Pastor says no to George Carlin Street; daughter Kelly responds

By | October 10, 2011 at 7:32 pm | 19 comments | feature slider, News | Tags: ,

Last month, we reported that there was a petition circulating to honor the late George Carlin by naming a New York City street after the legendary comic. New York comic Kevin Bartini had amassed about 1,000 signatures and gained the support of Carlin’s daughter Kelly; the petition now has nearly 6,000 signatures to back the name change of part of West 121st street to George Carlin Street. But it appears not everyone in Carlin’s old neighborhood feels he’s fitting of the honor.

“Certainly he made his early work a mockery of this particular place — certainly a lot of people by name,” Pastor Raymond Rafferty of Corpus Christi Church told CBS New York’s John Metaxas. “He also was an extremely vulgar person.” In short, Rafferty in no way, wants George Carlin Street in his backyard. We asked Carlin’s daughter Kelly, producer of Showtime’s The Green Room With Paul Provenza, what she thought of Rafferty’s stance. Below is her statement to Laughspin:

My dad loved his neighborhood, and especially had very fond words for his time at Corpus Christi school. If you read his memoir, Last Words, or read or listen to endless interviews he’s done, he talks about how those years and that school allowed him to flower into the person he was as an adult.

For his entire life he stayed connected with the people he grew up with on that block and in that neighborhood, and often helped out friends who needed a little financial help along the way. Whenever we went to New York, whether I was a child or an adult, we visited the old neighborhood.

I understand that Father Rafferty has a position to take regarding the vulgar language my dad used, but I do not think that having a sign with my father’s name on it will be the impetus or only avenue that the youth of Corpus Christi will use to discover swear words. I find it ironic, actually, because it was the Corpus Christi sisters who were the ones who explained to my father’s mother Mary Bearey Carlin, that the swear words my dad was using in his original “Seven Dirty Words” routine were not vulgar, but were actually being used to examine academically the language in our culture. THEY got it.

I do hope that the neighborhood can come together to honor a man who lived on that block for over 25 years, loved the people who inhabited it, went to school at Corpus Christi through the eighth grade, and changed the world of comedy.

An official decision whether to re-name the street will be made only after the church’s opinions are heard in a public forum.

So, Laughspinners: What do you think? Does the pastor have a point or is he making too much of the situation? Do you think drawing attention to Carlin’s legacy via street signs would negatively affect the youth in that neighborhood? Sound off in the comments section!

About the Author

Erik Gavilanes

Erik's love of comedy was formed at a much-too-early age when he would tape hours of stand-up even though he didn't get many of the jokes. Today when not writing for Laughspin, he checks his Twitter feed and is a getter of jokes and eater of pizza.

  • Rua_francis

    and maybe instead…have a golf course torn down and give it a way for the “houseless” in the name of George Carlin, golf courses pissed him off!!! 

  • Rua_francis

    I tell you what, Geogre Carlin would have not ever …ever cared for a street to be named after him
    anyone who listens to George Carlin philosophy would understand that already. In fact, he would have probably joked about it too.

  • A Resident of 121st Street

    I have no problem honoring George Carlin in some way, but in this instance perhaps the feelings of the local community should be taken into account.  Several people in this thread have pointed to the 6,000 people who signed a petition in support of this measure, but my guess is that the vast majority of those people do not belong to this community and are, in fact, from elsewhere–perhaps not even NYC.  Additionally, the comments made here about Raymond Rafferty seem out of place.  It is pointless and disrespectful to bash this pastor for his legitimate concerns about his community.  Instead, we should engage in a constructive debate about whether (and, if so, how) to honor George Carlin in a way that his supporters and the community of 121st Street would find acceptable.

  • Terrin_cummings

    Fuck it give him a county

  • Rob

    I’m of the school that finds the Action of sheltering and in effect condoning pedophiles much more vulgar than words of any form. I feel I can speak of this topic as a victem of a pedophile at six years old and son of a comedy writer from the “Golden Days of Radio”. I never told anyone what happened until I was 20 because I felt guilt. My Dad wrote for “Duffy’s Tavern” in NYC then went to Hollywood, contracted with Jack Benny. He loved George Carlin though he only saw him on TV. He wasn’t one for foul language but he understood anger and disappointment.

  • Randy Rickwood

    The Pastor is dead wrong. How can the opinion of someone that believes in mythical creatures in the sky be considered by those making this decision. The catholic church (and all the rest of em) need to realize that their viewpoints are archaic and have no relevance in any (potentially) civilized society. 

  • Karljwhite

    Pastor Raymond Rafferty , some religious figure he must be … trying to deny what can only be seen as paying respects to a GREAT man. Sounds to me like old misery Rafferty is holding a personal grudge … surely his teachings are to forgive and shed light on society not try and shit on peoples good will….. What a dick. 

  • Kevin Bartini

    Here are the links.
    Sign the petition
    Join our Facebook Page


  • KevinBartini

    Thanks everybody for these great posts in support.  
    Please be sure to sign the petition and to join our Facebook page.
    We will have some big announcements in the coming weeks that you are not going to want to miss.


  • Marc

    Seems like a good old fashioned evoking of separation of church and state is in order. We’re still – nominally – a democracy. Perhaps if Pastor Rafferty can produce a petition with 6001 signatures decrying the proposed name change, he’d at least be playing the same game as the rest of us.

  • Mark Lonow

    I think after how the Church treated the children put in its care over so many years it is probably the very last organization with a right to take umbridge at the words George Carlin used in his act when analysing our society.  Perhaps if the Church, instead of trying to stop a street being named after George, took some time to study the tenants George put forward in his act and the moral positions he took in his life it would not have gotten into the trouble it did.  I hope the city does name the street after Geroge Carlin and that every child who sees that street sign listens to at least one George Carlin routine.  It just might make the world a happier place, which is something the Catholic Church hasn’t always done.

  • Robin

    And another thing: Isn’t it up to whatever department within the City of New York’s Administrative Services or Traffic Enforcement or Department or Transportation, or whatever office oversees the naming and placement of street signs, to approve or reject this request? Why do his fans and the majority of the residents on W. 121st Street have to wait for an “official response” from the New York Archdiocese, about where a street sign is placed, before approval is given? Just asking.

  • Robin

    I’m curious: Was Reverend Rafferty at Corpus Christi when George was a
    student there? Had he met George as a student? Did he have ANY
    interaction, scholastically or personally, with George Carlin at all?
    And if the reverend is genuinely concerned
    about the coarse, obscene language the children might emulate from
    George, has he ever sneaked up behind a group of 4th or 5th grades and
    listened to the words that come out of their precious little mouths? If
    Christianity is truly about forgiveness, and even the Monsignor at
    Cardinal Hayes made peace with George decades after he kicked him out of
    school, then perhaps the good Reverend Rafferty should read the many
    passages of Scripture extolling the virtues of forgiveness. Ironically,
    George would be the first to dismiss the honor as excessive and
    unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but he’d more likely than not
    grin and bear the pomp and circumstance of the event, give a snarky
    little speech about glorification of so-called “idols”, blow a big ol’
    raspberry at the crowd and then go find the nearest bar for what he
    considered a well earned drink. Give George Carlin his street.

  • Anonymous

    Why is a Pastor deciding anything for an entire neighborhood?

  • Brad Ward

    Fuck it… ya want something to revere… name the the God Dammed church after George! Welcome to George Carlin Cathedral for todays pot-luck dinner and cheese raffle… Now there’s some irony/juxtaposition that GC could truly dig! – The Pastor is full of himself… sinfully full.

  • Dave Saleh

    Who the hell is this pastor to tell 6,000 people no because of his personal feelings?  Oh right, he’s with the church.

  • ZachsMind

    We’re just asking for part of a street. Be thankful the fans of George Carlin worldwide are not insisting we rename Bronx & Brooklyn George & Carlin.

  • Benjamin Banach

    Maybe name a town after him instead.

  • Adam Komar

    I never agree with a church.

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