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Fran Lebowitz

On New York Vs. The Suburbs:
I think 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, you know. There are people constantly talking about making New York a safe place to raise children etc. By the way, when I speak of New York, I am obviously speaking of Manhattan, as is everyone else, although they pretend they're talking about the rest of it. I would maybe concede Brooklyn, but not Staten Island. I wish Staten Island would secede. But since they haven't I think we should so that we're not in thrall to that kind of suburban mentality.

On Subways:
I feel very imperiled physically in a taxicab since they have this idea that you can drive 80 miles an hour if you see two clear feet ahead of you. So I really prefer the subway, the advantage of which is at least you can't see the driver. He may in fact be just recently released from a mental hospital, but you don't know it. So it's more comforting to take the subway.

On Opportunity:
New York has been always a place of all kinds of opportunity. As I said before -- even opportunity to be bad. And it's a place of extremes. As life becomes ever more banal, it's important to preserve places that allow extremes of behavior or even extremes of excellence.

On Noise:
You get trapped by noise in New York -- it's almost unavoidable. It seems like if you have noise in your apartment there's no place to leave to get away from it. In other words, if someone next door to you is making noise, they're making noise, you're stuck with them making noise. I feel like I've lost 10 years off my life by noise in New York. And by the fact that in other places there are kind of rules about noise and here it's -- I think it's one of the things people think they get to do when they come to New York. No one thinks about other people at all. You know, like when you were little and you would make noise your parents would say "Be quiet. You're disturbing people." There's no sense here that anyone is being disturbed. People feel they have a right to disturb, which is a right to annoy. I mean, in other places of the country I don't think they drill in the streets in the middle of the night.

On Change:
If you live here for more than five years, they're going to tear down something you like. The invariable rule of thumb is that what they will put up is worse than what they tore down, even if what they tore down is terrible. I mean, I was once with a man who was asked -- during the course of the time I was with him -- to sign a petition to keep them from tearing down Lever House and he signed it. He's a much older man and he turned to me and said, "You know, I remember signing a petition to keep them from putting up Lever House." And that is the story of anyone who has lived in New York long enough.

Fran Lebowitz
Lebowitz is a writer best known for her wry humor and incisive commentary on modern life. A New Jersey native, Lebowitz made her way to New York in the late 1960's, doing odd jobs and driving a cab until she landed a job with Andy Warhol's INTERVIEW magazine. In the 1970's she wrote columns for many other periodicals, including MADEMOISELLE, and published two books of sardonic essays, METROPOLITAN LIFE (1978, NAL Dutton) and SOCIAL STUDIES (1981, Random House), which prompted critics to compare her to the likes of Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, and Lenny Bruce. Both books have recently been reissued in a one-volume anthology entitled THE FRAN LEBOWITZ READER (1994, Vintage Books). Lebowitz's irreverent and hilarious comments are widely quoted. A small reprieve from her famous writer's block occurred recently with the publication of her critically acclaimed children's book. MR. CHAS AND LISA SUE MEET THE PANDAS (1994, Alfred A. Knopf). An avid smoker and partygoer, Lebowitz still lives in New York because she says she does not believe she would be allowed to live anywhere else.