Saturday, July 16, 2011

Carlin! Thou should'st be living at this hour

Everything is a fen of stagnant waters, but more on that presently. This week's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast raised two interesting topics: Right Place at the Right Time, concerning pop culture that arrived at just the right time to make a positive or inspirational or otherwise substantial impact; and Wish You Were Here, concerning
the things that have sadly left us too early — artists who died young, series that aren't made anymore, whatever it is that we're missing.
My entry for Right Place at the Right Time is M*A*S*H, which entered continuous replay in syndication at about the time I was reaching an age when I was ready to start giving a damn about wit. I recall stumbling on the weird-to-me realization that girls will like me if I am funny at exactly the same time that Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John, Frank Burns, Col. Blake, BJ Honeycutt, Charles Emerson Winchester, Col. Potter, Radar, Klinger, Hotlips Hoolihan, and all their wacky cohorts were launching one-liners, breaking hearts, saving lives, defying the powers, and teaching us all a little something about ourselves six or eight times a day on the tee-vee. It assured that for any situation, however freighted with geopolitics and human suffering, the proper response is a smartass remark. I have since realized that M*A*S*H was just a televised recapitulation of a previous generation of comedic sensibility, stretching from Vaudeville and serialized radio programs to early television, so it spared me ever having to pay any attention to any of that. I have further realized M*A*S*H was not really that witty, and therefore draw your own conclusions about whether and to what degree girls ever especially liked me.

As for Wish You Were Here, that's easier: I wish John Lennon were still alive and responding to the artistic, musical, social, commercial, and political developments of the times. Whatever he might have done, the sure bet is that it would have been unexpected, riveting, and uneven without being merely cheaply shocking. (I prefer to think he would dig deeper than a meat dress -- which is not to say I'm ready to dismiss Lady Gaga. She has time.) That's an obvious pick -- anyone who doesn't think of John Lennon in this connection joins the ranks of history's greatest monsters.*

I wish Deadwood hadn't stopped prematurely. The series that showed us the power of shouting "cocksuckers!" at any problematic person or situation had so much more to give.

Lastly and above all, in agreement with the Pop Culture Happy Hour regulars, I bemoan the loss of George Carlin, who would have forced the Twitter people to double their server capacity to handle the traffic of follows, tweets and retweets he alone would have generated.

* Counterpoint: for every day Lennon lived on, the pressures for a regrettable Beatles reunion would have increased.


Sheldon said...

Very much in agreement on Carlin, and would love to hear him rip on the things and people needing riping on today.

Paul Sunstone said...

So far as I know, Carlin was about the only major comedian able and willing to talk class warfare in this country and be spot on about it.

ab said...

I think Wu said it best: "Cocksukah"