Tom and Ray Magliozzi, aka Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, hosted Car Talk on NPR -- an American institution for 37 years. In the last nearly two years, they cut back (retired), using their immense inventory of calls to keep us entertained.
Well, this week Tom, the older brother, died from complications due to Alzheimer's. Ray pulled himself together to put out a clip show today of the wit and wisdom of Tom Magliozzi. Probably 50% of the show was Tom's wonderfully melodic and infection laughter. They even included some singing of "Coney Island Baby".
ABC News photo of Tom and Ray in the studio.
Funny thing, I remember almost all the longer pieces. And the long running jokes. At one point, their mother was on the phone and Tom said something and the next thing you know, all three are laughing uncontrollably and we learn where that laugh came from.
Thing is, I know what it's like to have two people trying to read something where you are laughing so hard tears are practically streaming down your face and breathing becomes difficult. Once when we were in Medina, my Mother and I were`reading Winnie the Pooh aloud and got to the Hephalump story. "Hoff, hoff, a hellable horalump!" (hee-hee) We were unable to contiue for fifteen minutes. On Car Talk, such outbursts were a feature, not a bug.
Yet for all the humor, these two knuckleheads -- their words not mine -- were actually educated and erudite. And as MIT graduates, they had a healthy appreciation of higher education, along with amusing realism of how things really work, which meshed with a broad swath of the NPR demographic.
After Tom's death, the show's long time producer Doug (the "Subway Fugitive") Berman said that Tom, "...and his brother changed public broadcasting forever." “Before Car Talk, NPR was formal, polite, cautious….even stiff. By being entirely themselves, without pretense, Tom and Ray single-handedly changed that, and showed that real people are far more interesting than canned radio announcers." "Every interesting show that has come after them owes them a debt of gratitude." “The guys are culturally right up there with Mark Twain and the Marx Brothers,” Berman said. “They will stand the test of time. People will still be enjoying them years from now. They’re that good.” -- WikipediaThough not a part of the clip show, they received calls from various NPR people and celebrities -- Danial Pinkwater was a favorite -- and prank calls from outrageous locations such as Antarctica and the International Space Station, plus a question on winterizing a pair of custom vehicles... from JPL regarding the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars.
Millions of people tuned in every week -- Saturday at 10am ET for us. Fun, a weekly Puzzler quiz, and god help us, actual real advice on real car problems. After years of listening, I could often predict correctly which way the answer would go, proving my point that I knew enough about everything to be dangerous. (grin) Or that I had had enough old vehicles break that I had lived through these diagnoses. (double-trouble-grin) Also, marriage and relationship advice, the raising of children, regional spellings of names like Cathy/Kathy, the perfect car for you, relaxation in the form of car restorations/repair that will take forever, the idiocy of certain types of drivers and plenty of jokes about themselves.
"Well, it's happened again — you've wasted another perfectly good hour listening to Car Talk."
Tom, we will miss you. Ray, you have our love and sympathy -- hang in there, man.
PS -- The title of this blog entry comes from a line where Tom had thought about what career he should have that didn't involve Work -- and he settled on being America's Philosopher King. This idea was vetoed, but in a way, Tom's life was his dream-fulfilled.