Thursday, June 26, 2008

Seven Dirty Words, One Bad Leg

First off, in memory of the late, great George Carlin, the boone box presents:

The Seven Words You Can Never Say If You Sell Ads for the Networks Televising the Season’s Final Two Majors and Ryder Cup:

1. Tiger
2. Woods
3. Won’t
4. Play
5. In
6. The
7. Tournament

My guess is that anyone who makes money off the British Open, PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, and/or any other event Tiger Woods would’ve played this year probably uttered at least one of the seven words on Carlin’s original and infamous list when news came that Woods will spend the remainder of the season rebuilding and rehabbing his dangling left leg.

Still, the prospects of a Woods’ comeback are thought to be better than Carlin’s who died Sunday at 71 and didn’t believe much in the concept of resurrection. He had a legendary career in entertainment, during which he presided as high priest over the First Church of Scatology. Carlin was intellectually brilliant, belying both that zany fa├žade and the fact that he dropped out of school at 14. In fact, he practically perfected the art of dropping out, doing so from school, the Air Force, traditional comedy, politics, and often sobriety.

He said more than once that the goal of his comedic commentary was to identify the line between being edgy and sacrilegious, then deliberately cross it. To borrow a line from one of Carlin’s favorite punching bags, Mission Accomplished. He consistently pushed people over that edge in the last 40 years since leaving the coat-and-tie comedy circuit for a grittier on-stage persona, which he said was who he really was. The buttoned-down Carlin, he discovered, was the impostor.

I would routinely laugh out loud for 10 minutes straight, then recoil when he went further than I could handle. I couldn’t disagree more with some of Carlin’s particular views on life and faith; but as someone who loves a well-turned phrase and a good laugh, I readily acknowledge his genius.

Carlin was every bit as profound as he was profane. His “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine from a 1972 album wasn’t only meant to offend our sensibilities; it challenged them, too. “Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins,” Carlin once said. “It’s as simple as that.”

There could scarcely be words the sport of golf would like censored than the ones Tiger Woods posted on his web site last week, i.e. that he’d miss the rest of 2008. As Woods was having reconstructive surgery on his knee Tuesday, golf was still licking its wounds from having taken one on the chin.

It seems everyone, with the possible exception of those Clinton supporters vowing to support McCain – not because he’s white, mind you – is lamenting this suddenly Tiger-less summer. In the streets the children scream. The lovers cry and the poets dream. But not a word is spoken. The church bells all are broken. Even Don McLean rewrote the first verse of “American Pie” and was kind enough to e-mail it to us here at GMT:

A few short days ago
I can still remember how the great shots used to make us smile
And he knew if he had a chance
He could make his golf ball dance
And maybe we’d go crazy for awhile

But June 18th it made us shiver
When the paper was delivered
Bad news on the doorstep
He couldn’t take one more step

I can’t remember if I sobbed
When I read about his leg that throbbed
The rest of his great season, robbed
The day that golf got jobbed

So bye, bye Tiger Woods in ‘08
Drive your Buick to the clinic
Get your left leg all straight
We good ol’ boys’ll chug your sports drink and wait
Singin’ almost worse than death is this fate
Least we’ve still got Roc Mediate

For us, being told the game’s best player and the world’s most famous athlete would miss the last three big events of the year (not to mention all the other ones) was like finding out Uncle Billy accidentally left the $8,000 folded up in Mr. Potter’s newspaper. After yelling at Mary and fixing Zuzu’s petals, we stormed off to Martini’s for a few belts.

Unfortunately, that’s about where our story stops. We’re still waiting for Clarence to jump into the water, then tell us that in spite of our momentary disappointment, we really have a Wonderful Life.

Maybe that will begin to happen this week if the retiring Annika Sorenstam can make her final planned appearance in the U.S. Women’s Open a victorious one and claim that championship for a record-tying fourth time. (To hear whether or not she’ll ever come out of retirement for the occasional tournament, click here for my conversation with her earlier this week.)

Maybe Royal Birkdale, while slightly less regal with Woods in absentia, will make Trevor Immelman a double major winner as it did Mark O’Meara the last time the Open Championship was there or give us another Rose-cheeked 17-year-old pitching in from all over the place, Justin time to thrill the locals.

Maybe at the PGA at Oakland Hills, someone will channel Ben Hogan and again bring that monster to its knees. The chances are better now that a knee will keep Woods from bringing a monster season to Oakland Hills.

And maybe, just maybe, come September, Clarence will pull some strings with his boss and allow the U.S. to keep the Ryder Cup on the left side of the Atlantic for the first time this millennium. Seeing as how the Europeans have won the last three Cups by a combined margin of 52 ½ to 31 ½, it may well take divine intervention.

For now, we stand teetering on the bridge outside Bedford Falls with both our lip and our dreams of seeing what Tiger will do next busted.

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