Here are some quotes...
I first discovered Carlin around the age of 12 in about 1980. He was edgy, hilarious and brilliant and I immediately latched on. I still have the "seven words you can never say on television" memorized as well as the additions to the originals. I wore that album out in bedrooms surrounded by friends at sleep overs polishing our toe nails and dying our hair.
My parents witnessed his famous arrest in 1972 for the "Filthy Words" skit at Milwaukee's Summerfest (the world's largest music festival and worth the trip!) which is about to start again this Thursday on Milwaukee's lakefront. Eventually all charges were dropped. He frequently called the words the "Milwaukee Seven" for years afterwards...
More than that though, Carlin shaped in many ways the way I thought about freedom. The bit fascinated me and it wasn't long before I had gone to the library and found out about the Supreme Court case based on the bit, that limited free spech in this country. It was my first introduction to the American Civil Liberties Union (although the ACLU did not argue the case, but instead filed an amicus brief on Pacifica's behalf), the case was simple.
Carlin came up with 7 words that were never acceptable on tv and then had some fun with them. (I'll never forget how hard I laughed the first time I heard him say "corn tits" and "cheese tits".) Pacifica Radio in CA play the "Filthy Words" bit on the radio and the FCC went after them. Pacifica lost the case, and the government's point was made and solidified in law for the next 20 years (until Reno v ACLU where some of the standards were relaxed by SCOTUS), and even in part today.
The simple irony of it all was that in an attempt to highlight the ridiculous concept of "bad words" as he would scowl menacingly in the piece, he actually forced the establishment to make a decision and in the end, he was right... you can't say those words on tv to this day (unless you pay to hear them - nice capitalistic twist LOL).
I didn't understand it all then, but there was a simpleness to it all that Carlin put out to the American public, the blatant protest that it represented intoxicated me. He was saying I dare you! I wondered if SCOTUS actually heard the piece before they decided. Did they actually listen to the entire thing and the amazing ode to free speech Carlin was teaching all of us? I did and I got it... 8 years later at 12, they apparently did not get the joke.
Free speech was not 100%, it still is not according to the courts... I could get a record and play it, but couldn't hear it on tv or the radio, and I when asked my teacher who defends our free speech rights? My teacher introduced me to the ACLU...
I've had a love affair with the organization ever since. Most recently SCOTUS limited speech again in the ludicrously decided 'Bong hits for Jesus" case. Sometimes though, you have to lose a right to really appreciate it's value. I predict that idiocy will be overturned someday.
Carlin's genius was that even in his crudest moments, he made us all think while we were laughing. I don't know if you've ever thought about that, but it is a rare skill (which is why some sales people are so good at their jobs, most people don't think when they laugh and off guard, they buy...). Even now when watching a skit, I will rewind a joke because it was so layered in meaning that I wanted to dig down further and understand it a little better.
George was often derided by various people, anyone who questions the status quo is... but he was always honest, he adored his country and his brilliance at both making complicated thoughts simple and simple thoughts complicated is no minor accomplishment. It's funny, although always respected, his hippiness never really changed as he aged, his peer group audience though did... They sold out to SUV's and suburban houses and he became more and more obscure to them in his later years.
What's really interesting about him though is that I think his later stuff is much better than the earlier work. Deeper more intellectual and more angry and more and more true.
In short, I loved that man for teaching me everything from a profound love of our country and our constitution to the silliness that has kept me giggling for 3 decades.
His wisdom, passion and profound humor will be missed thankfully, we can still pay to see him on cable and video. He will teach many more generations thanks to the Internet.
Thank you George for all you have given me... May you rest in peace.