shepquest

Home » 2013 » November

Monthly Archives: November 2013

JEAN SHEPHERD — KENNEDY assassination Part 5

FURTHER TRANSCRIPTIONS FROM SHEP’S JFK EULOGY

WHAT THAT WEEKEND MEANT TO SHEPHERD AND TO AMERICA.

All in Jean Shepherd’s words:

I think that one of the great problems that lies in America today in connection with the presidency and I can’t tell you how deeply I feel this is our current trend and it’s been going on for some years in this country, to lay the blame for all economic and social conditions at the feet of the president personally….

I have a feeling today that the only difference between the liberals and the right-wingers is that the liberals read the headlines from certain newspapers and the right-wingers read the headlines from other newspapers. Hardly any of them read the stories….

Tonight I have a feeling inside of me that is a great sense of—apprehension, I suppose you might say—a kind of feeling of—I hate to say fear because it’s not that clearly defined. It’s kind of a free-floating thing—that the strange unreasonableness, the fanaticism—that brought about this unbelievable weekend—is not only still around but is slowly beginning to grow in this land….

You know, one of the things that I think that this thing taught us is [we’re] a nation of just walking-around men—just people trying to do the best they can. I wonder how many fanatics, watching the events of the last two days on television wondered whether they were right—wondered whether maybe something in their thinking was wrong. That it’s not that easy to solve problems. You don’t just shoot somebody, you don’t just demonstrate and that’ll take care of it. This is a subtle thing that’s happened to us and you know, I have a feeling that we will not know. In fact I wonder whether Americans ever will, and that includes me. I’m certainly not letting myself out—ever will now the full ramifications of what happened to us for the last four or five days….

[didn’t get job he wanted=went down and shot Garfield.] Perhaps this is because Americans and part and parcel it might be one of the more evil byproducts of the democratic system. That the democratic system often not only fosters individualism. It not only fosters things like idealism, but it also fosters selfishness. That many people confuse license with liberty.

We believe here in American and it comes up in every election—that if we elect the right man, somehow, all of the problems that are dogging the nation will be taken care of.

That it’s looking for that right man—that right man. Well, what you’re doing then, of course, is ignoring the fact that many of the problems that face America—and face all peoples all over the world are not necessarily solvable. They really are not. And if they are solvable, they can only be solved buy that long, slow, grinding passage of time and evolution. This is a very unpopular idea. A very unpopular idea. And one that could get you shot if you mentioned it. Nevertheless, this is faced by every president….

Today, more and more, we are beginning to believe in passion as a substitute for reason….I think there’s something growing in this country that is neither left nor right. It is the growing me-ism. And it’s a new kind of a political force. It’s the new, militant a-political man. He is a militant in his righteousness, who feels he is right. Who feels that he is more moral than all other people. Who feels that his inherent beauty—has caused him to transcend these poor people who believe in one system or the other.

Now this is perhaps a new kind of anarchism that’s growing, but eventually I have the feeling that in a few short years it will become a genuine political force.

usa flag of jsa

________________

________________

nyt 11.21.13

REMEMBERING

November 20, 2013

__________________

This is the final post in this JFK series.

_________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD — KENNEDY assassination Part 4

JFK photo

Recorded below, from my EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!:

 A portion of Shepherd’s eulogy

given the night he returned to the air after

the non-stop news coverage of the

Kennedy assassination and funeral.

__________________________

“I remember the first time I heard about Kennedy, and I suppose many of you remember… I’ve always been a Kennedy man. And–for probably different reasons than you can always state–how you like a certain person–very hard to know all the personal things that make you lean towards a man–make you believe in a man, and so on. The one thing that I have always noticed about Kennedy, that appealed to me specifically, was that Kennedy was a realist. And being a realist in today’s world is very dangerous. Because realism is not a thing that is easily accepted by Americans in the 1960s. And I always felt sorry for Kennedy because I recognized the fact that Kennedy did not give people a soft pap that most of them somehow wanted–on both sides of the political fence…”

[Shepherd talked about Kennedy’s intelligence, humor, zest–all of which make people nervous.

He talked about the problems of being a president in a democratic system.]

AR 8255-3D

582px-JFK_Funeral_and_temporary_grave_November_25_1963

______________________________

“Here was just this little, simple grave–and–it was just a hole in the ground–there was this little, simple bronze coffin. And there was a quick shot, which they cut away from, I don’t know whether you saw this or not–but it was one of the most poignant shots of all. It was a little moment after the funeral party had left Arlington and–the cars were winding back up the drive over the bridge, back over the river to Washington. And the four soldiers were still standing guard over the grave. You saw  coming down from the lower left hand corner, two workmen. did you see them? dressed in overalls? Just two workmen with baseball caps, and they were coming to do the inevitable.”

John_F_Kennedy_eternal_flame_after_2013_upgrade_-_2013-05-30(Eternal flame, 2013)

“And I have a–tonight I have a feeling inside of me–there is a great sense of–apprehension–I suppose you might say–a kind of feeling of–I hate to say fear, because it’s not that clearly defined. It’s a kind of free-floating thing–a strange unreasonableness–a fanaticism that brought about this unbelievable weekend–is not only still around but is slowly beginning to grow in this land.”

JFK photo

_____________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD — KENNEDY assassination Part 3

Shepherd’s style the week after the assassination was not typical in that, instead of his usual engaging in an informal dialog with listeners, he spoke as though delivering a heartfelt lecture. He suggested that the recent ferment of student unrest, the civil disobedience, demonstrations and riots in the streets, with the America-bashing of those days, probably contributed to the atmosphere that led to Kennedy’s killing. He commented that there was a trend of righteousness in the country, “a super, hyper-thyroid Holden Caulfield.” Shepherd admitted the problems in America, but said that other countries had more problems. He recognized that America was not living up to its ideals.

His somber tone that week was underscored by his comment that he did not play his usual, pompous, musical theme music at the program’s beginnings and endings.

________________________

The above is one of the rare times

that Jean Shepherd is known

to have expressed in public, a political notion.

________________________

JFK photo

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

________________________

November 22, 1963

Yes, it has been fifty years.

I still can’t think about it or see documentary footage of it

without my eyes welling up with tears.

I can’t watch those images–I have to turn them off.

____________________________________________________________

______

Two lesser matters:

This is my 100th post on the blog;

I just received this info– On Friday night, the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia have their annual Hall of Fame and Person of the Year banquet. MCs are Larry Kane and Dom Giordano. The person of the year is longtime Philly radio guy Tom Moran. Hall of Fame inductees include weatherlady Kathy Orr of CBS3, NBC10 sports announcer Vai Sikahema, and the street-corner doo-woppers Danny and the Juniors. Poshumous inductees include the very great Jean Shepherd of KYW and WOR announcer Dave Zinkoff. What a radio town!

______________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD — KENNEDY assassination Part 2

Shepherd reportedly burst into the Village Voice offices, where he wrote a column for them, excited. He’d just heard that, “Wouldn’t you know! It was a Fair Play for Cuba guy who did it!” The Voice‘s Jerry Tallmer described Shepherd as being very excited that “it wasn’t some right-wing fascist but a nutcase of the left.” Barry Farber remembers that right after the Kennedy assassination, “We didn’t go on the air for four days. I didn’t want to–I was too affected. [Shepherd came in, saying] ‘For crying out loud, finally have something to talk about–they took us off the air!’ “

Actress Lois Nettleton recalls Jean Shepherd’s reaction when President Kennedy was killed. She and Jean had been married since December 1960.  jean and lois c.1962

Jean and Lois circa 1962

She and her mother and Jean were together in Manhattan: “Those three days I guess it was, when everybody was watching.  The three of us watched that whole thing and Jean was absolutely absorbed.  We even went down, walked around, went over to St. Patrick’s and saw all the people sitting on the steps and everything.  And he was—he had a very emotional side—very strong feelings, but I think you have to know that if you know his work.”  Nettleton commented that she and Jean had been strongly pro-Kennedy, and Jean had said in his radio eulogy that he had “been a Kennedy man” because of Kennedy’s intelligence and wit, among other characteristics. After Kennedy’s funeral, when Jean got back on the air, he gave his masterpiece of a eulogy.

Back on the air, Shepherd broadcast his beautifully composed elegy in which he described how the mood of the country had been changing to an unsettling dissatisfaction with the world, and that this mood-change probably contributed to the tragic events. He ended  by saying, “It was a terrible weekend. And I’m not so sure that we’re not in for a few more in the next hundred years.” Very unusual for him, he concluded by doing the equivalent of signing his name to the eulogy, just saying, “This is Jean Shepherd.”

As on so many occasions, Jean Shepherd, as indicated in this

last paragraph above, predicted accurately.

And it’s not just in other countries.

______________________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD — KENNEDY assassination Part 1

jfk-assassination-two-new-york-newspapers-11-23-63_290494559026

N O V E M B E R  1963

coffin in rotunda

A close friend and I took a train from New York to Washington

and stood in line overnight to walk past

Kennedy’s coffin in the Capital Rotunda.

jfk jr.

JFK Jr. saluting his father’s coffin.

___________________________

Then my friend and I stood on the side of the street and watched

with  thousands of others

as the Kennedy family and foreign dignitaries

slowly walked by in tribute.

Afterward, the public then dispersing,

I removed one of the no-parking signs

from a street-pole along the route.

I have had it

hanging in my workroom for 50 years.

no parking 11.25.1963

_________________________________________

Shepherd’s style the week after the assassination was not typical in that, instead of his usual engaging in an apparent,  informal dialog with listeners, he spoke as though delivering a heartfelt lecture. He suggested that the recent ferment of student unrest, the civil disobedience, demonstrations and riots in the streets, with the America-bashing of those days, probably contributed to the atmosphere that led to Kennedy’s killing. He commented that there was a trend of righteousness in the country, “a super, hyper-thyroid Holden Caulfield.” Shepherd admitted the problems in America, but said that other countries had more problems. He recognized that America was not living up to its ideals.

His somber tone that week was underscored by his comment that he did not play his usual, pompous, musical theme music at the program’s beginnings and endings.

________________________

During the eulogy is one of the rare times

that Jean Shepherd is known

to have expressed in public, a political notion.

Stay tuned.

________________________

JFK photo

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

________________________

Yes, it has been fifty years.

I still can’t think about it or see documentary footage of it

without my eyes welling up with tears.

I can’t watch that footage–I have to turn it off.

__________________

As the 50th anniversary of the assassination approaches, increased interest takes place in the media. I was interviewed by an NPR station regarding Shepherd’s broadcasts about the event.

Here is the information about part of the interview (heard in the SEG2 portion 3:02-5:40), and the entire Jean Shepherd eulogy about Kennedy. The  info also includes the schedule for the live streaming of the interview that will occur on 11/25. The last line has the Internet address for the  Shep eulogy. Below is the info from the broadcaster, Mike Sepic of Minnesota Public Radio News :

<The Jean Shepherd JFK show is in the can and ready to air at noon CT on Monday Nov. 25 on Minnesota Public Radio’s news station. You can stream it here when it airs: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/radio/services/nis/listen/live/ It’ll also be archived here: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/radio/programs/mpr_presents/

 I also produced a national version for other stations to air, but so far nobody has picked it up. You can hear that here:

http://www.prx.org/pieces/105637-jean-shepherd-remembers-jfk  >

_____________________________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD –More Truth & Fiction

I want the truth!I WANT THE TRUTH

(says Tom.)

Here’s part of  a http://www.amazon.com Customer Review of Shep’s Army

This is really vintage Shep.

When I received this book I immediately read it. On page 5 the editor, Eugene Bergman, says that Shepherd’s radio style, his stories, spoken and written appear intensely autobiographical, but–brace yourselves–they ain’t. That kind-of burst the bubble I’ve created about him. While a great, warm and wonderful story teller Shepherd was, I’d like to continue imagining him exactly the way he described in all his books and radio shows. And, I will.
Buy the book and remember him well.

Eugene B. Bergmann says:

You indicate that the book is “vintage Shep” and you recommend that people buy the book, but I’m sorry you are disappointed that I say that the stories aren’t true to fact. I would like to correct what appears to be your inadvertent misreading of what I said in the introduction. I didn’t say that “Shepherd’s radio style, his stories, spoken and written appear intensely autobiographical, but–brace yourselves–they ain’t.” By leaving out the first part of that sentence, one gets the impression that I said that his whole radio style (everything he said on his broadcasts) was not autobiographical. I do believe that most of what he said on the radio (other than his stories, which constituted only a fraction of his radio broadcast time) was true to himself–it’s a major part of what we love about him.

I said that it was his intimate, first-person style (of his entire shows) that influenced people into thinking that his “story” portions of his shows were also true to fact. Here is that sentence, complete with its first part: “For many people, influenced by his intimate, first-person radio style, Shepherd’s stories, spoken and written, appear intensely autobiographical, but–brace yourself–they ain’t.”

His stories, seeming to be an inextricably mixed part of the rest of his talk, are a somewhat different matter. In fact, he frequently prefaces them by saying something like, “Let me tell you a story.” Yes, “story” can be a truthful thing or a fictional thing. I believe he purposely creates this confusion–the listener maybe thinking truthful story, while he is saying (to himself) fictional story. In contrast, when he tells a narrative about one of his many travels, I believe he is just about entirely telling what actually happened–and, to my knowledge, he never prefaces a travel tale of his by saying “Let me tell you a story.” Although it’s usually difficult to tell when Shepherd is telling the truth in general, I do believe that what he says in what’s regarded as his final interview–with Alan Colmes in 1998–he puts it bluntly and truthfully:

“Every good performer should sound like he is–like it’s real…..I’m an actor, you know. And I want my stuff to sound real. And so when I tell a story, I tell it in the first person, so it sounds like–by the way, that’s the best way to tell a good story, in the first person–that it sounds like it actually happened to me. It didn’t.” He continued: “I’m a fiction writer. I’m not sitting there doing a biography or an autobiography. Those are all stories.” [He emphasizes the word “stories.”]

you can't handle the truth!

YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH

(says Jack)

_____________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD Veterans Day Special

About two weeks before Veterans Day, I received from my publishers, an email with their press release  modified to appeal to veterans and various military-related organizations. I found it delightful, and in an email, I responded. I then used the “Print Screen” computer feature to include the top of the press release and a portion of my computer’s desktop. With some copy/paste/scan work to include the relevant emails, I present it here. Those curious about my constant Shepherd activities can see the titles of my desktop folders in orange, red, and green.

Excelsior to you all!

Especially to all veterans. 

Both a cousin and an uncle of mine served in and survived WW II.

________________________________________________

shep veterans day

________________________________________________

(I hope one can read the text when one clicks on the above. My preview indicates that one can’t. But one can try clicking on the image and then, if a little + sign appears in a “magnifying glass,” click on that,)

           Desktop foldersSHEP BOOKS by eb; ARMY Shep 5.10.12; SHEPHERD; SHEP AUDIOS; SHEPQUEST book ala blogs; shep BLOG; BLOGS TO COME

_____________________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD — “Shep’s Army” pass in review!

Sometimes I check info about SHEP’S ARMY on http://www.amazon.com.

The wonderful Editorial Review from Publishers Weekly is there

and there are now over a dozen customer reviews.

The one below, with my comments,

is quite a strong and disturbing one.

It is a very thoughtful review–but I feel it demands some response.

sheps army final cover

4.0 out of 5 stars The “Greatest Generation” exposed, October 30, 2013

By XXXXXX  (XXXXXX, USA) – See all my reviews

This review is from: Shep’s Army: Bummers, Blisters and Boondoggles (Paperback)

This is a dark ride. Jean Shepherd has always had an edge to his humor, which adds texture to his storytelling. Anyone who recalls the “Double-dog-dare-ya” scene and its outcome, or the refrain of “You’ll shoot your eye out” will know what I mean. Still, I have never seen Shepherd go as dark as he does in this book. Some other reviewers have suggested that the earlier sections of this book are not as strong as later sections. In fact they are so strong that they approach being unpleasant to read. These include tormenting and bullying a weaker draftee until he cracks, and sadistic treatment of lower ranked soldiers by the “superiors”. None of the other reviewers have commented on this, but this book is very anti-military in its outlook. After reading it you will never look at the “Greatest Generation” in the same way again. Instead these “heroes” are regularly revealed as sadistic, incompetent, and often dangerous to one another. This book provides indirect insight into why officers were “fragged” in Vietnam and into the sad fate of Pat Tillman. It reminds you that soldiers are not heroes and their commanders are often the cause of fatalities from “friendly fire” or other deaths that are not the result of combat.
There is humor in this book, but it is more the kind that induces rueful chuckles than “laugh out loud”. After reading this book i have more respect for Jean Shepherd as a storyteller, but don’t go in expecting another “Christmas Story”.

__________________________________________________________

Eugene B. Bergmann says:

Wow, this is a review to give one pause! I appreciate it–but the entire military and a generation should not be downgraded because of Shepherd’s attitudes. As I say in my introduction to the book, “Enlisted men are born to gripe,” and these army stories “are to be taken with a grain of Shep.” Shep’s attitudes toward much of his surroundings, as expressed on the air over decades, have always been full of gripes and put-downs with accompanying humor in the telling. Note that he puts down his own sense of negativity, and promotes patriotism, in the glorious story herein, “Fourth of July in the Army.” For much more about Shepherd’s creative world, including his strong love of America, see my Excelsior, You Fathead!: The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd

I’ve chuckled and laughed out loud at Shepherd’s entire panoply of stories, commentaries, asides, musical bits and pieces, vocal sound effects, etc., etc. since I began listening to him in 1956. Now, I’ve found it strange that in my own experience of listening, transcribing, and editing these stories, in my mind his voice usually has much humor in it, yet it was unclear to me at first, how “dark” some of it strikes one in the face on the printed page. Yet, as XXXXXXX writes, “There is humor in this book.” I suggest that it suffuses much of the contents, despite such downers as the torments inflicted in “Shermy the Wormy” and some other pieces. When I reread parts of SHEP’S ARMY, I still have–most of the time, through most of the stories–a smile on my face, reflecting the pleasure I’m getting from ol’ Shep as he presents us not so much with that much-more-common-brand-of-comedy tricked out by most of his contemporaries, but with his sometimes conflicted, personal brand of humor.

_________________________________

It should be noted that I refer to the darkness in some of the SHEP’S ARMY stories in the introduction to the book:

“Some of his best known stories about growing up, including those amalgamated into the holiday-favorite film A Christmas Story, reveal a deeper. darker. less amusing undercurrent to his humor and incorporate a criticism of militaristic thought and behavior–in both military and civilian life.”

__________________________

Shep's Army as CD set Those interested in hearing the incomparable Shepherd as he told these army tales on the radio can locate each individual story through my listings at the back of the book. Those who want to support New York City’s WBAI-FM and receive CDs with all the SHEP’S ARMY stories in their original Shepherd radio renditions can donate to the station and receive all the audios: http://www.give2wbai.org/product_p/pc0100.htm. [That is an unsolicited and un-compensated testimonial.]  Note that one can read along with the audios, finding only minor alterations caused by my various editorial imperatives. The sorts of imperatives can be located on my blog: http://www.shepquest.wordpress.com in the post titled “JEAN SHEPHERD’S army book-what I did,” along with many other entries about SHEP’S ARMY and all aspects of Shepherd’s life and creative works.
EXCELSIOR!

_____________________

FLASH!!!

WITHIN A HALF HOUR OF POSTING THE ABOVE, THE SHEP

EMAIL GROUP GOT, DIRECTED TO ME, THE KIND OF RESPONSE I’VE

BEEN HOPING FOR. IN MY POST OF OCTOBER 10. 2013 TITLED

“WHERE’S THE DIALOG?” IN WHICH I ASKED FOR MORE INTERCHANGE

OF IDEAS,

SUBSEQUENT TO A GOOD RESPONSE FROM JOEL BAUMWOLL,

I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR MORE.

HERE, IN REGARD TO TODAY’S POST REGARDING

SOME DARKNESS IN SHEP’S ARMY STORIES

IS A WONDERFUL RESPONSE FROM FRANK IN NC.:

<This highlights one of the Shep conundrums that have been discussed on the message board for years, namely that while Shep uses humor in much of his work he is usually trying to make a deeper point and not simply trying to be funny.  It gets to the whole concept that while much of his work centers on the old days, he is also not trying to be nostalgic and to the question of whether ACS is really a comedy when you examine the darker details.  Even in IGWT we get the foreshadowing of the coming war on the closing pages with the revelation that Schwartz was shot down over Italy bringing the reader back to the reality that the good old days weren’t always so good.  In “Shep’s Army” we’re talking about the war and army life for goodness sake.  While there may have been some humorous aspects to them, his army stories were never meant to compete with the likes of “No Time for Sergeants,” “McHale’s Navy” or “Hogan’s Heroes.”  By the same token he was not telling glorified war stories like “Combat” or countless war movies and he constantly makes  the point about never having seen one movie cliché or another in the real army.
The idea that “Shep’s Army” would change anyone’s opinion about the “greatest generation” only makes sense if they have already been placed on an unrealistically high pedestal.  Yes they did great things in responding to the challenges that they faced and no one can take that away from them.  But they were human beings and therefore had human flaws. In fact, it is their very overcoming of those flaws and winning the war in spite of them that makes them great and a model to be looked up to.
Excelsior
Frank in NC>
________________________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD– Letters From the Gang

Suellen, a long-time Shep-enthusiast and member of the email group dedicated to the life and work of Jean Shepherd, has posted frequently about her thoughts and experiences regarding Shepherd. Nick is a more recent adherent to all-that-is-Shep. He comes from the Hammond, Indiana area where Shep grew up, and he’s working on a full-scale documentary about Shep’s life and work.
 
Their recent posts give a wonderful sense of some of the connections to Jean Shepherd that we each have in our different ways. They both have given permission for me to share large parts of these recent emails.
 
Cheers,
 
Gene B.
eb from facebook
.
____________________________________________________________
Suellen
suellen photo
Well, Nick, it won’t be a documentary without including us Shepnuts and our annual (or more often) Shepfests. You have to see it to believe it. Every year (or more often), we gather together, kazoos at the ready, hand made table decorations, various signs and Shep favors, and have a grand old time. One time I dressed my leg up as a leg lamp. Other people have more dignity than I do, but what the heck. We celebrated our tenth reunion in cold Spring, NY, site of the Original Shepfest – a grand gala if there ever was one. I am probably the Least of the fans…if you can call us fans at all. These people are more than fans. They are a literate group of accomplished people whose lives have been profoundly influenced by Jean Shepherd, and in the most positive way. One only has to plow through our archives to see the dedication, knowledge and passion of this group. Of course, you have experienced it first hand by meeting with some of our more illustrious members. A special treat, no? 
My connection with Shep was My Old Man, George P. Crowley, a dedicated Model Railroader (OO Gauge, if you please) who introduced me, somewhat reluctantly on my part, as a teen to the world of Jean Shepherd on the radio. I didn’t listen to him as a kid under the sheets, as so many fondly remember doing. I sat at the kitchen table with the Crosley radio and My Old Man and realized: girl though I may be, Shep was describing my experiences growing up! He was talking to ME! I was hooked. Years later, as his books would come out, I’d buy each one for The Old Man. In 1982 I stole them from the house, got them all autographed by Shep at the Clinton Bookstore, including a photo of me and Shep together. After months of fretting (well, My Old Man didn’t fret; he would muse with some concern), Christmas rolled around, and My Old Man got the surprise of his life with four autographed books and a photo of The Man himself, with The Old Man’s daughter. It was a Christmas to remember. 
 Every July 4th, through happy times and sad, no matter what I was doing, me and The Old Man would gather around the Crosley to listen to “Ludlow Kissel and The Dago Bomb That Struck Back.” I used to love to watch the look in The Old Man’s eyes as we anticipated what we well knew was coming. George has been gone since 1987. But every year, after the fireworks and the 4th of July revelry, I sit by myself, listen to Shep and his famous 4th of Jul y story, and know The Old Man is still there, somewhere, enjoying sharing it with me. 
All of my Shepherd material, the books, photos, memorabilia, the magazine articles, everything was lost in Superstorm Sandy. Slowly I’ll replace the books, maybe find some magazine articles and other stuff, but nothing will replace the autographed copies where Shep, after having met me, inscribed each book, “To Poor George…”
____________________________________________________________
Nick
nick photo
Thank You Suellen!
What a wonderful story! Bless your father too!
I have heard about the annual Shepfest. I want to attend and bring my camera and document the event and many of the group’s stories. I really would like to know everybody here in the group and the connection they have made with Shep. (By the way, being from Hammond we call him Jean, I don’t feel I have earned the right to call him Shep … yet!).
I already have some fascinating interviews about Shep but only from those that knew him from working with him in one form or another. But I know that the real inspiration that Shep left behind is from all those that listened to him mostly during his WOR days and from attending his live performances. Sure Jerry Seinfeld is a super mega star but to hear him say 5 feet in front of me that Jean Shepherd taught him nearly everything he knows about comedy, really blew me away. Or that Hugh Hefner had the confidence in Shep to send him off to Europe to follow this group of guys that call their musical band the Beatles blows my mind. When I first really listened to Jean Shepherd myself on my way to New York, I was blown away!
He nailed it every time! Irwin Zwilling told me (on camera) that Jean Shepherd was always right no matter what the issue may have been. He also described that Shep, like a great athlete, could slow down everything and see things and study them better than anyone.
There is so much I can write and say but for the moment, I just want to say Thank You for sharing your story. I know I am just scratching the surface as there is so much yet to discover as well as uncover.

 _________________________________________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD –Present for Duty!

Why couldn’t Shep get his army stories published? Three times Playboy announced the book’s forthcoming publication (Obviously from info give to the magazine by Shepherd): Announced in September 1967, December 1967, and May 1971. At an appearance in 1968 he mentioned the book. He mentioned it in a radio interview in April 1970. As late as December 1976 he had mentioned the book’s publication in a New York Times interview. (Most of the info’s mentions and dates from www.flicklives.com)

There would seem to have been a problem with Doubleday, his publisher. In 1966 they published his In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash which mostly consisted of kid stories, with a couple of adolescent stories. This was claimed to be a “best seller.” In 1971 Doubleday published his second book of kid stories (with a few more adolescent stories including the title story about a high school date) Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories, and Other Disasters. Also claimed to have sold well. But, instead of there being an assumed publication of his next book by Doubleday, Leigh Brown, then his radio producer and assistant, was shopping the manuscript around and negotiated a contract with Dodd, Meade, and Company, for that third book, A Ferrari in the Bedroom, a book of Shepherd’s comic articles (not stories), published in 1972. Maybe Doubleday didn’t care for Shepherd’s articles, which I tend to characterize as comical griping.

Nine years later (1981), Doubleday published A Fistful of Fig Newtons, with only about one-third stories, including one army story, generally known as “Troop Train Ernie,” which he had told on the radio as far back as July 1965. We know that other army stories were available as early as the middle of 1965. In fact, Playboy had published “The Secret Mission of the Blue-Assed Buzzard” in September 1967, “Banjo Butt Meets Julia Child” in December 1968, and “The Unforgettable Exhibition Game of the Giants Versus the Dodgers, Tropical Bush League” in May 1971. In addition, “T. S., Mac,” Shepherd’s story of griping to the army Chaplain had been considered his army book’s title as far back as the late 1960s.

Despite the fact that Jean Shepherd had a fan-base, a couple of profit-making books in print, and his army stories were very popular to his radio listeners, he could not get his army stories published.

Only after the overwhelming popularity of his movie A Christmas Story, did Broadway Books, a part of a part of Doubleday, a couple of decades later, again publish him in the 2003 book, deceptively described as “the book that inspired the hilarious classic film.” Titled A Christmas Story, it just grouped together and reprinted the earlier published stories upon which the movie had been based.

1942-mm-dd_042_Shep_Army2

(Dorothy Anderson’s collection, from http://www.flicklives.com)

Finally, in August 2013, nearly three dozen of Shepherd’s previously unpublished army stories saw the light of day. The new publishing company, Opus Books, operated by two Shepherd enthusiasts (one of whom had known and worked with Shepherd to promote his Ferrari book), as one of its first publications, brought out my Shep’s Army: Bummers, Blisters, and Boondoggles.

So far it has garnered a great review in Publishers Weekly (I’m so delighted with some of the critical praise for my part as editor: “surprisingly unified and confident account” and  “against the odds, captures the energy of an oral telling”):

Editor Bergmann attempts with much success to simulate a posthumous memoir of author, comedian, and radio personality Jean Shepherd’s army years. Utilizing years of broadcasts and taking advantage of multiple retellings of the same events, Bergmann has assembled a surprisingly unified and confident account of oppressive years spent in the army’s Signal Corps from 1942 to 1944, with factual commentary between chapters providing context. Shepherd was never shipped to a warzone; thus the incidents recounted mostly concern the accommodations at a series of stateside camps, the cruelty of the fellow soldiers, and the sometimes Kafka-esque bureaucracy. His service was not without the defiance of death, and seems to have damaged both Shepherd and his compatriots; the pessimistic tone may surprise fans. The collection is otherwise a compliment to Shepherd’s usual storytelling and the exaggerated melodrama of his signature narration style, with a number of laugh-out-loud moments in a presentation that, against the odds, captures the energy of an oral telling.   The book is reminiscent of Spike Milligan’s WWII memoirs; both include stories told in hindsight of the authors’ young goofball selves before their respective fame as radio comedians.

 Also, several significant radio interviews, and a good television interview on CBS TV Sunday Morning (http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/07/21/new-book-looks-at-jean-shepherds-fictional-military-service/)

back cover

______________________________________________________________________________________________