"MOSQUITOES AND MOON PIES"
In "Mosquitoes and Moon Pies ," the season premiere, Shepherd travels to Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp in search of his roots. He encounters the ghost of Tom Slade, Eagle Scout, among the mangroves, and pays homage to Walt Kelly and the Pogo gang. Floating on the murky waters of the Cambrian fen, Shepherd snares a pickerel "so big you don't dare look it in the eye" - all in a day's work for Swamp Man.
[ Courtesy: Pete Delaney - 09-18-2016 ]
Older, paunchier, happily married and looking a bit like a grizzled old-timer with his beard and moustache, 63 year old Jean Shepherd returned to examine his America in the second series by going back to roots. Way back.
The beautifully creepy opening shot sees the moon reflecting in the waters of Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp at 2AM. The stark light attached to the video camera illuminates a few feet ahead as it floats amid the reeds and weeds down a mysterious swamp canal. "The darkness is like velvet. And there are the sounds of things crawling in the night. Here's a place that makes your bladder feel real tight." says a familiar voice. "We are all swamp men deep down where the memories lie. And now here we are
watching the ancient swamp - our old home - on a TV screen. This just ain't 'Three's Company'."
Ol' Shep is seen floating about in a small craft hoping we will accept his premise that we are one with primeval man because "even Eden was a swamp."
He catches pickerel, salutes Walt Kelly's Pogo, and recalls how he and childhood chum Schwartz use to seine for crawdads in a polluted Indiana mud hole.
He also pays tribute to the hundreds of moonshiners who utilized the secrecy of the Okefenokee to make such brew as" Autumn Leaves" (take one sip, turn colors and fall!)
The show ends with Shepherd disappearing into the stygian darkness saying "I'll see you at the end of the evolutionary scale."
It was a great show to start the new series with although some critics had reservations.
"Some people use television to talk to other people. Shepherd uses television to talk to himself: The man does seem to be in love with his own voice. Vanity air. I was expecting better." -Steven Reddicliffe, Newark Star Ledger.
''Mr. Shepherd projects a vague menace. He's bullying us a bit. There's chutzpah here, too. Mr. Shepherd may be insisting that we listen, but that doesn't mean he always has something to say. Sometimes he sounds like an all- night DJ, working too hard at his job." - John Corry, New York Times
In the 1985 Press Kit Shep wrote a small piece
The Devil Has All the Best Lines
by Jean Shepherd
I'm not one for fantasies. In fact, I can't honestly say that l've ever consciously had one. As a kid, I never fantasized that I was Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle or Humphrey Bogart. Sure I admired them. But fantasizing that I was them? Never.
But there are things that we all secretly would like to have done-or have been had time and circumstances allowed. I wonder how it would have felt to have been a knight during the reign of Richard The Lion-Hearted, or a buHalo hnnter on the Great Plains in the days of Cochise.
I've always seen television, at least my television, as a kind of magic wand. You can go places and do things that nobody in his right mind could ever pull off. For example, who among us has never wanted to visit Death Valley? Now there's a romantic name. Death Valley Soottyl The 20-mule team! .All of that. Well, why not go? And not just as a visitor, but as a participant.
So, in my new public television series, I played the role of a grizzled prospector struggling across the salt flats under the blazing sun, my only companion my faithful burro Flower. Who wouldn't like to do that? And what red-blooded male hasn't
always secretly wanted to turn a few laos at Indianapolis - the Brickyard- the home of the legendary 500? Why not? So seated in a magnificent million-dollar Dusenberg, in another of my new shows dressed in the costume of an early Indy
race driver, I raced against the heroic "Duke" Nalon, a real race driver of the Indy's glory days. What a gas!
How 'bout playing the Dev.il, with cape and sinister Palm Beach hat, visiting night time New Orleans for a little recreation and a field trip to see how sin is progressing on earth? We did, and 1 can tell you l began to feel that I was typecast as Satan by the end of the shoot. I loved it. As George Bernard Shaw said, "The Devil has all the best lines."
Fantasies? No. Television is magic, and I love it.