Remember the ’90s? Remember when indie rockers had enough clout to make it as bit actors in popular children’s television shows? Or when hell-raising garage-rock icons played park rangers and suburban dads? Perhaps you’ll follow me to the town of Wellsville for a brief refresher on The Adventures of Pete & Pete.
The Wrigley brothers, both born with the name Pete (played by Mike Maronna and Danny Tamberelli), were normal kids who grew up in suburban anytown USA. They played hooky from school, got grounded and went on treacherous family vacations. Their offbeat universe hosted a wide variety of familiar characters: antagonistic teachers, menacing bullies with lackluster superpowers, weird neighborhood kids who were often annoying but sometimes useful. They even had their own personal superhero in Artie, the Strongest Man in the World.
To prepare myself for the gang’s reunion tour, which creators Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi will bring to the Hollywood Theatre this weekend, I dug for forgotten gems on YouTube with the hope that the show was as good as my inner tween remembers it to be. Has nostalgia-driven revisionist history made me forget that the show was actually terrible, like much of Nickelodeon’s other output from the ’90s? To my delight, the answer is no. What I didn’t remember, however, was that the show was littered with musicians of all stripes who went completely unnoticed by my 12-year-old self. LL Cool J played Little Pete’s teacher. Michael Stipe played a scab ice-cream man when Mr. Tastee, the gang’s beloved ice-cream man, disappeared. How did I miss this? As it turns out, I missed quite a few.
Iggy Pop as a concerned parent who’s instrumental in getting Artie (Toby Huss) kicked out of the neighborhood.
Kate Pierson of the B-52s as a crazy blind widow who refers to the erstwhile Mr. Tastee as “Leonard.”
David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter) of the New York Dolls as a scrupulous park ranger.
Debbie Harry as a neighbor who employs the Petes to sweep her yard for land mines.
Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes as a frazzled substitute math teacher.
Juliana Hatfield as a lunch lady.
Luscious Jackson as the entertainment for Big Pete’s fall dance.
Richard Edson (the original drummer of Sonic Youth) as a school janitor.