The PopCulteer
January 1, 2021

Your PopCulteer enters the new year with a bit of a dilemma.

You see, the original plan for today’s column was to make my big, splashy announcement that, after fifteen years of being the pop culture blogger for The Charleston Gazette, and later The Charleston Gazette-Mail, I was striking out on my own.

PopCult is now independent.

Unfortunately, the technical issues at the Gazette-Mail forced my hand, and I had to write that column a couple of weeks ago.  As I mentioned in that post, I am maintaining a new version of the blog, independent of the Gazette-Mail, but also posting in the old blog for as long as they decide to host it. The new blog will not be interrupted by DNS issues and temporary outages, but the old blog will still be there (and updated with new material) to satisfy the folks who find my old posts through Google or Wikipedia.

I plan to go back to the very first posts in this blog and restore all the missing graphics and video (where possible) and also the MP3 files that I used to embed in this blog for the first three years, which were all lost during some of the server moves over the years. I’ve already restored a few posts, earlier today, which you can see HERE, HERE and HERE.  It may not seem like a big deal to most folks, but the missing graphics and music have been bugging the crap out of me for more than twelve years.

In 2005, when asked for a photo to use with PopCult, I gave Doug Imbrogno this self-portrait instead. It was my now-hilarious belief that I would be able to keep photos of myself from turning up on the web.

For the first year of PopCult, instead of Monday Morning Art, I just labelled posts as “Art Blogging” and published them any day of the week. Most of those posts don’t have the art with them at the moment. Many others need to be reformatted for this new, wider template. I plan to fix that, but it’s going to take a while.

Basically I need to re-edit a pretty hefty chunk of the 5,000-plus posts in PopCult. It’ll be like a big nostalgic annoying chore for me, and it’s something most of my readers will barely notice.

My major dilemma is that my loyal readers already know about this. I’ve been sharing links to the new version of the blog on social media for more than three weeks, and the shock (and clickbait) value for that topic is next to nothing. I’m sitting at the computer on New Year’s Eve trying to vamp my way through a thousand-word essay with no real topic or direction.

This is the first time I’ve ever written a PopCulteer column for New Year’s Day, and I’m at a bit of a loss.  I mean, 2020 was a total write-off of a year. We had a pandemic that was made worse by inept leadership. The country veered closer to Fascism than anybody who hadn’t been paying close attention to the GOP since Nixon thought was possible. Voters in West Virginia and Kentucky inexplicably voted for candidates who are proven to work against their best interests. COVID robbed us almost two million people worldwide. The president was exposed to more people than ever as a petty, vindictive toxic narcissist, and yet he still has a sizable base of lemming-like followers.  The economic devastation from the pandemic threatens to wipe out vast swaths of restaurants and brick-and-mortar retailers.

I’m more than ready to kick 2020 in the ass and send it flying down a long, long flight of stairs.

Seriously, when scrounging online for ideas for graphics for this column, I Googled “Dumpster Fire 2020” and thousands of designs came up for sale on stickers, T-shirts, Christmas ornaments, you name it.

I have a feeling that this is the year that “So, how was your year?” as a question will rank with “Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think about the play?”

One can’t help but be at least cautiously optimistic for 2021. For the first time in four years, we’ll have an actual level-headed, intelligent adult running the country. If the good folks in Georgia come through, we may even be able to take away Mitch McConnell’s evil superpower of obstruction (I enjoyed The Turtle more when he was a villain for The Flash).  Vaccines have been approved, and once Biden is in office a competent plan to distribute them will be put in place. If we can survive the coming additional waves, we can start to recover from the mess that Trump got us into when he abolished Obama’s Global Pandemic Team in 2017.

In that regard, this is a New Year’s Day worth celebrating.

I don’t know how soon we’ll be able to resume all our normal activities. I’m in a bit of an odd position due to being on immuno-suppressants for Myasthenia Gravis. The official guidance at the moment is “wait and see.” I’m not eldery, and I’m not a frontline worker, a millionaire or a politician, so it’s not like I’m going to be in line to get vaccinated any time soon.  I can’t really make any plans to travel until I am able to be vaccinated, but I also need to wait to see if there are any medical issues that arise for folks in my situation.

That means that I can’t make any plans for ToyLanta, if it happens in March this year. I would hate to miss it, but I would also hate to die of COVID, so if they have this very special toy show in March my attendance will depend on whether or not I can get my shots first. I really miss my toy collecting friends. It’s been a long year (with one quick toy fix that I can’t talk about).

Melanie had to miss out on our annual trip to Chicago for her birthday in 2020. I’m hoping we can resume that tradition this year. I do miss travelling, and I miss having travel photos to share here in PopCult, because it’s way easier than writing.

I also miss the local music scene. Early in 2020 I had decided to stop slacking off when it came to the Radio Free Charleston video show. I hooked up with Bobby Miller, and planned to do an ambitious special episode of the show devoted to the re-formed band, The Swivel Rockers. That is still the plan, but after we shot one memorable show at Sam’s Uptown Cafe, before we could film interviews with the band, the lockdown happened, and everything went on the back burner. You get a teaser for that show in our new RFC video show that we dropped a couple of days ago.

I don’t know when it’ll happen, but eventually I will venture out and start shooting video of bands again. I may have to make arrangements to record them in studios or at soundchecks, because I can’t do late nights anymore thanks to my MG meds, but I really miss that and it’s something I want back in my life.

Of course, I still do what I can to support the local music scene on The AIR with the radio version of RFC, but playing tunes on the radio is a totally different process than witnessing live music, then editing it and preserving that moment for people to see on video.

I also hope to, at some point in 2021, resume writing “Stuff To Do” posts. I stopped because I can’t recommend that people go out and do things that I feel aren’t safe for me.

Since we’re looking ahead, I will promise that in 2021 PopCult will bring you more reviews of books, comics, toys, movies and probably a few websites.  My motivating factor, my driving force, for my entire life, since I was a kid, was to go up to people and say, “Hey, look at this. It’s really cool!”

I plan to keep doing that for a long time.

That’s this PopCulteer. Check back daily for our regular features and maybe even some new stuff.