Interview: P.J. O'Rourke

By PETER KADZIS  |  June 17, 2009

The government probably was no help here. The government put in a pay freeze at all the heavy-industry corporations in World War II. Which meant that the corporations, in order to attract the workers that we had to have to build our planes and tanks and Jeeps, had to provide benefit packages. That's where health care comes from. It didn't exist before World War II. So you wound up with these benefit packages. And then there are the demographic accidents to factor in. The guys that built the cars were all supposed to drop dead at 67, and their wives were supposed to live to be maybe 72. Now everyone lives to 110. [Laughter.] There's plenty of blame to go around.

Is it un-American to buy foreign cars?
No. About half the stuff that's in your [American] car is foreign-made — whether you know it or not. And the foreign car you buy may well be made in Mississippi.

What's the scariest place you've ever driven?
India wins hands down. About 10 years ago, I drove the Grand Trunk Road from Islamabad to Calcutta — the same road that is featured in Kipling's Kim — and the same elephants and camels are still on it, plus a lot of other things. It was absolutely terrifying.

Does the car a man — or a boy — drives define him sexually?
Not any more. I was driving home from the airport the other day and somebody blew me off, cut me off, and screeched away. I was a little ticked. I didn't quite rise to road rage — it was more like road irk. I caught up with him at the next stoplight. I looked over and it was this young, obviously macho guy — bunch of ink, and a lot of product in the hair — driving a Subaru Forester. Now the first thing, I was pretty embarrassed that my big old Detroit iron got blown off by a Subaru Forester in the first place. [Laughter] Second place, just a very few years ago, I think that this guy probably would have been caught dead wearing ladies' underwear before he'd ever be caught driving a Forester.

< prev  1  |  2  | 
Related: A great little performer, Due Dilla-gence, Car talk, More more >
  Topics: Books , Business, Jobs and Labor, Detroit,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   WHY EVERYONE HATES WASHINGTON  |  August 30, 2013
    If you want to understand why the United States appears to be beyond political redemption, read 'This Town.'
  •   THE GLOBE SALE, CONTEXTUALIZED  |  February 27, 2013
    News that the Globe was on the auction block was certainly a shock, but it should have been no surprise.
  •   KEVIN, WE HARDLY KNEW YE  |  December 19, 2012
    Thanks to the initiative of journalism-advocacy group MuckRock, 500 pages of raw and redacted FBI files focusing on allegations of corruption during the 1970s in the administration of the late Boston mayor Kevin White are now available to the public.
    Style aside, the 1960s — the era that spawned sex, drugs, and rock and roll — are still with us.
  •   HUB FANS BID BARON ADIEU  |  November 16, 2012
    In the 1960s and 1970s, when the media sky was as expansive as the horizon of Fenway Park, Boston Globe editor Tom Winship hankered to make the Globe one of the nation's top 10 dailies. He succeeded.

 See all articles by: PETER KADZIS