Notes on Ch. 1&2: Last Words by George Carlin

Notes from Ch. 1 and 2, Last Words, George Carlin

First paragraph=very interesting and unexpected!

  • George Carlin is a comedian who has no filter, doesn’t really think before he speaks on stage
  • Explains how he was conceived in the second paragraph…Rockaway Beach, New York, 1936.
    • Rockaway Beach had been a favorite weekend retreat  for New York’s alcohol-crazed Irish youth in search of sex and sun.

“My father had trouble metabolizing alcohol. He drank, he got drunk, he hit people.” (Father is possibly an alcoholic)

-Mother claims that his father only hit her once..she didn’t consider it abuse because she had four brothers and her dad was a policeman.

“My mother really loved him. The two of them were crazy about one another.”

-George was made from something good and positive, but believes he was born at an inconvenient time in both of his parent’s lives.

  • He begins to explain on the fourth and fifth page that his mother was going to have an abortion when she discovered she was pregnant. She made an appt. and was laying on the procedure table when all of a sudden, she had a vision.
    • Mary (George’s mother) claimed that she saw the face of her deceased mother, in a painting on the waiting-room wall, which she believed was a sign of disapproval.
    • Proceeded to jump up from the table and leave the abortionist’s office and told her husband, “Pat-I’m going to have this baby.”
  • George admits that his father’s drinking contributed to the chaos of the family but his mother’s selfish attitude made things extremely difficult as well—she’d find out how to press your buttons, was spoiled, self-centered, strong-willed, and demanding.
  • Was born on May 12th, 1937
  • The day he was born was auspicious (characterized by success, favorable)
  • Mary, “They would feed you and you would shoot formula clear across the room. You couldn’t keep anything down.” — George, “This remarkable inability to hold anything back and to spew it clear across a public space had served me well my whole life.”
    • Huge metaphor and foreshadowing of who George is, how he speaks, and his job as a comedian.
  • His older brother, Patrick, considered their first home as “opulent,” meaning luxurious, grand, or classy.
  • George’s mother, despite having all of the materialistic things she desired, was still lonely and told Pat the Elder one night, “what good is it having all this nice stuff if we can’t have meals together, blah blah blah.”
    • Mary decided to leave for good after that. She took the boys with her and went to stay at her father’s house, Dennis Bearey, the gentle ex-policeman.
      • They stayed for two months, George was almost sixty days old but his life on the road had already begun.

-Dennis passes away…

-Before he died, when George was just a few weeks old, he would look at his tiny hand and say, “Future district attorney.”

-Mary was the first of Dennis’ six children and the physical strength she ultimately developed was matched by mental toughness.

1. She was small, vivacious, made friends easily, played piano, was a great dancer, laughed loudly…

2. You didn’t want her for an enemy

  1. She took no crap from the world–clerk, waiter, bus passenger, whatever.

-This all served her well in the business world-in 40+ years of work she only had five bosses.

While her friends soaked up the gin, she soaked up culture. She read widely in the classics with a special fondness for-of course-tragic heroines like Hedda Gabler, Anna Karenina, and Madame Bovary. 

Mary almost single-handedly kept the Broadway theater afloat in the twenties and had as well developed a taste for the thin rot of American pop culture as the lowbrows she tried to distance herself from.

-Her pursuit of high culture was also part of a pattern of social ambition-and certainly of her plans for George.

  • George, “I think my early aversion to reading can be traced to the importance she placed on it and to her use of literary references in the middle of an argument.”
  • Mary would say, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is the ungrateful child!” or “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”
  • “From an early age, I was unimpressed, which was part of a larger pattern in our relationship. She insisted, I resisted. But one message did fall on fertile ground – she passed on to me the love of language, an immense respect for words and their power. 
  • George’s primary discourse: “It made me proud of him and gave me reason to believe that my own very similar sense of what’s important had come directly from him. It’s a connection, a profound one. I don’t have many.”
    • “As conclusive evidence, it’s scanty, but suggests to me that my father saw through the b.s that is the glue of America. That makes me proud. If he transmitted it to me genetically, it was the greatest gift he could have given.”

-Telegram from his father, “Thank God and you for the sunbeam you brought forth, who I pray will outlive all the ill-founded gossip.”

-His father called him a sunbeam.

Ch. 1 summary: “And he got his wish, though there are very few people alive to whom it matters. Not only did I outlive the gossip-by which I’m sure he meant my mother’s quite public and vocal negative opinion of him-but I lived to write this book which will serve as testimony to my old man’s great heart and soul…

A sunbeam. Imagine that!”

Chapter 2:  Holy Mary, Mother of George

  • His mother’s strategy for advancing her life-agenda and realizing her material dreams demanded careful control of the development of her children.
  • Not moral guidance or practical life-advice, but a code that would make her look good and feel comfortable.
    • “Everything you do is a reflection of me.”
  1. She was obsessed with appearances and dependent on the approval of the outside world, in particular that segment of society for whom she worked and that met her approval, the ruling class.
  2. Her vocab. was full of tripe like, “A manis judged by his wife,” and “When you speak, you judge yourself.”
  3. Judgement, judgement, judgement. Judgement of others. Judgement by others.

-George explains that his mother was never a prude…

-Started watching his comedy shows but was a bit ashamed and embarrassed from the two things she held most dear: religion and commerce.

-However, she was a star’s mother.

  • “When I threw my mother out of my life figuratively as a teen, I threw out the good with the bad.”
    • To make a clean break you eliminate everything, but I still find her ambitions hidden in mine-and they’re not necessarily bad.
  • George was forced to live through his mother’s discourses and reach her standards:

1. I still have this longing to be Mary’s model boy.

  1. She is hidden in every cranny of my workroom, requiring me to do things.
  2. What I have to do constantly is take Mary out of things and leave only myself in them. Then decided if I want to do them.

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