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2:02 PM, Monday, June 23rd, 2008:
All I could muster. Last night I spoke with Paddy after all day working on the house only to have him tell me of Carlin's passing and just... bum, me, out. He's on the list...
...the list of performers I adore that have every right to die in their 70s, but we all believe they will literally be around until 100. Morgan Freeman is on this list. Life is just a little bit better while they're around. And don't even get me started on McCartney.
My step-father Dan first introduced me to George Carlin. Sweet Criminey have I really gone 774 entries without ever mentioning him? Wow. That's mind-boggling. What a profound influence he had. Have barely spoken to him in nearly 15 years but basically anything that was "anti-establishment" originated from him. And my love for sports...go figure. Anyway I remember as a kid loving him in the same way I loved Gallagher (the parts of the show before the waremelon). They were fiercely intelligent symbols of the 60s revolution and they used common sense and twisted humor to make you think. Even as a kid I loved it.
As I got older however, Carlin became something more. When I saw his early stand-up stuff in the early 60s it finally occurred to me just how risky he was now (this is early 90s mind you) in comparison to then. Forget the "7 words you can't say on TV", that's too obvious. It's introducing people to a completely anti-establishment way of thinking... and making it ridiculously common sense. It's propaganda... the other way. At the end of a Carlin show, you basically laughed and agreed with thoughts/ideas that in "good" company would make you the most perverse, anti-American, commie, hippie outcast alive. And most probably had no idea. His mind was so quick and so open to every angle that there was hardly an audience that he couldn't grab and manipulate. He was by all accounts a genius.
Now please understand that when I use the terms "propaganda" or "manipulate" there are absolutely no negative connotations. Not in the least. Like it or not - that's the job of a performer. Your audience is a blank canvas and it's your job to paint them, to effect them. It's why Kauffman was so mind-numbingly brilliant because he had the most uncanny power to do just that. Even if he was painting your canvas BLACK and you HATED him... he did that to you. Carlin was much different of course, but the result was the same. He introduced you to his rhythm and you rode with him. I always felt like I was inside someone else's body hearing or watching him. I just don't know of any performer that changed you after the show ended. He deeply effected me.
And of course... the longevity. His last special in March was as quick, witty, dead-on, inspiring as literally anything he had done. In his freaking 70s I mean REALLY. The only difference was that his appearence was actually starting to change and I actually thought he was sick in March. For a guy who was bone skinny his whole life, you could tell something was up and it was very consistent with a heart problem. Somethin' wasn't regulating right - but I quickly shook it off and figured this was just a new phase and he'd look like this the next 20 years. It's just so difficult to fathom a guy as "with-it" as Carlin was... ever dying. And man how happy would he be with how it played out. Working nearly up to your dying day? Producing a special months before you die? And how 'bout this:
Seinfeld said he had talked with Carlin a few days ago, not long after the death of "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert.
"We were actually joking about death," he said. "We were kidding about how, you know, they kind of come in groups. It was like Bo Diddley and Tim Russert. And he was saying how I feel safe now for a little while because, you know, there should be a lull before they come after the next person."
The irony of him being the third would have made him quite happy. So it really is bittersweet because as much as I'll miss hearing what he has to say about current events I look at his life and all he packed into it and all I can do is aspire. Aspire to be half of what he was and it makes me more determined than ever to keep writing, singing, producing, editing, creating until I've given absolutely every single thing that I have to the world. Just like Carlin. Wish I could've met him.