RIFFS 2008
Published June 24, 2008
Seven Swingin' Words
George Denis Patrick Carlin 1937 - 2008

Beloveds, the ever loving, every rotating sphere that most of us claim as our main pad can be the most far out, wiggy gift of wonder any cat or kittie could ever hope for. And then again, it can be the biggest downer any cat or kittie ever dug in all their born days. If we are lucky we each get two scoops of the former and only a tiny sample spoon of the latter. Alas, today, we are handed a big scoop of triple drag. George Carlin, like His Lordship, a genius with the English language, has taken his leave of us. He died of heart failure in Los Angeles on June 22, 2008.

Carlin started working in comedy in the late 1950's as part of the duo of Burns and Carlin. In May of 1960 they issued their only album "Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight" recorded at Cosmos Alley in Hollywood (a place that Lord Buckley also played.) Soon Carlin was working solo and eventually found his way to network television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. Memorable inventions of his were the Al Sleet the Hippy Dippy Weatherman, the ungifted disc jocky, "Wonderful WINO!", and a take off on a well known late night host, Jon Carson. Though his work was funny it did not hint at the transformation to come.

As he gained momentum and fame he honed his humor until it fit him like glove. He disgarded the comedian's obligatory suit and the celebrity impressions and found that his own voice was strong and true. He deftly and hilariously skewered society, spotlighting the folly and fallacies that we are all heir to. Perhaps most famous for his "Filthy Words", sometimes known as the "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television", monologue that ran the US legal gauntle all the way to the Supreme Court, Carlin continued the censorship fight that had brought down Lenny Bruce. His delivery could be harsh and painfully pointed but underlying all of his criticism was an intelligence and a loving heart and soul. For all the surface crustiness of his performances, left the world a more humane place.

Carlin was a big fan of Lord Buckley. He even went so far as to name one of his tours after a phrase that he once hear Buckley utter: "You Are All Diseased". During an interview with LBC curator Michael Monteleone, Carlin spoke of His Lordship's struggle to bring the Hipsemantic to the populance.

  "Well, you have to sing your song. And it's what is most important to you that surfaces, that's my guess. In my own case, I had a fortunate convergence of doing things that I felt deeply about, that I felt were mine, that I owned - thoughts and feelings and attitudes. And having them become acceptable to a wide - you know, it's - to a wide portion of the public. It's like Lily Tomlin said, "It's very embarrassing to be successful in a mediocre society." And, on his part, he had the first part. He had the song he wanted to sing. But, it wasn't a song that was transferable to a larger, broader audience, it was very exclusive and excluded a lot of people. So, he had, therefore, to do that for himself. Because the other, you know, if you say he put aside something that was a little more promising commercially, and went to this, then that was, he was consciously making an artist's choice I guess."  

So, LBC says to George Carlin these seven words, "Thanks, George Carlin, it was a gasser!"