Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fran on NYC

Like yesterday's Luc Sante piece, here's another older interview I recently stumbled upon, this one from 2002 with Fran Lebowitz in Mr. Beller's Neighborhood.



FL: As soon as you had a magazine called New York you had all these journalists who had to constantly write about New York. So eventually they would seek out things that they never could have come across on their own--like restaurants and places to go and ways of life--and start to write about them. And they turned these things upside down, so these things became open to the public, hence, boring and unauthentic. And eventually, the entire city became like that. There would be a club that no journalist in a million years would know about. Then one would find out about it, write about it, and ruin it. And then you'd go to another one and keep escaping these journalists. Then people starting opening clubs with an eye to being written about, so it was never a club you wanted to go to.

TB: New York has become one huge press release.

FL: That's why New York is boring.

TB: Which is why you live here.

FL: I live here because when I got here it wasn't boring.

TB: Do you long for the old days?

FL: Absolutely. I wouldn't move here now. I used to work a little bit to pay my little rent. I used to drive a cab until the exact moment my rent was paid and then stop. I never wanted to have any extra money, if it meant having to have any extra work. Now there's now way you can live in Manhattan and drive a cab. To move to Manhattan, you have to have a rich father. The kids who come here are either rich or are moving here to make money in business, which is a dull kind of kid anyway.

17 comments:

Suburban Guy said...

I used to juggle on the streets of NYC to make my rent. Juggling! try that today and the best you can do is a cardboard box...if you are lucky.

Fran said it best, the kids today are dull.

almerindo said...

I have been enjoying this blog for some time, now. I run a small discussion group called the NYC Junta and we are going to be discussing exactly these issues tonight in Brooklyn. We'll be screening "The Vanishing City" and discussing afterwards. BYOB. I think a lot of readers here might find it fun. This is free event, obviously.

Mark said...

Exactly!

Thank you, Fran.

Again.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks almerindo for the info. looks like a good night.

Anonymous said...

So any event or place that is open to the public is therefore unauthentic? Please, give me a break! As a member of the public, I would like to say that I am just as authentic as anyone else.

Anonymous said...

I always get a kick out of when people are against the free flow of information. She's just echoing the feeling that everything was cool until all those other people showed up. She's no different the trendsetters who always need to be ahead of the curve.

Goggla said...

Spot-on.

@Anon 12:00 - I know what you mean, but that is the sad truth. I used to find places that I considered 'cool' because I liked them and the fact that no one else knew about them was a bonus. I'd jokingly tell friends to keep it a secret and then take them to these places. Inevitably, they got discovered and overrun with people, forcing me to give it up and move on.

I suppose this is a natural progression and has been going on...well, always. It's just disheartening when mobs of people swoop in and destroy a place you love, then change it into something else.

Marty Wombacher said...

I agree with the sentiment that New York is becoming too expensive for most people (luckily I have a rent-stabilized apartment), but to say New York magazine wrecked the city is a bit of a stretch. So, is the Village Voice at fault too? New York has always been a big press release, I don't think that's what wrong with the city. It's high rent and the invasion of chain stores, restaurants and mall mentality that's killing the city in my humble opinion.

hoolsa said...

In response to the last sentence:

The sad part is that there's barely any room for us folk who move here to "make rent" through the arts.

Art, design, writing and performance was pivotal in shaping this city into the Bohemia it was once so fondly looked upon as by people like Lebowitz, and now its probably the biggest industry (for lack of a better word) in New York that's truly struggling. Where talent once ran rampant in the streets, advertising, nepotism and trust funds have replaced it all.

This is just my little eulogy in response to this interview. There have always been boring kids running about, and there always will be. Who cares about them? The issue is the ratio of these people in comparison to those who have unique voices that are subsequently being shut out and forced into lives of monotony and submission.

Sorry, that was a bit dark..

Anonymous said...

Sorry but keep in mind that Fran Liebowitz hasn't produced anything since 1978. In fact, I wonder how she feeds herself. Talk about boring! I'm sick of her 30 years of whining.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Scorsese is directing a documentary about her:
http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2010/09/07/hbo-requires-rights-to-fran-lebowitz-documentary/

Grand St. said...

Interesting to contrast Hoolsa's remarks with those of Frank G. on the Luc Sante post. What makes this discussion so tricky is that there's a lot of truth in both positions.

Most people that care about this crazy place (and that post on this blog) have no use for mayhem in the streets, nor the sterility that comes with hyperdevelopment, Thing is, the power brokers and politicians don't seem to be as concerned with striking balances as do rank and file New Yorkers.

anon said...

marty w & hoolsa said it all. i think we should stop focusing on boring people. the malls chain stores rents etc are the problem. as i said in another post, there will be a satelite city people will move too. (people in the arts). something livable more like a little old NY. as for clubs-bars changing, well thats been happening for the last 40 yrs. nothing new. somehow "maxes kansas city" managed to keep the back room exclusive from '65-'71. also "waverly inn" today keeps the middle room & special tables tourist free. because of the internet the information gets out really fast. also "arthur" club did not let just anyone in. weekends yes but they still were choosy. they had a back room like a cafe which was exclusive. the press called us PYP's (pretty young people) but that was the mid 60s. still we avoided going out on weekends.

Marty Wombacher said...

Well, she did drive a cab, so I guess the Documentary will be Taxi Driver II. I hope Albert Brooks comes back for the sequel!

Anonymous said...

i moved back to nyc for a few months 1992. someone asked 'how is it" (i said "thick") what i meant was the tranquil empty spaces were gone. you know like ladies mile, or the manufacturing wholesale areas. i used to know when the chaos would end. like im choked from the 50s to 34st, but then its like 20- blocks of quiet. you had a balance. when i returned to NYC there were NO empty spaces. looked like it was "thick" all the way up & down back & forth. thick w/people going to all these new gaps, banana republics, old navys, zaras what ever. since then this chaos has spread all over. that plus all the hotels bars clubs makes me wonder: where is a "normal" neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

I love Fran Lebowitz and had the pleasure of seeing her read at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. (I think she was reading from her famous "unpublished" novel, that she's spent over 10 years on.) I fell in love with her writing after reading Social Studies and Metropolitan Life. I could never quite picture her as a taxi driver, though I'd heard she was one. Appreciate the picture!

I will say that she has it right about New York not being affordable. But yeah, New York was always a big press release.

As for the comment here that she hasn't produced anything since 1978--she did a kids' book in the 90s, wrote an intro for a collection of her works, is a frequent talk show guest and speaker at colleges, magazine journalist, and guest star on Law & Order. So leave my girl alone...

hartford said...

this brings us back to mom & pop resturants, little coffee shops what ever. find a place to meet to meet w/your friends. the night places should have good lighting, like a small italian or spanish resturant. the food should be good. friends can bring friends. unless youre going out to meet people for professional reasons or what ever, you dont need to see everyone all of the time. forget anything that IS cool, WAS cool what ever. be regular like me, then no one will chase you. i am not cool. this is also a trick that famous people do. dont like the heat? stay out of the kitchen.