Carlin: The city boy who loved Morningside Heights
New York City Boy was the show that George Carlin never got on Broadway. But he never left a doubt that his love for New York ran deep.
Indeed, the acerbic legendary comic, who died Sunday of heart failure at 71, left for California in 1960 but always kept a soft spot for the city, and the neighborhood where he grew up, Morningside Heights.
Just six month ago in an interview with this reporter, he called the neighborhood the greatest place in the world, expressing amazement that he had the good fortune to grow up there.
We had it all. We had the largest cathedral in the world in square footage, St. John the Divine. We had ... Grants Tomb, the Juilliard School of Music, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University.
Aside from the neighborhoods cultural advantages, Carlin celebrated the diversity of Morningside Heights.
Besides that there was a great black, Cuban and Puerto Rican enclave, where I lived. We hung around the street people. Everything was around. As my mother used to say, You can buy anything here. You can get it as cheap as anywhere in the world or as expensive as anywhere in the world. You had choices.
Carlin said his mother almost aborted him, a subject he planned to discuss on that Broadway show.
She was in the office waiting to have the procedure and decided not to, Carlin said. I was 50 feet from the drainpipe. Thats the opening of my Broadway show. I thought Id never get here.
The performer accomplished a great deal during his extraordinary 52-year career. The Grammy-winning actor and author was first and foremost one of the most cerebral and influential comics ever.
Politically incorrect and provocative only begin to describe Carlin, who belongs on the comedic Mount Rushmore, along with Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor.
Carlin wasnt your typical comic. He was not one for the Los Angeles scene. He rarely hobnobbed with Hollywood types.
Ive never had show business friendships. I live inside my head.
Carlin always welcomed his Manhattan homecomings, when he would play the Beacon Theatre.
I always love coming back, Carlin said. I relate to how New Yorkers are. That city has something no other place has and I love it.
-- Ed Condran