Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: December 2017 (Page 1 of 6)

Sunday Evening Video: Radio Free Charleston Returns!

rfc-215-01 Okay, it’s the last day of 2017, which by most measures was an exceedingly miserable year, so I wanted to try to do something special.

Aside from the horrors of today’s world, with our insane leader, natural disasters, mass shootings that are perpetually “too soon” to discuss and just a general malaise that seems to have crept up on all thinking people, I’ve personally been more than a bit down because I had to put my video show, Radio Free Charleston, on hold while I dealt with my spring 2016 diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis.  RFC is my creative legacy, and while I continue to host the radio version on The AIR, I miss producing the video show.

So what better way to snap out of a funk that to make a new RFC? I have been doing the audio version of my show, and it’s great fun and really rewarding, but I had produced the RFC video show since 2006, and while we have had gaps in our production schedule before, I had not missed a calendar year since then.

I had an ace up my sleeve. Back in March, 2016, before my diagnosis, I had put together most of an episode of the show. I had music videos from HARRAH and Pepper Fandango, plus some experimental animation that I’d done, and I even shot host segments in Senoia, Georgia, in front of some of the familiar sites used in The Walking Dead.

rfc-215-03Seriously, we were right in front of the Wall at Alexandria, which is actually in a residential subdivision in Senoia, right off Main Street.

I always joked that it was my “lost” episode. All I had to do was assemble it, and it’d be ready to go. I just had to wait until I had enough free time to edit the video without giving myself a crippling headache from straining my eyes too much.  One of the issues I have to deal with from MG is eyestrain, double-vision and a general fatigue. Some of it’s from the disease and some of it’s from the medicines I take to manage the disease, but I’m just not able to crank out video like I used to.

Finding the time took a while. I’ve produced a lot of video projects since my diagnosis, but I have to space them out because they tend to take a lot out of me. I still have videos from ToyLanta in March that I need to finish. I finally rested up and set aside the time to finish this episode so that I could present it to you folks before the end of the year.

The only problem was that, when I started to gather the existing pieces of the show, it turned out to be loster than I realized. I could not find the host segments we’d shot. I was able to find every other video clip from that trip, but the host segments were missing in action. I went through twelve terrabytes of back-up files to no avail.

Rather than write-off the idea of making a new RFC, with less than two days to go and a fairly annoying snowstorm on its way, I gathered up Mrs, PopCulter, RFC Big Shot Mel Larch, and we ran to the State Capital and shot host segments in one take (except for the one part where I started yelling at a loud car). It was cold, snowing, and I didn’t have time to paint my beard, so it looks significantly more grey than I prefer to keep it, but we got the show done, and you can see it at the top of this post.

There are several firsts with this episode of the show. It’s the first show where I wear gloves. It’s the first show with the episode number on the title card. It’s also the first show with the incorrect episode number on the title card (this is really RFC 215). It’s not the first time we had to completely re-shoot host segments though. I think that was back in episode three, when we didn’t have the microphone plugged in to the camera the first time.

Our music in this episode is pretty darned cool.

rfc-215-04From HARRAH we have the music video for “Blood Moon.” While I posted this video before, I did so before we had the final, official mix of the song. So this is the first time that you can see the video matched up with the actual version of the tune from HARRAH’s debut album. I directed the video back in February, 2016, using footage that I’d shot of the band over the years combined with clips from the movie that inspired the song, “Messiah of Evil,” which, thankfully is in the public domain now, so we can use it as much as we want.

rfc-215-06Pepper Fandango gifted us with “Waiting,” a song and video that she created a few years ago. It had been around for a while before I saw it, and I asked if I could include it on RFC. Pepper, being the sweet soul that she is, agreed, and the plan was to run this back in 2016. Luckily, the title of the song couldn’t be more perfect, given the situation.

I have to take a quick moment to thank all of my musical guests for their patience in waiting for this episode to be finished.

rfc-215-07Playing us out we have Radio Cult with Mel Larch on vocals, performing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which we recorded at ToyLanta last March.I used a snippet of this in this year’s JoeLanta/ToyLanta wrap up clip, but people kept asking for the whole song, so I obliged.

In the original host segments that were lost, I introduced music from the 2016 JoeLanta jam session, but we used that footage in that year’s JoeLanta wrap up, so in its place I decided to finish editing this video and include in our new and revised “lost” episode.

rfc-215-02Our untitled abstract animation is something I did some time in the last five years and forgot about. It’s my art and music, so don’t blame anyone else for it. We also bring you some footage that I shot in Senoia on the day that we filmed the now-really-lost host segments, so you can see a lot of footage of the Wall at Alexandria from The Walking Dead, plus Lee Harrah and Mel in the Walking Dead Museum and Lee flipping out over original TWD comic book art.

That is the story of RFC 215, “Adventure Team Shirt.” I hope you enjoyed it. It’s just under half an hour, and it will not be the last episode of Radio Free Charleston‘s video incarnation. I’m never going to produce the show at its old nearly-weekly pace, but 2018 will see several more editions of Charleston’s favorite music video show that nobody’s heard of.
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The RFC Flashback: Episode 120

183737_10150103563474306_775299305_6137991_1433798_nWith this week’s edition of the RFC Flashback, we have decided to jump ahead about forty episodes in our chronological presentation of episodes of the Radio Free Charleston video progam.  The main reason for this is that your PopCulteer has fallen behind in his remastering of classic episodes, so rather than make a mad dash to get them done, we’re going to save them for later this year. After all, there’s no law that says we have to bring them to you in order. I mean, Star Wars started with chapter four and nobody complained.

With that explanation out of the way, we bring you Radio Free Charelston 120, “Zombie Babies Shirt” which was first posted in February 2011 as a tribute to the late David Russell, to promote a benefit show (held at The World Famous Empty Glass) for his memorial fund. You can see the poster for it at right.

The show features music from The ButtonFlies, Sierra Ferrell and The Diablo Blues Band, all of whom performed at the benefit. We also brought you the trailer for Porkchop, the Eamon Hardiman-directed movie on which Dave worked as cinematographer.  Little did we know at the time that Porkchop would go on to inspire a trilogy that has been sold on DVD nationwide and developed a cult following.  As an added bonus in this episode we have a look at the soundcheck version of “Get Loose” by Beaver Knievel.

It’s been nearly seven years since Dave died. I wrote about it here in PopCult. He was a true positive force for the creative arts here in town, and he will be greatly missed.  His sudden passing caught his family off guard and left a void in Charleston’s creative community.

This was one of our most bittersweet episodes, but I think we did Dave proud.

The Year End PopCult Rant

__mma11-13The PopCulteer
December 29, 2017

Welcome to PopCult’s 684th post for the year 2017. We have two days left in this year before we get to take it out behind the barn and put a bullet in its brain. 2017 has been a demoralizing year on so many fronts that we can’t help by try to be optimistic and think that things will get better in the new year, so let’s hurry up and bring it on. As has been the occasional norm here in PopCult, we’ll end the year with a poorly-organized rant.

2016 was the year of mortality. 2017 has been the year of morbidity as the deaths of famous people continued at a high rate, but we’ve become so numb that many of them don’t even register. This was the year that we discovered that, like many of us, The Grim Reaper always got John Hurt and John Heard mixed up, so he just took both of them to be sure. He had plenty of helpers this year, in Las Vegas and Texas, and with Mother Nature ramping things up with hurricanes.

Politically in 2017 we were only protected from worst-case scenarios by the ineptitude of the elected leaders, who are luckily too incompetent at governing to do actually follow through on much of their horrible agenda. However, they did manage to squeak out a tax bill at the end of the year that will insure that the rich will get richer and the middle class will pay for it. If the GOP couldn’t find a way to help the rich and hurt the poor, they’d lose their financial backing.

Politics cast a pall over much of pop culture in 2017, with consumers so reluctant to spend money that we will see double-digit drops (or close to it) in sales of toys, comic books, movie tickets, music and DVDs. The only glimmer of hope is that sleazy people who deserve to exposed, like Harvey Weinstein, are finally getting a comeuppance that we can only hope eventually extends to the White House.

23569225-mmmainYou can’t talk about pop culture in 2017 without talking about the #Me Too movement and the repurcussions as, after more than a century, Hollywood and the media are finally being held to basic human standards of decency. This is long overdue. When people like Weinstein and Spacey are so blatant about their actions that they have jokes made at their expense on network cartoon shows, it’s way past time to clean house. Exposing the institutionalized sexual harrassment that has been ingrained in show business since day one is long overdue.

It’s a shame that scandals have taken out some creators whose work I like, but we’re at a point where, at least for the time being, we have to have a zero tolerance policy.

I do feel that distinctions need to be drawn about the degrees of offenses, but those distinctions have to be made after the offenses have been called out. What Louis CK is accused of is not as horrifying as what Weinstein is accused of, but it’s not exactly something that needs apologists covering for it, either. Actually it sounds like one of his comedy routines.

If the end result of this soul-searching and house-cleaning is that more women creators get a fair shot to make movies and TV shows without having to sell their souls or bodies, then there’s no way this can be seen as a negative. The only way the #Me Too movement can go South is if it just turns out to be a temporary distraction before everything returns to the status quo, with just a few people made examples of as a way of paying lip service to the concept of equality.

Time will tell is this turns out to be a genuine, much-needed revolution, or if it’s just an orgy of gossip to take our minds off of the current political climate.

cancled-comicsPolitics seems to have infected every area of our lives. Marvel Comics bent over backwards to try and cater to a diverse audience, and was met with rather fierce resistance and a retailer revolt before giving the axe to their Editor in Chief at the end of the year. Just in the last week they announced the cancellation of seven titles (and counting), all of which featured gay, female or minority lead characters.

Rather than simply a political decision, this was motivated by sales, which were pretty bad on the titles that were cancelled. It was a pretty major misstep by Marvel to take shortcuts to diversity in the first place, by simply changing the race/gender/sexual orientation of existing Marvel heroes instead of creating new characters with organic stories.

Even Net Neutrality, which is a no-brainer as a populist cause, is in jeopardy. What’s worse, the usual “Facebook Experts” are out in full force mocking people who are concerned about the recent attack on a free internet by Trump’s FCC.

I know that part of the charm of Facebook is watching how people with little or no grasp of an issue suddenly appoint themselves as experts in what are usually unintentionally hilarious attempts to make themselves look smart, but with the Net Neutrality issue some folks are rising to new heights of demonstrating how a “little knowledge” can be a a dangerous thing. One FB friend actually tried to tie the recent FCC ruling to Suddenlink suddenly offering faster speeds.

This was seriously just too stupid to even comment on. Suddenlink is improving their service because Verizon is considering bringing FIOS to West Virginia. If you want to see how Suddenlink will operate under the new FCC rules remember the two years you spent without access to the Viacom channels, then wonder what life will be like without Netflix.

mst3k-season-11-netflixI don’t want to make it seem like everything was lousy this year. We had some cool pop culture high points like the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (left) and the success of the Wonder Woman movie. In terms of corporate pop culture Disney had their usual success with Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel. Charleston actually got to see some cool independent films, if only fleetingly. We were treated to really cool reissues of great music by The Beatles, Rolling Stones and ELP. Exciting new music, while not selling anywhere near the numbers it used to, was released by Dhani Harrison, Lady J and her Bada Bing Band, Kesha and others. Television, thanks to the proliferation of streaming services, is more robust than ever. And indie comics like The Charlton Arrow, The Creeps and CARtoons Magazine all made the leap into Diamond Previews.

So rather than leave you all feeling depressed because 2017 was so much like it turned out to be, how about we get optimistic about 2018. We have a chance at a poltical reversal. Even in hard times, there’s still cool comics, movies, TV shows, music and toys coming out. Most of all, 2018 can’t be any worse than 2017…can it?

That’s the PopCulteer this week and this year. Let’s hope for a better time in the future. Happy New Year!

Stuff To Do New Year’s Eve Part Two

textures-0007If you want to ring out the old year and ring in the new with live music in Charleston, you have plenty of places to do it.

The Goodnight festivities, featuring free live music in a dozen venues around town from 6 PM to 9:45 PM presents it’s 23rd year of fine programs of entertaining music in the Kanawha Valley. You can find the full schedule HERE. Highlights include performances by Appalachian Celtic Consort, The Martin Luther King Jr. Male Chorus, The Almost Heaven Dulcimer Club and The O’Daugherty Family Singers.

Also of note is that Ryan Hardiman and Mark Scarpelli will once again be performing “Moonage Daydream: A Tribute To David Bowie” at First Presbyterian Church at 7 PM and 9 PM, with Jonathan Tucker and Scarpelli taking the stage at 6 PM and 8 PM. You can see a previous Bowie performance by Ryan and Mark at the bottom of this post.

There will also be live music in Charleston’s nightclub scene, and if I missed any performances of note, please take the time to tell us about them in the comments.

Live music is a great way to welcome a new year, and it looks like the major television networks are throwing in the towel early on 2017. The NFL has cancelled this week’s Sunday Night Football game on NBC, and FOX and ABC are starting their countdowns early in the evening (and we all know how unwatchably boring those shows can get when they’re just on for half an hour). So why not get out and support the local scene a little? 2017 was awful enough on every front. Maybe we can welcome 2018 with something a little more positive.

Check out some of these shows…






Stuff To Do New Year’s Eve Part One

tiki-nyeNew Year’s Eve is upon us this weekend, and though it promises to be cold enough to inspire hibernation, there will be plenty of cool things into which you can get. Tomorrow we’ll run down the musical events which are plentiful, but today we’re going to look at some of the less conventional things going on to mark the end of one of the most awful years in recent history.

So if you can’t wait to give 2017 the Viking funeral it deserves, here’s a few novel ways that you can pass the last few hours in and around the Charleston area. We have Tiki, Bowling, Billiards, Skating and Karaoke for you while you wait for the your various balls to drop.

First up we’re casting the net a bit wide so that we can get just a hint of Tiki. The Resort at Glade Springs, in Daniels, WV, is hosting a Vintage Luau Themed party, featuring Hawaiian light bites from 9 PM to 11 PM with a cash bar that will be open from 9 PM through the remainder of the night. Two drink tickets per adult will be included with your fifty-dollar tickets (which is a bit on the less expensive side for NYE parties).

Entertainment will be provided by BRAVO-Live DJ & Lighting Extravaganza with DJ and Dance Party and the Stolen Moments Jazz Quartet. Party favors will be provided along with a champagne toast at midnight.

You can dance the night away with a 1960’s Hawaiian setting. All attire welcome, with themed attire suggested. You call 304-763-0876 to book. This is the perfect NYE party for the Charlestonian starved for anything remotely Tiki around here. I mean, seriously, this is a Tiki wasteland, so you might as well make the drive down I 77 South to catch this while you can.

23795561_1689067427780741_6315801718485661138_nMeanwhile in Nitro, Venture Lanes is holding two bowling parties, perfect for families and kids, with an early time and a late time. It’s a mere 65 bucks per lane, and includes 3 hours of unlimited bowling and shoe rental.

There’s a maximum of five people per lane, so if you have a larger party, get another lane. Reservations are already closed, but you can call 304-768-7307 to see if they have any openings left.

Skateland in Campbell’s Creek invites you to skate in the new year…


Billy Boy’s is offering an 8-Ball Tournament…



And one of our favorite spots, The Blue Parrot on Capitol Street is foregoing all the hoopla and having a cover-free night with free karaoke and jukebox, if you just want to hang out and have fun without dropping a ton of money…



Tomorrow we’ll tell you about the live music you can enjoy on New Year’s Eve.

SUBWAY SURFERS Makes The Leap Into Animation

image002Fans of Subway Surfers, the most-downloaded mobile game in the world in 2017 were treated to a special announcement on Christmas Day as SYBO Games revealed the first teaser for the highly-anticipated Subway Surfers animated series. This will follow the further adventures of world-spanning sporty trio of daredevil tricksters as they elude authorities to have a good time on the tracks.

f0952b7a94cf5477624ab1380f3138cbThe series, scripted by Brent Friedman (Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and produced by Daytime Emmy award-winning producer Sander Schwartz (The Batman, Baby Looney Tunes, Ozzy & Drix) will give fans a chance to actually hear the characters they’ve grown to love speak for the first time and delve into the lore of the Subway Surfers universe and  follow the adventures of Jake, Tricky and Fresh.

Both of these creators have remarkable track records for creating brilliant animated shows with compelling stories, and it’ll be a real kick to see how they flesh out the Subway Surfers mythos and take the story beyond game play into serial entertainment.

The animated series will premiere online next Summer with ten four-minute episodes, followed by a long form series of 22 minute episodes.

With 1.6 billion downloads to its name, Subway Surfers is one of the most successful mobile games of its genre, being crowned the number one most downloaded game across all platforms of 2017. In Subway Surfers, players dash as fast as they can, dodging oncoming trains and rushing through the city. With your help, Jake, Tricky and Fresh escape from the grumpy Inspector and his dog. If you want to find out what all the fuss is about before the cartoon hits next Summer, the game is available on Google Play, Apple’s App store, Windows 10 and Amazon.


NEW RFC With NEW Music From John Radcliff, Byzantine, Kerry Hughes and More!

12-26-logoAre you ready for yest another BRAND-NEW episode of  Radio Free Charleston?  Tune in at 10 and 10 at, The AIR. You can listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Tuesday we bring you the final  Radio Free Charleston of 2017 to get you through the post-Christmas blahs. It’s one of those weeks where the holiday schedule will have you all out of sorts and many of you may still be shell-shocked after Christmas, so The AIR offers up a tiny bit of stability with this week’s NEW RFC at 10 AM and again at 10 PM Tuesday, with replays Thursday at 3 PM and Saturday at 1 AM and Midnight. Here’s what you can hear this week on RFC


John Radcliff  “Give It Away”
Kerry Hughes  “Denouement”
Hawthorne Heights  “Stranded”
The Company Stores  “Another Place”
Crazy Jane “Out of Nowhere”
The BrotherSisters  “Paradise Bar”
Byzantine  “The Subjagated”
4OHM MONO  “Void In All Between”
Bobaflex  “Reckless”
HARRAH  “Blood Moon (First Strike version)”
Membrane Cell “Dogs and Kings”


We had promised new episodes of all of our afternoon music shows this week, but after careful consideration, we decided to take it easy this week and return with all-new programming next week, the first week of the new year, so this week at 3 PM we plan to encore our personal favorite 2017 episodes of The Swing Shift, Curtain Call, Radio Free Charleston International and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. Thanks for suporting The AIR, and check out our schedule, embedded right here for your pleasure…

Monday Morning Art: Merry Christmas


Our art on this day is a big ole wreath, done up in digital-paints, based on the gigantic wreath in The Shops at Northgate in Chicago. Click to see it bigger and have a merry Christmas.

And while you’re at it, how about you take part in a PopCult tradition?

As we do every Christmas since we made this clip, we bring you Radio Free Charleston Big Shot and Resident Diva, Melanie Larch, performing “Ave Maria,” live from the fifth floor fire escape outside LiveMix Studio. We send glad tidings and our sincere wish that our readers have a happy, joyful and peaceful holiday.

Our non-readers can fend for themselves.

Merry Christmas!


Sunday Evening Videos: RFC Christmas

rfc-xmas-logo-02We have a few more Radio Free Charleston Christmas episodes and holiday treats to share, so let’s jump into it as Santa revs up his hot rod sleigh and prepares to break and enter worldwide for a good cause…

Below is the Radio Free Charleston Christmas show for 2014. Hosted from Capitol Market we brought you holiday music sung by lovely female voices.

You will hear Melanie Larch accompanied by Mark Scarpelli, Marium Bria, Lady D-Doris Fields and The Laser Beams, plus we have an epic cartoon about the war on Christmas by Jacob Fertig.

But before we jump into the music we bring you some incomprehensible words from Santa Claus.

Next up let’s go back to 2015 for The RFC MINI SHOW number 75, a Christmas Special with more music from The Laser Beams…

Back in 2010 Radio Free Charleston went caroling with CYAC and the cast of MARY…

In 2008 I didn’t produce a full-blown Christmas episode because I was a bit waylaid by an early December car accident, but I did manage to cobble together a Chrstmas treat, featuring Molly Means from that year’s production of MARY…

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I hope that helps you get into the Christmas spirit. 2017 has not been the merriest of years, but we can go out on a high note if everybody stays happy and healthy and looks to a major course-correction in the coming year.



The RFC Flashback: Christmas 2012

rfc-xmas-logoAs we are just two days away from Christmas, we go back five years for one of our most popular holiday episodes.

This show features music from the Charleston Gay Mens Chorale, a duet from Lee Harrah and Pepper Fandango, a special “double trio” from the cast of “MARY: A Rock Opera,” and Prank Monkey. Also in this episode, we have the Ghost of Animation Past, a holiday message from Razor Sharp Studios and Burt Flemming, and a quick musical tour of The Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville, WV.

“Marx Toy Museum” was episode 176 of Radio Free Charleston, and it’s also one of our strongest. It’s made just a wee bit bittersweet by the knowledge that the Marx Toy Museum has closed its doors, but there’s always hope that the museum will reopen, if only for brief moments here and there.

We will bring you more RFC holiday videos tomorrow, and I want to remind you that you can check out all kinds of cool Christmas stuff on our companion radio station, The AIR.

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