Never That Young


“I have all the habits of someone who lived [in New York City] in the ’70s,” Fran Lebowitz tells City Room. “Which is that, if I have a pencil, I have a death grip on it. I see the people on the subway, they take their Blackberry out, I think really? If that got stolen, I wouldn’t even feel sorry for you.”

Lebowitz (or simply, Fran) was rediscovered, it seems, by the Newspaper of Record (and others) after Public Speaking, Martin Scorcese’s HBO documentary about her was released late last year, and it’s no wonder. Fran’s a bullhorn. She speaks freely about what New York has devolved into these last decades, and she’ll say what a lot of residents want to say about their own city but, oddly, very often won’t.

Some examples:

“The West Village now is like Westchester…The difference between Greenwich, Conn., and Greenwich Avenue, is zero.”

“Someone recently said to me, ‘Fran, you know, if we were young, we’d live in Brooklyn.’ And I said, ‘Not me, I was never that young.’”

“[The pedestrian mall in Times Square] makes New York seem like a failed Rust Belt city, where they are trying to…bring people downtown to a mall where no one shops because the factory closed. It is the opposite of an urban environment.”

Kevin Nolan writes essays and fiction. More from this author →