The PopCulteer
June 16, 2023

The above headline does not indicate that your humble blogger has been harboring some secret identity or non-de-plume and is finally set to reveal his true self to the world.

That’s a topic for another column. Today I’m talking about how, finally, after three years and three months, I feel comfortable going without a mask in public. Sometimes. I’ll still keep one on my arm in case it gets crowded or folks start coughing or sneezing around me.

I still don’t feel that the pandemic is entirely over, but I think the risk is low enough that even someone like me can shed the mask as long as I’m up to date on my boosters and remain careful.

What I mean by “someone like me” is that I’m a high-risk person. I have Myasthenia Gravis, an auto-immune disorder, and the treatment is for me to take a heavy-duty immuno-suppressant. Also, I’m now past the age of 60, and dealing with a couple of other medical issues that are COVID warning flags.

I have been very careful, and I have not had COVID. In fact, since I started masking up and going out less, I’ve barely had a sniffle or sinus infection. Seasonal allergies got me this Spring, but aside from that, it’s been smooth sailing.

Like everyone else, I got tired of wearing the mask, but I had good reason to stay masked up: I don’t want to die.

When Mel and I went to the Lexington Toy & Comic Show back in March, I stayed masked up. was glad to see we were not the only folks there wearing masks.

Two months later when we went to New York to see Gavin Lee at Birdland, I was newly-boosted and felt comfortable going without my mask on the train and at the famed Jazz club. In the ensuing weeks, Mel and I both cut back on wearing masks everywhere we go. We still keep them nearby, just in case, but for the most part, if you see us out now, you’ll probably get to see our full faces.

Last Tuesday Mel and I ate in a restaurant in Charleston for the first time since March, 2020. I’m not going to name the restaurant because we were basically only there for a FestivALL event, and only ate because it was handy, but it was nice to dine out in our hometown again.

Not eating out so much has actually been very good for both of us, so I don’t expect to do this more than once a month or so, but it’s nice to have the option again.

Since the pandemic began, when I’ve run a STUFF TO DO column, I’ve included a disclaimer asking people to be kind to those of us wearing masks. This will not change. There never was any excuse to act like an asshole to people who are wearing masks. They’re obviously doing it because they feel the need, and they know way more about their personal situation than you do. That disclaimer will continue to run here in PopCult.


It’s been a rough week for culturally-important icons. Over the past few days the world has bid farewell to Cormac McCarthy, John Romita Sr, Treat Williams and Glenda Jackson.

I don’t have enough space here to properly eulogize these folks, so I’ll just briefly summarize their amazing lives and offer condolences all around:

Cormac McCarthy was, according to the NY Times, “a formidable and reclusive writer of Appalachia and the American Southwest, whose raggedly ornate early novels about misfits and grotesques gave way to the lush taciturnity of All the Pretty Horses and the apocalyptic minimalism of The Road” I have to admit that aside from the movies based on his work, I was most familiar with McCarthy due to his depiction as a Centaur in the cartoon, Mike Tyson Mysteries.

“Jazzy” John Romita was a legendary Marvel Comics artist who basically defined Marvel’s “house style” following the exits of Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. He had a long career and was Stan Lee’s “go-to” artist from 1966 to his retirement in 1996. Many people think of Romita’s art when they think of Marvel Comics, post-Kirby.

Treat Williams was a gifted actor who went from being a leading man to establishing a long career as a versatile character actor who brought depth to every role he touched.

Glenda Jackson was a phenomenal actress who transitioned to politics in her fifties and then back to acting late in life. Mel and I were very lucky to see her on stage twice, in Three Tall Women and in King Lear, where she played Lear. Despite being a multiple OSCAR, BAFTA, Olivier and Tony award-winner, she remained down-to-Earth, and even insisted on getting a photo with Mel when we met her in New York back in 2019.

And that is it for this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for our regular features, plus notes on special programming on The AIR next Monday and Tuesday.