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Airdate: 1971

Television Episode

Show Description
"...THE PERPETUAL SWISH OF. THE WIND-SHIELD WIPERS IS THE SOUNDTRACK FOR OUR LIVES" Why doesn't Jean Shepherd trust anyone who wears bow ties and doesn't drive a car? Why does he say that anyone with glands must love to drive? You'll find out when JEAN SHEPHERD'S AMERICA gets behind the wheel on PBS. Shepherd thinks he knows the ultimate dream of every American male - to sit in the driver's seat and drive to the ends of the earth. Right or wrong, moving along the turnpike is an unquestionable part of the American mystique. So Jean Shepherd drives along, relaxed, watching America go by the window, something all of us do when we feel the need fa get away. He has comments and stories about everything, especially the important parts of a driver's self-enclosed world. "The perpetual swish of the windshield wipers is the soundtrack for our lives. Think of the millions of dramas played out to that tune. And Jean Shepherd does, and tells about it lyrically. Today's steering wheel is what the wheel of a New Bedford canvas-sail was, back in 1810. To Americans, there's something adventurous about a wheel, whether it's on a sailing ship or a racing car. JEAN SHEPHERD'S AMERICA comes to no conclusions. It Just gives us' a chance to look at ourselves. And that's Shepherd's specialty.
Fan Description
[ Courtesy: Pete Delaney - - ] "White line fever A sickness born down deep within my soul White line fever The years keep flying by like the high line pole The wrinkles in my forehead show the miles I've put behind me They continue to remind me just how fast I'm growing old. Guess I'll die with this fever in my soul." The mournful singing of "White Line Fever" by Merle Haggard throughout this episode adds greatly to the unintentional sadness of this show. Here is Jean Shepherd at the wheel, seemingly happy, informing us how cars provide physical freedom: "I can just GO!", ''I'm not bound!", "We're moving people!" There are some undeniable funny bits such as Shep's descriptions of the many dramas that take place in a vehicle's front and back seat or how TV commercial families in cars bear no relation to reality. He also recalls sage words from his Dad: "Never trust a man who wears a bowtie and doesn't drive a car!" But here is also Jean, the arrogant know-it-all, subtly advocating the idea of dumping your wife and kids, getting in your car and driving to the ends of the earth. His closing statement is just plain silly and makes no sense: "There it is, the end of the road. There's nothing beyond this. Nothing. You know friend, I wonder how many people are on a road and they don't know they are on a road. They are at the end of it and they didn't know they were on it. Do you have a sneaky suspicion that you are on a road and you don't know what to do about it? I have a sneaking suspicion that you are on the same road I'm on- that long yellow-brick road that leads to the Emerald City. There is nothing beyond this." Huh?


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Links to Further Information:
• Season 1 Press Kit
Airdate History ' - Original' date is earliest known broadcast)
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