On Beirut soon, but meanwhile more Plimpton while he's on my mind...
For a few years at Paris Review I worked in a little office upstairs between George’s and the billiards room of his apartment. His assistant Antonio, though not much of a Star Trek fan, used to call these offices "The Bridge." When George would fly off to Omaha or wherever to give a speech I’d slip in to his capacious office and sit at his desk. Above it hung a framed letter from Hemingway and a verse collaboration between pugilist Cassius Clay (later M. Ali) and poet Marianne Moore that George had set them one evening at Toots Schorr's saloon. I'd sit at his desk, spin in his chair, sort of like a kid trying on his father’s shoes. Then I’d prepare to make my Important Call.
One day George had gone off and left a large book sitting open in the center of the desk. Well, well, I thought, what have we here? Handwriting... a diary... George’s diary. Open. Of course I had to look.
In the very center of the page that he'd left open, he'd written: “When one goes on a journey of self-exploration, one should go heavily armed. – Verlaine.”