A while back, my friend Eric Banks gave me a copy of George, Being George, the oral history of George Plimpton, which I had twitted back here. I have finally started reading it, and the book is far more fascinating for what it says about its contributors than for what it says about George Plimpton. This is the last roar of the old, liberal moneyed class of New York City, and frankly, folks, they're ridiculous.
Freddy Espy Plimpton, George's first wife, solemnly intones: "I was always amazed at his lack of vanity." Shortly thereafter, the late Norman Mailer pipes in, "He had a gift of a sort I never had: He never felt unimportant in the scheme of things." That's our George: utterly without vanity, yet always self-important. And we loved him for it.
That's not even the craziest thing Mailer says in that paragraph. He goes on: "You know, where does this guy get that absolutely extraordinary, unique sense of cool? That's why blacks loved him." That's right, if you only take one fact away from George, Being George, let it be this: Blacks loved George Plimpton.