Annals of Quixotic Ventures

Toby Barlow, author of the new novel Sharp Teeth, apparently still wants to get a statue of George Plimpton placed somewhere in Manhattan; an article in Crain’s Detroit Business notes he’s still pursuing the project in an article about his day job as an ad exec.

Barlow announced his ambition in 2005 in the Huffington Post, and while the having-a-larf, Jib-Jabby design of the official Web site suggests he’s doing all this in jest, I do think that design idea number two–showing Plimpton walking with a sheaf of papers–should seriously be avoided at all costs if the project ever moves beyond the brainstorm phase. When I was working in downtown Chicago a few years back, I’d take daily head-clearing walks down Wacker Dr., where I passed a statue of much-loved columnist and TV host Irv Kupcinet. Scott Marks‘ Emulsion Compulsion has a few photos of it, which show Kup benevolently reaching out with one arm while holding a newspaper under the other.

It’s not a bad statue. But whenever I’d walk by it I couldn’t but help but imagine a child strolling down Wacker with the parents, seeing it, and asking, “Daddy, what’s that man holding under his arm?”

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