The American media mourned Tim Russert long and loudly, and understandably.
But I’ll maintain George Carlin was just as important an American. He told unfiltered, harsh, needed-to-be-said-out-loud truths about us, truths that few others with public platforms would ever dream of saying.
And he was unbelievably funny.
I’ve covered a lot of basketball games and remember few. But I remember being at an NCAA tournament once in Seattle, and dropping by the hospitality room in the media hotel on the Saturday night between Friday/Sunday games. There, a dozen sportswriters from around the country were laughing their heads off at a George Carlin HBO special. Dinner plans had to wait, because the experience of enjoying that man’s work with others was impossible to walk away from.
I saw Carlin perform live twice. It was worth every dime. Once I cut out of the state basketball tournament early one night (I wasn’t derelict in any duties – no Gazette area team was playing that evening) to catch him at the Des Moines Civic Center. With no disrespect to the tournament, it was easily the highlight of that week in Des Moines.
He was brilliant, he was hilarious. His face, voice and mannerisms on stage could make you laugh hard enough by themselves , but it was his words that relentlessly attacked our funny bones.
George Carlin didn’t suffer fools gladly, and we were the better for it.