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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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George Carlin, RIP

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Dropcap_m_martinlewis aybe you remember him as Al Sleet, the "Hippy, Dippy Weatherman with the hippy, dippy weather ... man" or as Rufus in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" or the author of an incredible number of jokes that are  eternally circulating on the Internet. Or perhaps you have heard of his bit on the "Seven Dirty Words." Here's a transcript of the skit that got him in trouble.

Below, an interview with Carlin last year.

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Oct. 4, 2007

By Mike Flaherty
Special to The Times

Dropcap_t_martinlewis he acerbic stand-up comedian and social commentator is celebrating 50 years in show biz -- and last week's release of "George Carlin: All My Stuff," a 14-DVD collection of his HBO specials spanning 1977 to 2005. Although he shows no sign of slowing down, he did take some time to chat about his career, his healthy pessimism and our commander in chief.

--

So, 50 years in show biz, huh? Does that number date from a specific gig?

It dates from the day I took the air at a radio station in Shreveport, La., in 1956. You know what? It's really 51 years; we're fudging it a year just for convenience's sake.

I was 18, and they had me do newscasts first, then I became a DJ two or three months later.

Do you have a favorite among the 12 HBO specials on "All My Stuff"?

Yeah, "Jammin' in New York," 1992. Prior to that period, I'd refer to myself in interviews as a comedian who wrote his own material. But that was the point where I probably became more of a writer who performed his own material. The material became more like essays, they became more socially conscious, and it was just a major jump from being what I think of as only an entertainer to being an artist-entertainer.

I'm looking at the titles of your last few -- "You Are All Diseased," "Complaints and Grievances," "Life Is Worth Losing." If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a pessimist.

Dropcap_w_martinlewis ell, I am a pessimist as far as the world is concerned. I have absolutely low prospects for the human race; I have very low prospects for this country. For myself, though, very high prospects. I'm a personal optimist.

How does one keep pessimism from making them miserable, souring their outlook, preventing them from embracing life?

You can't care. You see, I don't care about the outcome in this country [or] on this planet because I know this is all temporal b.s. It's not a religious point of view, it's just realism. I like living somewhere detached from all of this emotionally. I don't really have a stake in the outcome anymore.

Dropcap_a_martinlewis bout 30 years ago, I became a person who said, "You know something? People aren't worth worrying about and caring about." One by one, yes; any time I'm with one person, I'm fine. There's all sorts of compassion and empathy in my heart. But when you consider them as a group, from a distance, I don't give a . . . about them.

How about George Bush?

Just a product of the American system. People always blame the politicians, and I say, "Well, where do you think they come from?" They are products of American culture, American society, schools, churches, communities, businesses, families, homes. So what are you complaining about? This is you, the government of the people, by the people and for the people. So, I don't let them off the hook by attacking the people they put out front. But clearly George Bush is an electrifyingly incurious man.

I'm guessing the notion of retirement doesn't appeal to you.

No, no. I get a great deal of joy out of this. An artist is never really satisfied; you just keep scratching underneath the surface trying for more.

When is the next HBO special, and what's it called?

The next one is March 1, called "It's Bad for Ya."

 
Arye Michael Bender writes:

Dropcap_g_laff eorge Carlin, Richard Pryor, and to a lesser degree Pat Morita, all came of age near the end of Borsht Belt era. Two of the three went on to redefine comedy.  Morita left stand-up and focused on acting.

Carlin, Pryor (and possibly Morita) were transformed by their experience of LSD.  They dropped the old, safe style and emerged with a heightened awareness and a sharpened intelligence that changed the way we all looked at American life.  And they made us laugh.

Boy did they make us laugh!

Thanks for leaving us with so much laughter, and more than a little insight.
 
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