From Aesop to Ann Landers, advice-giving is a time-honored tradition. Now a group of retirees calling themselves Old Coots Giving Bad Advice is doling out advice to a modern audience.

The Old Coots got their start chatting over coffee at a Salt Lake City deli.

“People ask us, ‘Are you guys qualified to do this?’ and of course, we have to say no. But neither was Ann Landers.”
Tony Caputo
Old Coots Giving Bad Advice

One summer day, largely as a joke, they set up a table to dispense advice at the local farmers market under a banner that read, “It’s probably bad advice, but it’s free.”

“People flocked to us to ask questions,” said Tony Caputo, owner of the deli where the group began.

Now they have regular Apple podcasts, a Twitter feed, and a popular Facebook page as well as their table at the farmers market.

“People ask us, ‘Are you guys qualified to do this?’ and of course, we have to say no,” Caputo said. “But neither was Ann Landers. Hopefully, we won’t mess people up too much.”

The six retirees include a former school teacher, doctor, and newspaper reporter. “Between us, one of us usually knows something,” Caputo said.

The questions and answers range from the practical to the philosophical, with a dose of humor.

What to do about the weeds in the yard, asked one visitor to the Salt Lake City market. Get a new house, he was told. How can holidays with family be made more enjoyable? Drink more, one replied. Maybe Xanax, said another.

Is it appropriate to donate a used vibrator to charity, someone asked on a podcast. Absolutely not, they all agreed.

Yet the most frequent questions touch on age-old mysteries of how to find the right mate and make relationships last, they said.

“We get a lot of young people, and it’s really relationships,” said Caputo. “How can I find a partner or how can I find a good relationship?”

Reminiscent of the popular Car Talk that played on public radio, the Old Coots wander through topics,  keeping the mood light and never taking themselves too seriously.

“To be truthful, I’m not sure that any of us can claim to have much wisdom, but it sure has been a lot of fun,” said Old Coot John Lesnan. “Maybe all of us Coots really do have more to offer than we thought.”

Old Coots Giving Bad Advice also takes questions via email at givingbadadvice@gmail.com, on Twitter at @OldCootsPodcast and voicemail at 801-413-3645.

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