A couple of recent deaths, one of national prominence, remind me again how quickly time passes and how all living things influence us in some way.
Comedian George Carlin, who died in June 2008 at age 71, was my favorite laughmeister when I was a teen. His “AM/FM” and “Class Clown” albums were good for comic relief, but also were thought provoking. And among my greatest memories as an adult are the two times I caught him live in Las Vegas, once with a special female friend. I was laughing uncontrollably, and my female friend said she laughed so hard her face hurt.
His famous “Seven Words” bit revealed the hypocrisy of much of what gets piped into our living rooms daily by commercial TV. As Carlin said, it’s OK to say “kill” on television, but one can’t say “f—,” which is a crude reference to lovemaking. And on stage, he pointed out how silly some common expressions are. “Smart as a whip?” he asked. “What’s so smart about a (deleted) whip?”
Yes, there was some bitterness there, but methinks it was largely schtick. His curtain calls always were humble and self-deprecating, and he genuinely appreciated people shelling out $60 or so to see him.
Closer to home, Uga V1, the University of Georgia’s beloved football mascot, died the same week as Carlin. His predecessor was once named the nation’s top mascot by Sports Illustrated, and the entire line of English bulldogs enjoy a paparazzi-like fan base.
To me, Uga V1 and his predecessors represent the greatest years of change in my adult life. I entered UGA as a scholarly but introverted journalism student. I left having been editor and sports editor of the student newspaper with a peer group that still enjoys quite a bit of success. And I grew personally too, getting hit by the love bug for the first time.
I don’t think even my many years in Southern California had quite the effect that my years in college did. So every time I see an Uga on the Bulldogs’ sideline, it reminds me of how important education is to people, and I’m not just talking about classrooms. Long live Uga V1 and George Carlin.