End of an Era

It was with complete shock that I responded to the news on the radio this morning: George Carlin was dead. It's hard to believe. He was one of those guys you could comfortably assume would live forever.

George Carlin held the number one spot on my list of potential adoptive/supplemental grandparents. I just totally dig the guy. Other potential candidates for would-be grandparental units include Johnny Cash for his obvious appeal (aided by his advertisement giving the finger to the country music folks), and Sir Ian McKellan, who played Gandalf, Magneto, Sir Leigh Teabing and a ton of other memorable roles, none of which I remember at the moment. Genetically speaking, Sir Ian is probably the closest match, as it appears he could be my father's mother's brother, were it not for his English birth. On the other hand, if we were speaking about fashion sense, JC would be the natch match.

But neither of those two beat George Carlin in the genius/irreverence category. Beto and I were lucky enough to see his act at the Schnitz, in the front row. I can't recall how many years ago that was, but I do recall that the person next to Beto had body odor that was so piercing that had the government bottled it, it would have been on the non-proliferation list and slated for destruction in the chemical demilitarization program. I remember figuring that Carlin could probably smell it, but assumed - much to my dismay - that he'd never call the person out. I also remember some assjacket wearing a giant Dr. Seuss hat, presumably hoping to get some love from the big GC. No luck. Dude just looked like a moron and I took some satisfaction in knowing that he was likely one of those "love me, hate me, but don't ignore me" types who was stone-cold disregarded. After the show, it was my impression that said GC really didn't care who was in the audience. He didn't care about the audience at all. It's not that he wasn't there to entertain and not that he didn't wasn't a ridiculously fantastic performer, but unlike Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and some of the other comedians we have seen, he didn't pander. He could have been in Anytown USA, reciting the alphabet backwards while measuring blades of grass, and the audience would have adored him.

So, it's sad to see his passing (a euphemism he loved). He was a social barometer, made even the most confident humble, and took control of the English language in a way that no one has since... and by all appearances, he was perfectly suited to be my fill-in Grandpa.

"The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done."