At the risk of enjoying it too much, or being caught in a Little Orphan Annie Mug kind of infinite regression with Ezra Dyer writing about Ezra Dyer writing about Ezra Dyer, ad infinitum, he gave AWCom the facts to do with as we might.
Salient among them is his uncommon coupling of humor and auto journalism that began because he loves cars (he says he was bombing around Maine woods in a 1982 Subaru wagon at age 11 and still has a stack of car magazines from the ‘80s) and because he began his writing career as a humor columnist and feature writer for The Improper Bostonian. It is an 85,000 circulation glossy biweekly offering a calendar of Greater Boston events plus numerous features and columns. Dyer has been in every issue since starting there in 1999.
The absence of an insistent ego, a bemused look at his world and of course, his nimble use of words has made the marriage of genres work. It started with a query that brought a counter proposal that led to what he calls, “probably the most important 300 words I ever wrote,” a spec article for Automobile Magazine on his experience as an IROC owner, titled, “For Those About to ‘ROC, I Salute You.” The editors liked it and paid him for it. Emboldened by that success, Dyer committed to becoming an auto writer and co-opted one of his Improper columns to prove with a review of the Corvette Z06 that a car review would be read by people who don’t care about cars – if it was funny. Sending a clip of that column to his Automobile Magazine contact, former editor Mark Gillis, brought a meeting and acceptance of his feature story idea: “They Shoot Cars, Don’t They?” It involved buying a $350 Cadillac Eldorado and driving it to Maine to be used as a target at the Hiram Maxim Machine-Gun Shoot.
To strengthen his “creds” as an auto writer, he joined the New England Motor Press Association, began test driving cars and writing reviews for Automobile Online. Those led to print assignments for the magazine’s Driven section. That began what he calls “a snowball effect.” His Automobile reviews were read by an Esquire editor who proposed Dyer write some reviews for that publication. Those prompted editors at the New York Times to invite him to contribute articles and then his former online editor at Automobile, Greg Anderson, relocated to The Robb Report and invited him to contribute there as well.
Dyer still does a humor column for Improper and in the last year added a regular column for Automobile: Dyer Consequences. It allows his agile mind and light touch to wander somewhat at will in autodom. Recent columns have included one on “Stripper Cars.” Not the kind of high school fantasy but a nostalgic recall of cars with side vents for air conditioning and a cigarette lighter as an amenity. Another column opined that a car’s billing influences its owner’s behavior. Not necessarily unmarried driving a family car, but drivers conforming to a car’s miles-per-gallon estimates. Hard to the floor with a Porsche and light on the pedal with a Prius. With Dyer it is soft on censure and strong on affection for our car culture.