Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Remembering George Carlin

Here's a link to the Register's editorial on the death of George Carlin, a fond one -- and perhaps fonder than some of our commenters would have preferred. I suppose there were two George Carlin's (maybe more): one who was angry about many aspects of American life, or maybe life in general, but found ways to complain that were really funny, and one who was more gentle, and just amused at life's oddities (Why does everybody have two pennies in their middle desk drawer? Why do we drive on the parkway but park on the driveway?). Perhaps most of all he was a sometimes frustrated lover of the English language, that magnificent vehicle for communication which -- partly because it has borrowed from so many other languages, partly because some expressions become idioms even if they don't make much sense -- contains within itself delightful contradictions and absurdities. I think you have to love the language to do the things George Carlin did with it.

I really loved his riff on football vs. baseball (I happen to like football better, maybe because I played it with a certain amount of gusto and was lousy at baseball). I'm not much of a pop culture vulture, so my memories are mostly from his network appearances; I didn't watch any of his HBO specials, so I have no informed opinion on whether he got more dyspeptic as he got older. I'll miss him.

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