Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

The RFC Flashback: episode 208

Above you see one of the episodes of Radio Free Charleston, the video show, of which I am most proud.

In April, 2015, a local jazz group, 4tet, added several members and took on a rather ambitious project. They learned the entire classic Miles Davis album, Bitches Brew, and performed it live at a few different venues.

The musicians involved were Thom Walker – bass; Jeffrey Thomasson – guitar; Nate Bohach – vibraphone; Dave Roberts – drums; Tyler Stewart – drums and percussion; Tim Smith – keyboards; Chris Mickel – saxophones; Chris Clark – saxophones and bass clarinet; Gabe Muncey – trumpet. It was an amazing line-up of musicians tackling a very difficult piece of music, and they nailed it.

This is a major departure episode for RFC. Usually I brought viewers three or four different bands, almost always rock or alternative and I rarely do interviews. For this show we focus on one group, sit in on a rehearsal and intersperse that with interviews to give viewers a better idea just how ambitious this undertaking was.  Considering that this episode was shot on a Sunday afternoon/evening, and was finished and online by the next Tuesday, I think I have reason to consider it one of my more impressive Radio Free Charleston programs.

You can read the full production notes HERE.

Facing The End of the Pandemic With A Mask On and more stuff.

The PopCulteer
May 14, 2021

A big “thank you” to my readers for putting up with a sparse week of stuff here at PopCult and on The AIR. This has been a long and grueling week that has seen your PopCulteer get his second Pfizer shot, among many other medical misadventures, and my blogging and radio time had to be sacrificed.

I want to stress, however, that I am not fully-vaccinated. Unlike most people I will have to wait two weeks after my second shot, and then get an antibody test to see if it worked. As an immuno-suppressed person, this is pretty standard. There is a chance that the vaccine won’t work on me. I’m very optimistic that it will, but I’m still not ready to rip off my mask and run naked in the world.

Apologies for putting that image in anyone’s mind.

I am a little concerned at how fast the penduluum of public perception seems to have swung. We should not villify people who err on the side of caution. I know the CDC issued new advice on mask-wearing Thursday, but I hope that we don’t go from shunning people who don’t wear masks to shunning those that still do. I hate the idea of vulnerable people being accosted by morons for the simple act of trying to stay alive. If you see someone still wearing a mask after mandates have been lifted, it means that they know something you don’t (about themselves, most likely) and you should respect that.

I know that there are toxic thought bubbles emanating from the cesspool of arrested-adolescent, narcissistic wing of pundritry disguised as journalism that express contempt for the economic shutdown and all the safety measures that kept the pandemic from killing millions more people than it did. As much as I hate to acknowledge those people, it’s an obligation of decent people to point out how full of crap these self-centered, self-appointed experts are, and how dangerous their crackpot theories can be.

I’ve seen some really poorly-thought-out articles online that suggest that people have become dependent on masks and that they’re clinging to them needlessly out of some kind of Stockholm Syndrome-type connection. That idea is irresponsible idiocy.

While the number of new cases of COVID and the number of deaths reported daily are dropping dramatically, they are still as high as they were in September of last year, and they’re way higher than they were a year ago. The trends are very encouraging, but we are not through this pandemic yet.

Dropping all the safety measures now makes as much sense as jumping out of an airplane as soon as you see the runway.  We have a lot of obstacles to overcome and a lot of goals to reach before we can begin to approach normal life again. Let’s land this plane and taxi to the terminal before we start acting like we’re already home.

I get what the CDC is doing. They’re using masklessness as the carrot on a stick to get some of the more stubborn among us to get vaccinated. That’s not a bad idea. We just maybe need to rein in the irrational exuberance a bit over here in smart people land. In a country where we had to put out an official statement telling people not to put gasoline in plastic bags, we can’t count on everyone to exercise sound judgement or use common sense.

I hope everyone realizes that we may see vaccination mandates this summer. You might just need to show your card to get on a plane, train or bus, or in a stadium or arena. If this becomes necessary, it’ll be because too many folks decided they could just ditch their masks without getting their shot.

If all goes well and my body starts producing antibodies, there’s a chance you might see me and my video camera out recording local bands in a month or two. You might see me still wearing a mask. That’s me being careful. I hope that everybody is careful and doesn’t take any unnecessary risks.

We made it this far. Do you really want to be one of the doofuses who dies from COVID the week before the pandemic ends?

AIR Marathons Continue

Meanwhile, over at our internet radio station, I’m taking advantage of my down time to bring you more marathons of our AIR Music Specialty programs. Friday from 7 AM to 1 AM you can listen to Mel Larch’s MIRRORBALL, celebrating the Disco era. Then Saturday morning at 1 AM, shift gears into the New Wave era with Sydney Fileen, who will bring you Sydney’s Big Electric Cat until Saturday night at 9 PM. That’s when we kick into twelve hours of Radio Free Charleston before going back to our normal schedule Sunday morning.

Sure, it’s  all reruns, but they kick fifteen distinct kinds of butt so you ought to listen anyway.  You can tune in at The AIR website, or on the embedded player over in the right-hand column to binge-listen to the coolest music on the planet.

Live Music Saturday

If you are fully-vaccinated, you can go to The Empty Glass Saturday night for this show, featuring three great local punk bands that we’ve been playing the hell out of on Radio Free Charleston for the last year, Jay Parade, Jerks and Boldly Go…

Swiped From Twitter

A cute and funny fake ad, sent out by my favorite American Passenger train company to have a little fun with the gas situation…

And that’s it for this week’s PopCulteer, which I’m writing early Thursday evening, just in case I feel like a truck hit me Friday morning. Check back for all our regular features, including a very special RFC Flashback on Saturday, and cross your fingers for all-new shows on The AIR next week.

The Ginchy Glider Has Landed!

It seems like just yesterday when I told you about a Kickstarter campaign for Madman’s Ginchy Glider, from The Drawn Word.  Actually, it was early February, but the campaign was a huge success, met all its stretch goals, and just yesterday, I got a decent-sized surprise package filled with Madmaniverse goodies. Since I’ve been a fan of Mike Allred’s for more than thirty years, this was a real treat.

In addition to three Madman gliders, plus a couple of blanks, I also got seven sheets of stickers (so I can customize my gliders), four 3-D postcards (plus a set of 3-D glasses), a metal trading card, the second issue of the Madmania fanzine and…five Duncan Yo-Yos, imprinted with different designs from Madman and his creator, Mike Allred.

It was like Christmas in July…in May.

Here’s a group shot of the goodies (with only one glider shown) and below that, a look at the flip side of the Yo-Yos, which have different designs from the front.


The PopCulteer will return tomorrow, hopefully with a more substantial post. There’s been a lot of real-world intrusions this week, but getting the Madman Ginchy Glider’s certainly brightened up my week.

Stuff To Do: Free Outdoor Shows Saturday

Folks who know their way to Dunbar or Saint Albans can come out Saturday for some free live music in a safe, outdoor setting. I still don’t recommend going out unless you’re fully vaccinated, but if you are, there are some great bands performing and you can hear live music and suppor the local scene. Check out these virtual flyers…

Special Marathons On The AIR Because Of Poking and Prodding

Hey folks, it’s one of those weeks.

Longtime readers of PopCult probably remember that your humble blogger has Myasthenia Gravis, an auto-immune disorder that you can learn all about by copying those two words and pasting them in the search window of this blog over in the right column, or elsewhere on the page if you’re reading this on your phone.

This week I have some MG-related tests scheduled, and some other medical stuff to which to tend, and that has intruded on my blogging and radio-ing time. So I’m not exactly feeling all poppity-culture-y this week, and didn’t have time to record new episodes of Radio Free Charleston, The Swing Shift or Beatles Blast.

To make up for that, I have cooked and shaped some reruns into a fancy new casserole of internet radio goodness for you.  Go to The AIR for the next three days for your daily recommended requirement of recycled radio shows.  Tuesday, Radio Free Charleston will start at 10 AM and will bring you the best music from Charleston and around the world for 21 hours. In addition, ever time we have a replay scheduled for RFC this week, it will be a different episode, so you can catch up with a bunch of them, in case you missed any.

Wednesday, Beatles Blast will kick off at 2 PM, and run until Midnight.

Thursday The Swing Shift will start early, at 7 AM, and run for a full 24 hours, because if we didn’t, our loyal European Swing Music fans would riot.

The plan next week is to return with new episodes of Radio Free Charleston, The Swing Shift, Beatles Blast, and maybe Curtain Call.  The plan is for our Haversham programs to return after a week off, as well.

But this week it’s almost all reruns, so you can tune in at The AIR website, or on the embedded player over in the right-hand column to relive our recent past. Be advised that we do plan to drop a new episode of Mel Larch’s MIRRORBALL Friday afternoon.

As for PopCult, well this is the only post you’ll get today. The rest of the week may be skimpy, or photo essays, or shorter posts. It all depends on how your PopCulteer feels. I am going to try to bring you something fresh every day, which I’ve been doing for almost eight of our fifteen-plus years now.

Monday Morning Art: Pastel Bean

This week’s art is, to be honest, a bit unfinished. I wanted to try out some  pastel crayons on a new textured paper, and I was also missing Chicago a bit, so using several photographs I took in Millenium Park over the past few years as reference, I sat down on a very blustery Sunday and tried to create a scene of The Bean.

You may notice that I put a lot of effort into the detail on the buildings. I wasn’t planning to go for an ultra-detailed painting, but I did want the buildings to look realistic.  However my fingers ran out of gas as I worked my way to the lower half of the paper. By the time I got to the Cloud Gate sculpture itself, I was struggling, and you may notice that the people aren’t exactly very well delineated at all. The end result is more abstract than I planned, but I think I actually like it more this way. It lends a bit of an air of creeping surrealism to the image.

The pastel drawing was scanned and color-corrected and cropped a bit, digitally, for posting here.

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

Meanwhile, Monday at beginning at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you encores of recent episodes of  Psychedelic Shack and Prognosis.  You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.

The folks at The Haversham Recording Institute are a bit tied up with what we in the business call “paying work” and will be taking the week off from their AIR Music Specialty programs. They tell me they should be back at their labors of love next week.

At 7 PM, The Monday Marathon brings you four episodes of Radio Free Charleston that are probably going to be taking a sabbatical from our servers soon.

Sunday Evening Video: Recycled Mother’s Day

Today is Mothers Day, and to celebrate the artificial holiday, born right here in West “By God” Virginia, we bring you a concert by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. Recorded in 1973 for the Swedish program Opopoppa, above is rare video of Frank Zappa with a later incarnation of The Mothers of Invention that included  Jean-Luc Ponty, George Duke, Tom Fowler, Ralph Humphrey, Ruth Underwood, Ian Underwood and Bruce Fowler.

In this nearly hour-long performance, the band presents three tunes, “Montana,” “Dupree’s Paradise” and “Farther O’blivion,” showing off the more experimental, instrumental side of The Mothers of Invention.

Now isn’t that a better way to observe the day than a cheesy Hallmark card and some flowers?

I posted this video on this day four years ago, and because the world needs more Frank Zappa, and I’m sure that mothers everywhere appreciate the joke, I’m running it here again.

The RFC Flashback: MINI SHOW number 55

This week we go back to an episode of THE RFC MINI SHOW recorded in March, 2015 that featured a band that plays tonight at Sam’s Uptown Cafe…Speedsuit.

Speedsuit is Stephen Beckner, Thom Walker, Tim Dorsey and Dave Roberts. Steve is a mainstay of Radio Free Charleston who was featured on our orignal broadcast radio show with his band, Go Van Gogh, and performed as a solo artist on our second video episode back in 2006.

You will hear Beckner’s songs, “Riddle” (mis-identified as “One Half Loser, Second Half Winner” in the show) and “Why Don’t You Leave Me.”

PopCult Notes and A Trip Forty Years In The Past

The PopCulteer
May 7, 2021

So yesterday I recommended a couple of weekend shows here in Charleston. I am ready to start doing that again, but only one or two each week, and I’m going to badger you about getting vaccinated before you go to any live indoor shows. Get used to it. I’m still a little uneasy about it, but I also want to see the local music scene survive the pandemic. I’m still a few weeks away from being able to go out safely because I have to make sure my vaccinations work with the MG meds I have to take.

I do have another health note: Of late, I have been limiting my time spent on social media…primarily Facebook. This has been a mental-health preservation move on my part. I have a lot of friends across a wide political spectrum, and it’s not good for me to see proof that a large number of them, leaning a bit in one direction of that particular spectrum, are pretty freaking stupid.

I have been saying for years that we have a mental health crisis in this country, and the mass delusion of a large group of people, who are showing definite signs of cognitive dissonance and cult-like behavior, is distressing. So basically, I get on Facebook, share my links to this blog, and get off before another of my friends is foolish enough to think that it’s a good idea to tell me…a professional writer…that I do not know what a “fact” is because I call the former president and his horde “terrorists.”

See, I watched that terror attack perpetuated by cult followers devoted to the Big Lie live on TV on January 6, and no amount of amateur gaslighting by morons is going to convince me that I didn’t.

I will not hesitate to point out to any member of the military, be they active, retired, abled, disabled, decorated or running for office that they are betraying their sacred oath to defend Democracy if they support the former president and his red hat brownshirt mob. That is not an opinion. It’s a fact.

So it’s easier to stay off of Facebook because it’s polluted with crap like that, and also idiots who think that Biden is both weak and feeble, but somehow strong enough to storm their house and take away their surrogate penis guns. I’ll spend more time there when those folks take a Valium and calm the hell down.  Right now it’s like sticking your head in a woodchipper.

I’m spending more time on Twitter, where I only follow a couple hundred people, mostly from the worlds of art, wrestling and comics, and just block anyone if they piss me off. I’m also more active on Instagram, because it’s fun to look at purty pitchers. Feel free to look me up in those places, if you don’t want to talk politics.

In More Pleasant News, Welcome to 1981!

We’ve got a new episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat Friday afternoon on  The AIR , PopCult’s sister radio station.  It’s part of our afternoon music specialty programs.You can hear these shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player at the top right column of this blog.

At 3 PM, Sydney Fileen treats us to another mixtape look at a specific year of the New Wave era. This time it’s 1981. This was the year that saw debut albums by The Go Gos, Soft Cell, The Human League, Depeche Mode, Oingo Boingo, Men At Work and many others. 1981 also brought us memorable New Wave albums from Ultravox, The Stranglers, Souixsie and The Banshees,and more.

1981 was a big year for cool music. The birth of MTV didn’t hurt matters any either. Sydney has assembled a two-hour highlight reel of year New Wave burst onto the charts en masse.

Check out the playlist here…

BEC 071

Adam & The Ants “Stand And Deliver”
Ultravox “Rage In Eden”
Siouxsie and the Banshees “Spellbound”
Oingo Boingo “Imposter”
Men At Work “Who Can It Be Now”
DEVO “Beautiful World”
Bow Wow Wow “Golly! Golly! Go Buddy!”
Depeche Mode “Photographic”
Debbie Harry “The Jam Was Moving”
Bill Nelson “Living In My Limousine”
Lene Lovich “Cat’s Away”
Soft Cell “Memorabilia”
Heaven 17 “Penthouse and Pavement”
Human League “Don’t You Want Me Baby (extended mix)”
The Stranglers “Let Me Introduce You To The Family”
The Jam “Absolute Beginners”
The Selector “Bristol and Miami”
Madness “Shut Up”
The Beat “The Limits We Set”
The Specials “Ghost Town”
The Go Gos “Our Lips Are Sealed”
The Clash “This Is Radio Clash”
Tom Tom Club “Genius Of Love”
Split Enz “One Step Ahead”
Polyrock “Love Song”
Klaus Nomi “Nomi Song”
Echo & The Bunnymen “Show of Strength”
Toyah “Marionette”

As Sydney says in her intro, “1981 was the year that New Wave began to exert it’s commercial muscle, as a wave of new artists stormed the charts and captured the imagination of mainstream music fans.”

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Monday at 7 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM, Wednesday at Noon and Thursday at 10 AM, exclusively on The AIR. You can also hear select  classic episodes of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat as part of a mini-marathon Sundays at 10 AM.

Stuff To Do: May 7 & 8

If you are fullly vaccinated, and observe all proper pandemic protocols, you can go out and enjoy live music this weekend. Your PopCulteer is not yet, but if he were, he’d be at these shows.

Friday it’s my old friends, The Swivel Rockers at Sam’s Uptown Cafe, and Saturday RFC faves, Unmanned, will support Building Rockets at The Empty Glass.

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