Monday, June 23, 2008

The officer who busted Carlin

Jim Stingl of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had this interview in 2007:

What bothered Milwaukee Police Officer Elmer Lenz was not just that George Carlin was filling the air at Summerfest with shocking words that, in those days of relative innocence, you didn't hear on television.

It was that Lenz's wife and 9-year-old son were in the audience to see a musical performance on the same stage.

"I couldn't believe my ears," he remembers. "I couldn't see why nobody was doing anything about it."

Lenz was on duty that hot Friday night of July 21, 1972, and if it was up to him, he would have stormed the main stage, stopped the show and dragged Carlin off to jail. Instead, he went to the stage area and complained to a superior officer.

"He said, 'We'll get him when it's over,' " said Lenz, retired these past 27 years in northern Wisconsin, where he traded crime fighting for trout fishing.

And get him they did, although Carlin claimed later it could have been much worse for him. He said in a newspaper interview in 1991 that his wife tipped him off that the cops were coming, which gave him time to get rid of the cocaine in his pockets.

Carlin was from a different era, when political humor was not just a foul-mouthed rant (ironically) on a stage. On the other hand, I think the "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television" is probably the first comedy bit I ever heard on a record. RIP.

Johnny Carson - Guest George Carlin - video powered by Metacafe