Tom Magliozzi Has Died

Bad news on the radio–Tom Magliozzi has died. I have squandered literally hundreds of hours of my life listening to Tom and Ray–Click and Clack–give good and bad advice (but always entertaining advice), and had harbored a secret desire to hear Tommy read one of my verses (below) on the show. Alas, it never happened, and now it never will.

I just heard the news while driving back from the store, and the road got a bit out-of-focus for a bit. His laugh was infectious, and it seems that he could find the humor in virtually anything. I particularly loved listening to him read viewer mail or email, and I always hear the following in his voice (though I never heard him recite it):

The Old Car

My car does not murmur; she groans and complains
And she limps–just a bit–on the right.
She shouts out in protest at tasks she disdains
As one cylinder fails to ignite.
Whenever we turn, there’s a noise from the brakes
That’s a hollow and cancerous cough.
The faster the highway, the harder she shakes
Until bits of her start to fall off.

I remember the days when she purred like a cat
So responsive, so agile, so fast;
She would tear through a curve and then leap down the flat
And refuse–stubborn thing–to be passed.
I will always remember the car she once was—
That’s the reason I can’t let her go;
It’s the things that she did, not the things that she does;
I suppose it will always be so.

I, myself, I admit, may be showing some wear
And my warrantee’s long since expired;
There’s some rust in the joints and some grey in the hair
And what once revved me up makes me tired.
When I look, with my near-sighted eyes, at my car
It’s the beauty of old that I see;
If you look this direction—I see that you are—
Would you please do that favor for me?


As a bonus, perhaps also appropriate for this sad occasion, a villanelle, of which the title is the best part, but hey:

For Sale: Does Not Go Gentle Into Second Gear

She kicks up clouds of country roadway dust
Her squeaks and rattles speak to travels past
And what was shiny now has turned to rust

Some twenty years ago we found out just
How she could roar; we thrilled to feel how fast
She kicked up clouds of country roadway dust

The chromed libido, symbol of the lust
Of adolescence; now the play’s recast
And what was shiny now has turned to rust

The engine used to pack a virile thrust
But now she stalls—with every backfire blast
She kicks up clouds of country roadway dust

A fate like this is undeserved, unjust,
For one whose reputation’s unsurpassed
But what was shiny now has turned to rust

The only movement now, a passing gust—
On cinderblocks, her windshield spider-glassed
She kicks up clouds of country roadway dust
And what was shiny now has turned to rust


I’ll miss you, Tommy!


  1. says

    Though I moved from the USA 3 years ago, I’ve continued to listen to Car Talk even while all the way in Korea. Have the app on my phone. I never heard the announcement that they were retiring though, or why, so it was a hell of a shock to hear that Tom had died, from Alzheimers, him and Ray retired, and that they’ve been playing reruns for the past two years. Hell of a bad thing to find out all at the same time.

  2. Die Anyway says

    The world, as a whole, is filling up with people too fast, but *my world* is losing them too fast. Tom (and Ray) were a bright spot in my Saturday mornings.

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