Fran Lebowitz, who hates to leave Manhattan, recently flew to Australia. Many hours without a cigarette: not fun. But there was a journalist waiting, and Fran talked. About Trump: “Everyone says he is crazy — which maybe he is — but the scarier thing about him is that he is stupid. You do not know anyone as stupid as Donald Trump. You just don’t.” About guns: “I was an 18-year-old penniless girl in the middle of a dangerous city [New York, in the ’70s] and I was never as afraid as these men in Texas, living in a state of terror.” And election night… but you want to click to read the whole piece. And then… this….
There are smarties and there are smart asses, and the two rarely meet,
That’s why so many New Yorkers of a certain age cherish Fran Lebowitz, who wrote smart, smart-ass magazine columns that became two books.
(In the Dark Ages, before a newspaper column became the franchise that is “Sex and the City,” a column that grew up to be a book was a pretty big thing.)
As a satirist and social commentator, Lebowitz owned the late 1970s and early 1980s — the era of Andy and Bianca, Studio 54 and cocaine, with AIDS and Reagan money on the horizon — in Manhattan. She was a tough-talking demolition machine; her astringent, precise sentences could destroy entire categories. And she was a great character — she chain-smoked, wore blazers and white shirts and faded jeans and Bass Weejuns, and growled at interviewers as if they had just rudely awakened her.
In the last few decades, Fran Lebowitz has written almost nothing — indeed, she’s made a career effort not to finish her long-awaited novel, “Exterior Signs of Wealth”. She supports herself on book royalties, lectures at colleges and occasional appearances as a no-nonsense judge on “Law & Order.” “I’ve never met anyone who even comes close to me in laziness,” she’s said. “I would have made a perfect heiress.”
It’s been three decades since she was writing regularly. She is still… let’s call it “tart.”
A while back, her two books — “Metropolitan Life” and “Social Studies” — were published together. I wanted to revisit my Disco Years, so I plunged through “The Fran Lebowitz Reader.”
The bad news: Pieces age. Not because Lebowitz’s persona — smart hanger-on at the table of the rich — is no longer viable. Simply because the Internet has changed the way we read and write? Got a punchline? Then bring it. But don’t bury it in a sea of preamble and diversion.
Why writers smoke: The words are in the cigarettes.
There’s no such thing as advice to the lovelorn. If they took advice, they wouldn’t be lovelorn.
I wouldn’t say that I dislike the young. I’m simply not a fan of naïveté. I mean, unless you have an erotic interest in them, what other interest could you have? What are they going to possibly say that’s of interest? People ask me: Aren’t you interested in what they’re thinking? What could they be thinking?
Success didn’t spoil me. I’ve always been insufferable.
The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.
The outdoors is what you have to go through to get from the apartment into the taxi.
Children give life to the concept of immaturity.
The first requirement of a climber is a toehold.
Meatloaf —a marvelously rough kind of Spam.
Being offended is the natural consequence of leaving one’s home.
This book should come with a pen.
Previously published on The Head Butler.
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