Monday, June 23, 2008

A Farewell To 'Uncle' George

George Carlin's passing is sad, indeed, but also personally filled with irony

KC Shoen

Danny Kaye is about as humorous today as dried fruit.

At least by today’s standards, anyway. But Danny Kaye, in the infinite scope and breadth of his outreach of talent in comedy essentially gave birth to another whose prose in stand-up would be unmatched by any of his contemporaries for five solid decades.

One George Denis Patrick Carlin Of Morningside, New York.

Kaye’s influence drove the ninth-grade drop-out, and dishonorably discharged Air Force veteran something to aspire to: tell jokes, and get paid for it. Carlin found his way out of the orchestrated and mundane world of over-obedience and decaying original thought that was American culture, then and now, by way of making fun of it.

But George really didn’t come in to his own until a repeat appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show with a bit called ‘The Hair Piece’, in which he traded in the signature clean-cut suit-and-tie for a pair of faded jeans, a tie-dye shirt and long hair.

Carlin also decided to do away with impressions which had been his mainstay of his comedic routine in the 1960’s, and instead became a counterculture icon. This was due to two significant events in his life that occurred almost simultaneously: the arrest of Lenny Bruce on obscenity charges (which he was present for), and that marijuana was not only useful in summoning the Muse of his art, but was also a goddamn great high.

It was 26 years ago, on a hazy and cold Utah evening in November 1982 that I discovered who, and what this George Carlin was. ‘Carlin at Carnegie Hall’ was the one I must have watched a thousand times, even recording it on audio cassette so that I could learn and mimic his act. It was hot stuff to a twelve-and-half year old. Especially his introduction of the Original ‘Seven Dirty Words’ which, in this particular HBO special, was expanded to about five hundred which he read off a scroll at the end-credits.

Not only was this remarkable in that he found new and improved combinations, but the fact he parlayed it into many variances and phrases both profound and ambitious..some never heard of before.

I can’t tell you what kind of havoc this brought me in Mormonland Salt Lake, when I decided to repeat segments of his act to my schoolmates while in class. So many were offended, but so many more were incredibly amused. Many conservative members of the faculty at Hillside Junior High viewed me as 'mind poison': keeping a watchful eye on the ‘little demon’, and since I wasn't a part of the bleating Mormon sheep-machine, I was especially handled with great underlying disdain and vitriol by these figureheads. Even as far as being excluded from special school events due to my ‘negative influence.’

And I don’t regret a single moment of this. And it’s all thanks to good ol ‘Uncle George’

A strange and wonderful education began with listening and watching Carlin over those formative years. I discovered something rather intrinsic and deeply fascinating about his work: He was an idealist with a pessimistic view about those who have an unyielding loyalty to the ‘rules’.Waiting for either natural or human created catastrophe to spell the end of mankind, where he could have a front seat like a spectator sport was another: so that life could ‘start over’ and perhaps bring about a better outcome than what currently seems uncorrectable and insurmountable at present, given our ‘reptilian’ tendencies.

Even his disdain for authority had an idealist nuance: presenting total anarchy as a means to discover genuine and original thought that could bring about real change, above and beyond what we call 'establishment’. Carlin’s knack for attacking Corporate empires in his latter years gave glimpses of idealism that suggested if only these entities were removed (even violently) it would promote free thought: unregulated, unfiltered, and without commercial saturation. Free thought and Being were always central to his themes, in one facet or another, much like Hunter S. Thompson and his brand of ‘gonzo journalism.’ the two were most definitely cut of the same cloth...

But the real strangeness in all this for me started here..

It was 11:00 at night, and I decided to breeze through some e-mails on that 22nd day of June. Routine check-backs, reviewing the days messages, checking my Myspace, and whatever else needed tending to, that I suddenly found myself screaming at the Yahoo! Default page on my laptap. An entire part of my history had suddenly gone straight to the ‘past tense’ , and was no more in the living. It did feel like, in an abstract sense, a ‘relative’ had died; suddenly and without any pretense or appearance of impending expiration.

It was over.

All those Carlin-joke retellings ; all that preadolescent mimicry which evolved into true appreciation in adulthood now seemed vaporized. So suddenly, without a living being to attach it to. The being is now suddenly memorialized, no longer of the flesh, but now a eulogy. An epitaph. A weird and freaky little Uncle had transcended, taking with him his unyielding and nuanced humor that many to this day among the ‘family’ are still scared shitless to touch. A real funny sonofabitch, who would seem to have gone on boundlessly, is now absent.

Your favorite Uncle who knew your darkest thought patterns, and displayed them with incredible insight and verbal conciseness has disappeared from the barbecue, leaving only just the resin of time/space memory to quickly fill the void…and leaving you to deal with the other ‘pack of mutants’ at the cookout.

Uncle George has gone to The Great Gig In The Sky...

And it gets a little more ironic..

-My current song “I Am The Air”, finally debuted after two weeks of delays and programming errors on the part of A&R Limited, the company that features ‘The Indie Revolution’ show and podcast. The original date of it’s premier was June 8th. Instead it debuted this past Sunday..

June 22nd

-The song debuted in one of the largest music markets in the world, on a station that has an audience of approximately 1 million listeners locally. WMIR 100.9 FM, which is located in Long Island, near George Carlin’s birth city and in his birth state..

New York

-George Carlin passed away at St. John’s Hospital at approximately 5:55pm. The hospital is located in Santa Monica, California..

located about 4 miles from my front door

‘I Am The Air’ is a song about transcendence from the material plain; rising above the violence and sheepishness that seems pervasive in our times, and finding true spirituality from within, not without. Because of all of the strange coincidence involving his passing, and because he was truly a hero of mine, I would like to dedicate the main chorus of the song to his memory, as I think it is fitting, oddly enough…

I am the air above the sea

The sky above your debris

I am alive beyond your sight

I am the ghost leading this fight,

Clearing off where you sling mud

Reaching for god, as you draw blood

And I won’t come down…

…And I won’t come down…


Whatever these strange coincidences are suppose to validate, I'm not sure..but I just want to say goodbye, Uncle George. Thanks for validating my weirdness, and giving me a 'place' for my 'stuff'

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