1972. A TV network under congressional pressure hires a group of young singer-songwriters to create educational cartoons. Holed up in a studio with unlimited pot, acid, and sex, the young artists and their self-serving mentor seem to have found an artistic utopia. But when jealousy and betrayal replace grammar and multiplication as the musicians’ focus, they struggle to pull their project together before it tears them apart.
Halpin's amusing fourth novel explores what happens when you mix art, love, friendship, business and children's cartoons in the Age of Aquarius. It's 1972 and Levon, Peter, Sarah and Julie, a group of idealistic young musicians, are holed up in the basement of ATN studios in New York City, attempting to write educational jingles for a Saturday morning children's program called Pop Goes the Classroom. The group is led, albeit astray, by Pamela Sanchez, a brown-rice-and-millet-eating, aura-reading semifamous folk singer. At first it feels like a dream job: no regular working hours, free food stolen from the employee cafeteria, a warm place to crash and all the dope they can consume. The gang is briefly blissed out, but the freewheeling atmosphere can't survive the office politics, crash-and-burn relationships and selfish manipulations that run rampant in the hazy basement studios. Like the group's songs about George Washington and the magic of the number nine, this novel is clever and infectious.