(Sort of) Talking Baseball With Jean Shepherd

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New York City has changed so much, and is now changing so much, and is so fully and completely its own weird self that it can be difficult to imagine it as something other than what it is at this very moment. Many cities are like this, to a certain extent, and life itself is like this to an even greater extent. So it's especially bracing, if also inevitably jarring in a good way, to hear something that seems to have been broadcast from a familiar place at another time. This applies to the Stooges and, like, PM Dawn, but I'm talking about Jean Shepherd, in this case.

Shepherd's old show on New York City's WWOR has that feel and that effect, and while I'm not a scholar of Shepherd's work by any means—I mean, I saw A Christmas Story, but beyond that—I've always enjoyed the bits and pieces of his stuff that I've heard because of how simultaneously recognizable and otherworldly the pacing and perspective and production are. "His show was somewhere in the Venn intersection of storytelling, philosophical discussion, social commentary, satire, and self-indulgent goofiness," friend of The Classical (and Classical contributor) Matthew Callan writes in a nice mini-essay on Shepherd at Amazin' Avenue. "He would slowly wind his way through a few news items or things he saw on the streets of New York, eventually find himself weaving a tale of his youth, and somehow tie it all together just as time ran out... There's never been anything like his show, before or since."

Callan was writing in order to set up a clip of Shepherd talking about the changing culture as reflected in fan-made signs at Mets games. It's a fun, fascinating listen, even if you're not a Mets fan. It isn't necessarily what 1972 sounded like, in New York or anywhere, but it's enough of a broadcast from elsewhere that it's transporting all the same.

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Comments

Shep grew up in White Sox territory. He once did a great show on van lingle mungo and Dario Lodigiani. There are shep archive sites on the google. Shepherd rules.

This is excellent. Really enjoying the "specific signs" recollections. A pal of mine used to talk very, very happily about a time he was at HP Pavillion, watching Sharks/Blues, and seeing some Sharks fan with a "Tfuck Tkachuk" sign.