Monday, October 13, 2008
As I mentioned on Facebook yesterday, I was excited -- no, totally stoked -- to find the 5-DVD box set of the second season of Pee Wee's Playhouse at Five Below yesterday. Five Below! I've had it on my Amazon Wish List since before Suley was born. And now I own it for only five bucks. How great is that?
I've been a fan of Pee Wee since the original Pee Wee Herman Show first appeared on HBO. I have all of his Letterman appearances on VHS. "We're gonna get Pee Wee some Darvon and we'll be right back after these messages." The kids' show didn't start until I was in college and I was so excited. I dragged myself up every Saturday morning to watch. Getting me up by 10am on a Saturday was even harder when I was in college than it is now. But Pee Wee! On network television! It was awesome. I had a mean crush on Cowboy Curtis, and to this day Lawrence Fishburne will always be Cowboy Curtis to me.
I think part of what has always appealed to me about Pee Wee's oeuvre, and in particular the TV show, is that the whole retropunk design of the set and the props and set dressing are one hundred percent my taste. The vintage floral tablecloths, the deco kitchen, the red glitter Naugahyde -- all of that is stuff I either have, used to have or aspire to. Three of the main animators for Playhouse, David Powers and Phil and Christine Trumbo, are old Richmond art punks. David got his head split open with a billyclub at the Iggy Pop concert riot in 1981 (trivia fact: Tad and I got married in the room where the Iggy Pop concert riot of 1981 took place). Phil Trumbo was one of the original members of The Orthotonics, a local avant punk band that blew my still-developing mind when I was in middle school. And of course, Gary Panter's style has always been all over Pee Wee. ThroTTle, the local alt monthly I interned with in high school, used to feature his art and art from local illustrators with a similar style (trivia fact the second: Throttle also featured strips by Kaz. Kaz is probably now best known for the twitch-inducing Spongebob Squarepants and Camp Lazlo, proving that it takes more than nostalgic memories of my Richmond Artpunk days to make me a fan of your kiddie show).
But anyway! My whole point with this post was originally gonna be that I had forgotten how off-color Pee Wee managed to be on Saturday morning network TV. Unloading a grocery bag, he names each item as he lifts it out: "Milk, milk, lemonade...." and just when you think he's going to be satisfied slipping that much past the censors, he sneers at the camera and blurts "....around the corner fudge is made!" Oh no you didn't, Pee Wee! And when they have the charity drive, Globey announces that he's donating his dickey. Tito, the perpetually underdressed pool boy, blanches and says "Your what?" It's not all cheap shots, though -- I was still laughing at that when Globey revealed why he was giving it away: "It makes my face look too round." Oh, Pee Wee, I didn't realize how much I'd missed you. Let's never be apart again.