Saturday, March 18, 2006

Welcome to "The Brass Figlagee," a blog devoted to the memory and life's work of Jean Shepherd.

This is the main 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 likable. Shep had an uncanny mastery of the narrative form: enticing the listener with his nightly premise, careening down one tangent to the next, eliciting knowing laughs along the way, and often leaving one with a warm sense of the fondness the artist felt for his past. And somehow, more 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.

The free podcast is all set up, is available via the iTunes Music Store, as well as other web services, all listed in the sidebar. Any computer user with an MP3 player (software on your computer, or via an attached portable MP3 player) should be able to listen to this podcast. New episodes should appear nightly. Due to the nature of the public-domain recordings available on the internet (the source of these files), 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.

There are many excellent web sites dedicated to revisiting his genius, which are listed in the sidebar. 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.

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!)

Friday, March 10, 2006

We are now live in the iTunes Music Store!

That's right, subscribing is now a 2-click process. This link will take you to the iTunes Music Store, and with one more click on the "Subscribe" button, you are now subscribed to The Brass Figlagee.

As of now, the link at right will point to the iTMS, and no longer involve manually entering the RSS link in iTunes.

The artwork has not appeared in iTMS yet, but it should soon.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

We have a new, legal graphic!

Yes, gang, the wheels are turning. I received Mr. McDarrah's imprimatur in the mail today, so I can finally use his definitive photo of ol' Shep. I immediately submitted the podcast to the iTunes Music Store for their review. I expect that in a few days to a week, The Brass Figlagee will be searchable and subscribe-able in iTunes without mucking around in the Advanced menu. When it is, I'll update the "Subscribe" link at right, and life will return to its former approximation of splendor. Who knows, with this cool artwork and almost 50 shows in the can, perhaps the good folks at Apple will feature this podcast, and a new generation of seekers will be introduced to the modulated madness that is Jean Shepherd.

To listeners who have already manually subscribed via iTunes, or found alternate methods of accessing the content: you need do nothing when the "Subscribe" link switches over. Whatever works for you now will continue to work.

There has been talk in the ShepTalk Forums that the Shep Archives have been down for a little while now, so welcomes all around to those new subscribers. Let's hope that the Archives, which have done so much to spread the Word Of Shep for so many years, is back in the pink very soon.