...where distraction is the main attraction.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Air Marshall Carlin

(When writing this column, I have refrained from using language that would make this site more than G-rated. This was not to censor, but rather a challenge to reach for other words to fulfill my thoughts and feelings. In this post in honor of GC, fuck it.)

As I'm sure most of you have read or seen, Sensei Carlin left us last Sunday. At St. John's Hospital, his heart stopped and his soul rejoined the river of the universe. It is likely that he would have found this outpouring of attention from major media outlets very funny. They have obviously never listened to anything he has said.

But I have listened. And it wasn't his humor that affected me. It was his mind. He, possibly more than anyone else, helped structure my very thought process in the years between my bar mitzvah and my high school graduation. I didn't quite realize this until I listened to his Jammin' in New York album this week. For four years I must have parroted the first 30 minutes of that album. The best that I feel like I can do right now to honor him is to provide recap his wisdom from this album. (ALSO, if you've never heard or read his Baseball versus Football mediation, it's here.)

He boils down warfare (especially the previous Iraq "War") to a bunch of phallic thrusting brought about by insecure masculinity:

"You don't have to be an historian or political scientist to see The Bigger Dick Foreign Policy theory at work. It sounds like this: 'What? They have bigger dicks? Bomb them!' And of course all of the bombs and the rockets and the bullets are all shaped like dicks. It's a subconscious need to project the penis into other people's affairs. It's called fucking with people!"

He analyzes (read: thrashes and demolishes) the abuse of language -- how we misuse or add words to make something sound more important when it isn't. This rant boils down to the punchline:

"You know what I tell these people. Go pre-suck my genital situation! And they seem to know what I'm talking about."

He riffs on the bizarro-speak that airlines use:

"Please check around your immediate seating area......SEAT! It's a goddamn seat. Check around your seat."

"...for any personal belongings.....what other kind of belongings are there besides personal? Public belongings? Do these people honestly think I might be travelling with the fountain I stole from the park?"

"...you might have brought on board......well, I might have brought my arrowhead collection. I didn't. So I'm not going to look for it! I'm going to look for things I brought on board. It would seem to enhance the likelihood of me finding something, wouldn't you say?"

"And who made this man a "captain", may I ask? Did I sleep through some sort of armed forces swearing in ceremony or something? Captain? He's a fucking pilot and let him be happy with that. If those sightseeing announcements are any mark of his intellect he's lucky to be working at all. Tell the Captain that Air Marshall Carlin says, Go Fuck Yourself."

And my favorite: "Get on the plane. Get on the plane. Fuck you, I'm getting in the plane."

He takes a multitude of stabs at American values. Here's a joke that I've used a dozen times, always crediting its source:

"Beverly Hills has a brand new restaurant specifically for bulimia victims. It's called the Scarf and Barf. Well they were going to call it The Fork and Bucket. Thank God better taste prevailed."

Towards the end of this second half of the show, he drifts away from standup and goes after conservatives, liberals, business people, environmentalists, religion, and plastic bags.

"Besides there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The people are fucked."

"The planet isn't going anywhere. We are. We're goin' away. Pack your shit, folks. We're going away......just another failed mutation......the planet will shake us off like a bad case of fleas."

He progressively loses his inebriated audience until there isn't much laughter. He seems to be in some sort of vitriolic trance. And while I may agree with about half of what he says, it's exhilarating. And he ends with the following:

"I think we're part of a greater wisdom than we'll ever understand. A higher order. Call it what you want. You know what I call it? The Big Electron. It doesn't punish. It doesn't reward. It doesn't judge at all it. It just is. And so are we. For a little while."


  1. Great, great post! I love Jammin' in New York, in large part because it was recorded during the first gulf war and Bush presidency, yet it sounds like he's talking about what's going on right now. Also, I love how he talks about the earth shaking us off like fleas. He was a genius, and more to the point, he had no sacred cows. I think this is very important, mainly because nothing is sacred in my eyes either, and I get in a lot of trouble for that...

    Anyway, we need to talk about baseball for like three hours on the phone. Give me your number, I'll call you. It's been way too long dude.

  2. Word. Didn't know that you'd heard that album. I owe you an email...

  3. Love me some GC... Thanks for dropping that in there.