Requiescat: “Car Talk”

Nuts. The Car Talk guys are throwing in the monkey wrench.

RAY: Hey, you guys. My brother has always said, “Don’t be afraid of work.”

TOM: Right. Make work afraid of YOU!

RAY: And he’s done such a good job at it, that work has avoided him all his life.

TOM: And with Car Talk celebrating its 25th anniversary on NPR this fall (35th year overall, including our local years at WBUR)…

RAY: …and my brother turning over the birthday odometer to 75, we’ve decided that it’s time to stop and smell the cappuccino.

TOM: So as of October, we’re not going to be recording any more new shows. That’s right, we’re retiring.

Some of my earliest memories are of Dad on Saturday morning, washing the car out on the driveway with the garage door open so Tom and Ray’s dueling Boston accents could echo out of the boombox he kept back on his workbench. They’re not immortal, of course, but I’d have bet good money they’d outlast Garrison Keillor.◼

Terry Gross after hours

Yesterday I saw the latest live presentation of “This American Life,” as broadcast to a multiplex in Minneapolis. Jealous? You should be. Because it was awesome.

But fortunately, one of the best segments, a short film by the comedian Mike Birbiglia, is now freely available online. It’s … probably not describable without spoiling it. Just watch, already.

Birbiglia’s upcoming movie looks pretty good, too.◼

“Women definitely like heated seats.”

Savage Car Talk mashes up the Magliozzi Brothers’ Public Radio automotive advice show with questions submitted to Dan Savage’s no-holds-barred sex and relationship advice podcast. The result is not suitable for work, unless you work in an automotive-themed gay bar.

This makes total sense. Dan takes a pretty left-brained, mechanistic approach to the relationship problems brought before him. Click and Clack talk about relationships almost as much as they discuss cars. Many times, I’ve run across relationship and automotive problems of my own that seemed like they would be worthy of a phone call to the appropriate show—only to realize I already knew the answer thanks to long hours of listening to advice given to other people.

Also, I’ve heard that almost a third of Dan’s misanthropic snark is added in post-production.

Via Dan Savage. I’m still waiting to hear what the Car Talk guys think.

Public Broadcasting: worth every penny

Following the House’s vote to defund Public Broadcasting, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting posted this video of Fred Rogers testifying before Congress in support of some of the earliest Federal funding for public television.

That do-it-yourself determination to harness modern media for the public good is still alive and well in shows like Frontline—which just released the best report I’ve seen on the Egyptian revolution of 25 January. It’s alive and well in NPR’s Planet Money podcast, which started in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and is now the reason I (mostly) understand mortgage-backed securities. It’s alive and well in Radiolab, which is producing the best popular science reporting in any medium. And it’s alive and well in On the Media, where even the question of Federal funding for Public Broadcasting is up for debate.

Want to keep Public Broadcasting alive and well? The Senate hasn’t voted yet. And there’s a website to get you started.

Unquiet in Lake Wobegon

So this is ancient by internet standards (vintage 2007!), but I just discovered it this morning, via a link-in-passing from Dan Savage. Garrison Keillor is Not Cool with the gays:

And now gay marriage will produce a whole new string of hyphenated relatives. In addition to the ex-stepson and ex-in-laws and your wife’s first husband’s second wife, there now will be Bruce and Kevin’s in-laws and Bruce’s ex, Mark, and Mark’s current partner, and I suppose we’ll get used to it.

The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men — sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That’s for the kids. It’s their show.

Also back in 2007, Dan Savaged Keillor’s totally unnecessary swipe at gay parents far more effectively than I could.

Et tu, Garrison? Photo by L-T-L.

So why am I writing about this at all? Because, to be frank, it hurts. I’ve been listening to Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion since I was too young to understand most of the jokes – the storytelling and quirky musical taste and commonsense Midwestern liberalism was one of the predominant flavors of the Public Radio marinade in which I grew up. The “fussy” boy who woke up to Morning Edition on school days and went to bed after PHC on the weekends grew into a closet case who loved This American Life in spite of* the troubling feelings aroused by contributions from David Sedaris, David Rakoff, and, yep, Dan Savage (how’s that for coming full circle?); and finally into an out and moderately well-adjusted gay man who owes his outness and moderate well-adjustedness to Public Radio more than any other cultural institution.

But so my point is that learning that the man whose voice is the bass note of the entire Public Radio mindset is capable of saying things like “… the flamboyance may have to be brought under control,” is like learning that Mr. Rogers made his puppets from the skins of strangled kittens, or that LeVar Burton wrapped up production of every Reading Rainbow episode with a book burning.** It’s like learning that hot cocoa causes cancer. It feels like betrayal.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic, but apparently that’s what Keillor expects of me anyway.

* Or because of?
** Yeah, I know – illustrating a point about a Public Radio figure with Public Television figures is pretty weak. But I really don’t hold many institutions in the same esteem I do Public Broadcasting. Not even hot cocoa.