WRITING AND TALKING ABOUT TRAVEL
Traveling is one of Shepherd’s favorite activities, and the previous posts about his wide range of sites visited should give some sense of this. From the following list of original radio audios used for the transcriptions, one will note that the sequence I’ve used is not a chronological one–I organized by what I thought made an interesting variety of stuff to read.
SOURCES FOR JEAN SHEPHERD RADIO AUDIOS
Of Jean Shepherd’s comments regarding his enthusiasm for travel, all originating in his radio broadcasts on WOR Radio, some come from my original transcriptions found in Excelsior, You Fathead! The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd (Applause Books, March, 2005). Several originate in additional audios subsequently encountered.
There are several sources of Shepherd audios. Most come from Max Schmid’s WBAI-FM broadcasts and his commercially available cassettes and CDs of this material. Many, originating from Max’s material, are also found on the internet’s iTunes/podcasts/brassfiglagee, where they came from Jeff Beauchamp’s no-long-extant Jean Shepherd Project. A short written comment by me about the Beatles trip comes from the Program Notes of www.RadioSpirits.com CDs, composed of syndicated shows virtually unheard before the early 2000s.
Note that broadcast titles are not “official,” but are those given by the person providing the material, lo these many years ago. Dates of the broadcasts are those provided by the recorder of the broadcast, and though considered rather standard, they might not be definitive.
In the majority, travel episodes found in these posts come from a single radio broadcast or from a series of broadcasts extended over several days. In a few instances, Shepherd’s comments found here in a particular chapter might come from isolated comments made by him on some broadcast made later. Note that the audios we have for the Lebanon visit of 1958 date from radio reminisces in 1973 and 1974. He did, however, write a bit in his Village Voice columns soon after he returned in 1958. (Bits of these have been included in the travel posts.)
A couple of broadcast audios were forwarded to me by Jim Clavin of www.flicklives.com. and a couple of others by a Shepherd enthusiast who wishes to remain anonymous. Although some of the audios can be found in more than one source, listings here are based on the version I used for this book: Clavin; iTunes; Schmid; Syndicated.
March on Washington: 8/29/63 Schmid
Maine Deciding to be Beautiful: 9/15/66 Schmid
The Middle East: 2/25/73, 3/4/74 Schmid; 1966 6/6, 6/7, 6/8 Schmid; 1966 6/9, 6/11 iTunes;
1966 6/10 Clavin
John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Shep 11/2/64, 11/7/64 iTunes
Irish Blood in Me 3/17/67 Schmid; 3/17/72 iTunes
The Last Time I Saw Paris 6/15/66 Schmid
Around the World With Shep 4/4/72, 4/5/72 Schmid; 4/10/72, 4/13/72 iTunes
Australia 1965 4/14, 5/8, 5/13, 5/18 iTunes; 1969 9/17 iTunes
Amazon and the Headhunters 1965 9/2/ 9/16 9/17, 9/18 iTunes; 9/7v Schmid
Nigeria 3/21/63, 2/22/63, 3/23/63 Anon; 4/29/63, 8/5/66, 1976 Clavin; 7/4/63 Schmid
?/64 or ?/65 Syndicated
Sailing the Windward Islands 12/10/75 iTunes
Maine is a Foreign Country 6/17/65 Schmid
A coupla books about travel
In doing some research about the act of travel. I encountered various books and articles describing the pleasures of travel. A number of them describe, as Shepherd later did on his programs, the difference between a tourist (A person who encounters superficial aspects in the places he/she passes through), and traveler, as Shep prided himself on being.
I encountered the works of Paul Bowles, and by cherry-picking his 1949 “Novel”–or not-a-novel, The Sheltering Sky, I found some of the comments that give Bowles credit for perceptive ideas about traveling. If Shepherd had encountered these perceptions (as I would guess that he had), I would expect that he would have agreed with them and maybe incorporated some of them within his own sensibility:
“[A]nother important difference between tourist and traveler is that the former accepts his own civilization without question; not so the traveler, who compares it with the others, and rejects those elements he finds not to his liking.”
“Whereas the tourist generally hurries back home at the end of a few weeks or months, the traveler belonging no more to one place than to the next, moves slowly over periods of years, from one part of the earth to another. Indeed, he would have found it difficult to tell, among the many places he had lived, precisely where it was he had felt most at home.”
“The only thing that makes life worth living is the possibility of experiencing now and then a perfect moment. And perhaps even more than that, it’s having the ability to recall such moments in their totality, to contemplate them like jewels.”
WHY WE TRAVEL—By Pico Iyer Saturday, Mar 18, 2000 SALON.COM
We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate….
Yet for me the first great joy of traveling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties at home, and seeing everything I thought I knew in a different light, and from a crooked angle….
But for the rest of us, the sovereign freedom of traveling comes from the fact that it whirls you around and turns you upside down, and stands everything you took for granted on its head. If a diploma can famously be a passport (to a journey through hard realism), a passport can be a diploma (for a crash course in cultural relativism). And the first lesson we learn on the road, whether we like it or not, is how provisional and provincial are the things we imagine to be universal….
Thus travel spins us round in two ways at once: It shows us the sights and values and issues that we might ordinarily ignore; but it also, and more deeply, shows us all the parts of ourselves that might otherwise grow rusty. For in traveling to a truly foreign place, we inevitably travel to moods and states of mind and hidden inward passages that we’d otherwise seldom have cause to visit….
So travel, for many of us, is a quest for not just the unknown, but the unknowing; I, at least, travel in search of an innocent eye that can return me to a more innocent self….
Travel, then, is a voyage into that famously subjective zone, the imagination, and what the traveler brings back is — and has to be — an ineffable compound of himself and the place, what’s really there and what’s only in him….
THE ART OF TRAVEL by Alain Botton, 2002.
“If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest—in all its ardour and paradoxes—than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside the constraints of work and the struggle for survival….[travel] whose study might in modest ways contribute to an understanding of what the Greek philosophers beautifully termed eudaimonia or human flourishing.”
Here, repeated from the beginnings of my travel posts:
Shepherd would probably be pleased to find a link between himself and his revered forebear in a sentence from Twain’s preface to The Innocents Abroad. Shepherd might have written it for his own travel tales: “I offer no apologies for any departures from the usual style of travel writing that may be charged against me—for I think I have seen with impartial eyes, and I am sure I have written at least honestly, whether wisely or not.”
With his own distinctive brand of wit, Shepherd shares with Twain
his sharp-eyed observations and a penchant for truth.
The following I find fascinating because it applies to travel, as well as to national and international affairs, and to every other other thingamabob we encounter in the world:
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” –D.Rumsford (a former public figure)
The next blog post includes various Shepherd comments on traveling.