Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ray Magliozzi has a beautiful soul

Like Fred Rogers, Ray Magliozzi has a beautiful soul. But the beauty of Ray's soul is not nearly as obvious as Fred's. On the other hand he's more approachable - in many ways he's a regular guy.

I had already concluded in the past year that Ray Maggliozzi has a beautiful soul, but it was confirmed for me while listening to a podcast of Car Talk tonight.

Ray Magliozzi is Click and/or Clack, one of the Tappet Brothers - the nom de radio adopted by him and his brother Tommy for their show Car Talk.

His brother Tom, 12 years his senior, seems like a decent enough guy, and he might even be the more innovative and philosophical of the two. But Ray is the one who laughs the most, who gives the best advice about cars (especially in the last few years, since Tom has been increasingly showing signs of his age, to put it charitably) who has been married to the same woman for almost forty years. Or as he described it, in contrast to his brother who has been married at least three times, "one and done."

In one podcast Ray mentioned that he met his wife Monique (from Queens!) during a Peace Corps event. That was one sign of his character. And then tonight his brother mentioned that Ray and Monique lived in Vermont for a time because they were admirers of Scott and Helen Nearing. I had heard of the Nearings thanks to being part of the anti-nuclear power movement back when. As Wikipedia tells it:
In the 1930s and 1940s, Nearing and his eventual second wife, Helen Knothe, lived in Winhall in rural Vermont, where they had purchased a rather large forest tract for $2200 and a moderate sized farm for $2500. Nearing and Helen Knothe, who married in 1947, lived a largely ascetic and self-reliant life, growing much of their own food and putting up nine stone buildings over the course of two decades there. Cash was earned from producing maple syrup and maple sugar from the trees on their land and from Scott Nearing's occasional paid lectures.
Feeling a sense of dignity in the common man, and wanting to serve, Nearing wrote and self-published many pamphlets on topics such as low income, peace throughout the world, feminism, and different environmental causes.
I'd venture to say the Nearings are not the heroes of most auto mechanics.

Ray also mentioned that he's always loved working with cars. I will certainly concede that Ray Magliozzi has benefited from moral luck - being born at the right place, at the right time, with the right personality and inclinations, not to mention a stable family life and the progressive outlook of Cambridge Massachusetts. But that doesn't make his soul any less beautiful.

I am sure going to miss hearing him and his brother dispense useful practical information with abiding good humor on a regular basis once Car Talk signs off this autumn. Car Talk is a lot more than just an automotive advice program - I would go so far as to suggest that like Mister Roger's Neighborhood, it is an example of human beings at their best.

If there was ever an inter-galactic conference where every planet was allowed to send just one representative of all the planet's inhabitants, the Earth could not do any better than to send Ray Magliozzi as our representative.