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Al Hirschfeld's Fran Lebowitz

 
       
 

Clean is Not Enough! 

   
 

Fran Lebowitz

   

 

  

 

Always the picture of sartorial elegance in her signature bespoke pantsuits, cigarette in hand, Fran Lebowitz has been dispensing a particularly dry brand of New York humor for the better part of thirty years.  A modern-day Dorothy Parker with more than a hint of Oscar Wilde and perhaps a soupçon of Mark Twain, Lebowitz has been a fixture on the New York cultural scene since the 70's when she began her career as a columnist for Andy Warhol's Interview.

Lebowitz's rapier-sharp wit and sardonic pronunciamenti are the perfect companion for a lazy Sunday afternoon, an antidote for the blues and all forms of dull conversation.  She spares few people in her finely-crafted essays and remarks, which can be found in her two best-known works - Metropolitan Life and Social Studies - both of which are included in The Fran Lebowitz Reader.  Like Wilde, Lebowitz achieves comic effect by playing with commonplace meanings, inverting logic, using the duplicity of the double entendre, or by ending a sentence with a complete contresens.  Lebowitz is particularly fond of targeting the disingenuous and the inane, the religious and the self-righteous, or any of the sacred cows that need an occasional debunking - the more politically incorrect an observation, the better.  "The girl in your class who suggests that this year the Drama Club put on The Bald Soprano will be a thorn in people's sides all of her life." 

As with the most successful humorists, a humanistic streak underlies Lebowitzian wit, a sometimes coy but earnest desire to improve the intellectual tenor of a conversation or to distinguish the outstanding from the merely pedestrian: "Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine."  "Vegetables are interesting but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat."

Fran Lebowitz is an essayist extraordinaire and master of eloquent badinage, who coined the marvelous 'audibly tan' [Californians], a New Yorker par excellence with just enough self-deprecatory awareness to announce, deadpan: "Success didn't spoil me, I've always been insufferable."  A yiddishe kopf with enough Jewish angst to declare: "There is no such thing as inner peace.  There is only nervousness or death.  Any attempt to prove otherwise constitutes unacceptable behavior."  She is also possessed of an abiding love for New York City that once led her to declare: "When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is.  Clean is not enough."   

 

See: The Fran Lebowitz Reader 

 

 

 


       
 

 
       
     

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