Thursday, January 26, 2006

Update: The podcast is in the testing phase now, and things are coming along well. I'm adding episodes every day, testing out the web hosting, and trying to streamline the daily workflow (since it will take over three years to present all of Shep's currently-available recordings at a rate of one a day). You can listen in now if you wish, by following the instructions at right, under the orange "RSS" logo. I'm working on permission to use to a great copyrighted picture of Shep to go here and in the podcast. Eventually, I'll submit the podcast the the iTunes Music Store, and link directly there, making signup a two-click process.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Welcome to "The Brass Figlagee," a blog devoted to the memory and life's work of Jean Shepherd. This is the first entry in the blog, whose main purpose is to point to "The Brass Figlagee" podcast RSS feed, and address any administrative issues that may come up. So, this blog will be fairly low-traffic. I don't and couldn't pretend to know the contents of every show that will be available in the podcast, so Shep will speak for himself.

Shep (as both he and his fans called him) is very hard to tie down to one or two labels. He was one of the great media talents from the 50s to the 80s, very much like the Mark Twain of his time, and most nights he could be heard on the radio waxing eloquent, his gift for insight and articulation wrapped up in what seemed like comedic nostalgia, fascinating and inspiring generations. His stories work on so many levels. His characters are vivid, unforgettable, and oddly lovable. He was a true master of the narrative form: enticing the listener with his nightly premise, careening down one tangent to the next, eliciting belly laughs along the way, and often leaving one with a warm sense of the fondness the artist felt for his past. And somehow, as often than not, one might sense a deeper meaning, a hidden message in all the lighthearted romps. This podcast is an attempt to maintain, and hopefully spread, awareness of Jean Shepherd, his wonderful mind, and his amazing body of work.

There are many excellent web sites dedicated to revisiting his genius, such as Jean Shepherd - A Salute, Jean Shepherd Archive, The Jean Shepherd Project, Jean Shepherd Web Site and Jean Shepherd Site. They have all served as inspiration for the podcast.

A special recognition is is due to The Jean Shepherd Project, the members of which have collected and distributed all the tracks you will hear here. The Jean Shepherd Archive is also a fantastic site, which hosts the files from The Jean Shepherd Project, but poor Charles Hayden is paying to serve over 300G a month. I've exchanged emails with Charles, and he's been very encouraging about alternative ways to get Shep's shows back out to the listening public: fans who discovered him in adolescence like myself and perhaps even a new generation.

The podcast is not yet set up, though it should be ready soon. New podcast shows should appear 5-7 days a week. Due to the nature of the public-domain recordings available on the internet (the source of these recordings), audio quality and the completeness of the shows will vary. Still, this is all we have left of Shep's radio work at this time, so I hope you will enjoy them as much as many Shep fans have for years.

Shows will appear more-or-less chronologically, starting with his oldest available work and progressing to the newer. I will try to have season- or holiday-appropriate episodes included at the appropriate times of year. In the cases where there are a number of short recordings available on the same subject (for instance, Shep's old series of Alka-Seltzer ads) I will condense them into one podcast episode, so as to keep the Shepness coming.

I can be reached at s h e p f a n A-T m a c d o t you-know-what. (I hate spam!)