Shephard Varies Topics in Library Speech
Friday - November 10, 1972
Last Update: 08-25-2014
Jean Shephard, radio and T.V. personality and American humorist, spoke of education, turnpikes, New Jersey and concrete Mexicans to a capacity crowd in the Library Auditorium last night.
What Kind of Man reads Playboy
Shephard is the creator of "Ossie Schlogger," the "kind of man who reads Playboy." Schlogger's girlfriend, Esther, reads Cosmopolitan. Both of these people, he says, live in Griffith, Indiana and have subscribed for twelve years and "it still hasn't happened yet." They think that the real Playboy and Cosmopolitan readers are "tall and thin" and are "off making salads in Denmark."
"Night after night," Shephard said, "we compare our lives with movies, magazines, and television, created by people who dream but haven't made it yet either. Helen Gurley Brown has asthma."
"There are two kinds of people in the world," he said, "the audience and the star."
Shephard asked his audience, mainly students from his home broadcasting area of New York and New Jersey, for the difference between them and "Walter Cronkite." the difference was, he said, "because of the moment when you see yourself for what you really are. One type sees himself and hides in the bushes . . . The other, when the cold light of truth hits him, he puts on his shades." He pointed out further that "The total phony can get applauded."
"The most important thing about education is how not to get called on," he said. His method was to "avoid questions by keeping a line of kids directly between him and the teacher." The method of his grade school friend, Schwartz, was to "sink down in the seat until only his eyes showed."
"Zynsmeister," another school friend," was a Catholic. You should have heard him rattle those beads."
A Concrete Mexican
With enthusiastic applause throughout his speech, he recounted his experiences with a statue in the front lawn of "Charlie and Mabel" in Hackensack, New Jersey. He saw the "concrete Mexican" sitting in the yaird and realized that it was uniquely American.
"It's only in our country that we put concrete people in our yards ... In Mexico, you don't see a concrete Jerseyite with a concrete can of Platt's beer next to a concrete Ford Galaxie."
"For Charlie and Mabel deciding to buy the Mexican is an artistic decision." Noting that concrete Mexicans will probably tell more about contemporary America than current art, he said, "you don't buy a concrete Mexican casually."
They ain't cheap."
These statues along with a set of "three-quarter life size Seven Dwarfs" can be bought at any Great Eastern Store in New Jersey. "Dopey squirts fertilizer from his ear."
"Americans are what we are because of the turnpike," he said. "Turnpikes cover the whole land and give people a chance to feel speed and use their fancy cars with all the accessories."
He noted that often while driving one notices that there is "one necessity they don't put in . . . and you need it." A little voice tells you that you should have gone in Harrisburg."
He recalled "the moment of sheer poetry, the brief fleeting moment of true ecstasy" when you finally reach the Howard Johnson's rest room. "This may be in bad taste, but so is life."
Speaking of that restaurant chains place in American tradition, he asked, "how can you explain Howard Johnson's to Bresznev or Mao-tse-tsung. Means more to Americans than food.
It means going. It means being free. I am not an atheist. I believe there is a Howard Johnson's."
At one point in the lecture, Shephard said "I don't make the news, I only report it."
(NOTE: misspelling of Shep's name was in article) ||
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