Like a lot of 80s kids, long before I was old enough to understand who George Carlin was or what he was about, I was a fan. Blame Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a movie which was the talk of the middle school playground in 1989, and co-starred Carlin as the world’s coolest time traveler, the most excellent Rufus. Appearing in a silly time travel comedy might seem out of character from a guy known primarily for challenging societal norms, but somehow I think Carlin knew exactly what he was doing. With it he worked his way into the mainstream, and from there he had kids like me hooked. When Bill and Ted told themselves “Listen to this dude Rufus, he knows what he's talking about,” I took it seriously, and I went right on listening as I got older and figured out that the man behind those wicked shades really was a messenger from our future selves, or the future I hoped we’d some day reach. A future world where people were allowed to speak their mind, a world where people were free to be free, and free to call bullshit on bullshit when they happened to see it.
George Carlin was a counter-culture hero, a cultural God who sparked something in America which is as sorely needed today as it was the first time he stepped on stage. Tonight, Sunday night, we lost George Carlin, struck dead at the age of 71 by heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital. After all his talk of fun with mind altering substances, maybe it’s a miracle he made it this long, but somehow, even at his oldest and frailest, Carlin seemed goddamn invincible. Sitting here tonight, reading the reports of his death, it’s almost a shock to discover that in fact, he was not.
He may not have been invincible, but George Carlin is surely immortal. He was edgy, provocative, and insightful every single moment he had on this earth. He fought for your right say shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits in his “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television” routine, but he also fought for your right to be you. He never sold out or backed down or gave in. He wasn’t the greatest actor, but when he showed up in a movie he made it count. He took his film work to new heights of fuck you working for Kevin Smith, when he played a Catholic bishop in Dogma and gave head in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The government couldn’t stop him, society couldn’t stop him, and he kept rocking that awesome beard right up to the end. Give the man his due, walk out your front door on your way to work this morning, and say those seven dirty words to the next person who happens up to you. It’s what Carlin would want you to do. Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits to you!
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