Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

PopCult Weekend

As sort of a new feature here in PopCult, I thought it’d be fun to recap my weekend, since I’m trying to take in as many events that I plug here in the blog as I can.   I’ll be taking more of a “personal journal” approach to what will probably become a weekly PopCult feature, so I hope you guys are ready to wade knee-deep through the self-indulgent pretentiousness.  This weekend was filled with music, The Simpsons, calimari, Batmobiles, and the sweet smell of band reunited. I also discovered the most amazing thing, possibly the smartest marketing move that a restaurant ever made in downtown Charleston, Bellacino’s is now open until 5 AM on Friday and Saturday nights!  The last weekend of July rocked!

Music Overload

The weekend was crammed past the recommended safety load with music.  Friday night Melanie Larch and I had a full evening planned:  We’d hit the mall and try to round up a few friends. Then we’d go hear Sean Richardson and friends at Taylor Books.  After that we’d planned to find a late dinner somewhere.  After that, we’d head out to Great Escape Theater in Nitro to catch The Simpsons Movie at a midnight showing.

Sean was amazing.  His “friends” on Friday night included Deron Sodaro and the two Karens on backing vocals.  Sean peformed an outstanding collection of remarkable original songs, and Karen Allen took over for a couple of tunes, including a version of Leonard Cohen’s “Halleluiah” that was awe-inspiring. 

After Sean wrapped up at Taylor’s, Mel and I headed to Blues BBQ for a bite to eat, and were surprised to find The Bark O Loungers performing.  When we got there, they were rocking a little harder than usual, mixing some classics like “Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby” in with the ambient music they usually perform.  It was a nice treat, getting even more cool music with our tomato and basil pizza.  We were off to see The Simpsons after that, but Mel and I will blog a review of the movie later this week.

Saturday I made a last-minute decision to trek to out to Coonskin Park for part of Adamfest.  It’s a great cause and I’ve been wanting to recruit some heavier bands for future episodes of Radio Free Charleston. I was out there for a couple of hours, and got to hear three of the bands, which were all invited to appear on RFC, and I also asked a fourth band, Hillbilly Deathride to come on even though I couldn’t stick around for their set.  They come highly recommended by Nick Harrah, and that’s good enough for me.   In the coming months we’ll also be scheduling Downstate, Stych N Time and Shorthrow to come on Radio Free Charleston.  Downstate, Stych N Time and Hillbilly Deathride will all be at the Sound Factory on August 10.

I left Coonskin and made a quick stop back at Blues BBQ, where I heard part of Sean Richardson’s set there, before heading over to The Blue Parrot for the evening’s main event.  Sean’s friends Saturday night included Whistlepunk’s Karen Allen and Spencer Elliott, and Jerry Fugate, who ran camera two and conducted interviews for the latest episode of Radio Free Charleston, the reunion show featuring The Feast Of Stephen.  Jerry played mandolin, which he also played over the end credits of episode eighteen of RFC.  I’m going to try and catch as many of Sean’s shows as I can this month because A) his music is just that damned good, and B) there’s a different combination of guest musicians, and therefore a different show, every night.

The big deal Saturday night was at the Blue Parrot, where Professor Mike was playing their first show since last year.  The Concept opened, and I’ll have a detailed review of this show, featuring two RFC veterans, later today.   It was one killer night of rock and roll.

Clods In Theaters

It wasn’t all music this weekend. Friday night after the music, Mel and I headed out to Great Escape Theater.  We’ll blog about The Simpsons Movie later (short version: if you like The Simpsons, go see it).  I did want to share an audience experience with you, though. 

As the movie was ready to start, a Man-mountain and his gigantic children were ushered in and sat a few seats away from me.  This was no ordinary movie-goer.  He was huge.  His behavior was so offensive that it was almost funny.

He was what my buddy John Kricfalusi would call “A Great North American Lummox.”  He looked like Larry the Cable Guy swallowed Abdullah the Butcher. Reeking of tobacco, he sits a few seats away from me, takes his sneakers and socks off of his enormous feet and proceeds to shout at his equally huge children.

Thirty minutes into the movie, his cell phone rings, and HE TAKES THE CALL. “Heeeeey. I’m a wutchin’ thu Simpsons. No, not thu teevee show. I’m in the movie.” He then cuts short the phone call….and makes three or four outgoing calls. Mel is seething and I’m ready to start screaming “Shut the *bleep* up!” when he suddenly stands up, hangs up the phone, gathers his family and leaves.  Until then we were living in Karin Fuller’s theater hell from a couple of weeks ago.

I’m guessing the phone calls were some sort of emergency. Either grandpa got his head stuck in the stair railing again, or Rutabaga, their guard pig, got loose in the pot field and was a-eating all the loco weed.

Actually, I think they had to go bail a drunk guy named “Junior” out of jail after he wrecked MaMaw’s truck.

For real. He was talking loud enough that you couldn’t help but eavesdrop. 

And the movie was so good, that not only did that incident not ruin it, but it even added to the charm somewhat. I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy was a plant or something the writers came up with to make up for the one shortcoming of the movie—it needs more Cletus! Heck, he may not have even been a real person.  The guy was big enough to be a couple of people wearing one of Dale Morton’s mascot costumes.

Duh Nuh Nuh Nuh Nuh Nuh Nuh Nuh Duh Nuh Nuh Nun Nun Nuh Nuh Nuh, Batman!

Sunday was a day of rest and tobacco defumigating.  I loved the show at the Blue Parrot, but they’re giving The Empty Glass a run for their money in the “most obnoxious tobacco smoke reek” sweepstakes.  When I got home at 3 AM, I had to hit the shower and toss my clothes in the laundry before I could even consider going to sleep.  If they ever get around to passing the smoking ban here in Kanawha County, it will be one of the greatest days of my life. Seriously, I think I’m going to vote for Kent Carper  for President.  So many more people in town would support live music if they could do it without risking permanent lung damage.

Since my summer-long cough was back in full force after a smoky night, I collected Melanie Sunday afternoon and hit the Starbucks in the Town Center for my ubiquitous Almond Steamer (tames the voice, don’t you know) and then we tooled out to Southridge whereupon I finally located one of my Holy Grails.  At Toys R Us, I lucked into not one, but two, of the Hot Wheels Batmobiles.  These are the real Batmobile, from the 1960s TV show, not the vibrator-looking thing from the 1989 movie or the ‘roided-up SUV from Batman Begins.  This is the version of the Batmobile, built on the framework of the Lincoln Futura, that hasn’t been made in toy form since the 1970s due to legal wrangling between the car’s designer, George Barris, and DC Comics.  I wrote about the whole deal here.

Basking in the glow of my Hot Wheels Batmobile, Mel and I put a fitting coda on a wonderful weekend by dining at Olive Garden, where I decided to try the calimari for the first time.  I’m not a big fan of seafood, but my New Year’s Resolution this year was to try and eat a dish that I’d never tried before everytime I eat out.  At dinner on the day that we taped The Feast Of Stephen episode of RFC, Brian Young had calimari at Blues BBQ, and I was curious.  Plus, after the tobacco exposure I had the night before, it wasn’t like I was going to taste anything anyway. 

It wasn’t bad.  A little bland, but the sauce is what makes it, and the sauce was pretty good. The Olive Garden salad kicked epicurious butt, as it always does. The weekend ended on a lovely note as Mel and I drove off into the sunset. 


  1. Karin

    What a visual! “He looked like Larry the Cable Guy swallowed Abdullah the Butcher.” Great line.

    I can’t remember the movie, but one time I sat right behind this guy with the most booming laugh. At first, it was kind of annoying, but the sincerity–and frequency–of his laughter started cracking me up, too. Even though my ears hurt afterward, I’m sure I enjoyed that movie far more because of that guy than if he hadn’t been there.

  2. Elvis Capone

    Is that Batmobile big enough to sit in and drive around? Or is it just a toy?

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