Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: June 2023 (Page 1 of 4)

Chasing The Smiley Truck and Finding FiestaWare

The PopCulteer
June 30, 2023

This week the PopCulteer is a short photo essay that just reveals a tiny bit of what we did after we left The Marx Toy & Train Show a couple of weeks ago.

Because my knee was screaming at me loudly, we skipped the second day of the Marx show, and instead hit the road West, and then North, to The Hartville Marketplace and Flea Market in Ohio.  This is just outside of Canton, and it’s much, much bigger in real life than it seems when you look at pictures on the internet. The plan was that I would not be mister photographer/blogger that day, and I’d just grab a few photos.

The drive was pretty easy. We just took Interstate 70 to Cambridge and turned North onto Interstate 77. Once we hit the correct exit, Hartville was only about four miles and several roundabouts away.

But driving up I 77, we spotted something.  Like a big, demented great white whale, only instead it was a tanker truck with a big smiley face painted on the back.

It was pretty far ahead of us, and we were probably behind it for twenty minutes before we even noticed it. After becoming fascinated with it for another ten miles or so, even though it was probably more than a quarter-mile ahead of us, I grabbed the camera, zoomed in all the way, and tried to get a few shots.

It was tricky, being zoomed in that far in a moving car, but I did manage to get a few photos, which you see here.

We noticed that the eyes were hearts, and thought this might have something to do with Love’s Truck stops, but we never got close enough to see any other markings.

This was about as close as we ever got, and this is zoomed in quite a bit, but once we noticed it, it was surreal seeing this giant smiling face bobbing around the horizon ahead of us for more than half an hour.

You’re seeing the above photos because, having expended that much effort on a day when I intended to play “civilian” and not take photos, I thought they might be mildly amusing for my readers.

Now, the primary reason we went to Hartville was that they are now host to a brand-spanking-new Everything’s Fiesta outlet store, stocked to the gills with all things FiestaWare,  including the new color, Jade, which had just become available a week or so before we were there. This was the only place I’d intended to take pictures that day.

They haven’t been open long, so they had banners instead of permanent signs.

The store was fully-stocked with the new Jade color.

They even had it in boxed place-settings.

This location itself was pretty big and clean.

With everything (new stock and factory seconds) in one big room, it might’ve been four times the size of the store in Flatwoods.

The seconds were all out in the open, and didn’t seem as dusty and musty as they do in Flatwoods or at the Factory store in Newell.

If you find yourself up that way and are a fan of FiestaWare, it’s worth the trip, with the Hartville Marketplace as an added bonus.

Now, having seen that, you may be wondering what the rest of the Hartville Antique Mall and Flea Market was like.

It was…huge.

In fact, it was so huge that when we pulled up and saw that the outdoor flea market was the size of several football fields, my knee, which is normally non-verbal, loudly said, “Screw that!” so we did not partake in the copious amount of outdoor flea marketry available to us that fine day.

Instead we went inside, where we found dozens of vendors on the first level, and too many objections from my knee to explore the second level. They had collectible toys, a huge food court, shops filled with cool stuff like clothing, jewelry, furniture, toys, and other goodies.  They also had some booths filled with not-cool stuff like guns and pro-Trump garbage, but its easy enough to avoid those vendors.

It’d take you a day to fully explore the inside shops, and probably a second day to peruse the outdoor flea market, and we are likely to return later this year so I can document the trip with photos and video, and also turn you on to another cool thing we found around Canton that shall remain secret for now.

But that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back every day for fresh content and our regular features, and get ready because, if all goes according to plan, you’ll have lots of new episodes of our radio shows on The AIR over the next two weeks.

The Last Batch of Marx Toy & Train Show Photos

I told you I had more of these to share.

Your PopCulteer has been back from a trip that included a day at the Marx Toy and Train Collector’s Show for almost two weeks now. The Toy and Train Show happened on June 16 and 17, at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling. Your humble blogger and his wife had a great time at the show, and I brought you a small batch of photos , then a larger batch, and last Sunday, the full-blown video of the show, but today I have one last batch of cool images (from this year’s show), and this time it’s almost all devoted to the cool toys we saw there.

I have reached a point in my collecting life where I simply can’t buy every cool toy that I might be able to afford any more. Stately Radio Free Charleston Manor is rapidly running out of room, so I have to be way more selective at toy shows (and I’m looking at going to three more in the next couple of months).  So while it’s really cool to see all the neat rare toys, I am now pursuing them “photo safari” style, where I just get pictures of the bigger pieces.

And that’s what we have for you today, tons of images of cool toys. Enjoy…

The cool Marx tin skyscraper. After not seeing any of these for sale here before, this time dealers had three up for adoption. This was the only one with Kong and Superman on board, though.

A mix of Marx and Modern toys, but you never pass up a photo op with Robbie.

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STUFF TO DO: Regatta Edition

Okay, it’s time for your guide to things you can do in and around Charleston and the Mountain state for the pre-holiday weekend, which in Charleston is filled with the recently-revived Sternwheel Regatta.

While a Regatta is a boat race, in Charleston it’s a huge music festival on the riverback where open-container laws are suspended and drunken revelry and music are the order of the day.

The musical acts are usally semi-big-name artists who are somewhere on their career arc between “just past their expiration date” and “playing state fairs.”  This year the music kicks off on Friday with Better Than Ezra, and opening act The Crunch.  Saturday’s big name is Flo Rida, with opening act, Redline.  Sunday Kool & The Gang are the headliners, with support from Charleston’s own Santa Cruz Band.  On Monday it’s Country night, with Jo Dee Messina, and Kate Boytek. Then on the Fourth of July, The West Viginia Symphony performs, followed by fireworks.

There are tons of other events happening up and down the shuttered Kanawha Boulevard for this event, and you can find a full schedule of them HERE.

Following the Regatta shows, you can walk over to Capitol Street and find after-parties with live music most nights at Sam’s Uptown Cafe and The Blue Parrott.

I do hope that anybody planning to attend remains mindful of the air quality, heat and weather warnings.  We are not having ideal conditions, so please stay safe.

Live Music is back at Taylor Books. There is no cover charge, and shows start at 7:30 PM.  Friday it’s Matt Thomas. Saturday James Townshend entertains the crowd at Charleston’s beloved Bookstore/Coffee Shop/Art Gallery.

The World Famous Empty Glass Cafe has some great stuff through the week to tell you about.  Wednesday The Bridget Kelly Band bring the Blues to the Glass at 9 PM. Thursday at 10 PM, it’s Jakob Thomas and Friends. Friday Tim Courts plays during happy hour.  Later on Friday the Glass presents the Jazz-Pop of The Scott Bane Quartet.  Saturday expect the unexpected with Pink Ladies at 10 PM.

A lot of our regular venues are either on vacation or providing technical staff for the Regatta, so we don’t have as many graphics as usual this week, but there’s still way more STUFF TO DO than any one person can do.

Please remember that the pandemic is not over yet. It’s still a going concern. And now there are seasonal allergies, the flu, more fallout from Canadian wildfires, displaced Russian mercenaries, stray inebriated Regatta-goers, excaped gubernatorial gallbladders and other damned good reasons to be careful. Many people who have very good reasons are still wearing masks, and many of us, understandably, are still nervous about being in crowds, masked or not. Be kind and understanding  while you’re out.

If you’re up for going out, here are a few suggestions for coming weekend, roughly in order…




New Music From Jeff Ellis and More On RFC, Plus a New Episode of The Swing Shift on The AIR

We have come to Tuesday on The AIR that means it’s time for a new  Radio Free Charleston and a new edition of The Swing Shift. You simply have to point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay here, and  listen to the cool embedded player found elsewhere on this page.  

You can hear Radio Free Charleston Tuesdays at 10 AM and 10 PM, with tons of replays throughout the week.  This week we have three full hours of great music, much of it local, plenty of it independent, and all of it quite good.

We open the show with the title track of the new Jeff Ellis Album.  “Vacancy Hearts” is due out August 4, but you can get a bit of a preview of other tracks on Jeff’s Facebook page, and in our third hour. We’ll be teasing more from Vacancy Hearts in the coming weeks. It’s a killer album.  A couple of weeks ago, the Ghettoblaster website profiled Jeff and told a bit about the recording of the album.

We also have new music this week from the Tom Batchelor Band, Steve Lukather, Golden, Buni Muni, Jamie’s Pawnshop Guitars Speedsuit, Galen and Paul, Scarlet Revolt, Jim Lange and more. This is a real jam-packed edition of the show. We also have a country tune from the Jesse Blankenship Band that features none other than the legendary Defectors/Clownhole guitarist, John (Sham Voodoo) Estep.

Check out the playlist below to see all the goodies we have in store. Where possible, live links will take you to the local and indie artist’s pages so you can find out more about them, buy their music and find out where to see them perform live…

RFC V5 135

hour one
Jeff Ellis “Vacancy Hearts”
Tom Batchelor Band “Stop Pushin’ My Buttons”
Steve Lukather “Not My Kind of People”
Sophie Ellis-Bextor “Until The Wheels Fall Off”
Jerks “Nowhere”
Golden “Wrong Way”
Buni Muni “Battle Pass”
Novelty Island “Sea Miner”
The Analogues “Don’t Fade Away”
Erin Hill “Here Comes The Sun”
Rasta Rafiki “Imagine (Your Dream For Real)”
Lady D “Somebody’s Got To Move”
Jamie’s Pawnshop Guitars featuring Mark Beckner “Love Song”
Speedsuit “The Game”
Sean Richardson “My Skeleton Lies Here”

hour two
Galen and Paul “It’s Another Night”
A Different Scene “Smokin’ On A Saturday Jam”
Hurtin’ Buckaroos “Us And Them”
Eddy Grant “Another Revolutionary”
Fletcher’s Grove  “Masterbeast”
Beggars Clan “We Sleep”
Three’s Company Blues “River Song”
Inception In Black “Voyeur”
Scarlet Revolt “Vengeance”
Wolves of the Calla “The Pack”
Simple Minds “Traffic”
Toyah Wilcox “21st Century Supersister”

hour three
Jeff Ellis “The Shadow of Impending Loss”
The Wearing Hands “Is This The End”
Jesse Blankenship Band “Hey Pretty Mama Come Home With Me”
The Meatles “I’ll Cry Instead”
Bon Air “This Could’ve Been Us”
Cassius At Best “Dead Weight”
Shake The Dead “Scripts”
Jim Lange “April Rain”
Guitarmy of One “Top Secret Agent Man on a Wire Tapped Phone at Sea”
Jordan Andrew Jefferson “Ruler Of The World (Instrumental)”
Rick Wakeman “The Creek”
Trielement “Into The Ether”
Beat To Death “I Can’t Breathe”
Dexter Dekker “Rudy Got Soul”
The Easybeats “Tell Your Mother”

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 2 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 classic 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 last week’s episodes of  MIRRORBALL at 1 PM and Curtain Call at 2 PM.

At 3 PM we offer up a brand-new episode of The Swing Shift. This time it’s a solid hour of great Swing tunes chosen at random for no other reason than they swing. Once again I recorded and deejayed this one live with no prep. Still, it swings like crazy.

Just check out this seemingly random playlist…

The Swing Shift 143

Dave Stucky & The Hothouse Gang “Optimisticize”
Paul Carrack “Cryin’ Won’t Help You”
Tyler Pedersen “Extreme People”
Maria Muldaur with Tuba Shorty “He Ain’t Got Rhythm”
Swingaria “Under The Moon”
Red Nichols & His Five Pennies “Peanut Vendor”
Fred Astaire “Nice Work If You Can Get It”
Ray McKinley & His Orchestra “Hangover Square”
David Campbell “Love Me Or Leave Me”
Pashoe/Miscellaneous “Blues Of The Sea”
Jack’s Cats “My Friend”
Glenn Miller Orchestra “Pennsylvania 6-5000”
Count Basie and His Orchestra “Topsy”
Robbie Williams with Micheal Buble “Soda Pop”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Jump Jive An’ Wail”
Indigo Swing “Drinkin’ It Up”
Lady J and her Bada Bing Band “Sweet Talkin’ Devil”
Royal Crown Revue “Jumpin’ In G”

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 8 AM, Friday at 10 AM and 8 PM and Saturday afternoon, only on The AIR . You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Monday Morning Art: Empire

Are you sick of New York City yet? I’m not.

This week we have a small acrylic study of The Empire State Building, as seen from our hotel room on the top floor of the Hilton, Times Square. This was done on a small piece of canvas board using cheap brushes and X-Acto knives. This piece was started almost a month ago, and finally finished late last week. It dried enough for me to scan, so it didn’t need any color-correction, or much in the way of cropping.

If you’re looking at it on a desktop computer, you may be seeing it larger than the size it was painted. I wasn’t going for stark realism here, but it’s not really impressionistic, either. I like to call this particular school of artistic development “quick and sloppy.”

If I revisit this, it’ll be part of a larger piece.

To see it bigger try clicking HERE.

Over in radioland, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a classic episode of Psychedelic Shack, and then at 3 PM a classic 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. 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 8 PM you can hear an hour of just pre-pandemic stand-up from Lewis Black, on The Comedy Vault.

Tonight at 9 PM the Monday Marathon presents ten hours of “Sgt. Pepper” heavy episodes of Beatles Blast, to end June on a Pepper-ish note.

Sunday Evening Video: 2023 Marx Toy & Train Show

PopCult brings you a quick video with some highlights of the cool toys and cool people at The 2023 Marx Toy & Train Show, a great collector’s convetion held every year at the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia. Videography is by Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch. I handled the editing and narration (which was ad-libbed, so don’t judge it too harshly).

This is basically an 11-plus minute “home movie” of the event, but it gives you a tiny bit of the flavor of the event, which draws people from all over the country each year.  Next year’s show at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum is already scheduled for June 14 and 15. As has become tradition, the video ends with the ever-growing crowd gathering for the group photo.

This is not the last look at this year’s show, which happened last weekend. Sometime in the next week I’ll do another photo essay, with even more images from this really fun toy show. You can see my first two photo essays on The 2023 Marx Toy & Train Show HERE and HERE.


The RFC Flashback: Episode Thirty-One

Let us take you back to late November, 2007 for an episode of Radio Free Charleston hosted from the La Belle Theater in South Charleston that features music from Raymond Wallace and Doctor Senator, plus animation from Frank Panucci and news about then upcoming events in South Charleston, which are now many years in the past. .

This episode of RFC is loaded with promos for upcoming events that, of course, already happened. You’ll see your host (and blogger), Rudy Panucci, give heartfelt plugs for The No Pants Players annual Christmas Show and IWA East Coast’s double-show, where they ran a high-flyer’s tournament and the first Masters of Pain show on the same day. This show also includes a promo clip for the “Best of Radio Free Charleston Night” at the LaBelle and a brief appearence by Kitty Killton before she was Kitty Killton. We never did get around to doing “Mad Man Pondo’s Celebrity Run-in” though, but it was a great promo.

Our musical acts were Raymond Wallace, recorded in the lobby at LiveMix Studio, and Doctor Senator, recorded at The Sound Factory. Those two venues, sadly, are no longer with us. You can read the original production notes for this show HERE.

MIRRORBALL Returns With Hot Summer Disco

The PopCulteer
June 23, 2023

Suddenly and without warning, we have to start The PopCulteer with a STUFF TO DO update:  Friday night at Live on The Levee, at Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston, the headliner has been changed. Celisse has dropped out and has been replaced with RFC faves and old buddies of PopCult, The Velvet Brothers!  New Old Souls are still opening at 6:30 PM, but now The Velvet Brothers will play on into the night, which is really cool. All proper citizens should march down to Haddad to see The Velvets!  This news just broke around 9 PM Thursday night, after this post was already been prepared.  We now return you to your regularly-scheduled PopCulteer...

Your PopCulteer is neck-deep in editing video from last weekend’s Marx Toy & Train Show so I can post it this Sunday. Luckily, instead of writing a long essay that would take me away from those duties, a lovely lady has come to my rescue. Mel Larch returns Friday with a new episode of MIRRORBALL devoted to summertime Disco Hits from the golden age of dance music.

Friday at 2 PM on The AIR, Mel Larch devotes a full hour to dance classics that managed to heat up the dance floor when the air conditioners were running full blast anyway.  The AIR is PopCult‘s sister radio station. You can hear these shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player found elsewhere on this page.

Rather than bring you another theme show, Mel returns to her roots and mixes things up. In this hour you will hear timeless Disco classics mixed with underground club hits and a track or two that managed to heat things up in Europe or New York without spreading their boogie fever to the Hot 100. One thing you can be sure of, they’re all eminently danceable.

Check out the playlist…


Shalamar “Take That To The Bank”
Chic “My Forbidden Lover”
Bee Gees “Tragedy”
Alan Sorrenti “Try To Imagine”
Grace Jones “I Need A Man”
Rick James “Ghetto Life”
Stephanie Mills “What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'”
Junior “Mama Used To Say”
Gene Chandler “Get Down”
The Whispers “And The Beat Goes On”
Gary’s Gang “Keep On Dancin'”
Gloria Gaynor “Walk On By”
Edwin Starr “Contact”

You can hear MIRRORBALL every Friday at 2 PM, with replays throughout the following week Monday at 9 AM and Tuesday at 1 PM and a mini-marathon Saturday nights at 9 PM

At 3 PM we bring you an encore of the very first episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat from July, 2016.  This is the show that launched Sydney Fileen’s backward glance at the brave new tomorrow that never really came.  Since we had a shortened week due to holiday marathons, I just dropped in the debut episodes of most of our shows this week, and now that Sydney’s been around almost seven years, with more than a hundred episodes, here’s a fun chance to go back and hear how it all began.

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. Two classic episodes can also be heard every Sunday, starting at 10 AM.

And that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back every day for fresh content.

The Murky World of Richard Corben

The PopCult Comix Bookshelf

Murky World
by Richard Corben
Dark Horse Books
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1506734743

I’ve been a fan of Richard Corben’s work, probably, since I was eight years old. My older brother bought Warren’s Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella comics magazines, and I fell in love with Corben’s art. Nobody drew like him, with a unique mix of cartoon dynamism and ultra-realistic rendering.

Dakr Horse is collecting Corben’s work in a series of deluxe hardcovers, and this first release, Murky World, collects, for the first time, stories that were originally published by Dark Horse and in Heavy Metal Magazine over the last ten year’s of Corben’s life.

It is remarkable that in his long career, he never lost a step. This work is as rich and vital as the first stories I saw by him, over fifty years ago.

In addition to Corben’s entire Murky World series, this book features never-before-seen sketch material, the Dark Horse Presents one-shot, and an introduction by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, all presented in a gorgeous hardcover with a dust jacket.

The story is in the spirit of Corben’s Den and Mutant World sagas, sword-and-sorcery epics with sci-fi overtones, set in a surreal barren wasteland and populated with grotesque mutants and hyper-muscular heroes. We take a quick detour for the publisher’s blurb…

In Murky World, Tugat the warrior wakes from a strange dream only to find himself in a bizarre land populated by hungry deadlings, cruel necromancers, buxom cyclopes, evil cults, and more as he sets off on a dangerous journey with his beloved horse Frix.

The story moves briskly, filled with Corben’s trademark humor, sexuality and action and the presentation is just beautiful, with Corben’s art fully restored and remastered and impeccably printed.

Murky World has been selling briskly in the few weeks since its release. It’s long-overdue for Rich Corben to get his proper recognition. His career has been amazing, starting out at a Kansas City commercial film house before breaking into professional comics at the age of 30. He retained ownership of his characters until he branched out to work for DC, Vertigo and Marvel in his 60s. Along the way he painted the cover of Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell album and had a large segment based (poorly) on his Den comics in the Heavy Metal movie.

His comics work ranks among the best ever produced, and while it sucks that we lost him at the age of 80 in late 2020, it’s great that his work will live on in a series of deluxe hardcover collections. I’s telling that, among the complimentary blurbs on the back of the book, two of the come from Alan Moore and Moebius.

Murky World can be ordered from any bookseller and select comic book shops by using the ISBN code. It’s currently sold out at Amazon, but may be restocked soon.

The First STUFF TO DO of Summer

Okay, it’s time once again for your guide to things you can do in and around Charleston and the Mountain state as we are now officially, legally and legitimately into what some people call “Summer.” In this week’s edition of STUFF TO DO, we’re going going to do our best to tell you about a wide variety of events happening all over our local region.

Live Music is back at Taylor Books. There is no cover charge, and shows start at 7:30 PM.  Friday it’s Neil Curry. Saturday Sean Richardson & David McGuire with Brooke A. Brown entertain the crowd at Charleston’s beloved Bookstore/Coffee Shop/Art Gallery.

The World Famous Empty Glass Cafe has some great stuff through the week to tell you about.  Thursday at 10 PM, it’s Buddy’s Birthday Bash with Rodney & The Cressels. Friday Tim Courts plays during happy hour.  Sunday the post-Mountain Stage Jam happens around 10 PM.  Next Monday It’s time for the Empty Glass Open Mic, with both Unmanned and Eric Robbins listed as hosts. Check the graphics below for other cool shows at the Glass.

Please remember that the pandemic is not over yet. It’s still a going concern. And now there are seasonal allergies, the flu, global climate castrophes, alien invasions, reanimated roadkill, disgraced former presidents and other damned good reasons to be careful. Many people who have very good reasons are still wearing masks, and many of us, understandably, are still nervous about being in crowds, masked or not. Be kind and understanding  while you’re out.

If you’re up for going out, here are a few suggestions for coming weekend, roughly in order…

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