But, you know, life is dual. If you’ll scratch a cynic, you’ll find a disappointed idealist. And the fire never goes out completely. And that part of me that made my mother say “You have a lovely nature” is very true.
THOSE LAST COUPLE OF LINES are quite revealing. Yes, Carlin vaunted himself as a raging misanthrope, a zealous cheerleader for humanity’s obsessive self-destructiveness. But all that rage was but a symptom of a severely betrayed optimism and hope. Carlin wanted to see the best in people, but people sure made that hard to do.
That’s about all in the way of classic obit-speak I want to say about an intellect who was one of the most influential in my own maturation. To say anything more, especially anything maudlin or saccharine, would be not only disrespectful but also way beside the point. George Carlin knew there was no afterlife, and that’s why he lived every one of his days so damn ferociously, still staging 80 or 90 road performances per year at age 71. His pleasure came from rippin’ everyone a new one a couple of times a week — not from imagining some moment when he would be reunited with his dreaded family somewhere up in the sky.
Here was a guy who advocated plowing up the dead and “recycling” their remains. I’ve no doubt that his final wishes included something like being ground up into dog food.
So, George, every time I pop open a can of Alpo, I promise to pause for a moment, reflect on all the crap that goes into that gruel, and to think fondly of you.