Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To: God, Re: George Carlin

Dear Lord,
Please look after the soul of one George Carlin, who probably passed customs and should be coming your way about now. I know he vehemently denied Your existence, going so far as to say, "There is no God, none, never was," but I know these folks are your favorite kind. Besides, any one soul who brought so much laughter and cheer to so many others is deserving of favor, and he was merely railing against the God he was taught about in Catholic school, rather than the God he talked about in his act; "The Big Electron," The Sun, Joe Pesci. His indignation was about organized religion's version of God; the vengeful, white bearded, invisible man in the sky who's spying on you all the time and who decides the outcome of athletic events. But anyone as observant and perceptive as George Carlin saw the larger frame surrounding the smaller picture, so he never claimed to be an atheist, just a pragmatist. And anyway Lord, he's already been in front of one Supreme Court.

My friends and I who grew up in the sixties thought George Carlin was the funniest man alive. After his first album release, teenagers were quoting from his routines, like "The Wild Willy West Show on Radio WINO, (Wonderful WINO, in Western Walla Walla)," or "Al Sleet, your Hippie Dippy Weatherman, (Today's high? Whenever I get up)." When the times grew turbulent, we were delighted to see Carlin take off the coat and tie and grow his hair long. He was one of us, and he was still funnier than hell, deconstructing language and pointing out oxymorons like Jumbo Shrimp, and Military Intelligence, so that you can't hear some absurd phrase without thinking of him. How many times has someone thought, "That would be a good one for George Carlin?"

And the older he got, the more outrageous he became, and we loved him for it. No subject was beyond examination; Cats and Dogs, Baseball and Football, Religion, Advertising, and a lot of humor that was just plain crude. But God, could he make you hold-your-sides laugh. After he became famous for his "Seven Words" routine, he updated the list on his next HBO special, unrolling a long scroll and naming in rapid fire diction every slang term ever used for any known body part or bodily function, and I was left, doubled over in the chair, gasping for breath. But he was also a deep thinker, and agree or not, he could provoke you to consider another point of view. He claimed he didn't do political humor, but his comedy was deeply political and often radical. Lenny Bruce may have opened the door, but it was Carlin who came through.

I heard Jerry Seinfeld say that Carlin recently spoke of being relieved that this season's current death wave seemed to have passed him by, but he ended as part of a troika with Bo Diddley and Tim Russert anyway. I think he might have liked the company because, although the three men excelled in vastly different arenas, they all shared a singular defining passion about what they did. But Carlin's sudden death was similar to when Johnny Carson died; there was no time in advance to consider a life without him. You could prepare for Richard Pryor, but Carlin? And in the middle of this political season so rich with humor? He didn't "pass away," or "expire, like a magazine subscription." He up and died.

If I said that I feel like I lost an old friend yesterday, George Carlin would have thoroughly mocked that, since we were never in the same area code, so far as I know. In the 1984 HBO show, "Carlin on Campus," George said, "I believe in live and let live, and if anybody doesn't believe that, we'll take him outside and shoot the motherfucker." (Excuse me Lord, that was one of the seven). On this occasion he might say, "Go ahead back to your blog (and he would make exaggerated belching noises since the word is funny), and if it makes you feel any better to write a little something about me, have at it." So I did. And I will remember George Carlin with gales of laughter, and hope he is now in the process of being pleasantly surprised. In the name of Joe Pesci, we all say....

Amen

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Randy. Once again you find the words to express what most of us are thinking.
Thanks to you and to George.
He will be missed.

Anonymous said...

R.J. Best Yet! Uncle G.

Anonymous said...

I really liked what you wrote, Randy. I had this feeling....man, the world just
won't be the same without George Carlin in it.

Anonymous said...

Amen...

My favorite Carlin quote... "Those who dance are considered insane by those who can't hear the music."

Anonymous said...

I could not have said it any better, if there is a God,I hope he welcomes the trioka with open arms,they all deserve it. Keep up the good work,your pal

Anonymous said...

Man TODAY I was gonna write and ask - where you been???

Anonymous said...

You really touched our hearts my brother Randy! Carlin was brilliant! I'll never forget seeing him for the first time...on a summer tv show hosted by Kraft and it starred prettyboy John Davidson but it was Carlin that stole the show! There are many great comedians but few really cool....Brother Dave Gardner, Jonathan Winters,Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory to name a few but George Carlin! Was he not the coolest? My favorite bit was the baseball/football anology. Baseball...pastoral...football...warlike and brutal. A few weeks a go Carlin was in Morristown,NJ and I turned down tickets to visit an angel in a hospital in Seattle....But I was told he was as funny as ever. To be honest I found him a bit disturbing in his latter days...how he looked forward to the high tally of victims when a natural disaster struck throughout the world. However I heard him on an Imus interview that the sweet nuns & compassionate priest from his family parish screwed up his beliefs as a unbeliever and that he still appreciated them. He also spoke about visiting a certain celebraty that he had worshipped but that celeb talked & treated his waiters and help with no dignity & respect & that he dropped him like a hot potato. In that cranky soul was a tender heart. He will be missed because he was the best! Peace! Padre

Nature Boy said...

Speaking as an old, gray hippie, our world is rapidly fading. As each icon of our era passes, a part of ourselves passes with them. I feel like a stranger in a strange land. I can no longer identify with the world that I live in. I suppose many aging hippy-types feel much the same way. When I felt this way in the past, it meant that it was time to re-invent myself. But these days it gets harder to make the attempt. Is it vain to believe that we lived through the best of times?

Randy said...

After seeing the HBO Carlin marathon, I agree with the good Padre regarding how dark George's humor became. It was especially eerie to see the special "You Are All Diseased," done while Clinton was still prez, and filled with dark wishes of catastrophe, burning buildings, and people falling from the sky. After the 9/11 attacks, I often wondered if Carlin regretted his prophetic scenarios, and then I said, "Nahhhh."

Father Farken said...

You are probably right me good Sputnik! Being an animal lover (I have 6 dogs & a zillion cats) I felt a bit guilty laughing me head off on his outrageous bit on dogs. Carlin would always get a dog medium height so when visitors would come his overly enthusiastic pooch would greet them right in the crotch. The guest would always say that the dog was checking out his puppies at home. Carlin would shake his head and say "No he's not!" I always use that bit on Rabbi & Lori Lipschitz when my 6 dogs would greet them...except I would say.."I hope you have dogs at home"! The good Rabbi said they left my house & stopped in a 7/11 on their way home and the Indian clerk fell out laughing when he saw the foam & slobber all over his crotch and the smile on Lori's face. Lori had just turned 60 & just winked at the clerk! The Rabbi would murmur "those Farken dogs". Thanks George for making it personal. The peace of the Lord!

Anonymous said...

Carlin said ,"Scratch any cynic & you'll find a dissapointed idealist." He must have been pretty damn dissapointed. The best! Shecky Kierkegaard McGirk

sputnik57 said...

Carlin's best quote about pets that helped me keep some perspective:
"When you get a dog, you know in advance that it's going to end badly."