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Puppets and Indie Kids Have All the Fun: An Epic Rambling Diatribe About Bad Ass Kids Television featuring Gratuitous Swearing and Youtube Videos

Posted on October 17th, 2009 by eric

Sometimes I feel like some sort of hipster Andy Rooney, but…. you know what really pisses me off?

How good children fucking have it these days, without even knowing it. I could complain about the toys, the phones, the videogames,  and the casualer and casualer attitudes about blowjobs at younger and younger ages that I never got to appreciate, but I’m sure others have voiced all that more eloquently already.

What I want to complain about is all the fucking indie rock children’s shows  that are popping up on cable,with sexy chicks, trippy visuals, and great music that aren’t intended for me, because I’m not a kid (and probably won’t be again), I’m not a parent (and hopefully never will be), and I don’t smoke pot anymore.

You know why this pisses me off, more than the toys and the gadgets and all that other shit? Because it wasn’t always this way.   Videogames and computers evolved over time, but not television. There was some awesome kids programming before I was alive, that went away by the time I was old enough to use the remote.

Check out this video of the Muppet Show

It’s Debbie Harry, hot as hell in orange coveralls with a band of new age puppets being chased through an alley by monsters. The Muppet Show is a perfect example of what kids shows should be. It started out violent and sarcastic, full of explosions and avsurdsm, and sprinkled with innuendo, even when it was all old-Hollywood, full of aging Vaudeville, Broadway. and Catskills stars and then even more as it morphed into a place where Alice Cooper could sing “Welcome to My Nightmare” and the Mummenschanz could be weird and creepy as fuck with their hybrid puppet-mime-clown-kabuki act.

The thing is, the Muppet Show ended EXACTLY ONE YEAR BEFORE I WAS BORN! Even Sesame Street was kind of funky in the 70s. I could totally get down to this with a hookah and some blotter sheets!

But they weren’t making shit like this for little me! In the 80s they would rerun these clips, and maybe some funky claymation, but it was mostly Danny Devito reading poems to Oscar the Grouch and Linda Rondstat teaching you how to count.

Twenty-whatever years later, and the show’s starting to hipster it up, with guests like Feist, and Tilly and the Wall. Sure, the show is still square as hell, with guests like Ruben Studard and Anderson Cooper outnumbering bloghouse artists by a ratio of 100:1, but at least they’re doing something, and they’re doing something because indie parents went and took a stand. A stand that… sigh… my parents never did.

I don’t think they did it on their own though. I think there’s a throughline. A series of precedents that empowered them that all started with


Chic-A-Go-Go is cool as fuck. It’s what happens if you cross The Muppet Show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and Soul Train, a cable access dance party that airs twice a week in Chicago, hosted by a straight-edge skinhead rat puppet named Ratso, with weekly guest stars ranging from famous and semi-famous people (Shonen Knife, Neil Hamburger, The Knife, OK Go, Acid Mothers Temple), legendary musicians who are in no way famous (e.g. the MC who invented the “Cha Cha Slide”), and some of my favorite local bands (Bird Names, Clique Talk, Mannequin Men, William Sides Atari Party, Loto Ball Show, Bobby Conn).

Leslie & the Ly’s on Chic-A-Go-Go

Chic-A-Go-Go is the brainchild of Jake Austen, who’s kind of a crazy genius when it comes to music. Check out his magazine Roctober if you see it on the shelves, and any of his articles if you see his name on the Reader. He gets DEEEEP into the shit he writes about.

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound will wreck your shit

The Mr. Rogers parts of the show comes from interview segments where another rat puppet (Lil’ Ratso) goes out and interviews people like Jello Biafra, The Misfits, Girl Talk, Esser, Dan Deacon, GZA, Jean Grae, Lightning Bolt, Henry Rollins, and the Residents.

Bobby Conn teaches children the valuable lesson that they will never get ahead sucking dick for the man

I would’ve settled for this just as much as any of the other crap that was being thrown at me which was all either lame (Eureeka’s Castle, Tail Spin, Foofer, etc.) or a thinly veiled commercial for something else (G.I. Joe, The California Raisins, The Nintendo Power Hour, Gummi Bears). I mean, sure there were high points, like Animaniacs and Darkwing Duck, but nothing I could just go to and be a part of and EXPERIENCE.

Perhaps the best thing that Chic-A-Go-Go ever did was to inspire


This youtube video of Jenny Lewis in her short short skirt is sure to accomplish what the VHS tapes of Blondie did ten times over: launch a million first-boners for a million adolescent boys… and possibly get new white people into country music

Pancake Mountain is like Chic-A-Go-Go, but with production values. Instead of lip-synching, the bands perform live, and there are polished skits in between the rock stars.

Here we have Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye, in his newest band The Evens, singing a song called “Vowel Movements”

Instead of a rat, Pancake Mountain (which is based out of DC) is hosted by a lamb named Rufus. Rufus Leaking. Like Ratso, he tells horrible, horrible jokes.

So I knew I was only gonna post one more video, and I could’ve posted performances by Deerhoof, The Melvins, The Go! Team, or Tegan and Sara, but I chose Katy Perry, because, you know what? She’s fucking hot, and she gets shit-talked by a puppet

The only drawback of all the production values is that while Chic-A-Go-Go tapes dozens of episodes a year, Pancake Mountail can only crank out a few though. If only they had as much money as the weirdest of the bunch

Yo Gabba Gabba

Money Mark gets down with a bunch of robots

Yo Gabba Gabba is a Nickelodeon morning show that repaints Sesame Street with a psychedelic Sid and Marty Crofft H.R. Puffnstuf brush. It’s intergalactic craziness, with some of the best names in comedy and music, including Jack Black, MGMT, Amy Sedaris, Petra Hayden, Andy Samberg, and also giant monsters, bright lights, and loud noises.

Oh and one other thing, regular doses of Biz Markie, seen here in a Halloween costume that looks like it was bought at the supermarket, sometime aroud November 2nd)

The one thing that does suck about the show backed by corporate funds, living under a network’s umbrella. I don’t know if that in any way affects the quality or content of the show, but I do know this. Corporations are stupid, and corporations fuck up a lot of good things, which is why embedding has been disabled on most of the Yo Gabba Gabba videos on youtube, so I can’t show you videos by Chromeo (which would provide my girlfriend with the same boners Jenny Lewis provided me), The Ting Tings (more boners!), or Of Montreal. Boo.

Of course one thing I CAN show you is another video of the always awesome Leslie and the Lys, bringing this thing full circle like ouroboros

One last thought – I’m not sure what this is all about. Trying to get back into the swing of writing blogs, plus I like posting cool videos and talking about boners, but there’s one thing I have yet to address:


You’ve got better toys than I did, but you know what? I had better movies. The 1980s and 1990s were a golden age of family films and children’s fucking cinema. Flight of the Navigator, The Explorers, The Neverending Story, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Goonies, Camp Nowhere, Moonwalker, The Wiz, Return to Oz. You ain’t got shit on that. Spy Kids? Meh. Harry Potter? It’s alright I guess. And what do you have to look forward to in your adolescence? A Twilight franchise that promotes marriage, celibacy, and monogamy. Have fun with that. I’m gonna go watch Weird Science again.