A Look Back
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing the PopCult blog here at the Gazette for seven years. Sometimes it seems like I just started, and sometimes it seems like I’ve been doing this forever. To mark our anniversary week, we’re going to go back and revisit some of the highlights from PopCult, including examples of Monday Morning Art, Radio Free Charleston and The PopCulteer, along with some long-ago events like Rant Week and Andy Prieboy Week.
This is a stream-of-consciousness compilation, compiled and annotated as I browse through the archives. You many notice that all the early posts are credited to Gazz editor, Douglas Imbrogno, who is the guy to blame for me getting this gig. While he did recruit me to write PopCult, he never wrote it himself. His name came up as the author of the old posts when we migrated from using the the Blogger interface to WordPress. Let’s hope that this glitch doesn’t cause too much harm to Doug’s reputation.
The Charleson Playhouse
The Charleston Playhouse, a bar/dinner theater/rock club located in Kanawha City only lasted as a business for about a year, but it left a huge mark on my life. I first wrote about it in September 2005, with a second post the same day. It’s where I met many life-long friends as well as my fiancee, Melanie Larch. It’s also where I made contact with much of Charlestons music scene, and it was vital to the success of Radio Free Chaleston in both its radio and video incarnations. Even though the RFC video show debuted sixteen years after The Charleston Playhouse shut its doors, the first three musical guests were all friends that I knew from the Playhouse days.
The Charleston Playhouse has been a pretty constant presence in this blog, so linking to every post about it would take all day. The most recent example of the Plahyouse Effect was just a few weeks ago, when Rado Free Charleston devoted an entire show to vintage footage shot there in 1989.
As a life-long fan and collector of comic books, I couldn’t go long without mentioning Jack “King” Kirby, who created much of the Marvel Universe with help from Stan Lee, and is responsible for Captain America (with Joe Simon), The New Gods and Darkseid, Machine Man, The Challeengers of the Unknown, and too many others to mention. Kirby would have turned 95 this week. I wrote about the Kirby Museum back in this early post, and I’m proud to still be a member.
I’ve devoted a lot of space in the blog to local wrestling. IWA East Coast has been the subject of coverage since our first month. I’ve also covered my old buddy, Filmmaker-Professor-Wrestler-Comic Book Writer, Danny Boyd, through his various projects. One of my high points was my interview with Jerry “The King” Lawler, who came to Logan to wrestle for Gary Damron’s ASW fed.
I later turned an outtake from that interview into a silly animated bit on the first April Fool’s special edition of Radio Free Charleston…
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“Scape” was a digital painting I came up with back when I first started mucking around with computers. For some reason, I have created hundreds of variants on it over the past several years. God only knows why. It’s not very good.
I also collect toys, and Captain Action was one of my childhood favorites. Since writing about the good Captain and his arch-nemesis, Dr. Evil, in two early posts (here and here) I have had the pleasure of bringing my readers news of his return to comic books, and his stint as a MEGO-Sixed figure before his full-blown revival as a 12-inch action figure complete with Marvel Comics outfits, earlier this year.
I closed out 2005 with a week of rambling rants that covered everything from the smoking ban in Kanawha County bars (still going strong, yay!) to the planned destruction of Kanwha Boulevard (didn’t happen, yay!) to a sticker what got placed upon the privates of the horse statue in Davis Park (finally removed, yay!).
Having been so successful as a crusading journalist, I somehow never managed the energy to sustain another whole week of rants. I should also point out that many of the graphics that go with the early PopCult posts are missing, having been burned for fuel during the blizzard of 2007.
Back in 2006, I hooked up several other West Virginia bloggers just to meet and trade ideas. It was a load of fun and lasting friendships were made, and even though Facebook has taken the place of many of the blogs, it’d be cool to have these kinds of meet-ups again, now that the reason they stopped is no longer an issue.
The love of my life, resident diva and partner in crime, Melanie Larch, is also notoriously camera-shy. She hates to have her picture taken, and has been known to hunt down and kill people who tag her in photos on Facebook.
We were together for 16 years before she would willingly let me take her photograph. Seen right, I made it the first Monday Morning Art entry of 2008. It was worth the wait.
You may also remember her singing “Ave Maria” from episode eleven of Radio Free Charleston.
Radio Free Charleston On The Air
As some of you may know, Radio Free Charleston began life as four hours of broadcast anarchy on WVNS radio, 96.1 FM. Like most really cool things, it was too cool to last. Back in December 2007, I ran a series of posts that presented audio clips of one of our shows, a memorable affair late in the run, where several inebriated members of The Swivel Rockers stopped by the studio around 2:30 AM. Luckily,most of the audio clips at the links below still seem to work.
We began our week of “Audio Flashbacks” with a phoned-in performance by Three Bodies, who had called in from a pay phone on the street in Key West, Florida. We continues with samples of some of the weird improv comedy bits I used to run on the show, with these featuring me riffing with Bridget, my jingle singer, who would go on to become a co-host of “America’s Test Kitchen” on PBS. The week continued with Stephen Beckner performing a brand-new song, recorded at The Charleston Playhouse, backed up by Gary Price on bass guitar, and on drums….me (Brian Young was still in Key West and nobody else got up to do it). Our next post contains much of a live, on-air invasion of the studio by The Swivels. We wound up with me damned near falling asleep on the air.
I now have most of the RFC radio show archives on tape. One of these days I gotta figure out what to do with them.
Radio Free Charleston Returns
In early 2006 I reconnected with Brian Young, my old cohort at 96.1 FM, and drummer extraordinaire, and we cooked up a way to revive RFC as a video show using Brian’s rehearsal studio, LiveMix Studio. There is no way I could have brought RFC back without Brian’s help, and he remains a huge part of the success of Radio Free Charleston. LiveMix, sadly was gobbled up by the land-grabbing Monsignor and shut down a couple of years ago, but the spirit is still there, and you never know when it may return.
You can read the production notes for the first video episode of Radio Free Charleston, which was announced at the Gazz gathering at FestivAll 2006, and debuted on July 4 that year, at this post.You can see the MySpace version of episode one, right here…
More Notable firsts
The No Pants Players were on the very first episode of Radio Free Charleston. Here’s the first mention of them in PopCult.
Eamon Hardiman, director of Porkchop and Zombie Babies fame, was first mentioned in PopCult in a plug for his epic, “Vampire Whores From Outer Space.”
The first appearance of my imaginary daughter, Kitty Killton on RFC was in episode fifty, which you can see right here…
The very first Monday Morning Art was posted on the first anniversary of this blog. I’d posted art in this blog since the beginning, but I decided that I wanted to have at least one regular post that my readers could count on each week. Plus it gave me a kick in the butt to do more digital art. I also thought I might be able to sell some stuff through Cafepress, which didn’t turn out to be worth the time and effort involved.
With no warning, I started doing Sunday Evening Video in July, 2008. The first one featured DEVO and a long weekend recap. This was another regular feature I started, to make sure that I don’t neglect this blog.
In April, 2009, I decided that just posting art and videos in PopCult was a bit of a cop-out. I decided to force myself to write at least one lengthy post each week, and I’d post it on Friday. I called it The PopCulteer (you’re reading it now) in honor of the late Charleston Gazette columnist, James Dent, who wrote “The Gazetteer” for decades. The first one expressed my disgust at the way Tudor’s Biscuit World openly bribed legislators to keep a bill that would require that they post calorie information for their greasy foods on the menu. I haven’t eaten there since.
Next week in The PopCulteer, we’ll update some of the more memorable stories that I’ve run in PopCult over the last seven years. Don’t forget our other regular features, and episode 167 if Radio Free Charleston, featuring part two of our coverage of Tribute To The Troops II.
Seven years has been fun, but we’re not done yet.