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JEAN SHEPHERD–Early Shep Forensics

WHEREFORE ART THOU, EARLY SHEP?

Some familiar with my thinking about Jean Shepherd’s early radio work will remember some of my comments regarding his “overnight” New York broadcasts (January to mid-August, 1956). Lois Nettleton, Shep’s early “The Listener,” when she read those dates in my EYF! book,  couldn’t believe it only lasted that short a time! I put it all here together, with my familiar comments.

(Some of this info gotten from http://www.flicklives.com)

shep1952

Cincinnati and Philadelphia 1/30/1947-1/30/1954

Earliest reported broadcasts (no comments about earlier-than-this-Shep on the radio).

All that is available that I know of is a short snippit from the beginning of a Cincinnati show and his last two half-hours from Philadelphia. These two suggest that, as some have reported, his casual, improvised, and stream-of-consciousness style began and continued for some time during this period. That no recordings of the period have yet surfaced might well be because affordable recording equipment was not yet available to the general public.

young shep

New York WOR “overnights” 1/7/1956-8/13/1956

This is the period of listeners most appropriately referred to as “Night People,” and included late-night listeners such as jazz musicians, artists, Lois Nettleton, etc. A few people have reported listening during this period, but have no extensive memories. This period includes the I, Libertine hoax, the Sweetheart Soap commercial, and his reporting that he had been fired. A few people reportedly retain recordings from this important period, but none have come forward with any. Early tape machines readily available (but expensive) were then for sale and probably mostly bought by musicians wishing to record others and themselves. (My mother bought one to record her violin playing, so I began using it to record Shep as early as Sunday nights, September, 1956.)

(A well-known jazz musician/critic has not yet come forward with his recordings.) As I’ve done before, I implore people to come forth so that such early recordings are preserved–before those recordings are tossed in dumpsters by the Shep-enthusiasts’ heirs.

New York WOR Sundays 9:05-1:00 A.M. 9/9/1956-9/11/1960

From the few extant recordings of this period, Shep’s style might be assumed to be similar to his previous overnight style, though my guess is that the overnights (because of the late hours) may well have been even more laid-back, and he seemed to have played, during the Sunday nights, less extensive musical interludes.

1955-mm-dd_022_Into_Unknown_Front

“Jean Shepherd Into the Unknown With Jazz Music”

I include this 1955 recording with its cuts of Shep intermixed with jazz music, because it represents early-Shep in a form probably similar to some of his earliest radio work.* It includes some of his references such as the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin.

  • *The musician/composer listed, Mitch Leigh, I believe, is the same one who went on to create the musical “Man of La Mancha.” (Attempts to contact him to discuss what he remembered about working with Shep on this early creation, failed. Now he’s dead.)

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JEAN SHEPHERD–“Syndicated” 1 of 2 & (10) ARTSY–2 Doggie Anecdotes

Selections from the Program Guides.  Recorded in 1964-1965 for syndication by Hartwest Productions but “lost” for decades, over 250 programs surfaced and began being marketed by www.RadioSpirits.com, starting in 2005.  These CDs of nearly unheard (because nearly un-broadcast), recorded Jean Shepherd programs began appearing.  I’ve written the program notes for all nine of the four-and-eight CD boxed sets so far released. (I receive no remuneration beyond the original fee I received for some of the latter of the nine.) Here’s a short selection of those comments.

(The Hartwest syndicated material is now in the hands of: http://www.filmsaroundtheworld.com/Jean Shepherd Radio.php  and is being sold at the price of $14.99 per program by them and by www.amazon.com. They are produce-on-demand and have no program notes. (I’ve had no input on these). I bought Volume 4 because I wanted to hear what he had to say about his cooking. The rest I’d like to hear but not at that price.)

x random factor image

-Radio Spirits-from the program notes set

The X Random Factor

These syndicated programs are quality Shepherd, with all the style and verve of his live broadcasts.  The listener might note a few minor indicators of something a bit different, none of which is in any way negative.  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—the syndicated show music ends purely as Eduard Strauss intended.  In addition, very frequently over the years Shepherd used fragments of usually quirky music to set a mood, to talk around, to play with—either in words or to accompany with kazoo, jew’s harp, nose flute, or head thumping.  In the syndicated shows heard thus far, he seems to have more carefully pre-sketched (but not in any way scripted) the nature of each particular show.  And within that sketch, he appears to have more diligently chosen and orchestrated into the whole, excerpts of a less quirky music, which also provide more of a focus to the general tenor of that program.

security blankets image

-Radio Spirits-from the program notes set

Security Blankets

In “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.  Related to that, his ever-present belief is that predicting the future does not work because our ideals and ideas do not jibe with reality.  Human illusions, foibles, and impenetrable human complexity abound—all of these confound the “experts” in their attempts to pin down the future.  What joy Shepherd has in life’s absurd unpredictability: “That jagged, peculiar, Yorkshire pudding of existence, the raisins and the grapes and the oysters and all the rest of it.  The lobsters and the clams and the cabbages and the kings.  All floating like some enormous mulligatawny stew.…”  Listen—participate with Shep in his delight in all of life.  Shepherd knew that we all have various personal styles and foibles within us, and he did not exclude himself.

Part 2 to come.

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 artsyfratsy 10010

(I’ve written what’s below in as artsy a manner as I can.)

S.P.L.A.T.!

For years on the air, Jean Shepherd occasionally spoke negatively about dogs—especially about how owners would let them defecate on the sidewalk and not scoop the poop. I don’t think he’d ever owned a dog at that time.

In one of his books, he wrote and published a burlesque titled “S.P.L.A.T!” Writing as though in a dream and being interviewed on TV (a medium he demeaned) by “intellectual” celebrities of the day such as Steve Allen and David Susskind (both of whom he demeaned in the burlesque), he was asked about the meaning of the name of the organization he represented. After several pages of snide prevarication, he responded: “It stands for Society for the Prevention and Limitation of Animal Turds.”

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DOG DIED

Our previous dog died years ago, and we decided to wait a while before getting another. Within a very little while (about a week), I suggested that we go to the North Shore Animal League (“just to look,” as I put it.)

We asked if they had any puppies. The young fellow brought out two pups in arms from the same litter, one small, short-haired and brown, the other dark tan and longer-haired. I pointed to the longer-haired one: “That’s the dog for us.” Allison and I and our sons Evan, ten, and Drew, eight, each held him and checked him out. We filled out the paperwork and brought him home.

ARTSY---AUG,EB,DHB

Evan, Drew, and Augie as Pups

We adopted him on August 1 and Allison named him August, aka Augie, Augustus, Augie Doggie Bergmann. Augie slept in bed with Allison and me for the rest of his life. For the last year or two, we realized that Augie was really getting old—he’d had to have many of his teeth pulled, he was almost blind and deaf, and sometimes walked into things. We lifted him off our bed in the morning and lifted him onto our bed at night. During the day, mostly, he slept and I spent time on the sofa holding him close. He began eating not three, but only two cans of what our vet recommended–Mighty Dog. As an appetizer, with each meal, we gave him several heaping tablespoons of vanilla yogurt along with the Mighty, which we heated a bit to increase the aroma.

Now almost eighteen (yes, 18), Augie’s health had deteriorated. He would wobble on his feet, pace back and forth and stare into space until we put him on the sofa for another nap. We didn’t know if the pacing was a sign of distress. One early evening he collapsed. Allison, Evan, and I rushed him to a 24-hour emergency pet service where they examined him, tested, and X-rayed him. The vet said the pacing could be dementia and that with steroid shots, we could keep him alive for maybe a week or a month. In the consultation room Augie was totally unresponsive, and for the first time ever, we heard him whimper and moan. We agreed that the time had come and we cried and held each other after we gently stroked Augie.

Augie 3.18.2016

Last photo of Augie Doggie Bergmann

with my hand caressing him.

(Photo by Evan Bergmann)

After Allison, Evan, and I left the pet emergency care facility, my text message to son Drew, now living in Colorado, reported: “We said goodbye to Augie and are driving home crying.”

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1981 dedication in A Fistful of Fig Newtons by Jean Shepherd:

“To Leigh and Daphne—Who share my bed, my board, and walks along the sea. May they never regret it.”

(Most people who read that dedication must think that Shep lived, walked by the sea, and bedded two women.)

In 1982 Daphne, Leigh’s dog, appeared in Shepherd’s PBS drama, “Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters”

In 1988, Shepherd’s film Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss,

features the family dog, Fuzzhead (played by Daphne).

SHEP.DaphneDog ollie

Daphne (aka Fuzzhead)

I think that between the early 1970s and 1981,

Shep fell in love with Daphne the Dog.

ARTSY ARROWS0010

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JEAN SHEPHERD–a short chronology, 1960-1999

Among the unpublished chapters in my book manuscripts, I encountered a chronology that, in its concentrated form, might be worth contemplating as a very short description of Jean Shepherd’s activities from 1960 on. It’s not complete or definitive, but should probably exist in some form other than in electronic blips on my computer and CDs.

1960-1977

The relative importance of his early, “night people” adult fans diminished in proportion to the subsequent, much larger student population who listened and who also attended his many high school and college appearances, and his many live talks around the country.  He met Leigh Brown, the cute, young, ambitious chick from the Village in the late 1950s, their relationship developing more strongly when she began working at WOR in the early 1960s.  His live broadcasts from the Limelight Café in the Village on Saturday nights began in February, 1964 and ended in December, 1967.  The basic week-nightly broadcasts were mostly 45-minutes long.  One never knew what sort of subject or mood he would be in and what sort of seemingly incongruent mix he might dish up on an evening, and the variety and quality of the broadcasts remained very high.

Sometimes he would tell a story or comment on the passing scene, read a bit from one of his favorite authors, sometimes play tunes on kazoo, nose flute, or jews harp, or knock out a tune by thumping on his head.  Some programs had all of the above and more.  As he loved traveling, by taking his tape recorder with him he would bring back audio samples and commentaries for his programs from such places as the Peruvian Amazon, Ireland, Germany, Australia, and the Windward Islands.

Several times over the years attempts were made to extend his listening audience by sending tapes of the broadcast programs around the country by syndication.  In one attempt, over 200 new programs were specially taped in 1964-1965, but little distribution was done before the project was lost and forgotten about in a warehouse.  Recently, these recordings, four and eight at a time, had been produced and sold in boxed CD sets. Then, more were released one program at a time at a much more expensive rate per show.

1961-07-25_038_destry_photo

Shepherd performed in several plays in the late 1950s and early 1960s, apparently wanting to concentrate on acting, but his then-wife, Lois Nettleton, noted years later, that as his natural style was improvising his own material, he had trouble remembering scripted lines.  No record exists for any acting after the mid-1960s. Of note, “Asylum,” which never opened, was an original play by Arthur Kopit, not a revival, so that its failure to open is doubly unfortunate for New York theater as well as for Shepherd in particular.

SHEP asylum

Regarding live performances, for most of his career he concentrated on performing his own material.  His attempt at doing his own storytelling by facing into the camera on television was not successful.  He did create, narrate, and usually perform, in nearly two dozen programs of two series of half-hour shows for PBS, Jean Shepherd’s America, in which, for the most part, the small video crew traveled the country filming subjects that struck them as relevant parts of American culture (1971 and 1985).  He also created Shepherd’s Pie (1978), a shorter series of half-hour programs featuring several subjects each, again mostly related to aspects of the culture that interested him.  He created three hour-and-a-half stories based on groupings of some of his originally published stories.  Most of his television work includes Shepherd himself as narrator, and he often appears on-camera.  He also created a number of other individual television programs that appeared from the 1960s on.

Although his short stories told on the air were so good and so popular, it seems that only a concerted effort by friends Shel Silverstein and Lois Nettleton had convinced him to write them out and submit them to Playboy.  (He had felt that the human voice was the most direct, and therefore best, medium, for telling tales.)  The first story appeared in June, 1964 and the last of the twenty-three in August, 1981.  He also wrote one humor piece for the magazine. Despite his antipathy toward the Beatles in particular and rock-and-roll in general, Playboy sent him to the British Isles in 1964 for their Beatles interview, which appeared in February, 1965.  Playboy gave him a “humor of the year” award four times.

Most of his short stories and some of his articles were published in his popular books.  He inevitably created odd and funny titles for his stories and books.  Although some of the names in his stories refer to actual people of his childhood, Shepherd’s short stories are mostly fiction.  (For example, Flick’s family insisted that he had never had his tongue stuck to a pole.)  Shepherd claimed that the themes of some of these tales were metaphorical.  For example, he noted that the BB gun story was an anti-war tale.  One might also find an anti-war message in his story of waring tops, “Murderous Mariah.”  Over the years, Shepherd wrote scores of articles for many diverse periodicals, and did forwards and introductions to books that related to one or another aspect of his wide-ranging interests regarding American culture.

Shepherd loved radio, but its importance in the culture began to decline in the 1950s with the coming of television.  His creative interests in other media expanded and his WOR Radio work ended April Fools Day, 1977.  Despite his love for New York City, he and Leigh Brown moved to a condominium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  In 1984 they bought a house on Sanibel Island, Florida, where they lived, becoming increasingly isolated, even from friends, for the rest of their lives.

sheps maine house

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JEAN SHEPHERD–Art, Enigma, and Rationale behind my EYF!

My Excelsior, You Fathead! The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd was published over ten years ago (!) and I’ve been gratified by the vast majority of very positive reviews from the general public and from the media.

excelsior

SOME POSITIVE COMMENTS

Very laudatory reviews and comments have come from the Associated Press; Talkers Magazine–the publication of the talk radio industry (“This is a very important book because it is one of the few thoughtfully researched volumes written about a radio star–ever….Get the book….”); Lois Nettleton; Dee Snider; Walter Sabo–CEO of a communications consultant firm (“This book captures the spirit and genius of his work….This is a great book.”);

Broadcasters and print contributors who have interviewed me and/or have just read and critiqued the book were also kind; as are most of the http://www.amazon.com  Customer Reviewers:

Meticulously researched, this was obviously a labor of love for the Author. Absolutely the most fascinating biography I’ve read in years.

Doug McIntyre, who began and gave up on a Shep biography, and who is a bi-coastal radio broadcaster of his own shows, as well as a video documentary-maker, commented on his Customer Review titled: A FIRST RATE ANALYSIS OF RADIO’S GREAT GENIUS:

“Shep’s life is nearly impossible to capture in a linear biography. He told so many versions of events it really is a work of forensics to piece it all together, however. Bergmann did a wonderful job of presenting Jean’s art in its proper context, including important observations about the influence of Jazz on Shep’s art. (Radio is inherently a Jazz medium) As a writer who tried and failed to write a biography of Jean Shepherd I know exactly how hard this project was and applaud Eugene Bergmann and thank him from the bottom of my heart.”

Doug has also commented that  the form of the book, by design or fortunate happenstance, seems inspired by Shepherd’s own, apparently non-linear organization that overall ties together neatly. [ I may have his wording here a bit askew, but I think that’s the jist of it. eb]

SOME NEGATIVE COMMENTS

“Someday Shep will get a biography worthy of his genius, but this one is a godawful mess. The writing is genuinely awful, with all the personality of a washing machine’s instruction booklet.” [Oh well! –eb]

“A lot of good information about the life of Jean Shepherd was left out. Many details of his life were either missed or overlooked. I would hardly call it a biography.” [I commented: Good–I don’t call it a biography either! Despite what my publisher and many others say, see the book itself, page 14, where I say it documents and describes what he produced, and it is an appreciation and analysis of what he accomplished.

I responded to another Customer Review comment: “How was Excelsior, You Fathead! organized and why? Two major ideas govern the form of the book. Most importantly it’s a document and exploration of Shepherd’s radio and other creative work. Secondly it deals with those biographical materials that give some sense of his life in its relation to his creations. The book has a chronological framework, with thematic chapters interspersed where they help our understanding of what he did and how he did it. I would hope that the concluding paragraph of each chapter, and the comment at the beginning of each of the book’s parts, help the reader understand the logic of the book’s format.”

With that in mind, here’s how I organized the book, by section:

ACCOLADES FOR JEAN SHEPHERD

In case you aren’t aware, dear reader, what a major figure Shepherd is in 20th century American consciousness, read this–it’s put right up front where you can’t ignore it! Who was that guy Jean Shepherd, you ask? Never heard of him! Here’s what a lot of important-type people think of him–so there! Sort of surprises you to see all those people there giving tribute, doesn’t it? And that was before the ultimate accolade: Seinfeld delivered it too late to include in EYF!

INTRO TO SHEPHERD

A general intro to Shepherd in a couple of short chapters to give a sense of his quirky nature, initiating the unknowing and reminding all-knowing enthusiasts. As he effectively seemed to speak to each listener individuall , I indicate how I, too (as I am the one who wrote the book), was captivated by him.

FORMATIVE YEARS

His true and fictional life/activities before the great New York years: childhood, army, pre-New York City radio.)

HERITAGE AND ENDOWMENT

[As I introduce this part in the book]: “Shepherd studies the art of humor–its history and its uses. With this knowledge he will be able to exploit his fine talent for observation–expressing what he sees in himself, his countrymen, and the common humanity around him.”

THE GREAT BURGEONING

That “heritage” noted above is the base for all that follows, beginning in New York (his intellectual goal). His life/art from 1955-or-6 to about 1960, involving his many-faceted radio work and involvement in other arts–and in the other fellow- creators and common folk he encountered. I, Libertine, jazz, etc.

With all of the above, one can proceed to delve into what tools he used to perform his magic, and then explore many of the themes that dominated his mind and work.

TOOLS IN HAND

[As I introduce this part in the book]: “Throughout his career, Shepherd was a master of the tools of radio–sound and those special sounds called words. He delighted in the nature of the medium, and we experience the very complex, personal, and entertaining art he created.] The titles of these two chapters spell it out: “Bahn Frei: Sounds,” and “Hurling Invectives: Words.”

Ending the “Word” chapter with the Dictionary of American Slang’s inclusion of Shep’s “night people” phrase, the final paragraph, going into the next Part, with it’s Shep philosophy chapter segue: ” ‘Social commentator,’ Yes, that’s part of what Jean Shepherd was–but he was more than that–he was a commentator on the whole human condition. He observed, described, commented, and evaluated–he responded with joy, wonder, irritation, and despair–sometimes all at the same time. He had many themes and variations–but as we will see, he never let us forget what to do with our knees.”

ENCOUNTERS AND CONTENTIONS

How did those tools come in handy on the air? Expressing himself in his  “philosophy,” interacting with others in the control room and and the offices of WOR, and dealing with the need to make dough.

REFINEMENTS AND CONVERSIONS

Was radio all there was? He wanted to be acclaimed as a literary fellow=”My novel.” He realized that radio was dying as a major art form, and he expanded his reach into other fields of entertainment. Writing, acting, video, film. There may have been envy and desperation in that mix. In the later radio section (1960-1977) I describe and illustrate some of his masterpieces from this era, such as his eulogy of JFK and his description of his Morse code contest.

SUMMING UP TO A BOODLE-AM SHAKE

Pulleying in all the loose threads, cords, and chains. The pendulum swings back and forth over the life and career of Jean Parker Shepherd: the good and the bad. He wants it all. He can’t have it all. He gets plenty.

I end the book with a short and rather enigmatic transcript of Shepherd’s metaphor of observing a distant, disappearing ship and how he is trying to figure out how to communicate to you (his audience):

Listen–you hear it? I’ve been trying to say it. What I have been trying to say all along. Yeah. There’s not much time left. But you’ve got to hear it. You’ve got to be able to hear it. I guess you can’t. I guess everybody hears what he is hearing. Nobody else can hear it.

Did you hear that? Oh yeah.

You know, it’s going to be summer soon.

Yes. Yes.

EYF back cover

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JEAN SHEPHERD-Army stories funny or not? Part 2 of 2

SHEP'S.ARMY.Cover_Final

Continuation of my thoughts on Shep’s Army stories regarding funny or not:

PART 4 AN ARMY EDUCATION: INDEPENDENT STUDY

“Casual Company Education” Army language FUNNY

“Private Sanderson” A soldier who gets way with anything/everything FUNNY

“MOS Chicken Technician” Plucking 400 chickens FUNNY

“Passes Denied” The company commander is unfair NEGATIVELY FOCUSED

“T.S., Mac” He tries to get a pass. DISPARAGING & FUNNY

“Payday” A disappointing day on leave. NEGATIVELY FOCUSED & FUNNY

“POWs” The enemy has a human face. FUNNY

“A Place of Rest and Comfort” He unknowingly sleeps on a dead GI’s coffin NEGATIVELY FOCUSED & FUNNY

“Separation Center” He’s getting out! FUNNY

PART 5 MUSTERED OUT AT LAST!

“Thank God I Ain’t in the Army!” He remember his last guard duty. NEGATIVELY FOCUSED & FUNNY

Well, gang, I’m surprised: I find, according to my personal opinion poll, only a few more FUNNY (Positive) than NEGATIVELY FOCUSED:

NEGATIVELY FOCUSED/DISPARAGING 20

FUNNY 22

(but let’s add PATRIOTIC as a positive=23)

Of course these were my choices of stories, but I tried to be as objective regarding interest, quality, and variety as I could. Still, I’m a bit shocked, probably because no matter how negatively focus/disparaging Shep’s story-telling is, for me, there is always a tone that I would describe, as best as I can, as being humorous or having some such positive aspect. For example, as negative as “Shorn” is regarding the cutting off of each new soldiers’ hair as an act of hostility to the individual’s ego, I do find its presentation funny!

Gerald Yowell, a Shep enthusiast comments about whether Shep’s army stories are funny:

A Shepherd story that’s negatively focused? SAY IT AIN’T SO!

Actually, I can see a lot of people might find his army stories a little less than “uplifting” and “patriotic”. That’s OK. That’s the way they were meant to be.

I think Shep saw the world as a dangerous and scary place, and there were only two ways to deal with it….1. Become some sort of “phobic”, e.g. agoraphobic, xenophobic, homophobic or some other sort of “phobic”, which is the path I think most people follow, or 2. acknowledge the danger, look for the humor, and move forward anyway. The former will see the negativity in his army stories.

I could be totally wrong, but that’s the way I see it (at least tonight). BTW, I found pretty much all the stories funny, a couple not so funny, but made me think, which is nearly as good as being funny.

Recently encountered in a NY Times book review:

“Humor is a delicate, personal thing. Either an author’s sensibility appeals to you, or it doesn’t. Some people undoubtedly find Faulkner funny, or those Geico car-insurance ads.”

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JEAN SHEPHERD-Army stories funny or not? Part 1 of 2 & (9) ARTSY–Picasso

Is my book SHEP’S ARMY—BUMMERS, BLISTERS, AND BOONDOGGLES mostly funny or something else? Some people have commented that there are many negatively-focused stories. To me, despite some downers, they’ve seemed funny. I decided to do a self-survey of the stories and grade them myself, in order of their sequence in the book, giving each a very short description. Remember that no matter how negative a story is, Shep’s approach, in telling, usually has a feeling one might call witty or funny or humorous–maybe entertaining in a humorous way.

SHEP'S.ARMY.Cover_Final

PART 1: YOU’RE IN THE ARMY NOW

“Induction” Disappointment—he expects a patriotic ceremony NEGATIVELY FOCUSED

“Shorn”  Outrage at being shorn of his “ducktail”– ego  NEGATIVELY FOCUSED YET IRONICALLY FUNNY

“D is for Druid”  He fakes-out the authorities regarding his religion FUNNY

“Being Orientated”  Disparaging, with Broken Illusions NEGATIVELY FOCUSED

“Army Phraseology”  He encounters soldiers’ wild vocabulary FUNNY

PART 2 ARMY HOSPITALITY

“Shermy the Wormy” He and his fellows are very cruel NEGATIVELY FOCUSED

“GI Glasses”  He can’t see out of army glasses. Authorities are incompetent NEGATIVELY FOCUSED & FUNNY

“Lieutenant George L. Cherry Takes Charge” Disparaging authority NEGATIVELY FOCUSED & FUNNY

“Pole Climbing” Sad/frightening description of pole-climbing danger NEGATIVELY FOCUSED

“Service Club Virtuoso” A “folk” piano player NEGATIVELY FOCUSED & FUNNY

“Fourth of July in the Army”   He describes an army parade PATRIOTIFUNNY

“USO and a Family Invitation” He’s given a sexual treat  FUNNY

“Shipping Out” He leaves “Camp Swampy” for a tropical hell NEGATIVELY FOCUSED

PART 3 WARTIME IN FLORIDA IS HELL

“MOS: Radar Technician” He realizes that pole climbing is death-defying NEGATIVELY FOCUSED

“Radar at 15,000 Volts” Shep and fellow soldiers are afraid of radar equipment until someone plays a practical joke. FUNNY

“Swamp Radar” Military incompetence results in enormous loss of lives.  NEGATIVELY FOCUSED

“Night Maneuvers” Goofing off during night training DISPARAGING & FUNNY

“Lister Bag Attack” Soldier in need of anger management stabs water bag. SAD FUNNY

“Boredom Erupts” A fight over the meaning of “time” FUNNY

“Code School” Military incompetence results in code school students playing joke. DISPARAGING & FUNNY

“T/5” DESCRIPTIVE of his rank FUNNY

Stay tuned for part 2

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artsyfratsy 10010(9) Picasso
ARTSY introPicasso

I am a fanatical enthusiast of Picasso’s work (No, I don’t like it all, and, give me a particular example to defend, I may fail miserably).

After the first 8 of my ARTSY FARTSY  essays, I got my first comment about them. Joe Fodor, in the facebook group, “I am a fan of Jean Shepherd,” said he appreciated my invention of the Guernica Coloring Kit. This stimulated me to add additional comments regarding a  coupla Artsy encounters with  “Picasso.” (Everybody must have encountered Picasso in one manner or another, but a couple of my connections are surely rare.)

Years ago, attending an exhibit of ceramics in a Spanish museum (I think it was in Madrid or Barcelona), I encountered a small plate propped upright in a glass case with a caption indicating that the drawing on it was by Picasso, titled “Abstraction.” As he virtually never did anything totally “abstract,” I studied it a bit–and realized that it must have seemed abstract to whoever described and installed the piece, because it was mounted upside down.

Visualizing it the other way around, I saw that it was a sketchy image of a man on a horse (Don Quixote?). I wrote a short note to that effect and slid it between the front panes of glass, in front of the piece, and went on my way. I trust that some museum person would eventually see my note and correct the error.

Some years later, attending the large, 1980 Picasso retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, I encountered an etching of his with the wall label titled “image of the artist holding mask in center.” A quick glance told me that it was not a mask he held but a bellows camera. That night I wrote a note to the Museum and posted it regarding their error. The next time I visited the exhibit (I went five times), they’d corrected the wall label. (The catalog, published before the exhibition opened, retains the error.) I felt delighted that I had improved the content of this major Picasso exposition–if not the immemorial catalog.

ARTSY Picasso etching 20006

Illustration in my copy of the catalog

(Part of my Picasso collection.)

ARTSY icecream Picasso

A Baskin-Robbins

flavor of the month
ARTSY ARROWS0010

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JEAN SHEPHERD–His Now and Future U.S. of America Part 2 of 2

Part 1 has the most variety of subjects for additional

Jean Shepherd’s America subjects.

_JS_America_logo

 

usa flag of jsa

Remember that I feel there should be at least a couple of hundred programs

to make complete his

TELEVISION DOCUMENTARY MASTERPIECE

±

SUSTENANCE

 Food    Beer

Ice Cream Parlor    Drive-through    Diners

hot dogs & hamburgers    elegant dinners (escargot, lobster, filet minion)

ethnic foodAfro-American Spain.Germ.Ital.Chinese.Mex.Hisp,Jap, etc.

take-out and eat-in eating Italian, Chinese, etc.

restaurants–varied decor

Jewish delis, pastrami vs. corned beef, Cel-ray soda, Shep’s whitefish sandwich

breakfasts around the U.S. and in restaurants

Drinks–coffee weak/strong, wine, milk, mixed drinks, hard liquor, specialty (Kahlua, etc.)

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Let’s think about a few of these, and in what way Shep could do his bit with them:

Ice Cream Parlors  Beyond the usual neighborhood ones country-wide, there are some special ones that should be visited. For most of my life, Jahn’s in Richmond Hill, Queens was “world famous” in Queens. It closed in 2008!

jahns_menu

Hardware Stores  There are still neighborhood ones that sell hammers and screw drivers and light bulbs, but some of the new ones, like Home Depot sell everything in enormous quantities–they are warehouses. This year we bought our Christmas tree at Ace Hardware.

Drug Stores These sold only pharmaceutical stuff. When I was a kid, the local one also had a soda fountain and a small comics rack where I first discovered Mad Comics, etc. Now they sell lawn furniture and whatever.

Think of the delightful discussions one could have.

For example regarding the best coffee, between the typical weak stuff

in most American restaurants to the stuff now in Starbucks.

Nowadays, even Dunkin’ Donuts has good cappuccino comparable to Starbucks.

And Seattle has become famous for its focus on coffee.

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Oh, I wish Shep could have made 300 more episodes!

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JEAN SHEPHERD, I’ve got you covered–Part 2 of 2, & ARTSY FARTSY (8) Guernica

A continuation of my showing the various cover ideas I’ve had for my book manuscripts (mostly unpublished).

kid book cover

(colors way off)

Photo of kids courtesy of

Steve Glazer and Bill Ek.

Transcriptions from Shep’s radio broadcasts of some of his kid stories. A grouping of never-before-in-print Shep kid stories from kindergarten through high school and the beginnings of college, similar in organisation to my SHEP’S ARMY book. Dare I say–short stories  grouped into a chronology of growing up: could sorta be called Shepherd’s “kid novel.” [Try to ignore color distortion here, folks. Imagine light gray background with red type and photo frame. Also, try to ignore the elephant in the room.]

I believe that all of these works would be worthy additions to the

Shep library of related books.

The two miscellany books and the travel book

are now being cannibalized/folded

into what would become the selected,  single SHEPQUEST book–

unless some publisher would like to publish one or

more as stand-alone books.

The kid stories book, and the army stories book are both fiction and I think of each as akin to a novel of maturation–a bildungsroman. The travel book I refer to as consisting of “narratives,” and I’m sure the material is virtually all true. (Except, I don’t really believe that Fatima, the slave girl he claimed to have acquired in an Arab marketplace, he actually had shipped to his New York apartment. Leigh Brown would not have tolerated that.)

It has also occurred to me that the army stories, the kid stories,

and the travel narratives, all consisting of my edited transcripts,

with my introductions, would make a great trilogy

of Shepherd’s broadcasts.

Below is an idea of mine for what they

would look like together as a boxed set.

shep trilogy box cover

Designed before the army and the kid books had cover ideas.

[Viewers are welcome to make comments on all of the above.

Publishers are welcome to make offers.

Dream on, little Genie!]

– eb –

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artsyfratsy 10010

(8) “Guernica” Colorization

Way back in the late 1980s, one evening I went to one of my favorite film theaters, the Quad Cinema on West 13th Street, Manhattan. In the lobby sat OBJETS VEND’ART BY VENDONA— an old ice cream vending machine vending artwork for $1.25. WOW! Art for a buck-and-a-quarter—what a fascinating idea. I inserted quarters until I had in my hand, several witty “artworks.”

vendona machine

I contacted the originator/proprietor, Ona Lindquist, and she invited me to her studio. One lunch hour a coworker and I visited and enjoyed meeting her and discussing Vendart. She invited me to submit an idea, which I did. She accepted it and I, with Allison’s help, made it up in the required 100 units:

THE GUERNICA COLORIZATION KIT

My idea combined my fascination with Picasso and his large, shades-of-gray masterpiece, “Guernica,” with what I considered the then-recent art-distorting commercial, money-grubbing technique of “colorizing” black and white films. Can you image a colorized version of Citizen Kane or The Birth of a Nation?

An idea filled with irony. Why not imagine “Guernica” in a colored version? For me, part of the nature of the mural done in monochrome is that, over the centuries, paintings of war/violence in all its horrific guises, have been done in horrific-iterations—so much so that we have, in part, become inured to the riot of colors—the whole horror has become a cliché. Why not eliminate that cliché and make people really pay attention—do it in shades of gray? In addition, textured parts of the painting imitate the all-pervasive popular communication medium of its day, the daily newspaper and its black-and-white photos. So, Picasso made a horrible act of war in black and white.

So then, let’s mock the idea of colorization by trivializing the color–creating my kit? (At that time, I was not aware of any previous thoughts of colorizing “Guernica.”)

vendona guernica kit

Guernica line

My kit consists of a descriptive sheet, two black-line drawings of Guernica (from Picasso’s first full-size drawing on the canvas), a copy of an analysis by Rudolf Arnheim on Picasso’s use of black and white, three quality colored crayons, and, to hold them safely together, a plastic curtain-rod cover cut to 6″ enclosing the lot, all rubber-banded into a protective sandwich baggie.

Every kit contains different Crayola colors. (By the way, don’t ever buy cheap crayons—they do not have enough pigment to deliver acceptable color-to-paper.) I gave the hundred kits to Ona. They all sold.

ADDENDUM

The Vendona art-selling operation no longer exists except in the informative website about it that Ona Lindquist posted: http://objetsvendart.com

vendona.artis of month

I recently searched and found several colorized versions of “Guernica,” including a couple colored on a French primary school’s site teaching children about “Guernica.” guernica in color

By the way, over the years I’ve come to think that, maybe the only movie ever made that I might be happy to have colorized, as it’s a sweet, kiddy, Christmas story, is Miracle on 34th Street. (Yes, I know it’s been colorized, and indeed—oh, the double horror!–subsequently remade in color.)

ARTSY ARROWS0010

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JEAN SHEPHERD–His Now and Future U.S. of America Part 1 of 2

“…ONE MAN’S VERSION OF HEAVEN IS A SUPER HOWARD JOHNSONS

WITH 28 FLAVORS AND NO LINES FOR THE REST ROOMS. MINE IS A FAST-MOVING STREAM.”

_JS_America_logo

A fast-moving stream in Maine. His version of heaven. One of Jean’s childhood joys was fishing for crappies in northern Indiana. And fishing for crappies is just another name for snagging hooks on beer cans and old submerged tires. The “dream” was to fish from the banks of the Kennebec River. And that’s what he finally gets to do. That’s not all you’ll hear about, because Shepherd doesn’t just follow the camera around, explaining what’s being seen. And he is definitely not into show-and-tell. When you see an unbroken stand of Maine forest, he’s telling some great fishing story. And it’s beautiful. Shepherd himself puts it this way, “If a guy sees a glass of beer on the screen, he knows what it is and I don’t have to tell him. My series isn’t a documentary. It’s going to be hallucinogenic.”

usa flag of jsa

I’ve commented before that Shep’s two series of Jean Shepherd‘s America

are the flawed beginnings of what had been a potential Great American Television Documentary.

What more should be added to the subjects of this series? Here’s a few I’ve thought of to help fill the near-infinity of possibilities in our culture.

(Existing programs 4/11/1971   Existing programs 4/1985   Future subjects)

SUSTENANCE

 Food    Beer

Ice Cream Parlor    Drive-through    Diners

hot dogs & hamburgers    elegant dinners (escargot, lobster, filet minion)

ethnic foodAfro-American Spain.Germ.Ital.Chinese.Mex.Hisp,Jap, etc.

take-out and eat-in eating Italian, Chinese, etc.

restaurants–varied decor

Jewish delis, pastrami vs. corned beef, Cel-ray soda, Shep’s whitefish sandwich

breakfasts around the U.S. and in restaurants

Drinks–coffee weak/strong, wine, milk, mixed drinks, hard liquor, specialty (Kahlua, etc.)

±

HOLIDAY CUSTOMS

Santa Claus and Easter Bunny in varied stores, malls

±

SPECIAL STORES OLD FASHIONED VS MODERN

Hardware, drug stores (from only medicine, then ice cream fountains, to lawn furniture)

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PLACES

Alaska    Florida    Hawaii    Wyoming

Okefenokee Swamp    South    Death Valley    New Orleans    Chicago

New York    San Francisco    Las Vegas    Dallas    Wash.D.C.    Hawaii    Boston

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ACTIVITIES

 Trains    Driving    Flying     28 Flavors (This is about fishing)

Vacations    Cruise Ship    Cars

Surfing    Skating    Factory work     Hiking    Tourist-vacations    Cooking

Fastfood-work    Exercise(with/without machines)    Kite-flying    Frisbee throwing

Camping    Dog shows    Horse & harness racing    Greyhound racing    Sailboat racing

State fair-going    Street fair going    Off–road riding    Square dancing

Concert-going: classic, jazz, rock     Buying a house    Automated factories

Two-wheeler biking the countryside   Motor biking

±

WAYS OF LIVING

Filthy Rich     Houseboat     Mobile Home           Guam

Artists of any/all kinds     Retirement home living   Poverty

±

More to come–plus suggestions and new thoughts

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JEAN SHEPHERD, I’ve got you covered–Part 1 of 2

THE ONCE AND FUTURE SHEPBOOKS

As my educational and professional background has been in the commercial, visual arts (graphics and museum exhibit design), I enjoy trying my hand at book covers of manuscripts I’ve written.

When I submitted my first Shepherd book, I included, in a fully rendered, in-color layout, my suggestion for the front cover.  The published cover is precisely what I created except that the iconic photo of Shep got cropped in the upper left-hand corner more than I’d designed and presented it. (The person in charge cropped a bit off Shepherd’s upraised hand, probably to make the image larger and thus a bit more impressive.)  Other than that, colors, type style, layout, use of photo–everything about the cover is as I designed it.  But I got no credit for it in the published book–or anywhere else:

excelsior

(Published cover with cropped hand at upper left)

I’ve tried a variety of designs for other book manuscripts of mine. It’s lots of creative fun. What the heck, one or more may yet, with some improvements of my preliminaries designs made by a publisher’s cover designer, find itself out there on innumerable bookstore shelves from coast to coast!

REMEMBER THAT THESE BELOW ARE OF MANUSCRIPTS

THAT DON’T YET HAVE PUBLISHING CONTRACTS

[As usual, click on images for larger views. Where shown, narrow vertical area to left is spine.]

Mostly, these cover ideas were designed and printed on my now defunct special printer

before my SHEP’S ARMY book arrived on the scene

kykl COVER textKYKL cover by eb0002

Compilation of unpublished observations and essays of mine written subsequent to the material in EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD! It includes Lois Nettleton notes to me and an interview on Shep she gave  soon after he died; Leigh Brown’s letters to her best friend on her scheme to kidnap Jean from Lois; and lots more stuff–on Shel Silverstein, Hugh Hefner, “Cowboy X,” and so on.

MISC cover

Contains additional original essays by me on Shep. Photo by Don Knowlton, drawing of the guy shown with the excelsior banner is from Shel Silverstein’s drawings on Shep’s LP album, “Jean Shepherd and Other Foibles.” The above two books, publisherless, I have been cannibalizing for posts on this blog (which also includes much new material I create as I go along).

q.JS questing book cover

This loose leaf book I put together, composed of dozens of photos of Shep at all stages of his career. This was inspired by my comments in the final chapter of my EYF!, page 415-416 titled “The Many Faces of Jean Shepherd: A Metaphor?” I comment therein:

Complementing the many-sided and often self-contradictory aspects of Shepherd’s stories, biography, and persona were the many faces he presented to the world over the years. Examining photos may yield some clues to the real Jean Shepherd….

We do not know why he changed his look so frequently and so markedly over the years. He appeared to be at least a dozen different people. Was he responding to the style of the times (for his own pleasure or to better appeal to his audience); was he trying on visual aspects of his artistic persona to discover which outward manifestation might best fit the variety and complexity of the creative forces he felt within himself, was he trying to conceal himself from others–or was he himself seeking a real Jean Shepherd?

blogbook cover 1

This is an idea I have of publishing a selection of my blog posts that would be made up of material from the above two miscellanies and the new material I’m writing these days. [BTW, For technical reasons beyond my understanding and control, some colors, shown on these cover images, got god-awful-changed in the computer-process. The one immediately above is a major example. In it, visualize a solid black background and bright red type,]

travel 2travel 1

A book manuscript of edited broadcast transcripts  of Shepherd’s travel narratives, organized and introduced by me, encompassing his love of traveling around the world. Including, among other areas: Maine, the “March on Washington,” travels with The Beatles (“John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Shep”), Australia, Africa, Ireland, Paris, Peru’s headhunter country in the Amazon, and his whirlwind trip around the world in seven days. Followers of this blog can read the entire manuscript in many parts.

Stay tuned for Part 2

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