One of my personal heroes is gone. George Carlin was one of the shaping forces in my life. As teenagers, my friends and I memorized his albums. I can still recite many of his routines verbatim. His impact on many people went way beyond just making us laugh. He picked up the torch that was dropped by Lenny Bruce and, despite sharing it with others along the way, ran with it until yesterday.
There are certain people, whether you know them personally or whether they are celebrities, that it is impossible to imagine not being in the world. George Carlin is one of them. He seemed to be a constant, an anchor, the crazy uncle who unflinchingly told the truth as he saw it, no matter the consequences. He forced generations of us to always question everything and to think for ourselves.
In that respect, he joins others that I held in great regard who have left us, people who we could really use at this place in history, but sadly are no longer here. Somewhere Frank Zappa, Hunter S. Thompson, Allen Ginsberg, and Kurt Vonnegut have someone else to trade stories with, but I am afraid that voices such as their’s are now a thing of the past at a time when they may be needed most.
George Carlin was 71 and will be greatly missed.