Anna Smith

Curator of Education, Nasher Sculpture Center

The Nasher’s unofficial in-house comedian, Curator of Education Anna Smith, is also the mother of toddler twins. During these long days of juggling the creation of ever-greener digital education content for the museum with the rearing of her daughters, Smith has deployed the classic American in-house babysitter to help: Sesame Street. In her Shelf Life list, Smith juggles two more things: brilliant armchair TV critic and bartender. Cheers!


Let’s say you are spending a lot of time in your home with two children under the age of two. And let’s say that one or more of those children have recently discovered that high-volume shrieks are a viable way to express emotions. And let’s further say that both of those children have an extraordinarily strong preference for visual entertainment that takes place in childhood’s most famous urban neighborhood. How, one might ask, should you choose which videos will play on infinite repeat until they become deeply entrenched in your grey matter? 

I happen to have put hours of research into this very topic, and have compiled a list of Sesame Street deep cuts that have found a place in my home. I’ve paired each one with a tiki cocktail because after the 17th viewing, you will need it.

 

“Me and Julio” by Paul Simon and the Sesame Street Kids

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1dlWmrRstc

The “Sesame Street Kids” is a catch-all term describing the many, many children who have appeared as extras in Sesame Street segments over the years. In this particular video, the adults have wholly lost control of the situation while the kids wander out of frame, climb the set furniture and generally upstage Paul Simon. One formidable child starts to perform her own song over Simon’s acoustic guitar playing, and it’s pretty catchy. The tiny, vexed expression on her face when Simon begins to sing is relatable.

Pairs well with: Zombie

1 oz Light Rum

1 oz Dark Rum

1 oz Orange Curaçao

1 oz Lemon Juice

1 oz Orange Juice

½ oz Grenadine

1 dash Agnostura Bitters

ABC Disco with Grover

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9DZp16uNQk

I get the impression that Grover was something of a stud in the 1970s. Here, he’s holding court in a faux-fur version of Studio 54 set to an amazingly listenable disco version of the alphabet song. If that’s not enough for you, keep an eye out for the shirtless Muppet cocktail waiter at the end.

Pairs well with Mai Tai

1 oz Dark Rum

1 oz Amber Rum

2 tbsp Orange Juice

½ oz Cointreau

¼ oz Simple Syrup

1 tbsp Lime Juice

1 tsp Orgeat Syrup

Dash of Grenadine

Jellyman Kelly by James Taylor and the Sesame Street Kids

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rjo1TVKaFmU

I see something new each time I watch this rendition of a song based on a poem written by James Taylor’s young daughter. Who ever thought stair-step-cut side bangs were a good idea? Why do they cut away every time the blonde child shows enthusiasm? Who thought it was important to have live pigeons on set?

Pairs well with Dark and Stormy

2 oz Dark Rum

3 oz Ginger Beer

Squeeze of Lime Juice

The Tortellini Song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS2_rnvpr6Y

TORTELLINI TORTELLINI TORTELLINI

Pairs well with: Cherry Rum Fizz

Juice of ½ Lemon

½ tsp Sugar

1 tsp Cherry Brandy

1 oz Puerto Rican Rum

Sparkling Water

Harvey Fierstein Sings “Everything’s Coming Up Noses”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDRuZpcCV7g

The incomparable Harvey Fierstein pins noses on a never-ending parade of noseless Muppets, each with a satisfying squish sound. I could watch a whole musical built around this number.

Pairs well with: Swimming Pool

1 oz Vodka

2 oz Coconut Rum

2 oz Pineapple Juice

1 oz Heavy Cream

Splash of Blue Curaçao

 

HONORABLE MENTION

New Way to Walk with Destiny’s Child

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNl8rODXIBk

This brings back distant memories of a time when Beyoncé might have chosen to wear a red leather beret.

Patti Labelle Sings the Alphabet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0hYxuDav0g

One of the best versions of the ABCs ever.

A Song about Elmo by Adam Sandler

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py2f38iPBeI

He rhymes “Elmo” with “Smell-mo.”

What’s the Name of That Song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TjX5r37V0Q

A Sesame Street classic. I hear it when I sleep at night. Pretty much every night.

Kidding and cocktails aside, as an adult living through anxiety-inducing times I’ve found a special sense of comfort in revisiting a place where kindness is valued, everyone acts in the best interest of others, and the only monsters on my screen are furry and cute. Sometimes it’s worth the time to turn off the news, put down the phone and remind yourself how to get to where the air is sweet.

Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
214.242.5100
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