Wednesday, January 27, 2016
When the change occurred in George Carlin, it occurred suddenly. To viewers at home, it seemed that one day he was on the talk shows all clean-shaven and besuited; the next, he was hirsute in a T-shirt and jeans. One day, he was doing the Hippy Dippy Weatherman and other anodyne routines; the next, he was using his wit as a weapon against censorship, Vietnam, and the Catholic Church. The change, when it came, was so swift and decisive, it wouldn’t wait for Carlin to even finish the album he was working on. He had to title it FM & AM, in reference to the way it contained both mainstream and underground material.
Carlin has disputed this interpretation of his transformation, insisting that it occurred more gradually than people seem to realize, so it’s good to hear that his own daughter — his only child, Kelly — experienced the transformation in the same way it’s retained in the popular imagination. “During the spring of 1970,” she writes in her new memoir A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George,
my dad went into the hospital for a double hernia operation. He went in my daddy — a clean-cut man with groovy sideburns — and came home someone else — a man with a beard. A beard he would not shave for the rest of his life. I wasn’t quite sure if this was really my daddy. This was very startling for me.Read the rest at the Los Angeles Review of Books