The Blue Raccoon

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Carlin's Dead: And I don't feel too good myself
Tonight's Forecast -- Dark!

Did I actually see the Hippy Dippy Weatherman sketch on the Ed Sullivan Show or am I conflating this with a retrospective that I may have seen years ago?

I'm 46 -- but my parents watched these shows with me on an old three channel (four, with UHF) Zenith console black and white with an adjustable anttenae attached to the back. And boy, I had fun with those, raising, lowering and pointing them in various directions, while trying to watch Channel 10 out of Norfolk when the atmospheric conditions were right -- it was like getting signals from space.

This television functioned from about 1962 until I went to college and the picture tube blew, around 1985, once and for good. My pop cultural references therefore include seeing actual live prime time telecasts of Sullivan, Jackie Gleason with those magnificent Miami show girls, and Red Skelton doing the punning seagulls Gertrude and Heathcliff. I watched Orson Welles do card tricks, then exchange barbs with Truman Capote on The Mike Douglas Show. Or was it Merrrv Griffin? We had local kiddies shows that showed cartoons--in Richmond it was Sailor Bob (Bob Griggs) -- on Channel 12 -- and I think Channel 6-- Danny (Don) Beagle and Sooper Dog -- Sooper wore sunglasses and cracked wise, and was the hand and arm of the William "Bill" Oscar Adams, who died in 2004.

I viewed Lost In Space when it aired not as an antique repeat (the Robot scared me!) though soon got caught up by Star Trek with Vina, the Orion dancing slave (seen here via Darkhaus Trek), Yeoman Janice Rand (The adoralicious Grace Lee Whitney--making me ga ga for go go boots, if worn as shown below, via Post Modern Sass), The Doomsday Machine where I learned incidental music that will be with me forever -- kind of liked that requiem tune for the damaged Constitution; The City On The Edge of Forever (Fresh young Joan Collins! Alternate time lines!) tribbles, and nifty technology (which I later viewed in its styrofoam and woodshop glory at a Smithsonian exhibit and got to sit in the Captain's chair) -- but I think in early reruns.

I watched Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and its country cousin, Hee Haw.

My mom thought Laugh-In was "nasty" and walked out of the room with a disapproving sniff. She approved of Hee Haw, Dad and I admired the wondrous cantilverage and the jouncing joyfulness of womanhood of Barbi Benton or Gunilla Hutton. Whew. But, I also liked to see Junior Samples mess up, and how the losing nature of his auto sales ("Call BR-549") was exemplified by an Edsel on blocks. We had more than a dozen of those ill-fated cars surrounding our house, like a Roger Corman film, "Attack of the Killer Edsels."

But I experienced George Carlin's stylings live just once, at an auditorium near Norfolk, Va., sometime around 1988. I was living in Williamsburg and I went with a girl I was dating. She scored the tickets. He seemed tired and exasperated then, more cranky than funny, and I wondered how he'd be able to keep up this act (!) Little did I know the impact Carlin had had, his influences on the culture, and his stand up giving birth to the fake news show satires that are now seen as the barometers of culture.

If as some traditions hold, we do choose our moment of entering this world, and when we exit, maybe Carlin just decided that he couldn't deal with this veil of tears anymore. It just isn't funny anymore.

But, I had to think of him in connection to the recent urging by veteran climatologist James Hansen who in recent days commemorated his first presentation 20 years ago to Congress about climate change by urging that the oil barons be tried for crimes against humanity if they don't mend their ways. They know what's happening, he says, and they aren't doing damn much about it.
From Joe Fay at The Register:

"When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that's a crime," he told [The Guardian newspaper].

He said such execs, should be put on trial for high crimes against humanity, and pointed the finger at their lobbyists and paid pols into the bargain, saying that their actions had undermined democracy.

Hansen’s scientific approach twenty years ago has resulted in virtually no change to the fossil fuel industry’s hegemony in Washington. Congress is as wedded to fossil fuel cash as Americans are to their cars. In the meantime, an embattled Bill Clinton was sandwiched between two Bushes who were both inextricably tied into the oil industry.

Will Hansen's more uncompromising stance finally make congress sit up and take notice? Unlikely. Will $200 a barrel oil make a difference? Perhaps. But it’s debatable."

Just as cigarette manufacturers have been sued and the spotlight shone on the mortal dangers of their product, so should the climate change deniers and oil company executives who really don't have any idea about what to do next-- that will also turn as hefty a profit. Their rationalization is the same as the drug dealer, the pornographer and the arms dealer: I'm just supplying what people want. How they use it is their business. Carlin would chastise us for thinking that a) Capitalism has a moral center, b) That mega corporations that thrive on our weaknesses and desires for convenience, cannot run our well-being through their calculus. They could not survive if they did so. Their best interests are not ours. Simple.

Carlin would riff not on the evil of the oil men, but the gullibility and chowderheaddedness of a public that thinks that a nation of 300 million people can own three cars for every man, woman and child, and not experience difficulties. The culture is drunk with its vehement lust for oil, and the habit is sickening everyone, and everything, even the weather. And now, millions of Chinese are ditching their bikes for stupid cars.

Last night I was helping Amie clean up along the sidewalk and parking area of her studio along Hull Street in South Richmond. And I was amazed by the archaeological quality of trash, the sheer layering of plastic bags large and small -- produced via fuel derivatives. And this is one block of one moderate-sized town, not the garbage heaps outside Cairo. Your mind reels at the tons and tons of this stuff covering the world. If a plastic bag is left in the sun for a year, the sun and elements can break it down. Buried in the ground, just about never.

When I don't get a bag at the convenience store the clerk looks at me funny. If I don't have a reusable bag, I just carry stuff. Usually it isn't very far. But that's just me and my dirty hippie ways.

A posting from Kunstler's blog:

"As I've noted, approximately 45% of the electorate voted for Bush twice. In conjunction with the other voters, this means that nearly 35% of America's population are "off their nut" in regard to "fair play," justice and compassion.

As long as the well off refuse to accept reality - the polarization of America's population will grow.

I've often thought- the US will end up looking like Mexico, India and in many ways China.

But now I figure - we ARE America - we will invent new -ever more efficient ways to deal with the poor. The system will continue to refine methods to avoid confronting resource shortages.

"I've got mine - you go get what's left."

Strange days in store - indeed."

You know, I can't spend time diving meanings in the kerfluffel-der-jour of the current shabby pathetic presidential campaign where little truth is being told, but full trowels of rhetoric are getting slapped around to further build walls around what matters. (And eventually rendering the candidates invisible to the eye as they build a structure of half-truths and compromises around themselves. Former McCain supporters are already experiencing his disappearance and Obama's wall is going up, layer by layer).

The latest dustup, or as of five minutes ago, was this silly thing by Obama's people; mocking up his campaign logo to look like the Presidential seal for some kind of photo-op sit down. Of course, Barack is up against Republicans. And as a friend pointed out to me, Democrats voted for Kerry but didn't like him much. People liked Gore--then not as much as now--but he just didn't respond to attacks very well. But Barack's foregoing of public campaign financing, and this seal business, points to a guy who is in it to make John McCain look like an irrelevant doofus. Now that's raw politics.

Still, anybody who wants to be President of the United States of Murrica possesses a fundamental lapse in their psyche. Columnist Anne Appelbaum speaks for me here in her Washington Post column:

"From whatever political quarter it comes, and regardless of whatever merit it may have, all of this commentary starts with the same assumption: The reader is meant to be shocked, shocked, that these two men -- men who have submitted themselves to months of brutal campaigning, men who have thrown their wives and families to the wolves, men who know they might at any second need to abandon their closest friends -- these two men are not, in fact, very nice people at all.

But why on Earth should anyone expect them to be? In its wisdom, the American nation has devised a presidential election system that actively selects for egotistical megalomaniacs: You simply cannot enter the White House if you aren't one. You might start out as an idealist, of course, and I would even give Obama and McCain the benefit of the doubt here. I'm sure both are patriots, both care about America, both want to make the world a better place.

But in order to become the candidate, each also had to make a series of utterly ruthless decisions, decisions that most nice guys would find unpalatable. I don't care what a helpful father Michelle says he is, there is absolutely no sense in which Obama's presidential campaign -- or, should it come to that, Obama's presidency -- is good for Obama's children. Neither is there a scenario under which Cindy McCain, who always looks profoundly uncomfortable in the limelight, is ever going to relax and enjoy her husband's golden retirement years. Anyone who was ever closely associated with either candidate is now at risk of unpleasant media exposure. No one who works for either of these men right now has job security, and no one who knows them can expect any favors."

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