Dirty Al Has Left The Building

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Dirty Al Has Left The Building

CREATED Feb. 3, 2013

Another chapter in Milwaukee history closed last week with the passing of Elmer "Dirty Al" Lenz.

Al Lenz, who retired after 35 years with the Milwaukee Police Department wasn't "Dirty Al" because he was a crooked cop or fond of profanity.  Actually, quite the opposite.

Al Lenz was on duty at Summerfest on the evening of July 21, 1972 when comedian George Carlin uttered the "Seven words you can't say on television" (or in Milwaukee).  Officer Lenz, upset because his wife and nine-year-old son were in the audience, complained to superior officers.  Carlin was subsequently arrested after the show.

From that moment on, Officer Lenz became "Dirty Al"!

Interestingly, the story is that Carlin was tipped off that an arrest was imminent and had an opportunity to dump cocaine that he was carrying in his pocket. Think how history might have been different if Carlin had been taken into custody when Lenz originally complained.

Ultimately the case against Carlin was dismissed - but the arrest made him (and Summerfest) famous.

As time goes by, more and more people claim to have attended events. 

For example, I bet there are about a million Packers fans who now claim to have been at "The Ice Bowl" in 1967.  For the record, I wasn't at "The Ice Bowl" - but I was at the game the week before against the Los Angeles Rams played at County Stadium. My most vivid memories of that experience are Travis Williams scoring two touchdowns and the crowded bathrooms (because they were the only places with heat).

I was, however, also at Summerfest the night George Carlin got arrested - and have witnesses to prove it.  My buddies and I had gone to see Arlo Guthrie (the headliner that evening) and a couple of the opening acts (Brewer and Shipley and the Siegal Schwall Blues Band). I wasn't aware that Carlin had been arrested until I saw it in the newspaper the next morning.

I actually though Carlin's act that night was relatively unremarkable.  Shows what I know.

George Carlin died in 2008.  Despite his considerable accomplishments in the world of comedy, he's probably best remembered for his "seven words" bit and his Milwaukee arrest.

I don't think George Carlin ever thanked "Dirty Al" - but he should have!  Al Lenz made Carlin's career and made Milwaukee history.

Sail on, Officer Lenz!

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