A storm has been brewing on the Upper West Side of New York City. And it’s all George Carlin’s fault. Sort of.
We’ve been keeping you updated on comedian Kevin Bartini’s charge to rename the 500 block of W. 121st St. after the late legendary comedian. A meeting was held last night to discuss the renaming. A entire TWO members from the opposition attended to voice their outrage: a father and his young son, who was watching a cartoon version of The Lorax with headphones on his Dad’s iPad.
The process for renaming a street is a tenuous one. There are three fiery circles of bureaucratic hell to transcend, and each comes with its own annoying, self-important arm of local government. In this case, the first fiery circle is the Transportation and Uniformed Services Committee. If the petition passes through them, it’s then presented to the District 9 community board. If the community board passes it, the petition is finally presented to the city council in the form of a bill, which will likely include various street renamings; the proposed renamings are voted on collectively. Then everyone takes a nap.
George Carlin Street is still in the first phase with the committee, seeing as no decision was made last night.
The chief opponent to the motion is Father Rafferty of the Corpus Christi School, which Carlin attended for eight years which is located on the block in question. His experiences there, of course, would later become fodder for some of Carlin’s greatest stand-up material. Rafferty and several parents from the school are concerned about the example set for their children as they walk along that block to and from school, citing specifically Carlin’s intense language and open drug use during his career.
The Carlin Crusaders (the good guys; we’re a comedy site, of course we’re taking sides) have attempted to compromise with Father Rafferty, offering to put a small sign at the other end of the block at 121st St. and Amsterdam, rather than at Broadway, which is on the school’s side of the street. Rafferty declined. A parent speaking on behalf of the opposition last night offered other areas for the sign, such as Morningside Park or Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village, where the downtown comedy world still thrives. It was made clear that the true source of the church’s wrath came from the Carlin’s biting commentary on the Catholic Church and its religious dogma.
“Funny how the church is drawing a line here. It’s not like my father groped a kid or something,” Carlin’s daughter Kelly told Laughspin today.
“This is a democracy, not a theocracy,” Bartini said after the meeting. “If we need 5,000 signatures, we will get those numbers. I have no problem debating George Carlin in an open forum.” The committee has sent both sides back out to the streets to collect more signatures from members of the community. Bartini’s petition has raised over 500 signatures from people who live in the neighborhood and over 8,000 from online supporters. Of those supporters, 65 of them actually live on the block in question. The opposition has tallied a total of…78 names, district records showed– five of which live on the block. Sixty-five to five. It seems pretty clear that in a district which saw a 33 percent increase in burglaries and a 133 percent increase in felony assaults in February compared to February of 2011, the community doesn’t seem to find one small sign to be much of a threat to children.
If you live in the 9th District and you feel strongly about it, sign the online petition below.
The campaign is also looking for volunteers to collect signatures on the street in Morningside Heights. If you can help, email Kevin Bartini at firstname.lastname@example.org.