Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

PopCult Is This Many

The PopCulteer
August 28, 2009


Four years ago today the I wrote the very first PopCult post. It wasn’t much. A goofy item consisting mainly of alliteration, but it was the start of what is the longest-running single-author blog here at The Charleston Gazette. Also in the early days of test posting, I wrote about my since-changed stance on seafood, posted the first piece of my digital art and composed what is still one of my favorite brief bits of silliness.

Since then I’ve written about toys, comic books, movies, television, animation, art and music. With Radio Free Charleston, I’ve brought you tons of local music, film and animation. I made a concerted effort to make this blog as much like a personal blog as I can while still focusing on pop culture as much as possible.

Over the years I’ve introduced regular features like Monday Morning Art and Sunday Evening Videos, along with RFC, which I hope makes PopCult a true multimedia blog that you folks can enjoy. A few months ago I added this regular Friday feature, The PopCulteer, which sort of deviates from the blog format to present my half-baked tribute to the late James Dent (who wrote “The Gazetteer” for years for The Gazette). It’s been a kick forcing myself to write longer essays, or present photo essays from Art Walk and other events, and despite the lack of feedback, I intend to keep at it for the foreseeable future.

Despite some recent changes at The Gazette, I will be continuing PopCult here. So you can count on seeing more Monday Morning Art, Sunday Evening Videos, PopCulteers, Cool Comics Of The Week (starting next week, really) and Radio Free Charleston, until they get sick of me. Maybe someday I’ll rate a mention on page two like the other blogs.

You can also find Radio Free Charleston at Shouts And Hollers and at the RFC MySpace Page. The show is now available for any website that wishes to embed it. Email me at for details. We’re ready to go viral with this thing.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank my readers for putting up with four years of my self-indulgent blather. Hope you enjoy the ride. We’re not done yet. Yay me!


Remember to watch the latest episode of Radio Free Charleston for details on how you can win a beautiful Danelectro 1963 Reissue Guitar with twin lipstick-tube pickups, courtesy of our friends at Route 60 Music!

The rules have been simplified, and entering is now as easy as sending an email. Watch the show to find out how to enter.


Monday Night, Melanie Larch, my main squeeze, was called to sing The National Anthem at Appalachian Power Park. Here’s a photo of her, taken moments before she sang, followed bya shot of the game and pre-game activities.

Option 22 and The Clementines played at LiveMix Studio last Friday night. Below you see Option 22, but first we have Casi Null of The Clementines. Casi is one of my favorite subjects to photograph.

Later that night, we recorded The Drunken Gentlemen at The Empty Glass. Here’s a shot of the band.

A couple of weeks ago, Deni Bonet rocked LiveMix Studio. After the show, we hammed it up for the cameras, producing one of the worst photos of me ever taken.


Long time readers may remember my disdain for the commercials that they show every five minutes on cable television channels. I admit that these spots, which feature a hapless Andy Samburg-type slacker singing catchy tunes about his credit score, are well-done, but the product they sell is downright evil. Essentially, they make you sign up for a monthly credit-monitoring service, which is not free, in order to get a credit report, which, by law, is available to every US citizen for free anyway by going to

They’re tricking people into paying for something that they are already entitled to get for free anyway. And they’re doing it with a slick, clever ad campaign. However, under the close scrutiny that comes with repeated viewings (due to their saturation ad buys), the commercials can actually backfire, and make you hate the lead character, that once-likable tousled-haired Canadian dude played by Eric Violette (right, but that’s not really his voice–more phoniness). So, you may well arsk, what’s wrong with the guy?
First, if he’s a customer of, he’s an idiot. Dock him a few sympathy points there. Second, he’s such an idiot that he didn’t know he had bad credit to begin with. Third, even if he did know how lousy his credit rating is, that information still does nothing to repair his credit, so he still has to settle for a crappy car and archaic cell phone. Even if he did know his credit score, he’s still got lousy credit.
And then there’s the spot, early in the campaign, where he complains about not checking his girlfriend’s credit before they got married. He actually sings about how, if he knew she had student loans in default, that he’d be “a happy bachelor with a dog and a yard.” What a total bastard! Dude, you can’t even get a decent car or a cell phone, don’t blame your wife for your lousy credit rating.  Does “For Better Or For Worse” ring a bell?

Deeper in the context of this series of commercials is the implied message that this loser ran off from his wife and had to take a series of dead-end jobs, working in a seafood restaurant, being a waiter at private parties or hiding out in a Renaissance fair. That is not how you repair your credit rating.

This scumbag is a drifter who’s already run off and left a wife behind so he can play in a band with his equally-lame slacker pals. This character is as ethically-challenged as the executives of the company he represents. He probably had to leave the Renaissance fair when he knocked up one of the wenches. Good luck getting any child support out of this sleaze ball, ye olde buxom wench!

Seriously, the guy goes from town to town, from dead-end job to dead-end job. If he wasn’t stuck driving a hatchback he’d probably have dead hookers in the trunk. We’re supposed to root for this guy, or follow his advice–really?

Getting back to the point, knowing his credit score would do nothing to improve his situation, except cost him the twenty bucks or so each month that it costs to find out how bad off he is. Maybe I ought to set up a website called “Dude, you’re” to see how many suckers I can get to pay me to find out the obvious.

Most people have a pretty good idea of what kind of shape they’re in financially. Just to make sure, Congress passed a law mandating that the three major credit-reporting agencies have to provide you with your credit report once a year…FOR FREE. That’s why exists. You don’t need to pay anyone for the service. Guess what? When you sign up for one of these fly-by-night agencies (that must have deep pockets when you consider how much they advertise) you not only forfeit your right to your free credit report, but you agree to turn over all your personal info to a third party–ONE THAT IS WILLING TO CHARGE YOU MONEY FOR SOMETHING THAT IS FREE! If they’ll do that, why should you trust them not to do anything with your personal data?

Use some common sense, people.

The same critque about the nature of their business applies to the folks at They’re the ones who are so sleazy that Ben Stein got fired from the New York Times for doing one of their commercials.

Their commercials just aren’t as ubiquitous as the ads. But don’t think they’re slackers. You’d still be paying for something you can get for free.


Quickly, here’s the cool stuff this weekend. Capitol Roasters is hosting tryouts for Lady D’s “West Virginia’s Finest” talent show Friday at 7 PM. Radio Free Charleston cameras will be on hand for Alan Griffith at Bruno’s Friday at 9 PM. The Black Knots hold their CD release show (read about it here) Friday at 10 PM at The Blue Parrot. The VooDoo Katz are at The Empty Glass at 10 PM.

Saturday, check out Ric Cochran and Friends at The Bridge Road Bistro from 7:30 PM to 10 PM. Andy Park is at Taylor Books 7:30 to 9:30. Justin Johnson, The Roots and Last Standing are at The Blue Parrot starting at 10 PM. Steve Himes Connection is at Sam’s Uptown Cafe at 10 PM.

Sunday Mountain Stage happens at The Cultural Center at 7 PM. Albert Castiglia and Blues Crossing put on a benefit for The West Virginia Blues Society at The Sound Factory at 8 PM. The Carpenter Ants are at The Empty Glass starting at 9:30 PM.

Check the Gazz Calendar for more details, directions and cover charges.


Look for episode 80 of Radio Free Charleston, which will in some way acknowledge the twentieth anniversary of the first broadcast of the Radio Free Charleston radio show. We’re going to be making periodic visits to the old radio show roots of RFC in the coming months, leading up to the twentieth anniversary of the sudden cancellation of the show!

We’ll also have part two of our Monday Morning Art digitally assaulted photo thingy. Sunday evening videos will be a potpourri of odd things. The Cool Comic Of The Week, debuting on Tuesday or Wednesday, will be “Citizen Rex” by Mario and Gilbert Hernandez. Next week’s PopCulteer will likely focus on the radio show anniversary.

Join us, wills you?

1 Comment

  1. Susan

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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