I’ve done digital paintings of my Mother’s roses before, but this year I decided to do a physical painting. I went outside (in the sweltering heat) and did a quick color sketch, then came inside, cooled off, and did this small mixed-media painting on airbrush paper. There’s pastel, water color, colored pencil and anyhing else I could get my hands on in play for this piece. I even used some colored markers in places. It’s been scanned and cropped a bit because it was sloppy around the edges.
My mom stuck a rose in the ground near our kitchen door sometime back in the 1970s. Every May they bloom in time for Mother’s Day, and by early June, they’re gone for another eleven-plus months. It’s pretty cool.
Click the image to see it bigger.
Meanwhile, The AIR is still in RFC Marathon mode until Tuesday afternoon. You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.
We are running this cool short film as an encore for Memorial Day Weekend.
I’ve always felt that one of the best ways to honor our fallen veterans is to do everything possible to avoid sending even more young people to their deaths. Our video tonight is an anti-war cartoon from the National Film Board of Canada that uses stop-motion animation and GI Joes to send an anti-war message. From 1966, Toys is a classic by animator Grant Munro that takes a dark look into the war toys often given to children at Christmas time. Starting off as harmless objects, the toys quickly take on the gestures of real soldiers, mimicking the actions and penalties of a real war. This critical commentary on war and glamorized violence creates a real and frightening battle.
Now, to be honest, it’s not really the anti-war message or loose connection to Memorial Day that earned this film a spot in PopCult. It’s the beautiful, pristine footage of so many terrific vintage toys. Of course, my ulterior motive in presenting this film is that it’s really, really cool to see GI Joe animated so well. I’m a long-time GI Joe collector (even though I concentrate on the Adventure Team era rather than the military stuff), and this is just really cool to watch. There are toys being used and abused in this film that would be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars today. In addition to seeing almost the full range of GI Joe product available in Canada in 1966, we also get to see some other cool toy planes and tanks, and even some vintage Barbie and Ken dolls.
I mean, you could see this as an anti-war film, or you could see it as a cautionary tale about giving children bad LSD. Etither way, just look at those cool toys!
This week we go back to 2015 for a MINI SHOW starring Tape Age, recorded at their first show, on May 1 at The Empty Glass, and posted here in PopCult three days later. At this point, Tape Age was a duo featuring Sam Scholten with Dave Roberts on drums. Sam lives in Louisville, and Dave in South Charleston, and later they added Doug Litton, who is also based in the Charleston area, so we sort of knew that this band wasn’t going to be a long-term project.
However, they did kick ass and performed together for a year or two. Sam is now leading Bon Air in Louisville, and Dave is creating ambient music and working on other Charleston based musical projects. You can keep up with both of them on the Radio Free Charleston radio show on The AIR. In this show you’ll hear Tape Age perform “Worst Day of My Life” and “Ocean Going.”
I had planned to write a long PopCulteer essay here about why I barely read my timeline on Facebook anymore. In short, I have a lot of conservative friends, and it appears that many of them believe that President Biden was not legitimately elected, and also that anyone who gets a COVID vaccine is a chump who’s being shot full of mind-control magnets.
It’s really heartbreaking to learn that so many of my Facebook friends are complete idiots. The truth is, I hop on Facebook in the morning and share links to this blog. Then I check my notifications and private messages, and hop off without even glancing at my timeline. It’s been like this for nearly a year. There was just too much idiocy swirling about in the place. I’ve missed out on a lot of stuff, but I spare myself a lot of sadness. I can’t believe that there are people that profoundly stupid who are still able to operate a Facebook page.
Their stupidity makes me angry, and that would have made for a less-than-entertaining essay for you.
So instead, I’m going to tell you about some cool things that I will be doing now that I’m fully vaccinated. I’m not completely out of the woods yet because I’m waiting for the results of an antibody test to make sure the vaccine worked on me, but this weekend I’m going out of town for the first time in a long time.
I’m making a trip near Pittsburgh to see my sister, niece and nephew for the first time in well over a year, and I’ll also be meeting my grand-nephew for the first time. After that, Mrs. PopCulteer and I will be heading to Weirton, where we’ve never been, to take photos of a rare military tank for my friend, Dave Mattson, who will use them on his website devoted to tanks. I’ll post a link and tell you more about Dave’s website when I know it’s up and running. Now you know why that image is at the top of this post. I hope to get better angles of the tank when I go there.
Along the way, and on the way home we’ll do some shopping, masked up of course, and grab some drive-thru food to keep us going. It’s going to be a much-needed change of scenery.
That’s not the end of our travel plans. Pending the results of my antibody test, we plan to go to Louisville at the end of next week to take in a day of WonderFest USA. This will be our first trip to WonderFest since 2017, and I’m really looking forward to eye candy that awaits us in the model contest room.
Two weeks later, we’re heading to Wheeling for The Marx Toy Convention at the Kruger Street Toy & Train Musuem…again for just one day. You’re going to see plenty of coverage of those events, before and after, here in PopCult.
At some point in the next few weeks, I’m going to attempt to catch up with The Swivel Rockers at one of their many upcoming outdoor shows, so I can get some more video for a special episode of Radio Free Charleston devoted to the band. I’ll keep you posted on those, too.
It seems like I’ve loaded up June with tons of trips and cool stuff, but I’m still taking baby steps. Even vaccinated, I plan to wear my mask around people. I would rather err on the side of caution, and I’ve also found that masks take the edge off of allergy season. Pollen is considerably larger than COVID, you know. I have to say, it’s more than a little disheartening to see so much contempt being expressed for the concept of erring on the side of caution. A mask never killed anybody. COVID did.
I do not feel that we are, in any way, out of the woods with COVID. I doubt that I’ll feel comfortable eating IN a restaurant until next year. If WonderFest or the Marx Toy Convention seem too crowded, I’ll step back, and may cut my visits short. It’s great to have the many added layers of protection that the vaccine offers, but we still have to be careful.
I would consider myself “cautiously optimistic.” I feel that it’s a wiser approach than being recklessly optimistic.
I will, however, go so far as to say that we are headed in the right direction.
That is this week’s PopCulteer. Trust me, it’s way more pleasant that what I had planned to write here. Please remember that Friday afternoon on The AIR we are replaying last week’s episodes of MIRRORBALL and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat that I told you about HERE.
We had some technical issues last week, and those shows did not air in their entirety. Also, check back for our regular features and stick around to listen to The AIR for a marathon of Radio Free Charleston that begins Friday at 7 PM and runs all the way until Tuesday afternoon, pausing only for the Sunday overnight marathon of The Swing Shift. Listen at the website, or on that embedded player elsewhere on this page, if you are so inclined.
It’s Memorial Day Weekend and there’s tons of things to do, but not so many where folks prepared easy-to-swipe graphics for their events. Here are a couple of cool events happening in or around Charleston on Saturday. If you are fully vaccinated and ready to do your best to stay safe, you should go check this stuff out. Outdoor shows are okay for reasonable and vaccinated people to go maskless. Indoor shows leave you at the mercy of your fellow patrons, and be honest…you don’t know where they’ve been. So use your common sense and stay safe.
Slow Death Zero: The Comix Anthology of Ecological Horror
edited by Jon B. Cooke and Ron Turner
ISBN-13 : 978-0867198836
Slow Death was one of the most notable of the underground comix published back the 1970s. The first issue was commissioned to be released on the very first Earth Day in 1970, and the title ran for ten more, roughly annual, issues, with one revival issue in 1992.
With a mission to mix ecological and political themes with cautionary horror and science fiction tales in the style of EC Comics and the best of underground comix creators, the book left quite an impression.
My personal connection to the title goes back when an embryonic PopCulteer would bum rides to Downtown Charleston so he could pick up underground comix at Pepperland, in the Arcade building. Nobody else would sell undergrounds to a pre-teen kid, most likely due to the possibly tragic circumstance of me seeing a stray drawing of a naked lady or something.
So I grew up reading Slow Death in my formative years, and the underlying messages probably shaped a lot of my worldview on such things as pollution, climate change and how evil corporations tend to act.
It was a treat to see this new one-shot revival of Slow Death (designed to come out on the 50th anniversary of the first issue, but delayed a year by a certain pandemic, among other reasons) and I’m happy to say that this new anthology is as wildly entertaining and informative as the original series.
Edited by Jon Cooke (the editor of Comic Book Creator, and before that, Comic Book Artist) with Ron Turner, the original editor and publisher of the underground comix version of Slow Death, Slow Death Zero is a beautifully-produced, slick, thick collection of new stories created by a mix of original contributors and newcomers (with two pages by Robert Crumb being a reprint). There’s over 120 pages of new comics here, a mix of full-color and black-and-white, along with a great article by Cooke that tells the full story of Slow Death and the title’s publisher, Last Gasp.
With 28 stories by 33 creators, I’m just going to mention the highlights here.
The cover story is a beautifully rendered treatise on the importance of conservation in Antarctica, by award-winning cartoonist/illustrator, and all-around nice guy, William Stout.
What is believed to be the final work by Richard Corben before his passing last December is a heartbreaking look at a bleak future, written by Bruce Jones. This brilliantly-crafted look at a dire, pollution-filled world and how it affects one man is a series of emotional gut-punches.
Tim Boxell contributes a very satisfying political satire about a certain ex-president, rendered in full color. We get a two-pager from Peter Bagge that depicts post-apocalyptic human behavior in a cynical, if realistic light.
Cooke and Errol McCarthy contribute “Last Chance Gas” which may be a perfect distillation of what makes a Slow Death story. Rick Veitch’s “Tiny Dancer” might be the most plausibly horrific story in the book, as humanity is blinded by technology, and forced to fight corporate wars.
Slow Death Zero is a nostalgic treat for fans of the original series, but also works as collection of ecological horror stories for folks who were born too late to be long-time fans. These are scary, thought-provoking, often hilarious comix stories with a definite agenda.
Slow Death Zero is highly-recommended for fans of classic underground comix, connoisseurs of good comics and people who don’t mind (or badly need) a good dose of harsh reality mixed in with their horror comics.
Available from any bookseller, using the ISBN code, or directly from Last Gasp.
Oh, you probably think that means another week where RFC is a rerun.
Well…yeah. But it’s a special one. This week we have revived the very first episode of Radio Free Charleston Volume Five, which first aired all the way back in January, 2020, eons ago, before the pandemic.
Remember those good old days?
You can hear this classic Tuesday on The AIR . Radio Free Charleston V5 #1 is back on The AIR for the first time in just over a year. To relive the magic, you simply have to move your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and listen to the cool embedded player over at the top of the right column.
Basically, your PopCulteer is dealing without some assignments outside of PopCult (that means “paying work”) and there simply wasn’t enough time to crank out a new RFC or Swing Shift in time for Tuesday. So I went back and dug our first three-hour show out of the radio closet, and re-uploaded it for your enjoyment. Check out this pretty epic playlist…
Kevin Scarbrough “Impetus Worm”
The Who “All This Music Must Fade”
Frank Zappa “Peaches En Regalia”
Rasta Rafiki “Vicki”
Joy Division “Atrocity Exhibition”
Edgar Winter “Hoochi Coo”
John Radcliff “Here We Go Again”
U2 and A.R. Rahman “Ahisma”
Ann Magnuson “The Sun Don’t Care”
Club Des Belugas and Maya Fadeeva “Love Is like A Legend”
Sparks “Never Turn Your Back On Mother Nature”
Emmalea Deal “Queen”
The Steve Howe Trio “Gilded Splinter”
Peter Gabriel “Sledgehammer (Dance Mix)
Wang Chung “Everybody Have Fun Tonight (orchestral)”
Beggars Clan “Maiden Voyage”
The Beat “A Good Day For Sunshine”
The Specials “Breaking Point”
Joe Jackson “Kisses”
Sheldon Vance “Keep On Talking”
Adrian Belew “When Is It Coming Back”
Gary Numan “Down In The Park”
David Synn “Blood Moon”
Eddie Jobson “Easy For You To Say”
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies “Schizo”
Rick Wakeman “The Shoot”
Todd Tamenend Clark “Childhood Shadows”
Frenchy And The Punk “Carried Away”
Fletcher’s Grove “Virgil Burgess”
Andy Partridge & Robyn Hitchcock “Turn Me On Dead Man”
Go Van Gogh “Requiem For Peppeland”
Trevor Horn and Seal “Ashes To Ashes”
Three Bodies “The Trax”
Ringo Starr “Better Days”
Heather Findlay “Cactus”
Howard Jones “Hero In Your Eyes”
John Wetton “New Star Rising”
The Heavy Editors “How The West Was Won”
Todd Burge “On My Knees”
After The Fire “Carry Me Home”
Alien Skin “Charles Dickens”
Jeff Lynne’s ELO “Goin’ Out On Me”
Jon Anderson “Make Me Happy”
Stark Raven “More To Life Than This”
This was the show where I combined Radio Free Charleston and RFC International into one, weekly (almost) three-hour program where I mix local artists with the best music from around the world, and it comes out of the internet.
For almost a year beore I pulled the trigger, I had been contemplating a move that would reformat RFC and RFC International to be more like the original concept of RFC back in 1989, when it was on broadcast radio. Instead of producing Radio Free Charleston as a one-hour weekly showcase of local music from Charleston and the surrounding areas, and RFC International, as a two-hour show where I play anything I want, I combined the shows into Radio Free Charleston Volume Five, a weekly three-hour show that mixes local music with the best indpendent, avant-garde and classic music from multiple genres.
It keeps me from getting bored with it. I don’t ever want to get bored with music.
You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Thursday at 3 PM, and Friday at 9 AM. At 7 PM Friday, this episode will kick off a multi-day marathon of Radio Free Charleston that will run over the Memorial Day weekend, when nobody’s really listening to internet radio. The marathon will run every episode of the show that we currently have on the servers over at The AIR, and that means that I will return with a new episode two weeks from Tuesday because I’m lazy that way.
I’m also going to embed a low-fi, mono version of this show right in this post, right here so you can listen on demand.
After RFC, stick around for encores of MIRRORBALL at 1 PM, and NOISE BRIGADEat 2 PM. at 3 PM we will re-present a two-part episode of The Swing Shift that brings you Benny Goodman’s entire 1938 concert at Carnegie Hall. This was a legendary show, packed with guest musicians and featuring his epic version of “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
A friend of mine was recently in Washington DC, and posted photos of a Metro station there. It reminded me how cool I thought they looked, with the curved and contoured ceilings, so I dug up some old reference photos of a Metro Station from my first trip to our nation’s Capitol, some ten years ago, and tried my hand at some faux Impasto, using some really cheap and lumpy acrylics I had laying around. The combination of cheap paint, wonky fingers from Myasthenia Gravis, and the need to slip a piece of clear plastic between the still-wet art and the scanner gave the finished piece more of a smooshed quality than I’d hoped for, but it still came out sort of accidentally impressionistic, so I’m posting it here.
If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image.
Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a new episode of Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by a new edition of Herman Linte’s weekly showcase of the Progressive Rock of the past half-century, Prognosis. You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.
At 2 PM, Nigel Pye’s new Psychedelic Shack includes the following songs:
Psychedelic Shack 045
Eric Burdon & War “Spill The Wine”
CSN & Y “Woodstock”
The Moody Blues “Legend of a Mind”
Gratefu Dead “Dark Star”
Love “Alone Again Or”
The Who “I Can See For Miles”
Traffic “Dear Mr. Fantasy”
Oingo Boingo “Lost Like This”
Mamas and Poppas “Happy Together”
Donovan “Jennifer Juniper”
Janis Joplin “To Love Somebody”
Jimi Hendrix “Manic Depression”
Neil “Hole In My Shoe”
The Rutles Let’s Be Natural”
PsychedelicShack can now be heard every Monday at 2 PM, with replays Tuesday at 9 AM, Wednesday at 10 PM, Friday at 1 PM, and Saturday at 9 AM. Classic episodes can be heard Sunday at 9 AM as part of our Sunday Haversham Recording Institute collection.
At 3 PM, Herman Linte offers up a new Prognosis, which spends it’s first hour bringing us tracks from new Prog-Rock releases and then devotes the second hour to 1970’s classics, including Rick Wakeman’s Journey To The Center of the Earth.
Strawbs “Judgement Day”
Cirkus “The Lure of Santa Monica”
Django Django “Spirals”
Mars Volta “Take The Veil Cerpin Text”
Jean-Michel Jarre “Amazonia Pt. 2”
YES “To The Moment”
Liquid Tension Experiment “The Passage of Time”
Jethro Tull “Minstrel In the Gallery”
Rick Wakeman “Journey To The Center of the Earth”
PFM “Paper Charms”
You can hear Prognosis on The AIR Monday at 3 PM, with replays Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursday at Noon, and Saturday at 10 AM. You can hear two classic episodes of the show Sunday at 2 PM.
At 7 PM, stick around for a 12-hour marathon of New Wave Music with Sydney’s Big Electric Cat.
Periodically, I like to run something here in PopCult to remind my readers that DEVO was right about everything, and that fact explains the sorry state of politics and human behavior in the world today. Here they are performing at Lollapalooza in 2003, doing songs from their first two albums. If only more people had done their duty then, for the future.
This week we go back to April, 2015, for an episode of The RFC MINI SHOW that brings you four songs by Slate Dump, in under nine minutes.
With his rustic voice and distinctive guitar stylings, Slate Dump brings a punk sensibility to folk music, with originals and covers, some of them country and pop standards including tunes made famous by Frank Sinatra and Marty Robbins. Some of his cover versions are also a bit less than safe for work, so be warned.
Slate Dump is a West Virginia native, one-man band, and an old friend of RFC. It was cool to showcase him on his own show.