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June 23, 2008


Another Major Loss- George Carlin RIP

Jim McPartland



I’m starting with the AP’s report as it’s a well written, high level overview.


george_carlin.jpgComedian George Carlin dead at 71

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<!-- end storyhdr -->LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Stand-up comedian George Carlin, who became famous for his biting anti-establishment brand of humor, has died in Los Angeles, his publicist confirmed Monday. He was 71.


<!-- SpaceID=95972313 loc=RMP noad -->Carlin, who had a history of heart problems and had survived three previous heart attacks, died at the Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica on Sunday at about 6:00 pm (0100 GMT) after being admitted with chest pains.

The New York-born comic was best remembered for his famous routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." The routine triggered a landmark Supreme Court lawsuit that shaped decency rules for US television and radio.

Carlin, who recently marked 50 years in show business and was performing in Las Vegas, made 22 albums and won four Grammy Awards.

He authored several books, performed on dozens of television shows and appeared in numerous movies.

Born in 1937, Carlin dropped out of school as a 14-year-old and later joined the US Air Force. He got his first taste of standup in the late 1950s and made his television debut on "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1965.

He performed on seminal US network shows such as the "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Tonight Show," where he regularly stood in for Johnny Carson.

But it was the edgier humor of the early 1970s and his "Dirty Words" skit that he will be best remembered for.

The routine saw him arrested for obscenity in 1972 at a comedy festival in Milwaukee and when the Pacifia radio station broadcast a version of it in 1973, the station was sued by the Federal Communications Commission.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled narrowly in favor of the FCC, a court order that established indecency regulation in US broadcasting.


I find it hard to believe, understand, buy into- whatever you want to call it- that Tim Russert dies 6/13/08 only to lose another icon, comedy legend George Carlin 9 days later Sunday 6/22. Heart attack just like Russert. I got out my bible to check Revelations to try and figure out when the locusts are coming. It’s hard to fathom.

Forget the end of the world doom and gloom, let’s just focus on Mr. Carlin.

I must have seen him on TV, maybe Merv Griffin in 1971 and thought he was really funny. In 1972, at the ripe old age of 12 and in 7th grade at Our Lady of Victory catholic middle school, I somehow finagle my way to buying a copy of his record ‘FM & AM’. They didn’t do ‘parental advisories’ back then (it’s been added). There simply wasn’t much recordings of anything that used blue language (although Midnight Cowboy in ’69 certainly pushed the envelope with its ‘X’ rating and Oscar).

The first cut “Shoot” was George talking about the word ‘shit’ and how it’s used. I remember sitting in my bedroom, volume low, like I was doing something wrong (the girlie mags didn’t make an appearance until 2 years later, along with the bong). I was literally in tears from laughing so hard. I know one of the reasons I write like I do is directly influenced by George.

I then snuck the record into school. Ms. Lengly didn’t have a clue what was on it. If she, or a priest had, I’d have been whisked away to spend eternity in a confessional and washing my ears out with Clorox. I got a small group in the corner of our room and, very softly, put it on. We had to stop when Ms. Lengly asked what we were all laughing at.

In 1973, for my 13th birthday, I asked my mother to take me to see Carlin at the Oakdale theatre as my birthday present. Tickets were $8. She said yes but, like Ms. Lengyl, hadn’t listened to the record. I really didn’t give much thought to what he would say as it didn’t faze me. My mother was another story. And, even with Serpico and The Exorcist released that year, it just wasn’t common to hear the ‘F bomb’ in any public setting. Now that I think about it I first heard the word at 7 and asked my mother what ‘fuk’ meant. When her eyes almost popped out and a fur ball came jettesing out at me, I figured it wasn’t good.

So there we are at the Oakdale, it’s pretty tame until he dives into ‘The 7 Words You Can Never Say On Television’. I’m laughing hysterically, but another fur ball ends up in my lap and my mother says “I’m feeling sick; we have to go to the break room here’. I’m disappointed because it’s near the end of the show, and it’s getting to the best part, but we find the room. She catches her breath and puts her eyes back in. Funny thing was, the show ends—and here comes Gorge Carlin. I’m in awe.

 He talks to some friend of his, shaking his hand. I, the ballsy 13 year old that I was, step up and say ‘Why don’t you shake hands with me, George?’

I remember the look on his face—kind of a mixture of ‘this kid has nerve, and why is a 13 year old at my show?‘. But he does it and I remember it like it happened yesterday.

After that, I would rush out to buy his albums the day they came out. ‘Class Clown’, ‘Occupation Foole’, ‘Toledo Window Box’. While I liked Cheech and Chong, I LOVED Carlin.

And now he’s dead. Fuck. Oops, that’s one of the 7 words.

The most recent thing—and maybe the one that will be engraved in my head the longest was when he was on the panel on Realtime with Bill Maher HBO show.

He said something I’ll never forget and totally agree with.

“Democrats are into people. Republicans are into things”.

So he was brilliant in many senses too.

George, this Bud’s for you.

My guess is he’s still doing stand up at the Gate because Peter won’t let him through to God yet (who’s also waiting) because Peter can’t get enough of his jokes.

Now he can tell real dead jokes.

Too bad I can’t listen to that album for a while.