In 2005, I wrote an essay/comic/art book called SPACE AGE ASH TRAY and it was about the ‘Space Age’ era of the 50’s to the 70’s and how much I missed the party, i. e.: growing up only to watch all of that fade away.
Soon after the dust settled and the book was published, I realized I forgot a major piece of the Space Age puzzle: 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair! Even though the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair aped the Space Age tag quite well, the New York Fair permanently claimed the mantle, thanks to its size, ambition and press (both good & bad).
At first, I was disappointed with myself for not discussing it beyond the brief passing to this fair in the introduction piece. However, as this was more of a personal journal than historical document and, at the time, I didn’t have much NYWF information, all that worrying ended up as moot.
Still, it dogged me for awhile and soon I began to do my own research behind the fair and though about turning it into make a sequel of sorts.
…that was until I bumped into a series of recordings made by radio legend Jean Shepherd. During the time of the NYWF, Shepherd was doing his nightly monologue radio broadcasts from WOR in NYC and, much like everything else of life that usually passes before his mike, he talked quite a lot about the Fair.
These recordings was an eye opener. Shepherd took the Fair in a broad sense of the human condition and, when it opened, had some observational fun with and on the fair. He took all sides of the fair, good bad pro and con and honestly enjoyed himself. “(This is) probably the greatest most vulgar, gauche, wildly naive, in many ways, most uninhibited pop art work that’s ever been created!” he would happily boast when he took his portable mike to the fair.
These recording were an eye-opener as Jean’s personal reflection and humorous take pretty much was similar way I took on the rest of the Space Age. Hell, I would have been as giddy he was, only that he did a much better job conveying this “peculiar joy” than I ever could, thus I dropped this “sequel” jazz for good.
What you hear is Jean talking about the fair before it opened and, as you’ll see, Jean sizes up this and other World’s Fair in the scheme of human nature, Shepherd-style.
All copyright acknowledged. Another set of acknowledgments goes to Mr. Raymond Dasher who compiled a ton of his NYWF recordings in an aluminum disc
My Space Age book: (Updated and Improved version coming in late 2010!) 1964 NYWF: http://www.nywf64.com/ Raymond Dasher’s collection: http://nywf64.com/raydo01.html