(Jean Shepherd - Occupation: Cheerful Chaos Merchant)
Living on the West Coast, I didn't have the opportunity of experiencing Jean Shepherd as so many in New York did. I got it by way of rumor, his album on Elektra and his syndicated radio show that periodically ran on KPFK. I heard he was good friends with a lot of the Beat Generation poets, and growing up with a well-thumbed copy of "A Coney Island Of The Mind" in my high school notebook, anyone who was anywhere near that scene had to be a hero of mine.
Years later, I ran across a collection of tapes which featured his live shows and a bunch of his studio shows from the early 60's, which this is one.
Shepherd is pretty much known today as the guy who wrote "A Christmas Story". And even though it's achieved a kind of "classic Americana" status - it doesn't really explain who Shepherd was and why he was so loved by everyone who heard him. His was a skewed vision of the world, often darkly humorous and completely iconoclastic.
To a 16 year old mind, he was just what the doctor ordered.