Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Sleepless Ranting

The PopCulteer
January 21, 2011


This week, due to a lot of reasons that we don’t need to go into here, your PopCulteer has not been able to get a lot of sleep. Rather than just skip this week’s Friday column, we’re going to soldier on and crank out a stream of consciousness assortment of observations and opinions. Keep in mind that this week’s PopCulteer is the product of a sleep-deprived mind.

As such, research is sketchy, and numbers cited may be incorrect. This is a rant, not a thesis. Proceed with caution. This is all off the top of my head at the last minute.

Before we proceed, please take in this video of King Crimson’s “Sleepless.”

And now, on with the stream…

Charleston United

Last week I wrote about Charleston United, the new CD project that will bring a ton of Charleston musicians together, just for the hell of it. You should make it a point to read Nick Harrah’s excellent article in this week’s Gazette, for a more detailed look at what Charleston United is.

MIC…See you real soon

Bayer CropScience has announced that they will be shutting down the MIC unit in Institute, eliminating at least 220 jobs in the process. There has been an awful lot of hostility directed at the local environmental activists over this. It is misplaced.

Ever since the Bhopal disaster in 1984 protesters have been trying to get Union Carbide, and then Bayer, to stop the production and storage of this deadly poison (That’s not hyperbole, by the way. As a component of insecticides, MIC is supposed to be deadly poison.) in our area. Bayer stopped production locally years ago, but still kept huge storage tanks in Institute after they stopped making it here.

Then they had a lethal explosion at the plant a couple of years ago. Two of their workers died. On the eve of the release of the report that blamed cost-cutting and negligent safety concerns for the incident, Bayer announced that they will phase out the MIC storage unit.

This is purely a bottom-line decision. With increased scrutiny from the deaths causing Bayer to have to spend more money to store the dangerous chemicals, and with increased liability insurance due to the explosion, and the possibly of fines from the government for putting tens of thousands of lives at stake, it made financial sense for Bayer to just stop storing MIC here, and in the process eliminate a few hundred salaries. It’s a money-saving move.

If people blame the activists, then that’s a bonus for Bayer. There are people out there who want to think that, after ignoring protesters and activists for twenty-six years, Bayer suddenly decided that they were right all along and shuttered the MIC unit. Those people don’t care about the truth. They just want someone to lash out against.

The loss of jobs is a serious concern, but so is the potential for death from chemicals.

West Virginia has a major problem attracting industry and jobs. The problem is not that we have too many people using the legal system, or too many people wanting to preserve the environment. The problem is that the people who govern this state are in the thrall and control of industries that are harmful to the people of this state. The amount of state and federal tax breaks given to coal companies is more than this state spends on Medicaid. That’s to protect about 3,000 coal mining jobs.

There are 44,000 tourism jobs in this state, and the industry doesn’t get tax breaks like that. All the best chemical industry jobs were shipped out of state when DOW took over Union Carbide. We need to change things, quick.

Toxic Soup

For more information on the above topic, go to Amazon and pre-order TOXIC SOUP.

This award-winning documentary is filled with information that will scare the living crap of anyone living near a chemical plant.

We included the trailer for TOXIC SOUP in RFC 101 and 112.

This film is a real eye-opener. Highly recommended for people who care about the world in which we live.

Adventure Time

Shifting gears, one of the coolest, most deranged things on TV now is the Cartoon Network show, Adventure Time, created by Pendleton Ward. The story of Finn, the human, and Jake, the size-and-shape-shifting dog, is so delightfully twisted that even people with sick, sick minds find it disturbing. I love it for that reason. I can’t even try to describe this show. Just watch these clips.

My Weekend Of Notoriety

Last weekend, Albert Paley was on hand for a discussion of his sculpture, “Hallelujah,” which sits, rather large, in front of The Clay Center. I did not attend this discussion, having made other plans with my girlfriend.

This probably spared me quite the awkward moment, as my comments about the big metal fellow (the sculpture, not Mr. Paley) reportedly opened the discussion, and I was sent at least one photo of an image from this blog being projected on a big screen.

Nobody’s told me what, if any, reaction Mr. Paley had to my criticisms. To be honest, I’m a little too mortified to ask, and I haven’t had the chance to ask anyone this week. I just hope that my jokes got a laugh from the audience. Does anybody know if they discussed my proposal for a 180-foot-tall bronze statue of Gumby?

Johhny Rock and Lee Harrah having fun at The Rubber Soul show

Later on Saturday, I attended the Rubber Soul show where they played The Beatles White Album at The Alban Theater, and I was surprised and honored when the band’s leader, Mark Scarpelli, called me up on stage and presented me with an autographed concert poster. That will soon be hanging in a place of prominence in my living room.

The show was a blast, and hanging out with a group of friends that included Melanie Larch, Johnny Rock and Lee Harrah was also a blast. After the Rubber Soul show, we headed to The Empty Glass for even more excellent music from the always-spectacular Diablo Blues Band.

Weekend Music Highlights

Friday night at Taylor Books, Heavy Wood, featuring former members of RFC faves, The Synergy Collective, will be on hand for a free show of acoustic blues and rock from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM.

Also free of a cover charge, Buckstone will bring their sound to Bruno’s, on Leon Sullivan Way.

Saturday afternoon, Fox Elipsus will hit Charleston with his Lennonesque original music, from 1 to 3 PM. RFC cameras will be on hand, weather permitting. Later Saturday, Fox will take his act to the Starbucks in Pullman Square, in Huntington, while Tofujitsu fills the performance area at Taylors, starting at 7:30.

Jackamo Soul and Ben Yaro will appear at The Empty Glass starting at 10 PM, with a seven-dollar cover charge.

That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer. Check PopCult next week for all our regular features, plus we have the threat of a new episode of Radio Free Charleston hanging over our heads!


  1. Lee

    Awesome article Rudy! Thanks SO much for your coverage on Charleston United!

  2. MaryBeth Smith

    Being a long time fan of King Crimson, 60’s and such, this is a very different Crimson. But it is good. Robert Fripp and his League of Crafty Guitarist’s were the BEST! I’m glad I found this site.

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