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George Carlin

Carlin speaks up about what's wrong with Mickey Mouse, baby boomers, private property, and political activism.

George Carlin wanted to be Danny Kaye when he grew up. Instead, his straight-arrow career was hijacked by the counterculture, and he became the angry voice of a generation. Today, he laments that generation's loss of idealism, but he does so driving a BMW and luxuriating in his private flotation tank, which he calls "Our Lady of Good Salt." After decades of misanthropic stand-up, Carlin promises that a newfound grace infuses his book Brain Droppings, which Hyperion is publishing this spring. "There's a surprising amount of innocence and sweetness in it," he says. And even though he excoriated Mickey Mouse when the "imaginary rodent's" 65th birthday became a news item, the comedian wants you to celebrate when he turns 60 in May.

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Q: Let me read you something from your own act: "I hope Mickey dies. I do. I hope he goddamn dies. I hope he gets ahold of some tainted cheese..."

A: "...and dies lonely and forgotten behind the baseboard of a soiled bathroom in a poor neighborhood with his hand in Goofy's pants."

Q: What did Mickey Mouse ever do to you?

A: That's not how these things generate themselves. What Mickey Mouse did to me was to represent something -- in this case, meaningless shit on the news, the way they fill our minds with all this stuff to distract us from the real tragedy. He's a symbolic figure.

Q: This spring marks your 20th year on HBO, your 40th year in show business, and your 60th year on the planet. What makes your birthday different from Mickey Mouse's?

A: I hope they don't ever use my birthday as a news item. That would be one distinction. I would also hope to tell people I'm 60 because it's a nice human fact for a guy like me to make it all the way to 60.

Q: Do you exercise?

A: I use a treadmill because I've had three heart attacks. My father died at 57. His first symptom of heart trouble was a trip to St. Raymond's Cemetery.

Q: Do you have any of the appliances or equipment that you make fun of in your comedy routines: camcorders, pasta makers...?

A: I have no pasta maker. I probably have a device at home that would take pictures of moving images and would pass for a camcorder, but I don't know where it is.


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