I'm taken aback by the news that Tom Magliozzi — one of the Car Guys — has died. "The radio host died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, according to NPR."
His younger brother, Ray Magliozzi, stayed within character by adding: “Turns out he wasn’t kidding. He really couldn’t remember last week’s puzzler.”
Used to listen to them regularly, along with my young daughter who likely remembers nothing of it, some thirty odd years ago, right when they were starting out. I lived in Cambridge — "Our Fair City" — not all that far away from their garage, to which I once drove my VW Bug, a car they never ceased — annoyingly, condescendingly — to impugn on air, for a fix the particulars of which I do not recall.
I liked the banjo tune with which the show opened. I liked even more that at the beginning, so it seemed to me, there was some nastiness between the brothers, some sibling irritability. They bickered just like real brothers. I stayed tuned for that. Forget cars; this was radio at its uncanned best.
Then, sometime, a few decades ago, I grew sick of them. If I had nothing better to do — or listen to — on a weekend morning, I felt bad about my failure of imagination. It only got worse if, as happened — what was wrong with me? — I wound up dialing back to them.
But a couple years ago, I came back with pleasure. Oh good, they were still there. They had patched up their relationship and no sparks flew. This was disappointing, but they were entitled, if by nothing else than by aging. They were still ripe with badinage. Somehow their pace, their style, their purported subject — cars, in this post-mechanical age?— made much if not all of the rest of the NPR weekend morning menu seem too tuned to expensive caffeine delivery systems and fiber-optics.
However, they are not still there, not as they once were, not intact. Tom Magliozzi is gone and I am sorry about that.