Home » Comments about Shep » JEAN SHEPHERD–“I know how you’ve gone wrong!” Part 2 of …

JEAN SHEPHERD–“I know how you’ve gone wrong!” Part 2 of …


Have you stayed tuned?

Are you in tune?

How about twanging your tuning fork!

Before we get back to Shep–By sheer coincidence, I recently decided to get two big used books of cartoons by Matt Groening. They are repros of the Life In Hell cartoon he did before starting the TV Simpsons. The opening one seems to me similar to some of Shepherd’s humorously hostile style I’m transcribing, which is more gently, mock-confrontational–Groening’s is more in-your-face nasty/funny. I wonder if Groening is a Shep fan. (Groening seems to have started the series in 1977, and this opening one in the book is copyright 1980, while Shep’s broadcasts ended in April, 1977).

life in hell 10015

Top 2/3 of the opening cartoon in the book.

And look at him there–with his compassionate gaze. You know, one of the Eastern colleges is not teaching a course in compassion 1 and 2? [Shep’s voice is rising mock-dramatically.] You have to have a course–two or three preliminary courses. One of them is creative friendliness, 1 and 2. And, of course, after that two courses in adjustment. And you’re ready! So burn that incense, and burn it clean and hard.

Just keep–what’s the matter, Eddy?! [Shep is talking to his engineer.] Just bring it up! What’s the matter? Is it running out?! Oh, there we go. So keep it going, keep it going. Never stop, for crying out loud. [That, he says, as though not only talking to his engineer, but in tone as though it’s a wider–a universal–comment.] It’s like the time–but then again I suppose the time always shall be the time, the time, the time, the time. Pick it up, Stan. Up over there on top again. There’s always one above and one above that, and one above that. Now look–I’ll tell you how to straighten it out, mac! You’ll have slipped again. Again and again and again. Can’t you see Pandit Nehru, coming home after a hard day as a statesman–there must be somebody, there must be somebody who says, “You’re getting commercial, Pandit. You’re fooling again. Now get back on that–.”

And there always has been and there always will be. You’re doing it wrong! Ah. A. A, you have made another mistake.

Did I ever tell you the time that I saw a guy caught–held in security–in fact pinned to the wall–by a ditto machine. It was operated by an eighth power modem and it used gelatin rolls. Ever seen a guy with a gelatin roll wrapped around him from a ditto? Ever see it? Do you know what a gelatin roll ditto machine is? You haven’t even seen one. [I have no idea what he’s talking about.] I know a guy who tried to eat one once. The gelatin just looked good. You know–I mean, you know–an old paste eater–returning to the scenes of his old triumphs.

Oh, but there were two types of paste eaters in my youth. There was the kind of guy who ate it raw–as it came out of the can–right out of the jar, right out of the tube. these were the hard drinkers. And then there was the aficionado, the gourmet who liked it when it had a thin crust over it. He liked the crunchiness of it, the aged-ness of it. The cheddar-cheeseness of it. So, you know, we shall split off into two ranks every time, every place, no matter what we do. So don’t–don’t worry.

shep with drink

Shep on the back of Wanda Hickey.

Not worrying a bit.

Just–just cling as hard as you can to that water wing. That water wing. The one that’s taking in water–fast. That hasn’t done much flying. But nevertheless–is there waiting. So come on, daddy-o, let’s do it, you know? I know how you’ve gone wrong! I know how you’ve gone wrong!

life in hell 20010

Third third of first Life in Hell.

You have come to the right man–for the first time in your life. I–know–where–you– Yes. I know, you have done it again. You are wrong again. STOP!

The music stops.

The engineer has been un-tuned

and stopped in his tracks.




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