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Seven Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin [NOOK Book]

Overview

In Seven Dirty Words, journalist and cultural critic James Sullivan tells the story of Alternative America from the 1950s to the present, from the singular vantage point of George Carlin, the Catholic boy for whom nothing was sacred. A critical biography, Seven Dirty Words is an insightful (and, of course, hilarious) examination of Carlin’s body of work as it pertained to its cultural times and the man who created it, from his early days as amore-or-less conventional comedian to his stunning transformation into ...
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Seven Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin

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Overview

In Seven Dirty Words, journalist and cultural critic James Sullivan tells the story of Alternative America from the 1950s to the present, from the singular vantage point of George Carlin, the Catholic boy for whom nothing was sacred. A critical biography, Seven Dirty Words is an insightful (and, of course, hilarious) examination of Carlin’s body of work as it pertained to its cultural times and the man who created it, from his early days as amore-or-less conventional comedian to his stunning transformation into the subversive comedic voice of the emerging counterculture. Sullivan also chronicles Carlin’s struggles with censorship and drugs, as well as the full-blown renaissance he experienced in the 1990s, both personally and professionally, when he became an elder statesman to a younger generation of comics who revered him. Seven Dirty Words is nothing less than the definitive biography of an American master who changed the world, and also a work of cultural commentary which frames George Carlin’s extraordinary legacy.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Sullivan, who's written for the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and Rolling Stone, chronicles the life of influential stand-up comedian and social commentator George Carlin in this well-written and thorough biography. He describes how historical events changed Carlin, influenced his comedy, and led to such famous Carlin routines as the "7 Dirty Words." Sullivan analyzes how Carlin liked to break the boundaries of free speech with his observations on everyday experiences and big unanswerable questions about, e.g., religion, and he illustrates Carlin's love of the English language with its strange rules and quirks. VERDICT A celebration of the life of George Carlin and how his comedy remade stand-up, this is a great companion to Carlin's recently published autobiography, Last Words. Highly recommended for readers interested in performing arts, George Carlin, comedy, and celebrity biographies.—Sally Bryant, Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Straightforward biography of George Carlin (1937-2008), who survived countercultural excess to become a seminal American stand-up comedian. Boston Globe contributor Sullivan (The Hardest Working Man: How James Brown Saved the Soul of America, 2008, etc.) portrays Carlin as a singular cultural figure, connecting the 1950s' "Silent Generation" to '60s hippies, '70s stoners and '90s slackers, through a unique combination of shrewdness and provocation. "George Carlin was a natural born transgressor," he writes. The author meticulously chronicles Carlin's career, which intersected with many formative cultural trends of the '50s and '60s. He began as a regional radio DJ, moved into mainstream comedy while observing the "sick" club scene epitomized by Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce, toured extensively and became an early favorite on television, particularly late-night shows. Sullivan ably captures a sense of the entertainment industry at the time-glamorously competitive and fiercely insular. After years honing his comic chops and caricatures like the "Hippie-Dippy Weatherman," Carlin aligned himself with the "freaks" at the right moment, becoming a hugely popular campus comedian and releasing Grammy-winning LPs. This culminated in his notorious 1972 Milwaukee arrest that eventually landed him before the Supreme Court on charges of obscenity. Sullivan argues that the incident has informed our (often incoherent) national conversation about free speech and obscenity ever since. The author also dutifully covers Carlin's personal life. Not surprisingly, he used drugs for a time, but by his own account weaned himself off them by the '90s. Alcohol, however, proved a harder addiction. Less well-known is hisfrequent personal generosity toward other comedians and his steady romance with Brenda, his wife of 36 years, who died after a brutal bout with liver cancer. Sullivan isn't able to fully penetrate Carlin's inner life, resulting in a fairly standard showbiz praise narrative. Still, this is an apt, detailed memorial to a groundbreaking performer.
Publishers Weekly
A recipient of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, stand-up comedian Carlin (1937-2008) wrote three bestselling humor books and looked back over his five-decade career in his recent memoir, Last Words. Now music journalist and culture critic Sullivan, a contributor to Rolling Stone and the San Francisco Chronicle, offers an overview, starting with the young Carlin in 1950s New York. The Air Force sent him off to Louisiana, where he began as a Shreveport radio personality. As a DJ in Fort Worth, Tex., he polished a comedy act with Jack Burns, and the two left for the West Coast, performing together for two years before they split in 1962. Going solo, Carlin's taboo topics and “subversive attitude” took center stage. In this linear summary of Carlin's career, Sullivan dissects the comedian's classic iconoclastic routines, probes his working methods and successfully captures his rocketlike ascent to fame from night clubs and the 1960s comedic cauldron of Greenwich Village to television acclaim, controversy, and creative conflicts. However, those who want to experience a full explosion of the cynical and caustic Carlin blasting off minus the heat shields should instead seek out the finely tuned and wit-saturated Last Words. (June)
From the Publisher
"Sullivan convincingly makes the case that for 50 years Carlin 'may well have produced more laughs than any other human being.'" —-Dwight Garner, The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786745920
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 6/8/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 473,163
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

James Sullivan is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. He previously served as the pop music and culture critic at the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for Rolling Stone and many other publications.
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Table of Contents

Warm-up 1

1 Heavy Mysteries 7

2 Class Clown 25

3 Attracting Attention 51

4 Values (How Much is That Dog Crap in the Window?) 75

5 The Confessional 97

6 Special Dispensation 121

7 Seven Words you Can Never Say on Television 143

8 Wasted Time 167

9 America the Beautiful 189

10 Squeamish 205

Kicker 231

Notes 235

Acknowledgments 247

Index 249

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A poor retelling of a great man's life!

    I love George Carlin! He was the first comic that I ever actually searched out his performances on tape and TV. I saw him perform live and loved it. So, as you can imagine the idea of this book really appealed to me. Sadly it reads like a Wikipedia entry. The man was so funny but this book made me laugh once. It was so poorly paced and bland that is was depressing. Overall this is a travesty to the man’s legacy and the writer who I won’t even name should be ashamed.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Not up to the Expectations

    The book started off well but unfortunately it became boring at the halfway point. It's not the topic but the writing style.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2012

    Smegma?

    The cover looks like Mr. Carlin is sniffing his fingertips to see (smell?) what smegma smells like, and not liking it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    Who the hell is he

    Hfghvgjt

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Loved the Man

    Very entertaining

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

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