George Plimpton, uber alles
By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

    Earth receive an honored guest;
    William Yeats is laid to rest.
    Let the Irish vessel lie,
    Emptied of its poetry.

    Time that is intolerant
    Of the brave and innocent,
    And indifferent in a week
    To a beautiful physique,

    Worships language and forgives
    Everyone by whom it lives;
    Pardons cowardice, conceit,
    Lays its honors at their feet.

    Time that with this strange excuse
    Pardoned Kipling and his views,
    And will pardon Paul Claudel,
    Pardons him for writing well.

    -- W. H. Auden, from "In Memory of W.B. Yeats"

George Plimpton was an elegant man. He was an aristocrat of the spirit and one of my finest friends.

Being a friend of Plimpton's carried a special responsibility of behaving in a style that he would be proud of. You didn't want to let him down, and George had extremely high standards. Every moment of being in his company was part of my Education.

It was a proud moment when I first introduced my son Juan to "my friend, George Plimpton." There was no need to explain anything extra about George: You didn't have to know him to realize that he was genuine American Royalty, and that it was a privilege to be in the same room with him.

I loved George, and he has been a gigantic influence in my life. When I think of him I see a tall loose-walking man strolling through the lobby of the Carlyle Hotel with an armload of fresh Calla Lillies.

George Plimpton
George Plimpton was a true Renaissance Man.
George Plimpton was about as good of a friend as a man can have in this world. He lived his life like a work of fine art. George Plimpton was a winner. He was comfortable with everything, from reading Plato in the original Greek, to sparring with Muhammad Ali and courting Jackie Kennedy. He was an athlete and a scholar. He played touch football with Bobby Kennedy on the lawn of Hickory Hill and built some of the most dangerous and colossal firebombs ever seen in the American Century. He was absolutely fearless.

There are so many wild and beautiful stories I could tell you about being with George, having savage and unnatural adventures all over the world, that I am feeling dumb and paralyzed when I try to write them down. He was the highest and truest authority on American literature of his time, a genuine Man of Letters.

George Plimpton kicked ass. He was a champion in everything he did. He was the finest advertisement for Harvard University since LSD-25, and he loved Calla Lilies, along with beautiful women and Bob Dylan.

Whoops. Enough of that mushy stuff. My real reason for writing tonight is that I think the friends of George Plimpton should and must create a permanent monument to him. It should be built in the little plaza next to his home, and the offices of the elegant Paris Review, at the end of 72nd Street in Manhattan, overlooking the East River. I don't know much about building or creating monuments to people in any neighborhood, but I have a powerful feeling that this one is the right idea at the right time and is absolutely doable immediately.

OK. This is just a start, so let's get rolling on it. Who knows what it will look like? Not me, but I have some suave and aggressive ideas. Give me a ring.

Thanks, HUNTER.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. His books include "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," "The Great Shark Hunt," "The Curse of Lono," "Generation of Swine," "Songs of the Doomed," "Screwjack," "Better Than Sex," "The Proud Highway," "The Rum Diary," and "Fear and Loathing in America." His latest book, "Kingdom of Fear," has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears regularly on Page 2.



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