Saturday, October 10, 2020

Like emptying a cormorant every few fish

John Train, in Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr, ed., George, Being George: George Plimpton’s Life. New York: Random House, 2008, p. 121—

[When The Paris Review was founded, the most effective distributors] were the hawkers we employed to peddle the magazine in the streets. In French, such people are called camelots. Our best camelot was named Abrami. He was a poet, and he would walk in front of the Deux Magots and the Flore handing out to the drinkers on the sidewalk copies open to some interesting illustration, preferably off-color; then he’d come back, retrieve them, or collect payment, if possible. He was particularly effective. You had to catch up with him at frequent intervals, because if he collected too much money from customers, you risked having him go into hiding and on to a spending spree. So you had to keep up with him. It was like emptying a cormorant every few fish… 

Roy R. Behrens, beetle montage (detail), 2004