PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Front Porch Photojournalism

There was a house fire in Dunbar tonight. I don’t have any details, other than it was a house that I used to play in back in the 1970s. The accompanying photo was taken from my front porch. I just snapped a few pictures and rushed in here to post them, so that I could scoop TV 8. That’s what they get for parking in front of my house when I have company coming. The fire appeared to be out by 9 PM. Seems to have started shortly after 8 PM. The Dunbar Fire Department does good work.

Photo Essay: The Purple Moon

Last week, The Purple Moon celebrated their first anniversary as West Virginia’s only shop dedicated to vintage mid-century modern and contemporary design, furnishings, accessories, and art. Their store, tucked away at 716 Lee Street East, right in the heart of downtown Charleston is a treasure trove of atomic age delights. Chuck and Connie Hamsher have created a terrific space where Charlestonians can finally find all that cool retro stuff that we see on the Home & Garden channel when they do a post-modern weekend.

I was fortunate to run into Chuck last week when I had my digital camera with me and a few minutes to spare before meeting Melanie for lunch. So, I ducked into The Purple Moon and snapped a few shots to share with you guys. You can probably tell I love this place. I’ve always had a fondness for post-war design, and I’ve spent the last decade writing about vintage toys from that era. And so for the next three days, PopCult will present a few photos of the cooler things you’ll find at The Purple Moon. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and their stock rotates constantly, so you might want to visit the store and take in all the coolness in person. Thanks to Chuck and Connie for letting me go wild with the camera. This weekend, The Purple Moon will be surrounded by FestivALL, so if you’re in town for the entertainment, stop in and look around.

Today, we’re going to focus
on some of the cool furniture and lamps that you can find at the store.

You gotta love sectional couches. This one’s a beauty.

Eating at this table would be just like dining with the Jetsons.

The Purple Moon has a huge selection of great atomic-age lamps. This is just a tiny sample.

Very cool stuff, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at some of the cool toys and artwork that The Purple Moon has in stock.

Another Cool Saturday Night

I found out late Friday Afternoon that Setting Sun would be doing a show at Capitol Roasters Saturday night, so I re-arranged my schedule to attend. Setting Sun is Sean Richardson, Jay Lukens, and Deron Sodaro, all old friends from around the Radio Free Charleston days, and it’s been 15 years or more since I’d seen them. So, aside from the great music, this was like a reunion of sorts. I even got to see Johnny Rock and Jason Ashworth at the show, and hear about their upcoming musical project.

Sean was the lead singer
for Strawfyssh, who were favorites on the old radio show. Jay and Deron were in Mother Nang, and Deron has since been in too many bands to keep track of, most notably the Voodoo Katz. The music was incredible. Sean’s voice has always impressed the hell out of me, and he’s really matured as a performer over the last decade-and-a-half, with an amazing stage presence. Jay and Deron have always been rock-solid musicians, and they gelled perfectly with Sean Saturday night. Of course, Capitol Roasters is a great venue, too, being smoke-free and having a really cozy atmosphere.

The cool thing is that the guys tell me they’ll be playing at the Vandalia Lounge every Wednesday night in July. I’ll definitely try to make it to some of those shows. We may even have a song of the week from them coming up soon.

Makes me think that it might be cool to revive Radio Free Charleston, updated for the internet era, someday.


EDITOR’S NOTE: You can take a gander at Setting Sun at the Gatecrasher gazzphotoblog, as the band stopped in to make some music recently at the monthly open mic hosted by Ron Sowell at the Unity church in North Charleston, on the 2nd Friday of each month. See the pix right here.

Monday Morning Arts

In honor of FestivAll coming up later this week, PopCult kicks off your Monday with a double shot of my over-rated doodlings.

First up, we have a quickie called “The Maestro.” This was done with mini-Sharpies on the back of an index card when I was supposed to be working on the script for a soon-to-be -revealed top secret project. After I scanned it, I tweaked the holy hell out of it, so that it’s almost a negative of the original.

Next we have a digitally-assaulted photograph of the Huntington Bank building. I shot this while walking down Hale Street, and started playing with adjusting the brightness and contrast of isolated parts of the picture. Then I colorized it in my patented slapdash manner.

Click the images to enlarge.
You can see the original images here.

Cool Toy Of The Week: Today Is His Birthday!

Today, Sir Paul McCartney turns 64, and the mainstream media is awash with ironic headlines snarking about how the lyrics to “When I’m Sixty-Four” don’t apply to Mr. Macca this year, in light of his highly-publicized tabloid fodder divorce.

Which is a shame, because by most accounts, Sir Paul is a nice guy, and he’s written some of the best music in the world–music that will last long after the tabloid hacks are forgotten. To observe McCartney’s birthday here in PopCult, we’re making him the “Cool Toy Of the Week.” You see, McCartney has been immortalized in plastic by the folks over at McFarlane Toys a few times in recent years, and these are some of the best action figures that McFarlane has put their name one.

Many years ago, McFarlane created a toy line based on The Beatles Yellow Submarine. There were two series of figures, one depicting the Fab Four as themselves in the animated classic, and the other showing them disguised as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. These were so well-received that McFarlane released them again in different packaging a few years later.

Those re-released figures sold so well that McFarlane Toys came up with a set of action figures based on the goofy, low-budget Beatles TV cartoon, from the heyday of Beatlemania. The sculptors at McFarlane managed to perfectly translate the 2-D designs for the cartoon into a workable three-dimensional object. These are cool toys, and quite collectible. And any birthday with toys involved, has to be good.

Happy Birthday, Paul!

Ren And Stimpy Return…Again

Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

Next month (July 18, to be exact), the lost episodes of Ren and Stimpy finally hit DVD! These are the “Adult Party Cartoon” shows that were produced for Spike TV a few years ago by Ren and Stimpy’s creator, John Kricfalusi, who had been reunited with his perverted cat and dog after being booted off the series by Nickelodeon back in 1992. Spike only aired a few of these new Ren and Stimpy cartoons before the winds changed and they decided to drop their animation programming. This DVD will contain all the uncensored, adult-oriented, Ren and Stimpy cartoons that John K. produced. That includes three full episodes that have never aired. These have only been screened at events where John K. has spoken, although there are lots of clips circulating on the internet. The three un-aired shows are “Naked Beach Frenzy,” “Altruists,” and “Stimpy’s Pregnant.”

You can see a nearly five-minute trailer for “Stimpy’s Pregnant” here, at John K’s blog.

Here’s a clip from “Naked Beach Frenzy,” where Ren has been mistaken for a crab by the extremely hairy lifeguard.

Below are two short clips from “The Altruists.”

We’ve always had a soft spot for Ren and Stimpy. If not for them, we never would have started writing about animation for the Gazette all those years ago. It was nice to see John K. vindicated when he got to go back and revisit his babies in 2003. Now we’ll finally get to see the second half of his triumphant return to the show that launched his career.

“Ren and Stimpy: The Lost Episodes” is going to be one killer DVD that any adult animation fan should rush out and buy. Parents will want to think twice, or even three or four times, before letting children watch this DVD. They contain nudity, profanity, and enough twisted situations to cause a parent to have to explain delicate things long before they expect to. These will be good, dirty fun. If this DVD set sells as well as we expect, Paramount may be knocking on John’s door, asking for more new Ren and Stimpy cartoons.

Song Of The Week: Christmas In June…

….For Beatles Fan, at least.

This week’s Song Of The Week is a rare treat. PopCult is bringing you the 1967 Beatles Fan Club Christmas record. Each year the Fab Four would go into the studio and record a little “thank you” for their fans. This was sent out free to every member in good standing of their fan club. These were fun little collages of music and comedy skits, with the guys just goofing around and displaying their trademark senses of humor. On this record, recorded after Sgt. Pepper, but before The White Album, we get to hear snippets of “Christmas Time Is Here Again,” a song that was not released intact until nearly 30 years later as part of the Beatles Anthology project. Mixed in with that happy little tune are several minutes of goofiness that display a major influence on the Beatles–the classic radio comedy, The Goon Show.

Error Of Omission

Last week, I wrote a little post about the renaissance of professional wrestling. I meant to mention that one of the major components of this resurgence was the upcoming movie “Nacho Libre”, starring Jack Black as a humble Monk who turns to the high-flying world of the masked Lucha Libre to earn money for an orphanage. This foray into the world of Mexican wrestling is written and directed by Jared Hess, the mastermind behind “Napoleon Dynamite”. It opens this Friday. I’ve been a fan of Jack Black since the second episode of “Mr. Show with Bob and David” over ten years ago, and I’ve been looking forward to this film since I first heard about it last year. It opens Friday.

And I forgot to mention it. I had it in my notes and everything.

Bad Rudy.

Monday Morning Art: Brawley Walkway

This week brings another subtle digitally assaulted photograph. It’s a shot of a deserted Brawley Walkway in downtown Charleston. I messed with the sky, airbushed out the people, and made one lampost red.

It’s another study of minor league surrealism.

click to enlarge

Cool Toy Of the Week: CARS Playsets

In honor of our mile-long review of Disney/Pixar’s CARS, the toy of the week this week is a tie-in to the movie. Specifically, the playsets based on the town of Radiator Springs. Mattel has rolled out a full assortment of toy cars in all sizes based on the characters from the movie, but the really cool item that they’re creating are the playsets. These are plastic play environments that replicate the buildings and scenery from this brilliantly-designed cartoon. There is a full assortment of cool, interlocking playsets. You can find detailed models of Luigi’s Casa Della Tires, Lizzie’s Curio Shop, Ramon’s Custom House of Body Art, and the biggie, Flo’s V8 Cafe. Flo’s opens to reveal a detailed interior with lights and other cool features. These sets connect to the Mountain Challenge Playset, which features a shaking mountain road with sharp curves and constant motion. This set comes with an exclusive version of Lightning McQueen. These playsets hearken back to the glory days, when toy cars came with giant garage and service station playsets. With the nostalgic designs from the movie and the obvious kid-appeal, these toys can easily bring generations together. You’ll be able to find these anywhere toys are sold, and probably in a few places where they aren’t. Prices range from ten bucks for the smaller sets to over thirty for the Mountain Challenge.