My sister called this morning. She left me a voice mail. George Carlin died yesterday.
I remember taking her and our cousin to Milwaukee’s Summerfest in 1972. My beloved was overseas then, our marriage many months in the future. I was a few years younger than our sons are now. My sister and cousin were younger still, in their early teens.
Summerfest was also in its youth. Not much funding yet. For seating they’d set round logs and railroad ties on the ground. As night fell we walked through the crowd, trying not to stumble over the primitive seats and those sitting on them.
Floodlights lit the stage where Carlin stood. Above the audience the lights danced with swirling smoke. We could smell it. It wasn’t tobacco. I felt sort of embarrassed (what was I thinking?), and sort of proud (what WAS I thinking??) exposing my sister and cousin to this groovy happening. Not that I was ever much into groove, but parts were cool. Tie-dye, flowers, sand candles, strappy leather sandals, music, peace signs, and incense (also not the cause of the heavy, fragrant air).
Then from the stage George Carlin started speaking his now infamous seven dirty words. I couldn’t hear it all…so many people…so much noise. But we were there, witnessing an event that would stay with us.
Here’s a link to an article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, a thoughtful piece, written well by Dave Tianen — Carlin Never Mellowed With Age. It includes pictures from that famous night in 1972. I’m posting it especially for my sister, my cousin, and for my sons, too — so that they might know one more thing about their mother.
Rest in peace, GC.
Now, back to the book.