Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: June 2022 (Page 1 of 4)

Bunking In The Caboose At Kruger Street

While we were at the Marx Toy Convention in Wheeling the weekend before last, we found out about a cool new feature at the The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum.  Lodgers can now rent the Yellow Caboose they have on the grounds for an overnight stay.

The Caboose can accomodate four adults and one child, and can be rented for $200 a night. Guests have full access to the museum, and can cross the parking lot for a additional accomodations, including a bathroom, shower and lounge.

Designed to be a unique lodging experience for a family or small group, the air-conditioned Caboose offers the experience of sleeping like the overnight train crews did back in the day. The Caboose itself has four full-sized bunks, an eating area, and two seats you can climb up to so you can look out of the windows of the cupola.

Themed bedding is available, and this could make for a special experience for a die-hard train buff.

To find out more about how you could book a night in the Caboose, message them through their Facebook page, or call them at (304) 242-8133.

We snuck in to grab a few photos while they were getting it ready for a visit.

The familiar site to visitors of the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum is now a fun place to spend a night or two.

Though small, it’s not cramped, and the inside is filled with cool railroad memorabilia.

One of the comfy bunks in the process of being made.

You can climb up in the cupola to relax and look around.

Cool vintage lanterns and photos are everywhere.

Guests have their choice of themed bedding.

A nice dining area can be converted into a child-sized extra bunk.

An antique stove completes the authentic railroad vibe.

We take one last look inside the cozy cabin on steel wheels and rails.

Fiesta Frenzy In Newell, WV

We had a bit of a plate party during our trip North the week before last. I’m not talking about a presidential tantrum or anything like that. Your PopCulteer and his lovely wife, Mel Larch, diverted from our trip to The Marx Toy Convention to head even further North to the site of the former Homer Laughlin China Company in Newell. Now renamed “The Fiesta Tableware Company,” this is were they make FiestaWare, the beloved, colorful household china that delights collectors and people with enlightened tastes worldwide.

On the grounds of the Homer Laughlin factory complex we found the legendary Fiesta Tableware Company Factory Outlet Store. This is much like the store in Flatwoods, only about five or six times the size, with a gigantic “seconds” room filled with mildly-imperfect bargain pieces.

As we discovered, there is a second “seconds” room filled with mildly imperfect Hall restaurant china, as well.

We got lots of cool stuff for the house, and I took loads of photos, as did Mel. We took so many photos that you will get a second photo essay of FiestaWare next week. I’m still dealing with some blogging issues that are limiting the amount of pictures I can include in one post, so this week, all the photos, save one, are by me. Next week most of them will be by Mel.

Tomorrow the plan is to wrap up most of our photo essays with one devoted to a unique lodging experience and another filled with random leftover shots, but remember that we still have another look at the FiestaWare Outlet Store up our sleeve.

Now, let’s go into a Fiesta frenzy…

The promised land…

The first thing that caught my eye was the new Sugar Skull plates, now with the design on their “Twilight” color.

Cool stuff along one side of the main store.

Cool stuff along the opposite wall, maybe a hundred feet away.

I regret that I didn’t get more in-focuse photos of the middle of the store.

This way to the main reason for the trip…

Thousands of plates, mugs, baking dishes and everything else they make, with mild imperfections at a fraction of the regular price.

The cool thing about buying factory seconds is that you don’t feel awful if they get a knick or scratch from everyday use. And these plates are perfect for everyday use because they’re built like tanks.

A quick look at the price board. Not everything on the board was in the room, but most of it was.

They even had overstock of some colors of their perfect pieces for sale.

And we leave you with a look at the main store, as seen leaving the seconds room. You’ll get another photo essay from here next week, with all-different images.

The Marx Toy Museum Sale 2022

The Marx Toy Convention happened the third weekend of June this year at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia. I’ve already shown you photos and video from the convention, and yesterday I brought you images from our side trip to The Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville.

Today we’re going to show you some of the Friday-night fun from Francis Turner’s Brigadoon-like Marx Toy Museum, also in Moundsville, which only opens one or two nights a year since it ceased daily operation six years ago. Francis puts out select toys from the museum for sale and collectors from all over North America get to share in the bounty of Francis’ collecting journey.

The day’s hot weather and our long day of Marx Toy festivities caught up with me, so we ducked out after about half an hour, but it was great to see Francis again and visit his incredible collection. And I did get a few good images to share. We’re still limited to a dozen or so photos a day, so we’ll bring you a few more from this Museum Thursday in PopCult.

But we have some great images today, so let’s look at ’em…

Die-hard collectors check out what was the Johnny West area of the museum.

Checking out the Knights and Vikings.

More collectors checking out the treasures.

Lot’s of cool artifacts, including a photo of Francis with The American Pickers.

If my house wasn’t full, I might’ve bought this Stony Smith Jeep.

Concept sketch and designs for The Big Wheel.

Cool toys everywhere you look.

Some of the Marx-Hanna Barbera collaborations.

Checking out more Marx action figures.

And more spectacular playsets!

One last glance at the Marx Toy Museum before we had to cut out.

Tomorrow we’re going to take a side trip to a FiestaWare paradise, and then we’ll wrap up with a couple more photo essays on  Thursday.

The Last RFC Before July Debuts Tuesday On The AIR!

Tuesday on The AIR  it’s Radio Free Charleston time, and just like too many recent weeks, it’s time for yet another one-third-new, three-hour  episode of Radio Free Charleston. You simply have to point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to the cool embedded player overfound elsewhere on this page.

Yes, it’s one more hybrid edition of Radio Free Charleston at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday.   This week we open with a full hour of  local and independent music, and then we hit you with two hours of classic Radio Free Charleston International from early 2018.  Between MG, stormy weather, outside assignents and catching up on all the photos and videos from our recent Marx Toy Convention trip, there just wasn’t enough time to lay down three full hours of new radio this week.

It’s still a killer show as our first hour, opens with great new music from Beckley’s Bottle and Bride. You’ll also hear cool music from Chicago’s The Alright Maybes, local legend Brian Diller & The Ride and Corduroy Brown. We also have a new music from Julian Lennon, Adrian Belew,  Reginia Spektor, plus some classic tracks and a remixed and remastered Redd Kross track that sounds new, even though it was first released 35 years ago.

The second and third hours of our show re-present a mixtape edition of Radio Free Charleston International from 2018, when yours truly really wanted to see how weird he could get.

Check out the playlist below to see all the goodies we have in store (live links will take you to the artist’s pages where possible)…

RFCv5 093

hour one
Bottle and Bride “A Call To The Sea”
The Alright Maybes “Gone”
Corduroy Brown “Lookin’ Over My Shoulder”
Adrian Belew “The Saturday Morning Roar”
Jim Lange “Offering (guitar solo with improvisation)”
Hello June “Time”
Brian Diller & The Ride “No. 15”
Redd Kross “McKenzie”
The Settlement“Enter Mission”
Regina Spektor “Spacetime Fairytale”
Static Fur “Take My Ashes”
Julian Lennon “Save Me”
The BrotherSisters “Find The Cost of Freedom”

hour two
DEVO “Don’t Shoot (I’m A Man) Polysics Remix”
New Model Army “Did You Make It Safe”
No Doubt “Total Hate 95”
Wings “Spin It On”
ELP “Are You Ready Eddie”
Emmy Lou and The Rhythm boys “Bip Bop Boom”
ELO “Easy Money”
Kent Ford and the Hep Jump Stompers “Rockabilly Queen”
Madness “Drip Fed Fred”
Led Zepplin “Rock and Roll”
Kate Bush “Violin”
Roger Daltry “Free Me”
Split Enz “What’s The Matter With You”
Oingo Boingo “Who Do You Want To Be Today”
The Plasmatics “Living Dead”
Adam Ant “Charge of the Heavy Brigade”
Mike Peters “This Is War”

hour three
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes “The Harder They Come”
Pete Townsend “Squeezebox”
Regina Spektor “Oh Marcello”
Agent Orange “Say It Isn’t True”
PM “You’ve Got Me Rockin'”
The Dickies “If Stuart Could Talk (live)”
Franz Ferdinand and Sparks “Piss Off”
Hazel O’Connor “Not For You”
Goldfinger ‘I’m Down”
Marcella Detroit “Cool People”
The Warner Brothers “Hey Mama”
Hasil Adkins “She Said”
Joe Jackson “Someone Up There”
Neil Young “Wonderin'”
Mel C “Yeh, Yeh, Yeh”
Motorhead “Ace of Spades (alternate take)”
Nirvana “Turn Around”

You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Wednesday at 9 AM,  Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 9 AM, Saturday at Noon and Midnight,  and  Monday at 11 AM, exclusively on The AIR. Now you can also hear a different episode of RFC every weekday at 5 PM, and we bring you a marathon all night long Saturday night/Sunday morning.

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 Ska Madness at 2 PM. At 3 PM we have two recent episodes of The Swing Shift.

The Stegadon In The Room

Part of our trip to the Marx Toy Convention about ten days ago involved going to The Mound Museum in Moundsville for a book signing. You can see some video of that HERE, and you’ll be getting a review of that book sometime in the next week or so.

Mel and I had never been inside the Mound Museum before, and I was focused on shooting video and getting set to up to record a talk by the authors and some former employees of the Marx Toy Factory (sadly that video was not usable), and I was in the big room where the book signing took place for close to half an hour before I realized that, on the way to the book signing, I had walked right past a 30-foot long, 13-foot-high cast of a skeleton of a Stegadon, a large prehistoric elephantine beast related to the Mastodon and Wooly Mammoth.

You see, it turns out that what everybody calls “The Mound Museum” is actually The Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex and it’s usually unjustly overlooked, being next to the world’s largest burial mound, and across the street from the gigantic Medievel-looking former Federal Penetentiary.  We’d gone right past this place for years and I had no idea that the bones of prehistoric critters of massive propertions were on display within.

When I finally saw it, it was a “Wait, What?” moment.  I grabbed a few photos and Mel found a FiestaWare display, and we decided that we’re going to have to make another visit just to see this cool museum (which also has large displays for Marx Toys and Marble King and other stuff) and explore it further, because this is really just a small part of what they have.

Aside from the Stegadon that snuck up on me, it was a revelation to see how small the Dimetradon was by comparison. Every toy Dimetradon I had as a kid was woefully out of scale with my other toy dinosaurs. I feel disillusioned. Next thing you know they’ll tell us that Dimetradons weren’t really even dinosaurs at all.

Anyway, today’s mini-photo essay is just a taste of The Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex. Enjoy…

Sometimes when you’re laser-focused on shooting video, you miss the little things like this fella.

The Dimetradon is not quite as fearsome when you realize it’s about the size of a monitor lizard. My toys made it seem like they were 20 feet long.

Informative signs explain that The Stegadon is not a Wooly Mammoth. Also, it’s on loan from a couple in Fairmont, who evidently had one to spare.

Heavy Metal fans gathered around this exhibit of prehistoric skulls.

More elephantine ancestor artifacts on display, including a tusk, which may have come from Alabama.

Of course Mel wandered off and found the FiestaWare display. So I swiped this and the next two photos from her.

Man, that suff’s colorful.

Think of Mel’s photos as a harbinger of a mini-photo-essay to come.

We leave you with one more look at the Stegadon skeleton cast. Notice how the Dimetradon looks like a frightened housecat in the presence of this mighty beast. He’s lucky that he doesn’t get stomped on as the Stegadon yells, “Damn You! Your toys are all lies!”

Tuesday our next Mini-photo-essay will look at Francis Turner’s Marx Toy Museum, which opens once a year for a special sale.

Monday Morning Art: One Way


This week’s art is small painting, done with thick acrylic paint on a cheap canvas board.  This is another where I used a few plastic forks and knives, but I also used a lot of straight-edge and laid down pencils before painting. It’s a random city scene, with no real point of reference, since it’s not based on anything specific. I just wanted to see if I could toss together random elements and make it seem real.

This one had to be photographed, rather than scanned, and it was cropped a bit afterward.

To see it bigger try clicking HERE.

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a recent episode of  Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by a recent 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 elsewhere on this page.

Psychedelic Shack can 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.

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.

Tonight at 8 PM you can hear an hour of hilarious and vile comedy from Derek and Clive (also known as Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) on The Comedy Vault. Wednesday evening at 10 PM, we’ll have another new episode of The Comedy Vault.

Then, at 9 PM we bring you an overnight marathon of The Lost Beatles Project episodes of Beatles Blast. Next week will bring you the rest of this series-within-a-series.

Sunday Evening Video: The 2022 Marx Toy Convention

Today we revisit last weekend’s Marx Toy Convention at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia .The Marx Toy Convention happens there the third weekend of June every year.

Following the first day of the Marx Toy Convention, many collectors made the short trip to The Mound Museum in nearby Moundsville, West Virginia, for a book signing and discussion about the new book, Memories of Marx Toys: Glen Dale, by Gary L. Rider and Roeseanna Dakan Keller . The authors of this oral history of The Marx Toys plant in Glen Dale signed books and presented a talk with some of the employees of the Marx Toy factory and their families. Look for a review of this book in PopCult sometime in the next week or two.

Unfortunately, a camera malfunction rendered our recording of the talk unusable. Had it not, we would have presented it here along with our wrap-up video. We do have some footage of the book signing, and we also have footage from Francis Turner’s  Marx Toy Museum, also in Moundsville, which only opens one or two nights a year since it ceased daily operation six years ago.

This is the wrap-up video of The Marx Toy Convention, but we still have more photos, so look for a short photo essay from our trip all next week, here in PopCult.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 109

RFC 109 "Shazam Shirt" from Rudy Panucci on Vimeo.

This week we go back to August, 2010 for the 109th edition of Radio Free Charleston‘s video incarnation.  This ws our third “show without words,” where we showcased instrumental music and films and animation without dialogue. Our music this time came from David Synn and D.T. Stephenson, who later teamed up to form the band Frequency Down. David is back doing solo stuff again, and D.T. is in Static Fur.  We also had RFC faves, Blue Million, ripping through an instrumental blues jam during a sound check.

Our animation was courtesy of Frank Panucci and we also featured the oldest surviving Plant Ro Duction Mini Movie. We also got a quick, photographic tour of LiveMix Studio, our longtime and much-missed production partner.

Host segments were presented in the style of a comic book.  This way I was able to not speak on this episode.  Full production notes can be found HERE.

More Marx Toys To Gawk At

The PopCulteer
June 24, 2022

We are still forced to present bite-sized photo essays of no more than a dozen photos, so today we are going to revisit the Marx Toy Convention, where we were exactly one week ago, and just show off some of the cool toys we saw.

We had a great time and saw lots of old and new friends, but this batch of photos is focused on the toys, many of which we would have snapped up if we had any room left in the house.

You can expect several more photo essays next week, and if all goes well, a video or two this coming Sunday. We may even have a few more pictures of toys from the convention to share.

The Marx Toy Convention happens the third weekend of June every year at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia. This year our trip included the convention, plus a side trip to The Mound Museum in Moundsville and Francis Turner’s Brigadoon-like Marx Toy Museum, also in Moundsville, which only opens one or two nights a year since it ceased daily operation six years ago. We also visited the FiestaWare Outlet Store at the Homer Laughlin plant in Newell, and you will be seeing photos or video from all of those things over the next week.

But today, get your drool cups ready, it’s all about the cool toys…

Dave Roth made these amazing-looking custom wagons for Johnny West, and if our house was three times the size it is now, we would have brought one home with us.

Another of Dave’s cool creations, this one a water wagon.

Terry Ryder’s amazing “bronzed” Johnny West and friends sculptures.

Mark Hegeman had this incredible Marx Moon Base playset for a very decent price, in great condition, but again, where would I put it?

Mark’s Moon Base set was so big it takes up two photos. The condition of the base and the playmat was remarkable.

More of James Wozniak’s long display of pure plastic joy. We showed you a bit of this in an earlier photo essay.

I don’t collect The Tigers fighting men, but if I did…

More plastic Nirvana (with a little tin) from James.

Random cool toys were everywhere you looked.

And playset collectors had plenty to contemplate.

We leave you with a Remco toy, hidden amongst the Marx stuff. The idea of a five-foot tall collapsing building playset had me mesmerized until I remembered that “five-foot tall” was not compatible with “Don’t buy anything huge.”

That is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back every day for fresh content and loads of or regular features. The photos and video from our trip will resume Sunday, if all goes according to plan.

A Night At Studio 54 On MIRRORBALL Friday

Friday on The AIR we offer up a momentus new episode of MIRRORBALL, followed by an encore edition of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat.  The AIR is PopCult’s sister radio station. You can hear these shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player elsewhere on this page.

Friday at 2 PM The AIR transports you back to the Golden Age of Disco with a very, very special episode of Mel Larch’s MIRRORBALL.  This just happens to be episode 54 of Mel’s Disco showcase, and Studio 54 happened to be the most famous Disco of that classic era.  Piling another coincidence on top of things, back in April when we went to see The Minutes, on Broadway, it was actually playing at The Studio 54 Theater located at the former location of the world’s most famous Disco.

We had just debuted the 50th episode of MIRRORBALL, and were aware that we were just a few weeks away from episode 54.  We decided that it’d be cool for episode 54 of MIRRORBALL to present most of the classic album, “A Night At Studio 54,” one of the best-selling Disco LPs of all time.  Knowing this, and aware of Studio 54’s policy of not allowing recording devices to be used inside the theater, we decided to record Mel’s intro on the street, right outside Studio 54, at 254 West 54th Street, New York, New York!

We put Mel’s script on her phone, and recorded her audio using our Kodak Zi8, with me trying my best to be a human windscreen and block Mel from wind and traffic noise. Then we turned off our electronic devices and got in line for the show. After we got home all I had to do was assemble the show, excise one song to fit the timeslot (sorry Ms. Summer, but we have played “Last Dance” several times already) and wait until we got to our 54th episode.

And that happens today.

A Night At Studio 54 was a double album, with its music segued between tracks by disc jockeys Marc Paul Simon and Roy Thode for continuous playing, just like they did at the nightclub itself. Despite going Gold, and almost Platinum on it’s original release, the album has been out of print for decades, since the demise of Casablanca Records, the label that released it, and was never officially issued on CD.  So now MIRRORBALL brings you most of this classic album for our 54th episode, with introductions recorded at Studio 54. Check out the hit-laden playlist…

“Le Freak” (performed by Chic)
Let’s All Chant” (performed by Michael Zager Band)
“Y.M.C.A.” (performed by Village People)
“Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)” (performed by G.Q.)
“Take Me Home” (performed by Cher)
“I Love the Nightlife” (performed by Alicia Bridges)
“I Found Love (Now That I Found You)” (performed by Love & Kisses)
“Got to Be Real” (performed by Cheryl Lynn)
“I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)” (performed by Instant Funk)
“Hot Shot” (performed by Karen Young)
“I Love America” (performed by Patrick Juvet)
“Souvenirs” (performed by Voyage)
“Hot Jungle Drums and Voodoo Rhythm” (performed by D.C. LaRue)
“In the Bush” (performed by Musique)
“Instant Replay” (performed by Dan Hartman)
“Shake Your Groove Thing” (performed by Peaches & Herb)

Not only do you get an hour of classic Disco music, you also get to hear Mel on Broadway, and the first-ever episode of MIRRORBALL recorded on location!

You can hear MIRRORBALL every Friday at 2 PM, with replays Saturday at  9 PM (kicking off a mini-marathon), Sunday at 11 PM, Monday at 9 AM, and Tuesday at 1 PM  exclusively on The AIR.

At 3 PM, Sydney Fileen graces us with an encore episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat that  salutes the genius of STIFF Records. You can find the full playlist HERE.

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Monday at 7 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM, Wednesday at Noon and Thursday at 10 AM, exclusively on The AIR. Look for The PopCulteer, featuring photos from The Marx Toy Convention, later today.

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