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Arts and Entertainment

It's All Happening on Pancake Mountain!

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Not since Pee Wee's Playhouse has there been a children's show that grown-ups can enjoy as much as kids. Washington DC's local cable-access show, Pancake Mountain, has been attracting rockers like Deerhoof, Scissor Sisters, and Arcade Fire since 2003. Scott Stuckey's concept for the program was to have a children's show that is focused on fun, not on marketing. It's all about the music, and their live dance parties invite local kids to join in by way of an email list sent out to parents. The show is produced by Stuckey's Monkey Boy Studios, and run entirely by a group of volunteers (Bands also volunteer their time). The title song is written by the drummer from Fugazi, Brendan Canty.

My favorite character on Pancake Mountain is Rufus Leaking, a sort of rock critic/interviewer sheep puppet. Along with the occasional duet, he does an unbelievable karaoke version of We Built this City with Wayne from the Flaming Lips. Rufus has interviewed musicians like Juliette Lewis, Henry Rollins and George Clinton (Rufus asks him if it's hard to find parking for the Mothership in DC). He sends Shirley Manson of Garbage into fits of giggles when he asks her if she's even a little bit happy when it's cloudy. Here is a quote from one interview published in a Washington Post story by Joe Heim:

At last year's HFStival, Leaking interviewed two clearly perplexed members of the rock-rap group Cypress Hill about their biggest hit, "Insane in the Brain." "Uh, yes, I have a question for you," said Leaking. "What is my membrane, and how do I know that it's actually insane?"

Other characters include Billy the Screaming Kid, and the dorky and occasionally obnoxious Captain Perfect. In one episode, the Buzzcocks teach Captain Perfect to ride a bicycle. Another classic moment on Pancake Mountain was Fugazi singer Ian MacKaye singing Vowel Movement, a song he wrote with Amy Farina of his new band, the Evens.

Currently, the show is only available in Washington DC, New York, and surrounding areas. It may eventually be moving into Seattle, Austin and San Francisco. We'll keep our fingers crossed for Los Angeles. For now, you can enjoy the fun by watching clips like the above duet with Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets, and ordering DVDs on their website, Pancake "Mountaineers" can also make song suggestions for Rufus Leaking to include on his upcoming Christmas album! I'm going to request Holly Jolly Christmas and maybe Christmastime in Hollis.

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