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CHOSEN WORDS
GEORGE CARLIN PENS AN ACT FOR SHEA'S

To hear George Carlin tell it, if his brain were a universe, then located somewhere amid the stars, clusters and bright and dark nebulosities would be a disdain for order.

Carlin, for certain, thrives on chaos, confusion and disaster - with one exception. "I write carefully. I do a lot of revisions, then I begin memorizing, and it changes as I memorize out loud. You couldn't get that kind of economy of language just by ad-libbing each night, and you wouldn't get the precision of how certain jokes have to be worded, the way your thoughts are best presented."

Carlin's countercultural comedy is delivered as he stalks the stage like a mighty howitzer, fully loaded and primed for fire. When Carlin visits Shea's Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. Thursday, he will likely be testing a piece called "Rats and Squealers," about how he believes America has turned into a nation of informers and spies.

"It's a very strong stand against cooperating with police and prosecutors," Carlin explained during a phone interview from his California home. "It's a nice piece, very hard."

Carlin is far from the last angry man, though his routine leaves that impression. Rather, this cranky sod with the skinny silhouette would be the first to root for the little guy. As a child he was a loner, growing up in an Irish American enclave near Columbia University in upper Manhattan. He says he preferred his own company.

"My life dictated that in a way because my father was absent and my mother was at work all the time," Carlin said. "I had radio and my imagination, and I was always impatient with authority and regulation."

Under the tutelage of the nuns at Corpus Christi, young Carlin was "an excellent academic student" in a progressive Catholic school. There were no report cards or grades of any kind. "It was the early 1940s," he said, "and we didn't wear uniforms. It was revolutionary."

So that's what helped spark the birth of the Hippy Dippy Weatherman. Maybe the Wonderful Wino, too. And don't forget those Seven Words.

Three topics concern Carlin: words and phrases, moments everyone experiences and bigger-picture issues, like death, war, love and religion.

"I don't believe in goofy spooky stuff like that," Carlin said of religion. "There is as much proof of the existence of God as there is for UFOs and people in space ships. There is no physical evidence that anyone has ever seen. It's all a method of controlling people. It's a way of keeping the poor people happy and giving them hope. It really has nothing to do with reality. It's a scam is what it is."

Carlin is gearing up for another HBO special and a second book, "Napalm and Silly Putty," due out in May. "I've never had writer's block," the 63-year-old Carlin says. "I have the opposite problem. I have far too much stuff and have trouble deciding what to act on next."

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