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plimptonproject.org
July 1, 2009 5:34 AM   Subscribe

We just like George Plimpton. Not personally, we never actually knew him. But we like everything we know about him. His intelligence. His good humor. His spirit. We enjoy the way he attacked life with gusto and grace. We appreciate how he proved that a funny upper crust accent and a rather fancy vocabulary doesn't make you any less of a real man. (If nothing else, Plimpton's life proves that once upon a time a man walked the earth who could both read poetry and throw a football.) We admire the way he embodied everything a man of letters is supposed to be; curious and articulate, brave and wise. We are thankful to the way he ceaselessly promoted other writers and artists and how, through his own writings and publications, became a teacher, guide and inspiration to countless others (even those he never met, life, for instance, us). And, finally, we believe a life such as his is worth continued celebration. Because here was a man who threw himself tirelessly into the gaping maw of life, fighting onward, ever smiling, like the truest of gentleman. ALSO, George Plimpton digs Intellivision and thinks its far superior to Atari.
posted by Fizz (35 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Plimpton was great. I think everyone should have A Talk With George. One of my all time favorites.
posted by seasparrow at 5:46 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


More direct link to A Talk with George.
posted by seasparrow at 5:48 AM on July 1, 2009


I love George Plimpton. I hate that flash interface.
posted by horsemuth at 5:51 AM on July 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


My god, I thought Bill Plympton was dead for a moment there.
posted by echo target at 5:52 AM on July 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Plympton is great.
posted by avianism at 5:57 AM on July 1, 2009


I met Plimpton a few times. He was a swell dude. (We used to call him "the good, rich, Plimp.")
posted by octobersurprise at 6:17 AM on July 1, 2009


I met George Plimpton very briefly when he came to see a show I was part of in the NY Fringe Festival, years ago. It was based on the article he wrote about Larry Walters. He sat in the sweltering heat, applauded briskly at the end, and came up and shook all our hands afterwards. We gave him a free t-shirt.
posted by papercake at 6:19 AM on July 1, 2009


I so had a crush on his daughter after The Goonies.
posted by Spatch at 6:32 AM on July 1, 2009


Wow, this is cool. The only thing I remember him from are the Intellivision commercials. And really, the Intellivision was superior to the Atari in terms of engineering and graphics. They just didn't have the game reach or market share the Atari had.
posted by lysdexic at 6:40 AM on July 1, 2009


I swear I still have calluses underneath my right thumbnail from that controller.

Damn you, Plimpton!
posted by rokusan at 6:47 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


In addition to these other wonderful things, I know he shared some affinity for two things I love: baseball and New York City. How do I know? He was a narrator in both Ken Burns' Baseball and Ric Burns' New York: A Documentary Film (two documentaries I love so much I ripped the audio from them so I can listen to them on my iPod). Plimpton's clipped accent is terrifically natural, and he really was excellent as a narrator -- a skill akin to acting, IMO.

Good on ya, George. We should be so lucky to have another.
posted by grubi at 6:54 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Plimpton was the first writer that I knew by name. Probably because of his extracurricular activities. I was a big Hockey fan when he did a stunt with the Boston Bruins in 1977 resulting in "Open Net"
posted by Gungho at 7:01 AM on July 1, 2009


I so had a crush on his daughter after The Goonies.
posted by Spatch at 8:32 AM on July 1 [+] [!]


Actually no relation.

As a teen, before the rise of the Internet made such trivial facts easy to check, I used to think he was Martha Plimpton's father too, and thought that he was probably just like her father in Running on Empty, who was great to River Phoenix but a pain in the ass as a dad.

I now think George Plimpton he was pretty awesome, though it's mostly because of his appearance on The Simpsons and my free George Plimpton hot plate.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:37 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Read Paper Lion as a kid. Ascot-wearing badass.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:59 AM on July 1, 2009


And now I'm off to do whatever it is I do.
posted by gompa at 7:59 AM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


And really, the Intellivision was superior to the Atari in terms of engineering and graphics. They just didn't have the game reach or market share the Atari had.

It also had one of the worst controllers in the history of video games. The stupid number pad button layout and overlays encouraged developers to use overcomplicated control schemes, and it didn't help that the disk (usually used for movement) couldn't be detected at the same time as the buttons (usually used for everything else). Also, if you had one for years like I did, eventually the overlays would get lost and your telephone-style controller cables (which were originally directly attached to the console and not replaceable) would get frayed.

Intellivision Baseball was pretty awesome though.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:16 AM on July 1, 2009


I so had a crush on his daughter after The Goonies.
posted by Spatch at 8:32 AM on July 1 [+] [!]

Actually no relation.


I was watching several episodes of the Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe serial the other night, saw the Plimtpon name and thought "could it be the man who wrote Paper Lion had a hand in this?". I forgot about that until this thread, checked IMDB and the writers name is George H. Plympton.

He must have got that a lot!
posted by Asbestos McPinto at 8:19 AM on July 1, 2009


I actually just finished reading Paper Lion while on vacation last week. It was a great book, and I highly recommend it if you've never read it.

I mean, who's like, "Hey, I think I want to try to be an NFL quarterback!" and then actually goes and does it?

George motherfucking Plimpton. That's who.
posted by kbanas at 8:41 AM on July 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


What, no love for Mousterpiece Theatre?
posted by Optamystic at 8:44 AM on July 1, 2009


Don't forget about the Paris Review, which he founded. Under his lead, the Paris Review was consistently the standard bearer for the literary journal format (well, until the format all but died more recently). I remember back when I was still actively writing (and even occasionally publishing) poetry, I always found something worth returning to for multiple readings in each issue of the Paris Review, unlike so many of the more forgettable literary journals. It's still around, of course, but I can't vouch for its quality now; haven't kept up with it in years. But back then, publication in the Paris Review always seemed to me like one of the highest honors a literary author could aspire to. Thanks George.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:52 AM on July 1, 2009


Damn skippy, kbanas."George motherfucking Plimpton. That's who." is my new motto. You look at this guy, hear his voice, note his bearing and you're likely to think "What a milquetoast effete this fellow is! The least bit of physical labor would snap him like a twig!" Then you see he's been (albeit briefly and albeit for his literary endeavors) a boxer, a quarterback, a basketball player, and a hockey goalie. A GODDAMNED GOALIE IN THE NHL. A guy who can write with wit and wisdom, a man with a genial attitude and a liberal mind, a fellow who, instead of reading about life around him, decided to LIVE it, even if it was hard. Or dangerous, even. This guy who could even ACT, for the love of Pete. A true renaissance man in his heart. Brains, bravado, talent, and a fine sense of self. Who in the hell does this? And gets something valuable out of it that wants to share with the world?

George motherfucking Plimpton. That's who.
posted by grubi at 9:11 AM on July 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I read and enjoyed Paper Lion. However, avoid the motion picture at all costs.

Alan Alda can make you think Plimpton is an idiot.
posted by Fezzik's Underwear at 9:36 AM on July 1, 2009


I'm convinced that Jennie Finch is really Sidd Finch's long-lost daughter.
posted by ericbop at 10:26 AM on July 1, 2009


He also edited the greatest celebrity scandal book evah:
Edie: An American Biography. (It's an oral history of Edie Sedgewick, of Warhol-Dylan-Velvet Underground infamy.)
If you want a great trashy summer read, get this now.

Oh, and -- he fought in WW2. And fathered twin girls in his late 60s.
And he was a college classmate of Robert F. Kennedy and wrestled Sirhan Sirhan to the ground after he shot RFK.

Interesting guy.
posted by msalt at 10:29 AM on July 1, 2009


I used to enjoy his periodic TV specials when I was a kid - one time he tried his hand at being a stand-up comic, another time a trapeze artist. Always very interesting
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:31 AM on July 1, 2009


The oral bio that came out last year is definitely worth a read. And, once there are actually enough links about it online, there is a great FPP to be made around his conception of the Dynamite Museum project. I think there might be a little bit about it in the bio, centering around one of the biggest gatherings he ever had at Elaine's where he was trying to court potential investors. Ended up being one of his bigger spectacular flops. This really half-assed Google Books search result gives you a taste at least.

God I love George Plimpton-- thx for the link.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 10:33 AM on July 1, 2009


And he was a college classmate of Robert F. Kennedy and wrestled Sirhan Sirhan to the ground after he shot RFK.

Damn! I didn't know that.

Just goes to show: You don't fuck with George Plimpton.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:38 AM on July 1, 2009


Okay, payday is Friday. I'll be ordering Open Net then. Thanks MeFi!
posted by lumpenprole at 10:39 AM on July 1, 2009


This is really, really, really, really great.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:00 AM on July 1, 2009


[Intellivision] also had one of the worst controllers in the history of video games...
Hey, I'll grant you that, but inside it was genius - the circuit "board" was plastic and replacable all in one piece. The Atari's were forever coming in with broken switches or pads or joysticks that required soldering and circuit tracing to fix. With the Intellivisions you'd pop open the case, replace the plastic insides and you were done.

Admittedly we made more money fixing the broken Atari's, but we really admired the engineering behind the Intellivisions.
</derail>

posted by lysdexic at 11:33 AM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It also had one of the worst controllers in the history of video games.

Intellivision Baseball was pretty awesome though.

The controller drove me batty at times also. But it's because of the number pad that intellivision baseball was so awesome, as well as a few other games. Baseball wouldn't have been near as great with the atari 2600 controller.

Today it would suck, but they were trying something different back then, and sometimes, it worked.
posted by justgary at 11:59 AM on July 1, 2009


From an obituary: His reputation, especially as a writer, is based almost entirely on an Everyman appeal, itself derived from his highly original development of a literary strand he labelled "participatory journalism", in which he temporarily assumed a role - professional baseball or football player, golfer, boxer, lion tamer, trapeze artist, ice hockey goalie - which most people only ever dream of playing.

This quote leaves out actor, chess player, bullfighter, and orchestra conductor, among others.

I'm so damn jealous. I've only tried five of those things.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:27 PM on July 1, 2009


Oops. Did I say "five"? I mean zero.

But I'm a nice guy though. That ought to count for something.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:30 PM on July 1, 2009


That quote from him in Volunteers:

Lawrence Bourne III (HANKS): I need to have a talk with you; sort of a little father-son chat.
Lawrence Bourne Jr (PLIMPTON): Have we ever done this before?
Lawrence Bourne III: No, we're breaking new wind. Dad, I need $28,000; it's the matter of a little gambling debt. I can assure you it will never happen again.
Lawrence Bourne Jr: Well, I must say it doesn't surprise me. You have been a constant disappointment to your mother and I ever since the day we brought you home from the orphanage.
Lawrence Bourne III: Stop it, Dad. You know I'm not adopted.
Lawrence Bourne Jr: [Puts his head in his hands] I know, but please; just allow me this little fantasy.
posted by tkchrist at 7:09 PM on July 1, 2009


Actually no relation.

Worldview status: SHATTERED
posted by Spatch at 5:53 AM on July 2, 2009


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