Sunday, October 28, 2012

FDR and George Carlin: Getting their due

Was there ever a better president than Franklin Delano Roosevelt? (Well, maybe Lincoln but FDR is probably second).

Was there ever a better comedian than George Carlin? Short answer: no!

These were two great men, two immense figures, who's places in history are burnished like no other.

FDR saved America during the Great Depression and then saved the world during WWII. He gave us Social Security and destroyed Fascism. Pretty amazing.

George Carlin re-invented comedy in the last decades of the 20th century and has influenced generations of comedians ever since. He was also the first host of "Saturday Night Live", launching an important part of television history.

Both deceased (FDR since 1945, Carlin since 2008) both were great men who also happened to be native New Yorkers.

Now the city that claimed them is finally recognizing them.

Recently, on Roosevelt Island, a long planed and overdue memorial to FDR has opened: the Four Freedoms Park was recently commemorated by Mayor Bloomberg and President Clinton and is a fitting, amazing tribute to the man. About ten years ago a memorial to FDR was built in Washington, DC but there was no memorial to him in NYC. Now there is and it's a great thing.

As for George Carlin, he recently got a street named after him. Up in Morningside Heights, the community board recently voted to name West 121st street after the great comedian and the city council should approve it shortly. Yours truly signed a petition to make this happen so it's exciting to see it finally occur. Also, I grew up in the same neighborhood as Carlin so I'm happy about this on a personal level. Naturally, the eternal cynic George Carlin would probably find naming a street after him silly ... so, fitting, the joke is happily on him.

In a world of bad news, it's great to see these two New Yorkers be recognized by this city.

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