Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

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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.

The Night Before The Marx Toy Convention

…and all through the hotel, people met in their rooms ’cause it was hotter than hell.

Since we have to break up these photo essays into bite-sized chunks while our blog is somewhat on the fritz, today’s installment is going to focus on the night before the show, where, because it was way too hot to gather around the fire pit, lots of the Marx folks who were there for “JohnnyCon” the convention-within-a-convention, met up in one of the conference rooms that was loaned to us by the nice manager at the Hampton Inn in Wheeling.

Today we’re going to bring you photos of stuff that was being shown off and/or offered for sale by Terry Ryder and Rosemary Davis Webster. That’s Terry with a clean-shaven PopCulteer at the top of this post.  Terry let me swipe this from Facebook. I didn’t get a picture with Rosemary. Maybe next year.

In the above photo, Terry is holding a really wild-looking Buddy Charlie/All-American Fighter figure with a strange skin tone on his head and hands. I was useless in trying to figure out why, but it was really cool too see. Terry brought a lot of other cool things that she’d recently acquired, and you can see them below…

Let’s take a closer look at Buddy Charlie.

The PL board for the accessories of Princesss Wildflower. Fascinating stuff for the die-hard collector.

Terry had also picked up a really cool scrapbook/collection of original artwork by one of the Marx design team. This includes elements that were used on packaging, and this Johnny West logo that I think might have been intended for a playset that was never produced.

This guy was incredible at drawing guns (on paper, not out of a holster).

Of course, the spacemen are what caught my eye.

Rosemary didn’t have enough stuff to sell to warrant a table at the convention, but she was selling some cool horses and tack sets for Steve Corn, who couldn’t make it this year.

She was also parting with this sharp-looking Wagon and buggy, which I would have snapped up in a heartbeat if I had any room left in my house.

Rosemary was also selling this amazing Circlee X Ranch, built by Mykol Blackwell. Again, I would have grabbed this in an instant if A) we had any room for it and B) it would fit in Mel’s car. I hope it found a good home.

Here’s a back view. This really is the “one that got away.”

Such detail, including a metal stove and what looks like FiestaWare bowls.

We’ll take one last look at the bunkhouse before we leave. Check PopCult tomorrow for another mini-photo essay, this time with more pics from the Marx Toy Convention proper.

Bluegrass Memories At The Mall

We have a single entry in our STUFF TO DO post this week. There’s plenty going on this weekend with FestivALL in full swing, but we’re just going to focus on one event.

On June 25 at The West Virginia Museum of Music, located on the second floor of The Charleston Town Center, an exhibit of photographs from the historic Skyline Bluegrass Festival will open, with a reception fro 3 PM to 5 PM.

The opening of the exhibit will feature speakers and perfromances by members of The Putnam County Pickers and Duffy Boyd, both groups that performed at the original festival.

The Skyline Bluegrass Festival was held in Ronceverte, in Greenbrier County, from 1976 to 1985. It was one of the largest bluegrass gatherings in the Eastern US, attracting 10,000 to 15,000 people each year. Performers included legends like Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley and The Osborne Brothers, as well as then-newcomers like John Prine, Bela Fleck, John Hartford, New Grass Revival and many more.

West Virginia performers included Richard Hefner and the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, The Putnam County Pickers, Ramp Supper Band, Trapezoid, and Plank Road String Band.

Pat Bauserman served as the stage manager and emcee and was the only photographer onstage for the festival’s entire run. Bauserman and The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame have collaborated on this exhibit of photos and memorabilia documenting this important piece of West Virginia music heritage.

The exhibit was created with assistance from The WV Humanities Council, The Hamilton Family Fund and the James F.B. Peyton Fund.

A Quick Look At The 2022 Marx Toy Convention

First off, I have to explain that we are having some technical issues here at PopCult that are limiting the size of my photo essays. Because of that, today I’m just bringing you a few teaser photos from the Marx Toy Convention, which happened last weekend at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia.

We had a great time, and I shot video and tons of photos, which will be shared with you soon.

Over the next two weeks I’ll be posting  many more photos from our weekend trip, which will include photos and video from the Marx Toy Convention, video from our side trip to The Mound Museum in Moundsville for a book signing, a look at our trip to the Marx Toy Museum, which opens once or twice a year now for special events, and a photo essay from our visit to The FiestaWare Outlet Store at the Homer Laughlin plant in Newell, West Virginia. We’ll even tell you about a really cool place you can stay in Wheeling, if you love toys and trains, that is.

The plan is to have some video ready by Sunday, and photo essays every weekday through June.

For now, I wanted to get a teaser photo essay out, while it’s still fresh in my mind.  Apologies for the skimpiness of this batch of photos, with luck I’ll be able to figure out the glitch and collect more photos into our subsequent posts.  Be aware…there’s plenty more to come…

Amazing custom wagons built by Dave Roth, just part of the literal truckload of cool Johnny West goodies he brought to the show.

Professor Jim Fuller had a ton of cool stuff, including the brightly-colored, new-edition Geronimo bodies, which were made by Pedro Olivares Perez, seen in the background in the really cool shirt. This photo was taken right after I bought the bright-yellow figure.

More of Dave Roth’s cool offerings.

Just a part of Tom Heaton’s table, including his Marx Action Figure Guide and modules, which are indispensible for any Johnny West collector. I may have instigated a new module at the show.

Just a fraction of my friend, James Wozniak’s cool plastic wares (with a little tin in the mix).

Your PopCulteer went into this show determined not to bring home too much stuff, which made resisting this Marx Train set a feat of strength on my part.

The folks in the train room, indifferent to my internal struggle.

Just a hint of the cool stuff in the playset room wraps up this photo essay. There will be plenty more to see from the Marx Toy Convention in the coming days.

Frankenstein Returns On Radio Free Charleston!

Your humble blogger had a really fun extended weekend running around the Northern part of West Virginia, but sadly that has left him a bit wiped out, so Tuesday on The AIR  I once again play Dr. Frankenstein and stitch together an episode of Radio Free Charleston volume 4 and Radio Free Charleston International to make a brand-new three hour episode of RFC V5. Both of the original shows are from February 2016, and neither has been heard by anyone for over five years.

It’s an interesting artifact, and it’s still jam-packed with three hours of great local and non-local music. 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 that you can find elsewhere on this page.

At 10 AM and 10 PM you can hear this compilation of RFC volume 4, episode 4 and RFC International episode 1. Instead of just running these shows back to back, I interwove them to seem more like the current format of the show and recorded a new intro explaining what’s going on.  Some of the announcing may seem a bit choppy as I excised irrelevant bits to slash four hours down to three. These shows were produced when The AIR was still using the “Appalachian Internet Radio” moniker.  So you’ll hear that a few times.  both shows were loaded with good music, and I think my monster of a playlist is pretty impressive now that, it’s alive….ALIVE!

Since I’m still in recovery mode, there are no links to the artist’s websites below. Feel free to use the Google, or search this blog, if you really, really want to find out more about the music on the show.

Just check out this playlist…

RFC V5 092

Under Surveillance “Savannah Moon”
Tape Age “Baby I’m Lost”
Ona “Sleep, Rinse, Repeat”
Blue Million “Adam Bit The Apple”
Ann Magnuson “Falling For An Actor”
Jordan Andrew Jefferson “The Party’s Over”
The Beatles and Led Zepplin “Helter Skelter”
The Beetlevanias “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
The Rutles “Shangra La”
Chemical Beats “Welcome To The Black Parade”
Todd Rundgren “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
The Beatnix “Stairway To Heaven”
Mark Wolfe “The Valley Peaked”

hour two
Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen “Incomplete”
Sheldon Vance “Tonight We Sing”
Whistlepunk “Outshine”
Be Bop Deluxe “Surreal Estate”
Kerry Livgren “Mask of the Great Deceiver”
The Buggles “Vermillion Sands”
Nightwish “The Heart Asks Pleasure First”
Granny’s 12-Gauge “Step On The Gas”
Todd Burge “The Kids Are Getting Out Of Hand”
Stephanie Deskins “The Fall”
Time And Distance “Hell to pay”

hour three
Ian Dury and the Blockheads “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll”
Madness “One Step Beyond”
Lene Lovich “Lucky Number”
DEVO “Jocko Homo”
ELP “Benny The Bouncer
Doktor Steamly “The Needle Goes In”
DEVO “Clockout”
J Marinelli “Lockdown Town”
The Company Stores “No Middle Name”
Mike Morningstar and Rick Roberts “Queen of Hearts”
Martyranny’s Collective Pulse “Banshee”
Wolfgang Parker “To Say You Love Me”
John Radcliff “Don’t Even Try”
Go Van Gogh “I Am The Walrus”
Hazel O’Connor “Writing on the Wall”
Kate Bush “Suspended in Gaffa”

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 two hours of of MIRRORBALL at 1 PM. At 3 PM we have two recent episodes of The Swing Shift.  The plan for the rest of the week is for me to bring you photos and video from our trip, plus a very, very special new episode of MIRRORBALL on Friday.

Monday Morning Art: City In The Distance


This week’s art is a bit of a watercolor and acrylic doodle that turned out as a look at a city in the distance. It just started out with me playing arond with colors and then it took form as a loose cityscape. With my fingers currently wonkered up due to Myasthenia Gravis, this one was proclaimed finished before I took it to high detail (or got horrible finger cramps).

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 at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.

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 great comedy from Steve Martin 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 Nigel Pye’s Psychedelic Rock showcase, Psychedelic Shack, to get your mind all expanded and stuff.

Sunday Evening Video: Neil Innes

Above you see a documentary that I have been wanting to watch for fourteen years.

When I first heard about The Seventh Python, a film devoted to Neil Innes, who was a member of the Bonzo Dog Band, an auxillary member of Monty Python and even rubbed shoulders with The Beatles, I needed to see it.

Only it never came out. It was shown at a few festivals and a DVD release was promised, but it never happened. Every few months I’d remember to Google it, and nothing showed up. Until last week, that is. Somebody uploaded what looks like a workprint to YouTube a little over a year ago, and I’m bringing it to you tonight before it gets yanked down.  Sadly, Innes dies suddenly in December, 2019, so he never really got the acclaim he deserved in his lifetime. As a Bonzo, a Python, and most importantly as a Rutle, Neil Innes has long been a personal hero of mine.

If it weren’t for The Rutles, I may have never become the rabid Beatles fan that I am today.

I was a comedy nerd who ate up everything that was related to Monty Python and Saturday Night Live when NBC aired a cross-country collaboration in 1978 that sent up the entire Beatles mythos. Neil Innes, who created The Rutles’s music and co-created the concept with Eric Idle, captured the sound of The Beatles’ music so well that it clicked with me, and sent me down the rabbit hole to learn all I could about The Fab Four so that I could get all the jokes in All You Need Is Cash, The Rutles mockumentary.

Innes started out as a co-leader of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, who had ties to both The Beatles (they appear in Magical Mystery Tour and had a single produced by Paul McCartney) and Monty Python (The Bonzos were on the pre-Python show, Do Not Adjust Your Set with Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam’s animation, and Innes was a credited writer on the final season of the Monty Python TV show and was essentially a member of the troupe for Monty Python and The Holy Grail). Innes also had a solo career (and had one of his songs plagarized by Beatle imitators, Oasis), and was a beloved host of radio programs and children’s shows in the UK.

But you’ll find all that out if you watch the documentary, quick, while you can.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 108

This week we take you back to August, 2010, for our first “normal” episode of Radio Free Charleston after a six-part look at that year’s FestivALL.

This episode, “To The Batmobile Shirt,” featured music from InFormation, Volt 9000 and The AK40 Sexuals. We also have short films from K.D. Lett and Scott Elkins.

I totally forgot about the cool Batmobile shirt I’m wearing in the host segments, and wonder where in the house it has gone.

This was a pretty strong edition of our program, and it’s nice to get it back into the blog. Original production notes can be found HERE.

The Birthday Girl & The Banshees

The PopCulteer
June 17, 2022

With your PopCulteer on the road to Wheeling for The Marx Toy Convention, today we have a belated birthday edition of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat to tell you about.  If you are a fan of one Susan Jane Ballion, then perk up your ears because you’ll get two full hours of Siouxsie & The Banshees Friday afternoon on The AIR.  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.

At 2 PM, we have an encore episode of Mel Larch’s DISCO showcase, MIRRORBALL! Mel will return with a very special new episode next week. 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, on Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, Sydney Fileen delivers a special mixtape edition of her show that presents two full hours of the New Wave era music of Siouxsie & The Banshees, including tracks from their first ten studio releases.

This episode of the show was originally slated to debut on May 27th,  which was birthday number 65 for Siouxsie Sue, but the death of Depeche Mode’s Andy Fletcher the day before caused Sydney to put this show on the backburner while she assembled her tribute to Fletch.

Still, Siouxsie is such an important figure that The Big Electric Cat had to become a belated birthday present for one of the most influential women in rock music.

Take a peek at this impressive playlist…

BEC 092
Siouxsie’s Birthday Party

“Helter Skelter”
“Jigsaw Feeling”
“Nicotine Stain”
“Premature Burial”
“The Lord’s Prayer”
“Night Shift”
“She’s A Carnival”
“Painted Bird”
“Dear Prudence”
“Red Over White”
“Cities In Dust (Eruption Mix)”
“The Unrest”
“This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both of Us”
“Hall of Mirrors”
“Strange Fruit”
“The Passenger”
“The Killing Jar”
“Turn to Stone”
“Peek A Boo”

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.

That’s what’s on The AIR Friday, and that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back every day for fresh content and loads of or regular features.

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