shepquest

MY BOOKS ABOUT JEAN SHEPHERD

SHEP'S ARMY: BUMMERS, BLISTERS, AND BOONDOGGLES, Opus Books. Nearly three dozen of Shepherd's army stories never before in print introduced and transcribed. Foreword by Keith Olbermann. (published August 2013)

EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD! THE ART AND ENIGMA OF JEAN SHEPHERD, Applause Books (published March, 2005)

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JEAN SHEPHERD–(LOIS NETTLETON ALBUM part 14)=my add-on #2 & ARTSY (173) words & images 2of3

More of my Shep collection of stuff.

I bought a copy of “New Faces 1962” official program to get the Jean Shepherd portrait/text:

I bought a copy of WOR’s 60th anniversary booklet to get the Shepherd part.  Of ironic interest is that WOR devoted several pages each to their stars that were popular/gossipy talk show hosts. But for Bob and Ray and Shepherd—the only ones likely to become permanent parts of the remembered/historically significant WOR firmament–they only devoted a small part of one page for them:

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WORD/IMAGES

EXHIBIT DESIGN

Where appropriate in my museum exhibit designs, I used visual media to emphasize the scientific word-content, as well as to form an integrated, attractive whole. Below are parts of my first two exhibits in the American Museum’s permanent Invertebrate Hall.

Classification (of the animal kingdom)

I’d never taken a biology course in high or college, so I didn’t know what an invertebrate was.  However, a designer, with content-input from experts in any field, can design a way to best express the information provided.

How to present the entire animal kingdom? I was told by the curators that the 27 major groupings are called “phyla,” within each phylum, major related parts are called “classes.” Hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of sub-categories, not shown, make up the millions of species. I used related colors and physical proximity to indicate each of the five super-groupings (reds and greens in the two groupings shown).

The phylum are presented by large, dimensional, hollow hemispheres with clear plexiglas on their front surfaces containing text and drawings/photos; classes within a phylum are indicated by smaller flat disks of related color, with text and drawings/photos.

The millions of species not shown in the major groupings are suggested with many small, colored spheres, which, I  hope, give a sense of multiplicity and bubbling life, and visually help hold the groupings together as well as move each grouping along to the next related section.

Continuity in Life

My next permanent exhibit in the Invertebrate Hall was that of “Continuity in Life,” illustrating how species procreate and develop. To give me the idea of how this scientific organization works, the curator in charge drew a small, rough diagram of information/relationships. (She was truly the originator of this graphic design idea.) I took this, elaborated on it, and formalized it into the full-size parts that would become the exhibit.

The first part is shown here. The most primitive form of reproduction is called “asexual,” in which only one sex reproduces itself exactly, forming its descendants. As this is a primitive and self-contained, minor aspect of continuity, it’s done in a (self-contained, stand-alone) disk with text with illustrations.

The rest of this first part illustrated, shows the basics of sexual reproduction, the information, starting with a scientific description of sexual reproduction, moving from top to bottom. The offshoot to the left is the primitive, limited, dead-end aspect of this process—that doesn’t pass on traits  to the succeeding generations: mutation—with its three varieties shown (as it’s a dead end, the design itself stops—goes nowhere). The rest of this panel, and of the exhibit, follows along the path most species use from generation to generation, continuing into the next wall case to the right (not shown here).

Even in the museum exhibit world, the word “permanent” isn’t permanent.

The Invertebrate Hall, after 25 years, was trashed years ago to be

replaced by a “permanent” hall on the environment.

One more “Words & Images” to come.

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JEAN SHEPHERD–LOIS NETTLETON ALBUM part 14=my add-on #1 & ARTSY (172) words & images 1of3

In the previous collage of published items on Shep that I posted, one showed part of a Time Magazine article about WOR, including something about Shepherd. Here I show the entire Time article from my collection. (The break in the images is caused by my scanning from a 2-part repro. I bought my original, in 1962 when it was originally published–it’s somewhere in my vast Shep-file.)

Click on image to enlarge.

I began listening in September of 1956. In my college sophomore year at Pratt Institute, in November of 1957, Pratt hosted Shepherd and I saved one of the posters:

More of my Lois album to come.

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WORDS AND IMAGES, AND SOMETIMES MUSIC

For me, words can be marvelously enhanced by

their mental and emotional synthesis with the visual.

One actively participates in the story-telling process.

GLOVES & WARJA

Charli Grace, our granddaughter, has recently inspired me to think about communication, especially words and visual aspects—how can mere words be enhanced by the visual. At ten months, she’s more interested in my cane than with the issue at hand (pun). I’d played with these same finger puppet gloves to entertain our two sons when they were small. I hope she’ll grow into and appreciate my out-of-tune Old McDonald’s moo moo here, oink oink, baa baa, cluck cluck there. And my story-telling of Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and the Big Bad Wolf attacking the straw, wood, and brick-housed Three Pigs.

I began reading a lot as a little kid—my mother, fearing one of my recurrent hemorrhages from my delicate nose, guided me toward non-threatening, non-physical interests. Coloring inside the lines with my Crayolas, in addition to reading. While still under sixteen, I’d read War and Peace, and Ulysses. I aspired to be a Nobel Laureate in Literature, or maybe a Librarian, or a Great Artist.

Warja Laveter, whose William Tell foldout book (4” X 6”) I bought at MOMA’s bookstore, initiated my interest in artist’s books, did a series of children’s stories in the same format (about 8 foldout pages per story), in which she took simple stories (which, to use as visual accompaniment, one needs to have some prior familiarity with the story line, just as one needs the stories or song lyrics for the finger puppets). She used only her attractive abstract color images to supplement the spoken story. Above is a scene from her Little Red Ridinghood—Little Red is the red disk, surrounded by the greenery of the trees in the forest, and the large black disk is the wolf.

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JEAN SHEPHERD–LOIS NETTLETON ALBUM part 13

Showing the extent and breadth of Lois Nettleton’s devotion to Shep, the following are some ebay offerings, plus the ebay descriptions. Unfortunately, some of my screen captures from ebay are not clear enough to read. The sellers’ comments give some idea.  In the first grouping, the seller is correct that the article is from Time Magazine (it’s the one with the four little photos in a row and one beneath). I know, because I tore out and saved to this day, many of these articles in this blog post, including the Time Magazine one.

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Note that most–if not all–of the Shep material in the Lois collection are from

the late 50s and early 60s, when they were together.

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JEAN SHEPHERD–LOIS NETTLETON ALBUM part 12

Among Lois’ Shep material, she had a number of playbills of theater pieces he was in. I’ve posted the LOOK, CHARLIE program before, but repeat one part of it here.

(Click on images to enlarge.)

In Smalltacular, Shep has two roles.

In A Banquet For the Moon, Shepherd played “M” for Mephistopholes.

The text above the collage is what the ebay seller wrote describing this V. Voice grouping.

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JEAN SHEPHERD–LOIS NETTLETON ALBUM part 11

More drawings from Lois Nettleton’s collection.

These, among the lesser ones, do include a bit of color

and several done on napkins.

The last one is described as a baby announcement,

so it must have been printed in numerous copies.

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 JEAN SHEPHERD–Shep’s Bugatti and my Artsy (171)

 

BUGATTI: A Newly Recognized Artsy In Stages

What are my Artsys? A kind of what, how, and why, inevitably leading to researching/investigating in order to satisfy my curiosity. They’re about the curious happenstance, the unexpected confluence of disparate parts that become a coherent adventure.

(So, despite appearances, the main focus below is not Bugatti,

but on an Artsy Fartsy adventure.)

PURCHASE A decade ago, after my winning ebay bid, I received a 60” X 12” paper towel with two distinct ink drawings on it by Jean Shepherd—an elegant table setting, and a sketchy drawing of an antique car. The table setting is really good, the car sketch led to what I’ve only recently recognized as a many-faceted artsy fartsy quest. It’s a mental pursuit, including the collection of lots of collateral stuff. I continue it in outline form below.

RESEARCH Did Shepherd have a particular car in mind that he sketched? I had to know. I perused various large-format books of old cars. With a possible answer in mind (was it a Bugatti?), I sent a copy of the sketch with a query letter to the American Bugatti Club. With a particular vehicle as the answer—yes, the drawing was of a grand touring car, a Bugatti Royale, specifically the unique, individual vehicle, the Park Ward, especially distinguished by the spare tires mounted at the front fenders.

EXTENDED PURSUIT Among Shepherd’s thousands of broadcasts, many found online with titles assigned by original recorders of the shows, would I find one in which he discussed this particular marque of car? The Brass Figlagee website provided the answer: a 1976 audio titled simply “Bugatti.”

Unlike most of his 45-minute shows, in which he free-associated innumerable topics, Shepherd focused most of this broadcast on Ettore Bugatti, producer of scores of models, from early racing cars to sumptuous sedans, and what we refer to as “sports cars.” Shepherd reminisced about his college days and being taken by a professor, with a couple of other students, to see a Bugatti sports model in a dark Cincinnati garage: “We were looking at one of the great automobiles….This car had appeared in probably two or three hundred catalogs of great masterworks—that specific car. Even today that car is almost priceless. It was one of the finest works of one of the great artists of the twentieth century, considered possibly his prime work.” The model he referred to was the 57SC Bugatti. He had an epiphany regarding cars as art. He predicted that in a thousand years, museums would display cars such as this Bugatti as works of art.

UNDERSTANDABLE GLITCH IN THE EPIPHANY Shepherd had been tricked, and his memory confused—two models designated “57SC” had been produced: the purple convertible he had seen, and the renowned 57SC Atlantic, a hardtop with only three copies known to have existed (plus five exact replicas). Ralph Lauren owns an original, Jay Leno owns a replica.

The Atlantic, with its distinctive hardtop is the one that has captured innumerable articles and praise by connoisseurs. This praise had come from Shepherd himself during his 1976 broadcast, in the mistaken belief that he had seen one of the Atlantics. I became obsessed with the Atlantic, finding, as I wrote, that it was a “brutish-yet-elegant oddity,” an “artist-alchemist’s wicked caprice,” some “antediluvian oddity,” and an “erotically rounded, voluptuous, crouching beast.” The Atlantic has bolted-together flanges atop all four fenders and also prominently front to back down its center line like an exterior spine.

It was the editor of the American Bugatti Club who recognized how the mistaken identity happened, because he located references to the other 57SC that, indeed, had been in Cincinnati.

DELIGHTFUL CONTINUATION OF MY QUEST The Bugatti Club editor of their quarterly, Pur Sang, asked me to write an article about my Bugatti experience. They published it in their 50th anniversary issue.

I was invited to the Club’s annual luncheon at New York’s renowned Sardi’s Restaurant. Parked in front was a 57SC Atlantic. It was one of the five exact replicas. I photographed it from every angle, including from Sardi’s second floor. In the middle image, see my reflection in the door panel).

MORE PERMUTATIONS IN THE QUEST In my intrepid search for Bugatti material, I accumulated numerous articles and photos of the Park Ward and of the renowned 57SC Atlantic—enough to fill two thick loose leaf binders. I found that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts had produced a large temporary exhibit of  part of Ralph Lauren’s car collection, titled SPEED, STYLE, AND BEAUTY, with its centerpiece, the 57SC Atlantic, about which, the Museum’s director had said, “It speaks a little of evil. I think it’s so wickedly designed. This black beauty, though, is extraordinary.” So Shepherd’s thousand-year prediction of cars in museums had come to pass in under thirty years!

I found that, at the time, the Boston Museum had been criticized regarding the exhibit, because cars are not “art.” I myself have similar philosophical concerns–but that is another matter for another day.

BRIEF EXPLANATORY CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS

“Antique” Park Ward  produced = 1933

57SC convertible and the Atlantic produced = 1937-1938

Shepherd’s Park Ward sketch = circa early 1960s

Shepherd’s Bugatti broadcast = 1976

Boston Museum of Fine Arts exhibit = 2005

I bought Park Ward sketch = 20008

Contact with Bugatti Club = 2009

Sardi’s lunch and my views of 57SC Atlantic replica = April 18, 2009

My “Ettori and Jean Bugatti, Artists” published = 2010

• Jean Shepherd may not have been aware that Ettori Bugatti’s son,

who designed the Atlantic, was named Jean.

• My accumulation of Bugatti material includes my own replica

of the 57SC Atlantic, but, alas, I can’t motor around in it

as it’s about seven inches long by two inches high.

MAY MY QUIRKY ARTSY OBSESSIONS NEVER END!

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JEAN SHEPHERD–LOIS NETTLETON ALBUM part 10

The following Shepherd drawings from Lois Nettleton’s collection include the paper towel drawing  of the antique Bugatti and a table setting (60″ X 12″) that led me to my Bugatti adventure; two drawings of the dressing room at Broadway’s Morosco Theatre, both signed and both dated December 1959,* when Lois Nettleton was acting with Henry Fonda and Barbara Bel Geddes in Robert Anderson’s “Silent Night, Lonely Night”; and four smaller sketches.

The paper towel drawing is mine and the others shown here are owned by others.

The hanging lamp drawing has a touch of color which doesn’t show in reproduction. Only a few of Shepherd’s drawings that I know of used color.

* Very few of  Shepherd’s  drawings that I know of are signed or dated. Shepherd’s drawing of a building (New York City?) that was hanging on the kitchen wall in Lois’ apartment where I sat talking with her executor, is signed, but I never encountered it for sale.

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JEAN SHEPHERD–LOIS NETTLETON ALBUM part 9

All of Shepherd’s drawings that I know of from Lois Nettleton’s collection seem to  have been done with pen and ink–the kind  of pen that produces a fixed width of line.  Jim Clavin’s http://www.flicklives.com page of Shep drawings includes quotes from the New York Post article of June 3, 1962, from which I excerpt:

“Artists miss the point by spending time on people’s faces,” mused the radio-TV humorist and raconteur the other day. “Faces haven’t changed in years! A telephone reflects 20th century man much more than his face does.”

Shepherd clutches a German-made pen with a tip like a hypodermic needle….”

I believe the pen referred to is the same kind and popular brand I used during my exhibit design years, a Rapidograph.

The first drawing here is one I bought on ebay. I especially like it because it is of a restaurant named “Ad Lib,” which Shep probably visited, especially because of  the name’s reference to improvisation. The drawing of buildings including the one with the onion-domed towers is most probably from a trip Shepherd took to Munich.

(More of Lois Nettleton’s Shep materials to come.)

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JEAN SHEPHERD–LOIS NETTLETON ALBUM part 8

Besides postcards and letters, Lois Nettleton’s collection of Jean Shepherd material included other drawings and even a few paintings, which, however, were not for sale and I couldn’t photograph them.

The paintings were hung in the living room and elsewhere. For me, they were in various modernist modes but rather simple abstractions and not anything that I found very original–just in very good taste.

Here are a couple of the drawings. I wish I could have bought the one with the EXCELSIOR building sign. However, in a subsequent post I’ll show a building drawing I did manage to buy, and I’ll show why, for me, it’s very special.

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JEAN SHEPHERD–LOIS NETTLETON ALBUM part 7

More posts between Lois and Jean.

Because of enlargement from ebay, some texts are difficult to read. Note that on occasion, Jean includes a small drawing along with the text.

Baby,

Please call me lat at night (around midnight) at the Hotel Rosita in Havana. It has to be late, because I found out we” be working very late at night. Call from home. I love you, love you, love you.

Love, XXXXXX

*****

From Munich.

*****

From Munich.

*****

Sent in-air on the way to Zurich.

*****

Most of the cards and letters available were sent in the late 1950s, before they were married. In all of their written correspondence I’ve seen, they are very forthright in expressing their love–even in postcards that can be read by all who handle them in transit.

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