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Last Update: 12-05-2015
Clinton NJ

July 27, 1986

8:00 pm - Clinton Museum Village Grounds - Originally scheduled for July 26th ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [from Steve Glazer] Echoes-Sentinel (Warren Township, NJ), July 24, 1986: Satirist Jean Shepherd to appear in Clinton Satirist Jean Shepherd will appear at the Clinton Historical Museum Village as part of its the Concerts in the Park series at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 26. Shepherd is a world-renowned wit, philosopher, radio personality, writer, and satirist. His series on public television, "Shepherd's America," won great critical acclaim. He has also written a "Movie of the Week" on network television in addition to a well-received movie, "A Christmas Story," and his numerous personal engagements throughout the country and the world. Shepherd returns yearly to the Clinton Museum Village to share his sometimes outrageous insights on America and other related topics to an enthusiastic audience. The concert will take place on the museum grounds. Bring folding chairs and blankets. In the event of rain the event will be held at the same time and location on the following evening. Sunday. July 27. Admission prices are $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, and $5 for children, ages 6 to 12. Due to the mature subject matter of the performance, parental discretion is advised. The Clinton Historical Museum Village is located off Route 78 at exit 15 in Clinton. Gates will open at 5 p.m. Echoes-Sentinel (Warren Township) of August 7, 1986 Jean Shepherd, rained out, gives monologue anyway By PATRICK MATHIAS Writer Jean Shepherd, the prolific novelist, film-maker and satirist, made his ninth consecutive sold-out appearance in Clinton before a happy throng of fans at the Clinton Historical Museum on Sunday, July 27. "Clinton is a curious setting for me," Shepherd said during a 90-minute press conference on Saturday. July 26. "I play a lot of colleges but I like the Clinton shows. It's almost like a camp meeting, everybody bringing their chairs and blankets and settling down under the stars." Shepherd has just concluded two motion picture deals and is working on a novel and a play, in addition to his public appearances. His television films, "The Fourth of July And Other Disasters" and "The Star Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski," are being shown on the Disney cable channel. "A Christmas Story," Shepherd's 1984 film, is one of the top selling videotapes in this country and is enjoying a great success throughout the world. The film's subplot concerns the efforts of a young boy to convince his parents to get him a BB gun for Christmas. "Man is the only animal that has created weapons to protect himself in a hostile environment full of things bigger than he is," Shepherd said. "War is part of man's make-up. Banning guns is like trying to convince a lion to become a vegetarian." Describing the film as a fable, Shepherd rejected the notion that he deals in nostalgia. "At my direction. Everything in that film the clothes, the toys -- was purchased out of the current Sears catalog. We used cars from a 1940 Olds to a '65 Pontiac. We created a generic past. "We have a time fetish in this country like the Chinese had a foot fetish," he added. "You could listen to Radio Francais for two years without hearing the time. The French assume that everybody has a watch. "Nostalgia is a sickness, the belief that things used to be better. What people mean is that they think that they used to be better, like a 90-year old guy remembering when his knee worked. All you've got is today and if you're not dealing with today, you're finished." Warming to the topic, Shepherd bore down on the popular press. "Serious publications are committed to the past," he said. "The writers all have ideas that were formed in the sixties: the President is always a fraud or Reagan is a Teflon man. The sixties people were intolerant of everybody but themselves. The press thinks that everything is fake, except the press. Twenty years have passed and these ideas no longer pertain to the nation today. Nobody remembers Mark Rudd or the SDS. Society moves on. " "The last Democratic convention was sad." Shepherd continued. "They wished that Nixon was still around. Mondale, basically a nice guy, was running against the Vietnam war and shouting against hunger when we were in a period of great prosperity. The Democrats are going to have to forget FDR and the depression." Shepherd also deplored the tendency to typecast artists into fixed roles. "My first novel ("In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash") has never gone out of print and is just into its thirtieth edition," Shepherd said. "It's never been on the New York Times bestseller list. "Wheels" by Arthur Hailey was topping the list when he was selling just half the copies I was. The critics can't take it seriously because it was written by "that radio guy." It's like Joan Rivers releasing a cook book or John Updike having a radio show." Shepherd's work has appeared in 25 major publications, including "Harpers," "Atlantic Monthly" and "Madamoiselle." He was an early contributor to "The Village Voice" and "The Realist," and has appeared most frequently in "Playboy." "In the fifties and sixties, Playboy was publishing the best, the most experimental fiction in America," he said. "They had Nabokov, Camus, Kerouac. They were the only publication devoting a lot of space to good fiction. People forget that all of Fitzgerald was published first in the "Saturday Evening Post" or that Hemingway wrote lots of great stuff for "Field and Stream." Can you imagine ""People" or "National Enquirer" printing good fiction?" "Large numbers of people don't go out to the movies anymore." he said. "TV fans don't listen to the radio, and, unfortunately, large groups don't read anything." "Broadway used to have serious plays, but today its audience is made up of guys on expense accounts and ladies clubs from Connecticut The movies are all love stories about Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, stories about people who live in California. When I do a film about the way most people actually live and look, the press brands it as nostalgia." Shepherd quickly debunked any notion that his fiction is based on his own life. "My Dad was a cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune, a very city-oriented guy," Shepherd said. "He never would have worn a baseball cap like the Old Man in my work. I never saw him drink a beer he was sophisticated, kind of remote, liked good wine. He left my mother when I was in high school. My mother was 19 when I was born, a very bright lady. My brother is a big, good-looking guy, very successful. He is named Randy, like the kid brother in my stories, but I just like the name so I used it." "Humor is a difficult art form," Shepherd said. "I write about American ritual, not fashion. Things like Christmas shopping. Thanksgiving, fireworks on the Fourth, the prom: these are American rituals, unique to our culture. I wrote my story about the prom after observing one in Clifton, N.J. The parade in 'Fourth of July' was filmed in Brookline, Mass. Outside of the New York area, people buy fireworks for the Fourth." "Proms are timeless, the same rituals are being observed today as when you or I were kids: renting a tux, a blind date. Tonight, as we speak, some guy in Colorado is going to strike out on a blind date." "Mark Twain is still read because he dealt with the timeless, not passing things." Shepherd continued. "He never wrote about the Civil War because he knew that in 20 years that war would be as remote to people as the Punic Wars are." "What motivates me is what is human. Some of my biggest fans today are high school kids who don't remember me being on the radio. They like my stuff because it's about what they are going through now as they go from being kids to being adults." Shepherd happily noted some of the details of his latest projects. Matt Dillon, who appeared as Ralph in "The Fourth of July and Other Disasters," will be continuing in the role in a new film to be released next year. It will follow his experiences after graduating, when he is drafted during the Korean War. "The film opens with an outdoor graduation ceremony. Of course, it rains when Ralph gets his diploma, and the sun comes out when the other guys get theirs. It will follow his experiences in basic training. Like most of my work, it will be funny and serious. Behind the laughs is the fact that some of these guys are not going to be coming home." Shepherd will be expanding on that theme in his novel in progress and will be mounting a theatrical version of "'Wanda Hickey" next fall. The press conference was held at the Clinton Holiday Inn. As we met Jean, a wedding reception was beginning in a nearby room and Shepherd jokingly suggested that we all head in for some free champagne. It was clear that he was enjoying the scene, another classic American ritual being played out, more grist for the Shepherd mill.
Photos:


July 23,1986
Town Topics

Courtesy: Steve Glazer


July 24,1986
Bernardsville News

Courtesy: Steve Glazer


July 24,1986
Echoes Sentinel

Courtesy: Steve Glazer


August 07,1986
Bernardsville News

Courtesy: Steve Glazer