This week we close out the month of August with a digital painting that is a bit of a mish-mash of influences. There’s a little bit of Eugène Delacroix, a dash of Gustav Klutsis, a hint of Jean Metzinger, just a smidge of Marcel Duchamp and a big, heaping helping of Jack Kirby all mixed up in this piece.It can even be considered political, if you wish. I shall let the work speak for itself.
If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image.
Meanwhile, Monday on The AIR, we bring youeight hours of Disco Music from 7to 3 PM. This is our first marathon of Mel Larch’s MIRRORBALL, which can be heard every other Friday at 2 PM for the time being. We’ve also dropped a replay of MIRRORBALL into our Wednesday evening schedule, for those of you with a midweek urge to boogie.
At 3 PM on Prognosis, Herman Linte brings us a new show that once again fills its 120 minutes with freshly-minted progressive rock music, all released in 2020. Herman assures me that it will be filled with forward-thinking music from a variety of virtuosos.Check out the playlist…
Echoberyl “Taking The Space”
Steve Thorne “He Who Pays The Piper”
Tangent “Lie Back and Think of England”
The Waterboys “My Wandering In the Weary Land”
The Gardening Club “Boy On A Bike”
Bill Frisell “Electricity”
Elysian Fields “The Battle of Mugwhal and Lord Jakal
Steve Howe “See Me Through”
Telergy “Take To The Sky”
Rubber Tea “American Dream”
Abel Ganz “The Light Shines Out”
Nick D’Virgilio “Not My Time To Say Goodbye”
Rick Wakeman “Pavros Monis”
That’s followed by a classic Prognosis and an evening of Psychedelic Shack and Radio Free Charleston. You can hear replays of Prognosis Tuesdays at 8 PM, Wednesdays at 9 AM, Thursday at Noon, Friday at 9 AM and Saturday at 9 AM.
You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…
The subtitle of the above animated cartoon is “About a Deplorable Fellow in a Little Red Hat.” This cartoon by West Virginia expatriate, Sam Holdren, is very topical about the big thing in the news this year. It’s beautfully executed in the style of classic UPA cartoons, and it should be seen far and wide. Be advised that it may cause head exploding when viewed by members of a particularly pathetic political cult. This is a cautionary tale, and some people just can’t handle being cautioned. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Science and medicine should never be politicized, and it’s sad that we live in a time when cartoons like this are necessary.
Douglas Imbrogno, whom I mentioned in this blog just last Friday, posted an interview with Sam at WestVirginiaVille, and it’s a great read that delves into Sam’s history at WVSU as a student and teacher, and his work as a location scout in the motion picutre industry. Of course, he also talks about the creation of this cartoon.
Sam was the writer, director, animator, voice artist, music composer, and sound editor for The Ballad of Kyle T. Magatt, and the film and all related images are copyright 2020 by Sam Holdren himself. It’s a shame that nobody has managed to hack into the signal for FOX News so they could run this during their prime-time propaganda programs. It might shake loose a few brains from the shackles of their red hats.
This week we go back to a show that debuted in August, 2014, but was really recorded three years before that.
This episode of The RFC MINI SHOW stars Charleston Rock Institutions, Blue Million. This is footage of Alan, Andy and Gary that we recorded in April, 2011 at The Empty Glass. Our crew that night included the late Johnny Rock, the drummer for the legendary RFC band, Go Van Gogh. You’ll see him in a couple of shots.
Blue Million was one of the original local bands featured on the radio version of Radio Free Charleston, and they are still making music all these years later.
This episode of The RFC MINI SHOW features two songs from the band’s night at the Glass back in 2011, one of which had never been seen before.
We offer up our ninth episode of MIRRORBALL Friday afternoon on The AIR. You can hear this show on The AIR website, or just click on this embedded radio player…
At 2 PM we present an AIR Music Special, the ninth edition of MIRRORBALL, hosted by Mel Larch. Our unexpected hit continues in its bi-weekly groove, and this week’s grooves include what you see in this playlist…
Donna Summer “Hot Stuff”
Andy Gibb “Shadow Dancing”
Ashford & Simpson “Found A Cure”
KC & The Sunshine Band “Keep It Comin'”
Silver Convention “Fly Robin Fly”
The Commodores “Machine Gun”
Chic “My Feet Keep Dancing”
David Bowie “John, I’m Only Dancing”
Maxine Nightingale “Right Back Where We Started From”
Peter Brown “Dance With Me”
Shirley and Company “Shame, Shame, Shame”
Average White Band “Pick Up The Pieces”
The Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive”
You can tune in at 2 PM and hear the third edition of MIRRORBALL. We will drop a new episode roughly every other Friday afternoon, until Mel gets tired of doing it, or people stop listening. Later today, it will go up in the Podcast section of The AIR website, so you can listen on demand. MIRRORBALL will also be replayed Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 11 AM and Tuesday at 1 PM. Next week we’re going to bring you an eight-hour marathon as our Monday Marathon, starting at 7 AM Monday, and the new episode will be played at 2 PM. We’ll probably sneak in a few more airings during the week.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve spent more than a quarter of my life writing PopCult. The first post went live on August, 28, 2005.
I’m at that age when time starts to seemingly move at an accelerated pace. I’m also at that age where those damned kids keep getting on my lawn, but that’s a topic for a different column.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that Douglas Imbrogno offered me the chance to cover anything under the broad umbrella of “pop culture” for a blog as part of his ambitious idea for The Gazz.com to become a multimedia bridge to a post-print era for The Charleston Gazette. I also need to credit Doug with coming up with the name, “PopCult.” My idea was to call the blog, “Cool Stuff,” or “Really Cool Stuff,” or maybe “Really, Realy Super-Neat Cool Stuff,” but Doug recognized that I was in a bit of a naming rut and bestowed upon the blog the perfect moniker. It was really cool to be part of The Gazz crowd and be in on the ground floor of the next generation of local media.
It turned out that Doug was far more ambitious than the upper management at the Gazette, who, over the years, kept scaling down his plans until PopCult and John Brown’s Wine blog are about the only things left. Doug is doing his own thing now with WestVirginiaville and other projects, which I highly recommend to my readers.
While it doesn’t seem like it’s been fifteen years, it also sort of seems like a lifetime ago, if that makes any sense. Since the debut of PopCult, The Charleston Gazette merged with The Charleston Daily Mail, and then the merged entity was purchased out of bankruptcy by HD Media, who are currently trying their best to figure out how to run a print newspaper in a world where most of their revenue streams have migrated to other media.
When PopCult debuted George W. Bush was president, and we naively imagined that there was no way possible we could ever see a worse president in our lifetimes. I try to keep politics and current hard news out of PopCult, but it’s tricky when 2020 seems to be an extended comedy sketch written by Michael O’Donoghue when he was in a really bad mood. 2020 is the year that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were laid off when their positions were determined to be redundant.
When PopCult debuted, smartphones were not yet a thing, and the idea that people would watch television content on a tiny screen seemed ridiculous.
When PopCult debuted, people could smoke in public, and most bars in the area were too filled with smoke for yours truly to last comfortably for more than five minutes before being forced to leave.
When PopCult debuted Disney had not yet swallowed up Marvel, Lucasfilm or most of Fox. AT&T was a phone company, and Comcast was a cable company and I think I was still using dial-up internet.
When PopCult debuted I didn’t have any idea that I would be able to revive Radio Free Charleston as a video program, let alone come to own an internet radio station, The AIR, that is now the audio component to this blog.
The last fifteen years saw the death of my mother and Melanie’s mother, and Melanie and I finally tied the knot after dating for 24 years. I also discovered that I have an auto-immune disorder called Myasthenia Gravis, but oddly enough, it’s clear that I had that before I started writing the blog. It just took eleven years to diagnose. Adjusting to that new medical reality has been an adventure.
When I began writing PopCult I was a full-time caregiver, and travel was something I could never contemplate doing. Since then Melanie and I have been able to travel to Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington DC and other cool places, and we’ve been to toy shows, world premiere plays, Broadway Musicals, Major League Baseball games, chocolate factories, toy museums, art museums, designer toy shops, outdoor sculptures, Ferris wheels, TV shooting locations, film sets, recording studios and too many other cool places to mention.
However, if you’re curious, look through our archives. I covered our travels extensively via video and photo essay posts.
Of course, at the moment we aren’t exactly making any travel plans due to the pandemic, but hopefully we’ll be back at that again in a year or so.
Since August, 2013, I’ve been posting at least once a day (a couple of posts had to be removed because of threats of an expensive lawsuit from an insane Canadian millionaire, but aside from that, I think I maybe only missed two days due to technical issues). I plan to still be here writing about toys, music, comic books, movies, audio productions, cool places, animation, and anything else that I think looks cool in the world.
I’ve also probably posted around 800 of my original pieces of art in this blog. I’m still trying to get good at it.
I’ve often wondered just exactly how qualified I am to write about pop culture. Don’t get me wrong, not many people around here can match my knowledge of classic animation, comic books, vintage toys or obscure and weird music, but I do fear that I lean a little heavy on nostaliga and don’t keep up with current pop culture trends.
Then I remember that pop culture lasts forever, and writing about The Beatles, The Marx Brothers, The original GI Joe, The Original Captain Marvel, Jack Kirby and New Wave and Progressive Music is still a pretty cool gig. I’m not a technology hipster. I don’t own any Apple products, and I’m still not exactly sure what Tik Tok or Quibi is, but if that makes me a dinosaur, then I’m okay with that.
Dinosaurs are just about the most freakin’ cool things there are. That will never change.
I don’t know what the future holds for PopCult. I’m perfectly content to keep plugging away doing it here for as long as The Charleston Gazette-Mail will have me, and when the day comes when they can no longer spare the server space, I’ll probably pick up my archives and relocate to my own website and at some point I’ll probably get tired of writing at least one post every day, but to be honest, I could see doing this for another fifteen years. I look back at this body of work, and aside from the typos I invariably spot, I feel a sense of pride. I hope you folks like it, too.
This has been out about a month, but due to the pandemic-afflicted magazine distribution system in our country, it’s just now starting to show up on some newsstands. Non Sport Update is the bible for collectors of non-sport trading cards.
I’ve been writing for NSU for over 20 years, and this issue features my cover story on Outlander Season 4 Trading Cards. Buyers will also get a promo card from that same set. If you like the hit Starz Time Travel/Romance series, you won’t want to miss this.
Also in this issue:
Cardboard Conversation: Better Late Than Never
Weʼve got a bad case of sequelitis.
Artist Remarques: Strike Up The Band-Ache
Have a nice bowl of Frogresso with Wacky artist, Fred Wheaton.
NSU mourns the passing of the self-proclaimed “Architect of Rock ʻnʼ Roll.”
Vintage Spotlight: Taking a Whack at Wacky Packages
The Hobby goes loosey goosey with non-wacky Wackies
Learn about a new way to get to the Topps of the heap.
Have a Heapin’ Helpin’
Swimming pools…movie stars.
Old & Noteworthy
Downton Abbey, The Walking Dead, Adventure Time
And as always, this issue includes the 32-page A-Z Price Guide covers all relevant trading card releases from Agents of SHIELD to Xena Warrior Princess!
Because of the initially slow distribution, this issue sold out in physical form from the publisher, but you can find it on newsstands now, or buy the digital edition HERE.
One year ago today I was tooling around Lancaster, Pennsylvania with Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch, celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary. We’d spent the week visiting candy factories and toy shows and had a blast just being together and doing fun stuff. The above picture is not from that trip. That’s a 2018 Chicago photo I haven’t posted here before. At the right you can see us from last year’s trip, outside the Boyer Candy Company in Altoona.
One year later, everything’s still all right, because we’re together, but we didn’t go on any special trip due to the pandemic. In fact, we didn’t make any special plans because Wednesday is Mel’s day to go work from the office instead of from home, and with the day falling in the middle of the week, our options were limited.
Back in 2014, when we snuck off to Chicago to get married on the stage of Steppenwolf Theater, only a few folks knew in advance, and when we mentioned it on Facebook, we sort of broke the internet, small-scale. We’ve done cool stuff every year since to mark the day, but this year the fates conspired to put the world on pause, and we’re not crazy enough to rush back into living life as though nothing has happened.
So instead we’re making our sixth anniversary our first low-key celebration– No gifts, no trips, no fuss–just the two of us.
As such, I’m not going to spend the day slaving away at the computer. So this is today’s PopCult post. I’m gonna go make a cake or something.
We haven’t given up on doing cool things, we just aren’t willing to sacrifice our lives for Wall Street. Just last night we were making plans for future trips, once this pandemic is safely over, in a year or two. In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with being quietly happy to be together.
If you want, you can find photo essay and video coverage of last year’s epic trip by scrolling down and looking at links from August and September 2019.
Tuesday on The AIR we kick off a mini-vacation with a slate of encores of our afternoon specialty music shows. To hear these you may point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and listen to this happy little embedded radio player…
With a long, hot boring summer wrapping up and all-new episodes of our programs due next week, The AIR will be in reruns for the next few days. It will all be “The Best of The AIR” save for a new edition of MIRRORBALL on Friday. Basically your PopCulteer just needed to recharge his batteries and catch up on some reading during a week filled with anniversaries.
Tuesday we will be bringing you the best of recent episodes from RFC and The Swing Shift and we also bring you a classic episode of Psychedelic Shack.
At 10 AM and 10 PM, we’ll bring you an early July episode of Radio Free Charleston, featuring Ronald and the Rayguns and more cool local and non-local music.
At 2 PM we’ll bring you an encore of Psychedelic Shack, Nigel Pye’s trippy music showcase from our friends at Haversham Recording Institute.
At 3 PM, The Swing Shift brings you three encore episodes. Our Swing showcase will return with new episodes next week. You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM and 6 PM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 5 PM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.
Wednesday at 2 PM we have a classic episode of Beatles Blast.followed at 3 PM when we will once again bring you all three episodes of Mel Larch’s recent tribute to Stephen Sondheim on Curtain Call.
It’s another timed drawing this week. Despite not having a great day with my Myasthenia Gravis last Saturday, I decided to see if I could sketch out a classic pin-up pose in ten minutes. My weapons of choice were my trusty Blackwing Palamino, plus a cheap black wax pencil (for deep blacks) and an ancient tube of White-Out for the highlights. I waited a day to scan it so the White Out would have time to dry. Apologies for the sloppiness. This was yet another exercise piece to help me get my drawing hands back in shape. The pose that inspired this was a pre-fame poolside shot of Marilyn Monroe.
These timed drawings could eventually be tightened way up and finished, but to be honest they are just exercises. I keep them around so I can refer back to them to see how I managed to conquer some of my limitations using different shortcuts and techniques, but they’re really not supposed to be finished.
If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image.
Meanwhile, Monday on The AIR, we bring youeight hours of live music from local musicians from 7 AM to 3 PM. We dug deep into the archives to find live performances from Tim Lancaster, Go Van Gogh, C2J2, Christopher Harris, Hybrid Soul Project, Travis Stephens and more. Our regularly-scheduled showcase for live, local music will be moving to a new spot on the schedule in September.
At 3 PM on Prognosis, Herman Linte brings us a show that kicks off with the French band, Morgibl, who have played at The Empty Glass in the past. That’s followed by a classic Prognosis and an evening of NOISE BRIGADE and Radio Free Charleston.
You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…
Almost every American under the age of sixty played with Hot Wheels as a kid. 52 years after their introduction, they are still one of the top-selling toys in the world. And almost every kid who played with these small die-cast cars imagined and fantasized about what it would be like to have a real car that looked like the snappy designs that the toy company, Mattel, used for their cool toys.
Mattel finally decided to do something about that, so two years ago to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels, they began “The Legends Tour.” Independent customizers are invited to re-create their favorite Hot Wheels cars in real life…
The Legends tour continues, but it has been interrupted by the Coronavirus and has been happening online. Here’s some video from one of last year’s tour stops, with some more classic Hot Wheels come to life…
Of note is the fact that some famous Hot Wheels and other cool toy cars and model kits had already been turned into life-sized cars (heck, some of them started life as legendary customs). Here’s a couple of recognizable classics…
And I know what you’re thinking. “Did they build a giant loop-de-loop?” Well no, they did not do that as part of The Legends Tour.