Thursday, June 26, 2008

"... and Tits"

Yeah that guy Carlin. The dude with the obscenity riff. The thing with the seven deadly words you can't say on television. He died. What did he do? Was he really funny? Was he as important as Lenny Bruce? Lenny Bruce used all those dirty words in his act, but he wasn't a "Blue comic." Red Foxx was a Blue Comic! Belle Barth was a Blue Comic. They said Lenny was a genius. George Carlin was a regular stand up comedian. He came from the Bob Newhart and Shelly Berman School. Guys who didn't tell jokes so much as do bits. You know, little acts, plays, monologues. The things you expect from comedians now, but it was all new after Lenny made it hip and these other guys honed it cool. It's easy to understand if you look at Lenny Bruce as Jazz and Carlin as Folk Music, good folk music, but Folk Music.
So George went along and started growing his hair and opening for musical acts in the big clubs. Acts like the Kingston Trio Stuff that was very popular, and he sort of paved the way for comics and music to exist in the same formats. You wouldn't have seen that with your famous comics of the past like Bob Hope and Milton Berle. Those guys might have worked with a big band, but there was no question that the comic was the top banana and when you look back you see that Hope and Crosby and Berle were not particularly nice men and enjoyed humor at other peoples expense. Then came Lenny with his Jazzy ways and his way out hop head morals and things were never the same and even though Hope and George Burns lived to be 100 years old they could not change a thing. Lenny did not live very long, lots of junkies don't, but he lived long enough to give us the likes of Carlin and Newhart and Steve Martin and Richard Prior and comedy flourished. George was funny. He did comparative bits like Foot Ball vs Base Ball.
He would growl in a real tough voice that football was played on a gridiron and then gently murmur that baseball was played in a park. Funny. Obvious, but still funny. George was quite expressive. Well for some reason George felt a need to embrace the "counter culture" and he came out with some questionable choices like Al Sleet, "The Hippy Dippy Weatherman" Trouble there was he did this in the Summer 'O Luv ––sometimes known as 1966 ––and there were many movers and shakers about who took their status as Hippies quite seriously, so Carlin's portrayal, while humorous, cast him in the light of grownup from then on and when you measured the man against the competition he was a pretty goofy one at best. George didn't get it though, so he kept on, becoming involved with those dirty words, the seven words you could not say on TV. It wasn't that he cared about the words so much as he worried about the the bad thoughts underlying the nation. His point was not that we should use the seven words. It was on the order that there are not any bad words just bad ideas made by bad people using all sorts of words. Carlin pressed on that point through a period of self destructive drug abuse but he came out OK, and even though his late material was a tad scary in that he seemed to feel the human race had been given a fair chance but blown it beyond redemption, his sweet demeanor never left him. I think we loved George Carlin for that sweetness; his anger was more sadness than anything else. Carlin said religion was BS and I am apt to agree especially these days, however; to bang a dull gong of irony I could point out that in the gospel of Luke the last seven words spoken by Christ were " ... for they know not what they do." Because of George Carlin and those who came after we have a platform where those odd men and women who practice the art of social comedy can keep us well informed as to exactly what "They" might be up to at any given time. It is a good thing to be able to laugh as you take stock of those who would be your enemy on the basis of how you think. You probably don't think too much about comics operating behind the lines, but when you think about guys like Rush Limbaugh getting exposed as a pill head pervert, you can bet some funny person was behind it.
So, yes it is very important that we give George Carlin his due as an innovator of the 1st generation of social comics. More important still is the fact that he is far from the last

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Fridge.

I suppose that of all the people who deserve recognition in the world of refrigeration and air conditioning/cooling development, my vote would go to Dr. John Gorrie who, in 1850 or 51 demonstrated an ice maker and set experiments in motion that would led to the invention of the paradox of compressing a liquid so it got hot and then letting it turn into a cold gas that would be sucked back into the system through an expansion valve and turn back into a liquid and then the cycle starts over again. Works pretty well. I like Dr. Gorrie because he lived in Apalachicola Florida which is an OK spot. Also, the doc figured out that sick people might feel better if they were nice and cool. He was a humanitarian.

So what is all of this in aid of? Oh, I have bought a new refrigerator. So? So this. I have, through my efforts as a refrigerator whisperer kept my former appliance running ice cold for 25 years at a cost of .016 cents per day or roughly 1 penny per week. I know whats wrong with this appliance too and I could fix it. The thermostat relay is broke and I could just bypass it. Thing is the refrigerator is past it's life. It's out lasted several others on the block by 5 or 6 years and I guess a new one might be better on the power savings as well. got to be green. The new fridge is a Kenmore white standard freezer on top. It'll do. That old coolerator sure held some fancy champagne and nervous lobsters and more fine foods than I can recall. These days we just don't live like that. Nothing from the hunt, the river the sea. I cleaned out the old box tonight and realized I was dumping the condiments of a life style I am not ready to give up but may damn well lose anyway. The curse of being ill and gaining age. You will make no new friends with whom to share the old sauces. It is not that they are not worthy, it just seems that most older couples come with auto-blatheration machine which tends to operate through the wife but can run through either or both partners. I was tailing an A-B machine through the grocery just the other day. She was on a mobile phone and from the subject of her blatheration I gathered there was a plan a foot to kill a guy called Harry by depriving him of; red meats, whole grains, raw vegetables, fishes of all types, eggs and just about everything save boiled rice gruel. you ask Bill and Marge for dinner and say how about we do salmon on the grill? In the not so long ago Marge would say "Fine, we will bring some wine." Today, however, the Auto-Blab will cut in and start giving you the 3rd degree about is it wild salmon and this and that? To which I am sorely tempted to say. "Well Margie" "We took these two fish as they returned to the sea from the Fraser River in Canada and kept them for 5 years on a strict diet of hypo allergenic Salmon Chow." Then when the urge to spawn hit them we harnessed them to a dynamo where they produced many more kilowatts of power than it will take to cook them." "Meanwhile, the fish became in such a high state of sexuality during this f spawning run to nowhere that just a mere taste will cause you to desire sexual congress with your partner later in the evening, the intensity of which will surely surprise you both to the point that you may well conceive children!" "Yeah, it's wild salmon." I think I'm going to miss the old ice box. One more thing. I got up early and decommissioned the fridge. I dragged it outside, took the doors off and washed it out with water and bleach so it would not smell it the tropical sun and little kids would not lock themselves aboard whatever craft they dreamed it to be. Stinky salmon barge to Mars most likely.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

For which it stands

Today I feel compelled to write about The Flag. It is, after all, Flag Day and me being a veteran who fought and some say died in a war sort of gives me the added push I need to get going, so let's go.

One thing about the US Flag that is a little disturbing is this. If you look at a picture of it––like the one included here––the only part that seems solid are the stars upon the field of blue. Otherwise, if you do not imagine that you have 7 red strips sewn equidistant on a white field or 6 white stripes sewn on a red field the whole flag will deconstruct before you eyes. In real life flag waving, this is not a problem and our flag snaps on it's pole, staff or jack with the best of them. I know one thing and that is from an early age I had a great sense of love and pride salted in my breast for the American Flag. How this came to be I can't say. My family was somewhat eccentric and we certainly did not go in for patriotic ceremony on any regular basis. Still from the time I entered real school I was quite content to spend my days staring out the classroom window at the flag. How did I learn? Well, strange as it may sound, I seemed to already know every thing they were teaching, so I just looked at the flag for two years my heart swelling with pride and happiness. Then came the dark days of 3rd grade and room 103 across the hall with no flag view! What to do? I took a reality check just to make certain there was nothing I needed to study or learn. (there was not)
Then I made a startling discovery. The school was a vast airship! It rose up each day and flew about the clouds and returned to earth around 2 o'clock. The very logistics of the machine kept me busy for the whole of third grade. The school was built like a big T with the cross bar having two stories and being the front while the single story primary wing was in the tail of the letter. Each class room there had a door leading to the main hallway and one to the outside.
The outside doors were painted different colors so that when the kids bailed out with their flying belts for recess in the clouds they could fly back to the correct cabin and not upset the ship's balance. #103 was orange. The next year I was back on the flag side again but now I had some stuff to learn and did not stare so much. I also joined the safety patrol and got to do some flag handling; raising, lowering and folding. The school stopped flying as well; budgetary matters I think. Anyway, I learned that you should take the flag dead serious at all times. For instance if a patrol let the smallest bit of flag matter touch the ground, the kid had to kiss each star while reciting the pledge of allegiance over and over while the rest of the crew stood at attention giving you the fish eye. (I heard it was much worse in the boy scouts)

Why did I love the flag so much? How come I just learned enough to be a soldier and never really grew up? Is it possible that with so many unfulfilled lives floating around in the post war baby boom period some of these poor lost souls were sucked into the over flow of mindless babies lying in hospital for many long days before they went home. Today a new babe goes to his or her mother's breast at birth and the bonded unit goes home pretty damn quick. Back in 46-47 babies lay around the nursery forever or at least enough time to present a target for a lost soul on the cruise. Who knows?

After all this weird conjecture, I'm still very proud of the flag, I do, however, have issues with the republic for which it stands and believe that it needs a very large adjustment. That's something you grown ups will have to handle. I seem to be stuck in a loop that covers the emotions an intellectual bounds from 6 to about 18 and then life makes little sense. How's about helping a vet out?

Monday, June 02, 2008

One of these days and it won't be long-

Hey Bo Diddly! Sorry sir but Mr McDaniel has cashed his final check and we will be taking his number from our directory pending recycling after a set period. Well damn, they took another player from our team and a good one too. Bo Diddly dead at 79. Elias McDaniel was a man of driven to perform and if he had an audience, so much the better. Part comedian, part performance artist, part blues man and full on innovator it's easy to fool yourself into thinking the the Bo Diddly Beat defined the man. Then you listen to some of his hits like "Can't tell a Book..." and "I'm a man" and find it missing then you got to admit the guy was a lot more than "Shave and a Hair Cut." No two bit flash. Nope you got to put Bo in there with Chuck Berry as a sort of proto- music gangster who just did what the hell he wanted and let the DJs and record companies sort it out. I remember big sister going to see Bo Diddly at Virginia Beach way back in the early 60s when concerts were not really the thing yet. I waited up to hear about it. "Well," she said "a bunch of colored men put up a whole lot of speakers and it was really loud" (Sister seemed a little dazed) "Well was it good?" I demanded "We all danced"- "I'm going to bed" I had the information I required. Really, were it not for my older sister and her friends who turned me on to people like Jimmy Reed, and Mose Alison and Yank Rachel, I might still be sitting on a stool framming on a folk guitar stuck in the theory of relative minor. But I was very lucky indeed to be propelled toward the type of music where one was required to say a lot by doing very little and if I did not develop a whole lot of soul, I sure learned to spot it.

Now the people who let me see what was good and worthy in music are dropping out as quietly as springs passing blooms and I'm sad from the stand point that before long I'll go too. We get older and pretend that life's end is just another bump in the road. Don't believe it. We are but a collection of clockwork, fast and slow and will go to great length to draw out the cosmic tic and tock until our walls fall in. It is man's great desire to live, so to have lived well should indeed make us complete. Oddly that doesn't always seem to work because for all the honors Bo Diddly received, at the end he chose to bitch and moan about people stealing his style when they were only flattering his memory. All I can advise is try to work those grudges out before your walls of time fall in on you, and seee that your grave is kept clean.