In 1978, Fran Lebowitz told People magazine, "When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough."
Nearly four decades later, in the age of the Sterilized City, the quote has surfaced on the side of a building in Chelsea. Specifically, on the Yves luxury glass condo at 18th Street and 7th Avenue, where Core realty has a first-floor office from which they sell more luxury glass condos.
mingum7 posted a photo of the wall to Instagram and wrote: "I'm having trouble thinking Fran Lebowitz would approve of advertising this glass condo. But she must know, right?"
Does Fran know? Would she approve? I also doubt it, but someone will have to ask her.
Either way, the quote is utterly inappropriate for the side of a luxury glass condo, which is all about being antiseptically clean, and not New York, and not enough. We need more than clean.
Cleanliness does not make a city. Real cities are messy. They are dirty--and dirt is fertile, the opposite of sterile.
But the new people keep coming from the rest of the world to live in these sanitary boxes, seeking some semblance of their suburban lives. They say: Walk-ups are cute "but this is just so much better in so many ways. It’s like living in a hotel. Everything’s always convenient, always safe, always clean. You don’t have to worry about gross things. Like mice! And creepy things like that."
They are not--and don't want to be--city people.
May I suggest a few other, more recent New York quotes from Fran Lebowitz to slap on the sides of luxury condos:
"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."
"You can like people with lots of money for certain reasons, hate them for certain reasons, but you cannot say that an entire city of people with lots of money is fascinating. It is not."
"Of all the places in the world that should never have embraced this idea of safety, family values, it is New York. I mean, they have the whole rest of the country."
“America has gotten its revenge on New York, because it’s moved right
in. Now it is a mall. That’s the final victory of the suburban