Monday, June 23, 2008

GC at 71

There's really not that much to say beyond this.

I remember a few years ago -- maybe even five or six -- walking to a train station and seeing him on the street. He was wearing an HBO jacket and jeans and looked pretty much like everyone else on the street, but he wasn't. And for people who thought he was a potty-mouthed hippie whose sole job was to see how far he could take things, his mission was well beyond simply straining the laws of good taste. True, he took up the mantle from Lenny Bruce when it came to challenging our interpretation of the First Amendment; but as anyone who has ever listened to an entire George Carlin album knows, he wasn't about vulgarity or challenging our notion of humor, he was about -- as his predecessors were and those that followed are -- pointing out stuff in our culture and our lives that needed examination, observation and questioning.

In his later years -- at least in his comedy -- his perspective seemed to veer towards more acerbic and caustic observation, and on some occasions he seemed downright angry. But I think his perspective -- at least on stage -- was, on some level, about seeing through all the bullshit that came his way.

Last week, with the passing of Tim Russert -- which made me very sad to hear because I was a fan of his as well -- I kept these pages dark because, despite the fact I like Tim Russert, I felt he was more an observer, like Walter Cronkite or Ted Koppel or Peter Jennings. But with George ("GE-OR-GE-OR-GE"), he not only observed; he commented, skewered, and left me laughing and, despite his passing, I know some of his observations will stay with me for the rest of my life. I don't know if I should be thankful or condemn the man, but I'm smiling as I write this.

My final commentary would typically be "RIP" but we all know GC's there with Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and Rodney Dangerfield, raising hell (pardon the pun) and seeing how many people he can irritate as "the new guy."


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