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Monday, June 23, 2008

Dim the lights.

“I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it. “ - George Carlin

There are a lot of things that are going to be said about him, there are a lot of things that I want to say about him... But I'm not sure that putting it into words would do it justice.

I'm going to try anyway.

George Carlin - with his honest, 'fuck you, you hypocritical bastard' style - helped to get me through some pretty hard times when I was younger. With all the shit flying around my head, I could just pop in a cassette (thanks to good ol' uncle Carl) and let it all go.

You see, he made it okay for me to be pissed off at the system and life and all the stupid shit you're pissed off at when you're in the midst of a shitload of changes and the world just don't make sense. Hell, even through he was only in my headphones he was still the only adult in my life at the time that seemed to even acknowledge that things were fucked up.

His words and honesty - his perception - guided me through places and times that my parents simply couldn't. And... yeah... he made me laugh when everything around me made me want to cry.

Yet, as I grew up and 'matured' I found myself appreciating even more about this man - the heart behind the cynic. The man who desperately wanted everything to be okay and was so desperately pissed off that no one - for all our intelligence and 'power' - could figure out how to make it right.

Even as he railed against the system and the hypocrites, as he called down his fury against religion and big business, what he seemed to be saying is "Why can't you all just fix this?!"

To live that long and see all this wonderful promise, all this potential and then to see it savaged and lost to something as banal as greed and apathy -- well, let's just say I feel a certain amount of kinship with Mr. Carlin.

In everything I've seen, everything I've heard, I get the sense that he wanted to believe that we could be better - that what we are was not all we are capable of being.

Unfortunately, as time marched on and the world refused to get with the program, lines like his classic quote "Inside every cynical person, there's a disappointed idealist” seemed to echo out from a much darker place.

What broke my heart was watching his later stand-up, to see him older - haggard and angry, to watch those brief moments where the comedy melted away and the pain of it all seeped in. His frustration was palpable and when it happened the crowd just went silent. Luckily, being the showman that he was, he always seemed to be able to get it back - to step away from the edge of that abyssal heartbreak that he must've felt.

Some days I don't know how he did it.

George Carlin looked at the world and he saw the big picture. He saw it and wondered why no one else did - or if they did, why weren't they doing anything about it? Why was everyone allowing themselves to get caught up in all the niggling little shit that doesn't really matter in the end?

What inspired me was that instead of being defeated by this, instead of letting it all break him, he stood up and fought back in the only way he could: he used laughter and language and nuance and rage to make us see – to give us a glimpse of the world outside. He worked to find ways to bring us together, to push us to surpass the social and economic limitations put upon us by those who think they know better.

And the world is a better place because of his fight.

George Carlin is dead but his words – his intentions and his insights – are what matter. They will remain here to uplift, enrage and inspire any who dare to listen and question the world around them – who wish to make their own decisions about what is ‘right’ and who gets to say so.

I’m going to leave you with some videos I’ve selected to show the man that I will remember.

Thanks George, for everything.


Things that bring us together:

Soft Language:

The Ten Commandments:

Pro-Life is Anti-Woman:

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