Monday, October 24, 2005

Pancake Mountain

A friend in DC asked me about a show on his local cable network that had recently captured his attention but he was a little tipsy at the time and thought he possibly dreamed the whole thing up. Does DC really have a children’s show created by and featuring its local DIY heroes? Was there a collection of indie rock A-list names attached to this show? Was the theme music really written by Fugazi's Brendan Canty and Bikini Kill's Kathi Wilcox? I had no clue. With a few quick searches on line I found the answer to my question. Yes it is all true and the show is called Pancake Mountain.

How did I miss this??? More than a year has passed since this story first broke to press but since I began my research on the subject I haven’t found many national stories covering it nor were any of my friends local or otherwise aware of it. It was with all of these things in mind that I decided to mention it here. Hopefully for most of you this will be new old news rather than old old news.

The primary focus of Pancake Mountain is to bring great music to kids but every aspect of the show surprisingly presents itself without treating kids like mindless zombies.

Created by Washington DC filmmaker Scott Stuckey, Pancake Mountain is designed for children but doesn’t follow the traditional children’s show rules; there is no programming geared towards the big business ethos of selling commercial products first and educational value second. Pancake Mountain intelligently mocks the watered down kid’s entertainment found on TV today and offers social and political issues with a genuinely creative and comedic twist.

More specifically PM offers kids and us aging kid types cartoons, news, interviews with stars, a leading star puppet called Rufus Leaking and best of all live performances by an impressive list of artists like Teddy Leo, Weird War, Arcade Fire, Fiery Furnaces, Evens, Anti- Flag, Scissor Sisters, Thievery Corp., Vic Chesnut, Bob Mould, Shonen Knife, George Clinton, Henry Rollins, and The Rolling Stones to name a few.

All hipster references aside there is one valuable lesson that washes over the whole series; kids are being taught how to be an individual and that it is ok to have their very own opinions and tastes. If that doesn’t sound like a cleverly disguised Fugazi song I don’t know what does.

Now I am not a parent but I have always wondered why moms and dads direct kids toward dumbed-down terrible music when the world is filled with genuinely amazing music that doesn’t require any particular age to love or appreciate. Does good taste have a warning sign that says you must be this tall to ride? Pancake Mountain doesn't think so.

I highly recommend a visit to their site to watch first hand some of the clips from these live performances. They are shot like classic Sesame Street episodes where children (age 3-11) are on hand to watch the band play and dance all around them and interact in ways only kids would dare to. I was raised on DC hardcore but I certainly never dreamed of a day when the man who screamed about being a minor threat or seein’ red would one day be singing about vowels... but there it is in Technicolor glory. This brings whole new meaning to Ian MacKaye's lyrics from 1984 “I might be an adult, but I'm a minor at heart”

Pancake Mountain was originally only available for sale via their website on DVD but they began airing on DCTV Starpower channels 10 and ll / Comacast 5 and 6 in August of this year. The only other place you can catch this is on the Manhattan cable network; Time Warner channel 34 and RCN channel 10 on Saturday mornings at 11:30.

As I mentioned before you can sample many of the best moments on line for free but if that doesn’t satiate your DIY addiction, you can always buy the DVD.