By George, our community of Venice is a dream home.
The title of this essay can be sussed out in so many ways:
GC is home (he’s in heaven gettin’ witty with Lenny Bruce & Lord Buckley)
GC is home (his sensibility reeks of the human condition, humanness, or as James Joyce invented “laughtears”)
GC is home (meaning his home was actually in Venice, California, from 1970 to 1972, and from 2002 to 2008)
GC is home (extending GC’s great line “Your home is your refuge” to the etymological roots of the word “home,” originating from “shelter or protection from danger, assistance in distress, hiding place.” George quipped: “In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! – I hope I’ll be safe at home!”)
GC is home (resonating with his answer to the Marcel Proust question: “Where would you like to live?” George wrote: “I guess right there at home would be a pretty good place.”)
I welcome your translations . . . home is where the heart is, home of the brave, or right here in Venice, the earth is everybody’s home, if you gotta say it, how about houseless people, instead of homeless?
Thorton Wilder wrote: “Oh – why can’t we have plays like we used to have – good entertainment with a message you can take home with you?” But Wilder got deeper with “Art is confession; art is the secret told. . . . But art is not only the desire to tell one’s secret; it is the desire to tell it and hide it at the same time.” Revealing the emperor’s clothing?
I highly recommend the new documentary George Carlin’s American Dream. It probes these hidden psyche effects of George’s entire being and our whole culture. “I’m not in show business. I’m a comedian,” he articulated to Chris Rock. He epitomized “when you are laughing you are learning” and “I should prefer to de-fuse this gigantic human bomb by starting a dialogue on the side-lines to distract the trigger-men, or to needle the somnambulists.” – Marshall McLuhan.
This engaging four hour program was partly executive produced by Kelly Carlin and Jerry Hamza, who managed George for 35 years. He calls George his teacher, and best friend.
Please check out my podcasts interviews with each one of them on Youtube:
Kelly Carlin InnerViews#12 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUJu7t-DFSE
Jerry Hamza InnerViews#9 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xppxftLO50
Both of Kelly’s parents (Brenda and George) had substance abuse problems. Kelly is so much a part of this documentary. Her memoir, “A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up With George,” and her same-titled one-woman show probe the family home and all its love and complications.
I am emulating “list-making,” a rhetorical technique that Umberto Eco details in his book “The Aesthetics of Chaosmos: The Middle Ages of James Joyce.” Joyce retrieved this annotation technique of list-making from the Medieval writers, and it appears all over Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. George Carlin often did the same, compiling and reciting lists.
I was fortunate to be employed by George for one year in the late 90’s. I helped him with his mail-order business. We had a few stimulating conversations. One one point, Carlin said to me, “I’m going to learn a lot from you.” I responded, “Can I put that on my gravestone?” I continued to supply him with “information,” like audio tapes, VHS tapes, printed matter on political activism, philosophy, media studies, music, art and poetry. This was pre-Internet.
I will discuss other Venice residents who have connections to George. And I welcome stories of your encounters. The Venice BeachHead published Jack Neworth’s article on George in the July 1, 2008 issue. Jack also wrote about Kelly’s book in the Nov 8, 2015 issue, telling how “When Kelly was 7, the family moved to 3002 Pacific Avenue in Venice where George developed material for his groundbreaking Class Clown and Occupation Foole albums. Brenda hung out at Hinanos Cafe and the family shopped at Dales Market.”
Two comic great I booked at Sponto Gallery were involved. Paul Krassner was a long-time resident. George wrote the introduction to Krassner’s book, Murder at the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities.
Boardwalk performer Swami X once read George’s astrology chart. He yelped “Sex isn’t the answer! It’s the question. The answer is, ‘Yes!’” Yes, we are proud to call George Carlin a Venice icon. We are especially grateful to Kelly Carlin, Jerry Hamza and all the filmmakers for making George Carlin’s American Dream.
Having resided near George in the Canals for years, Venetian/art dealer Philip Garaway writes:
I first met Brenda, George’s first wife in the Canals. I had been playing in this avant-garde jazz group. George was a friend and patron of the band. George named the group “Half Way To Cleveland.” I was told the reason is that where ever you are in the world, you’re half way to Cleveland. I think it’s a comedians inside joke, not to be too hard on Cleveland, I don’t know. Never been there, I think? The time period is around the early eighty’s. Doc Williams was the group leader. Here’s a photo of him on stage as a very young boy. I was told he played violin with Mary Pickford on stage at six years old. He was a real character.
He and his wife Pat and dog Billy lived in a trailer in my backyard for many years, on Howland canal. They came out of the Beat era time frame. Brenda would come to the canals to play music with us. Across the alley on Sherman canal I had a music studio. Doc and I played there. Kelly, George’s daughter, started working with Doc there. Finally Doc moved to George’s guest house in Brentwood. Brenda was the sweetest person. My wife Zoe and I had become fast friends with her. The three of us went to the Hopi Katsina dances in Northern Arizona together. Really one can’t buy a ticket to this event (it’s been going on literally for a thousand years on the Hopi mesa’s) It was a truly memorable trip. George was a very introspective human and generally quiet. He had a sweet demeanor, unlike his stage persona which was basically to kick ass. That is part of a comedian’s job, right! George was an extraordinary pertinent word smith, an influencer of cultural critical thinking and to boot funny. Of course I wish George was here now just to hear his take on our present world affairs? Kelly is not only the sweetest person, but extremely smart just like her Dad. She’s been married decades to Bob McCall, who’s a really a nice man. Another interesting thing, Garry Shandling always said that George got him into comedy. George was a mentor for so many. Funny thing is, Garry lived right above in Mandeville Canyon, a stones throw from George’s house on the flats right below him off of Sunset Blvd. One last thing, George was a really good Boogie Woogie piano player. He is featured playing an original song “Armadillo Blues” at the end of his 1984 HBO Special “Carlin on Campus.”
George Carlin helps us all cultivate critical thinking skills while we pursue the American Dream . . . laughing hysterically. . . in Venice, California . . .home sweet home, homespun, there’s no place like home, you can never go home again, homey, come home to roast, homemade, when George comes marching home . . .
George did a hilarious routine on “the house is a place for your stuff.” Is the home a place for your soul? He closed one of his many amazing HBO specials by saying: “Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Each Other.” That is at the heart of our Venice home.
Please send us your George Carlin stories. Thank you, Gerry Fialka firstname.lastname@example.org Laughtears.com
LAUGHTEARS.com upcoming events:
*** Suzy Williams & Michael Jost at The Trip Tuesday June 28 at 8pm
*** 15th annual LIT SHOW with SUZY WILLIAMS & BRAD KAY – at Beyond Baroque on Sat, July 16
Lit Show on Facebook THE LIT SHOW’s past repertoire has embraced over 100 authors, including: J.D. Salinger, Hafiz, Kurt Vonnegut, Edna St Vincent Millay, Samuel Beckett, Raymond Chandler, Truman Capote, Vladimir Nabokov, Rudyard Kipling. Dorothy Parker wrote a song that Billie Holiday sang. Tennessee Williams wrote a song that Marlon Brando sang as a rambling troubadour in The Fugitive Kind. Lonely House was written by Kurt Weill and Langston Hughes. Jack Kerouac & Allen Ginsberg wrote Pull My Daisy with David Amram. Suzy & Brad have also written tuneful melodies to many a great author’s words. You’ve read the book, now hear the song.
*** Gerry’s Venice Walking Tours are now available.
*** Join Gerry’s Zoom Salons on James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, Ulysses, McLuhan, Carl Jung.