Monday, June 23, 2008

They're Dropping Like Flies!

One of the drawbacks of being an infrequent blogger is that I feel like I'm always playing catch-up with the news of the day. This is especially true with any tribute I want to bestow on those that have just passed away and admire enough to say a few words. I jumped onto the Sydney Pollack funeral procession as soon as it pulled away, though feeling guilty that I neglected to honor Jules Dassin, Richard Widmark or even Charlton Heston. Then make-up genius and special effects wizard Stan Winston (JURASSIC PARK, TERMINATOR 2, PREDATOR, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS IRON MAN) kicked last week, right after Tim Russert. Just as I was about type out that obit, here come the real bombshell. George Carlin bought the damn farm. Jesus Horatio Christ on a Ritz Cracker! Who's next? And why the hell are they all GUYS? C'mon, ladies...a little equality here. Give us somebody... No, Dody Goodman doesn't count.

As for Carlin, the accolades will be overflowing and deservedly so. He was quite literally an embodiment of the term "legend in his own time". Other than his superb comic abilities and his lightning quick brain, Carlin was one of the smartest people in show business from the way he handled his career so deftly. He was a best-selling author. He got to live out his dream as an actor. As a comic, Carlin didn't just re-invent himself; he evolved as a performer. That career spanned 5 fucking decades. With George, he didn't get older. he just got better. Oh, yes, dear friends, a giant walked among us.

One of my prize possessions as a teenager was a copy of his record OCCUPATION:FOOLE (correct spelling, by the by). I listened to it incessantly, especially since one of my aspirations was to be a stand-up comic myself some day, using George, among others, as a model. Imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery, especially when Carlin's voice was so original and mine just sounded hollow. At least I aimed high.

George Carlin's legacy will be with us forever because he left a body of work that is unequaled in the annals of comedy. (That's annals, George. Not anals.) All you have to do is check out HBO at almost any given moment. There's 20 years worth of material right there.

Yeah, I lost a real personal hero of mine when George Carlin bit the big one. Then again, I'll always be grateful that I lived in the same era as he. Again, at least I aimed high.

So long, foole.
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