There are very few faces we can all agree should be on the Mount Rushmore of comedy. One of those faces was that of George Carlin. George passed away Sunday night at the age of 71.
Carlin had a unique an unrivaled ability of observation that he processed with scientific-like critical thinking skills. He would then package the results into a meticulously choreographed display of hillarious commentary that somehow could manage to be both crude, and amazingly intelligent. Ask ANY comedian working today who the giants of comedy are, and they will ALL say Richard Pryor and George Carlin. Carlin was an unapologetic atheist and his routines railing against religion and faith were as funny as they were reasoned. I’ve had video from a couple of my favorite Carlin routines posted on my home page for quite some time. Please take the time to view them and admire the genius of his work.
Two weeks ago, we lost Tim Russert; one of the few remaining active journalists I actually admired. As a Washingtonian, I saw Russert everywhere (especially sporting events) and I watched Meet the Press every Sunday for his ability to ask all the right questions. Much has been said about Russert since his passing. All I will say is that when he was at work, one couldn’t tell if he was a Democrat, Republican, liberal or conservative. All one could tell was that he wanted the truth. That’s the way it is supposed to be. Many of today’s so-called journalists could learn alot from his body of work.
It seems that every other day, an era ends; and I’m not too crazy about those waiting in the wings to pick up the torches. A certain brand of dignity, integrity and class seems to be on the verge of extinction in our culture. There are less and less Sinatras, Sagans, Carlins and Russerts in this world, and we would all be advised to become conservationists of this decorum, lest we fall victim to the cultural deterioration that ended classical civilization; this time however, with much more serious consequences.
Archive for June, 2008
A couple weeks ago, I flew out to Dallas, Texas to see the Red Wings play the Dallas Stars in games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Why Texas? Two of my sisters now reside in Texas (one in Dallas and one with my brother-in-law and fellow Wings fan in Austin) and they got the tickets. I used my frequent flyer miles to book my flight so other than the cost of the tickets, the trip cost me very little. Other than flight layovers I had only been in Texas once before; and that was San Antonio, which deserves its own blog. For those who have never been to Texas, here are a few observations….
1.) Nowhere else will you find Americans so prominently identifying themselves with their state residence. On countless occasions, I heard people referring to themselves or others as “Texans.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single person call them self a Virginian as long as I have been living in the Commonwealth. I hear “Washingtonian” every now and then, but that is because being a Washingtonian is a truly unique existence. I’m not sure if being from Texas is really that much different from being from Oklahoma or anywhere in the Southwest. Yet, Texas pride is everywhere! The overpass columns of many of the freeways around Dallas are decorated with giant stars that eerily resemble something you see in China or Moscow.
2.) Everything offered in Texas is described as being from Texas. Meals are prepared “Texas-Style,” which apparently means several different things depending on who you talk to. Anything that is large is identified as “Texas Sized.” Meal portions, used car lots, etc. Being as Texas is big as shit, I guess this is appropriate.
3.) Shit is a lot cheaper in Texas. My sister has a three bedroom house with a two car garage just outside of Dallas. She paid $100,000 for it. This same house in Northern Virginia would list at $250,000 out in the sticks, and probably $450,000 where I live. Food was cheap as well. I had a nice Mexican lunch at a restaurant for six bucks. Speaking of food, any meal that included cheese in any way had the option of making said cheese, pepper-jack.
4.) Texans fancy themselves as hard -asses, but are really quite nice. When my family and I showed up at American Airlines Arena for Game 3 wearing our Red Wings jerseys, we were stopped by the local sports radio person and asked to do an interview. The first question he asked us was if we were afraid to be walking around in our Red Wings jerseys. Afraid? “Should we be?”- was my response. By the end of the interview we let the sportscaster know that we found the Dallas fans to be quite pleasant and being as we were from Detroit, and spent a good portion of our lives in Washington, DC, we weren’t afraid to be in Dallas.
5.) Finally… Patriotism. It can only be described as fanatical. People stop and cheer for servicemen and women in uniform every chance they get. Servicemen in uniform received standing ovations from the entire arena during both hockey games. Not wounded servicemen, but servicemen who were simply at the game. Look… I in no way wish to belittle American servicemen, but at last I checked none of them were drafted into service against their will. They all chose their profession freely and if you talk to them, many of them will tell you that they don’t like their service being glorified or being made a spectacle. Sure they like to be recognized for their contributions- we all do. But I have spoken to plenty of servicemen who see these kinds of displays as embarrassing. We don’t stop and cheer our policemen, firefighters, garbage men or any other civil servant in that manner, so why do it for servicemen? Many of them will tell you, they just want to be seen as normal. It just seemed a little over the top to me, Maybe it is because I live 3 miles from the Pentagon and if I felt compelled to stop and cheer each time I saw a person in uniform, I would lose half my day.
All in all, Texas was cool but very different. I was happy to get home to the East Coast.