The PopCulteer
April 24, 2020

The phrase “uncertain times” has been over-used of late, but it is apt because we don’t really know what the hell is going to happen in the next few months.

Friday afternoon The AIR brings you a fourth installment of Rudy & Mel’s Shut-in Show at 2 PM, and you can listen at The AIR website, or just hit the “play” button on this nifty virtual player…

At 2 PM you can hear the latest episode of The Rudy & Mel Shut-In Show. This is one hour of your PopCulteer and his wife talking–often in a not safe for work manner–about whatever pops into our heads. It’s unrehearsed, unplanned, spontaneous talk, presented with minimal editing. Today in the PopCulteer, I’m going to address a topic that we touch on for a bit in this show.

This week the rambling conversation starts out with the two of us talking about the movie, The Trolls World Tour, but then we veer into a discussion of farts in popular culture, the summer toy conventions, propaganda and anti-intellectualism and a preview of what’s coming up on The AIR.

And like the first two installments, it’s not really safe for work.

But one point from our show that I want to bring up here is the affect that the Coronavirus is having on pop culture and toy conventions.

SDCC, the former San Diego Comic Con, has been canceled for 2020. This was no surprise, since an event of that magnitude, with tens of thousands of guests from all around the world was definitely not going to be feasible. The folks who run SDCC had already called off WonderCon in Anaheim, which was to have happened already, and that is a much smaller show. SDCC was supposed to happen in mid-July, and even if parts of the country are trying to reopen by then, large international gatherings may be out of the question through the end of the year.

I would not expect the New York Comic Con to happen this October. Likewise the October 25 toy show in Chicago is in doubt, after they had already canceled their April show.

WonderFest USA in Louisville, the model-making convention that usually happens the weekend after Memorial Day, has been postponed to October. It’s not a huge show, and Louisville is not as densely-populated as New York or Chicago, but that show still may not happen at all this year.

Free Comic Book Day, which was scheduled for May 6, is tentatively rescheduled for later in the summer, while Record Store Day, which was to have happened last weekend, is now scheduled for June 19, and even that date is in question.

At this point, pretty much everything scheduled for May has been canceled. In a few weeks we should learn which events in June are going to be delayed or postponed.

Closer to home, and affecting yours truly, the Marx Toy Convention is scheduled for the third weekend in June in Wheeling, which is the same weekend that MEGO Meet is supposed to happen in Columbus.  Neither show has been postponed or canceled as I write this, and they really have a good month before they have to make that decision, but I’d be surprised if either one went on as planned.

The Marx Toy Convention happens at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum, and they also organize the show, so delaying it to later in the year is a very viable option for them. MEGO Meet, on the other hand, is at the mercy of their host hotel, and may have to cancel this year’s show outright. I’ve talked to friends who usually attend both shows, and the consensus is that if either show runs as scheduled, attendance will be next to nothing.

While I had planned to try to make it to both shows again this year, due to my situation as an immuno-compromised person, I’d say that it would take an unexpected breakthrough in developing a cure or vaccine to get me to go to either show. As I wrote in this space a few weeks ago, it’s okay to be sad because things you were looking forward to get canceled, or you just can’t go.  I’m really hoping to be able to go to the Kentuckiana GI Joe Show in July.

Even if the country reopens earlier than the experts recommend, it seems unlikely that people are going to rush to attend mass gatherings and join with huge crowds. Recent polls showing that more than 80% of the people in this country support the stay-at-home orders should indicate that, even if some of the toy shows and pop culture conventions are able to happen on schedule, they probably won’t draw enough people to make it worthwhile.

Then we also have the issue of guests of honor at the various shows. It would be insane to fly Marty Abrams, who is a fit, healthy 70-plus years young, to Columbus, where he would risk being exposed to Covid-19 from hundreds of admiring fans who want to shake his hand. Larry Hama was one of the first guests to pull out of ToyLanta, and while he’s scheduled for the Hershey Action Figure Show in August, I believe he’s already said he was skipping this summer’s convention season. Many of the scheduled guests for the upcoming horror and comic book conventions are well past the age where they should be in any kind of mass-gathering situation. “Con-crud,” a common ailment afflicting attendees of shows who get exposed to a cocktail of all sorts of hardy bugs is bad enough without having a lethal component added to it.

And don’t even get me started on music festivals. Don’t expect any of those to happen this year.

Just as it’s too soon to pull the plug on the June Toys shows (even if it seems inevitable), Charleston has not officially canceled FestivALL as I write this, but several major events that are held in conjunction with FestivALL have been called off already. I mentioned those last Saturday. I know we aren’t going to get a full season of Live on the Levee, and they may not even try to do any of the free weekly Friday concerts this summer. 2020 may well turn into the year that A City Becomes A Blank Canvas.

Hell, we don’t even know what this August’s Democratic and Republican conventions are going to look like. They might turn out to be some kind of giant Zoom meeting.

It’s all one big question mark.

And that is The PopCulteer for this week. On The AIR, after the new edition of The Shut In Show, we bring you an encore of the Live Aid episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. Sydney begged off this week so that she could put more work into a special episode of her program devoted to Scottish New Wave bands. You can hear a replay of this week’s Radio Free Charleston, featuring new music from Battleship Battleship!, this evening at 7 PM. Plus you can check PopCult for all our regular features and fresh content every day.