Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Pop Culture Institute's First Annual Hall of Fame

The first-ever inductees into the Pop Culture Institute's Hall of Fame have been chosen by all of you out there in Internet-land for the part they've played in bringing readers to this site since it first came into being*; I'll attempt to sort them into categories, although I fully expect this endeavour to evolve over time, as has almost everything else to do with this blog during the past two years. Meaning that, in future years there may be no new inductees, or the categories under which they are inducted may be idiosyncratic ones; it depends mainly on the omniscient will of the great deity, Google, as It continues to sift the collective unconscious, and my ability to predict and interpret that will...

MAN FOR THE AGES: Porfirio Rubirosa

PhotobucketFar and away the majority of traffic I've gotten to this site this year is due to the Dominican Republic's former Ambassador Pleni-potentiary and renowned playboy, Porfirio Rubirosa.

As with all those chosen, the traffic he's driven has been both constant and widespread, not unlike the women for whom he served as a kind of socialite stud service; there have been many posts in the past year which have briefly brought about a flurry of interest - Bo Bice is the most obvious of these - only to subside after weeks or even days, but ever since I first posted about Rubirosa in July 2008 - on the anniversary of his 1965 death - not a day has gone by where at least a third of my traffic wasn't due entirely to him.

Runners Up: Kristen Bjorn, Stefano Casiraghi, Benigno Aquino, Jr.

As with most of the winners and runners-up, the frequency of their appearance in my stat reports startled even me; in some cases, it even altered the planned course of this blog's editorial policy**. The popularity of Kristen Bjorn prompted the inclusion of posts regarding other porn stars such as Ken Ryker, Jeff Stryker, and Joey Stefano; not only that, but many more such posts are planned for the future, since therein lies the zeitgeist...


Just three posts made following the August 2007 death of Manhattan socialite Leona Helmsley are still regularly contributing to the inflow of readers to the Pop Culture Institute; whomever these friends I haven't met yet happen to be, what I do know about them is that they haven't come here looking for information on the dragon lady herself, but rather on the reclusive widow of her late son Jay Panzirer. Yet Mimi Panzirer has no Wikipedia page and there are no photos of her on Google Images; once I manage to get up my nerve, I'm considering putting in an interview request to her - if, that is, I can find her. Hopefully my nerve and my research will successfully converge in the not too distant future...

Runners Up: Dorothy Dandridge, Edie Sedgwick, Gia Carangi

DYNASTY FOR THE AGES: Monaco's House of Grimaldi

I'm still not certain how or why I get so many hits about the Grimaldis - the whys and wherefores of Search Engine Optimization being an even greater mystery to me than the motivating manias of total strangers - but I do know that the post I made regarding the April 1956 wedding of Monaco's Prince Rainier III to American actress Grace Kelly still routinely shows up as a reliable hit-getter. It may have been the quality of the writing, it may be the ongoing interest in their story, or it could be the royal couple's wedding photo, of which my example turns up near the top of photo searches at Google. Either way, I too have had a lifelong fascination with the Grimaldis, and hope one day to turn the blog posts I've made (and will be making) about their fascinating lineage into a book.

POEM FOR THE AGES: Christina Rossetti's In The Bleak Midwinter

The Pop Culture Institute strives to be inclusive... I, personally, have never been fond of those people, for instance, who claim to like all music only to have their likely story fall to pieces under the most basic scrutiny. This is why I post videos of punk, country, opera and hip hop; I do it because I genuinely like all these kinds of music. It's also why I publish poetry, despite the fact that it is seemingly out of cultural favour. Yet, of all the poems I've published to date (40 at last count) this seems to be the one most people are looking for...


At the time it occurred in March 1931, the arrest of the Scottsboro Nine elicited howls of criticism from most of the progressives in the world... So why then, nearly eighty years later, have those howls not faded away? Throughout our human history - indeed even just in the 20th Century - there have been travesties of justice that would seem to be far worse. Yet, for some reason, this is the case that seems to hold my readers rapt.

NEWS STORY FOR THE AGES: The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

I have always considered it my responsibility as an artist to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, which is why the Pop Culture Institute has always and always will contain as much information as possible regarding the struggles of minorities not only to exercise their rights but to be written into the history they've helped to make... To this end I've written about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the murder of Emmett Till, as well as the Stonewall Riots, suffrage, and the end of the colonial era... None of these stories, however, has garnered me half as much traffic as the story of the four little girls killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan in September 1963.

SONG FOR THE AGES: It's Like That by Run-D.M.C.

One of the things I like best about the Internet is the way that it brings people together, even as it seems to push them apart; certainly, the 12-year-olds leaving their idiotic comments all over YouTube have nothing on the interactive social studies inherent in Facebook. The Internet, though, leaves its gold nuggets scattered around; finding and mining them for this blog has become my principal activity, and hopefully will one day provide my main source of income.

One thing my research seems to have uncovered is that people on every continent save Antarctica have, at one time or another, passed through the Pop Culture Institute while searching for this very song - proving what every Baby Boomer knows about the power of music to unite and heal as well as entertain.


At the risk of tooting my own horn, I really feel that both this blog and my life took a major upward trend when I decided to publish The Barington Encounter on November 2nd of this year; though it is, in relative terms, a latecomer to the proceedings, this ersatz tale of aliens encountering modern Britain - which began as a response to the May 2001 death of novelist Douglas Adams - seems to have won me readers around the world, in places as diverse as China, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Kansas.

Thank you all for your visits, your patience, and most importantly your comments over the past year; I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what 2009 has in store!


*Originally I began posting as the Pandora Institute on January 26th, 2006; it became the Pop Culture Institute on Christmas Day of that year.
**Yes, believe it or not, all of this is being meticulously planned.

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