There is just time for me to nip in smartish like and thank Tina for her Birthday wishes and say that I've got a scale that Steve didn't sing about. Scalextric!
Yes I saw the last 20 mins of England v Ecuador. The rest of it I had heard on the BBC five live radio stream and the commentator kept saying, "take Beckham off, take Beckham off" then he curled one in. Hah. Don't know about electric cars but I've got an electric bike. It does 20 miles to the charge and it's wheely good. That's enough Sun like puns. Speaking of the Sun I may have recommended the current bun as a possible source for listening to World Cup footie. Well don't. I tried it yesterday and it was pants. I couldn't hear it properly. Mebbe this machine who knows - you could try it.
Forty four today, Forty four today Ee I adio Forty Four today.
And in 1966 Oh no! Oh yes every one sung.
"We won the cup, we won the cup Ee i adio we won the cup."
I love terrace chants.
Tina IS at the controls!
Steve: We have in the studio Mr. Ed Begley Jr.
Ed: Jonesy, good to see you.
Steve: How are you, mate?
Ed: Couldn’t be better.
Steve: Do you know that song, “Convoy” (Steve had just played it) do you remember that one? (sings) Convoy…
Ed: Oh, it was like a CB, like a trucker kind of a…yeah
Steve: Exactly, exactly.
Ed: That was a good one, that was one of my favorites back in the day.
Steve: It’s a gas guzzling song.
Steve: I thought you’d like that one.
Ed: Love it.
Steve: Now, you’d been driving an electric car before there was electricity.
Ed: It’s true, I’ve been driving it a long time. I bought my first electric car in 1970, believe it or not and they’ve been around a lot longer than that. Henry Ford’s wife preferred her electric car to his kerosene-burning – the first ones burned kerosene – but she preferred her cleaner and more quiet electric car to his noisy kerosene vehicle and they’ve been around a while and they’ve certainly come a long way and now with the hybrids we have the best of both worlds. You have a very clean-burning, part of the time internal combustion and electricity in tandem with that and a fraction of the emissions, fraction of the other problems and boy, you’ve got great range. You can go 600 miles in a car.
Steve: I saw the documentary “Who Killed The Electric Car”. I got an advance copy of it and I watched it. I was, I didn’t realize that in the, was it eighteenth century when cars were first invented? (close, one was invented in 1832 by Robert Anderson of Scotland, according to the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles which is currently featuring an exhibit on historical alternative-power vehicles )
Ed: It was…well the first cars, end of the nineteenth century were, and they certainly became more popular in the beginning of the twentieth century, you know when Henry Ford you know, did the assembly line and what have you, they became more inexpensive. His idea was, he wanted to make a car that the people who worked at the car plant could afford…but there were automobiles…
Steve: I didn’t realize some of them were electric back then.
Ed: Yeah, they were electric. There was, I can’t remember the names of them, but there were electric cars over a hundred years ago and they worked pretty well for around-town, for a lot of purposes and that’s what most of the driving is. Most the peoples’ driving is a short distance. That’s the beauty of the electric car and if you charge it as I do, with solar panels or what have you, then you’re making it really clean. You don’t have any power plant emissions. So there’s good ways to do it.
Steve: Do you think people who just go about their lives and don’t care about anything other than paying their bills and all the rest of it, do you think they couldn’t care less about, you know, what you’re promoting? Do you think it’s big battle you’ve got ahead of you?
Ed: Yeah, a lot of people don’t care, I’ll concede that’s true. But a lot of people do care fortunately. A lot of people do want to make a difference, people who could drive any car. People like Owen Wilson, you were talking about or Cameron Diaz or yourself. There’s lots of different cars you could drive and you all chose a Prius. I think that says a lot. But there’s a lot of people who believe the misinformation out there about the Prius, for instance. People say, “I’d like to get one of those hybrids, but I don’t want to plug it in”. Well, you don’t plug it in. That’s the point. “What do you mean? I heard you plug…” No you don’t. “I don’t want to get one of those because the batteries run out in three years.” No, I’ve had mine six years and the batteries are still completely good. I have friends with a pure electric they’ve driven 250,000 miles with the same battery pack. 250K and after 250K, you’ve got to replace the motor in a regular car, that’s big expense. So, I’d love to tell you what it costs for that battery pack, but I can’t because I don’t know anybody who’s worn one out in the Toyota vehicles.
Steve: Now, I actually like the idea of electric, but to me it seems more of a pain in the ass…can they make a battery that lasts so you can go to like, San Francisco or go to New York and not have to worry about keep stopping at these places to charge it? How long does it take to charge it?
Ed: Well, here’s the thing. You know, with any vehicle you got to stop and recharge it with gasoline…but that’s a very short recharge, it takes just a few minutes. You can amend that a bit if you’re a patient person, want to take the time to do a you know, twenty minute charge, there’s the technology with 480-volt service and these huge quick-chargers, you can give a charge to go another 300 miles with the new lithium ion batteries in something in the order of 20 minutes. Now, a lot of people aren’t going to want to take that time. People want to gas and go in three minutes so I understand that. But there are people who are willing to take longer. But having said all that, that’s you know, a niche market, certainly. People are buying these hybrid cars in droves. They are a victim of their own success at Toyota. And so, I think the people at GM, the people working in Flint, Michigan and Detroit would like to have that kind of problem. A six-month waiting list for a car? You don’t have to wait six months for a Hummer or any car, or a Ferrari, you don’t have to wait six months. I mean, you’ve gotta wait for these cars. The wait has diminished a bit cos they’re ramping-up production, but they’ve, they’ve done very well with this car and their bottom line is doing very well with this car.
Steve: I agree…it’s all well and good to like say, “This is what we need to do.” But if it’s true, what everyone’s saying in these documentaries like that one and that Al Gore one, it’s something that seems like something we’re gonna have to do…how long do you think, before…
Ed: Yeah. Well, people are resistant to change, I understand that and that’s part of the thing I liked about the “Who Killed The Electric Car”. They share the blame very well. They don’t say, “Oh, it’s just the oil companies” or “It’s just the car companies”. It’s the California Resources Board, the car companies, the oil companies, the consumers who didn’t really step up to the plate. Now, they were in some ways misguided about what the “plate” was, where it was. They didn’t know where the plate was. We did a poll, I did a personal poll for all the years I drove that GM car. “Hi, Ed Begley here” – there’d be twenty people or two hundred twenty people or a thousand people – “I’d just like to get a show of hands. How many people know I drive an electric car?” Nearly every hand would go up, Jonesy. “How many people know where to get one?” Three hands, out of a thousand or three hundred. I mean, people didn’t know where to get it. If you’ve got a product that people don’t know where to get, you’ve got a problem. Also, if you’re only going to make seven hundred Camaros, you’re going to lose money. You can’t make seven hundred Mustangs and make any money. They didn’t really want to risk and take that bold move of making more cars and so that’s what they’ve done with the hybrids. They made thousands and thousands of them. That was risky in the U.S. They’d already done it in Japan, Toyota had done it in Japan. It was a huge success. There was risk in doing it in Japan. It was such a success there, “Well, let’s see if the Americans will go for this.” They beefed it up a little bit, a little bit bigger internal combustion motor, I think maybe a little bit bigger electric motor, little more beef cos that’s what Americans want and the put it out here. Huge success, right away. Right out of the gate, huge.
Steve: Yeah. “Where’s the beef?”
Ed: Where’s the beef, that’s the question.
Steve: That’s what I want to know.
Ed: That’s what we want to know.
Steve: We’re going to visit The Duke, we’ll be right back with some more insightful information with Ed Begley Jr. You’re listening to Jonesy’s Jukebox, thanks for listening.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Steve: Wasn’t you the drummer in “Spinal Tap”?
Ed: I was! Stumpy Joe Pepys. (sic) It was a high point for me. A small minute of screen time, but I made the most out of it.
Steve: Yeah. Did you enjoy that?
Ed: I did. Still working with Chris Guest. We just did another movie called, “For Your Consideration”. Eugene Levy, Chris Guest, Catharine O’hara, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer…a lot of the “Tap” people and the others from “Waiting For Guffman”, those wonderful, good folks. And, so we just shot a week ago Monday. We did some added scenes a week ago Monday and it’ll be out in October. It’s another one of these you know, Chris Guest improv movies.
Steve: Yeah. Is he a funny guy in real life?
Ed: He’s very funny.
Steve: Does he live out here?
Ed: Yeah, he lives in the L.A. area. He’s great.
Ed: Uh, yes he does.
Steve: Good for him.
Ed: He had an EV-1, too. When they were available. He drove one of these.
Steve: I’ve been seeing a bunch of them around lately. The little van ones, with the…”EV” on the side, silver like, little SUV’s?
Ed: Oh, yeah, like a Toyota Rav-4. Is it a RAV-4?
Steve: They’re silver, they have a blue writing “EV” on the side…
Steve: That’s an electric car?
Ed: Pure electric. That’s what I drove here today.
Steve: Well, in that documentary, it said like, everyone was taking them back.
Ed: They were taking them back. They were in the process of crushing those. They were going to end that program at Toyota, but there was a big outcry and a lot of the people involved with the movie, you know, lobbied Toyota to do the right thing and they did, to their credit. They’ve really done the right thing, a lot. Look at these hybrid cars they offer now. Lookit, they’ve got, not just the Prius, they’ve got the Lexus hybrid, they’ve got the Hylander hybrid…so you’ve got a few choices. They’re really leading the way in clean fuels now.
Steve: Do you think GM made a big clanger?
Ed: I think they made a mistake. You know, I wish they had stayed the course with the car. They were lobbying the Air Resources Board to get rid of that mandate. It’s hard, when you tell people what to do…people are very resistant to change. You know, they were told what to do by this law, you know, the Zev (Zero Emission Vehicle) Mandate, the auto companies were. And Toyota was part of that coalition that was opposing it, too. They didn’t want to be told what to do. They wanted the technology to lead the way and they would follow. But you know, people thought, “If we don’t have a mandate, it’s just never going to happen.” But look, the mandate led to these hybrid cars so on it’s face right there, right there, that was the beginning and the end of it. Because of the…mandate, the hybrid cars are here and available and as cheap as they are and as wonderful as they are. So we have them to thank.
Steve: Do you think, do you think it’s already too late?
Ed: Oh, god no. You mean, for like global climate change, or other environmental challenges? No way. That’s the beautiful thing about Al’s movie, about Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”. He shows, as I always do whenever I talk about the environment, look at our success stories. Look what we did with ozone depletion. That was going to be a big problem, the way CFC’s were depleting the ozone layer, we turned that around with an aggressive policy phasing out CFC’s. Look what we did with the air in L.A., you know, I grew up here and I’m telling you Jonesy, the Fifties, the Sixties, you couldn’t breathe. Still quite a bit in the early Seventies, mid-Seventies, it was bad but it started to get better in the Seventies with the Clean Air Act and all the other smog control things that they did. From 1970 to date, we have four times the amount of cars in the L.A. basin, we have half the ozone. We should all get a damn medal. You know, we’re headed in the right direction. I’m not saying we have clean air and we should fold up our tents and go home, we’ve still got work to do. But look what we’ve done. You can go out on Mullholland and look, if you remember what it was like in the Seventies, you couldn’t see the other side, the Simi hills, the Verdugo hills. You could stand in the middle of the Valley and not know you’re in a Valley.
Steve: It’s pretty smoggy today, mate.
Ed: Yeah, it is. It’s smoggy today but we have fewer the days…again, I’m not suggesting that we should declare victory and all go home, we’ve got work to do. We vie with Houston and now the San Juaquin Valley for the dirtiest air in the nation, for that unfortunate prize. But still, look what we’ve done. I’m just bringing it up because we can do it. Don’t ever lose heart. It’s not, none of this stuff is beyond a fix.
(Steve asks if there will ever be electric airplanes but Ed doesn’t think there will be, not in our lifetimes. Ed had a movie to shoot in Vancouver and drove up, saving money the production company was paying for his airfare and he was able to keep.)
Ed: All this stuff I’ve done for the environment, Jonesy. The solar panels, the solar hot water, the electric car, the recycled plastic fence, the compact florescent bulbs, energy saving thermostat, the insulation in my house. It’s all been good for my bottom line cos I’m in it for the long haul. I’m not gonna flip this house I live in, I’ve been there since ’88. I’m gonna be there the rest of my days, probably, this little two-bedroom house I have. And so I made it the most efficient…now here’s the, the wonderful side effect is, I can live there for next to nothing cos I don’t have any bills. Not no bills, but I have very low bills, cos of all these things I did. It’s good for the economy. It’ll be good for our economy. Everything we’ve done like that, planning for the long term and…living off the interest rather than the principle, you know, just depleting our natural resources and what have you, we need to be more conservative. That’s the shocking thing, that the democrats have taken this over. I would think this would be a Conservative issue. Conservative, to “conserve”, why wouldn’t you want to conserve some of these things and our precious resources and not blow ‘em all out in some big party like a business and liquidation having a fire sale with all of our natural resources like our timber and what have you. Save ‘em. Live off the interest. The forests have more value standing then they do, cut down. You know, get your trees from a tree farm or make recycled paper from other things. I’ve got this paper I use at home, made from…there’s no trees in it. It’s made from 45% recycled cardboard, it’s made from a percentage agricultural waste and calcium carbonate, which is chalk. It looks like any of this paper right here. Looks like this paper right here, in fact it is this paper. This is the stuff I brought.
Steve: See, we’re way ahead of the game, mate. We’ve got it here. What do you use for toilet paper?
Ed: That? I use recycled toilet paper. Don’t be afraid…it wasn’t toilet paper before, it’s recycled from other things. But I use that for the facial tissue, I use that. I use, when I go for a bike ride, I don’t bring facial tissue, I bring just a cloth, you know, a handkerchief or what have you. Paper towels, all that stuff can be made from recycled stuff. There’s, you know, there’s other ways to get the things that our forest products have been manufacturing for years. There’s other ways that don’t require us to cut down our precious forests that give us oxygen and have, you know, they retain our water for us and prevent erosion. There’s lots of value to a forest, more value standing, I think.
Steve: I got some toilet paper when they first started using recycled toilet paper. It was very scratchy. Maybe they’ve got it down to a fine art now. When if first come out it was very itchy and it wasn’t good on your ass. (laughter)
Ed: You took it for a test drive
Steve: It wasn’t ass-friendly.
Ed: I gotcha. I hear ya.
Steve: But I’m sure it’s better now, innit?
Ed: I think it is.
Ed: That’s all I’ve used for years so I don’t know what the other stuff’s like, to be honest with you. Maybe it is scratchy…that’s all I’ve been buying since I don’t-know-when.
Steve: What made you get into…what was the turning point for you to start being aware of you know, the environment and all that. What was it?
Ed: There were two things. One very positive thing was being a Boy Scout. I was a Boy Scout, so I had some reverence for the outdoors and interest in forests and all that stuff from scouting. The other, negative thing, the negative influence was living in L.A. in the horrible smog. I couldn’t run from here to the other end of this hallway Jonesy, without wheezing-like-this-and I couldn’t breathe. And I’m not an asthmatic now, I wasn’t back then. I just couldn’t breathe cos the smog in the San Fernando Valley was horrible, choking smog and one day in 1970 I went, you know, “Screw it. I know I’m not going to change it overnight, but I’m gonna stop being part of the problem, I’m going to be part of the solution, I’m going to get an electric car. So I got an electric car in 1970 and I drove it. It was a piss-ass little small thing, it was basically a golf cart with a windshield wiper and a horn. It didn’t even have a steering wheel. It had a tiller. It went like, fifteen miles an hour, had a range of about fifteen miles, it was very primitive, but it got me around the Valley and I didn’t have a car, I took the bus for some things, rode my bike, drove the electric car and I’ve been driving electric cars…they were so primitive, I stopped driving them for years and didn’t have a car for a lot of years and then I got into electrics again in 1990 and that’s all I’ve driven for around L.A.. For longer trips, I borrow my wife’s hybrid. You know, we’re a two-car family so we have the luxury of you know, getting anywhere we need with very, very limited pollution you know, with the hybrid and no pollution with the electric car cos as I said, I’m charging it on my solar panels. You know, you can’t make gasoline on the roof of your house. You can make electrons, you know, with solar panels and so I’m making my fuel on the roof of my house and running my house and charging my car.
Steve: Well, there’s a lot of sun to go around. There’s no shortage of sun, is there?
Ed: No shortage of sun. In fact, most parts of the country, there’s very few places like Seattle, maybe Portland, that have so many cloudy days it wouldn’t be worth your while. It turns out, Michigan, “Oh, it’s good for you in California. We can’t do it here in Michigan.” It’s real sunny in Michigan. It’s gets cold, but that’s even better for solar panels. Solar panels lose fifteen percent of their efficiency when they get hot. Like you know, Nevada…New Mexico, California. That kind of heat. Arizona. But there’s a thriving solar business in Michigan. My friend Chad Lampkin runs The Michigan Energy Works there. He sells a lot of solar panels all over there. Throughout the Midwest, there’s a lot of solar throughout the country. It’s a good way to go. I’ve been using it now, since 1990 it’s powered my house. And windpower’s great. I’ve owned a windmill, one of those windmills out in the desert and that’s put out twenty homes’ worth of power since 1985.
Steve: You’d be screwed in London, though. There’s definitely no sun there.
Ed: Yeah, exactly. It wouldn’t work well there. But you know…there’s many places in the country and the world where you can use it. Windpower is very popular now in the UK. They’re putting wind turbines along the coast of Wales, I believe, there now. It’s been very successful there and many other parts of the UK. Wind turbines are quite successful in the UK.
Steve: I have wind power. I’ll give you a sample in a minute.
Ed: Ah, I can’t wait. Did you have the chipped beef beforehand?
Steve: I had the vegetarian platter, yes. We’re here with Ed Begley Jr. We’re gonna visit The Duke and we’re gonna come back with some more good stuff. You’re listening to Jonesy’s Jukebox, thanks for listening.