Monday, June 23, 2008

Ed? That motherfucker's still around, man.



When I was eleven years old, my mother game me three George Carlin recordings on tape in my stocking for Christmas. An Evening with Wally Lando Featuring Bill Slazo, On the Road, and the classic Class Clown. I don't think my mom knew much about him, and I would imagine that her purchasing them was inspired by my requesting "comedy tapes" for Christmas. Whatever spirit of serendipity guided her hand the day she bought those three tapes, a deep love was built that Christmas.

I suppose I already had an affinity for words, but Carlin taught me how to play with them, how to manipulate them, how to love them. He showed me how beautiful English can be, and how absurd. He dealt in honesty and pinpointed how language can be exploited by the dishonest.

I've tried to read a couple of obituaries for him today, but I just can't. Surely, other heroes have died in the past, but none of them meant as much to me as Carlin.

Of course, in his own words, thanks to the language in this country, Carlin didn't die. He passed away. Or expired like a magazine subscription.

8 comments:

JCN said...

When I was 13 or 14, "Think of how stupid the average person is and then realize that half of them are stupider than that," was a revolutionary statement.

"I wouldn't fuck her with a stolen dick," was no slouch, either.

Gabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabe said...

There's always:

"Most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn't want to fuck in the first place."

"They (Christian Conservatives) aren't pro-life. They're anti-woman."

"Selling is legal. Fucking is legal. Why isn't selling fucking legal?"

Hackett said...

I just heard a snip of an interview he did on XM.

Host: what would you have pout on your headstone?

GC: "Here was here just a minute ago..."

d.w. said...

When I heard the news it was about 1:15 am CST on Sunday night. I was sitting at a picnic table outside of the V's Mini Hamburger truck, which is parked in an empty lot on a street corner in east Austin, eating a Frito pie (look it up, yanks) and talking to an old hippie I had just met 20 minutes ago about how things "used to be." It's an almost perfect situation.

The slightly younger hippie who runs the food truck walked out to us and said that she just heard on the radio that Carlin had died. For the next 3 minutes, all that my new friend (his name is Guy) could muster was, "wow."

Eventually he started talking about his memories of Carlin and how important he was. Guy had seen him at the Paramount in Austin in the mid 70's. He could quote passaged of routines Carlin hadn't done in 40 years. And while I called him "Carlin" Guy just called him "George."

I almost felt embarrassed to talk about my good old days of watching Carlin on VHS in Jordan's dorm room way back in college. Like that would impress someone who had 35 years on me.

And it struck me that, in a way, this is what was so fantastic about George Carlin. He didn't really belong to our generation. He may have been our hero, but he wasn't really our hero. If that makes any sense. He was something that our fathers and grandfathers gave to us to show us how it was supposed to be done. To teach us that we aren't the only relevant people in the world. He was Captain America.

It made me wonder who we'll be able to pass down to our kids.

Gabe said...

I think Carlin was one of the few comics who got better as he aged. His material evolved along with the times. For the hippies, he was a hero. For the "ME" generation of the 80's he was a critic. For the millennium, he was a doomsday soothsayer. And I loved him for it.

Anonymous said...

i've been using the stolen dick line for a long time.

he always has a slew of lines you can quote that no matter who say it to will chuckle. even up to the very end he was a legend.

"perfectly good p-ssies!...going to waste!...in the ground!"

"d'ya ever put your head on a pillow...if you close the bottom eye the pillow is way down there. but if you close the top eye the pillow moves way the fuck up there. 'holy shit dave, look at this. it's the mystery of the moving pillow.'"

Kath said...

I thought it was "i wouldn't hit that with Bea Arthur's dick." Perhaps i'm wrong. hey - perhaps I came up with it? yes, i'm sure that's it. he was the only good part of jersey girl, that's for shit sure.