shepquest

Home » 2014 » February

Monthly Archives: February 2014

JEAN SHEPHERD–Syndicated Shep #3 of 3

My first two blog posts on the subject of Syndicated Shep (of over 200 recorded by him roughly in 1964-1965) describe the nature of this material, show the CD boxes, and give some of my descriptions of the 56 individual programs as featured in my program notes to the sets.

Not having given serious thought to the “Syndicated Shep” material since I’d done the program notes a few years back, I feared that I might have earlier over-praised it all. Nothing to fear. Having now completed my review and my condensing of versions of the individual program descriptions, I find myself delighted at the high quality that Shep maintained doing the first 56 recorded programs.

Here are parts of the program notes for the remainder

of the sets (4 boxes=28 recorded programs).

pomp and circumstance imagePOMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE Jean Shepherd again demonstrates his broad knowledge and unusual turn of mind in this series of programs. Even when he comes back to one of his familiar subjects and themes, his take on them each time makes them new for us.

CD 1 “Choosing Up” …in a tragedy in the world of children, the seemingly minor disappointment of not being chosen for a game or a team could be a major trauma and can make kids “…know something that they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives.”

CD 2 “No Rest for the Wicked” Demonstrating his predilection for combining several themes into one program, he then takes us through a discussion of the artificiality of most comedy and some acerbic comments on his home base, WOR, in casting itself as “the family station.”

CD 3 “Straws in the Wind” …before we know it, we find ourselves among the duped and guilty as he asserts that society has nudged us–businessmen, politicians, and all the rest of us, into artificial and destructive roles in the theater of our lives.

CD 4 “The Midwest Humor Tradition” This will captivate everyone fascinated by the style of Jean Shepherd and the mind behind the style….he expresses with his own humor, insight, enthusiasm, and the bravado of his over-the-top renditions.

CD 5 “Ribbon Velocity” …part of this program deals with the arcane matter regarding the technical details of a well-constructed studio…stick with the program, because shepherd is not only going to teach you something worth know, but he’s going to give you a social critique as well as entertain you.

CD 6 “Slob Art” Shepherd seems to be able to fit many of his gripes against those aspects of humanity he doesn’t like into the category of slob art. In this program’s screed, he comments that he accepts honest slob art, although he comments on “the unbelievably primitive humor” of such manifestations of as the whoopy cushion.

CD 7 “Western Spectacular” …The preceding is a buildup to his extended riff on some basic movie cliche themes, decade by decade, from the 1930s onward. For this he has assembled the appropriate movie-type music as accompaniment….He produces here a delightfully enjoyable extravaganza, full of musical and narrative bombast.

CD 8 “Pomp and Circumstance” “Have you ever had the vague feeling, friend, that your life is almost totally ridiculous? That there is no dignity at all?” What a way to begin a program titled “Pomp and Circumstance.” Sometimes Shepherd likes to start out with an unexpected comment that shakes things up. We know that it will tie into his eventual theme.

ticket to rid imageTICKET TO RIDE Shepherd loved to travel. Shepherd loved to be in different places and see/do different things. Playboy sent him to the British Isles for a week. He brought his tape recorder.  He did not expect to be exposed to current culture fads there and have to escape from rabid young girls:

CD 1 “Secret Mission Edinburgh” In the first of four syndicated recordings made during his October 1964 trip to the British Isles, taped in his hotel room in Edinburgh, Scotland, he sets the scene in his own, special way. He practices his Scottish accent and he plays a bit of Scottish music….

CD 2 “Highlands” He describes more of Edinburgh, including its look, sounds, smells, and the friendliness of the people.

CD 3 “Back in London” England is just the place to see the new, outrageous trends clashing with tradition, and these trends are becoming the most visible of their exports to the United States–rock and roll is on the rise–the “British Invasion” is about to begin!

CD 4 “London Wrap Up” All this ferment gives him the opportunity to describe and decry pop culture in  general and rock and roll in particular….he can at last reveal his secret: he’s traveling with and living with The Beatles….he goes to considerable length to speak of the rare and wonderful reportorial opportunity he’s been given. As he puts it, “I wasn’t really traveling as an observer–they began to accept me as part of the gang.” The way he describes the scenes of scrambling away from adoring fans along with John, Paul, George, and Ringo–running in the streets and climbing down fire escapes–you can picture him as a fifth Beatle in their film, A Hard Day’s Nightbeatles fire escape

Paul, John, Ringo, and George

escaping down a fire escape in

A Hard Day’s Night.

(I’m still seeking a photo of Shep with the Fab Four.)

the fatal flaw imageTHE FATAL FLAW

CD 1 “Terraplane” He delights in describing how in the steel mill (where he worked for two summers as a teenager) workers talked to their giant machines and the machines talked back. We can hear their dialog through his extraordinary ability to create sound effects with his voice with seeming accuracy and comic effect that make you laugh out loud. He is setting us up for the rest of this program, which focuses on the sounds and other characteristics of a very special automobile….With this mastery of sound, Shepherd produces one of the funniest programs known to Shepaholics!

CD 2 “Supermen” Shepherd talks about what he sees as the three major forms pf being a “superman” in order to lead up to one of his favorite themes: the pervasive rise of the ego on our world.

CD 3 “Comic Strip Studies” What we hadn’t heard until we listened to this program is his declaration that “I am a student of the comic strips the way other guys are students of Greek myths.”….Shepherd says, summing it all up, “our great myths forever and ever, enshrined in four colors.”

CD 4 “The End of the World”  He comments that, as for the end of the world, “I suspect that we would all like to see it happen,” because that way we’d know how it ends, and we wouldn’t be missing anything. Shep, whether you’re discussing small matters of the end of the world, we can depend on you to be entertaining–and realistic.

CD 5 “Life Imitates” From time to time Shepherd discussed the unreality of theater and film, and here he examines what he finds to be an important question: “Does show biz imitate nature, or does nature imitate show biz?”

CD 6 “Hunger for Balderdash” Here’s a Jean Shepherd excursion into philosophy and the ridiculous…accompanied by intermittent, very loud snippets from a recording of the in-your-ear, bombastic, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto #1. In a university philosophy course he and fellow students find that each  philosophical belief they study regarding “ethics” is, in turn, equally seductive…A frustrated student beseeches the professor, “…Tell us, which one is right?” The professor looks down, smiles, and says, “Well, you see, that’s the trouble.” With this profound answer hanging in the air, up swells more thrilling bombast–more of that thoroughly enjoyable and overwrought Piano Concerto #1….a piece of music we intellectually question, but the power of which we thrill to just the same….

CD 7 “Appetite for Self Delusion” “Do we really believe there s such a thing as equality, and do we want it?” We believe that “all men are created equal,” yet “we have an insatiable desire to create our own gods that must be better than we are.” Shepherd enjoys showing us the unpleasant fact that sometimes our ideas don’t conform to our emotional responses.

CD 8 The Fatal Flaw” What makes the tales of tin, benzene, and gas down the gullet so entertaining are not the bare outlines of the stories, nor even the exact words of Shepherd’s verbal concoctions, but his style, his details, his tone of voice, and, especially in this program, his melodramatic vocal sound effects. The accelerating engine roar ending in a car’s histrionic death rattle, and then Shep-the-siphoner’s howls, yowls, roars, yawps, screams, screeches, shrieks, and near-fatal retching. Shep the master has stuck again!

wonders imageWONDERS Here is another wonderful mix of Jean Shepherd’s musings, as recorded for Hartwest Productions syndicated radio programs in the mid-1960’s. As always, the scope is broad and quirky. Surprising and delightful mix of silliness and sagacity that keeps Shepherd’s fans coming back for more.

CD 1 “Jackdaw” …Shepherd uses this bird’s habit of accumulating seemingly useless objects as a metaphor for the human propensity to buy unnecessary stuff.

CD 2 “Dillinger” Shepherd is familiar with the general attitude toward the man because he grew up in northwestern Indiana–where Dillinger lived and robbed banks. Shepherd’s mother, a mild-mannered housewife, commented that she’d always dreamed of being a gun moll.

CD 3 “Singing and Song” He tells listeners not to send him letters “about how I should take vocal lessons. That ain’t what I’m here for.”….Shepherd fans enjoy what some would describe as bad singing. Fans know that he is a jazz master of silly song renditions, mixing scatting and over-the-top mock-seriousness at every opportunity.

CD 4 “Things Used to be Better”     CD 5 “The Mountain King”

CD 6 “History is All Around Us”     CD 7 “Transported in Time”    CD 8 “Wonders”

WONDERS became the last of the RadioSpirits syndicated boxed sets of Shepherd programs, and, as it had an unusually fast turn-around time for production, I was asked to only describe a couple of programs and add a short chronology of Shepherd’s life and work for the program notes. That chronological information is widely available  in various forms, so I’ll just do a  very short chronology-short-form:

Jean Shepherd, humorist, born in 1921,

was the master of improvised talk radio,

did lots of other good stuff, died in 1999,

and his art still survives in the ears, brains, and hearts of all who experience it.

(More of these syndicated recording are now being released.)

_____________________________________________________

Advertisements

JEAN SHEPHERD–Syndicated Shep #2 of 3

The nine previously released sets of Shepherd syndicated shows lost, then found, with 56 released, have short titles. After the first couple, in which I used the space to introduce and give a bit of background, I began describing the individual programs with a bit of commentary. I think some of the  descriptions/comments might be useful to give a sense of the kinds of shows Shep recorded, for the historical record, and thus also to help Shepherd enthusiasts determine what syndicated material, older and newer, they would most enjoy.


dont be a leaf image 2DON’T BE A LEAF
This set of four programs provides the opportunity to describe Shepherd with a short excerpt from my Excelsior, You Fathead! As an introduction to Shep, I quote him:

And ultimately you find it difficult to explain what I do.  I think that anyone who talks about life is not easily tagged. A man who tells one-line jokes–he;s a comic. A man who sings songs–he’s a singer.

 But a person who deals with life may do all of those….You’ve got to do it with silence, you have to do it with beat and tempo, and rhythm. And it’s tremendously exciting.

CD 1 “Hero of the Great Drama of Life.”     CD 2 “Southside Chicago Baseball.”

CD 3 “The Master Plan Illusion.    CD 4 “Don’t be  Leaf.”

x random factor imageTHE X-RANDOM FACTOR This set of eight programs begins with another excerpt from Excelsior, You Fathead!  The program notes comment that when Shepherd recorded a WOR show for later broadcast, he “insisted that he worked exactly the same as in his live broadcasts, so that his extemporaneous style was no different.” Thus, the syndicated programs can be seen as virtually the same also. I note that “You’ll hear that his ‘Bahn Frei’ theme music on these Hartwest programs does not have the mysterious Shepherd ‘Ahhhh’ at the very end that was a fixture of his shows for over a dozen years….” [Readers of this blog may remember that in an early post I described what seems to be the definitive answer as to what the “Ahhhh” was.]

CD 1 “Yanked into the World.”     CD 2 “Receptacles of Uncharted Passions.”

CD 3 “Commitment to Adulthood.”    CD 4 “The Grandstand syndrome.”

CD 5 “What Man Is.”    CD 6 “Living in Circleville.”

CD 7 “”Gradually Being Phased Out.”    CD 8 “The X Random Factor.”

security blankets imageSECURITY BLANKETS  After the quote from EYF! I comment a bit about each of these programs:

CD 1 “The Best Job in the World”  It is gratifying to hear Shepherd tell how much fun he has sitting happily at his microphone in the program ‘The Best Job in the World.’ A few minutes later he burst into a joyous little riff on his kazoo. He may complain from time to time over the years, but these syndicated shows are additional evidence of the great enjoyment Shepherd had in his work….

CD 2  “Scut” “…he takes pleasure in remembering his quick-change artistry in a theatrical ‘review’ years before. He amusingly describes himself shedding costumes, going from ‘Adam,’ to a four-star general, to George Washington as a boy. Shepherd was an expert quick-change artist in all parts of his life–humorous, serious, witty, clever, silly. In many programs, from moment to moment, he could be all of these and more.”

CD 3 “Foretelling the Future”  Shepherd philosophically–and oh so humorously–refutes the widely held beliefs that life and commercial products are always improving and predictable. He has fun denying the idea of progress.

CD 4 “Security Blankets” …Shepherd commenting on some people who just can’t throw anything out, and he has his own little stash of old ballpoint pens that don’t work. He expands the idea further by commenting that, of course, these blankets can take many form and can inhibit our lives in significant ways….”Can you imagine–can you imagine all the things you’ve missed in your life, friend?”….That is serious stuff, friend, and it has just been served to you as a humorous Shepherd chefs-d’oeuvre.

life is imageLIFE IS From EYF!: I knew Jean Parker Shepherd. I like to think I still do. We had these deep conversations throughout the entire time I festered as a youth on the east side of New York City. Actually I didn’t fester, but only sometimes thought I did because ‘ol Shep used to claim that he festered as a kid….Jean Shepherd is a gadfly and humorist for all ages. To quote a listener, “He makes us think about stuff.”

CD 1 “Captain Billy’s Whiz-Bang” …he comments that official ideas about an era are not as true as are some popular thoughts and trivia.

CD 2 “Fate” Those familiar with his published short story, ‘Return of the Smiling Wimpy Doll,’ probably written a bit after he recorded this syndicated show, will recognize his comments about his mother sending him (when he is grown and living in Manhattan), a box of his childhood toys… .

CD 3 “Public Relations” …he decries the phoniness of PR activities, he takes the quite jovial, yet seriously ironic opportunity to precede a commercial break with, ‘Let’s let our own little men there, this little PR crowd, put you straight on just how you can straighten up your miserable rotten, lousy, adlib life.’

CD 4 “Defeated Ex-Kids” Shepherd discusses the 1960s fashion in which chic clothes seem to reverse conventional gender styles. Role reversal, indeed, is a favorite theme of Shepherd’s [during a particular period in the 1960s.]

CD 5 “Playing the Tuba.” He tells how in eighth grade he began practicing the tuba for his high school orchestra and that from the beginning he was obsessed: “I was a dedicated tuba man.”

CD 6 “Automotive Age”  …a good example of Shepherd reveling in another of his enthusiasm, this time, cars, from his sighting of a chauffer-driven Ferrari to his “old man’s” love of Oldsmobiles….

CD 7 “Home” Shepherd loves to observe the distinct particularity of even the simplest everyday things. One’s current environment becomes home for all its aspects, good and not-so-good.

CD 8 “Life is” 

kicks imageKICKS 

CD 1 “Thirst for Holiness” …he quotes a professor as saying that people drink out of a hunger for holiness. Naturally Shepherd, who thinks more about words and their meanings than most of us, changes that more appropriately to a thirst for holiness.

CD 2 “Scientific Plots” He declares that we, and even he, are all victims of ‘myths.’ He’d like some big scientific lab to develop a ‘myth detector.’ And one of Shepherd’s favorite myths to detect and destroy is the one most of us believe–that humanity is forever on an upward road of ‘progress.’

CD 3 “Og and Charlie” He wants us to recognize our kinship with Og and other savages: ‘We’re all in it together, there’s no question about it, the same primal urge exists.’ [And here, he’s connecting primitive music with our own “civilized” types.]

CD 4 “Kicks” “…a salute to man’s eternal search for kicks,” which Shepherd defines as superficial enthusiasms and pursuits. Often over the years he has made a point of complaining about our material world, and here he launches his diatribe against twentieth century kicks with a suggestion that man’s special mania, consumerism, is a prime cause of far more disturbing aberrations.

_____

Other half of the first nine sets described anon

____________________________________________________________

 

JEAN SHEPHERD–The Hunting of the Snark

 SNARK! AGONY!  FITS! 

Jean Shepherd loved to express his feeling that life, in all its glorious fruitcake-variety and joys, is also, ultimately fraught with defeat and is, indeed, absurd–that was his dark side of the mood. And yet, religiously, or existentially–or mindlessly–we go on. No wonder he enjoyed Lewis Carroll’s long poem, “The Hunting of the Snark.” At last we now  have Shepherd’s broadcast reading it, from January 29. 1963. (Thanks to Jim Clavin’s http://www.flicklives.com for providing; recording by David Singer; provided by David Director.)

hunting_of_the_snark titlepage

hunting_of_the_snark page

____________

±

SNARK!

What in Heaven’s–or Hell’s–name is a Snark, anyway? My dictionary says that snarky is an adjective meaning: irritable, short-tempered, irascible. It is a funny-sounding and absurd word–a word that surely Shep loved just for it’s self–as L. Carroll most certainly did. It’s a portmanteau word–a word made by merging the sound and meanings of two different words: chortle=chuckle and snort. So what is a Snark? — Might as well ask–what is a Boojum?

_______________________

±

AGONY!

What is Agony?  It’s awful distress–either mental, emotional, or physical. It is a God-awful word to find describing a posy for kid-types. (But it’s not really a poem for kids.) Agony is a state experienced in Purgatory, in Hell, or in an Existential Dilemma (if you get a dilemma, make dilemma-nade.) It’s existential–ask people who enjoy talking about it–Jean Paul Sartre or Norman Mailer, or Jean Shepherd.

_______________________

±

FITS!

What’s a fit anyway? A seizure of convulsion, a sudden outburst of emotion, a sudden period of vigorous activity. Or, as my dictionary also defines it, in a way that Carroll surely and sneakily had in mind: archaic, a section of a poem or ballad.” 

A child-like, sophisticate-like fit to befuddle. That’s what this poem is. It’s a poem to tickle and terrify us all. Fits and Starts. That’s why Professor Shepherd likes it and reads it to his Class of Sophomores.

After the excitedly absurd opening theme music–the ridicledockle and delightful “Bahn Frei, ” Prof Jean Shepherd starts right in unceremoniously and without a by-your-leave, to read Lewis Carroll’s preface to his dainty ditty. (At least so suggests the present audio, with its puzzling hiccup between “Bahn Frei” and the first word of our Shep.) Here’s paragraph the first of the author’s preface:

“If–and the thing is wildly possible–the charge of writing nonsense were ever brought against the author of this brief but instructive poem, it would be based, I feel convinced, on the line

‘Then the bowspirit got mixed with the rudder sometimes:

Between  the preface and the poem, our shepherd adds only, “And now the poem. A little Gothic music if you will.” He reads it with passion-he reads it with love-he reads it as though-he-were-inspired-by-something-Above.

huntingofsnarkag00carrrich_0059

“To pursue it with forks and hope.”

And in “Fit the Fifth” our shepherd breaks in. Hard to believe, isn’t it? He reads the fifth verse of that “Fit the Fifth”:

But the valley grew narrow and narrower still,

And the evening got darker and colder,

Till (merely from nervousness, not from good will)

They marched along shoulder to shoulder.

Then he says:     “I repeat that passage. Does it sound like recent history?”

But the valley grew narrow and narrower still,

And the evening got darker and colder,

Till (merely from nervousness, not from good will)

They marched along shoulder to shoulder.

Good gracious! What was happening in the real world just before this January 1963 broadcast?

Oct 14th: US U-2 espionage planes locate missile launchers in Cuba. Oct 22nd: JFK imposes naval blockade on Cuba. Oct 26th: JFK warns Russia US will not allow Soviet missiles to remain in Cuba. Oct 28th:Cuban missile crisis ends after JFK and Khrushchev make a public and secret agreement. Of some note: During the scary/snarky period of October 1962, both the US and USSR performed  several nuclear tests both underground and above ground.

Other than for the JFK assassination, I can’t remember Shepherd commenting directly or indirectly on political or other current events other than about such superficial stuff as the NY Worlds Fair.

Not often (if ever before) has Jean Shepherd devoted an entire broadcast–first word to last–on a single work by someone else. He reads the finale:

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,

In the midst of his laughter and glee,

He had softly and suddenly vanished away–

For the snark was a Boojum, you see.

And under the last few words there arises a faint fiddling sound–a Baroque  ensemble–and Shepherd speaks:

Let me tell you, that ought to be required reading for the undergraduates twice a year. Along with the Army General Orders. Along with, I would say, the War Department Memos regarding suitable dress, along with–yes, I can think of several other things. “Snark was a Boojum, you see.” Heh, heh, heh, heh.

You think Lewis Carroll wrote nonsense, do you? It’s fascinating what they call nonsense. They call Lewis Carroll nonsense, and they call Herman Wouk sense. Well, the way I figure it, you takes your chances, you gamble, you put your money down–sometimes you win and sometimes you loses, you know. That’s the way….”but I didn’t have no luck, you see.” Inch this way, inch that way. It’s all a matter of luck. Just keep your glove oiled, dad. Keep your knees loose, and keep your spikes sharp. [“Bahn Frei,” in its self-confident pomposity arises and plays itself out till the end.]

The dark and scary humor must have really impressed him. I understand that it’s his kind of thing. Something childlike and funny in its sound and something dark and realistic in it surrealism. (It just occurred to me that Herman Melville might have titled his epic THE GREAT WHITE SNARK.) I find Snark” infinitely above the entertaining Service stuff he sometimes reads with relish and piccalilli. “Snark” he reads with some of the same style he does with the Service material but with more control and, for me, just the right amount of enthusiasm and emotion warranted by Carrroll’s superior art. Unexpected and colossal this “Snark,” a broadcast to remember!

±

COHERENT MUTTERINGS

writtenandpresentedon2.20.14byeb

The fits have been read

and it’s time now for bed.

You wonder what dreams have in store–

will you snivel a bit or guffaw?

Now you’ll weep and you’ll quake

 till the family’s awake.

You’ll gasp and you’ll shiver and shudder–

and go crying-out-loud fer yer mudder.

______________________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD–Syndicated Shep #1 of 3

Jean Shepherd’s over two hundred audios in broadcast form done in 1964-5 and almost never broadcast, began to appear through RadioSpirits.com several years ago. (The story is that the stash of them was lost or forgotten somewhere in storage.) I was asked to write program notes for each set of four or eight discs (one program’s audio per disc) with full payment to me consisting of notice of my first book on the outside cover of the box, and, within the notes, a photo of the book cover and a note along with the program notes regarding the book. The last couple of the nine sets, I was also given a small honorarium ($). I much enjoyed doing this—especially as I got to hear the audios before almost anybody else.

 syndicated 1.2

syndicated 3. 4

syndicated 5. 6.

syndicated 7. 8.

syndicated 9. back of 6. On the bottom right, the typical back of a box shows

that of  “Kicks” w/bongos.

The  “Ticket to Ride” box with red London

double-decker bus features

Shepherd discussing his trip traveling with The Beatles touring the UK, 1964.

The company now continuing this project of releasing audios of these Shep recordings is found at http://www.filmsaroundtheworld.com/Jean_Shepherd_Radio.html. They distribute a great variety of material—the Shep stuff is found by clicking on “Jean Shepherd Radio” in the left column of their home page. Note that their current format for the discs is different from those earlier ones–the CDs are made and sold individually by www.amazon.com and include no program notes. I think this is a shame, whether I would have done the program notes or not–a lack of much context for the individual shows for sale beyond a title would seem to limit one’s ability to decide which shows to purchase. You’ll just have to buy them all!

I was asked to write something for their website’s Shepherd page and they posted the following:

SHEPHERD BIOGRAPHER EUGENE BERGMANN

Radio Spirits hired noted Shepherd biographer Eugene Bergmann to write the liner notes for its releases.  We are grateful for his past expertise, and asked him to contribute information about himself to this web page.  His response:

I listened to those 56 shows for pleasure and to be able to comment on them for the program notes, so I was not only highly entertained, but I focused on what ways they might have been the same and might have been different from the many show with which I was already familiar. They are virtually identical in style and in their reflections of Shepherd’s unique sensibility. To my ear, the only differences are that, noting the smoothness of the delivery, he may have given a bit more planning to his trademark improvisational style, and he seemed to have included more of the short musical clips with which he sometimes adorned his monologs. Questing after more and more of Shepherd’s art, only in one’s dreams could one hope to encounter so many newly discovered, fine works by the master. Those 56 shows presage scores more wonderful Shepherd-experiences as enthusiasts and newcomers alike are presented with the equivalent of newly risen galleons full of previously unknown sunken treasures.”

Eugene B. Bergmann is the author of the only book dedicated to Jean Shepherd’s work, “EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!  THE ART AND ENIGMA OF JEAN SHEPHERD. His second Shepherd book, “SHEP’S ARMY — BUMMERS, BLISTERS, AND BOONDOGGLES,” contains nearly three dozen of Shepherd’s army tales from his WOR broadcasts, which were transcribed, edited and introduced by Bergmann.  Both books are available from Amazon.com; the links are below.

NEW MR. FAT-W AUDIO JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW RELEASES

Initially, it should be noted that part of Shepherd’s genius was that he was unscripted — he took his starting point from something that interested him currently, and then meandered off from there.  We have to create names for his oral wanderings, so that you can get at least some idea of what they are about, but we’re not going to go into much detail; for true Shepherd fans, each of his broadcasts was an original journey, unlike any other that came before or after.  The joy is in having him guide you on that journey, not in having specific signposts to along the way…. These are what we choose to tell you about them:

JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 1 The American Way of Life
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 2 At the Sound of the Bell — how we react to certain sounds and words, and the vast differences between generations (and between grandparents and grandchildren in particular)
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 3 The Tuba
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 4 How to cook on the cheap.
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 5 The Motherland (Great Britain, in case you forgot)
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 6 Mankind, Part 1
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 7 Mankind, Part 2
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 8 The Singing Shepherd
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 9 Impulses and Pie — the rarely-considered human impulses which make throwing a pie
in somebody’s face such a staple of movie and other comedy
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 10 Prison Life
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 11 Getting Away
JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO SHOW Volume 12 The Dictionary

…….. [The above are one CD per volume]……..

At the bottom of the Shepherd page one finds the pictorial link to buy each of the original nine sets from amazon.com as published by RadioSpirits. Difficult to avoid noting is that the eight-CD set titled “The Fatal Flaw” is offered for $3,698.01. (Of course prices change based on current sellers. Prices offered on http://www.amazon.com on 1/29/14 are, FATAL FLAW for $2,500; KICKS for $951.70; POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE for $247.95, and other sets for lesser amounts). I can think of several possible reasons for this: 1. Scarcity; 2. Extraordinary quality of Shep’s delivery of these audios; 3. Extraordinary quality of my program notes; 4. Typos.

Also of interest is that the 4-CD set titled “Kicks,” with a two-piece bongo set on the cover is not listed for sale at all! Out of stock? Out of print? I sit here looking at my extra set of each of these and wonder why they have attained such special status. Oh me, oh my! What I can do is reproduce the centerfold of the “Kicks” program notes. The centerfold does not contain an airbrushed color photo of a naked young woman*; as one can see, it contains a lovely black and white shot of the cover of my first book surrounded by about half of my written comments:

syndicated kicks centerfoldAirbrushed centerfold of the single sheet (4-page, 4-CD)

liner notes of “Kicks.”

Liner notes of the 8-CD sets contain

8 pages, including illustrations.

Although I have no financial stake in the sales of the old or these new CDs of Shep syndicated material, of course I hope they sell well–enough for all of them (over 200 shows!) to be continued to be produced and distributed, and thus be part of the ongoing historical record of Jean Shepherd’s radio work.

*In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that the area of Shep’s shirt under his upraised hand was indeed airbrushed–to eliminate what had seemed to be one of the headphone wires, but which was a scratch mark that was obviously on the negative.

____________________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD–the Sitcom

 “EXCELSIOR!”

xcelsior radio image

A SHEPHERD SITCOM

“What we respond to isn’t merely the foolishness of their personal limitations [of sitcom characters]. It is also, and most essentially, the fact that we can identify with the way they are trapped by their limitations and have to struggle against those limitations to find a measure of wholeness and happiness in their lives. However much we may be fascinated by their craziness, what really makes them interesting is that they want to lead a good life and, like all of us some of the time, and some of us much of the time, they are constantly straying away from their goal even when they believe they are moving toward it.” From an essay on sitcoms by Ken Sanes– http://www.transparencynow.com/sitcom.htm

_______________________________

Remember the popular, late 1970s television sitcom, “WKRP in Cincinnati,” about a radio program’s odd assortment of employees. “Excelsior” will be somewhat like that. It will be loosely based on the life and early New York career of Jean Shepherd. Although most episodes  involve some problem of the main character—in his attempts to gain additional intellectual and popular celebrity status–other characters will sometimes intrude their own issues/problems into the mix.

The program will be comical humorous, as well as address serious issues.

Picture a mix of “Seinfeld,” “Mary Tyler Moore,” “All in the Family,”and “M*A*S*H.”

Only better.

Network executives hope that the show will hold its own

against reruns of “Gilligan’s Island.”

The opening and closing theme music will be Edward Strauss’ “Bahn Frei,” just as it is Shepherd’s. Other Shepherd favorites will sometimes intrude into the program, such as “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone,” “I’m the Shiek of Araby,” “Banjoreno,” “Hindustan,” “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby.” Sometimes on the air and sometimes, just around the office to annoy his co-workers, he plays the kazoo and the jew’s harp and even the nose flute—he sometimes makes yucky comments about the messy result of playing the nose flute when he has a cold with a drippy nose.

Even though advised not to, he frequently makes liberal or conservative comments  about current events  (unlike the real Shepherd). He also sometimes makes lewd comments or says things in bad taste and is cut off with the use of the seven-second-delay-button (which the real Shep did not have to contend with.)

CHARACTERS

(Some character names will be changed to protect the guilty.)

JEAN SHEPHERD A multi-talented radio monologist/humorist. He aspires to stand-up comedy fame, literary fame, success with women. He is beginning to write short stories for a Playboy-like magazine and go to the Playboy Club. He lives somewhere in the Village but nobody knows where.

In earlier days, he was on very late at night and was an intellectual hero of the world of the hip, jazzmen, artists of various kinds, but recently, he’s now on earlier in the evenings and has become, to his dismay, a mentor of high school and college students. He likes the acclaim and increased audience numbers, but is annoyed by the extent that they fawn over him. He hates rock and roll but is being pressured to play some on his show to retain and increase his young audience.

LOIS NETTLETON Shepherd’s fiancé and then wife (They marry after a couple of seasons), an aspiring actress just beginning to make her way up in theater, television, and movies. Frank Sinatra is trying to date her.

LEIGH BROWN Shepherd’s gofer and aspiring writer, producer, etc. She is enamored of Shepherd’s mind. The suspected affair with Leigh sometimes intrudes but Lois doesn’t really believe it.

GENERAL MANAGER He appreciates Shepherd’s talent but has to defend him, put up with his ego and hostilities toward the ad-salesmen, engineers, and advertising executives who financially support the program.

ENGINEERS Except for one of them (who is Herb Squire-like), are lazy, antagonistic, and don’t understand Shepherd’s style. They feel that “style” is in itself, an abomination. Sometimes “Herb” tries to explain Shepherd’s art to the other engineers, but they still don’t get it.

HIS FRIENDS Some stand-up comedians beginning to have success—making Shepherd jealous; an all-around talented wild man (Shel Silverstein-like)

OTHER BROADCASTERS Like Barry Farber, John Gambling, Dorothy & Dick, all of whom have much bigger audiences but who’s style of programming Shepherd dislikes and sometimes disparages on the air.

ALL THE WEEKLY REGULARS

The regular gang in the “Radio studio,” as they consider

themselves to be chums and rather witty,

have come to call themselves

“The Knees-Loose Irregulars.”

knees

KNEES

(not loose)

ASSORTED FANS Mostly high school kids  who, avoiding security guards, manage to gain access to the studios and who unknowingly do things that annoy Shepherd. They keep popping up  almost every episode, and Leigh has to make sure that Shepherd doesn’t alienate too many of them. Maybe a faux-Bobby Fischer makes appearances.

ASSORTED IGNORAMUSES These klutzes of all kinds, from messenger boys to advertisers tend to think that they are about to encounter Jean Shepard, country/western singer–Shep is not amused. Nor does he appreciate it when, as they have not yet met him, they expect, because of the spelling of his first name, that he is of the female persuasion.

PILOT AND OTHER INCIDENTALS

The pilot will give some sense of the themes to come in the series, but, of course, many subtleties will not be possible to include in the opening program.  The series is projected to extend for up to four-and-a-half hours, beginning weeknights at one A. M. There will be no commercial breaks. Neither will the network advertise or in any other way promote or acknowledge the program’s existence.

There will be no script for “Excelsior,” but only a few scrawled notes on the edges of yesterday’s New York Times and on coffee-stained Schrafft’s napkins.

All lead characters will be expected to “wing it.” Secondary characters such as office boys, will be carefully rehearsed so that they properly say “Yes sir, Mr. Shepherd,” and “Is it break time yet?” The script writers will spend a lot of time sitting around complaining about Shepherd’s style, and grumbling in general.

The originator of the series expects that it

–in its first season–

will win at least a coupla Emmys.

emmys

Coupla Emmys

____________

INFORMATIONAL INFORMATION

The radio depicted above is: “Radio SNR excelsior 52 of 1952.”

____________

Happy Valentine’s Day, Fatheads.

___________________________________________________

 SOME COMMENTS OF INTEREST. I place some comments into the main post because I think some may not check the comments section, and at least one comes from facebook, not from the blog comments:

Kerr Lockhart in facebook group dedicated to Shep

10:15am Feb 14

My Shep sitcom would show what actually happened in his life, and then have him recount the story and demonstrate how he “improved” the story.

-=-=-=

eb comments: Kerr, that’s a really good idea to have Shepherd’s narrative voice describing his take on events in the sitcom episodes. It does bring up issues that would have to be addressed. We know extremely little that’s verifiable about Shepherd’s life. Thus, the sitcom would be based on the kind of person he was, the sorts of things that happened in his personal and professional life—not very much on easily discernable incidents of his real life. For example, we know that he enjoyed the adulation of his young fans and we know that he sometimes found them a bit too much for his comfort, but specific incidents portrayed in the sitcom would be inspired fiction.

No matter the format, there would have to have to be a disclaimer at the beginning of every episode, something like:

NOTICE: THE INCIDENTS THAT OCCUR IN THE EPISODES OF “EXCELSIOR” ARE INSPIRED BY THE LIFE AND WORKS OF JEAN SHEPHERD, AND ARE ROUGHLY BASED ON “FAINT CLUES AND INDIRECTIONS.” BUT THE EPISODES THEMSELVES ARE NOT TRUE TO THE DETAILS OF SHEPHERD’S LIFE. THEY ARE THE PRODUCTS OF THE HOT AND HEAVY FICTIONAL INVENTIONS–THE CREATIVITY–OF THE SCREENWRITERS. PARDON US, SHEP—OUR BAD! EQUALLY, THE NARRATIVE VOICE SEEMING TO BE THE REAL SHEPHERD CORRECTING AND EXPANDING UPON THE EPISODES, APPARENTLY GIVING US THE TRUE GEN, IS PRETTY MUCH ALSO A FICTIONAL CONSTRUCT BROUGHT FORTH BY US SCRIPTWRITERS—AFTER ALL, FROM WHAT WE KNOW OF SHEPHERD, HE WOULD BE INVENTING IT ALL TOO.

–SCREENWRITERS OF “EXCELSIOR.”

-=-=-=-=-=

Comment from Jack on blog page:

Holy cow, I’d certainly watch that show!  What a terrific synopsis!  Now we need a producer with plenty of scratch for you to pitch it to.  Oh man, this smells like a winner to me.

(Thanks Eugene.  Your posts are so entertaining and true to Shep’s legacy.)

Excelsior, JD

-=-=-=

eb responds: Jack, thank you very much for the encouragement. I’ve been thinking this idea over for a number of years and it only recently occurred to me to post it on the blog. As one might imagine, my posting it has at least 2 causes: 1. I thought people would find it amusing and worthwhile; 2. it’s a way of hoping to bring forth some enthusiastic producer with scratch and imagination.  [eb comment on blog 2/14/2014.]

Joel says: I love this idea.  The actor who plays Shep is critical to its success.  I can see the WOR offices as the locale, but flashbacks take us to places in Shep’s past that reflect the characters and stories he told.  This could be so good.

Jim Clavin writes: The WKRP idea passed my mind once when I was watching reruns on TV. I thought of WOR with Shep and the engineers and a Leigh Brown character. The first part of the show could be all the silly little plot lines and then the last few minutes (right after the ped-egg commercials) would be a monolog by Shep relating to the events of the first part of the show – wrapping it all up.

Nick Mantis suggestion for actor to play Shep:

leonardo DiCaprio

eb: I like the idea but Leonardo would have to agree to have a deep dimple a la Shep’s sculpted into his chin.

JEAN SHEPHERD–Words and Phrases

Ever since I began seriously delving into the art and enigma of Jean Shepherd, I’ve been especially interested in his art/style of word usage.  In fact, for my first book, I had included in the Chapter 10 HURLING INVECTIVES Words, all his sayings. But they were edited out–not by me– and put in back as Appendix C SHEPHERDISMS. Who looks at appendixes anyway? I feel that removing most of the words and phrases from the Word chapter, weakens it–but, as they say in so many human constituencies as well as boondocks, one has to pick one’s battles.

At some point way back in the early days of getting that first book published, for whatever reason–maybe I just found myself with a few odd moments to spare and wanted to put together a compound word/graphic.  I’d be happy with any suggestions for better definitions and for other words and phrases.

The final form for this graphic, fitting on an 8  1/2 X 11″ sheet,

is folded  so that it is only the length and width of one box,

with the book cover image on top.

By clicking on and enlarging this image and then printing it,

one should be able to replicate my original format.

p.JS sayings

Excelsior, you fathead!

_________________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD–praise or condemn?

eb face graphicI hope, I hope, I hope!

 I’ve spent a good part of my waking hours for the last 13 years thinking and writing about Jean Shepard Shepherd. When my EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!  was published in 2005, I was asked by an interviewer whether I thought Shepherd would have damned or praised me for what I’ve written.  My answer is both (I’d hope).

Just as his third wife Lois Nettleton thanked me profusely for having written that first book in praise of Shep and all he’d created, I think Shep would have been happy to see some sort of book published about him—books, you’ll remember, were extremely important to him since he’d been a grammar school kid, even before he’d first gone to a library. So I believe that Shepherd would have been happy to find that so much of his work in all media, objectively described, would have a relatively permanent place in the printed world.

eb and shep poster

Benediction?

____________

Of course my written and spoken words about him consist of more than objective description—there’s subjective description, interpretation, appreciation. Besides all that, regarding his personal life, there’s a bit of description and a tad of suggested interpretation.

“SUGGESTED INTERPRETATION?!”

____________

Of course, there are the times I put words in his mouth: my play, Excelsior! and my fake interview of him in a manuscript. But I make clear that I’m—in the field of artistic interpretation and playing around—giving my own view of what his thoughts might be.

HE WOULD HATE THESE, I KNOW IT!

Despite my focus on his creative works, I do devote a bit of time to his treatment of his kids, his damning of radio, his unpleasant treatment of others: engineers, wives, children, fans, etc. He would intensely dislike much of the plain descriptive nature of putting parts of his life in print for the world to see. But there is a certain logic to this in my mind as his very personal style of radio persona—telling of himself and his ideas—lend one to examine to what degree these represent a truth to his life as he himself implied  on the air.

____________

There’s my questioning and musing on some parts of his enigmatic nature. For example my educated guess/interpretation of what I believe his motto “Excelsior” is all about.  Joel Baumwoll and I have had some interesting interchanges about ways his life and art regarding “Excelsior” are inextricably connected. Sometimes there is not quite so obvious a connection.

____________

The edited transcriptions of his army stories—he’d have edited and elaborated significantly in his own special way, as he did with his printed versions of stories first told on the air.  Of course I would never have attempted any creative additions to his words and ideas. But what I did, in only making necessary and gentle edits to his spoken words, has given a number of people the sense of hearing his voice on the printed page—I’m proud of that. (Some in years past have said that they find his own transcribed/ edited/augmented/published stories also did that, but I feel that my rather straightforward versions do it even more.) Even though Shep wouldn’t have done it the way I needed to.

 For example, the quote from Publishers Weekly:

“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.”

______________

Oh, Shep,

see, I did some good, didn’t I?

Wherever you are

(high above or low below)

forgive me my sins!

We are all sinners!

We all misinterpret you at times!

We even bad-mouth ya!

Sometimes we think we know better’n you do!

(Oh, the HORROR!!!)

Oh, fergive us our sins,

fergive us our treps-asses

as we fergive dose what treps-ass again us,

Oh, Wise and Wonderful Wizard of Shep!

[Oh–and forgive us for all future unintentional and intentional sins as well–thanks!]

_______________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD’s Og and Charlie

I love Shepherd’s “Og and Charlie” stories.

 

New York Times January 30, 2014:

Studies Show a Little Bit

Of Neanderthal in Us All

Ever since the discovery in 2010 that Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of living humans, scientists have been trying to determine how their DNA affects people today. Now two new studies have traced the history of Neanderthal DNA, and have pinpointed a number of genes that may have medical importance today. (Carl Zimmer  reporting)

neanderthal drawingNeanderthal?

Some believe that the Neanderthals were gentle, peaceful guys–and gals–but mostly we think of them as having been less than fully human brutes–less civilized than we are–maybe slaughtering each other even more than we do. Shep (as do many of us today) probably referred to less-civilized contemporaries of his as “Neanderthals.” Sort of like in that comedy team of “Og and Charlie.” (I saw them once at a burlesque house in Hoboken. Og wore a loincloth and carried a semi-automatic. Charlie wore a pinstripe thong and carried a seltzer bottle. Any of you who remember the routine will recall that after the silly little incident with the seltzer bottle–in the finale, Og slaughters Charlie. ♦If you believe this little Hoboken story of mine, you also still believe that all of Shep’s stories are verifiably true. At the beginning of a new, good, movie, “American Hustle,” I encountered this announcement appropriate to the issue: “SOME OF THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED.”)

Shepherd told “Og and Charlie” stories a  number of times, as I discuss in my EYF! page 234-239:

Typically, Shepherd brought specific issues back to the problem within us. Although never put in religious terms, Shepherd frequently expressed an attitude not unlike a belief in original sin:

There’s only one problem, of course, in the end, and that is–why is mankind the way he is, and why is he so miserable? And that’s been the subject of all the great literature since  time began.

Why is it that we always discuss the results of some sickness in the human soul and we never really discuss the sickness? We discuss the war, and never discuss what brings about wars.

….and I might say that the same things that made that fistfight occur are always within people. Don’t think for a minute that they go away. You know we have this beautiful feeling among ourselves–this is one of the great illusions of mankind–and it is that he is a perfectible creature–like say–a portable typewriter can be perfected. That next year’s model is better than last year’s model.

Last year’s models were Og and Charlie, caveman types who appeared in Shep tales from time to time. Og with the primitive name, Charlie with the contemporary guy-next-door name. They were a linked pair. They seemed to be minor bit players–primitive comic relief around the edges of Shepherd’s world. They were not. Og and Charlie were central. They were “the only problem,” the sickness in the human soul, the things that made fistfights occur. One identified with Og and Charlie–they seemed so human. Yes–and they were brutes, not very far about the lower forms of land dwellers. Without the intervening evolution from lake dwellers through reptiles to primates, we crawled directly out of the ooze. Jean Shepherd described them:

There must have been the very first time when Og and Charlie crawled out of the muck and out of the mire–that ancient primordial lake from whence sprang all of us…and Og and Charlie crawled out of the ooze and the slime.

neanderthal-faceThis is Og. Charlie was clean-shaven and tweezed his eyebrows.

The researchers concluded that Neanderthals and modern humans must have interbred….Sir Paul A Mellars, an archaeologist…said that archaeological evidence suggested the opportunity for modern humans to mate with Neanderthals would have been common once they expanded out of Africa. “They’d be bumping into Neanderthals at every street corner,” he joked. [Don’t dwell too deeply on that one, ladies.]

….Living human beings do not have a lot of Neanderthal DNA, Dr. Reich [who led the research team] found, but some Neanderthal genes have become very common.That is because, with natural selection, useful genes survive as species evolve.

neanderthahl diagram sciencemag.org

Shepherd told other Og and Charlie stories from time to time. One in EYF! goes this way:

You know there was a historic moment that was recorded by one of the great physical anthropologist–at the University of Pennsylvania. And he has reconstructed it. I thought you might like to know about it. It was one of the great–it was the time that man became man. It was a very important moment. These two guys are sitting on the shores of this antediluvian lake….

Then, without saying a word he reached down, picked up a large stone, raised it above his head, and brought it down with a telling, fatal crash between the eyes of Charlie. In that instant, man became man. He ceased being a beastie of the field….That moment modern man was born. that instant! It was the great, great turning point. and Charlie fell in a pool of blood, Og settled back on his haunches and continued to look out over the lake.

But they were seen–by another man, who crouched by his cave. He picked up a rock and moved into the shadows. And waited. Modern man had begun to progress.

An Internet article challenges that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens interbred: “The researchers say the DNA crossover is actually a remnant from a common ancestor from half a million years ago, not a result of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals interbreeding.” Oh yeah, so’s yer aunt Tillie! Whichever. Shep’s argument is still the essence of that old joke: “They’ve found the common ancestor of civilized man. It’s us.”

The Og and Charlie stories that I remember on WOR all ended in some sort of calamity indicating the pre-human/inhuman nature of the two beasts. And then, it so happens, I recently remembered the Og and Charlie story Shepherd told for his Syndicated shows in 1964-1965. It occurs in the boxed set titled KICKS, CD 3 “Og and Charlie.” Here are some excerpts of what I wrote:

Jean Shepherd told listeners so entertainingly over the years, in powerful fables, that Og and Charlie were us. In this episode, Shepherd tells us about the same Og and Charlie, those primitive men, but here emphasizes a far more benign theme than his usual story of brutality. In fact, as the subject is the birth and development of music, one can almost imagine a variation on the old saw–about music having charms to soothe those savage brutes.

Shepherd has always been a great enthusiast of music ever since high school when he became, as he once put it, “a dedicated tuba man.”   This program is filled with music of many kinds, starting with Shepherd’s over-the-top mimicking of primitive music and lyrics, then launching into a little lesson on origins with his caveman Og pounding a simple beat, then adding some simple vocal sounds until what one can recognize as a song of sorts emerges. He suggests that this invention of music was a great “kick.”

…he introduces the spiritual as well as the emotional aspects of music, as words with music are used to beseech the gods. Emphasizing the high level on which he regards music, he comments and elaborates on the idea of the musician as a magical creature, worshiped in the guise of Beethoven, Charlie Parker, and other varied notables.

The variety of music and musicians he presents emphasizes his theme of the broad importance of music to all of us….Toward the end of the program, he even uses a recording of what he claims is a headhunting tribe chanting a victory tune, returning home from a successful hunt, their trophies stuck on poles. How’s that for variety? Variety as a means to bring us back to Og and Charlie. He wants us to recognize our kinship with Og and other savages: “We’re all in it together, there’s no question about it, the same primal urge exists.” He repeats the idea: “You, Beethoven, the headhunter. It’s the eternal music of the spheres.” And I’ll bet you thought you’d left the cavemen far behind and you could pat yourself on your oh-so-musically civilized back!

Shep has described us all–we,

Og and Charlie–

are still those primal savages.

________________________

 (Aunt Tillie is the one to the left of Og):og.charlie.us profiles

_____________________________________________________

JEAN SHEPHERD as per E. Bergmann

ebb’s Jean Shepherd Bibliography 

I first listened to Jean Shepherd from 1956 through the early 1960s.  I began seriously thinking and writing about Jean Shepherd in early 2000, soon after he died.  This resulted in the publication of my Excelsior, You Fathead! The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd in March, 2005.  That thinking, writing, and publication led to various related projects, some begun by myself, some suggested by others, each resulting in published or not-quite-yet-published works of various lengths. Some parts of the following material have already appeared in this blog.  The list as of February, 2014:

BOOKS

Excelsior, You Fathead! The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd  (Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, March 28, 20005.) A basic and comprehensive overview and appreciation of Shepherd’s creative work as it was known about at the time. Illustrations, index, interviews, sources, 496 pages.

Shep’s Army: Bummers, Blisters, and Boondoggles (Opus Books, August, 2013. Foreword by Keith Olbermann.) Nearly three dozen of Shepherd’s army stories transcribed and edited from his radio broadcasts, organized so that they form a chronological continuity, forming what could be called “Jean Shepherd’s Army Novel.” Introductory essay and comments, 232 pages.

 THEATER

Excelsior! A Play about Jean Shepherd (Authors Playhouse, Bay Shore, Long Island, NY, performances in March, 2006.) A one-man play in four scenes, conceived and written during the period in which the first book was also being written, displaying Shepherd’s highs, lows, and his final reconciliation with his fate as a man and as an important American creative force.

ARTICLES AND A FOREWORD

“Jean Shepherd, A Unique Comic Voice” (In iPod and iTunes Garage, 2004, book by Kirk McElhearn). A general description, emphasis on Shep’s radio work, indicating that the audios are easily captured and heard on listening devices.

I, Libertine—From Hoax to Best Selling Paperback” (In Paperback Parade, February 2006magazine). Essay consisting of existing and some new information about the hoax.

“Jean Shepherd—Genius” (In California Herald, 2006—newspaper). A general appreciation of Shepherd’s work.

[Untitled paragraph] “A Hammond Story—The Origin of A Christmas Story” (brochure published by The Hammond Historic Preservation Commission in 2008) My paragraph noting Shepherd’s personal and artistic connections to Hammond, commenting that despite his negativity toward his hometown, aspects of it are never far from his mind and heart.

“Ettore and Jean Bugatti—Artists” (Published in Pur Sang Winter, 2010 #50, quarterly of the American Bugatti Club.) An essay describing Shep’s appreciative broadcast about Bugatti, focusing on the masterwork, the “57SC Atlantic,” which he describes with high enthusiasm. Also, a description of Shepherd’s ink drawing on a paper towel of a classic Bugatti limousine. (Posted in full in the Shepquest blog.)

“Christmas Revisited: Minor Disasters and Happy Endings” (Foreword to the book by Caseen Gaines, A Christmas Story–Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic. 2013) Following a short one by actor Wil Wheaton, my over-four-page foreword focuses on promoting Shepherd, the final paragraph beginning: “To repeat the irony that’s symptomatic of Jean Shepherd’s career, most people who love the film don’t even know who he is.”

PROGRAM NOTES

All 9 sets of Program Notes, produced/published by www.RadioSpirits.com.  Shepherd programs in boxed CD sets originally recorded in 1964-1965 for syndication, virtually undistributed, thus almost totally unheard except on these CD sets. These shows are nearly identical to Shepherd’s broadcast style on WOR, with somewhat more of a sense of pre-planning and the use of more attendant musical excerpts:

“Don’t be a Leaf”                4 CDs                                  2005

“The X Random Factor”    8 CDs                                 2005

“Security Blankets”           4 CDs                                 2006

“Life Is”                                 8 CDs                                 2006

 “Kicks”                                4 CDs                                  2008

“Pomp & Circumstance”  8 CDs                                 2008

“Ticket to Ride”                  4 CDs                                 2008

“The Fatal Flaw”                  8 CDs                                2009

“Wonders”                           8 CDs                                2010

UNDISTRIBUTED STUFF

EXCELSIOR! The Graphic Novel the World Has Been Waiting For! A three-volume work designed and printed by hand, dramatizing the so-far unfulfilled quest for audios of Shepherd’s overnight broadcasts. Made in 2006 and archived in The Shep Shrine. (Reproduced in full in the Shepquest blog.)

Various Charts Regarding the life and career of Shep.

“Words and Phrases From the Master” a fold-up. 

“Brass Figlagee” 3-dimensional design interpretation in a limited edition

Various other paper ephemera.

SPECIAL APPEARANCES

Talk & Book Signing, August 16, 2005. West Hartford, CN Public Library. A general talk about Shepherd, with extensive questions from the 70-member audience, followed by a book-signing session.

010_bergmanncrowd_small

Old Time Radio Annual Convention, October 2005. Co-chair, with Max Schmid, two-person session on Jean Shepherd with extensive questions from the audience, followed by signing of books.

022_Gene-Max_small

The Paley Center for Media (formerly Museum of Television and Radio) January 23, 2012. “Remembering Master Storyteller, Jean Shepherd with Jerry Seinfeld” and Bill Carter (NYT media writer). I contributed various suggestions regarding audios for use. Pre-program meeting in the green room with Seinfeld, etc.  In the main auditorium, as a special attendee in the front row, I was introduced to the audience,  and was asked to respond to comments from the stage.

2012-01-23_138_Paley_Center_Gene_and_Jerry

Seinfeld: “I love your book.”

Bergmann: “I love your TV show.”

INTERNET

Shepquest: The World of Jean Shepherd. Blog posts written by ebb, begun in February 2013. http://www.shepquest.wordpress.com. Extensive, illustrated essays describing and commenting on all aspects of Shepherd’s life and work, with some comments by Shepherd-enthusiasts.

shepquest

FEB. 3 = 1st ANNIVERSARY OF THIS BLOG

(Attendant confetti and balloons [‘Pretty bubbles in the air.’] )

______________________________________________________