I used to take my ’97 Honda Accord to Sam Bell at the Lusty Wrench in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He recently closed up his shop after 40 years, and this is what he had to say about cars:
I was reminded of Sam when I read this profile of Car Talk’s Ray Magliozzi:
Let’s get something out of the way up front: Ray Magliozzi hates cars. And not in a my-car-is-a-pain-in-the-ass-and-it’s-always-breaking kind of way (though there is some of that too), but in a they’re-killing-the-planet kind of way. “How could you not?” Ray told me earlier this year. “They’re ruining the fabric of our lives.”
Ray talked to a podcast called The War on Cars about how much his brother and co-host Tom Magliozzi hated cars, too:
It was kind of odd that we did the show together for so many years, but he hated the idea of cars consuming our lives, our money, clogging up the streets, polluting the air, all the things that you hate, too…. My brother hated cars. And yet he—for years and years, I tried to convince him that if he didn’t live in Cambridge and wasn’t able to get around with public transportation or by walking, he’d have to have a car that was reliable…. But he was against cars because of all the things they do to our lives and to our world. And I agree on all of those points.
That was, of course, part of the genius of Car Talk: You didn’t have to even like cars to enjoy listening to it. (Or making it, obviously.)
The same was true of Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting. From a 2001 NYTimes piece:
Ross’s expanding circle of viewers are, for the most part, not even painting, nor do they have any plans to start. They watch because ”The Joy of Painting” is the most relaxing show on television….
“It’s funny to talk to these people,” said Joan Kowalski, the media director of Bob Ross Inc. and Walt’s daughter. “Because they think they’re the only ones who watch to take a nap. Bob knew about this. People would come up to him and say, `I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you’ve been putting me to sleep for 10 years.’ He’d love it.”
“There are people who just like to hear him talk,” one station manager said. “We even get letters from blind people who say they tune in because he gives them hope.”
And while we’re talking famous public media figures, Mister Rogers hated television and only got into it because he thought he could make it a lot better. (A kind of negative self-definition.)