FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Remembering George Carlin

by PAUL KRASSNER

In December 1962, when Lenny Bruce was arrested for obscenity at the Gate of Horn in Chicago, the police broke open his candy bars, looking for dope.  They checked the IDs of audience members, including George Carlin, who told the cops, “I don’t believe in IDs.”  Then they arrested him for disorderly conduct, dragged him along by the seat of his pants and hoisted him into the police wagon.

“What are you doing here?” Lenny asked.

“I didn’t want to show them my ID.”

“You schmuck,” said Lenny.

Lenny and Carlin had similar points of view–for example, they were both outspoken about the decriminalization of drugs–and they were both self-educated, but their working styles were different.  Lenny didn’t write his material, it evolved on stage, whereas Carlin did write all his routines and then memorized ’em.  Although both were unbelievers as far as religion was concerned, Lenny came from a Jewish background, and Carlin came from an Irish Catholic background.

Susie Bright, who first heard Carlin when she was in 7th grade, recalls playing his Class Clown album for her mother, “a woman whose first twenty years were entirely dominated by the Irish Catholic Church–and it was a comic exorcism for her.  She peed in her pants!  She was cured in one LP [long-playing vinyl record]!”

Carlin was a generous friend, and such a sweet man.  When I performed in Los Angeles, he sent a limousine to pick me up at the airport, and I stayed at his home.  More recently, when I opened for him at the Warner-Grand Theater in San Pedro, California, we were hanging around in his dressing room, where he was nibbling from a vegetable plate.  I watched as he continued to be genuinely gracious with every fan who stopped by.  If they wanted his autograph, he would gladly sign his name.  If they wanted to be photographed with him, he would assume the pose.  If they wanted to have a little chat, he indulged them with congeniality.

 “You really show respect for everbody,” I observed.

“Well,” he responded, “that’s just the way I would want to be treated.”  As a performer, Carlin was uncompromising, knowing that his audience trusted him not to be afraid of offending them.  Who else would have posed this rhetorical question: “Why are there no recreational drugs in suppository form?”  I was pleased to inform him that teenage girls have been experimenting with tampons dipped in vodka as a way of getting intoxicated without their parents detecting booze on their breath.

Carlin provided an introduction to one of my books, Murder At the Conspiracy Convention.  Referring to the 1960s, he wrote: “As America entered the Magic Decade, I was leading a double life.  I had been a rule-bender and law-breaker since first grade.  A highly developed disregard for authority got me kicked out of three schools, the altar boys, the choir, summer camp, the Boy Scouts and the Air Force.  I didn’t trust the police or the government, and I didn’t like bosses of any kind.  I had become a pot smoker at 13 (1950), an unheard-of act in an old-fashioned Irish neighorhood.  It managed to get me through my teens….

“My affection for pot continued and my disregard for standard values increased, but they lagged behind my need to succeed.  The Playboy Club, Merv Griffin, Ed Sullivan and the Copacabana were all part of a path I found uncomfortable but necessary during the early 1960s.  But as the decade churned along and the country changed, I did too.  Despite working in ‘establishment’ settings, as a veteran malcontent I found myself hanging out in coffee houses and folk clubs with others who were out-of-step people who fell somewhere between beatnik and hippie.  Hair got longer, clothes got stranger, music got better.  It became more of a strain for me to work for straight audiences.  I took acid and mescaline.  My sense of being on the outside intensified.  I changed.

“All through this period I was sustained and motivated by The Realist, PAUL KRASSNER’s incredible magazine of satire, revolution and just plain dissrespect.  It arrived every month, and with it, a fresh supply of inspiration.  I can’t overstate how important it was to me at the time.  It allowed me to see that others who disagreed with the American consensus were busy expressing those feelings and using risky humor to do so.  Paul’s own writing, in particular, seemed daring and adventurous to me; it took big chances and made important arguments in relentlessly funny ways.  I felt, down deep, that maybe I had some of that in me, too; that maybe I could be using my skills to better express my beliefs. The Realist was the inspiration that kept pushing me to the next level; there was no way I could continue reading it and remain the same.”

You can imagine how incredibly honored I felt.

Carlin told an audience of children how to be a class clown as a way of attracting attention.  “I didn’t start out wth fake heart attacks in the aisle,” he explained.  Ah, if only that’s what he was doing this time.  But a reporter did once ask him how he wanted to die.

“I’d like to explode spontaneously in someone’s living room,” he replied.  “That, to me, is the way to go out.”

And, through his CDs, DVDs and books, George Carlin does indeed continue to explode spontaneously in living rooms across the country.

PAUL KRASSNER is the editor of The Realist. His books include: Pot Stories for the Soul, One Hand Jerking and Murder at the Conspiracy Convention. He can be reached through his website: http://paulkrassner.com/

Originally posted on Arthur.com.

 

 

 


February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail