Monday, June 23, 2008
Paul McCartney 'Unplugged: The Official Bootleg'
I’m sure you’ve heard… One of my favorite comedians died within the last 24 hours… George Carlin.
I first remember hearing George Carlin at Casa de Cothren. The older kids had an LP playing in the living room when I took a break from The Merv Griffin Show. So I’m ball parking the year to be around 1973 or 1974.
I heard George talking about pigeons and how living in the city caused their song to get stuck in their throats. Pigeons didn’t bother flying out of your way like other birds… Instead they would walk out of your way and give you a dirty look.
Carlin’s take on pigeons caused my 7 or 8 year old mind to look at things a little differently while laughing my butt off.
But I didn’t know that I was listening to George Carlin’s ‘Class Clown’ LP until my cousin Dan Lively played it for me a few years later. We listened to that album over and over. I digested every part of it.
Carlin’s thoughts on Limbo and Purgatory… How Johnny Pigman could belch at will… How Muhammad Ali didn’t want to kill people (Vietnam War), he only wanted to beat them up.
I even took the time and effort to belch the alphabet like Johnny Pigman.
Hey… That was high comedy for a 10 year old.
I remember fondly when I heard Carlin talk about the motives of class clowns. The types of guys that strived for someone to shoot milk from their noses during a good laugh. Because during the first time hearing that, I was drinking some 7-Up. I laughed at that so hard that I had soft drink spewing from my nose while Dan was on the floor cackling like a madman.
I started collecting his albums. I don’t have them all, but I have practically worn out my vinyl copies of ‘FM & AM’, ‘Place For My Stuff’, ‘On The Road’, ‘Class Clown’, ‘Toledo Box Window’, ‘Playin’ With Your Head’, ‘An Evening With Wally Lando’, ‘Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics’ (that one is on CD and not worn out), and ‘Occupation: Foole!’.
Dan and I would listen to Carlin albums while watching television shows with the sound turned down. It was high comedy to see folks on television mouth the words coming from those albums.
I remember Carlin talking about substituting the word “kill” with the “F” word while watching the old NBC show Flamingo Road. He talked about the old western cliché as some guy on the television show mouthed to another… “Sheriff. We’re gonna F you. And we’re gonna F you slow.”
At that exact moment, the guy looked to the other while lifting an eyebrow just as if that was actually said to him.
That still causes me to smile whenever I think about it.
I went to see George Carlin every chance I got when he came to Greensboro. The cool thing… He would come out with note cards, a stop watch, and a glass of water. Carlin was testing out new material on his Greensboro audience and timing it. He was readying the show for his HBO specials.
And in a sense, that made me feel special when I saw the show a few months later. Some things were changed. Some things were omitted. It was cool to actually see a work in progress before it was submitted for the rest of the World.
I loved how he looked at words and how people used them. Like for instance… Pre-boarding at the airport. How can you get on an airplane before you get on?
I got calls and text messages all through the day from my friends sending their condolences. They knew that I lost an important person in my life even if he was someone that I never got to meet.
Carlin was controversial, cutting edge, and not for everyone.
Maybe that last bit was the part I liked most.
George Carlin was one of few that forever warped my sense of humor. He may be gone, but I still have the smiles and laughs right at my fingertips.