Car Talk: Okay.
So, what inspired a musical about SUVs?
"SUV: The Musical!" is inspired by
America's obsession with these hulking road warriors.
But it's more than just a raucous send-up of our
nation's car culture, it is a biting satire of a
super-sized country where bigger is always better and
people genuinely get offended at the mere suggestion
that they should be a tad bit more fuel efficient. When
I wrote for Newsweek online, I often devoted my weekly
column to SUVs. You could not imagine the hate mail! So
many Americans believe that burning as much fuel as they
want is a birthright.
Talk: You've written a musical about a boy who
designs an SUV to impress a girl. Does he have feeling
of — how do we put this? — inadequacy?
No, just the opposite. Our evil SUV
designer, Dick Johnson of Behemoth Motors, is the
supremely confident American — almost Trumpian in his
belief that everything he does is correct. He designs
big SUVs because, why, Americans want their SUVs. And
who is Dick Johnson to stand in the way of what the
Car Talk: Tell
us about the plot... without spoiling it. Is there a
rollover? Are cell phones involved?
Cell phones? No, that's our next musical,
"Cell Phones: A Love Story." But "SUV: The Musical!"
centers on Dick Johnson's plan to market the world's
biggest SUV, the Behemoth Destroyer. But to get it on
the road, Dick calls in a few favors from his old
friend, an oil-dealing Saudi sheik. And all the sheik
wants in return is for gas prices to rise to $10 a
gallon. Meanwhile, Dick is being pursued by our hero
environmentalist Max Blank, who, thanks to a
double-dealing Crash Test Dummy, may finally have the
goods on Dick's unholy alliance with the sheik (and he
may end up with Dick's wife, Sarah).
Car Talk: What
do you drive?
I ride a subway. I do own a Mazda 626, but
most of the mileage I put on it comes from moving it
across the street on alternate-side-parking days.
Talk: Are you worried about an irate Hummer driver
hearing of this? You know, there are many "unfortunate"
accidents every day.
I have three words for Hummer drivers:
Bring it on! Look, I'm not insisting on everyone driving
solar-powered cars, but can't we agree as a nation that
a little more fuel efficiency could really go a long way
towards giving us the moral high ground on global energy
issues? Whatever happened to shared sacrifice (not that
driving a Prius is a sacrifice). Is anyone in this
country capable of tightening his own belt?
Car Talk: Can
we be the understudies for the two crash test
Sure! We do have two immediate openings
for crash test dummy understudies. But, one of you is
overqualified, and, to be perfectly honest, one of you
is underqualified. I'll let you guys figure out who's
SUV: The Musical! is at the Village
Theater, 158 Bleecker Street, New York City from August
13-27. Here's more information.
Live Larger, Drive Smaller
Tom and Ray About Anything