Fran Lebowitz is the old proverbial New Yorker: witty, sharp-tongued, never at a loss for the last word. The 71-year-old is currently on tour in the US. She is promoting her reader “New York and the Rest of the World,” which was published in German by Rowohlt in March.
In New York City, they gave home games in the dual-sale City Hall near the Theater District, started in 1921 by voters. 1,500 fans, who had paid $ 80 or more to be there, cheered Lebowitz’s typical mix of satirically exaggerated political and social commentary on current affairs and a touch of stand-up comedy.
At the urging of the moment, she changes her basic theses, which she had already formulated in 1978
She condemns former “really stupid” President Donald Trump and his disastrous treatment of the corona pandemic. The “Eternal Democrat” hardly leaves Joe Biden’s hair, although he has certified it a good job so far. The current 79-year-old president is “very old”, as is Nancy Pelosi, the 82-year-old speaker of the House of Representatives.
She accuses New York’s relatively cool mayor Eric Adams, also a Democrat who is cracking down on violent crime and the homeless, of having a “Trump-like leadership style.” She believes Andrew Cuomo, who resigned in the summer over allegations of sexual harassment and whom she has never been able to stand up to but voted for, has a good chance of regaining his old job as governor if he is thrown into the race as an independent candidate in the final meters – after which he currently appears. Who knows Kathy Hochul? No one knows what the incumbent Democratic governor of New York State actually represents with the best electoral chances so far.
Fran Lebowitz surrenders all sides. Looks like the short comment sections of a left-leaning tabloid that does not exist in America. However, what she has to say about the culture of cancellation remains unclear. “Sometimes it gets the wrong people, but mostly not.” She links Kulturkampf to the Me Too movement and its successes: “Harvey (Weinstein) is in jail!” She always knew about his sexual insults and: “I personally know almost all 40 men who have been convicted so far.”
In the conversation in New York, in the first evening with playwright, director and actor Wallace Shawn and in the second with director Martin Scorsese, whose series “Pretend it’s a City” aired on Netflix a year ago, she forces him to return its giant Fran. Lebowitz has already sent leaflets to her readers. She spontaneously varies her basic theses and favorite motifs, which she presented in 1978 in “Metropolitan Life” and later in “Social Studies” (1981).
These two semi-serious guides to surviving in New York. They are mostly based on the story she wrote for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine.
It’s all about good art and bad art for Fran’s sake, her stern rejection of electronic devices of all kinds (computers, televisions, today: cell phones), her hatred of aftershave, carousels and luggage at airports and indoor plants. It offers guidance to potential heirs, popes and homeowners – a sensitive topic in New York City because the vast wealth of a small upper class has changed the city forever and made rents in Manhattan, on land of Fran Lebowitz, to grow immeasurably.
It does not seem to bother anyone that the knowledge of the style icon born and raised in New Jersey but based in Greenwich Village, are at their core several decades from its inception in its teens. A predominantly white, left-liberal, middle-class public clearly appreciates the memories of a time when whites, beating poets and visual artists, who really had something to say and all became the engine of contemporary art, met in the village and designed projects that have consequences today are the canon. The close connection between the open lesbian Fran Lebowitz and the queer scene of protest and art also becomes clear to the audience. She saw many of the community’s brightest talents die during the height of the AIDS pandemic.
She recommends Colson Whitehead Harlem Shuffle
To this day, Fran Lebowitz consistently stands for a slightly different New York mood from what Billy Joel praised with massive appeals among the working population. She flirts by never getting out of bed before noon and refers to night walks in the city, which have now become more difficult since gentrification and Corona, because almost no bar and restaurant is constantly open as in the early days be happy. The self-confessed non-chef needs gastronomy and companionship with her peers.
However, she can not stand the wooden cabins in the outdoor environment that were created during the pandemic, which have just been promised to continue. They only attract rats and prevent them from being able to smoke peacefully on the street.
Fran Lebowitz is adorned with her own block of writers, which has persisted for decades and so far has thwarted fiction as a novel announced for 2004 at the latest. But she reads relentlessly and collects 10,000 books in her apartment. Currently, Nobel Prize-winning close friend Tony Morrison recommends “Harlem Shuffle” by Colson Whitehead. Although with it he won the Pulitzer Prize, which otherwise would not speak of quality. And Whitehead Harlem is actually on a different planet from the bubble in the West Village with which she is familiar.
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Fran Lebowitz, addicted to Marlboro Light, aggressively advocates smoking in public spaces. Such a position is bold in New York, where, since its recent legalization, the most massive and serious pieces of marijuana are eavesdropping on non-users, but tobacco consumption is disgusting.
Her appearance is outdated in a charming way. Fran Lebowitz has treated himself to an outfit consisting of men’s jackets, white shirts, jeans and cowboy boots for decades. In 2007, the trend magazine “Vanity Fair” recognized her as one of the “most stylish women”. With this outfit, she now comes on stage and is hailed as a show from the good old New York, defining the old style, which is still intact – without too many annoying tourists, without the returning armies of homeless people, without the sharp rise in violence and homicide statistics.
An evening with Fran Lebowitz is like consecrating a bubble that has long since burst, but is remembered with love and the merits of which New Yorkers who know are happy to support. What is amazing, though, is that these almost ritual evocations of Artsy City New York also attract audiences elsewhere. In the United States, for example in Chicago, Houston and Jersey City, then on tour in the UK and soon in Berlin.
A new renaissance in New York has begun with Fran Lebowitz. This is certainly good for the hit metropolis.