David Locke

October 2, 2000

Post #1190 – 20001002

Dear DP:

I am in need of either a recording (much preferred) or a script (lacking the intonation, resonance, and most important things but still retaining the words) of a piece you did on NPR lo several years ago.

Please note that I say “need” as distinct from merely “want.”

Of this piece I have a recollection which is more powerful than detailed. But its essence places it among the very few true side-splitting pieces the world has been privileged to enjoy. It ranks, in my memory, in the stratospheric pantheon ( I mix metaphors; my need bursts the bounds of conventional speech) with only a half-dozen or so other classics, including the impossible-to-find video clip of Tim Conway and Harvey Corman doing the wordless “Dentist” skit on the Carol Burnett Show.

Like all such brilliance, your piece was (oh that I might say: “is”) self-effacing, characterized by a kind of nonchalance, a purity of focus and absence of self-awareness. It’s often a signature quality of your best pieces that they do not attempt to be funny: they tell stories which are funny, and therein lies a difference that distinguishes real art from mere pretence.

The subject of this piece was finding a used car. Not just any car, but a vehicle of such perfection, capable of such a glovelike fit to your physical requirements that after hundreds of false starts, of hopes raised and dashed, to merely slip into the driver’s seat of this perfect car was itself such a transport of the senses, such an elevation above the commonplace and unfit that–once in place–to shut the door, start the engine, engage the gears, and drive away were all anti-climactic.

I think the car was a Buick. (I warned: my recollection is more powerful than detailed.) I have a visual picture, created by your words, of a Roadmaster, one of the largest of the line.

Please–say it’s so. Say this thing exists–at the very least in a script, or in a transport of aural salvation, recorded–available to share with me who remembers and with the rest of the world who should. Things this good must not be lost and forgotten. Absent pieces like this, how are we to instruct our children in true humor? Look what they have for models and guides: young men and women (and some who are not young and should know better) who stand on stage and scream obscenities into hand-held microphones and think they are funny.

They are not. You are. Please help us remember.

Daniel replies:

I'm pretty sure you're referring to a piece by Andrei Codrescu. Does your mind's ear hear this classic with a heavy Romanian accent? Buick? Definitely him, and not me.