Dustie Pitstick is a true Simpsons lifer. He can pull a quote for any moment. He’s also one of the nicest and most positive people I’ve ever met. He’s an active member of the Dayton punk scene and is endlessly supportive of the people in the area. His enthusiasm is inspiring and contagious. When I first thought about the idea for this blog, he was one of the first peope I talked to about it. He was incredibly supportive of the idea so I’m honored to finally have an interview with him about something we both love dearly.
What is your history with The Simpsons?
Honestly it’s always been around. I’l be 30 this September, so I grew up right along side it. My family had always had a good sense of humor, and in the early years the show was fairly tame and genuinely ripe with life lessons and family values. They didn’t mind me watching, especially since they were always there also. I never have been much for movies unless it’s a special event. I always opted for something short and easy I knew and could turn my brain off and get things done while it was playing, so I’ve always kept the Simpsons around.
Do you have a favorite character? Someone you relate to more than anyone else on the show?
I have a few. Milhouse for years was my relatable. I grew up a spectacled nerd, but never had many problems as far as being excluded or joked on. My school history was fairly drama-free. I was into comics and Simpsons and pop culture, but I also played hockey and had a decent sense of humor, so no one ever avoided talking to me, despite “cool school” status. I feel like that’s Millie. He’s hardened in his beliefs and not afraid to be public about comics, puppy googoo, or a nice pair of flood pants… And still is just kind of floating through social status pretty freely. My backup favorite is Lenny. As I’ve grown older I’ve watched him in my mind develop from Homer’s drinking buddy into this beautiful parody of the modern “guy’s guy”. He’s always got a smile on his face and a beer in his hand, but he’s secretly facing some horrible misfortune at every turn. As long as his eye is safe at the time, he’s always spouting some background drunk nonsense, when in reality you KNOW something nuts is happening in his life. His relationship with Carl is so ambiguous in every way, and he’s often seen in the background lamenting over passed family members, living in a shack with no furniture but a single chair, or having a crippling addiction to imaginative tea parities with dolls at the American Girl store. I want to know his whole story, and instead the show acknowledges it exists, but instead chooses to have him say something like “I hear that.” They know what they are doing and it’s brilliant. Other notable favorites are Hans Moleman, Lindsay Neagel, and while Skinner and Chalmers alone are typically funny, they as a duo are always immaculate. The shift of power over the Seasons from Chalmer’s being Skinners bane to later they both become sort of these iconic chuckleheads looking for a way out of the horrible conditions of the school system (Both battling over who gets to work on bicycles in Nelson’s garage for ten dollars an hour immediately comes to mind) has been fantastic. They work well together, and almost carry a two stooges vibe now. Plus the “Steamed Hams” gag is easily one of the most funny single bits in the history of TV. Bonus points to Doctor Colossus. He’s buried in the time capsule now, but his few one off appearances were perfect.
What is your favorite episode(s)?
Likely “You Only Move Twice”. That whole season is gold, but that episode especially is pure fire. Every family member really gets a moment to shine, and it’s the perfect balance of the characters early iterations of themselves and the later ones. Showing Homer really being great at his job and having this chance to shine only to realize it is at the cost of everyone he loves is such a horribly bummer situation that reflects how crummy real life can be, and also gets to show off his humanitarian side that he used to really have in the show. He gave up a perfect life so his family can be happy. These days he would just drink a Duff and go to Dubai with Tina Fey or some nonsense. Other notable favorites are the Sherry Boppins episode, the short stories episode, Itchy and Scratchy Land, Radioactive Man the movie, and I know this sounds crazy, but the Season 20 finale where the Ogdanville immigrants come over is a personal favorite. It returns to the clean humor and heart of the early seasons, and stands out as an instant classic in a season of C+ efforts. I am also a sucker for the Treehouse of Horror episodes. Favorites being Bart’s twin Brother Hugo (I’ll check Radio Shack!), the Burn’s Vampire story, Time and Punishment, and the best of all… THE SHINING!
You’re in a punk band. Out of all the kids in Springfield, who do you think is most likely to grow up and get into punk?
I came from a family that genuinely loved ALL genres of music, but punk/new wave was my mom’s big stink, and I latched on early. I feel like when there were big family events, if everyone was busy I could just turn on headphones and kind of fade out while the adults were adulting. For that reason, I would say Maggie. She’s blatantly the smartest of the family, and is typically off in her own little world. Several “future” episodes have predicted her as “wasting” her smarts and singing for a rock band and making it big. I feel like that cements the theory. I could totally see Rod and Todd “rebelling” by getting into PMA hardcore that actually has a great message and negates the whole idea of rebelling through heavy music. I could even see Flanders being upset over this, then hearing it and falling in love with posi-core, in the process opening up an all ages Christian hardcore venue. Milhouse would fall into that punk scene, but be a total Drive thru Records kid. Being emotional and a dweeb has this point where it’s popular in your college years. He would probably get an acoustic and do Death Cab covers, and break a few hearts in the process.
Do you have a favorite guest star?
I wouldn’t call Phil Hartman a guest star per se, but he’s it. Even his one off roles like Lyle Lanley are just amazing. As far as true to form GUEST stars. Al Brooks. His stint as Scorpio is nothing short of greatness. I love in the commentary they mention constant script changes because he would ad lib these golden lines. You can tell the whole episode Dan is struggling to keep up as Homer, and having a blast with it. When he tells Homer “I didn’t even give you my jacket!” and Homer looks down to find Scoprio wearing it backwards with that shit eating grin is likely the best visual gag the show has ever done. One of my wife and I’s most quoted line ever is “You ever see a guy say goodbye to a shoe?!” “Yes, once.” Honorable mention to James Taylor as a great guest star. Playing for them while in space and turning out to be a total dick. Sweet dreams of flying machines crash… Uhh… Landing safely on the ground.
Who would you like to see guest on the show?
MYSELF! But really, I don’t have a particular… My big hope for the guest stars is that they return to old form of playing a character and not themselves. That works in small doses, but I feel like the show has taken such a “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO SPRINGFIELD NOW?!” approach that it’s just an excuse to put celeb names on the commercial and get young people to watch it. I loved when Michael Jackson and Dustin Hoffman played these great characters and the names weren’t even blasted. I also love that Lisa references that when explaining the guest stars in the Itchy and Scratchy movie. I just want to see the writers making more episodes with heart, and realizing a certain celeb would be great for a written part, as opposed to writing a part just to have that person show up and make some publicity. A great example is Bart’s various girlfriends. I feel like Zooey Daschenel, Alyson Hannigan, and ESPECIALLY Sara Gilbert were picked for well written parts due to fit, not just to have Gaga come to Springfield. With that being said. The Gaga episode was actually not bad. She got lucky!
I know you have a “Boo-urns” tattoo. Do you have any other Simpsons tattoos?
Currently I have Boo-urns tattooed on my arm, Milhouse raising his arms in victory with a banner that says “Everything’s coming up!” on my throat, Lisa in the giant braces (DENTAL PLAN) in a heart border on my left shoulder, and Lenny and Carl in dress attire in a two piece locket on my right shoulder. I really want to get the whole main family eventually as good ideas approach. I think for Homer I want to get him on the big ole timey bike from the “It’s a box social!” invitation. Bart’s will likely be a Bartman tattoo. If I get a good Marge idea it will likely come with the quote “A part of us all, a part of us all, a part of us all”. When I worked for Bluebyrd long ago, I only got to do one Simpsons tattoo, but it was a winner. I did the cover of Kirk Van Houten’s demo tape on my friends forearm, larger than an actual tape case. It’s magic.
Has the show every introduced you to something, like Lisa going veg or Barney quitting drinking, that changed your views?
Lisa going vegetarian was pretty early in the show, so I was young at the time also. My family was pretty open about things and accepting, so I was familiar with the concept, but the episode did give me a new found appreciation. The show also got me much more into politics than I was/should have been at that age. From the parody of how the police force works, to the MANY political names they dropped in jokes, I would ask my parents who they were talking about or what the joke was, and typically get an answer that turned into more questions that turned into a long discussion and a lesson on how politics or government works. Typically in a liberal way, but always in an honest way. I guess in that regard, I can say the show introduced me to honest, adult conversation. My parents were rad enough to talk to me as an equal, and explain thing the way it really was and how the world truly worked. I’m sure if it was a different show or thing I got into with them, that lessons would have still been there, but the Simpsons was perfect for opening those conversational flood gates.
The Simpsons has a lot of classic music numbers. Do you have a favorite?
They are all gold, but the Sherry Boppins episode has all the real hits. the Stonecutters anthem is great. So are all the songs from the Be Sharps episode. It’s pretty hard to find fault in any of them though. It’s a long term dream of mine to slowly “pop-punk” out all my favorites and make a Me First style album of rock versions of these classic hits. The Bartman would also be covered.
Do you still watch the new episodes? If not, do you remember why you stopped watching?
I still watch religiously. The newer episodes aren’t the old ones for certain, but it’s still better than most things on television. The newest season or two has been particularly bad, but still has a few winners hiding out in it. I feel like a lot of the problems the show faces are technology based. All the best gags in the shows history come from miscommunication and misinformation. With a cell phone in every hand and booming wi-fi signals, a lot of the charm and goofiness is lost because now Marge can just see Homer snuck out of work via his Foursquare check-ins or whatever nonsense. It’s a shame, but also kind of what our life is. I really did consider leaving the show this year when Harry Shearer was reported to leave. Him being back gives me renewed faith that they have the puzzle pieces and talent to make greatness again. Fingers are crossed, but I’ll likely go down with the ship when it is finally done 40 years from now. I’m a lifer.
How would you like to see the series end? Any idea on what you would like to see happen with the family?
I had read an interesting article that the actual producers hoped for a Christmas episode to end it where at the end they walk into the school concert from the first episode and you realize their life is a big loop. One of my other big nerddoms is Stephen King, especially the Dark Tower series. It had sort of a similar Groundhog Day style ending. Maybe this time the Simpsons will get it right and free themselves from the eternal loop of hell. It’s just evil enough that I feel like it is truly plausible. In reality though, I feel like they will end it one of two ways, everyone getting everything they’ve ever wanted, or some sinister ending where Bart’s Comet comes back and this time the town is leveled and they all die together singing and holding hands in a field with Flanders. At least that’s what I will always hope for.
In a perfect world… I would like to think Millie and Lisa end up together. Skinner finally finds love and accepts his crummy place in the world with happiness and dignity. Flanders will keep on Flanding. Bart finally gets his shit together enough to enjoy an average life without follies. Maggie starts that punk band, possibly with Nelson on guitar (he deserves good things). And of course, Marge and Homer grow old and happy together.
After typing up this interview, Dustie, Christian Roerig and I were talking about an old Simpsons themed punk band they had called Rich Texan. During the conversation, they decided to clean up the files and posted them on Bandcamp. I came up with the album name, “I’ve learned that life is just one crushing defeat after another until you finally just wish Flanders was dead.” Take from that title what you will in light of recent internet phenomenons. The three songs are fantastic. You can get them HERE! And follow them on Facebook HERE!