I looked at my alarm this morning - my alarm is a little Chumby device that plays the Web by my bedside - and the first thing I saw were the words 'piss' and six others I still can't type here.
Then the words "George R.I.P."
He was once way out there. He had some brilliant observations, and some that were stone serious, like:
I think it is the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.
Which he did, famously.
His "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" got him busted at Summerfest in Milwaukee in 1972, and a Journal Sentinel blog post from last year recalls the moment.
They track down the cop who was attending the performance with his 9 year old son, and "couldn't believe my ears." So he busted him after the performance, giving Carlin time to stash his coke.
The beauty party is from the courtroom:
The defense called two witnesses who were at the show. One was Tom Schneider, then a rookie assistant district attorney in Milwaukee who later became U.S. attorney here. Coincidentally, he was the DA on duty the next day, which was a Saturday, and was involved in the decision not to charge Carlin criminally.
Schneider was asked on the stand if he observed any disturbance as a result of Carlin's comedy routine, one of the elements necessary to prove disorderly conduct. No, he replied.
"What did you see happening?" came the follow-up question. "I saw people laughing," Schneider said.
The city called just one witness, a Catholic school teacher named Donald Bernacchi of Milwaukee who saw the show with four boys. He said he was shocked by what he heard, but noted no disruptions.
The highlight of the trial came when a version of the seven dirty words routine from the "Class Clown" album was played in court on a phonograph. Laughter rippled across the room.
"Jeepers, creepers, you can imagine. I tried to maintain as much dignity as I could under the circumstances," said Gieringer, now 81 and still serving as a reserve judge in Milwaukee.
Click here to watch Carlin perform The Hippy Dippy Weatherman and the Seven Dirty Words.
Click here to read a WFMU appreciation, and link to scads of old TV appearances, such as the Merv Griffin Show, the Tonight Show and the Smothers Brothers.
Or here to read a 1997 interview in Mother Jones with the man who said he wanted to be Danny Kaye when he grew up. What did Mickey Mouse ever do to him?
One last stop: The All-Spin Zone stuns us with the revelation the lefty blogger went to an all-boys military academy, then charms us with an account of what it was like the day in 1971 when George Carlin performed there.