In 2004 Scott Stuckey, of the Stuckey restaurant family, started a cable access show in the Washington, DC, area to answer the question, “What would Sesame Street look like if most of the guests were indie rockers?” The show is called Pancake Mountain. This year the Sesame Street connection became stronger when it was announced that PBS would start licensing new episodes of the show.
In this clip, Shirley Manson of 1990s Wisconsin rock heroes Garbage appears in a segment called “Around the World with Shirley Manson” in which she explains the German music scene to an obstreperous canine puppet. Wearing a rather fetching flight attendant-style getup, Manson does a more than creditable job of presenting the breadth of German music, from the masterpieces of Beethoven and Bach to Volkslieder (which means folk songs; here it’s yodeling) to the groundbreaking 20th-century music of Can, Neu!, Kraftwerk, and well, Scorpions.
This was evidently supposed to be a series—Manson filmed five of the segments—but Stuckey and producer J.J. Abrams canceled the show in 2011 before they could be aired. However, as already mentioned, PBS has agreed to license some new episodes. The Germany segment is the only one of Manson’s “Around the World” series to trickle out to the public as yet. You can get Pancake Mountain DVDs on Amazon; on Disc 1 you can see bands like Thievery Corporation, Steel Pulse, Vic Chesnutt, and The Evens. Disc 2 seems decidedly more promising, featuring Arcade Fire, Henry Rollins, The Fiery Furnaces, George Clinton, and the Scissor Sisters. A few months ago my estimable colleague Ron Kretsch posted some marvelous footage of David Yow of the Jesus Lizard on Pancake Mountain discoursing on the culinary arts.
The video of the skit is “autostart” which means we can’t embed it here, but you can see it on this page. Here’s an associated clip in which Manson sings an original song in a kind of groovy go-go style that covers much of the same material as the skit with the puppet.