PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Monday Morning Art: Abstract Pin Up

We kick off this week with a piece of art that finds your humble blogger mixing a few different styles. What you see up there started out as a Sharpie doodle on copy paper, which I then painted over using a light box. My weapons of choice were watercolor brushes, and a few colored pencils and markers.

Basically, I did a sloppy, Picasso-esque line drawing of a reclining female figure and painted over it in an impressionistic manner. This was not a piece that was conceived as a clear vision. This was basically just improv. I was happy with it, although I did crop the image and tweak the colors a little after I scanned it.

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

Meanwhile, Monday on The AIR, our week-long marathon of Radio Free Charleston enters the home stretch. The plan is to cruise into tomorrow, where we will present a new episode at 10 AM and 10 PM, and finish up the rest of the marathon in style.  Wednesday we are adjusting the schedule so that you’ll be able to hear one full episode of RFC every afternoon at 5 PM.   You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player right here…

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Sunday Evening Video: Labor Day Traditions

I don’t like to repeat the videos I post here in Sunday Evening Video very often, but this year I had so many requests to post what I did last year, that I decided to make this a tradition, for at least another year.

If you are of a certain age, Labor Day seems synonymous with The Jerry Lewis Labor Day MDA Telethon, which the famed comedian hosted for almost sixty years.

The telethon is gone, as is Jerry, but MDA (the Muscular Dystrophy Association) maintains a YouTube page where they still post highlights from the vaults.

Above you see a playlist with 104 videos of musical legends like Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, B.B. King, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Toni Basil and many others. Best of all, you can watch these clips without sitting through four hours of corporate spokespeople droning on in a monotone about how much they care about the kids. I mean, no offense to the guy from 7 11, but I’m pretty sure they play those parts on an endless loop in hell. Above you see the good stuff, the cream of the crop.

Seriously, there are some gems in there like Duran Duran, MC Hammer and Charo. There’s lots of Charo. Lots of MC Hammer, too, now that I think about it.

Enjoy!

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The RFC Flashback: MINI SHOW number 67

This week we go back six years to a special show intended to promote the 2015 ShockaCon, which was due to happen a couple of weeks later.

This show starred The Renfields, Transylvania’s hottest punk band. We captured the band in a bit of a state of flux, as they were in the process of changing around their line-up. Barging in on them performing at The Empty Glass, we managed to capture three songs, “Burning Revenge,” “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” and “The Invisible Man.”

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.

 

Remembering Daffney, Plus Stuff To Do

The PopCulteer
September 3, 2021

We have very sad news to kick off this week’s PopCulteer.

Former WCW and TNA wrestler, Daffney Unger (real name Shannon Spruill), took her own life Wednesday night after years of physical ailments and concussion-related depression.

Back in 2008, at one of Gary Damron’s ASW Wrestling shows, we met Daffney and she agreed to appear on episode 42 of Radio Free Charleston. She did our animation intro. It only took a minute to record, and was only on the show for a few seconds, but she took the time to email me later and thank me for having her on the show.  She later sent nice emails about subsequent episodes of RFC, and was very positive and supportive of what we were doing.

It was a simple, kind gesture, but it’s more than most of the bands we’ve had on the show have done, and it meant a lot to me, and showed me what a sweet, caring person Daffney was.

I was alarmed Thursday morning when I saw the drama unfolding on Twitter.  Daffney had posted several disturbing and obviously suicidal videos on Instagram Live, and her family and authorities had been notified. Thursday afternoon it was confirmed that they did not get to her in time, and she was gone. This was just tragic and so sad. I wanted to share my brief connection with Daffney because I know that she treated everyone in such a kind and generous manner, and I think that is how we should remember her.

PopCult offers our condolences to her family, friends, loved ones and many fans.

If you’re in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or use the Crisis Text Line by texting “NAMI” to 741471

STUFF TO DO

Aside from what I’m posting below, there are tons of things in and around Charleston to keep you busy this late-summer weekend.  To be honest, I am seriously considering suspending this feature during the surge in the pandemic. I have really mixed feelings about this. At the moment, I do not feel safe going out anywhere. That’s just me. I’m immunocompromised, and I’ve been pushing my luck recently, so I’m personally going back into hermit mode for the time being.

However, there are some cool things happening in and near Charleston. So since it’s Labor Day Weekend, I’m going to do a rundown of Stuff To Do this week.

You should know the drill by now. The pandemic is still not over.  In fact, it’s getting  way worse again. If you are fully vaccinated and ready to do your best to stay safe, you should go check this stuff out. Outdoor shows were okay for vaccinated folks to go maskless, but maybe not at the moment. Indoor shows leave you at the mercy of your fellow patrons, and with the Delta variant surging, why risk any exposure? I know there are folks who hate the idea of wearing masks, even if they’re not vaccinated. Those people are why you should wear a mask.

If anybody gives you grief over wearing a mask…get the hell out of there. It’s not safe. Nobody wants to be the last person to die of COVID.

So use your common sense and stay safe…and support the local scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is this week’s PopCulteer. Stay safe, be good to one another, check this blog for fresh content every day, and don’t set off fireworks this weekend. Only careless, self-centered idiots do that.

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.

The Well-Drawn Women of Wrestling

The PopCult Bookshelf

Queen of the Ring: Wrestling Drawings by Jaime Hernandez 1980-2020
by Jaime Hernandez
edited by Katie Skelly
Fantagraphics
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1683964452
$24.99

I have been a fan of Jaime Hernandez (and his brother, Gilbert) for well over 40 years. I first saw his spot illustrations in The Comics Journal, and I’ve been reading Love and Rockets since its first issue in 1982.

Queen of the Ring is a very different book, but it is spectacular in its own right.

Queen of the Ring is a collection of drawings of Women Wrestlers of the 1960s and 70s that Hernandez has done over the course of forty years. These drawings were done for his own amusement, and were not intended for publication. He drew them on copy paper, with cheap markers and colored pencil, and are a body of work that is more personal and more intimate than his comic book work.

Interspersed throughout this collection of drawings are Hernandez’s own words, taken from an interview (with the book’s editor, Katie Skelly), and these quotes, set alongside the drawings, give a real insight into the creative process of Jaime Hernandez.

Hernandez has always been a master of drawing the female form in a realistic and appealing manner, and he he does this throughout this book, showing the beauty, rage, glory, dispair and power of women who look like truck stop waitresses who could kick your ass.

Queen of the Ring is not a graphic novel. There is no narrative here, aside from the story of Hernandez and his fascination with drawing strong women with a variety of realistic body types. Hernandez has told stories with characters like these women in the graphic novella, Whoa, Nelly!, which really ought to be re-issued soon as a tie-in with this book.

Queen of the Ring, however, stands alone as an impressive artistic statement.

His linework, as always, is pure eye candy, while his composition and emotional punch are sharp as ever. The editing brings it all together with a near-perfect juxtaposition of Henandez’s art and words.

Reading this book, you will learn about Women’s wrestling in a bygone era, but you’ll also learn about the thought process and technique behind the work of Jaime Hernandez, and that is a very good thing, indeed.

Queen of the Ring is a gem of a book, a must-have for any fan of Love and Rockets, but with a lot of mainstream appeal, too. You should be able to order it from any bookseller, using the ISBN code, or find it discounted at Amazon.

 

 

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.

The Fearsome Weirdos Kickstarter Rewards Arrive!

To be honest, these came in while your PopCulteer was running around Staunton, Virginia celebrating his anniversary with his wife. It took me a few days to find the time to open them.

About a month ago, I told you about the Kickstarter campaign for Fearsome Weirdos: Harvest of Horrors by  Robert Jiminez. I had told you about the first series of Fearsome Weirdos in The PopCult Gift Guide a couple of years ago. The campaign was already fully-funded by the time I wrote about it, but I wanted to give you an update that, less than a month later a nifty little package (seen right) was in my mailbox, and I thought I’d let you see what I got.

The set included 10 Petrifying Product Parodies, 5 Alarming Authors (one of whom is hiding behind another card in one of my photos), 1 Wrapper Card/Checklist., plus 2 Bonus Cards and a neat little plastic case to hold it all. Also included was a bonus Metal Card, featuring H.P. Hovercraft and a Taco Hell sticker.

The card backs feature the pencilled roughs for the designs on the front of the cards.

All-in-all, it’s a great little set, and it helps set the mood for the Halloween season, which is upon us (at least if you check Big Lots or the Spirit Halloween Stores). Robert’s art is just spectacular and the horror-host level humor is dead-on.

Robert’s work has appeared on album covers, in publications such as THE THING: ARTBOOK, VISIONS FROM THE UPSIDE DOWN: STRANGER THINGS ARTBOOK, Tiki Magazine and Pinstriping & Kustom Graphics Magazine, and has shown in galleries including Disneyland’s Wonderground, Harold Golen, M Modern, Creature Features, and Bear & Bird among others.

You can also see Robert’s work in trading card sets for Topps, Cryptozoic, and Upper Deck on licenses such as Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, Mars Attacks, Star Wars, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Rick And Morty, Ghostbusters, Adventure Time and more. Most notably, Robert worked on 8 paintings for the Upper Deck trading card set FIREFLY THE ‘VERSE and 9 paintings for WACKY PACKAGES GO TO THE MOVIES by Topps.

Robert is also the author and illustrator of the books LAST CALL AT TIKILANDIA, STRANGEWISE NO.9, CHIMPS & TIKIS AND RAVEN-HAIRED BEAUTIES: AN ADULT COLORING BOOK, NOSFERATU’S CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK and WEIRD-ASS FACES VOL.1, SOPHISTICATES AND WEIRDOS and the trading card set FEARSOME WEIRDOS.

Once Robert is done shipping out all the Kickstarter rewards and sketch cards, he will put Fearsome Weirdos: Harvest of Horrors up for sale in his webstore (and likely on eBay and at Amazon), so in a few days or so, you might want to check those out if you want a set of your own.

180 Hours of Radio Free Charleston

The headline is correct. For the next seven and a half days, The AIR will play every episode of Radio Free Charleston Volume 5 so far, culminating in a brand-new episode, next Tuesday night.  To hear all of this coolness you simply have to click on the link and  tune in at the website, or, if you’re reading PopCult on a desktop or laptop, you could just stay on this page, and  listen to the cool embedded player right here…

In order to explain why we’re having such a massive marathon, I have to tell you a story (largely copied from earlier posts in this blog).

Over Labor Day weekend, in 1989, the first episode of the first version of Radio Free Charleston aired on WVNS FM, 96.1.

The show was a sort of my reward for working 100 days straight, often two or three shifts, with no day off while the station was beset with serious staffing problems.  One week I made more in overtime than the new Station Managergot paid.  My loyalty was rewarded not with a higher hourly rate, but instead a psuedo promotion.

I was given a promotion (in lieu of a raise) to assistant program director. With the title came the responsibility for scheduling the part-time talent to work on the weekends. I couldn’t get anybody reliable to handle the midnight to 6 AM shift Saturday night/Sunday morning, so I went to my boss with the idea of plugging a part-timer into my Friday night, 7 PM to Midnight shift, which was all syndicated crap programming anyway, and I would take the desolate shift that nobody wanted…IF I could have the freedom to play what I wanted.

My boss agreed to it and thus, Radio Free Charleston was born. I was allowed to go on the air at 2 AM on Sunday morning, and play anything I wanted (within reason) for four hours each week.

That first show didn’t include any local music. To be honest, it was mainly me digging out the best stuff from our existing playlist and augmenting it with a few choice progressive rock and New Wave tracks from my collection. I also remember being really happy that I could play the extended mix of “Heading To The Light” by The Traveling Wilburys on the first show.  I think it was the third week of the show when I slipped in “Big Red Satellite” by Hasil Adkins, and some single recorded by the teenaged daughter of a local car dealer who was considering advertising on the station.

Two weeks after that, the floodgates had opened, I fell in with the local music scene, and for the remainder of the original broadcast radio run, Radio Free Charleston became a bit of a phenomenon, peaking at over ten-thousand listeners and being featured in The Charleston Gazette. This was with a mix of local music, alternative rock, prog-rock, New Wave, underground tracks and even comedy records.

After the show was strangled in its crib over station politics in the spring of 1990, I couldn’t get hired in local radio. I was told repeatedly that program directors were afraid that if they’d hire me, I’d have their job in six months. I consulted with stations in other towns. I couldn’t relocate because I was taking care of my ailing parents, but they still appreciated my expertise. I also sort of backed into writing and market research after working on local political ads. Along the way I began co-writing Animated Discussions with my now-wife, Mel Larch for the Charleston Gazette, and made a bit of a name for myself writing about toys and pop culture for several national magazines.

The whole time I was trying to find a way to revive Radio Free Charleston. I must have recorded a dozen pilot episodes for different stations, but it wasn’t until after I began writing PopCult that Brian Young came to me with the idea of reviving RFC as a video show, and Douglas Imbrogno let me incorporate it into The Gazz and PopCult.

With The AIR operating as the internet radio arm of this blog, and with my video work diminished quite a bit due to Myasthenia Gravis, I’ve kept Radio Free Charleston going as a radio program again since 2014.  For the first few years I was producing RFC as an all-local show, and RFC International as an “anything I feel like playing show.”

Back in January, 2020, I made a move that I had been contemplating for a while. I revamped RFC to make the show more like the original concept of RFC back in 1989, when it was on broadcast radio.  Since that time, instead of producing Radio Free Charleston as a one-hour weekly showcase of local music from Charleston and the surrounding areas, and RFC International, as a two-hour show where I played anything I want, I combined both shows into Radio Free Charleston Volume Five, a weekly three-hour show that mixes local music with the best indpendent, avant-garde and classic music from multiple genres.

The reason for this was to shake things up a bit and keep the shows interesting for me. When I started doing RFC on WVNS radio back in 1989, one of the most rewarding bits of feedback I got was when I would play a track by a local band, and follow it with a song by one of that band’s musical heroes. I felt then, and I feel now, that our local music scene produces high-quality artists whose work can stand side-by-side with any musicians from around the world.  While it was cool to produce a one-hour local showcase for so many years, it’s more fun this way.

Our local music is too good to segregate away from the rest of the world’s music. This is a bolder way to bring local music to the masses. This is the show that you will hear on The AIR for the next week-plus. It’s almost like I’m doing the same show I was back in 1989/90, only not in the middle of the night, and with a worldwide audience.

That very first RFC happened during Labor Day Weekend in 1989. Nobody knew then that the show would take on a life of its own as a beacon of obscurity. All the big shots in Charleston pretend not to know what RFC is, even if they’ve been on the show. I’m proud of the underground legacy I’ve built over the last three-plus decades, and I hope you enjoy soaking in it, because that’s all that you’ll hear on The AIR for several days.

Some of these shows will contain huge chunks of earlier versions of Radio Free Charleston. Select episodes bring you airchecks from the 1989-1990 run, while others bring you audio from our video run of almost 300 shows. We even have a few shows that revisit earlier internet radio incarnations from Voices of Appalachia and OnTheAIRadio. Plus you’ll get a few bonus editions with RFC International tossed into the mix.

The cohesive glue over the next seven-and-a-half days is yours truly, hosting every episode. I hope you tune in and hear me playing great music.

When this marathon is over, I’m going to shake up the schedule on The AIR a bit, so that you can hear RFC every day at 6 PM (not new episodes every day—what are you, HIGH?), and hopefully we’ll see some new shows joining our line up, along with all of our great music specialty shows.

Join us. It’s mind-boggling to think I’ve been doing this for 32 years.

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: My Queen

 

This week I didn’t have much time to make art, since I spent a few days in Staunton, Virginia to observe the seventh anniversary of my wedding to Melanie Larch, and to take in the artistry of the folks at The American Shakespeare Center and their production of MacBeth.  After the excellent performance at The Blackfriars Theater (where everybody was masked up and safely distanced) Mel tried on the company crown, and I took a quick photo, which was a big hit on Facebook.

Sunday evening I did a quick digital painting over the photo so I could share with you a portrait of my queen.

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

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a new episode of  Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by a new edition of Herman Linte’s weekly showcase of the Progressive Rock of the past half-century, Prognosis.  You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player right here…

Nigel Pye has informed us that Psychedelic Shack will open with the title track from Elton John’s long-lost debut album from the late 1960s. The rest of the show looks pretty trippy too, as you can see…

Psychedliec Shack 048
Elton John “Regimental Sgt. Zippo”
The First Edition “Just Dropped In”
Ride “Leave Them All Behind”
Bardo Pond “Tantric Porno”
The Doors “Light My Fire”
The Moody Blues “Question”
Animal Collective “Did You See The Words”
Wooden Ships “These Shadows”
The Flaming Lips “She Don’t Use Jelly”
Love “Alone Again Or”
Grateful Dead “The Golden Road”
The Rolling Stones “Paint It Black”

Psychedelic Shack can be heard every Monday at 2 PM, with replays Tuesday at 9 AM, Wednesday at 10 PM, Friday at 1 PM,  and Saturday at 9 AM. Classic episodes can be heard Sunday at 9 AM as part of our Sunday Haversham Recording Institute collection.

At 3 PM, Herman Linte offers up a new Prognosis, which features his usual mix of new and classic prog-rock.

Check out this impressive playlist…

Prognosis 076
Steve Howe “Half Way”
Big Big Train “Atlantic Cable”
Dream Theater “Comfortably Numb (live)”
Shirley Collins “The Rose and the Briar”
King Crimson “Starless (live 2019)”
Brian May “Resurrection”
Tangerine Dream “Stratosfear”
Jon Anderson, Jonathan Elias “Sunlight”
Emerson Lake and Palmer “From The Beginning”
Porcupine Tree “Arriving Somewhere but Not Here”
Kate Bush “Sat In Your Lap”
Focus “Eruption (live)”
Harmonia “Deluxe (Immer Weiter)”

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

At 7 PM, stick around for a 12-hour mixed marathon that alternates between Steven Allen Adams’ NOISE BRIGADE and Dexter Checkers’ Ska Madness. Dexter ended his show four years ago due to illness, but has recovered sufficiently that he is now threatening to produce new episodes of Ska Madness soon.

But it won’t be in the next week, because tomorrow The AIR begins a special RFC event that we will tell you about right before it begins.

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.

Sunday Evening Video: Random and Very Short

Above you see a short, random video that yours truly shot yesterday on Interstate 64 in Virginia, not far from the West Virginia border.

Your PopCulteer and his lovely wife were returning from a very nice anniversary visit to Staunton, Virginia, where we indulged in a little Shakespeare, and sampled some of the delights of the city’s Historic District. We found toys, model kits, chocolate, old comic books, and even saw a working Edison Wax Cylindar Player.

And I didn’t take any photos or video of it. This was a trip for us, and was not intended to be fodder for this blog. Sorry about that.

If it’s any consolation, we did have so much fun that we fully intend to return in the fall, COVID permitting, and when we do, I’ll post video and photo essays and all kinds of other stuff. We didn’t even make it to the camera museum or the antique car collection or tons of other cool things they had hidden away in their very hilly streets.

But on the way home we saw you see above, and I whipped out my phone and shot some video, and set it to music I wrote a while back (because I didn’t want the copyright police to come after me over the cool New Wave tunes we were listening to at the time).  Since I didn’t prepare this post before our trip, and it took maybe five minutes to make the video, this is what you get today.

After you’ve watched the video, if you’re curious, we did see what’s in the video well over a month after it was finished with its promotional purposes, so we don’t know if they just decided to drive it around the country for the hell of it, or if it’s being driven somewhere to be dismantled. You can find out more about it HERE.

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.

The PopCult Flashback

The RFC Flashback is begging off a little this week because today is the 16th anniversary of PopCult. It’s our first time marking this day since we slid out from under the umbrella of The Charleston Gazette-Mail, but we are still plugging away.

To be honest, since I went all-out for our tenth anniversary, and made a decently big deal about last year’s 15th anniversary, this year I’m just doing this one post. Part of that is because the anniversary of this blog falls two days after my wedding anniversary and we’re not quite back from our celebration at an undisclosed location.

I mean, I could repost some of my favorite posts from the last 16 years, but you can find the archives in two different places on this page. It’s still a trip to think that I’ve been doing this sixteen years, posting daily for the last eight years.

Instead of making a huge deal about it, and since I’m bumping The RFC Flashback for this….I’m going to post a video treat, just for the hell of it.

Here is the second video episode of Radio Free Charleston. This is the episode that they won’t let me post on YouTube because, hilariously enough, I included a gag that contained footage from a 100% bootleg, unlicensed musical based on Batman. It’s hilarious because the folks who produced this blatant knockoff movie that included Wonder Woman, Tarzan, The Joker, and in the big production number, a little person dressed as Spider-man…filed a copyright claim against me with YouTube. The music in their film was also ripped off of old-time rock -n- roll, but they were offended by me using two minutes of their footage.

Luckily, Vimeo doesn’t give a crap about that sort of thing, so enjoy this, our second video episode of RFC, with music from Stephen Beckner and The Sleeping Dons (Sean Richardson, Jay Lukens and Deren Sodaro). Stick around for the gag at the end. I thought it was funny.  More importantly, it’s pop-culturally weird enough to perfectly embody the spirit of this blog.


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.