May 1, 2009
20 Random Observations
This week, our lead item, rather than being an in-depth piece about a provocative local topic, is instead a collection of short wisecracks and asides about a variety of provocative, mostly local, topics.
1) “The Bride And The Grooms,” which debuted at Park Place Stadium Cinema last weekend, is a very well-crafted, sweet romantic comedy. Butch Maier did an amazing job with a tight budget. This film, produced with a budget under $100,000, looks better than most multi-million-dollar Hollywood movies. His clever script manages to make the farcical plot plausible, while a very talented young cast makes the characters likable and realistic. Jacilyn Ledford shows real star quality as the girl who accidentally winds up with four grooms on her wedding day. Much has been made about how this film was written with Jennifer Garner in mind for the lead. Ledford brings a lovable vulnerability to the role that, to be frank, I don’t think Garner could have pulled off. Let’s hope this movie is successful enough to spawn a healthy film industry in the region. Maier has hit one out of the park with his first at-bat.
2) It was strange to see that Bayer Crop Sciences’ priority during last year’s fatal explosion was not to make sure that the many poisons that they store at their facility did not leak out and kill everyone, but instead, the company focused their energy on “marginalizing” the activist group People Against MIC and The Charleston Gazette. As the venal old businessmen types who run Bayer see it: Why shoot the messenger when you can wipe them out with a chemical leak?
Hey….that lone figure clapping in the distance….why, it’s Don Blankenship!
3) Speaking of People Against MIC, they’re sponsoring the “Bhopal Survivor Tour” tonight at the Student Union at WVSU in Institute at 7 PM. Concerned citizens are encouraged to attend…and bring some of your unconcerned neighbors, so they can get a wake-up call. “The Bhopal survivors’ tour is a celebration of solidarity among Dow-impacted communities, coalition partners, students, and unions.”
4) I’ve noticed that my friends seem to fall into two categories: Those who can’t wait to see “The Wild Wonderful Whites Of West Virginia,” and those who think the film is yet another embarrassment for the state. I’m sort of in the middle. I don’t see how the movie could be any more embarrassing for the Mountain State than the recent biscuit fiasco at the Legislature, but I also don’t see how the world is made any better by exploiting those poor people any further. Jacob Young showed us plenty of Jesco back in the first “Different Drummer” show. Anything else is just piling on.
Maybe Jesco will get enough money from this film to buy him one of those classy party tents like the Governor has.
5) Do you know what the difference is between Jesco White and record Powerball winner Jack Whittaker? About $150 million, apparently.
6) About Glenn Beck (left) : You’d go completely insane too, if you looked that much like Jiminy Glick (right).
7) So, evidently, the plan for the national GOP is to pattern their strategy on the one the Republican Party uses here in West Virginia.
8) How come nobody acknowledges that the statue of Stonewall Jackson on the State Capitol lawn is sporting an erection?
9) One more point on the smoking ban in bars. One argument that the anti-ban forces resort to is to state that tobacco is a legal product, so therefore it should be up to bar owners to decide whether or not they allow it on their premises. This argument fails to take into account that businesses have to obey health regulations, one of which now says tobacco isn’t legal to use indoors, but I’ve come up with an analogy that may show the silliness of this pseudo-libertarian viewpoint. Spray paint is a perfectly legal product. Should a bar owner be allowed to invite and encourage their patrons to huff paint while in their bars?
And if they do, how many more Jescos will we wind up with in this state?
10) Those companies that call offering to get you a lower credit card rate, or extend your car warranty–how do they make any money? Does anybody fall for that crap? I mean, you’d have to be sub-Nigerian-email-scam stupid to think that a company that blatantly violates the Do Not Call List laws would be legit. How are they even making enough money to pay the poor saps they use to work their phones? That’s a real labor cost. It’s not like spam. Am I missing something here?
11) I look forward to being able to drive down Kanawha Boulevard on Labor Day this year. Y’know, they could’ve saved the Regatta if they’d have only booked Wang Chung when I told them to.
12) Damn! The Greater Kanawha Kazoo and Ukulele Brigade still can’t get booked on Symphony Sunday.
13) If Governor Manchin had responded to the Sago Mine Disaster the way President Bush responded to the attacks of 9-11, West Virginia would have invaded Delaware.
14) Running Graziano’s out of the Town Center by hiking the rent 50%….not a smart move. Graziano’s is doing fine at the new location at Riverwalk in South Charleston. Do you think maybe they’re trying to kill off the food court at The Charleston Town Center? Should The Best Of Crete be scouting for a new location?
15) Come to the parking lot at The Dunbar Plaza Shopping Center! It’s like driving on the moon!
16) “The Rat Pack Live” comes to the Clay Center next Tuesday. This is a touring show that recreates the ruling class of the Golden Age of Las Vegas with impersonators bringing new life to Frank, Dean, Sammy and Joey. Yes, I said “Joey,” as in Joey Bishop. That means that there is someone actually earning a living as a Joey Bishop impersonator. How in the holy freaking hell does a person wind up with that gig?
17) Very quietly, someone finally removed that sticker from the statue of the horse in Davis Park.
18) Though I haven’t addressed it here in PopCult, this Friday round-up is indeed my little tribute to the late James Dent, and his long-running “Gazetteer” column. I remember becoming a fan of his work back in Nathan Yerrid’s social studies class at Dunbar Junior High School a long, long time ago. I only got to meet Jim a couple of times. He passed away shortly after Melanie Larch and I started freelancing as The Gazette’s animation critics. I’ll never forget that Jim Dent was a major inspiration. Let’s hope he’s not spinning in his grave with that revelation.
19) I might actually be able to care about the NBA and NHL playoffs if they let the hockey teams play against the basketball teams.
20) Isn’t it weird that Soho’s, one of the swankiest restaurants in town, has such an unusual decor? I can’t figure out if they’re going for Urban Chic, Greenbrier Hidden Bunker, or just “Why bother finishing it if the food’s good?” but the exposed duct work and bare floors sure don’t seem to jibe with the classy menu and upscale service. I’m not knocking the place. I actually like to see the reaction of folks when they walk in for the first time. I just wonder if it was on purpose, or just a happy accident.
Live Entertainment In Town
There’s lot’s of great music in Charleston this weekend, starting with RFC faves, Dog Soldier (right), performing Friday night at The Blue Parrot with The Greens. The next night at the Parrot sees RFC guests Ten Carp Lie and Civil State taking the stage. The music starts at 10 PM and the cover is five bucks.
The Empty Glass plays host to The Rick Perdue band on Friday, The Steve Hussey Band on Saturday, and The Carpenter Ants on Sunday. Friday and Saturday’s shows kick off at 10 PM, while Sunday’s show starts at 9:30. Cover charges are variable, but hover around the five-dollar mark.
Sam’s Uptown Cafe features Pavlov’s Dog Friday and Saturday at 10 PM with a four-dollar cover. Dak-A-Reez has Randy Gilkey Friday, and Mark & Michelle Saturday, with no cover. Andy Park is at Taylor Books Friday, while 2 Blue is there Saturday. No cover, and the music runs from 7:30 to 9:30. 9 PM is the start time at Bruno’s. The Carpenter Ants are there Friday, while Mystery Guest is there Saturday. No cover.
Finally, Ric Cochran and Friends will be at the Bridge Road Bistro Saturday night from 7 PM to 10:30. No cover charge here, either.
One More Cool Event
Mark Davis and John Nelson are hosting a Vinyl Dance Party benefit for Manna Meal. Go here for details.
Cool CD Of The Week
Read my review of Paul Calicoat’s “The Wayward Truth” right here.
Cool Film Of The Week
“God’s Cartoonist,” a documentary about Jack T. Chick, the guy behind those psychotic little Uber-Right Christian Comic Tracts that scare kids crapless, is playing Saturday afternoon at the WVSU Capitol Center Theater. One thin dime gets you into the 1 PM show, part of the WVIFF.
From the film’s PR: “THE WORLD’S LARGEST UNDERGROUND PUBLISHER – YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD OF
For nearly forty years, Chick Publications under the leadership of Jack T. Chick has published nearly one billion religious tracts (palm sized comics) that are now distributed in over 100 languages around the world. In the process, Jack Chick’s name has become revered in the world of fundamentalist teachings, reviled among dozens of major religions and banned as hate literature in several countries including Canada. Outside the world of religion the tracts have become highly valued pop culture collectibles with presentations in galleries from NY to LA and a permanent collection in the Smithsonian. Notoriously reclusive, Chick Publications for the first time let camera crews in to meet the creators of the infamous works as well as noted authors, artists, critics and collectors who have covered the history of all things Chick. Included here are the Art, Artists, Writers, Controversies, Death Threats, Witch Spells, Illuminati, Catholic Assassins and more!”
I’m gonna be front-row, center!
Cool Comic Of The Week
Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, Empire, The Flash) has a reputation as the writer who brings back the sense of wonder and innocence of the comic books of years ago. That reputation is not exactly accurate. Waid is one of the best writers to come out of the post-Alan Moore era, and his new comic from Boom Studios is proof. Check out this trailer for “Irredeemable,” his new book that asks the question “What if the most powerful superhero in the world suddenly decided he wanted to be a super villain?”
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Coming in PopCult
Radio Free Charleston is taking a week off, so next week PopCult will see a new Art Show in the Sunday Evening Video, Monday Morning Art, and the long-gestating piece on Johnny West. Plus a new PopCulteer next Friday.