Terra Sigillata

George Carlin 1937-2008

John Lynch let us know last evening about Carlin’s passing on Sunday. I think you’ll find many people sharing their favorite George Carlin moments today. I found him to be remarkably observant on how language is used to deal with social and political issues (“shell shock” became “battle fatigue” which then became “post-traumatic stress disorder’).

The man also clearly had some interests in pharmacology, particularly natural products – from the AP report:

Despite his reputation as unapologetically irreverent, Carlin was a television staple through the decades, serving as host of the “Saturday Night Live” debut in 1975 — noting on his Web site that he was “loaded on cocaine all week long” — and appearing some 130 times on “The Tonight Show.”

So, 71 is pretty decent for a guy with that kind of mileage.

I remember one of his later routines about how the country club set should open up their golf courses as places where the homeless could at least camp safely relative to railway sidings and roadway underpasses. Not funny. Just a great observation.

I somehow never got over him being the narrator on the American version of Thomas & Friends, formerly Thomas The Tank Engine. I kept waiting for him to jump into a stream of expletives whenever there was a conflict and having to whisk my young daughter away from the TV, then having to explain what the words meant.

Yet those of us kids who grew up with Carlin on TV continued to have our own kids subversively influenced by him. From his Wikipedia entry:

Carlin provided the voice of Fillmore, a character in the Disney/Pixar animated feature Cars, which opened in theaters on June 9, 2006. The character Fillmore is a VW Microbus with a psychedelic paint job, whose front license plate reads “51237” — Carlin’s birthday.

So pay attention today to all of the Carlin tributes and remembrances. Yes, he was a prickly, angry, and often inappropriate and vulgar wild man who battled with drugs since his teenage years.

He was also a genius, innovative and among originals with his observations and presentation.

While my Mom and Dad’s generation had Lenny Bruce, we had Carlin.

Comments

  1. #1 Paul A
    June 23, 2008

    Really sad to hear that, he was a hell of a sharp guy despite his problems. I first saw him playing Rufus in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure of all places and never came across the name again for years till I started seeing his stand-up videos on the net (he’s not that famous in the UK). Some of his angry stage diatribes are a joy to behold. He’ll be sadly missed.

  2. #2 DrugMonkey
    June 23, 2008

    Agreed the man was fucking hilarious and still offered up brilliantly insightful social comment and critique.

  3. #3 Dragonfire
    June 23, 2008

    Hell’s getting a great show tonight, a combination of Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks and Carlin. Hicks and Carlin were two very important influences upon my development since turning 18 and now both of them are dead. Pretty much all my heroes seem to have died, Heinlein, Hicks, Carlin…

  4. #4 themadlolscientist
    June 23, 2008

    My sentiments on Carlin’s passing are best expressed by the man himself:

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

  5. #5 Joe
    June 23, 2008

    Decades ago, Carlin encouraged people, like me, to think critically. RIP

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