Fran Lebowitz is a contradiction interested in contradictions. For instance, she despises people but loves parties. She’s a writer but hasn’t published in over a decade. In fact, she’s more famous today for her writer’s block, than her writing itself. And she’s self-aware to the point she even coined a more precise term for her lack of written output, “writer’s blockade”.
Lebowitz is best known as a cultural critic with a biting and brutally honest take on American society. If you’ve never heard of her – imagine a sharper more sardonic Larry David.
And just to add to her enigma, she doesn’t own a cellphone or a computer. In her words, “She has no use for them.”
So, I’ll never have to worry about her reading this and labeling me a “pedestrian writer”.
A Special Kind of Funny
Fran Lebowitz is the kind of funny that only comes from a deeply curious mind. In interviews, Lebowitz crafts a story with the vigor and exactitude of an Elaine De Kooning painting. It’s quick, aggressive and surprisingly jovial given its blunt tone.
Lebowitz’ observations are often mischaracterized as just quick, angry complaints. But upon deeper study, it’s really a thoughtful look into the human condition. Specifically, it’s a love letter that’s rooted in a deep obsession with understanding humans and how we deal with space and things.
The Art World Now and Then
Her new limited docu-series, Pretend it’s a City on Netflix, is a joyous critique on everything from the state of the art world to cabs in NYC. In the second episode of the limited docu-series Directed and Produced by Martin Scorsese, Lebowitz talks all things art. From her time at Interview with Andy Warhol, to the way the art world has changed into the art market.
“You go to an auction and out comes the Picasso, dead silence. Once the hammer comes down on the price, applause. We live in a world where they applaud the price but not the Picasso.”Fran Lebowitz
She got her start with Changes magazine where she met the famed jazz musician, Charles Mingus.
After her stint at Changes magazine, twenty year old Lebowitz was hired as a columnist by Andy Warhol for Interview magazine. Her column, “I Cover the Waterfront” was the appetizer for the book that would make her famous, “Metropolitan Life“.
“Metropolitan Life” (1978) and “Social Studies” (1981), are a collection of comedic essays on everyday topics.
And from there she cemented her place as a cultural critic and icon within NYC.
“Think before you speak. Read before you think.”Fran Lebowitz
After you finish bingeing the series, don’t fret. There’s a wealth of interviews on youtube to get your fix. You can get started with the clip below.
Kaeley is a contemporary artist and cultural organizer who loves good espresso and a cold Coke Zero.