2012: The Blur In Review
Maybe it’s my ever-advancing age, but time seems to be moving faster these days. We are at the end of another year, yet it seems like 2012 only lasted a month.
Since we do our official PopCult year-in-review column at the beginning of the year (come back next week for our look back at 2013) this week we are going to take an unofficial, hap-hazard, leisurely, stream-of-concsiousness look back at a pretty good year that flew by way too fast, with a nod or two to how that might affect the new year that’s coming at us like a speeding train.
The year in RFC
We kicked off 2012 with Radio Free Charleston on a nearly three-month hiatus, partly planned and partly due to a computer crash, but we returned with a vengeance with episode 150. We followed up with twenty-six editions of RFC that ranged from our usual anarchic mix of different genres of music with short films and animation to theme shows based on live events like ShockaCon, FestivAll and Tribute To The Troops II.
We introduced several new bands this year, like In The Company of Wolves, Godmode Broadway and Farnsworth, and we saw some returning favorites like The Nanker Phelge, Mother Nang, Tofujitsu and HarraH.
We also brought you more animation and even a few unseen incarnations of “Silly Bulls” by Frank Panucci. Plus we showcased the work of James Vernon Brown, AKA The Liquid Canvas.
The new year promises more of the mind-hurting weirdness and great music that makes up Radio Free Charleston. Episode 177 will include music from Flare Baroshi and Frenchy and the Punk, plus a short film by KD Lett and an exclusive, unauthorized, look at “Buckwild.”
We’re working on more surprises and more returning favorites. I’m in the early stages of producing an animation/dance episode that will depart from our usual format. Plus there are artists like Time and Distance, Marium Bria and Science of the Mind that are long overdue for a spot on the show. Early in the new year we expect to bring you a new “Show Without Words,” and if all goes well, late in 2013 Radio Free Charleston will hit episode 200.
So just keep watching this space and our Facebook page for all the RFC news.
Comics Get The Reboot
The year in comics was a bit of a strange one. Marvel and DC seem to be caught up in a snake-eating-its-tail rut, with an over-reliance on the gimmick of the company-wide reboot, but they did manage a few high points. “Before Watchman,” despite a great gnashing of teeth from Alan Moore loyalists, has turned out to be a uniformly excellent series of mini-series that enhances the original work without slavishly copying it.
Marvel’s reboot of Deadpool, a book that was never even on my radar before, is hysterical, thanks to co-writer, comedian, Brian Posehn. Some of the “Marvel Now” reboots seem to be more interesting than their “DC New 52” counterparts thanks to the talent inovled, and they learned from DC’s mistakes and are rolling out their reboots at a rate of three or four a month, rather than dumping the entire line on an already-shaky audience. For the first time in over thirty-five years of reading comics, I’m currently buying more Marvel titles than DC.
The smaller companies are actually pouncing on the DC/Marvel spiral and staking out some strong new hits. Image had the best-selling single issue of any comic book in fifteen years with The Walking Dead #100, but they’ve also published some fantastic new books without television tie-ins, like Saga and Fatale. Many top talents, fed up with DC and Marvel’s editorial in terference and contracts are moving to the creator-owned world, like Grant Morrison with Happy at Image.
Boom Studios is having great luck with comics based on Adventure Time (with Regular Show coming in 2013). IDW is cranking out most of my favorite comics at the moment, with Popeye, Classic Popeye and Horror House in conjunction with Craig Yoe, some fun new John Byrne titles, the revival of treasury-size books and a slate of well-done books ranging from Star Trek, to Judge Dredd to Doctor Who and more.
Fantagraphics released another outstanding new volume of the latest Love and Rockets series, plus more volumes in their great Complete Peanuts reprint series. They wrapped up their excellent hardcover collections of E.C. Segar’s Popeye comic strips (Thimble Theater Starring Popeye, to be exact) and started a new series of books that will reprint Walt Kelly’s classic Pogo comic strip.
Dark Horse continued publishing Dark Horse Presents, the best comics anthology on the market, plus they brought us two great series from icons of indie comics, Peter Bagge’s Reset and Gilbert Hernandez’ Fatima. Dark Horse also kept at it with their acclaimed Star Wars comics, which sadly is a cash cow that they will be losing once the license runs out in 2014. With Marvel’s parent company, Disney, buying the Star Wars franchise, the Star Wars saga will be moving back to Marvel Comics by 2015. Marvel published the original Star Wars comics from 1977 to 1986, but Dark Horse has been home to Luke Skywalker and company for over twenty years. If Marvel handles the new Star Wars comics as well as they’ve handled the Disney comics that were moved over from Boom Studios a couple of year ago…then Star Wars fans will not be happy.
There are some other notable indie successes, and if all goes according to plan, “Cool Comics” will return to PopCult early in 2013 as part of a new weekly pop culture book review feature.
Political discourse finds a sub-toilet level
Election Day, sadly, did not put an end to moronic political discourse. The far-right wing in the country, thanks to a tremendous amount of financing from Billionaires who benefit from smoke-and-mirrors, has honed mock outrage to a fine art. Their think tanks supply them with pre-packaged responses and attacks designed to diffuse any real debate and prevent any reasonable action from being taken.
If a maniac guns down a kindergarten class, it can’t possibly be due to lax gun laws or enforcement. It’s because of videogames or a lack of armed teachers or in a most disgusting assertion, it’s because God is not welcome in schools. If anyone really believes in a God that would let a madman into a school to kill innocnet children, then that person should know where I think they can take their God and shove him.
But that’s just the most recent and aggregious case. I grew up listening to Frank Zappa and DEVO. I never dreamed that they would turn out to be so accurate. America seems to have devolved to the point where we are dumb all over.
West Virginia’s top embarrasments
Speaking of dumb all over, we have a whole slate of people lined up to embarrass West Virginia. I’m not talking about the cast of MTV’s Buckwild, who, despite all the protestations seem to act like 75% of the young people in this state would if they were paid to do stupid stuff in front of a TV camera. I’m talking about our politicians.
Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito, who has already announced her vulture-like intent to pursue Senator Jay Rockefeller’s seat in 2014, sent a bucket of coal to President Obama on Christmas Day this year. Because, if you can’t exploit the holiest day of the year to make a snarky political statement that will hurt your home state, then what is the true meaning of Christmas?
West Viriginia is already low on the President’s priority list because we no longer have Senator Byrd advocating for us, and Senator Manchin and Governor Tomblin both made it a point to pull no-shows at the Democratic convention for fear of being seen supporting the black guy. Now we have a Congresswoman basically being a prick by insulting the President on Christmas.
Yeah, that’s gonna bring a whole lot of federal road money and aid our way.
Manchin is no better, giving tons of free publicity to MTV’s Buckwild while proving to be as anti-first amendment as his goofy late uncle was when he complained about Garbage Pail Kids on The Today Show. Someone should explain to dumbgunner Joe that media whoredom is not statesmanlike.
Local music thrives, but needs more patrons
We have a great, diverse local music scene, but we need one thing–more people going out to hear live music. We have reached a point where there’s such a wealth of great music happening in this town that the audiences are spread too thin. We’ve got great venues, an amazing array of talent, and not enough people to appreciate them.
I’m afraid that we may start losing venues if more people won’t come out. I know the occasional Capitol Street shooting doesn’t help matters any, but maybe it’s time that the clubs bite the bullet and start presenting live music earlier in the evening. The number one complaint I get as an advocate of local music is that the bands start so late.
I understand that the bar owners don’t want to pay a band to play to an empty house, but the later you start the live music, the longer it takes for the fans to show up. Its a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you advertise a band as starting at 10 PM, and you don’t let them start until 11 or 11:30, then the fans will figure this out and won’t show up until midnight.
We need for a bar to advertise a band at 8 PM, start them on time, and stick with it for a few weeks to re-train the audience to show up earlier. Eventually it will pay off because right now, by starting shows so late, bars are losing half or more of their potential patrons.
It works like that in other cities. It could work here, but it’ll take patience.
Being The Better Man
I’m going to wrap this up with a personal story. I try not to carry grudges or make enemies. It requires too much effort for too little gain. Yet, sometimes, when somebody does something really bad to you, it’s hard to forgive. I had a guy like that, and he recently passed away.
This goes back to when I did Radio Free Charleston as a radio show. If you haven’t heard the story before, here’s the quick version: After working over 100 consecutive days at the radio station, with no days off, I was rewarded with the title “Assistant Program Director” (with no raise) and was given the job of filling the weekend part-time on-air slots. I couldn’t find anyone to take the Saturday Midnight to Sunday 6 AM spot, and my top-rated weekday 7 PM to Midnight shift was pre-empted by syndicated crap on Fridays, so I pitched the idea of putting a part-timer on the Friday night shift, and took the “dead zone” timeslot myself. The catch was that, after more syndicated crap ended at 2 AM, I could play whatever I wanted to until 6 AM.
The program director woke up out of his hangover long enough to agree, and thus Radio Free Charleston was born. Within a few months it was the hottest radio show in town, and that’s when I became a target.
The sales manager at the station hated me. This may have had something to do with my Dad physically launching him into MacCorkle Avenue in South Charleston during rush hour back in the 1960s. Anyway, at the peak of RFC’s success we had 17 dedicated advertisers, includiing Comic World, Budget Tapes and Records and Executive Air. There was a young guy on the sales staff and he took me to meetings to sell the show. We were on the verge of landing national sponsors like Gibson Guitars, when the sales manager issued an edict: No advertiser was allowed to buy time only during my show. They had to purchase a package for spots on the whole station. Further, he began triple-billing my sponsors and turning the bogus bills over to collection agencies.
Eventually he was promoted to General Manager of the station by the incompetent absentee owners and I quit, rather than give him the pleasure of firing me.
But he was never less than a complete jerk to me, and I never forgot it. I got back at him many times. My resignation letter was dripping with arrogance. When the station was sold, I made sure that the new owners knew every skeleton in his bone-filled closet.
When he died, after being sickly and suffering for many years, I had a grin on my face for days. I had decided that, when this person finally kicked the bucket, I was going to do something most people only joke about. I was going to take a leak on his grave.
I know it sounds petty. I’ve only given you the rough outline of what the man did to me. Taking a whiz across his tombstone would have only scratched the surface when it came to paying him back.
I found out where he was to be buried. Got directions. and shortly after he was interred, I made the trip, downing a couple of bottles of water along the way, just to be sure I was ready.
As I pulled thrugh the gates of the cemetary, I began to feel a sense of elation. I know that, if he was aware of my plans, it would cause him no end of grief and pain, and that’s what I was aiming for.
But then I got to the grave and it hit me. How could I let this cold, dead bastard still play a part in my life? Why would I waste the time, make such an effort, just to pee on an the grave of a pathetic loser of a dead man? It had turned out to be a collossal waste of time. When I got there, I took one look, and being the better man, I simply walked away.
The line was just way the hell too long.