It's a-Goodbye, Mario

Illustration: Jim Cooke

After working with Mario for almost three years, I can say without a doubt that he’s one of the smartest editors I’ve ever encountered. But there are also lots of smart people in the world. Mario is a rare combination of brilliant, hardworking, and kind, and you usually don’t get all three of those characteristics in a journalist.

When I first arrived at Giz, one of the first things I noticed was that Mario, then the managing editor of the site, was extremely, extremely loud. The Gizmodo pod was nearly silent—just dozens of reporters typing out blogs and making phone calls—punctuated by Mario, and this is putting it mildly, screaming with mirth or anger. He would laugh so loudly that you would have to ask, “What could possibly be so funny?” Usually it was just some dumb tweet. Or he would absolutely holler, “What the FUCK! FUCK.” This was typically a disproportionate response to Alex Cranz using the word “really” in her copy or something.

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In fact, during the course of my writing this post, Mario has laughed loudly six separate times and also loudly exclaimed, “Fuck!” then, trailing off, “what a bummer....”

He started here as an editorial assistant, far before my time, and worked pretty much every job at the site, ending his run as our deputy editor. He embodies so many of the great things about Giz—the site’s sharpness, its intelligence, and its fearlessness. He made all the copy he touched better, and he also shared his Sichuan peppers with me (too hot for him).

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But after eight years, he’s done his time.

Thanks for everything, Mario. Gizmodo ️♥️’s you.

Alex Cranz, Senior Reviews Editor

Mario has been at this company longer than only like three other people. When he started it was still about two steps above a clickbait farm and included, at least once a week, an image of a porn actress in bad eye makeup, known as “raccoon girl” seemingly having the time of her life. But the site and Mario have grown up together and now we cover classy things like unionization efforts in tech and Zuck’s hairline and Mario’s traded the Four Loko benders for leaving work early to have a nice dinner and be in bed by 9 (the fucker doesn’t even own a TV). Every time I see someone who worked with baby Mario back when the blogs were young and filled with considerably more dildoes and bad advice they’re horrified when I note he’s basically the voice of Gizmodo at this point and has overseen this site through a bankruptcy, two sales, a wide variety of CEO-types, and more EiCs than most places have staff.

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“Him,” they ask in absolute horror like the man who once vaped 20 e-cigs at once could every provide sharp and insightful edits to a blog about tech-fueled cultural monopolies or Amazon’s terrifying reach across the entire internet.

Yeah man. That fucking weirdo.

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Ryan Mandelbaum, Science Reporter

Mario, I was afraid of you since you screamed “fuck” at the top of your lungs and stomped your feet at your desk on my first day of work. It spooked me every time. I assumed that this would carry over to your editing style; I was absolutely petrified when you were assigned the editor of one of my early blogs (something about National Parks?) and I would pray that someone who wasn’t going to inflict physical harm on me or their desk would edit my blogs. I almost called in sick the rest of the day after I had to issue a correction to a blog you’d edited. However, I have since learned that you merely feel things intensely and that you are actually a very big softy. You’ve assigned and edited some of my very favorite blogs since I started working here (e.g., the week of modernist cooking and the automatic telescope review), and have pushed me out of my comfort zone to come up with and write stories unlike any I’ve written before. I’ll miss you and I hope you don’t scare off the newcomers wherever you’re going next.

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Michael Hession, some dude at Wirecutter

During my time doing photo and video for Gizmodo (2012-2015), I accompanied Mario on countless shoots, product unveilings, and mind-numbing tech events. It sucked. He’s the last dude you want to share a hotel room with at CES, that is if you value sleeping without drunk stumble-ins and incessant snoring. Mario has all the showings of a human trash pile but somehow managed to always muster a strangely heightened level of focus and tenacity in just doing the fucking reporting. Any time. No matter the assignment. Mario is a true blogger. Seeing as how the golden years of blogging are long dead, it’s truly shocking that Mario is still kicking around on this planet, let alone gainfully employed. But I’m glad he lives on because I find myself wishing other people were more like him. He’s a dying breed of person that peddles no bullshit and shows no trace of ego. He’s the living personification of an ethos that drove some of the best shit on the internet in the early-mid 2010s. All we can hope for is that some of that spirit lives on at some other godforsaken and probably doomed media outlet. I’ve missed working with Mario ever since I left Giz, and I pity the poor souls there who will now feel those feels. Rip blogging rip Stango rip Mario.

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Brent Rose, former Gizmodo Reporter

All this fuss about Mario. I started two weeks before you, asshole! I’ve got seniority! In fact, you can’t quit, you’re fired!

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Okay fine I’m not full-time anymore, but back when I was, Mario and I sat next to each other at the old Gawker offices in SoHo. It was a weird time to be at Giz. We only had something like twelve writers on staff, and we were each responsible for writing roughly ten stories a day. I’m not exaggerating. It was insane. I’ll never forget Mario working on his first post, while then-boss Joe Brown kept looming over the table and saying, “Where my post, Mario? I want my post, Mario!” Mario wanted his first post to be just right. For this delay, Joe started shooting him with a Nerf Blaster for every minute that went by.

I believe Mario developed a mild PTSD from the incident, and for a while the hashtag #WriteFasterMario was trending within the internal Gizmodo chat system (pre-Slack, y’all! Anybody miss Campfire?)

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Who was this scruffy, twitchy (thanks to Joe) new guy sitting next to me? Someone, it would turn out, who would be my friend for life. It turns out that I would find it hilarious and charming when, in the middle of the dead quiet office, he would suddenly gasp and yell, “HOLY FUCK!!!” Ninety heads would turn on a swivel, expecting that someone had died. No, Mario had just read something about a Bluetooth update coming to iOS. The guy was passionate about his tech... but now he’s dead. Probably from reviewing the earliest e-cigs.

KELLY: Please embed the gif from the end of the post I just linked to

(Editor’s note: The above GIF of Mario simultaneously vaping ten e-cigarettes and coughing violently was submitted by about 50 percent of Mario roasters. Because the current ad experience on this website is incredibly bad and demanding, I won’t further slow your load time by repeatedly embedding it. But know that many, many people wanted to mock Mario via that GIF.)

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I can’t believe Mario is leaving Giz. I can’t believe I’m still working for Giz. Christ, how old are we both now? Am I 80 yet? What’s that ringing in my ear? Who’s talking??? Anyway, Mario is a legend, and he’s my baby brother, and I love him and will miss working with him. Just don’t tell him that.

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Editor in Chief, Jezebel

In the five years that I’ve worked with Mario, his most impressive accomplishment has been his ability to sleep while sitting upright on a couch in the middle of the office, laptop on hand, during the workday. Sometimes I would gaze out at the pod, 3 pm on a Tuesday, and from the back Mario would seem deeply engrossed in the important task of being a top editor at one of the biggest tech sites on the internet. Upon further inspection, though, he would be lightly sleeping, a gadget baby with 37 tabs open on his laptop. Iconic behavior, dude. I will miss his naps.

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Marina Galperina, Features Editor

I really did try to roast or at least simmer Mario as a send-off to his next life—maybe remember some kind of a wilder (RIP) office party anecdote where his grand and gregarious affection for our team was on delightfully messy display—but most of us deserve second chances and comparatively clean slates, so I’m just going to say I’m very happy for his new life outta here, even though this totally sucks in here! From day one of working with Mario directly, my Spidey sense for total bullshit—corporate, journalistic, life-related—improved dramatically. I hope that he will continue fighting the powers that be tripping and righteously motivating whoever he’s replacing us with by strategically kicking their asses as needed. I leave you with his words of inspirational wisdom in response to my “yey, this week is almost over!”—“That just means you are one week closer to death.”

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Andrew Liszewski, Contributing Editor

My most vivid memory of working with Mario over the past eight years was eating dinner at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay resort the night before a CES got under way. Due to circumstances beyond our control (which I believe was Gawker’s motto at the time) we were the only two Gizmodo reporters covering the show in Las Vegas that year, and the look on both of our faces screamed, “I don’t want to be here,” and “Wow! This shrimp po’ boy is awful.” Somehow we both mustered, wrote a bunch of stories, slept several minutes, and while memories of the show have been intentionally blurred by my subconscious, I believe we were awarded the keys to the city for our efforts, and received fancy new yachts that were both immediately lost on a single hand of Blackjack.

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Be free, Mario, you’ve earned it.

Jennings Brown, Senior Reporter

A heads up to whoever was lucky enough to rip Mario from the Mario-shaped crevice in the Gizmodo blog mine: Mario types aggressively and sighs loudly. When I first started filing stories to him I thought these sounds were his responses to my work.

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I know now this is actually the groan of a man who bears the weight of a mountain of blogs.

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Mario joined Gizmodo eights years ago. When he started Google+ hadn’t launched, Microsoft was Surface-less, smartwatches didn’t exist, and Steve Jobs was still alive. (In fact, Jobs died two months after Mario started blogging about tech. Did Mario have anything to do with his death? Impossible to say.) In that time he’s edited thousands of blogs and written thousands more. I know because I looked through every one so I could troll him by sharing his worst takes.

I’m not a monster so I’m not going to share them here.

Except for this one in which he wrote that Ashton Kutcher can “definitely” play Steve Jobs, which seems like he was just dancing on the guy’s grave.

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Hudson Hongo, Culture Editor

I wish Mario the best of luck at Gawker.

Rhett Jones, News Editor

I arrived at Gizmodo a few years ago to work the weekends on my own and had limited contact with anyone else on staff. Mario was a mid-level editor at the time and most of the input I got from above came from him. I’ll admit that at the time, I thought he was kind intimidating. He was more serious back then and could be a bit abrasive. But without fail, he always pointed me in the right direction when working on a story. The man never gave me a bad edit and his knowledge of the tech industry goes deep. And despite his sort of stern Slack demeanor, I’d rarely worked with an editor who gave as many encouraging comments as he regularly did. He loves tech and he loves his coworkers.

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In the ensuing years, he’s ascended to the vaunted heights of deputy editor around here and I assumed the role of news editor. I’m not half as good at it as he was but I try to think of what he’d do in a given situation when I’m stuck. I’ve learned that he is, in fact, an extremely goofy and lovable guy. He knows how to boil a headline down to its essence and he knows how to get a writer to just focus on what’s important. He’s been a key figure in helping Gizmodo become a publication that publishes serious journalism alongside the not-so-serious stuff.

He’s the only person I’ve ever met who simultaneously claims that Fugazi is their favorite band and is somehow not an asshole. I’ll miss him.

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Jill Pantozzi, Deputy Editor, io9

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Katie Drummond, former Gizmodo EIC, former Gizmodo Media Group Editorial Director

A small number of things, maybe three, got me through my first few months as EIC of the maniac tech blog Gizmodo, the dumbest but also best job I ever had: Substance abuse, Mario Aguilar, and crying.

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I could go on about how amazing Mario was as a colleague and a teammate. How his enthusiasm for Gizmodo and deep well of institutional knowledge were invaluable both to me and everyone else on the team. How his work ethic (in the door at 8AM, out the door whenever the blogs would allow it) set the tone and raised the bar for the rest of the newsroom. Or how his thoughtful insights and ideas around tech coverage made Gizmodo vastly better than it would have been in his absence.

But most importantly, I want everyone to celebrate that Mario has an absolutely incredible laugh. It’s extremely loud and genuine, shows up when you least expect it, and will radiate joy deep into the mottled recesses of your black, dying heart.

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Plus, his hair is spectacular. Longer than you can believe, silkier than the HR department would like you to admit.

Above all else, Mario is a shit-heart through-and-through, and that shit-heart of his bleeds Gizmodo. It’s a beautiful thing, and something that can never be replaced. May his future employer be equally amenable to both shit-hearts and luxurious long hair.

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Brian Barrett, former Gizmodo EIC

I’m going to keep this short, because this many years at Gawker Media/Univision/GMG/G/O Media means Mario’s been through enough already. But since I was there the day he started, I want to share my lasting memory of his first few months on the job. Well, one memory, repeated daily: A scrum of editors yelling at Mario to write faster. Not better! Not smarter! He was plenty good and smart. But good lord, was he slow. Which of course is really a roast of all of us and the tech blog hamster wheel circa 2012. Thankfully Mario’s gotten even better and even smarter, and helped the next crop of writers become good and smart, and held Gizmodo together for longer than just about anyone. Thank god we didn’t ruin him back then.

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Joel Johnson, former Gizmodo Editor

As the second employee of Gizmodo, I have often considered Mario the “last of the old guard.” With his departure, it may be possible for the site to finally be good.

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Kate Knibbs, former Gizmodo Reporter

I know I am supposed to rip on Mario, but here’s the thing. Gizmodo was my first real full-time writing gig, which was weird because I knew nothing about consumer technology and had kinda scammed my way into the gig, and Mario could have ripped on me VERY hard each and every day for being a tech blogger who didn’t know tech. He actually understands about, like, phones and computers and gizmos and modos and whatnot! He knew what RAM meant, and whether a camera was Good or Bad! And yet he was always kind. Totally unlike his brother, Luigi.

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Tom McKay, Staff Reporter 

I’m very sad to lose one of my favorite co-workers at Gizmodo, a tireless editor who I really appreciate for showing me the ropes on the nights & weekends reporter gig (and keeping me from embarrassing myself in a massively public fashion multiple times). I have also been told that it is Mario who liked my original application for this job so much that I actually got it, despite submitting the demo headline “The Bird Flu Could Be Just 3 Tiny Mutations Away From Killing Us All, So What Is It Waiting For.” That was the only disastrous decision that I have observed Mario make during the two years I’ve been here and I apologize in advance for the many I will be making in his absence.

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Andrew Couts, Managing Editor

I had two broad notions about Gizmodo when I first joined the place: the team does great work, and everyone seems terrifying. Both of those qualities, I would soon come to understand, are largely thanks to Mario. An eight-year veteran of this venerable website, Mario served as Gizmodo’s Surly Grand Maester, the long-haired keeper of its institutional blogging wisdom, its history, and its cut-to-the-bone voice. He is also, without fail, humble, kind, and fair. Still slightly terrifying tho.

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Over the past nearly two years, Mario has taught me more lessons than I can recount about what it means to be a good editor and a good boss. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to spot and deal with bullshit, be it from PR people and press releases, management, or myself. I also learned that it’s perfectly acceptable in an office setting to shout, “Oh what the fuck!” or laugh hysterically without even the slightest bit of context.

The worst thing about Mario is that he provides so few embarrassing things for me to say about him in public. So, I’ll just say this: Mario is one of the Good Ones—a tack-sharp editor and deft critical thinker with a gut that’s fine-tuned to detect lies and injustice in our midst. Gizmodo may be poorer without him, but it’s forever richer because he was here.

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Eric Limer, founder of Blogtown USA

Who is Mario Aguilar and what is the legacy of his admirable and storied tenure at such an esteemed fixture of technology journalism? Beats me, but what I can tell you that he wrote at least four of the text messages in this video, I can only assume by drawing from personal experience.

Matt Novak, Editor of Paleofuture

When I first joined Gizmodo in 2013, I used to hear stories constantly about the one thing that other staffers would shout at Mario: “Type faster, Mario! Faster!” Mario started as an intern long before I joined the site and that was the one thing that was prized above all else during that era of blogging. You had to get the post up, and you had to get it up immediately. If it was ten minutes later, you may as well have not bothered to write it at all. Mario could type fast, but it was his humor and expertise in so many subjects that set him apart and allowed him to progress through the ranks at Gawker Media (RIP), Gizmodo Media Group (RIP), and G/O Media.

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Mario and I never worked in the same office, but I got to know him through my trips to New York and his trip to L.A. What’s Mario like in real life? Yes, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of music-centric tech and can talk your ear off about great bands with a sometimes gruff and abrasive tone, but at the end of the day Mario is fundamentally a teddy bear. One of the things that makes Mario so great is that he’s an incredibly sensitive guy and he has tremendous empathy for other human beings—especially people with very narrow interests. I actually have no idea who came up with the “Show Me Your Nerd” video series on Gizmodo, but even if it wasn’t him, that series is what Mario’s soul must look like.

I realize that none of this is a roast, but you don’t roast a teddy bear. You give a teddy bear a huge hug and tell it how much you love it. We love you Mario and Gizmodo won’t be the same without you.

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Ed Cara, Science Reporter

Mario is the second worst thing to have happened to the Mario Brand. Not as bad as Mario Cantone, but a close step behind the thespian Bob Hoskins’ performance in the 1993 classic Super Mario Bros. And for that, I salute him.

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Eleanor Fye, Video Producer

For me to roast Mario is almost comically unfair, because 99 percent of our interactions were based around the things he probably knows the least about: videos and shutting the hell up in meetings about videos.

In my first meeting with him, he told me ideally he’d love it if we could script a video, shoot it, edit it, and have it up on the site within two hours. I wasn’t sure if Mario thought I was made of magic — and if that was worrying, or incredibly flattering. Since that day, many moons ago, Mario has grown so much: he recently said in a meeting that a good blog doesn’t necessarily equal a good video and vice versa. I almost cried with joy — there might be hope for this kid after all!

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Our interactions in which Mario knows what he’s talking about have been pretty great: He edited this Blackberry piece I wrote and it turned out not terrible, because he is very good at editing and knows a lot about gadgets. I even learned a few things from the experience, though I don’t remember what those things were.

Thanks Mario. You’re an extremely smart and deeply passionate journalist. Best of luck in the future.

Also, I remembered that our actual first interaction was when he noticed that my hair was on fire at that video welcoming party.

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Whoops, thanks for saving my life, friend!

Bob Sorokanich, Deputy Editor at Road & Track Magazine

My first week on the job as a Gizmodo intern in 2013, Mario asked me to forge his signature on some document—probably the paperwork for an expensive electronic device that a company had loaned to us. Mario had forgotten to come to the office that day, so he couldn’t sign it in person. I ended up forging Mario’s signature on a bunch of different documents over the course of my internship, and I got pretty good at it.

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I have to assume that’s why, when I left Gizmodo in 2014, Mario decided to stop cutting his hair. It was some kind of weird mourning ritual—he’d lost his most reliable document-falsifier, and it broke his heart.

Mario has never cut his hair in the five years since. And while I’m flattered by the gesture, it’s only gotten more unsettling with time.

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What I’m saying is: Mario, if you forget to go to the office on the first day of your new job, don’t worry—I’ll gladly forge your signature on whatever documents you need to sign.

Or you can just digitally sign them using Adobe, which totally existed back in 2013 when you made me commit all that forgery.

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Adam Clark Estes, Senior Editor

Aside from the editor who hired me, Mario was the first person I ever met at Gizmodo. It was at a going away party for another Gizmodo writer at a shitty dive bar in Williamsburg, an event that happened to take place the night I accepted the job offer. This was nearly seven years ago now, but I remember the event vividly. “This is Mario,” the aforementioned editor said, as he started to introduce me to the staff. “He has a storage unit full of high-end audio equipment from his time as a roadie.” I thought he was kidding.

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The world looks different today than it did that night. The shitty dive bar is now a fancy Mediterranean restaurant overseen by the first-ever Top Chef winner. Down the street where there used to be a pit full of trash and a bagel shop, there’s a Whole Foods and an Apple Store. That entire staff of Gizmodo—it was maybe ten people at the time—has moved on to important jobs at impressive publications. Mario himself is off to a new challenge after faithfully serving approximately four decades as a Gizmodo writer and editor.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is that storage unit. Mario still has it, and for the life of me, I can’t imagine why. It’s expensive to hold on to things in New York City, especially when those things are large, and I can only imagine that the relics of Mario’s high-end audio phase won’t just fit in a safe deposit box at the local Chase bank. But it’s not without reverence that I regard Mario and his commitment to luxurious machines that make noise. He’ll always love his circuit boards and synthesizers. Maybe, if Mario decides to expand his collection or simply learn about the world, he’ll read Gizmodo for the latest news on gadgets, science, comic book movies, and more. Maybe he’ll even roast our salty takes in the comments. We should be so lucky.

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Christina Warren, former Gizmodo reporter

I left Gawker Media/Gizmodo Media Group/Fusion Media Group/Univision excuse me, G/O Media, or whatever bullshit the vultures at Great Hill or whatever private equity firm owns the website this week almost 2.5 years ago. I still have occasional nightmares where Mario is calling me, screaming “Christina, what the fuck?!” or “where is the blog?” In my nightmares, as in real life, I roll my eyes and ignore him and question the life choices that brought me to this place.

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Mario is an acquired taste. He can be abrasive (something I actually enjoy), he only functions in the dark, and he can be both uncaring about any detail and overly-obsessive about something that seems minor. He’s also incredibly moody. Mario is the moodiest person I’ve ever met — outside of my older sister. One of the great joys of selling-out and taking a job at a tech company is that I don’t have to deal with anyone as moody as Mario. Passive-aggressive, yes. Moody, no. Mario’s future colleagues should look forward to just ignoring him when he’s in one of his moods.

Mario is also one of the best editors I’ve ever had. I often hated the constraints he would give me (how is someone expected to review the new iPhone in 1000 words? I used to get 5000!), but I’m so grateful now because it made me a better writer. Mario made me a better writer. He’s also tremendously funny and deep down, is a really sweet guy.

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I can’t imagine a Gizmodo without Mario. I also can’t wait to see what he does next because I’m sure it will be amazing.

Rose Pastore, Science Editor

We were never close.

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