Posts Tagged ‘Tim Russert’

Shit! These things really do come in threes, don’t they: first Jim McKay, then Tim Russert, and now George Carlin. George would hate that I included him in that silly superstition. I certainly don’t feel as sad for the loss of George as I did for Tim. George would also hate for people to say, “He left us,” or, “He passed away.” George would prefer we simply say, “George died.” No, I feel more grateful than anything; grateful that we were all graced with his unique genius for such a long time. George Carlin had that rarified ability, that all great men and women posses, to be able to make us all see the world and ourselves in a different light.

There is really not much else I can say about the man that you don’t already know, or haven’t read. But I will say this: George Carlin has been a huge inspiration in my life. First and foremost, he made me appreciate words on a whole new level, and made me believe that language is most definitely a living, breathing entity. If you are familiar with George’s material, then you know that one of his biggest gripes is that, in the age of political correctness and over-inflated vernacular, so much of that life, the soul of our language, is dying. The other big reason I am so inspired by the man and his work is that he had a big set of brass balls on him. You have got to respect George Carlin for his courage to play by his own set of rules when that meant really putting yourself out on a limb; and in so doing he changed the face of comedy.

Oh, and he gave me, and any other aspiring writer or comedian, the greatest piece of advice of all time: Write everything down. Thoughts and ideas are like butterflies; and they need to be pinned down in a glass case.

If you really want to honor the memory of George Carlin, tell someone to go fuck themselves.

Stay tuned for my Arbitrary Commentary section later today or tomorrow, renamed for this week only in honor of George…

Brain Droppings

  • A big up to all of you for carving a little time out of your busy lives to spend it with the Monday Morning Punter. We hit 1,000 hits yesterday, Monday, June 23, at 12:24 pm(est). Believe it or not, I cannot find words to express how much I appreciate everything. I am so blessed to have such supportive family and friends. It stinks in here; because You people are the shit!
  • Don’t forget that our man Andy’s show, I Survived A Japanese Game Show, is premiering tonight at 9pm (eastern) on ABC. Lordhavemercy!
  • Just so you all know that I’m not starry-eyed in love with Barack Obama, I’d like to share a few gripes I’ve recently had with the Junior Senator from the great state of Illinois. Mr. Obama better mind his Ps & Qs when it comes to the recent revelation that he and his people are closely tied to the whole ethanol movement. This ethanol stuff is a lot of bullshit, and is greatly tied to the farm lobby (the corporate farm lobby, mind you, the guys who fuck the little farmer) and huge copanies like Cargill. We should have all been driving electric cars 10 years ago – a not some little wind-up toy; i’m talking about svelte little whips that can zip around at 60-80 mph and get a range up to 100 miles per charge. See for yourself: So forget ethanol. Another thing that’s bothering me is the idea of just taxing the oil companies profits. We should be keeping a closer watch on practices, but to arbitrarily tax a company, no matter how high the profits, just seems a little un-American to me. And finally, Mr. Obama better get with the program regarding this FISA bill, that will be voted on by the Senate next week. He has expressed that he will support the bill that grants protection to the telecoms from prosecution retroactively regarding illegal surveillance. Mr. Obama has the opportunity to filibuster this on the floor of the Senate, as well as vote no, and not puss out the way the likes of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi did, and just rolled over. http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/06/20/obama_supports_fisa_legislatio.html
  • And speaking of abandoning your principles in favor of playing politics: don’t think for one minute I’d even consider voting for John McCain. Hahahahahahahahaha.
  • And while we’re at it: Joe Lieberman has really been pissing me off lately. First he threw in the towel in the 2000 election before the fight even started for the recount. Then he gets beat in the Connecticut primary by Ned Lamont, only to switch to Independent in order to continue to fight for his Senate seat, which of course he eventually won. He is the lynch-pin swing vote in an evenly split Senate. And now this dude is throwing away everything he has stood for for the past 20 years and supporting McCain, all over one issue. Oh, and he is planning to speak at the Republican convention this summer. Joe, you’re punking us, right?

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America lost a great Patriot on Friday, June 13th, when Tim Russert died suddenly of an apparent heart attack. When the ‘Breaking News’ alert interrupted MSNBC’s usual coverage that afternoon, I thought it was about the attack on the Kandahar prison that had freed 1,500 inmates, 350 whom were considered Taliban militants. That story had just broken over the various news-wires. But when I saw that it was Tom Brokaw there to deliver the news, it became evident that something more personally profound was about to be reported on. My initial thought went to the safety and condition of the current anchor of NBC’s ‘Nightly News,’ Brian Williams, who has been reporting from Afghanistan this past week, covering the fight against a resurgent Taliban force. While I was relieved that Williams had not come to any harm, I was terribly saddened to learn from Brokaw that his esteemed colleague and friend Tim Russert had passed away at NBC’s Washington bureau, where he was Chief, and where he so tirelessly and passionately worked to inform the American public. Tim Russert was 58; far too young, even in spite of the fact that in his tragically shortened time he accomplished enough to fill three long life spans.

Over the past two days, the common theme found throughout the many eulogies of Tim Russert was the genuine love and care he felt towards his fellow man. Of course this was manifested first and foremost in the devotion to his family, wife Maureen and son Luke. For one so noted for his incredible work ethic and attention to detail – he made a point of doing his own research in preparation for his interviews on ‘Meet the Press – what friends and colleagues found most remarkable about the man was how he was able to put his family first. Often the first question asked by one of the most famous of all “questioners” was not about your career or your thoughts on the latest political news making headlines: he would ask you about your family, whom he would know by name. He also made it a point to pass on this preeminent value to those who would come to call him mentor. Even in the heat of late night election coverage, Russert was known to send Mothers and Fathers home so that they could put their kids to bed.

This extraordinary connection to the average American family, cultivated from his Buffalo working class roots, was always apparent in the way he did his job as a journalist. Tim Russert, as moderator of ‘Meet the Press,’ has always been lauded for his objectivity and fair treatment of all his guests from across the political spectrum. If someone left the studio on Sunday morning battered and bruised, it was because of the inconsistency of their own words and actions. Tim may have been the Hangman, but the noose was the intellectual dishonesty that passes for political discourse nowadays. And time and time again, political spin masters fell crashing through the trap door.

The greatest lesson that can be learned from the life and work of Tim Russert is that as a journalist he never made it about him. It was always about the Truth. Each Sunday, Tim labored to clear away all the obfuscation that stood between the American people and what the real story was. In this era of round-the-clock news coverage, and partisan anchors like Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly, the type of journalism that Tim Russert practiced is needed now more than ever. Regardless of how he may feel towards and issue or a guest, Russert checked his political baggage at the door to the studio, and did his best to present the information as equitable as possible. For someone so famous for asking questions, his best attribute was the way he listened to the answers. If his life and untimely death can inspire a better Free Press, than it may be the best of all his great accomplishments.

I had the privilege to hear Tim Russert speak at my commencement from Lehigh University a few years back. It was a great speech that inspired as it entertained the thousands assembled on that hot day. But what was most noteworthy about the address was how little of it was spent on politics or journalism. He spoke more about the lessons learned from the Zen-like wisdom of Yogi Berra. The point of his speech – made quite eloquently and successfully – was that for the young graduates in attendance, who were blessed with the opportunity to receive a college education, they now have both the means and the obligation to take care of one another and those less fortunate. (I could only find a transcript of a commencement speech he gave last year at Washington University in St. Louis; but it is very close to what I heard, and is worth reading, here: http://news-info.wustl.edu/news/page/normal/9548.html )

In the speech he quotes his favorite commencement address in its entirety: “No exercise is better for the human heart than reaching down to lift up another person.” The tragic irony of that statement is that ultimately it was his heart that failed him physically. Doctors said that they found he had an enlarged heart; and after a life devoted to the lifting up of others, his friends and family could have made that diagnosis themselves.

As I type these words, it is exactly 10:30 am on the East coast; and that means its time to ‘Meet the Press.’ The Good Lord had better brush up on the Good Book, because Tim is coming, and I’m sure he has some questions.