DJ Cummerbund’s Astonishing Mashups Create Unexpected Collaborations Between Rock, Soul & Hip Hop Icons

“His­to­ry in the mak­ing,” Jay‑Z calls out a few bars into Beyoncé’s debut solo sin­gle “Crazy in Love.”

The sen­ti­ment may be even more ger­mane, when he does it in remix mas­ter DJ Cum­mer­bund’s irre­sistible mashup “Crazy Togeth­er,” above.

The recent assem­blage finds Queen Bey split­ting screen time with The Bea­t­les, as DJ Cum­mer­bund weaves “Crazy in Love” togeth­er with “Come Togeth­er.”

The video is as much fun as the seam­less audio, with a ham­my cameo from Ringo Starr, cour­tesy of the 1981 com­e­dy Cave­man, and Yoko Ono and James Brown doing some heavy lift­ing.

John Lennon’s take as Brown fires up his Sex Machine is price­less. It real­ly feels as if these unlike­ly col­lab­o­ra­tors were active, rather than pas­sive con­trib­u­tors.

Here’s a peek into how DJ Cum­mer­bund arranged the audio clips.

Asked in a 2020 inter­view with Dig­i­tal Jour­nal about the source of his inspi­ra­tion, he respond­ed:

I’m not sure if you can call it inspi­ra­tion exact­ly, but I have a neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tion that caus­es me to hear and feel melodies and fre­quen­cies where most can­not (in the wind, the soil, celes­tial bod­ies, etc.) This ulti­mate­ly caus­es me to con­stant­ly hear songs on top of oth­er songs to the point of extreme frus­tra­tion and the only way to sub­due that is to actu­al­ly cre­ate what I’m hear­ing in my head. It’s almost ther­a­peu­tic for me, and I was even told I could die if I don’t con­tin­ue to cre­ate my works. It’s def­i­nite­ly like a curse some­times but can also be a bless­ing as my music seems to bring a great deal of joy to mil­lions of peo­ple.

An under­sung ele­ment of these crowd pleas­ing remix­es is how skill­ful­ly DJ Cum­mer­bund ties things togeth­er by record­ing sup­ple­men­tal vocals and instru­men­tals.

Ozzy Osbourne fronts “Earth, Wind and Ozzys,” which mar­ries his 1980 solo hit “Crazy Train” with Earth Wind & Fire’s ever­green “Sep­tem­ber” so suc­cess­ful­ly, it’s a let down to remem­ber that a gor­geous, har­mo­nized “I’m going off the rails on a crazy train” is an invent­ed, not sam­pled dis­co cho­rus.

The com­bi­na­tions the DJ comes up with can’t help but force a fresh per­spec­tive on artists who would nev­er in a mil­lion years have shared a stage or fan­base.

Step into a no man’s land where the rapid fire punk brat­ti­ness of the Ramones can coex­ist with the Han­son broth­ers’ lemon fresh, Tul­sa whole­some­ness, and Cot­ton Eye Joe comes in out of nowhere.

When a title like “Me and Coo­lio Down by the School­yard” pops into your head, it arrives as a self-thrown gaunt­let. You can’t not see it through to fruition.

The late rapper’s “Fan­tas­tic Voy­age” infus­es Paul Simon’s gen­tly nos­tal­gic “Me And Julio Down By The School Yard” with some NSFW lyrics and a much hard­er out­look.

The lo-fi joys of dou­ble dutch and play­ground hoops from the orig­i­nal Julio video present a plau­si­ble  vision of a “place where (Coo­lio’s) kids can play out­side with­out livin’ in fear of a dri­ve-by.”

This being a DJ Cum­mer­bund pro­duc­tion, base­ball Hall of Famer, Mick­ey Man­tle and foot­ball coach John Mad­den, who were on hand for Julio, have to make room for his ever present muse, the late wrestling super­star Randy “Macho Man” Sav­age.

DJ Cum­mer­bund is will­ing to con­sid­er requests, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you do a bit of home­work to ensure that your cho­sen songs’ keys match up and their BPMs inhab­it the same realm.

See more of his mash ups, includ­ing Shaxi­c­u­la, the MTV Video Music Award-win­ning B‑52s/Britney Spears remix here.

In recent weeks, DJ Cum­mer­bund has been open­ing for the B‑52s dur­ing their res­i­den­cy at the Venet­ian.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

50 Songs from a Sin­gle Year, Mixed Togeth­er Into One 3‑Minute Song (1979–89)

The Peanuts Gang Per­forms Pink Floyd’s Clas­sic Rock Opera in the Mashup “Char­lie Brown vs. The Wall“

The His­to­ry of Rock Told in a Whirl­wind 15-Minute Video

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

A Culinary Videos Series Shows Every Conceivable Way to Cook Eggs, Potatoes, Pizza, Bacon & More

So you think you know your way around a pota­to, eh?

No doubt you excel at boil­ing, mash­ing, roast­ing, bak­ing and twice bak­ing …

You may make a mean pota­to chip or pomme frite

Per­haps you’ve per­fect­ed some tricks with a microwave or air fry­er.

But before you’re puffed too full of brag­ging rights, have you ever thought to sub­ject this hum­ble root veg­etable to a blow torch, an iron, a dish­wash­er, a juicer or a gaso­line pow­ered gen­er­a­tor plugged into a giant dim­mer switch?

No?

Con­grat­u­la­tions on hav­ing avoid­ed some tru­ly dread­ful meth­ods for prepar­ing a pota­to, judg­ing by the results of some of Bon Appétit Con­tribut­ing Edi­tor Amiel Stanek’s more out­ré, tongue-in-cheek exper­i­ments, above.

Wait, maybe there aren’t real­ly 63 ways to cook pota­toes?

The prepa­ra­tion we’re legit­i­mate­ly eager to try is pick­ling, for spuds Stanek declares “very sweet, salty, acidic”, a wel­come addi­tion to a cheese board or a cru­dité plate.

And there’s an argu­ment to be made for turn­ing a waf­fle iron into a dual pur­pose device by mak­ing hash browns in it.

Stanek fares less well, pip­ing pre-mashed pota­toes into a Rol­lie ® Eggmas­ter, “a weird, made-for-TV device that is made express­ly for cook­ing eggs:”

Ewww, no, why is it like that? This is dis­gust­ing!!!

If you’re won­der­ing how that Rol­lie ® does with its intend­ed ingre­di­ent, Stanek’s got an answer for you:

Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, oh my god, it looks like it’s in a con­dom. This is the most dis­gust­ing egg thing we have made all day…it tastes like bad seafood. I don’t know why, it tastes plastic‑y. This is hor­ri­ble!

Mean­while, those in long term rela­tion­ships with part­ners hold­ing dif­fer­ent views on the best way to scram­ble, fry or poach an egg may find them­selves feel­ing vin­di­cat­ed by this episode.

Either that or hor­ri­bly betrayed.

Oth­er than pota­toes and eggs, the only episode of the 10 in the Almost Every series not exclu­sive­ly geared toward cook­ing flesh is the one devot­ed to piz­za, which at 32 meth­ods, ties with chick­en breast. (Only whole chick­en, at 24 meth­ods, has few­er options.)

Veg­ans will like­ly feel unim­pressed, in addi­tion to left out, giv­en that there’s near­ly that many sug­gest­ed hacks for melt­ing plant-based cheese.

Per­haps a vis­it to Moon­burg­er, a meat­less Hud­son Val­ley chain where Stanek is Culi­nary Con­sul­tant and the shakes are dairy free is in order?

Those crav­ing ever more off­beat attacks, how­ev­er, will find them­selves enter­tained by Stanek’s efforts involv­ing an Easy-Bake Oven (yeah, nope, not good at all),  a Teenage Mutant Nin­ja Tur­tle Piz­za Machine (the whole cheese sitch looks a lit­tle bit demented…bummer, dude), and a crust that’s baked around a sil­i­cone cone, then filled with a “molten, dan­ger­ous slur­ry” of sauce and cheese (this thing looks demon­ic to me, like an ani­mal horn meant for a Satan­ic rit­u­al…)

If that’s not our cue to seek out a restau­rant with a wood burn­ing oven, per­haps it’s a sig­nal we should order out.

Watch a com­plete playlist of Bon Appétit’s Almost Every here.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

10,000 Vin­tage Recipe Books Are Now Dig­i­tized in The Inter­net Archive’s Cook­book & Home Eco­nom­ics Col­lec­tion

The New York Times Makes 17,000 Tasty Recipes Avail­able Online: Japan­ese, Ital­ian, Thai & Much More

The Recipes of Famous Artists: Din­ners & Cock­tails From Tol­stoy, Miles Davis, Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, David Lynch & Many More

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Wes Anderson Re-Creates The Truman Show, Armageddon & Out of Sight as Stage Plays Performed by the Cast of Rushmore (1999)

Nom­i­nees of the 1999 MTV Movie Awards includ­ed Adam San­dler, Liv Tyler, Chris Tuck­er, and Jen­nifer Love Hewitt to men­tion just a few of the names in a ver­i­ta­ble who’s-who of turn-of-the-mil­len­ni­um Amer­i­can pop cul­ture. But for the teenage cinephiles watch­ing that night, the high­light of the broad­cast was sure­ly a set of brief skits per­formed by “the Max Fis­ch­er Play­ers.” Direct­ed by Wes Ander­son, who had been named Best New Film­mak­er dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny of three years before, they present low-bud­get but high-spir­it­ed inter­pre­ta­tions of three of the motion pic­tures up for hon­ors: Out of Sight, The Tru­man Show, and Armaged­don.

Hav­ing been a teenage cinephile myself at the time, I can tell you that none of those movies made as much an impact on me as Ander­son­’s own Rush­more, which intro­duced the hyper-ambi­tious young slack­er Max Fis­ch­er to the world. In it, Max and his play­ers adapt Sid­ney Lumet’s Ser­pico, and lat­er put on an elab­o­rate (and explo­sive) pas­tiche of var­i­ous Viet­nam War pic­tures.

Twen­ty-five years ago, few of us had iden­ti­fied in the painstak­ing­ly ram­shackle look and feel of these pro­duc­tions the seed of what would grow into Ander­son­’s sig­na­ture aes­thet­ic. But it was clear that, if the Max Fis­ch­er Play­ers method were applied to the Hol­ly­wood block­busters of the day, amus­ing incon­gruity would result.

These skits promi­nent­ly fea­ture Mason Gam­ble and Sara Tana­ka, both of whom retired from act­ing a few years after giv­ing their mem­o­rable per­for­mances in Rush­more. But Jason Schwartz­man, who will no doubt for­ev­er be iden­ti­fied with Max Fis­ch­er, has remained an active mem­ber of Ander­son­’s own group of play­ers, and even plays a star­ring role once again in Ander­son­’s new film Aster­oid City, which comes out this sum­mer. The Max Fish­er Play­ers’ par­o­dies were includ­ed on the DVD of Rush­more released by the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion — an hon­or still denied, one might add, to the recip­i­ent of the 1999 MTV Movie Award for Best Movie, There’s Some­thing About Mary. (But not to Armaged­don, which just goes to show how unpre­dictable the favor of cinephil­ia can be.)

via Red­dit

Relat­ed con­tent:

Wes Anderson’s Break­through Film Rush­more Revis­it­ed in Five Video Essays: It Came Out 20 Years Ago Today

Wes Ander­son Explains How He Writes and Directs Movies, and What Goes Into His Dis­tinc­tive Film­mak­ing Style

Wes Anderson’s Shorts Films & Com­mer­cials: A Playlist of 8 Short Ander­son­ian Works

Wes Ander­son Goes Sci-Fi in 1950s Amer­i­ca: Watch the Trail­er for His New Film Aster­oid City

Why Do Wes Ander­son Movies Look Like That?

Watch the First Two Hours of MTV’s Inau­gur­al Broad­cast (August 1, 1981)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

“Weird Al” Yankovic Breaks Down His Most Iconic Tracks: “Eat It,” “Amish Paradise,” “White and Nerdy,” and His Other Hilarious Songs

Few things could have been more amus­ing to a twelve-year-old in 1996 than an Amish-themed par­o­dy of the late Coo­lio’s por­ten­tous­ly grim life-in-the-hood anthem “Gangsta’s Par­adise.” As luck would have it, “Weird Al” Yankovic released just such a song in 1996, when I hap­pened to be twelve years old myself. Like every­one who’s been a kid at some point in the past 40 years, I grew up hear­ing and appre­ci­at­ing Yankovic’s pro­lif­ic out­put of par­o­dies, pas­tich­es, and even orig­i­nal songs. From “Eat It” to “Smells like Nir­vana” to “White and Nerdy,” there was hard­ly a pop-music phase of my child­hood, ado­les­cence, and ear­ly adult­hood that he did­n’t make fun­ny.

That’s to make fun­ny, as dis­tinct from to make fun of: unlike that of a pre­de­ces­sor in com­e­dy song­writ­ing like Tom Lehrer, Yankovic’s body of work evi­dences not the least ten­den­cy toward harsh­ness or ridicule.

Hence his appeal from his very first record­ing “My Bol­og­o­na,” an accor­dion-based par­o­dy of “My Sharona” record­ed in the bath­room of his col­lege radio sta­tion, to no less an advo­cate of silli­ness than Dr. Demen­to, whose air­play launched the young Weird Al’s career — a career that, as Yankovic acknowl­edges while telling the sto­ries behind his icon­ic songs in the GQ video above, has not gone with­out its strokes of luck.

Yet few liv­ing per­form­ers more clear­ly per­son­i­fy the old apho­rism describ­ing luck as the meet­ing of prepa­ra­tion and oppor­tu­ni­ty. “Weird Al approach­es the com­po­si­tion of his music with some­thing like the holy pas­sion of Michelan­ge­lo paint­ing the ceil­ing of the Sis­tine Chapel,” writes Sam Ander­son in a 2020 New York Times Mag­a­zine pro­file. See­ing Yankovic’s notes for “White & Nerdy” “file felt like watch­ing a super­com­put­er crunch through pos­si­ble chess moves. Every sin­gle vari­able had to be con­sid­ered, in every sin­gle line.” To work in musi­cal form, even the sil­li­est humor demands his total ded­i­ca­tion.

Yankovic has long showed a will­ing­ness straight­for­ward­ly to dis­cuss what it’s like to be Weird Al, as well as what it takes to be Weird Al. For a con­sid­er­ably less straight­for­ward ver­sion, we can watch The Roku Chan­nel’s new Weird: The Al Yankovic Sto­ry. Most biopics take artis­tic lib­er­ties with the lives of their sub­jects, but Weird goes all the way, par­o­dy­ing the very form of the biopic itself while per­form­ing colos­sal (and sure­ly fan-delight­ing) exag­ger­a­tions of the facts of Yankovic’s life. In the GQ video, for exam­ple, he men­tions get­ting the idea for “Like a Sur­geon” by hear­ing Madon­na throw it out in an inter­view; in the trail­er above, Madon­na turns at the door at his opu­lent man­sion, a ver­i­ta­ble suc­cubus ready to drag him into the musi­cal under­world. And it seems a safe bet that things only get Weird­er there­after.

Relat­ed con­tent:

“Weird Al” Yankovic Releas­es “Word Crimes,” a Gram­mar Nerd Par­o­dy of “Blurred Lines”

Two Leg­ends: Weird Al Yankovic “Inter­views” James Brown (1986)

Dr. Demento’s New Punk Album Fea­tures William Shat­ner Singing The Cramps, Weird Al Yankovic Singing The Ramones & Much More

Mon­ty Python’s Eric Idle Breaks Down His Most Icon­ic Char­ac­ters

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Watch You Suck at Cooking, a Hilarious Source for Tasty Recipes and Food Hacks of Questionable Veracity

Is it just us, or did half of Gen Z teach them­selves how to cook on Tik­Tok dur­ing the height of the pan­dem­ic?

The recipes that go viral have more in com­mon with gonzo sci­ence exper­i­ments than Julia Child’s Coq au Vin.

Hacks are gold­en in this forum — whether or not they actu­al­ly work — and run­ning time is of the essence.

There’s an unmis­tak­able visu­al vocab­u­lary, too — from the god shots of man­i­cured hands dump­ing pre-mea­sured ingre­di­ents into mix­ing bowls to the reveal of the com­plet­ed dish just sec­onds lat­er.

One has to be con­ver­sant in these tropes to sub­vert them as glee­ful­ly as the anony­mous cre­ator of the sev­en year old online series You Suck at Cook­ing.

Unlike such Tik­Tok heavy hit­ters as cloud bread or whipped cof­fee, most of You Suck at Cook­ing’s dish­es are things you might con­sid­er prepar­ing on a reg­u­lar basis, how­ev­er trendy they may be at the moment.

The respon­si­ble par­ty’s cook­ing and edit­ing skills are sol­id, but his writ­ing is the real star here. We also appre­ci­ate the mas­sive amount of plan­ning and care that goes into every five minute episode.

He’s an unabashed coin­er of vocab­u­lary and elab­o­rate ways to refer to straight­for­ward appli­ances and ingre­di­ents. His deliv­ery is mild man­nered, but he doesn’t mince words when it comes to culi­nary bias­es — e.g., condi­ment­ing only one side of the bun is a cer­ti­fi­able burg­er crime and if you don’t like pick­les, one thing you can do is seek help.

Sim­ple dish­es such as overnight oats require so lit­tle instruc­tion, he’s freed up to skew­er the ques­tion­able claims of food-focused well­ness “experts” by lean­ing all the way in.

The spir­it of the project car­ries over into his writ­ten step-by-steps on the rare occa­sions when mere video demon­stra­tion will not suf­fice.

(His cook­book, You Suck at Cook­ing: The Absurd­ly Prac­ti­cal Guide to Suck­ing Slight­ly Less at Mak­ing Food, was pub­lished anony­mous­ly in 2019.)

To get the most from your expe­ri­ence, we rec­om­mend you first watch his deep fried Kore­an-style corn­dog How To, then fol­low the writ­ten recipe:

1. Go to the store 

2. Buy corn dogs 

3. Enjoy 

If you insist on mak­ing corn dogs your­self, first read these fry­ing safe­ty tips

The rea­son home fry­ers are safer than doing it on the stove­top is because they lim­it the heat of your oil so it won’t catch fire. It’s easy to let it get too hot which is very bad news. 

Bat­ter

    • 1 ¼ cups flour 
    • 2 table­spoon sug­ar 
    • ½ tea­spoon salt 
    • 1.3 tea­spoon yeast 
    • 1 egg 
    • 100 ml warm water

Wang­jan­gle until your wrist is furi­ous (I did it for a few min­utes tops)

Let it sit for half an hour 

Dry off any­thing you’re rolling in it 

Peg your dogs 

Roll ‘em 

Roll them in arti­san Ital­ian bread crumbs (okay seri­ous­ly this is a fla­vor game chang­er and I can’t rec­om­mend them enough. Kor­tal­ian food just has such depth. 

Fry for 3 min­utes 

Cool for a few min­utes 

I think any­thing else is pret­ty straight for­ward

When it comes to cook­ing hacks, our hero is a cham­pi­on fab­u­list.

It’s safe to assume that the first tip is legit, after which… well, let’s just say that some of his orange peel­ing meth­ods remind us in the best pos­si­ble way of our old pal Shel Silverstein’s Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book.

Enjoy a playlist of all 150 episodes of You Suck at Cook­ing here.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Michael Pol­lan Explains How Cook­ing Can Change Your Life; Rec­om­mends Cook­ing Books, Videos & Recipes

10,000 Vin­tage Recipe Books Are Now Dig­i­tized in The Inter­net Archive’s Cook­book & Home Eco­nom­ics Col­lec­tion

The New York Times Makes 17,000 Tasty Recipes Avail­able Online: Japan­ese, Ital­ian, Thai & Much More

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Making Sense of Nathan Fielder’s The Rehearsal with Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #136

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Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Lawrence Ware, Sarahlyn Bruck, and Al Bak­er con­vene an emer­gency pod­cast record­ing to react to this mind-bend­ing, pos­si­bly immoral HBO com­e­dy docuseries, where­in Field­er helps ordi­nary peo­ple rehearse dif­fi­cult per­son­al con­fronta­tions, but this plan goes off the rails after 1.5 episodes out of the six that made up its first sea­son.

This series builds upon Fielder’s pre­vi­ous show where he comed­ical­ly tried to help busi­ness­es, Nathan for You, whose ground-break­ing finale (“Find­ing Frances”) dis­cov­ered The Rehearsal‘s for­mat. Is Nathan him­self the main butt of the joke, or is he punch­ing down? Are there bet­ter ways to show the fail­ings of real­i­ty TV? How does this kind of embar­rass­ment humor dif­fer from Borat and its ilk? Maybe the show is not as much about these peo­ple going through their rehearsals as an exam­i­na­tion of the process of rehears­ing itself that Field­er has devised.

Feel free to lis­ten to us to find out what it’s all about, but you will be best served by watch­ing this inde­scrib­able show your­self before expe­ri­enc­ing this episode.

A few rel­e­vant arti­cles also con­sid­er­ing the show include:

Fol­low us @law_writes@sarahlynbruck@ixisnox@MarkLinsenmayer.

Hear more Pret­ty Much Pop. Sup­port the show and hear bonus talk­ing for this and near­ly every oth­er episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choos­ing a paid sub­scrip­tion through Apple Pod­casts. This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

When Is a Joke “Too Soon”? — Comedians Discuss on Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #132

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To hon­or the death of Gilbert Got­tfried, Pret­ty Much Pop address­es jokes like the 9–11 one he was pil­lo­ried for. Can com­e­dy real­ly be “too soon” in rela­tion to trag­ic sub­ject mat­ter? Is com­e­dy real­ly tragedy plus time, or are jokes most need­ed imme­di­ate­ly when pain and dis­com­fort are most acute?

Your host Mark Lin­se­may­er is joined by three come­di­ans: Adam Sank (of the LGBTQ-themed Adam Sank Show), Twitch-stream­ing song­ster Meri Amber, and return­ing guest Daniel Lobell (graph­ic nov­el­ist and pod­cast­er). We get into tai­lor­ing jokes for an audi­ence, cop­ing with grief, and of course some talk about trig­ger­ing, hyper-sen­si­tive audi­ences, and can­cel­la­tion (Chapelle, any­one?).

Watch Got­tfried’s infa­mous joke your­self:

A few per­spec­tives we may have reviewed before talk­ing:

Fol­low us @AdamSank, @meriamber, @dannylobell, and @MarkLinsenmayer.

So maybe instead of the “Mac­cabees,” my Bible cam­p’s Pol­ish jokes instead made the “Canaan­ites” the butt of their humor. (Unless that actu­al­ly again refers some mod­ern, extant peo­ple…)

Hear more Pret­ty Much Pop. Sup­port the show and hear bonus talk­ing for this and near­ly every oth­er episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choos­ing a paid sub­scrip­tion through Apple Pod­casts. This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

Julia Child Shows Fred Rogers How to Make a Quick & Delicious Pasta Dish (1974)

Julia Child and Fred Rogers were titans of pub­lic tele­vi­sion, cel­e­brat­ed for their nat­ur­al warmth, the ease with which they deliv­ered impor­tant lessons to home view­ers, and, for a cer­tain sec­tor of the view­ing pub­lic, how read­i­ly their per­son­al­i­ties lent them­self to par­o­dy.

Child’s cook­ing pro­gram, The French Chef, debuted in 1963, and Roger’s much beloved children’s show, Mis­ter Rogers Neigh­bor­hood, fol­lowed five years lat­er.

Rogers occa­sion­al­ly invit­ed accom­plished celebri­ties to join him for seg­ments where­in they demon­strat­ed their par­tic­u­lar tal­ents:

With our guest’s help, I have been able to show a wide diver­si­ty of self-expres­sion, the extra­or­di­nary range of human poten­tial. I want chil­dren and their fam­i­lies to know that there are many con­struc­tive ways to express who they are and how they feel. 

In 1974, Child paid a call to the neigh­bor­hood bak­ery presided over by “Chef” Don Brock­ett  (whose lat­er cred­its includ­ed a cameo as a “Friend­ly Psy­chopath” in Silence of the Lambs…)

The easy-to-pre­pare pas­ta dish she teach­es Rogers — and, by exten­sion, his “tele­vi­sion friend” — to make takes a sur­pris­ing­ly opti­mistic view of the aver­age pre-school palate.

Red sauce gets a hard pass, in favor of a more sophis­ti­cat­ed blend of fla­vors stem­ming from tuna, black olives, and pimen­tos.

Brock­ett pro­vides an assist with both the cook­ing and, more impor­tant­ly, the child safe­ty rules that aren’t always front and cen­ter with this celebri­ty guest.

Child, who had no off­spring, comes off as a high-spir­it­ed, loosey-goosey, fun aunt, encour­ag­ing child view­ers to toss the cooked spaghet­ti “fair­ly high” after adding but­ter and oil “because it’s dra­mat­ic” and talk­ing as if they’ll be hit­ting the super­mar­ket solo, a flat­ter­ing notion to any tot whose refrain is “I do it mySELF!”

She wise­ly reframes tasks assigned to big­ger, more expe­ri­enced hand — boil­ing water, knife work — as less excit­ing than “the fan­cy busi­ness at the end”, and makes it stick by sug­gest­ing that the kids “order the grown ups to do what you want done,” a verb choice the ever-respect­ful Rogers like­ly would have avoid­ed.

As with The French Chef, her off-the-cuff remarks are a major source of delight.

Watch­ing his guest wipe a wood­en cut­ting board with olive oil, Rogers observes that some of his friends “could do this very well,” to which she replies:

It’s also good for your hands ‘coz it keeps ‘em nice and soft, so rub any excess into your hands.

She shares a bit of stage set scut­tle­butt regard­ing a let­ter from “some woman” who com­plained that the off-cam­era waste­bas­ket made it appear that Child was dis­card­ing peels and stems onto the floor.

She said, “Do you think this is a nice way to show young peo­ple how to cook, to throw things on the floor!?” And I said, “Well, I have a self clean­ing floor! …The self clean­ing is me.”

(Rogers appears both amused and relieved when the ulti­mate punch­line steers things back to the realm of good man­ners and per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty.)

Trans­fer­ring the slip­pery pre-cooked noo­dles from pot to serv­ing bowl, Child rem­i­nisces about a won­der­ful old movie in which some­one — “Char­lie Chap­lin or was it, I guess it was, uh, it wasn’t Mick­ey Rooney, maybe it was…” — eats spaghet­ti through a fun­nel.

If only the Inter­net had exist­ed in 1974 so intrigued par­ents could have Googled their way to the Noo­dle Break at the Bull Pup Cafe sequence from 1918’s The Cook, star­ring Roscoe “Fat­ty” Arbuck­le and Buster Keaton!

The fun­nel is but one of many inspired silent spaghet­ti gags in this sure­fire don’t‑try-this-at-home kid-pleas­er.

We learn that Child named her dish Spaghet­ti Mar­co Polo in a nod to a wide­ly cir­cu­lat­ed the­o­ry that pas­ta orig­i­nat­ed in Chi­na and was intro­duced to Italy by the explor­er, a bit of lore food writer Tori Avey of The His­to­ry Kitchen finds dif­fi­cult to swal­low:

A com­mon belief about pas­ta is that it was brought to Italy from Chi­na by Mar­co Polo dur­ing the 13th cen­tu­ry. In his book, The Trav­els of Mar­co Polo, there is a pas­sage that briefly men­tions his intro­duc­tion to a plant that pro­duced flour (pos­si­bly a bread­fruit tree). The Chi­nese used this plant to cre­ate a meal sim­i­lar to bar­ley flour. The bar­ley-like meal Polo men­tioned was used to make sev­er­al pas­ta-like dish­es, includ­ing one described as lagana (lasagna). Since Polo’s orig­i­nal text no longer exists, the book relies heav­i­ly on retellings by var­i­ous authors and experts. This, com­bined with the fact that pas­ta was already gain­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty in oth­er areas of Italy dur­ing the 13th-cen­tu­ry, makes it very unlike­ly that Mar­co Polo was the first to intro­duce pas­ta to Italy.

Ah well.

We’re glad Child went with the Chi­na the­o­ry as it pro­vides an excuse to eat spaghet­ti with chop­sticks.

Noth­ing is more day-mak­ing than see­ing Julia Child pop a small bun­dle of spaghet­ti direct­ly into Fred Rogers’ mouth from the tips of her chopsticks…though after using the same imple­ments to feed some to Chef Brock­ett too, she real­izes that this wasn’t the best les­son in food hygiene.

In 2021, this sort of boo-boo would result in an auto­mat­ic reshoot.

In the wilder, wooli­er 70s, a more press­ing con­cern, at least as far as pub­lic tele­vi­sion was con­cerned, was expand­ing lit­tle Amer­i­cans’ world­view, in part by show­ing them how to get a com­mand­ing grip on their chop­sticks. It’s nev­er too late to learn.

Bon appétit!

JULIA CHILD’S SPAGHETTI MARCO POLO

There are a num­ber of vari­a­tions online, but this recipe, from Food.com, hews close­ly to Child’s orig­i­nal, while pro­vid­ing mea­sure­ments for her eye­balled amounts.

Serves 4–6

INGREDIENTS 

1 lb spaghet­ti 

2 table­spoons but­ter 

2 table­spoons olive oil 

1 tea­spoon salt black pep­per 

1 6‑ounce can tuna packed in oil, flaked, undrained 

2 table­spoons pimien­to, diced or 2 table­spoons roast­ed red pep­pers, sliced into strips 

2 table­spoons green onions with tops, sliced 

2 table­spoons black olives, sliced 

2 table­spoons wal­nuts, chopped

1 cup Swiss cheese, shred­ded 

2 table­spoons fresh pars­ley or 2 table­spoons cilantro, chopped

Cook pas­ta accord­ing to pack­age direc­tions. 

Drain pas­ta and return to pot, stir­ring in but­ter, olive oil, and salt and pep­per. 

Toss with remain­ing ingre­di­ents and serve, gar­nished with pars­ley or cilantro.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Julia Child Shows David Let­ter­man How to Cook Meat with a Blow Torch

Watch Antho­ny Bourdain’s First Food-and-Trav­el Series A Cook’s Tour Free Online (2002–03)

Tast­ing His­to­ry: A Hit YouTube Series Shows How to Cook the Foods of Ancient Greece & Rome, Medieval Europe, and Oth­er Places & Peri­ods

Sci­ence & Cook­ing: Harvard’s Free Course on Mak­ing Cakes, Pael­la & Oth­er Deli­cious Food

MIT Teach­es You How to Speak Ital­ian & Cook Ital­ian Food All at Once (Free Online Course)

 

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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