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Fran Lebowitz

"Having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for book publication."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"... life is something to do when you can't get to sleep."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness or death."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"... to me the outdoors is what you must pass through in order to get from your apartment into a taxicab."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Children ask better questions than do adults. 'May I have a cookie?' 'Why is the sky blue?' and 'What does a cow say?' are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than 'Where's your manuscript?' 'Why haven't you called?' and 'Who's your lawyer?'"

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Even when freshly washed and relieved of all obvious confections, children tend to be sticky."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"That I am totally devoid of sympathy for, or interest in, the world of groups is directly attributable to the fact that my two greatest needs and desires -- smoking cigarettes and plotting revenge -- are basically solitary pursuits."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"... the [hypochondriacs'] program's motto, 'There is no such thing as just a mole.'"

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"... remember this: no matter how politely or distinctly you ask a Parisian a question he will persist in answering you in French."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Scientists are rarely to be counted among the fun people. Awkward at parties, shy with strangers, deficient in irony -- they have had no choice but to turn their attention to the close study of everyday objects."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"... modern science was largely conceived of as an answer to the servant problem and ... it is generally practiced by those who lack a flair for conversation."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Sleep is death without the responsibility."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"In Rome people spend most of their time having lunch. And they do it very well -- Rome is unquestionably the lunch capital of the world."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Children are rarely in the position to lend one a truly interesting sum of money. There are, however, exceptions, and such children are an excellent addition to any party."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"... in New York it's not whether you win or lose -- it's how you lay the blame."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Children make the most desirable opponents in Scrabble as they are both easy to beat and fun to cheat."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"All God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"The most common error made in matters of appearance is the belief that one should disdain the superficial and let the true beauty of one's soul shine through. If there are places on one's body where this is a possibility, you are not attractive -- you are leaking."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Communists all seem to wear small caps, a look I consider better suited to tubes of toothpaste than to people."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Your life story would not make a good book. Do not even try."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Notoriously insensitive to subtle shifts in mood, children will persist in discussing the color of a recently sighted cement-mixer long after one's own interest in the topic has waned."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Cold soup is a very tricky thing and it is a rare hostess who can carry it off. More often than not the dinner guest is left with the impression that had he only come a little earlier he could have gotten it while it was still hot."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Vegetables are interesting but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Japanese food is very pretty and undoubtedly a suitable cuisine in Japan, which is largely populated by people of below average size. Hostesses hell-bent on serving such food to occidentals would be well advised to supplement it with something more substantial and to keep in mind that almost everybody likes french fries."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"White grapes are very attractive but when it comes to dessert people generally like cake with icing."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"While it is undeniably true that people love a surprise, it is equally true that they are seldom pleased to suddenly and without warning happen upon a series of prunes in what they took to be a normal loin of pork."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"People have been cooking and eating for thousands of years, so if you are the very first to have thought of adding fresh lime juice to scalloped potatoes try to understand that there must be a reason for this."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Cheese that is required by law to append the word food to its title does not go well with red wine or fruit."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Inhabitants of underdeveloped nations and victims of natural disasters are the only people who have ever been happy to see soybeans."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Bread that must be sliced with an ax is bread that is too nourishing."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Large, naked, raw carrots are acceptable as food only to those who live in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Food is an important part of a balanced diet."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"... humility is no substitute for a good personality ..."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"While clothes with pictures and/or writing on them are not entirely an invention of the modern age, they are an unpleasant indication of the general state of things. ... I mean, be realistic. If people don't want to listen to you, what makes you think they want to hear from your sweater?"

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"... there are two kinds of music -- good music and bad music. Good music is music that I want to hear. Bad music is music that I don't want to hear."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Perhaps one of the more noteworthy trends of our time is the occupation of buildings accompanied by the taking of hostages. The perpetrators of these deeds are generally motivated by political grievance, social injustice, and the deeply felt desire to see how they look on TV."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Women who insist on having the same options as men would do well to consider the option of being the strong, silent type."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"If you are of the opinion that the contemplation of suicide is sufficient evidence of a poetic nature, do not forget that actions speak louder than words."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"If, while watching the sun set on a used-car lot in Los Angeles, you are struck by the parallels between this image and the inevitable fate of humanity, do not, under any circumstances, write it down."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Being a woman is of special interest only to aspiring male transsexuals. To actual women, it is simply a good excuse not to play football."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"If you want to get ahead in this world get a lawyer -- not a book."

Fran Lebowitz, on self-help books, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Contrary to what many of you might imagine, a career in letters is not without its drawbacks -- chief among them the unpleasant fact that one is frequently called upon to actually sit down and write."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"A hobby is, of course, an abomination, as are all consuming interests and passions that do not lead directly to large, personal gain."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"The Word Lady: Most Often Used to Describe Someone You Wouldn't Want to Talk to for Even Five Minutes."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Girls who put out are tramps. Girls who don't are ladies. This is, however, a rather archaic usage of the word. Should one of you boys happen upon a girl who doesn't put out, do not jump to the conclusion that you have found a lady. What you have probably found is a lesbian."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"My desire to curtail undue freedom of speech extends only to such public areas as restaurants, airports, streets, hotel lobbies, parks, and department stores. Verbal exchanges between consenting adults in private are as of little interest to me as they probably are to them."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"... magazines all too frequently lead to books and should be regarded by the prudent as the heavy petting of literature."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Democracy is an interesting, even laudable, notion and there is no question but that when compared to Communism, which is too dull, or Fascism, which is too exciting, it emerges as the most palatable form of government."

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1974)

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"Lifestyle. Not a word at all, really -- rather a wordette. A genuine case of more is less. ... the word life and the word style are, except in rare cases (and chances are that you're not of them), mutually exclusive."

Fran Lebowitz, in Interview Magazine (1975)

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"Original thought is like original sin: both happened before you were born to people you could not possibly have met."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Polite conversation is rarely either."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"The only appropriate reply to the question 'Can I be frank?' is 'Yes, if I can be Barbara."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"The conversational overachiever is someone whose grasp exceeds his reach. This is possible but not attractive."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Spilling your guts is just exactly as charming as it sounds."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"You know, almost everyone is an irritant to me. I think people have forgotten what the word 'public' means. 'Public' means you're going to be irritated. It's a natural consequence of leaving one's home. You go outside, and there are people who are irritating. I'll be standing on the sidewalk, and someone berates me for smoking. I look at the person and think, but what about your shoes? How can you wear shoes like that and have the confidence to accost someone like me?"

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Generally speaking, the poorer person summers where he winters."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Educational television should be absolutely forbidden. It can only lead to unreasonable expectations and eventual disappointment when your child discovers that the letters of the alphabet do not leap up out of books and dance around the room with royal-blue chickens."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"If you are truly serious about preparing your child for the future, don't teach him to subtract -- teach him to deduct."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Designer clothes worn by children are like snowsuits worn by adults. Few can carry it off successfully."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Never allow your child to call you by your first name. He hasn't known you long enough."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Do not allow your children to mix drinks. It is unseemly and they use too much vermouth."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Don't bother discussing sex with small children. They rarely have anything to add."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he's buying."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Telling someone he looks healthy isn't a compliment -- it's a second opinion."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"If in addition to being physically unattractive you find that you do not get along well with others, do not under any circumstances attempt to alleviate this situation by developing an interesting personality. An interesting personality, is, in an adult, insufferable. In a teenager it is frequently punishable by law."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Remember that as a teenager you are at the last stage in your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Now, nature, as I am only too well aware, has her enthusiasts, but on the whole, I am not to be counted among them. To put it rather bluntly, I am not the type who wants to go back to the land -- I am the type who wants to go back to the hotel."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"If you are a dog and your owner suggests that you wear a sweater ... suggest that he wear a tail."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"No animal should ever jump up on the dining-room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"A great many people in Los Angeles are on special diets that restrict their intake of synthetic foods. The reason for this appears to be a widely held belief that organically grown fruits and vegetables make the cocaine work faster."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"There are two modes of transport in Los Angeles: car and ambulance. Visitors who wish to remain inconspicious are advised to choose the latter."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"It is imperative when flying coach that you restrain any tendency toward the vividly imaginative. For although it may momentarily appear to be the case, it is not at all likely that the cabin is entirely inhabited by crying babies smoking inexpensive domestic cigars."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"... those who use the word 'lifestyle' are rarely in possession of either."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"Smoking is, as far as I'm concerned, the entire point of being an adult."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"... many people find smoking objectionable. That is their right. I would, I assure you, be the very last to criticize the annoyed. I myself find many -- even most -- things objectionable. Being offended is the natural consequence of leaving one's home. I do not like after-shave lotion, adults who roller-skate, children who speak French, or anyone who is unduly tan. I do not, however, go around enacting legislation and putting up signs."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"The downfall of most diets is that they restrict your intake of food."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"I explained that my schedule could not, at this time, accommodate such a task, seeing as how I was up to my ears in oversleeping, unfounded rumors and superficial friendships."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"The first step in having any successful war is getting people to fight it."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"If you're going to America, bring your own food."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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"The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink."

Fran Lebowitz, interview (1978)

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"Contrary to popular opinion, the hustle is not a new dance step -- it is an old business procedure."

Fran Lebowitz, in The Observer (1979)

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"Your grandparents did not endure the indignities of a steerage journey to Ellis Island so that you could stand outside a discothèque and beg a wallpaper designer to take you in with him."

Fran Lebowitz, in Interview Magazine (1979)

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"... if you removed all of the homosexuals and homosexual influence from what is generally regarded as American culture, you would be pretty much left with Let's Make a Deal."

Fran Lebowitz, in New York Times (1987)

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"Why not have your first baby at sixty, when your husband is already dead and your career is over? Then you can really devote yourself to it."

Fran Lebowitz, on working mothers, in Redbook (1990)

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"If you don't have children and you don't have a job, you have time for friendship ... People who have jobs are not the best friends to have. It's better to be friends with people who are unemployed ... "

Fran Lebowitz, in Mirabella (1992)

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" ... for someone such as myself, who is kind of feckless and immature, it's better to have rich friends than to be rich yourself, because then you have wealth without the responsibility. You get to go to their houses, and you get acquainted with a level of furniture that you cannot provide for yourself. Furniture, I think is the most important attribute of rich people."

Fran Lebowitz, in Mirabella (1992)

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"[Friendships] are easy to get out of compared to love affairs, but they are not easy to get out of compared to, say, jail."

Fran Lebowitz, in Mirabella (1992)

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"I have always preferred the company of older people. No one in the history of the world has had less interest in the young than I do. I am not interested in what young people are thinking. They're thinking less than old people, of course. I mean, what could they be thinking? And what are they doing? They're doing the same stupid things you did."

Fran Lebowitz, in Mirabella (1992)

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"... if you live in New York and you have a guest room, you have guests. So I think it's best not to have a guest room."

Fran Lebowitz, in Mirabella (1992)

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"When someone asks, 'Why do you think he's not calling me?' there's always one answer -- 'He's not interested.' There's not ever any other answer."

Fran Lebowitz, in Mirabella (1992)

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"The best fame is a writer's fame: it's enough to get a table at a good restaurant, but not enough that you get interrupted when you eat."

Fran Lebowitz, in The Observer (1993)

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"It's very important when making a friend to check and see if they have a private plane. People think a good personality trait in a friend is kindness or a sense of humor. No, in a friend a good personality trait is a Gulfstream."

Fran Lebowitz, in Travel & Leisure (1994)

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"When I saw a phone on a plane for the first time, I panicked ... I thought people were going to call me."

Fran Lebowitz, in Travel & Leisure (1994)

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"Raisins are a thing that lasts, they come in small boxes, and you always feel like eating raisins, even at six in the morning. A raisin is always an appropriate snack."

Fran Lebowitz, in Travel & Leisure (1994)

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"I like every single part of Italy, unlike Italians, who only like their part and hate all the rest. They say things like, 'You're going to ... Rome?'"

Fran Lebowitz, in Travel & Leisure (1994)

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"The Italians are the most civilized people. And they're very warm. Basically, they're Jews with great architecture."

Fran Lebowitz, in Travel & Leisure (1994)

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"If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you've imagined. Venice is -- Venice is better."

Fran Lebowitz, in Travel & Leisure (1994)

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"Everything in Japan is hidden. Real life has an unlisted phone number."

Fran Lebowitz, in Travel & Leisure (1994)

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"I figure you have the same chance of winning the lottery whether you play or not."

Fran Lebowitz, in Roz Warren, ed. Glibquips (1994)

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"I'm like the laziest person who ever lived. It's amazing to me I even sit up."

Fran Lebowitz, news item (1994)

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"Being poor is like being a child. Being rich is like being an adult: you get to do whatever you want. Everyone is nice when they have to be; rich people are nice when they feel like it."

Fran Lebowitz, in New York Times Magazine (1995)

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"Money ... buys privacy, silence. The less money you have, the noisier it is; the thinner your walls, the closer your neighbors ... The first thing you notice when you step into the house of apartment of a rich person is how quiet it is."

Fran Lebowitz, in New York Times Magazine (1995)

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"Not writing is probably the most exhausting profession I've ever encountered. It takes it out of you. It's very psychically wearing not to write -- I mean if you're supposed to be writing."

Fran Lebowitz, in Eric Maisel, Fearless Creating (1995)

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"All the time I'm not writing I feel like a criminal. It's horrible to feel felonious every second of the day. It's much more relaxing actually to write."

Fran Lebowitz, in Eric Maisel, Fearless Creating (1995)

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"There is this idea now in this country that all people who succeed, succeed on their own, and all people who fail, fail on their own, whereas neither is true. The vast majority of people in this country stay where they're born. Very few people move too far from home. Rich people rarely beome poor, and poor people rarely become rich. But we live in a society ruled by anecdote, so that we have no sense at all of what actually happens to most people."

Fran Lebowitz, in Vanity Fair (1997)

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"I just write when fear overtakes me."

Fran Lebowitz, in Jane Yolen, 'Writing With Joy,' The Writer (1999)

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"I do not think everyone is created equal. In fact, I know they're not. [The Constitution] means that everyone should have the same laws as everyone else. It doesn't mean that everyone's as smart or as cute or as lucky as everyone else."

Fran Lebowitz, in AARP (2003)

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"They know you can't get people to stop smoking, so they develop a system of informants. That's the whole idea of second-hand smoke, you know. Make second-hand smoke dangerous and turn everybody against smokers. Then they say you can't even smoke in a bar -- a bar! -- because bartenders have a right to a smoke-free "workspace." Ah, bartenders, those health nuts ... "

Fran Lebowitz

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"Anti-smoking sentiment has replaced middle-class morality entirely. The smoker has taken the place of the homosexual. Today you hear people say things about smokers that used to be said about homosexuals -- they pollute the environment; you don't want them around your children ... "

Fran Lebowitz

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"Of course I was very opposed to the cleanup of Times Square. Not that I loved Times Square to begin with, but it was part of New York. One of the many horrible things Giuliani has done is to make tourism the primary business of New York. When you make a place more hospitable to tourists than to its citizens, you've turned it into a Third World country. And as is true in any other Third World country, once tourists take over, no one ever stops to think what happened to the indigenous people. In Manhattan, you may ask, where are our hookers? Where are our 3-card Monte dealers? They're gone."

Fran Lebowitz

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"I had to go on TV with the president of the Catholic League, which is not an official organization at all, just a lot of Catholics, or maybe it's just this guy. He demanded to de-fund art completely and argued that taxpayers should not pay for it. I said people who represent the Catholic Church shouldn't talk about taxes."

Fran Lebowitz

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"I'm a very promiscuous reader. A slut of literature. Reading for me is a form of drug addiction. I read mostly fiction because I'm not interested in real life. I'm also addicted to mysteries and never throw them away. I don't read mysteries for the mystery, you see. I can read the same Agatha Christie about 800 times and not until the very end realize who did it. Then I'm shocked because each Agatha Christie mystery has about 75 covers."

Fran Lebowitz

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"Children are much less annoying [than adults] and they never start trends."

Fran Lebowitz

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"Success didn't spoil me. I've always been insufferable."

Fran Lebowitz

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"Romantic love is mental illness. But it's a pleasurable one. It's a drug. It distorts reality, and that's the point of it. It would be impossible to fall in love with someone that you really saw."

Fran Lebowitz

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"The second you meet someone that you're going to fall in love with you deliberately become a moron. You do this in order to fall in love, because it would be impossible to fall in love with a human being if you actually saw them for what they are."

Fran Lebowitz

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"If you can stay in love for more than two years, you're on something."

Fran Lebowitz

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"I hate academic mysteries. As soon as I come across the word 'don' and it's not someone's first name, I close the book."

Fran Lebowitz

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"I do not believe in God. I believe in cashmere."

Fran Lebowitz

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"In conversation you can use timing, a look, inflection, pauses. But on the page all you have is commas, dashes, the amount of syllables in a word. When I write I read everything out loud to get the right rhythm."

Fran Lebowitz

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"It is much easier to write a solemn book than a funny book. It's harder to make people laugh than it is to make them cry. People are always on the verge of tears."

Fran Lebowitz

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"When I'm supposed to be writing I clean my apartment, take my clothes to the laundry, get organized, make lists, do the dishes. I would never do a dish unless I had to write."

Fran Lebowitz

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"Randomness scares people. Religion is a way to explain randomness."

Fran Lebowitz

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"Do you know on this one block you can buy croissants in five different places? There's one store called Bonjour Croissant. It makes me want to go to Paris and open a store called Hello Toast."

Fran Lebowitz

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"My favorite animal is steak."

Fran Lebowitz

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"Middle class was defined by having certain values and only a certain amount of money. But this new middle class seems to have absolutely no values and an unlimited amount of money."

Fran Lebowitz

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"Marriage entitles women to the protection of a strong man who will steady the stepladder while they paint the kitchen ceiling."

Fran Lebowitz

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"[On the writers she admires:] I prefer dead writers, because I don't see them at parties."

Fran Lebowitz

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"[On not reading newspapers:] If something important happens, your mother calls you."

Fran Lebowitz

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"[On parenthood:] You can't change your mind -- you know, and say, this isn't working out, let's sell."

Fran Lebowitz

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"You don't have to lay an egg to know if it tastes good."

Fran Lebowitz, I Lost It at the Movies (1965)

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"Nature is, by and large, to be found out of doors, a location where, it cannot be argued, there are never enough comfortable chairs."

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

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Fran Lebowitz, U.S. writer, humorist, social commentator
(1950 - )

Full name: Frances Ann Lebowitz