Line-crosser crosses over

Rarely does the passing of a celebrity hit me the way George Carlin’s death did this week. I’m not apoplectic, mind you—he was 71, not 40, and I never met him—but I’m sad we’ve lost a powerful voice in the wilderness.

Carlin took the notion of comedy as commentary to a new level by challenging the conventions of thought. He held a distinct view of the universe, and he’d rip into hypocrisies of every kind: social, political, cultural, theological, sexual.

His bark had bite. And he was funny to boot.

You’re probably obituaried-out by now, so by way of tribute, allow me to share some quintessential Carlinisms:

• The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.

• How come when it’s us it’s an abortion, but when it’s a chicken it’s an omelet?

• What if there were no hypothetical questions?

• Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.

• What’s all this stuff about motivation? I say, if you need motivation, you probably need more than motivation. You probably need chemical intervention or brain surgery. Actually, if you ask me, this country could do with a little less motivation. The people who are causing all the trouble seem highly motivated to me.

• Capitalism tries for a delicate balance: It attempts to work things out so that everyone gets just enough stuff to keep them from getting violent and trying to take other people’s stuff.

• Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.

• I love and treasure individuals as I meet them; I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to.

• Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backward.

• I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.

• Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of 10 specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money.

• In America, anyone can become president. That’s the problem.

Carlin’s final comedy special, taped in Santa Rosa earlier this year, will re-air at 9 p.m. Friday (June 27) on HBO.

Media culpa: In last Thursday’s column, I took local broadcasters to task for spotty fire coverage and not bumping shows like Inside Edition and Savage Nation. Well, on KPAY’s Drive at Five that evening, Kelly Sanchez set me straight—her station aired fire news for much of June 12 and pre-empted the full slate of programs June 13.

I stand corrected. To be precise, when writing about my frustrated flipping, I should have said Inside Edition and The Sean Hannity Show … though that doesn’t have the same ring, does it?