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!