Comedians Kevin Bartini and Adam Lash have fought tirelessly for three years to dedicate a block of New York City to the memory of the late great George Carlin. And today, their work has paid off. Just moments ago, the New York City Council unanimously passed an omnibus bill that included George Carlin Way in this year’s street renamings. Mayor Bill de Blasio will formerly sign the bill into law in two weeks.
The movement faced significant community push-back from the Corpus Cristi church located on the block of W. 121st St., where Carlin grew up and attended mass as a young boy; this was the street in Carlin’s native Morningside Heights proposed for dedication. However, in October 2012 the local community board finally passed a compromise proposal to dedicate the 400 block, one block over from Carlin’s home. He even would talk about the neighborhood on stage, namely in his 1973 album Occupation Foole. Bartini battled the local priest and a few Catholic parents of the neighborhood (at one community board meeting, only one parent and a couple of nuns showed up to protest the proposal). But after clearing that difficult hurdle, George Carlin Way has passed through the city council moments after Democratic District 7 council member Mark Levine spoke on behalf of the renaming. He also took a moment to thank Bartini and Lash for their work. “I am very grateful that the city council voted unanimously to honor George Carlin with a street named after him. It was a three-year endeavor, but I am happy to see our efforts come to the conclusion we hoped for,” Bartini told Laughspin.
The actual sign will be hung on the corner of the very busy W. 121st St. and Broadway, where a young Carlin once ran around entertaining his neighbors. A day of ceremonies is being planned to give the street a proper start. The day will include a comedy show featuring some of New York City’s top comedians, although a date has yet to be determined.
If you ask your average college student about a comedian named George Carlin, they might say, “Who? Does he open for Dane Cook?” They might recognize him from smaller acting roles in films like Kevin Smith’s Dogma. Some may even remember seeing one of his later HBO specials when they were in high school. But now, a whole new generation of young people in Morningside Heights will look up at a sign and see George Carlin Way wondering, “Who’s that?” Now with the lovely power of Google, as well as Netflix’s streaming of all 15 of his HBO specials online, they will be able to open their minds to discover a comedian who fought for first amendment right and taught us that words can be fun.
— Adam Lash (@TheAdamLash) June 26, 2014