Monday, June 23, 2008

In Memoriam : George Carlin

This one hurts a bit.

When I was 14, our family moved from Ft Wayne Indiana to Houston Texas. To say I was a social outcast during my first year in Houston would be understating the point. I had no friends. I had no prospect for friends. It was a tough time to be 14.

I did have a paper route, however, so I had (what I considered to be) a lot of disposal nickles, dimes and quarters. I would ride my bicycle up to the nearest record store (antiquated reference #1) and buy albums (antiquated refernce #2). I have no idea why, but I purchased Carlin's Class Clown, which contained the classic bit "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television*" (antiquated reference #3).

Carlin's humor appealed to me for several reasons: 1) He himself was an outcast due to his "imaginitive use of language"; 2) His "imaginative use of language" showed me that rules really didn't exist. Understanding the rules and the manipulation of rules to one's amusement is one of the greatest joys one could have; 3) His outside the box perspective on rules and life made me a smarter person.

To make a short story even longer, I ended up buying lots of George Carlin albums. I probably owned everything he did up to 1980. Like Rock n Roll albums, his records would have liner notes, including the 'lyrics' to each bit. I confess to peppering a lot of my day to day comedy act with Carlinisms.

In those days, I used humor as my shield and armor from the shithole of my early adolesence. Since I couldn't out-fight the bullies, I made sure that I humiliated them as I received my beatings. By the end of my high school career, I had lots of friends, great friends to this day, probably because of my sense of humor.

No, I don't owe it all to George Carlin. But as I mourn his passing today, I need to tip my hat to him, for showing me the power of words, the power of faith, and the power of intellect.

Well, played, George.

* Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.

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