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!
Radio Free Charleston 68, “Axiom Starliner Shirt,” is online now! This episode of your favorite local music, animation and film show features music from Jeff Ellis and Marcie Bullock. We also have the first edition of The Radio Free Charleston Financial Report, as well as the debut of the cutest li’l cute cartoon show in the history of cuteness, “Cuticles.”
Host segments for this show were shot late Sunday evening in the parking lot at the Nitro Marketplace shopping center. “Why there?” You ask? I honestly have no idea. It seemed like a good idea at the time. The green ball cap seemed like a good idea, too, but it sure looks stupid on screen. The shirt is from the movie, “Wall-E.”
“Chunky The Squirrel,
Is he a boy or a girl?
If you want to know, then ask away.
If he is straight or if he’s gay.
It’s twisted to wonder, anyway.
He’s just a freakin’ squirrel!”
Digital oils over photo. Click to enlarge. Poke to enrage. This is the new mascot of the front porch of Stately Radio Free Charleston Manor.
Lyrics from “Theme Song For The Chunky The Squirrel Show” copyright 1958 Hanna-Barbital Cartoon Studios, Inc.
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In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace. In 2006, Josh Raskin directed an animated film using the audio from the interview and incorporating the art of James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina. The end result is a nifty little film that wound up nominated for an OSCAR a couple of years ago.
After the jump, see The Beatles perform “I Am The Walrus,” plus more animated John Lennon.
April 24, 2009
Clearing Up The Haze
Allow me to preface this piece with an admission of bias. I am a staunch supporter of the Kanawha County smoking ban. The day it took effect, July 1, 2008 was one of the happiest days of my life because it meant that I could go to bars and hear my favorite local bands without getting sick or putting my life at risk. Previously in this blog I have explained my view on smoking in public, so it pains me to see talk of weakening or repealing the smoking ban in Kanawha County. Both my parents died from diseases clearly linked to my father’s smoking. A little less than two years ago, I buried an aunt who smoked herself into an early grave. Over the years I’ve lost countless friends and family members to tobacco-related illnesses. I am not going to hide my views or feign impartiality here. Pardon my shrill stridency, but I feel it’s completely justified.
Radio Free Charleston Episode 67, “Earth To Eros Shirt,” is online now! This edition of our show features our first “rerun” musical segment, plus new music from A Place Of Solace, A new trailer for Butch Maier’s film, “The Bride And The Grooms,” and the phenomenal young Bradley Wilkerson Sings! The afore-mentioned rerun segment is the animated music video for “Requiem For Pepperland” by Go Van Gogh, brought back by popular demand. This is our special “deadline crunch” show, as I try to maintain a weekly schedule through April in the face of major-league scheduling adversity.
Host segments for RFC 67 were shot in The Convenience Store on Summers Street in Charleston. We want to thank Scott Shapiro for letting us barge in unannounced just a couple of days after he said it would be okay to shoot segments in the store. If you haven’t checked it out yet, The Convenience Store is well-stocked with the essentials of life–food, drink, supplies for the tobacco-addicted–but they have a bit more. The Convenience Store is also an art gallery, displaying new works by the cutting edge of Charleston’s art scene. Plus they sell CDs by local musicians and underground T-shirts and jewelry. The place is great. It’s got the vibe of a 1970s head shop, only they sell Mexican Coca Cola (made with real sugar) instead of black light posters depicting positions from the Kama Sutra.
What can I say about Bradley Wilkerson? Once you hear him sing, you’ll forget all about that British lady who looks like Benny Hill. He is the new “Awesome Talent Of The Century!” Soon we’ll have booking information so you can bring Young Bradley to your favorite venue. Continue reading
You still have three more chances to see the CYAC production of “Norman Rockwell’s American Paradise,” this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM at the WVSU Capitol Center Theater on Summers Street in Charleston. This is an amazing show. There isn’t a weak song in the production. “Paradise finds lyricist Dan Kehde and composer Mark Scarpelli hitting on all cylinders. The large cast doesn’t get lost as an ensemble due to the unique structure of the show.
Rather than follow a single narrative, “American Paradise” is a series of twenty-eight mini-musicals, each one bringing to life one of Rockwell’s classic paintings. One universal truth that is often ignored in theater, film and television is that brevity is the soul of wit. Freed from the burden of having to create a long-form musical theater experience (something Kehde and Scarpelli are quite adept at doing when they need to) Dan and Mark have crafted a wonderful revue of original songs, tied to some of the most iconic and memorable images of the 20th century. The segues between the numbers are clever and inventive, bridging the tone between the heavier songs and the lighter comic fair. Continue reading
We’ve got a first this week. It’s our first guest Monday Morning Artist, a friend of Radio Free Charleston, Karen Allen. Karen, of course, is better known as one of the area’s finest singer/songwriters, with an amazing body of work. Currently half of Tofujitsu, with Sean Richardson, Karen also lists a stint with Whistlepunk and a long run with Crazy Jane among her musical accomplishments.
A less well-known fact is that Karen is also a visual artist of no small talent. When she heard of the hellish schedule I have this month (29 straight days of 12-hour shifts caring for an elderly uncle while also producing RFC on a weekly basis), Karen offered to come to my rescue and step into the Monday Morning Art shoes for a week. Above, you see Karen’s digital photo collage, “Fixtures: Dawn.” On the other side of the jump, you can see the sister piece, “Fixtures:Dusk.”
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Many of you are familiar with the work of my brother, Frank Panucci, from his computer animation on Radio Free Charleston. Frank has an obsession that we haven’t explored yet on the show.
He’s a big fan of DEVO (as am I) and he thinks that their “Energy Domes” (or “Flowerpot Hats,” among the unenlightened) are really cool things to look at. You could even say that the Energy Dome is his muse, as is in evidence above and in the clips after the jump.
April 18, 2009
City Of South Charleston:”We don’t need that kind of business here.”
In an unexpected move, South Charleston recently informed IWA East Coast, the internationally-known wrestling federation, that they would no longer be allowed to use The South Charleston Community Center as a location for their events. This decision blindsided IWA EC, who have been running events in the building for four years without incident. Reportedly, a single complaint about language at the March 22 wrestling show was the reason given for the decision, but Mayor Frank Mullins and city manager Carlton Lee now claim that there have been several complaints in recent months, though they could not actually produce anything formal or written.
Kevin Canady (also known as Mad Man Pondo, the owner of IWA East Coast) denies ever receiving any complaints from the city about the content of their shows.”We were never told of any complaints by anyone from the city before the last show, If they’d said anything to us, we would have bent over backwards to comply. Our final show featured no bad language what so ever.” Continue reading