Okay, if you read last week’s PopCulteer you know that your PopCulteer has been writing this blog for seven years. So what exactly is it about? There’s no easy answer. I sort of have free reign to write about whatever I want as long as it’s related somehow to Pop Culture, and since that covers just about every aspect of modern life, I get to run a little wild here.
But in order to try and explain our existence, I have come up with seven things that help make up PopCult. They are Art, Music, Comics, Theater, Wrestling, Toys and animation. This week we’re going to revisit some examples of each of these and how they frequently intersect.
Since the beginning of this blog, I have posted examples of my digital art. Starting around the first anniversary of PopCult, I started posting my art regularly, every Monday Morning, hence “Monday Morning Art.” Here’s some of my favorites…
I also try to bring you photo essays of Charleston’s ArtWalk on a regular basis, so you can see what real artist’s works look like. You can see some of these here, here and here. I’ve also become a regular at Charleston’s Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, which has inspired more than a few pieces of Monday Morning Art…
I also apparently backed into the role of Art Critic, as my December, 2009 examination of Albert Paley’s “Hallelujah” sculpture that sits in front of The Clay Center, wound up projected on a huge screen at a panel discussion Paley attended.
I missed that event, which might have been a good thing, since I don’t know if they discussed my follow-up piece where I suggested alternative sculptures for the site.
This should solicit a “Duh” from my regular readers. I’ve always covered music here in PopCult, but I also steered many good CD reviews to the now-defunct “Newsounds” blog at The Gazz, where they seem to be lost to the ages, so I can’t link to my reviews of Roger Waters’ French-languaage opera, “Ca Ira,” or my reviews of albums by Wynton Marselis, Regina Spektor or The Aquabats, but I can link to Andy Prieboy Week and my review of the book he co-wrote, “The Psycho Ex Game.”
And then there’s the matter of local music, and Radio Free Charleston. Here, try a few randomly-plucked samples…
Contrary to the belief that I love all the music that I hear, I also reviewed Steely Dan when they came to The Clay Center.
Comics are a huge part of my life, and I’ve written about a ton of them here in PopCult. I’ve gone on about my love of classic comic strips, like Popeye and Dick Tracy. I also looked at old and new takes on Superman. I’ve also examined some of the greats of undergroud comics like Kim Dietch and Harvey Pekar. I’ve also raved about the work of newer masters of the form, like The Hernandez Brothers and Alan Moore. Plus we’ve celebrated some truly great works like “Starstruck,” by Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta.
Comics will continue to be a big part of PopCult. I wish I had time to cover them even more.
Thanks largely due to the influence of my fiancee, Melanie Larch, I have become a fan of live theater, and even get to write about it occasionally. One of those occasions was when I reviewed Dan Kehde’s brilliant piece of surrealistic naval-gazing, “Bert Hellmujn Fights The Demons Of The Stage.” Dan and CYAC also presented the powerful dramas “Hoods” and “Shadowman.” Charleston Stage Company brought us the quirky delight of “Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage.”
And of course we’ve brought you some video coverage of quite a few locally-produced musicals…
Sometimes I go off on certain topics. I’m a stong advocate of smoking bans. I don’t want to see Kanawha Boulevard shut down or shrunk. I’ve type-blabbed about the death of Michael Jackson and the recent movie theater shooting in Colorado. But one of my favorites rants, named after a Frank Zappa song, is “Dumb All Over,” from September 2009, where I took on one of the biggest threats to our country’s future…old comedy routines coming true…
“We have brought sophisticated, edgy, Lenny Bruce-type shock values to lowest-common-denominator humor. A pie in the face has been replaced with oversized plastic genitals bonking someone on the head.”
So I’m a toy collector. Maybe I never grew up, but I love toys. I collect action figures, toy cars, robots and board games, along with anything else that strikes my fancy. I’ve written about Captain Action and Johnny West and GI Joe. I’ve gone on at length about The Batmobile. I’ve brought you news and reviews of cool new toys.
I’ve also made pilgrimages to Wheeling to The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum for MEGO Meet and The Marx Toys Convention. I’ve brought you some photo essays on a collectible toy store in Canonsburg, PA and recently I devoted a five-part photo essay to the Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville. Don’t expect this to stop anytime soon.
My working relationship with the Charleston Gazette began in the early nineties when Melanie Larch and I started collaborating on “Animated Discussions,” the only regularly scheduled animation column running in a daily newspaper at the time. We started out writing about our then favorite show, “Ren and Stimpy,” and within a year, we began doing more in-depth coverage when Ren and Stimpy’s creator, John Kricfalusi, was unceremoniously fired from his show. Our detailed coverage, including interviews with insiders, John K, Mike Fontinelli, and even Bob Camp, garnered national press attention. From there, we continued to write about television animation and branched out into reviewing animated feature films such as “The Lion King,” “Toy Story,” and what turned out to be our swan song as movie reviewers “Wallace & Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”
In the summer of 2005, the Charleston Gazette shifted their freelancer budget around and decided to stop carrying locally written movie reviews. That money was funneled into the Gazz blogs, which are now known as the Gazette Community Blogs, and I decided to make the jump to blogger status, which is why you’re still able to read these words today. Melanie did not have time to try her hand at blogging, but did contribute a few “Animated Discussions” posts in the early days, and is still an invaluable asset, taking dictation when my eyes and fingers no longer want to collaborate with one another (in fact she’s doing that now, for the last segment of this PopCulteer.) Animation is still a large part of PopCult and at the moment, we are raving about our new favorite TV cartoons, “Adventure Time,” and “Regular Show.” We don’t expect to stop covering animation any time in the future.
That’s it for this bit of self horn tootery, the second of our two-part, seven year itch retrospective scratch. Next week, we plan to jump back into the thick of things with a real column that includes real topics. See ya then.