  The credits are loaded with in-joke references to folks who have worked on the Batman comics over the decades. The art direction and music are spot-on, and the only big give-away that this is not a real period piece is the acknowledgement of Bill Finger as Batman’s co-creator.

In truth, Finger was not give proper credit until more than forty years after his death in 1973.  It’s a nice touch for the filmmakers to risk the joke in order to give credit where it was long overdue.

Any fan of vintage movie serials will appreciate the nods to the form, and the direct tributes in some of the shots.  This was obviously a labor of love. Ryan Bijan and his crew deserve major kudos for this.

Many thanks to Jon Raider for turning me on to this cool project. Tonight and over the next two weeks, PopCult’s Sunday Evening Video will bring you all six chapters of Mystery Of The Batman, two per week, so you can enjoy it for yourself and also enjoy waiting a week between some of the episodes, just to give you the movie serial experience.

If you’re impatient and want to watch all the chapters now, you can go to the YouTube page for Big John Creations, and visit their Facebook page for all kinds of cool behind the scenes info and other cool stuff.

Chapter Five can’t be embeded here, so you’ll need to go watch it at YouTube.  However, after you do that, come back and watch the final chapter below.

The RFC Flashback: The Second Christmas Show

Above you see “West Virginia Shirt,” our Christmas, 2007 episode. This show features Mountain Laurel Ensemble, 69 Fingers, The Android Family and animation by Brian Young and Rudy Panucci.  It’s hosted from Stately Radio Free Charleston Manor and it’s part of the Christmas that almost wasn’t. This show was remastered and returned to public view in 2014, after a six-year absence.

Your loyal host and blogger got really sick while editing this show, and never quite got around to writing any production notes. I shot the host segments myself while putting up my Christmas tree later than I ever had before. It was a ridiculously busy time and exhaustion and a sinus infection caught up with me. In fact, that year I was so sick over the holidays that I went eight days without posting to PopCult, my longest gap ever.

If I can recall correctly, I recorded Mountain Laurel Ensemble at St. Matthews Episcopal Church in South Hills. It was a solo shoot using tripods because they rehearsed in the daytime while camera two was at work. 69 Fingers was recorded the previous summer at the La Belle Theater in South Charleston.

This show also includes The Android Family Christmas Special, the magnum opus of our favorite family of psychotic robots. To date, this is the most recent installment of The Android Family, but I’m looking to change that when we bring Radio Free Charleston out of the video show mothballs. Our animation is a collaboration between yours truly and Brian Young, and depicts the life of Christmas trees.

The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide Master List

The PopCulteer
December 9, 2022

This is it. The Master List of every single thing I recommended in The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide.

I made changes to The Gift Guide last year.   Last year I started combining every day’s recommendations into a single post. This forced me to be more concise in my descriptions, which was a good thing. Instead of writing 4,000 words every day about three gift ideas, I managed to cover five gift ideas a day in about 1,500 words. That continued this year, and the end result was more than 100 gift suggestions made in 20 days.

This made my life easier, as did skipping weekends. It’s no secret that a good number of PopCult readers visit the blog while they’re at work. Dropping gift suggestions over the weekend gave the items I picked then a bit of a short shrift. This way every gift suggestion gets full exposure, and I got a couple of days each week to recharge my batteries. Plus I didn’t have to suspend PopCult‘s regular weekend features for the month.

Because of the nature of how I did the gift guide this year, the links will take you to the post that includes the items listed, but you may have to scroll down a bit to find the exact item you’re looking for.

With that said, let’s dive into the Master List…


The Complete Eightball 1-18
Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991
To Be Announced!
Tails of the Super-Pets
Popeye Volume 1: Olive Oyl & Her Sweety
ICONIC – The Graphic Novel of The Beatles Revolver Cover Artwork
Captain Action: The Classic Collection
Fantastic Four: Full Circle
The Spider: Crime Unlimited
Love and Rockets: The First Fifty: The Classic 40th Anniversary Collection
Groo Meets Tarzan
Superman Smashes The Klan
Marvel Comics Mini-Books Collectible Boxed Set: A History and Facsimiles of Marvel’s Smallest Comic Books
EC HORROR Collections
EC Science Fiction Collections
EC Crime and Thriller Collections
SIX By SIX: The Journey Internal


McFarlane Toys Super Powers Action Figures 
Madmaniverse Mod Metal Lunchbox
Foodie Mini Brands
Stevo’s Horses
Cosmic Force: Purple Yogz Foot Soldier Figure Set
LEGO Everyone Is Awesome
MEGO 50th Anniversary World’s Greatest Super Heroes


The Ultimate Richard Pryor Collection: Uncensored
Batman: The Complete Animated Series
The Outer Limits Season One
Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Collection
Ultraman Nexus: Complete Series & Ultraman: Next


The Art of Tiki
Mad For Kicks: A Tokey Wedge Swinger
The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver (Beatles Album Series)
Joy and Fear  The Beatles, Chicago and the 1960s
Britmania: The British Invasion of the Sixties in Pop Culture
KELLOGG’S: The Story of America’s Breakfast King
I Pity the Dolls
Knock-Offs : Totally Unauthorized Action Figures
Calendar Girls, Sex Goddesses, and Pin-Up Queens of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s
Memories of Marx Toys: Glen Dale
It’s All in the Mind : Inside the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, Vol. 2
Shudder’s Creepshow: From Script to Scream
The Kinks: Every Album Every Song (On Track)
Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture
The Art of Glen Brogan (Second Edition)
Christmas Eve in the Mountain State
Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome
Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions
Fearsome Weirdos Family 


Retro Series Sorry! 1958 Edition
Classic Battleship game Retro 1967 edition
Classic Yahtzee, An Exciting Game Of Skill And Chance
Pressman Retro Mastermind
RACK-O, Retro package Card Game
You Lying Sack
Target: Rats | The Board Game
Horrified: American Monsters Strategy Game
Space Explorers


Todd Rundgren Space Force
Paul Weller Will of The People
Robert Berry’s 3.2 Alive at ProgStock
TOYAH Anthem Super Deluxe Edition
Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years
Ringo Starr – EP3
The Beatles Revolver Special Edition Super Deluxe


The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame
Kin Ship Goods
Oddbird Gift Emporium
Plaid Stallions Shop
American Science & Surplus


Do Not Mock The Tiki God
The Pulp Tarot by Todd Alcott
The Art of Glen Brogan (Second Edition)
The Lights of Broadway 2022


New Munktiki Crest T-shirt – GLOW INK
Aloha Republic Hawaiin Shirts
Mitch O’Connell Shirts
Retropolis Tees
GI Trekker’s Threadless Shop
Svengoolie Art Shirts
Sami Zayn: Honorary Uce
EC Comics T-Shirts and Socks


Trader Vic’s Baining Fire Dancer
BarConic® Peacock – 18 oz. – Tiki Mug
Tiki Mugs Cocktail Set  Large Tumblers 
The Bone Collector
The Art of Tiki
Do Not Mock The Tiki God
Glass Floats Zombie Glass – Blue & Green Variant
New Munktiki Crest T-shirt – GLOW INK
Aloha Republic Hawaiin Shirts


Victrola 50’s Retro Bluetooth Record Player & Multimedia Center
Retro Frigidaire Refrigerators
EC Comics Plush Throws

And that is the end of that. Thank you for reading The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide. I hope you found it helpful and/or entertaining. That is today’s PopCulteer.  Check PopCult for fresh content every day, including several reliable regular features…and have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever floats your boat.


It’s that time of the week again, folks. Here’s a partial list of stuff you can go do this week in Charleston.

Live Music is back at Taylor Books. There is no cover charge, and shows start at 7:30 PM. Friday it’s Minor Swing. Saturday sees Megan Bee at Charleston’s beloved Bookstore/coffeehouse/art gallery institution.

Please remember that the pandemic is not over yet. Many people who have very good reasons are still wearing masks, and many of us, understandably, are still nervous about being in crowds, masked or not. Be kind and understanding  while you’re out.

If you’re up for going out, here are a few suggestions for the rest of this week, roughly in order.

Since we’re writing this feature ahead of tme, there’s bound to be more cool things pop up. Heck, I haven’t even been here all week.

Check out some stuff, roughly in order…






The Things We Do For Love

Today is the birthday of Mrs, PopCulteer, my beautiful and loving wife, Mel Larch.

In honor of this event, I am going to re-present one of my favorite posts, from over eleven years ago, back before we married, to show my devotion and the torment I am willing to go through for the woman I love.  This piece has been lightly edited to remove topical remarks and some pee jokes. Originally posted August 11, 2011…

“Hey 50”

I don’t hate Steely Dan.

I think they’re fine musicians who make well-crafted music with clever lyrics. And I think they put on a show at the Clay Center Tuesday night that should have pleased their loyal fans. I do not wish the members of the band any ill will.

I just hate their music.

I don’t really understand why I hate their music. It’s intelligent, witty and very well played, and it contains many individual elements that I normally find quite appealing.

Perhaps it’s some sort of Pavlovian response that makes me hate their music. Their formula harmonies kick in and I get a little gag reflex. I associate their music with the morning drive to high school. Except for my brief disastrous first marriage, my high school years were the most miserable period of my life. Music that transports me back to that time is basically transporting me back to hell.

Maybe it’s just a perfect storm of different musical elements that I normally like, arranged in a manner that bothers the hell out of me.

Or it could be that, back in the old days when I didn’t have a tape deck in my car…actually I didn’t have a car yet…and I was at the mercy of FM radio, I was held hostage listening to music that I didn’t like in order to hear the one track every hour or two by one of my favorite bands. So while I’m tuned in hoping to hear something by YES, The Who or The Beatles (pretty much every other favorite band of mine was years away from getting any airplay) I would be subjected to Steely Dan or The Eagles or Jimmy Buffett or Aerosmith or The Doobie Brothers or Boston or any of the other top AOR tracks of the day.

To this day, that music actually makes me physically ill. I get the same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I used to get every day going to high school. I know there are some people who love the music of “Yacht Rock.” I would like to see those yachts sunk. Those bands are like Nickleback to me.

Given that, you may be wondering why I found myself at the Clay Center, perched in a third-level box, enduring Steely Dan’s concert Tuesday night. It’s a fair question, and I will give you the answer in a moment.

But first, my observations:

The view from the box

The Clay Center was packed. I’d never seen the crowd from the cool vantage point we had way up in a box on the third level before, and since I was way more interested in people-watching than hearing Steely Dan, I was very happy with our seats. The main floor was a sea of bald heads with pony tails, and at any given moment during the show, forty or fifty iPhones were fully illuminated, probably illegally recording the concert.

Highlighted are some of the many iPhones that were lit up during the opening act, after the Clay Center asked people to shut them off. There were way more during Steely Dan’s set. And yes, I see the irony of complaining about that in a photo that I took when I wasn’t supposed to.

The median age of the crowd seemed to be mid-fifties. I would say the vast majority of concert-goers were old enough to have been fans of the band since the 1970s. The Clay Center was probably breathing a sigh of relief that they don’t offer discounts to AARP members.

Steely Dan’s music was way too loud. It was like the sound guy had the levels set at “Outdoor Festival” instead of “Intimate Performance Hall.” We were, unfortunately, right at speaker level, so the music was more than a little painful to listen to. At one point I did something that I never do. I leaned over and asked Melanie if she had brought any earplugs. Understand that I never wear earplugs when I’m recording RFC. I don’t function well with them, and get along fine without them. For me to ask for earplugs means that the music is dangerously, obnoxiously loud. Seriously, it was so loud that it kept waking me up.

At one point it was so painful that I had to excuse myself to the bathroom for about ten minutes. The Clay Center thoughtfully pumped the sound from the hall into the restrooms, so that die-hard fans with weak bladders (probably a good percentage of them) could still hear the music. That’s when I discovered that the sound mix was actually spectacular. You could hear every instrument and the vocals were right where they should be. Even though I still hated the music, the mix was fantastic. Without the flesh-ripping volume, it was a really great job. In fact, if you just wanted to go hear the band perform live, and didn’t care about actually watching them, the crapper was the best seat in the house!

And let’s be honest, who goes to a Steely Dan concert to SEE the band? The group has always been a fairly anonymous group of shlubs who could walk down the street without ever being recognized. There’s like three regulars at The Empty Glass who could pass for Walter Becker, and there’s a Donald Fagan look-alike lurking in every other Starbucks in the country. That’s why the band broke up during the height of MTV. Who would want to watch a video of those guys? They’re the radio stars that video tried to kill.

Which one is Mr. Dan?

The Sam Yahel Organ Trio…meh

Getting to the show itself, the opening act, The Sam Yahel Organ Trio, impressed many people. I wasn’t among them. He got off to a good start with a cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” but I was underwhelmed by his playing. He reminded me of the guy who used to play the demo organ at The Pied Piper in the Huntington Mall. He had a great rhythm section, though. He didn’t play songs that nearly induced vomiting in me, so that was another plus. My take was that he was grossly unremarkable, but was probably told not to be too great so that he wouldn’t show up the headliner.

As for the headliners, it’s been interesting taking in the reactions of my Facebook friends, and those of former Gazzblogger Bill Lynch, and the comments that his review inspired.

A lot of folks admit that it was too loud. Some blame the mix instead of the volume, but there seems to be a consensus that maybe they shouldn’t have turned the speakers up to eleven. It’s possible to create a sound footprint in the Clay Center that gives great audio to every seat in the house. By cranking it up, these guys really blew it for a lot of fans.

Some of my friends are raving about the horn section, which I found to be sloppy and uninspired. I saw Frank Zappa’s band in 1988, with a horn section that included Walt Fowler, Bruce Fowler, Paul Carman, Albert Wing and Kurt McGettrick. None of the horn players on stage with Steely Dan were fit to empty those guys’ spit valves. The discordant horns combined with the ridiculously high volume made for a very physically challenging show. At times the horn section was like a sonic chainsaw, cleaving through your skull.

The guitarist, Jon Herington, was amazing. You will get no argument from me, there. At times he’d rip out a solo that was so good that it made me forget how much I hated the song they were playing.

The drummer, Keith Carlock, cracked me up. It was like he was trying to recreate The Mad Drummer, Steve Moore’s, act from Scott Gregg’s famous YouTube clip “This Drummer Is At The Wrong Gig.” Aside from probably being the youngest person in the building, Carlock seemed at times to be trying to drown out the awful music that was being played on stage around him. I appreciated that.

And yes, I said “awful music.” It was awful to me. I knew going in that I was not going to enjoy hearing those songs. I had the kind of trepidation that you get about a trip to the dentist. And I was rewarded with much of the same kind of music.

So you want to know why I went, if I hated the band’s music so much.

My Melanie

I mentioned that I went with “Melanie.” Long-time readers of PopCult probably know that I’m talking about Melanie Larch, my significant other for more than two decades, and the person who restored my faith in humanity. Melanie loves Steely Dan. They are one of her favorite bands. My Melanie has had a bad year. Her mother passed away six months ago, and there have been a lot of adjustments for her to deal with since then.

She knows how much I despise the music of Steely Dan. One of the keys to having a long-lasting relationship is to not take it as an insult when your partner likes something that you don’t, and vice-verse. When The Clay Center announced that Steely Dan was coming, I told Mel that I would go with her. It’s been 18 years or so since I took her to see “Cats” at The Charleston Civic Center, and I hate that musical way more than I hate Steely Dan’s music, and I didn’t want her to have to go see Steely Dan alone.

I had an ulterior motive though. See, I got to watch my Melanie light up as she recognized the first few notes of every crappy song the band played. She was bopping in her seat, singing along, grinning from ear-to-ear the entire night. I got to see her that happy, and that was the best show of the night for me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I would sit through the worst, most awful music in the world for a chance to see the woman I love be that happy.

And I did. And it was worth it.

I feel a little guilty about taking a seat away from someone who actually likes those horrible songs, but not much. I got to spend time with my girl, and afterward we got to hang out at IHOP with Kevin Pauley, of The No Pants Players. Kevin knows of my distaste for Steely Dan’s music and was amazed to see me at the concert. He lucked into a terrific seat and, as a fan, enjoyed every minute of that horrible, horrible music. I was very happy for him, too.

The standing ovation. After a few minutes, they started banging the floor with their walkers

I’m glad that the die-hard fans were pleased with the show. I was happy to see such an enthusiastic standing ovation for the band, since I was concerned that many of their fans would have trouble standing that long. I wish the volume hadn’t been so loud. I thought the stage banter was overly long, but the fans liked it. In the end, I’m glad I went to the concert. It was worth every penny to see Melanie that happy.

Thank God she doesn’t care too much for Mahler. That’s a whole different story.

A Friendly Reminder

We won’t have a new episode of Radio Free Charleston today on The AIR,  but we are in the midst of a marathon of 2022 episodes.  The AIR is PopCult’s sister radio station. You can hear our shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player found elsewhere on this page. Below you see the schedule for the rest of this week. The clunky spacing is an in-joke to make art directors squirm. Tune in and enjoy!


Monday Morning Art: Corner of Clybourn and Halsted

This week’s art is an acrylic painting inspired by a photo I took a few years ago on a trip to Chicago.

The photo was pretty cool, with bright flowers, a powerful blue sky and just enough city to make it look really interesting.  However, there was a wee bit too much city. There were light poles, traffic signals, overhead power lines.  Plus there were way too many cars, and more than a few people in the way, messing up my compostion.

So I started from scratch and painted this on sturdy artboard, over the course of almost a month, omitted the offending objects, and came up with what you see above.  I decided to make the sign for the store look almost like a monolith, and not like a huge sign for Dick’s Sporting Goods.

I used some of the lessons I’ve picked up studying Hopper, but also supercharged the colors so they didn’t really look natural. This is how I see things most of the time anyway.

To see it bigger try clicking HERE.

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a two-day marathon of Radio Free Charleston.  The idea is that this week, now that The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide is in the books (except for the master list, coming this Friday), I’m going to take it easy, and part of that sees me giving you the chance to sample the best of 2022 on The AIR, as we spend the next several days giving you marathons of the best all of our music specialty shows recorded this year. I’ll tell you all about them each day, here in the blog.