Fran Lebowitz, Martin Scorsese and a corrosive look at New York

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Trailer for “Suppose New York is a city”

What makes a person not only an exponent of the spirit of a city, but a builder of that spirit and its contemporaneity? What else happens if that city is New York, the capital of the world, and that representative is a writer who contributes to the New Yorker with her personality? The great film director Martin Scorsese – maker of Taxi driver, The wolf of Wall Street, Wild bull, the Irish, The last temptation of Christ, among other genius- he found how to solve the questions and just premiered the miniseries on Netflix Suppose New York is a city, where through a series of interviews he gives an account of the zeitgeist from this side of the world, that is, from the spirit of this age. But what does this social experiment refer to, if it can be called that?

Some elegant tables in an empty bar, a woman who enters after walking several blocks observing the plates that pay tribute to the buildings of a city, the conversation that begins and Scorsese who cannot avoid laughing every so often. The interlocutor is Fran Lebowitz, the woman who writes that New York and who makes an art of her own life.

Martin Scorsese y Fran Lebowitz

Lebowitz was born in New Jersey in 1950 and at the age of 18 she came to New York, that top of the world, a mecca for artists and intellectuals, with the intention of being a writer. She worked in various trades, which did not exclude domestic cleaning work or driving a taxi, as long as she was not a waitress – and was, in her words, at the sexual mercy of the bosses.

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However, his intelligence and ingenuity made him stand out in a city full of smart and resourceful people. At age 21 he began to collaborate with the magazine Changes and was soon booked by Andy Warhol as a columnist for Interview, his mythical magazine and product directly related to The Factory, the art factory that Warhol commanded.

Lebowitz published two books, Metropolitan life and Social studies and then the bookish block won it. She was then an entertainer of the hectic New York night and with her style that avoided feminine aesthetics (she always wore pants, especially, a shirt and sometimes a tie) she was a center of attention in Studio 54 and of the open, visible and happy lesbian life. He never had a computer or cell phone, which helped add to his library. At the beginning of this note it was said that he expressed the spirit of time, perhaps it is more appropriate to point out his position against and, at the same time, so contemporary.

In the miniseries a portrait of the city is made and more general aspects of culture are explored

In the miniseries a portrait of the city is made and more general aspects of culture are explored

It is compared to Dorothy Parker, but why? Contrary to Lebowitz’s famous blockade – that is to say: his club and stage appearances supplant the absence of a book – Parker was a short story writer, playwright, theater critic, humorist, screenwriter and poet. But the witt – that form of wit, intelligence and personality – united them in a way of being new yorker, since Parker made the Big Apple the geographic field of his life.

Parker had been the main animator of the gathering of writers, critics, playwrights, actors and journalists known as the “vicious circle of the Algonquin” because it was held in the hotel of the same name, a space devoted to coining evils, jokes and caustic epigrams about premieres and topics present during your meals and poker games.

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Her worldly sociability, which she performed in hotel bars and high-society dinners, did not prevent her from being a civil rights activist, investigated by the FBI on suspicion of being a member of the Communist Party. He even traveled as a brigadista to Spain in which a civil war between republicans and Franco was decided – and that Franco won. In those United States of democracy, her ideas led her to the difficulty of writing scripts, while increasing her alcoholism.

Dorothy Parker (Everett/Shutterstock)

Dorothy Parker (Everett/Shutterstock)

Dorothy Parker He died of a heart attack in 1967, aged 73, in New York, in a hotel room with his dog and a bottle of alcohol. He donated his assets to the National Association for the Development of Black People, founded by Martin Luther King. It is a symbol of New York today.

Parker left as a legacy phrases such as the following, of an irrefutable truth and humor:

“I like to have a Martini. Two at most. After the third I’m under the table. After the fourth I am under the host. “

He also said this:

“There are four things I would have lived better without: some love affairs, gossip, freckles, and doubts.”

“Of a man I only ask three things: that he be handsome, implacable and stupid.”

“The two most important words in the English language are: check attached.”

“There are three things I will never achieve: Envy, depth and enough champagne.”

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he has given it to.”

“Boredom is cured with curiosity. Curiosity will not heal anything.”

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“It is a small department; I hardly have a place to leave my hat and a handful of lovers. “

“The best way to keep a child at home is to make the environment pleasant and deflate the car’s tires.”

“Hurt a lover and you will find an enemy.”


Fran Lebowitz leaves us these phrases said in Scorsese’s documentary:

“It doesn’t matter who you are, you only have your life. But in the books you have millions of lives and things. For me, it is a way to be immensely rich. Maybe that’s why I never cared about money. Because if you can read, you are incredibly rich. You are so rich that, if you read all the time, you can’t think of money, which is a trifle compared to reading. “

“No person of school age knows that they will lose their beauty. You don’t realize that until it happens to you ”.

“I deeply hate money. But my problem on that subject, which is not my only problem, is that I love things. So I hate money, but I love furniture, I love cars. Hating money is fine if you hate things too, because then you are the Dalai Lama. “

“Everything in New York is something operatic, everything is an incredible problem. Then you realize that it is so difficult to live here, that when they ask you why you live in New York, you can’t answer them, but you know that you despise those who don’t have the guts to do it. “


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