Monday, June 23, 2008

Jerry Manuel and George Carlin: Two Honest Men

Jerry Manuel is the new manager of the New York Mets. So far, he's done a good job. But it's the Mets, so we all know it won't end well.

Met fans, whom I have dubbed the Flushing Heathen, don't deserve it. According to today's New York Post, Manuel called the Met fans crap.

Well, not exactly -- and since when do I believe anything the Post says? When it makes me laugh, that's when! (I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The Times is the face the City prefers to show the rest of the world, the Daily News is the face the City prefers to show itself, and the Post is a face only a mother could love. Not my mother, though, and not her mother, and definitely not me.)

Manuel was actually comparing the atmosphere at the William A. Shea Municipal Stadium to... that stuff. From the Post:

<< "It's very, very fertile ground for growth in Shea Stadium," Manuel said. "It's fertile ground for a team's growth and development. Sometimes, fertile ground has fertilizer... Fertilizer is a good thing," Manuel said in Denver before his team's victory over the Rockies. "It's a good thing. You get the greatest results - get the most beautiful plants - when you put it in that type of fertile soil. That's what we have the opportunity to do."

Manuel, who will make his first appearance at Shea as manager of the Mets tonight against Seattle, pleaded with reporters to forget the "fertilizer" reference - and not do "something crazy with this." >>

He asked the New York media... especially for a tabloid newspaper... not to do something crazy with his comparison of Shea Stadium, or the inhabitants thereof, to fertilizer? I guess managing in Chicago (with the White Sox) didn't teach him enough about big-city media!

I could think of a better word to use than "fertilizer." On a related subject...


Rest in peace, George Carlin. Until now a serious candidate for the title of The Funniest Man Alive, the heart trouble he'd had for many years finally did him in at age 71. He didn't make it any easier with substance abuse. He recently left alcohol rehab, and after beating his cocaine addiction years ago, he admitted, "I finally figured out that the purpose of cocaine is to run out of it."

Carlin was from Morningside Heights, the Manhattan neighborhood where Columbia University is headquartered. To make themselves sound tougher, he and his childhood friends said they actually came from "White Harlem." (Hey, there was a "Spanish Harlem," and "East Harlem" is still mainly Italian, so why not?)

He was a Yankee Fan whose favorite moment in sports was the Yankees not just winning the 1996 World Series after so long not having won, but beating the Atlanta Braves to do it. Carlin called Atlanta "a fake city" that didn't have "real fans." He was very perceptive.

He would've appreciated a New York manager calling his team's fans a variation on one of the "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television." In case you're wondering, the original 7 words he started the bit with in 1972 are "shit," "piss," "fuck," "cunt," "cocksucker," "motherfucker" and "tits."

(NOTE: When I originally wrote this piece, I hate them censored, as "S---," and so on. Except "Tits": I don't remember why I left that one alone. It certainly wasn't because of a fixation on breasts. At the time, I was concerned that people I know who are sensitive to this kind of language wouldn't like to see it in my blog, and it would be a while before I started using profanities in the blog. Well, as Carlin would have said, "Fuck that shit!" So, in going over these posts years after the fact, I put in the uncensored version.)

He would occasionally replace some of them. When he appeared on Bravo's program Inside the Actors' Studio, host James Lipton asked him what the 7 words are, and Carlin's words were broadcast as follows: "(Bleep), (Bleep), (Bleep), (Bleep), (Bleep), (Bleep) and Ass!"

Carlin's famous bits included Willy West of "WINO, Wonderful Wino Radio!"; Al Sleet the Hippy-Dippy Weatherman ("This weather system is a Canadian low, which is not to be confused with a Mexican high!"), Daytime TV ("Russia and the United States are at war, details ahead, but first, this word about your laundry!"), Long Hair ("Be fair with your hair, show it you care, wear it to there, or to there, or to there if you dare!" -- I guess "derriere" wasn't a word you could say in TV in 1971), Stuff ("Where do you put your stuff?"), various musings about God ("I have begun worshipping the Sun, because I can actually see it"), and, of course, "Baseball and Football."

We've all heard the bit, even if we only remember parts of it. The beginning is familiar: "Baseball is a 19th Century pastoral game. Football is a 20th Century technological struggle."

Now that I think about it, maybe Carlin didn't really understand baseball.

"Pastoral?" Shea Stadium?!? Are you freakin' kiddin' me?

He closed that bit by using all kinds of military metaphors to describe the object of football, and said, "In baseball, the object is to go home! And to be safe!"

Since last fall, the Mets have not been "safe at home." Maybe, instead of looking to a new manager, general manager Omar Minaya, or to their full-of-fertilizer fans, maybe the Mets should look to, as Carlin put it, "that Invisible Man in the Sky."

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