Who’s afraid of Fran Lebowitz? | all about women 2018

Who’s afraid of Fran Lebowitz? | all about women 2018


>>My name’s Josh Zepps. You may have heard me
presenting ABC Radio Sydney, or occasionally Late Night
Live on Radio National. The more perception among
you may have noticed that I am not in fact a woman. Not because the people who
organised this festival of labouring under
the misapprehension that there are no women who
would be able to do this, because the All About Women
Festival is really supposed to bring together speakers
from all over the world to discuss issues that are
important not just to women but to men, and to people who
don’t fit in either binary. Tonight’s guest would
be fascinating even if she were a non-woman,
a non-binary, a non-human, and anybody. I want to hear what
she has to say. This even was actually
the second to sell out across the whole festival. It was beaten only by
the gin making workshop. That tells you everything
you need to know about Australians doesn’t it? You want to go to a
cultural festival? Is there gin? Yeah, sign me up. Before we begin I’d like to
acknowledge the [inaudible] people of the [inaudible] Nation
on whose land we’re standing. Let’s pay our respects to
their elders past and present and to all first nations
people who might be here today. There will be questions
for Fran. I will excuse myself
before the, the question, so that she can stand here and
take them directly from you. Have a think during
the interview about what questions
you might wish to ask. A handy hint, ideally a question
ends in a question mark, and is not preceded by
your whole life story. I know your life
story is fascinating but everyone else here wants
to hear Fran rather than you. They also want to hear
Fran rather than me so without further ado, please
welcome writer, cultural critic, loudmouth, editor at large
without a publication, headliner of the
festival, Fran Lebowitz. Fran.>>Hi. Loudmouth?>>Loudmouth.>>That’s adorable.>>Thank you. Like my jacket. Almost as popular as gin. In Australia that’s
saying something.>>I take your word for it.>>If, if we rewound the clock
back to when you were growing up in New Jersey, and we
said that in 2018 you’d be on stage talking about
your life and culture, what would you have
thought back then that you would have
done with your life? What did you want to do?>>It depends when
you’re talking about. I mean I wanted to be writer. And I am.>>Yeah.
>>So I was right.>>Did you move to New York
expressly with that vision?>>I did.>>When you were?>>Eighteen.>>What was it like?>>It, well when it, it was, I might have been 19,
I can never remember. Well it was like 1970,
so it was dangerous. And people who are young
now think it was cheap. They said you’re kidding,
that’s what apartment costs? But it, it was always
the most expensive place to live in the United States. And so it is still,
most expensive place to live in the United States. But it is cleaner,
and it is duller.>>Are those two
things causally related?>>People think they are,
but I know they’re not. And people are always saying,
would you like it better if it was dirty like
it used to be and dangerous like
it used to be? I said no. But the, no they’re not related. They’re absolutely not related. What everybody says
about the ’70s now, is that you know it
was going bankrupt, which it apparently was. I did not know that
I had no money. So and the bankruptcy of a city
is of no interest to citizens of the city who are
themselves bankrupt, you know. So I, I really had no idea. I thought it was just
me who had no money. The, the problem with what
they did to repair that was that they decided that the way to make New York
prosperous was by tourism. And so, you know, like
four men went into a room with a pencil and a pad. This is exactly what resulted
in the Middle East by the way. So they were different four men,
but they were four men, okay. And truthfully if, if they,
you know, switched places, is the four men who made
up the Middle East had made up like New York’s tourism
and the tourists people in New York had gotten,
the same result. And so the thing is is that
New York is very unpopular in the United States. I mean Americans hate New York. So the way to draw
them to New York was to make a New York
that they would like. You know, hence Times Square. And so they made
Times Square which is where tourists like to go. And if I was in charge of
New York, which I wasn’t and I am not, I would
stand at the border. I would solve two problems. The tourism problem in New York which last year we had 58
million tourists in New York, 58 million, and they,
I only know this because they brag about it. I would stand at the border
and I would say, okay, there were 58 million people
here who were not citizens, residents of New York. So here’s what we’re
going to do. We can take 58 million
refugees, all right. Clearly there’s room,
58 million immigrants, and immigrants make the
culture, and tourists ruin it. So I would stand at the
border, and I would say you want to come in, how long
are you staying? That’s all your luggage,
no, go back. So that would solve
all those problems. I also could solve the
Middle East but not now.>>Do we want to hear the
plan to solve the Middle East?>>It’s very similar.>>You get everyone from the
Midwest to go to the Mid East.>>That’s right. When, and let the people
from the Middle East go to the Midwest, where
when people are that bored they don’t
fight them.>>Omaha would be a very
different place wouldn’t it?>>Yes.>>I’m not sure that there
are 58 million hotel rooms at the Four Seasons,
but I guess you’d find.>>Not everybody stays
at the Four Seasons.>>Okay.>>Okay. So that,
that, well the fact that we accommodate even before
Airbnb, a hideous invention, every time you build a hotel,
you’re building it in a place where there should be
an apartment building, and that is another
reason why real estate is so expensive in New York.>>One of the themes
of, of this festival and of this event is nostalgia
and cultural nostalgia. And I feel like New York at
the time that you moved there, is the kind of place where
people feel nostalgic for even if they’ve never been to
New York, because it’s got, it’s those sort of iconic Warhol
and the, the music of the ’70s, and taxi driver and all that. Did, did you have a sense at
the time that it was something that was going to foster
that kind of sentiment? Did it feel like you were part of something bigger
than yourself?>>No. I’ve never felt there
was anything bigger than myself. But. No but it is true. In other words, New York
in the ’70s is something of interest to everyone. I did not think about that. And at first it startled me. In other words, kids frequently
come up to me and talk to me. And they say oh I wished I
lived in New York in the ’70s. You know I know that when I was
young, I didn’t go up to people and say oh I wish I lived
in New York in the ’40s. You know I mean isn’t that
like for young people to want to have lived in a previous
era is unusual, I think. You know, I mean
to have nostalgia for something you didn’t live
through is almost the way thing as having nostalgia for
something you did live through. You know, because
both are wrong. But it is, I think it’s
going to remain that way, the way that like Paris in the ’20s seems very
romantic to people. And why that is I’m not certain. But it, it does absolutely
seem the case that it’s not going to change.>>There’s a, there’s
a, a concept in, I think it’s Japanese which
is like a sense that you will in the future feel
nostalgic about the thing that you’re experiencing
in the present, which I think is quite nice, like you sometimes have those
wistful moments if you’re, if, if there’s a moment of get
tenderness or love or you’re on vacation or something
and you’re like wow, in 40 years’ time I’m
going to look back on this and think this is incredible
and wish I was here. Is that an experience
that you have?>>No.>>One day at a time. I mean you are a. I, I was,
I was googling around some of your old videos and you’re on David Letterman 35 years
ago, cracking wisecracks. And he’s, he’s.>>He looks better right
without that beard.>>Certainly looked
better without the beard, although the gap in the
teeth was always there. What did you make of that?>>Of Letterman?>>Yeah. And, and of becoming,
a, of being a younger person who had such cultural
[inaudible] that they were able
to be on Letterman.>>I don’t know, I
didn’t think about it. I mean I, I like being
on television a lot because it made me
feel more American. You know, I mean the, the, you
know, especially at that time, and even, it’s still
the case, that you know, Americans don’t really
think New York is America. And New Yorkers know it’s not. So that, but being on television
was the most American thing you could do. And you know that TV show
it was all over the country. And so that it prepared
Americans more for me.>>In your first book,
Metropolitan Life, you wrote the following. Quote, very few people
possess true artistic ability, it’s therefore both
unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation
by making an effort. If you have a burning restless
urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet
and the feeling will pass.>>So no one ever listens to me. You know sometimes I’m accused
of being a bad influence, and I’m shocked because I’m
not an influence at all. I’m constantly telling people
what to do, they never do it.>>This was in 1978. I mean this was, it, I feel
like if you go fast forward to, to today, where everybody
is curating their lives in real time on Instagram,
it would seem prescient.>>Yes what do you mean would? That’s what prescient means.>>Has it gotten. Has it gotten worse?>>Has what gotten worse?>>The sense that
everybody thinks that they possess
artistic ability and that they are [inaudible].>>Well of course
it’s gotten worse because now they have the
means to seminate this. I mean before that, you
know, people weren’t able to instantly transmit
their, you know, hopes, dreams and ambitions
to everyone else. Now they do. So this used to be, you
know, a more confined thing.>>Yeah.>>Also it, it didn’t
used to be, writing for instance didn’t
used to be a profession in the way that it is now. I mean there, for instance there
weren’t, there, I don’t know about here, but the
United States, there are all these writing
schools, graduate programmes in writing on (a) they
cost about $60,000 a year, and (b) you cannot teach
people how to write. So I don’t, you know,
I don’t understand. There was one when I was
young, there was the University of Iowa, Writers Workshop. There may have been
one or two others but there are now just dozens
and dozens of these things. And so it’s become, it’s
also was not a thing that most people’s parents
would want them to do. You know, to be a writer. And now they do because
that’s who pays for these graduate schools. So now it’s kind of
like being a dentist. You know people think
you can go to school and then you can
become a writer. And they’re, in a way
they’re kind of right. However it’s not true. And you know I have friends who
teach in these writing schools, because a lot of writers have
to teach because it’s not like being a dentist you
don’t make that much money. And I always say, what
do you teach them? And they always say, I
teach them how to read. And I think well then
you should call it, you know, a reading degree. And the reason you can’t
teach people how to write is because it is a talent. And you cannot teach
people how to have a talent. So that talent is probably
the most democratic thing in the world because it is
absolutely randomly scattered among the population. You know it’s not a
thing that’s genetic, it’s not a thing you can buy,
it’s not a thing you can teach. So you know, there
are many people who go to these writing
schools who have careers. But a career is not the same
thing as an ability to write.>>Do you think it’s more legit
to want to be a writer now than it was in the ’70s?>>I don’t know what
you mean by legit? I mean it is more
of a profession now. And these writing schools
do feed into things. They write, they get
published, the put a story in the New Yorker, then
they get a contract, and then they review
each other’s books. And I mean I did once
say to people, who reads? I mean I buy these books
sometimes thinking, I love to read, you know,
and I love novels and I, I buy these books and I think like who reads these
books and I like, they do.>>I mean the reason. The reason I ask about legit is because what you are saying
is sort of runs counter to a criticism that I hear a
lot about education these days which is that it’s
purely vocation, that everyone’s being
encouraged to go into STEM, that it’s not artistic
enough, that the idea of a liberal arts
education is, is dying, and that actually what we need
more of is encouraging people to become things like writers.>>But it isn’t a question
of a liberal arts education, it’s just so that
you become a writer, it’s so that you read
books written by writers.>>You don’t have a
mobile phone, is that true?>>That is true, I do
not have a mobile phone.>>Is that a conscious decision?>>Well kind of conscious. I mean not as conscious
as it looks because people now you
know of course accuse me of being a [inaudible],
that is partially because they don’t know
what a [inaudible] was. But. I, I don’t have a computer. I don’t have an iPhone,
I don’t have an iPad, I don’t have a microwave oven. If you told me that
I could text you on my microwave oven
I would believe you. But the reason for this is
not an aversion to technology, it’s an antipathy
towards machinery period. I never had a typewriter. So I don’t know how to type. And you have to type
on these things. And when they first invented the
sort of computer you would have in your house it was
called a word processor. And a friend of mine got one, a friend of mine
who’s a screen writer, and said you know this is
fantastic, you have to see this and I went and I looked
at it and I thought, this is just a very fast
typewriter, you know. I don’t know how to type, and I
don’t need anything this fast. I mean I write so slowly I
could write in my own blood without hurting myself. So, now I did not know that
the whole world would go into these machines. You know perhaps if I knew that
I might have made some effort to learn how to do it. But I didn’t know that. And as far as having like a
phone, you know, a cellphone, that you walk around
with all the time, when they did invent
those things, I absolutely did not want one. And you know, especially
because people say but I can’t reach you. I said that is the
point of not having it. And one, one of the things
surprise, I mean the invention of these things, you know, is
of course quite surprising. They’re quite kind
of miraculous. But the thing that surprises me
the most is that people mostly or largely have given up talking
on the phone, instead to text. I find this breathtaking. It is so much easier
to talk on the phone.>>You just said you don’t want
people calling you, nor do we.>>But, but people
text each other. You know. I know you can read
them when you want supposedly, although that can’t be true,
since everyone’s always on them. But the idea that people,
if they, to me this seems like technology going backwards. If first they invented texting, then they invented
the telephone, people would say,
it’s incredible. You don’t have to write,
you just pick it up, and you only make
your plans one. You know, you don’t
keep changing them, because they can
keep finding you. So that, the, even if I suddenly
knew how to work things, which I don’t, I would
never text, because the idea that I would spend my
entire life writing for free is out of the question.>>I mean the funny thing about smartphones is you say you
don’t want people calling you, but actually the vast
majority of what people who have smartphones do on their
phones is not talking on them. I mean what proportion would
you say of the amount of time that you spend on your
smartphone is actually people calling you or you
calling other people? Like ten percent? Five percent? Two percent?>>Right but when they first
invented cellphones you could not text on them. They were for talking.>>No I understand,
I understand. I just mean.>>No I now, people
don’t, that’s what I said, they don’t like to
talk on the phone, they’d rather text on the phone.>>Yeah.>>Now I would rather read.>>Some people are
reading on their phones.>>Yeah.>>Not books.>>Not books.>>I, I know that
you can, you know, I, I read the subway, okay. The New York City Subway system
used to be awash in newsprint. In fact the streets were. They were ankle deep
in newspapers. That’s all you saw,
newsprint all over the place. Now everyone has one of
these, there’s some aspect of this whatever you call
it, this transmission that doesn’t work on the subway. But some of it does. So I sit on the subway, and I look at people
they are on their phones. And 90 percent of them, adults
are playing games, okay. Adults, not little
children, adults, playing games on their phone. Do you think this can be
a good thing for America? Okay. I mean I was on a
plane next to a guy going from I think Dallas to
New York or something, and he was a very nice
person to sit next to. By which I mean he didn’t talk. But he was on his phone,
and he was right next to me. And he played, he
was an adult, okay. And he had a job, you
know, important enough that someone paid for his
first class seat, not me. And he was playing
a game on his phone. And so afterward I said
to someone and they said, well what was the game. I said, I don’t know, it seemed
like he was killing fruit. I looked at it, you know.>>There are a few of those.>>And I thought, this
occupied him, 24 hours. So, I don’t think, you
think it’s a good thing?>>No I mean this is part, this
is partly why I was interested in why you don’t have a mobile
phone, because I thought that there might be some
conscious conceit behind, behind it, in the sense that
there, we, we never have moments in our lives at the
moment where we are bored, where we just have to fill time. I mean I remember when
they introduce the, the, the ability to use your
cellphone on the subway. And it changed everything,
because people at least used to have to either read or
gaze vacantly into middle.>>You can’t talk on.>>Or look at people.>>The subway. You can’t get reception
on the subway. But you can use it.>>No it’s that a lot
of stations now you can.>>Not on the train.>>Yeah.>>Oh here?>>Yeah.
>>I don’t live here.>>I hope this doesn’t
happen to New York. The cell phone companies
have offered, this is my favourite thing. We offer New York City for
free, we ill, you know, do whatever you have to do. And New Yorkers say,
no we don’t want this. Because it, what would
make the subways worse? People yelling onto their phone. So you know, so far
we don’t have that.>>Well the other thing
about trialling it on planes, can you imagine?>>No. No. You mean so you could
talk on the?>>Yeah so you could
actually talk on your cellphone on the plane. And don’t use an internal
system on the plane to.>>I you know in two seconds
there would be like, you know, a murder on the plane.>>I just wonder whether
or not it does something to people’s sense
of creativity to, I mean if so I’m asking this
specifically because a friend of mine just recently
intentionally got rid of his mobile phone. And we’d made planes. You just said a moment ago
you made, you make planes once and then you don’t
change them constantly. So I thought to myself,
well what would I do if I were running late? And I thought.>>You’re never late.>>I would just have
to not ever be late.>>You.
>>Right. What a, right.>>Yeah.
>>This is a revelation. I am the, I certainly I’m
the most reliable person in New York. Now admittedly this
is not a rough field. But sometimes I’ll be in a
restaurant someone who works in our [inaudible]
will come over and say, so and so just called,
they’re really sorry but they’re running late. And I said, I already know that. And he said. And the person will say how? And I say, because
they’re not here. However, it is not
acceptable to do that. I do not accept it. Okay. It’s as simple as that. People, how hard could it be? You know I mean do you
have a plan to meet at 9:00 a.m. You know I mean
do you have a plan to meet at 9:00 a.m., be there
at 9:00 a.m. Who are you that you think you
can change that plan? All right. I mean this is not connected. But on my way here from
LA to Melbourne which is where I was going, which as you
know is a 12,000 hour flight. When we finally got
there, I noticed that we, they don’t call it
circling anymore, but whatever they call it,
I noticed we were circling. I noticed this because I’d
been looking at my watch for 16 hours, constantly
thinking, when can I smoke. And then there’s an announcement
from the pilot saying that we were not going
to be landing right away because the air traffic control or something did not sequence
the landings properly. And the pilot was very annoyed. Like usually one of the things
that annoys me about pilots is that they’re not
annoyed, you know. Is that they say
well we’re very sorry but just relax, we
hope you enjoy. No. Land the plane. Okay. And he, the pilot got
on the intercom and said as if this flight wasn’t
already long enough. They are not letting
us land yet.>>I guess you weren’t
flying Qantas.>>Oh. And I thought to
myself, this guy smokes. This guy wants to
get off this plane. And then I thought to myself, how is it possible
we can’t land? It’s not like we’re
just dropping by. I mean we left 20 hours ago. Did they not call and say in 20 hours get ready
we’re going to be there? So they have all this technology
but it doesn’t matter.>>You’re fairly scathing about
a conformism in your writing. You, you write that in extreme, except in extremely
rare instances, people are pretty much
like everyone else. They all say the same
things, have the same names and wear their hair
in the same styles. Is that any better or worse
to day than it used to be?>>No it’s always the
same, it’s human nature. Human nature is not that great. That’s why they call it human
nature and not human heart. No people are, I mean people
feel that they’re very different from each other, you know,
because it makes people feel, I don’t know, I suppose
less despairing, you know. But people are in
many ways alike, which is why you can
predict the behaviour of people very frequently. Which is why adults very often
know what children are doing. It’s not just your own
history of having been a child, it’s because even though
I know your own child is of course very special, most people could say children
will do this, you know. And so will adults. So I know that there’s some
people who are distinctive, but that’s what distinctive
means there are not that many of them.>>Has it been part
of a one of your goals to be one of those people?>>I never thought about it. I never really thought about it.>>You never thought about
being distinctive friend?>>No. I never thought,
I don’t think about other people that much. All right. So in other words,
first you have to compare yourself
to other people. All right. Which I don’t do
that much, okay. So that I, I never really, no I
never, I never thought about it in that way, that is true. I know you don’t believe
me but I don’t care.>>That’s the sort of thing that only a distinctive
person would say. With some of your writing,
one of the loveliest things about your writing is how
politically incorrect it, it can, it can feel. There’s a, there’s a
piece in your first book in which you talk about how much
you hate dogs, which to begin with is a controversial
statement for a lot of people. And then you say that when you
say that dogs should be banned from New York, a lot of people
say well what about people who are lonely without dogs? Or what about blind people? And you say, the solution
is we should get rid of dogs and make the lonely people
lead the blind people around.>>I mean it’s a
perfect solution. And of course, I mean
I wrote that probably like 40 years ago,
or 30 years ago.>>Yeah. And of course
it’s much worse now. Because people’s attitude
towards animals is much more crazy than it was then. I mean a billion times. I would have never predicted it. So that for instance, I mean if they’re probably
were always people that like pushed their dogs
around in like a baby carriage, inside their house, you know. But they didn’t do it in public, because of course it’s
mortifying, you know. There, there maybe were people
who always put like coats on their dogs, you know, I
mean like little garments.>>Yeah.>>But they did it in the
privacy of their own home. Because they were ashamed of it. And they were right. And they idea of
dogs wearing clothes, what do they think fur is? I mean the, the dog
comes clothed. You don’t have to
clothe the dog. Please don’t. And also there’s so many
that people have more dogs than they used to have, and
they can go in more places. They can, dogs can
come on planes now.>>Well especially
in the states. It’s crazy isn’t it?>>It’s crazy.>>The plane is half
full of dogs these days.>>Yes, and you can bring
the dog on the plane if, it’s something called an
emotional support animal. Okay. And they have to
wear this like little vest and it says, ESA on it. And adults, here’s
what they’re doing. They’re saying I am something so
wrong with me, that I cannot get on a plane without my dog. So since it’s very
clear what this is, why bother with a live dog? I mean children have
teddy bears. That’s what that is. Okay. I personally would provide
a teddy bear to every person in the United States
who wants to bring a dog on a plane I’m on, leave the dog
home, here’s your teddy bear.>>And you know how you
get those little vests that say emotional support
animal, you’d go to a website and you pay $14.99 and
they send them to you. Like it’s honestly, you
don’t, it’s no more than that, you just have to get it
and then you dress your dog up in this stupid little outfit and you can bring
them on a plane.>>I mean it’s a really shocking
idea, I have to tell you. And the Governor of New York
Andrew Cuomo who some people, but not me, think should
be President, he made a law that you can bring a
dog into a restaurant that has an outside
part of the restaurant, like an outside café, the dog
can sit in that outside café. Isn’t that disgusting?>>Just watching you eat.>>It’s, no, no, I have to
watch a dog while I’m eating. I think that’s disgusting.>>Why shouldn’t the Governor
of New York be President?>>Well I’m not saying
in general the Governor of New York should
not be the President.>>This one.>>This one should
not be the President. Because he’s a thug. Okay. I know he’s a democrat, and yes he would be
better than Donald Trump. But that can’t be
the standard, okay. So. I mean his, also his father
was the Governor of New York. And I am a constitutionally
opposed to dynasties, you know. So that is why we had that
little war with England.>>In terms of political
correctness do you, do you have any sense that,
that people are easier to upset now than
they used to be? Not being on social media it’s
possible that you don’t have to experience that first hand, but Twitter is just a
vast cluster [inaudible] of people getting angry about
the most irrelevant things. It’s no wonder whether or
not social media has sort of facilitated that in a way
that makes it, I don’t know, if people are less likely
to say controversial stuff.>>Well as you said I’m not
on it, but I’m aware of it. I hear about it. Yes people are overly
sensitive, there’s no question, but also people cherish
these things in themselves. In other words, their ability to be easily offended is
something they quite cherish, because they believe, you know
that it’s a kind of morality, you know, but it is not. Okay. Emotion is not
morality, you know. Morality is, you
have to do something. Okay. And just being
offended isn’t sufficient. Yes it’s better than
Donald Trump. But it’s not enough. Okay. So I know also in colleges
in the United States they, they, they stop people from coming
to speak if they don’t agree with them, and the idea that that’s a left position
is shocking to me, you know. Yes of course I would prefer
not to hear a Nazi speak. So if I was in college
and a Nazi came to speak at my college, I wouldn’t go. But I would know
how important it is. It is incredibly
important to let him speak. Especially the more
you would hear someone like that speak the less
powerful they would be. Because the, these people,
you know, are idiots. You know I mean if you
actually hear this stuff, and especially he
people who believe in it, if they really listen to it, perhaps they would
not believe in it.>>And sometimes it’s not even
Nazi, sometimes it’s just people who are using the fact that
they know that they are going to get a rise out of people for publicity [inaudible]
these kinds of people who go around to campuses, say
provocative things and know that people are going
to, going to riot and that’s what gets
them the very notoriety, that gets them the
invitation to the next campus.>>Yes well that’s
someone who wants to be too distinctive
don’t you think?>>Yeah. Yes. Does that have any relevance to
the, to the movement that we’re, that we’re in regarding
sexual harassment? I know that you know
a lot of the big fish, the men [inaudible] brought
down by this swimming in the cultural circles that
you do and we’re reaching a sort of point at which I feel there’s
potential, there’s a potential for a mild backlash,
and I wonder.>>This is a wish of men. Okay.>>It’s not my wish.>>Yes this is, well everyone
who brings it up to me is a man. So this is a.>>Well [inaudible]
is not a man.>>I’m sorry?>>Germaine Greer is not a man. [Inaudible] is not a man.>>[Inaudible] is French. Germaine, I didn’t know
Germaine Greer said this, but I believe that she did. Do I think there’s
going to be a backlash? I don’t know what
that’s supposed to mean. Do I think that you
know men are, would prefer this
wasn’t happening? Yes I do. I do think that
they would prefer this wasn’t happening. I don’t think anyone
would disagree with that. When people say like
well there’s a difference between this and
this and you know, I, I suppose that is
true to some extent. There is already a
backlash, just the fact that these men said this,
and also Germaine Greer. But if you’re asking me if I think that’s a
legitimate position? No. I do not. And I also think that this
is not the kind of thing that you can explain to a man. You cannot, you know,
you just can’t explain it because it’s not a thing. It’s not just these incidents,
these episodes, these things that happen to people. This thing happened to this
woman because this man did this. It is the very world you
live in, from the time you’re like 13, if you’re a girl, so that you cannot
describe this to a man. Okay. Now I mean do I think
that’s going to change? You know, somewhat, you know. But it’s going to change in
these kind of segmented ways. Like you could maybe get this
job you couldn’t get before. A man can’t act this
way on the job. But the world is not
going to change completely because it’s biological. You know, I mean it’s, it’s,
it’s not like, people say things like do you think there
will ever be, you know, a feminist who will
really be successful? You know, not if you mean
total equality, I don’t. You know, do I think
it should be? Of course. I would love it to be. Do I think it’s going to end? I do not. You know the way that
for instance racism could end. It’s not going to
because of human nature. But racism could end
because it’s a total fantasy. You know racism is just
a fantasy of superiority. There literally is no
difference between people of different races,
zero difference. It’s like saying, you know,
we are different species because your jacket is
plaid and mine is striped. It’s meaningless. But there are real differences
between men and women. So if you tell me, oh well
but what about the time where men will get pregnant by
accident, then it will be equal. But before that happens
it will not. So you know, to me as,
as good as it can become, that’s how I would like
it to become, you know. And I, you know, as far as these
guys who got caught, you know, I was flabbergasted, it never
occurred to me that would stop. Ever. Ever. I mean it was one of the most
surprising things of my life. And then to see one
after another, it was so enjoyable,
you have no idea. So I, I mean at the very
least those particular guys they’re finished. I know they don’t think that. You know, I’m sure many of
them, you know, are plotting to.>>Well I think [inaudible]
got an idea.>>I doubt it. But you know I think
that, you know, a lot of them think they’re
going to get back in some way. Those particular people,
I don’t think will. It’s not that I think they’ll
be a lesson to anyone, you know. But it think it’s just good to
get these particular people out. Additionally, you know,
especially at the height of this, when there is like
one every three days, you know, there are all these
fantastic jobs open. You know, these are
some of the best jobs in the country, you know. I mean if you actually
gave all these jobs to women this would stop. You’d have some bad bosses, you
know, women can be bad bosses, but you don’t have
this, you know. This is particularly butch.>>I didn’t want to ask you
about, about the orange genius in the White House at
the moment, because I, I have a sneaking suspicion
that during the Q&A, which we’re going to
get to in just a moment, someone maybe might
ask a question about Trump, just potentially. But just broadly about whether
or not you’re optimistic and pessimistic about the moment
that we find ourselves in, we find ourselves in a weird
moment politically with Trump and with Brexit in the
UK, and with the rise of Right Wing Populist Parties
here and in Western Europe, and yet at the same
time there are all kinds of cultural movements
that should give us heart like the one that you
were just talking about. Where do you think we’re at?>>Well I would rather it
was the other way around. In other words, I would rather that these movements
we’re talking about, were people who were
actually in power. The reason we [inaudible]
movement is because you’re out of power. So you know the reason you have to have a protest movement
is you’re protesting people who are in power. So if you would ask me, I would
rather that I was the President, and Donald Trump was sitting
here telling you what he thinks. Okay. So you know but
that’s not going to happen. I mean I think it’s
more than weird moment to have Donald Trump
be the President. And it’s, you know, it’s, it’s,
and I also think although these, these things are connected,
I agree with you, Brexit, you know these Right Wing
movements in Eastern Europe, they are connected, you know. But none of them are as bad as Donald Trump being
the President, none. Because they’re more
regional, you know, they’re more containable. You know, when Trump was
elected, a friend of mine who is Italian said, now
it will be all right. You know we have [inaudible]. And I said yes, and that was
terrible for the Italians. Sorry. But the President
of the United States is, affects the whole world. So it’s horrible
for the whole world. You know, you don’t have to
think about it as much as we do, because we think about
him 24 hours a day. And that has never happened. I mean there have been a lot
of presidents that are horrible in my lifetime, and we at
eight years had George Bush. You know I mean I never thought
it could be worse than that. But we didn’t think about
George Bush 24 hours a day. You know so that in
societies where people think about the leader or the
president 24 hours a day, those are dictatorships. You know those, you know that’s
where there’s like the big man, you know, when you have
to think about him. In North Korea they
think about Kim Jong-il or whatever his name is, they
think about him 24 hours a day. Okay. And so I never
expected that to be happening, you know, in the west village. You know and now it does. So that, I mean another thing
about planes and devices, you are on a plane, you don’t,
people aren’t getting that stuff because you can’t get that
stuff on a plane I guess. And then you get off the plane and the guy whose
standing behind you turns on his phone and
goes, oh my god. And then the guy sitting next
to you goes, what’d he do now. And this is what
brings us together.>>I did hear someone say
that a decent definition of freedom is not having to
think of, is, is realising that a week has gone by without
thinking about your leader.>>That’s right, that’s
exactly what I meant.>>Yeah. And, and.>>That doesn’t happen anymore.>>And that doesn’t
happen here either as well. I mean it, in just
in terms of Trump. The amount of kind
of the emotional and intellectual bandwidth
that’s getting sucked up by that guy is, sometimes it
makes me wonder whether or not we’re partly at
fault for this as well.>>We’re not.
>>That we, and.>>We’re not.>>And whether, whether
[inaudible].>>This is one of
the simplest things. We know whose fault
this is, his. Okay. I mean it’s very,
like I [inaudible] finder, I am telling you I
have found the fault. It’s him. It is not
me, it is not you, neither of us voted for him. Okay. So it, I, we know who it
was, it’s the people who voted for him, they are at fault, it’s
the Russians, they are at fault, it’s James [inaudible],
he is at fault. I have, we have actual lists of
the people we know who they are. We have their names.>>Couldn’t the media
tell us a nice story about some far off galaxy where some stars are doing
something funky once in a while, instead of always reporting
on the bad stuff then?>>Well I mean they’re, I
mean it’s, it’s partially, I wouldn’t say the
fault of the media. But the amount of coverage
they gave him, you know, which he chortled about. You know I got $1 billion worth
of free coverage you know. Because the ratings went up
because people, you know, it’s like watching a car crash,
you know, people look, you know, people are riveted by this. I mean it’s like what
Les [inaudible] said, who is the chairman of CBS. He said it may be bad for
America but it’s great for CBS. As if [inaudible] less thought
these are two separate things. You know so that, yes
it’s like, you know, a great television, you know. I would much rather of
course have like a sane, intelligent, dull president. You know he’s too exciting.>>Who would your pick be?>>I’m sorry?>>Who would your pick
for a dull president be.>>Anyone. Anyone. I’m telling you
did, I take the subway, I sit in the subway, if I’m not
getting off, I say to myself when the doors open,
the next person who gets on this train would be a better
president than Donald Trump. And that is true, even if
that person’s in a stroller.>>Ladies and gentlemen,
Fran Lebowitz. Please make a very welcome. Thank you. I’m going to want
unleash Fran on you, on your, on your good selves. If you, there is a, a new show
on Radio National that I want to give a plug for that
we’ll be doing that starts in five weeks’ time, which
is called Citizen Jury, it will out on Saturday nights
at 5:30 p.m. for an hour. It will be hosted by me. Once again, please
thank Fran Lebowitz.>>I’m going to answer
questions from the audience in an entertaining fashion. You don’t have to ask them
in an entertaining fashion. Just raise your hand,
I will call upon you. If people don’t hear the
question I’ll repeat it. You don’t have to stand up. Yes. Yes you.>>[Inaudible] you
mentioned about.>>I’m sorry I can’t hear you. I’m sorry.>>Sorry I’m trying to yell. You said that women
can be bad bosses, can you clarify what
you meant by that?>>Oh.
>>And we [inaudible] you meant?>>Oh she said, I said
women can be bad bosses, would I clarify that? What I meant by that
compared to men. Well I mean, women
can be bad bosses. They can be overly demanding. They can be mean. You know, women have a lot of, women can have the same
bad trait’s men have, except without the
testosterone is what I meant. I meant so you are not
going to have, you know, a, a bad woman boss who’s
raping her assistant, that’s what I meant. So that, you know, that may
seem like a fine line to you. But not to me. So you know, there are not, you
know, I don’t know about here, but there are not that
many women bosses period. There are not enough women
bosses period, in any field, and so I would, was saying that some will be
good, some will be bad. You know, women aren’t better
people than men in that way so you might have
some bad bosses. You know, but you
wouldn’t have this, you know, just wouldn’t happen. And so that would be
enough reason in my opinion to have all women bosses. Yes. Yes.>>It feels like America
is more divided than ever. Do you have a solution
or a way forward?>>More what than ever?>>Divided.>>Oh. She said that it seems like America is more
divided than ever. Do I have a solution for this? You’re right, and yes I do. America is more divided
than ever and do I have a solution
for this, I do. America is divided. If you look on election night
or I’m sure you can find this on your phone, if you
look on election night, when they’re showing you
the, how the states voted, and for some reason they pick
red for Republicans and blue for Democrats, and you look
at the end of the night, and you look at see where
the Republicans won, what you will see is what used
to be called the Confederacy. Okay. That is who
votes for Republicans. Okay. So when I look at these
maps, like when George Bush wins and then George Bush
wins, you know, and then Donald Trump wins, and
people say whose fault this is, I look at these maps and I think
this is Abraham Lincoln’s fault. And that is because he
should have let them go. Okay. The country is divided. I mean there’s numerous ways in
which the country is divided. You know, there are
economic differences, there’s all these differences. But at the centre
of this is racism, pure and simple,
that’s what this is. It’s not complicated. You know I mean the Republicans
are always making, you know, complicated things seem easy and
simple things seem complicated, so that you know someone walks
into a school with a machine gun and kills 17 people, and they
say this is about mental health. All right. So mental health is
very complicated, as I’m sure you know. People are not even sure of their own mental
health from hour to hour. So the idea that we’re going
to put this in the hands of the government, because this
is what’s causing this, no. Guns that’s too simple. What causes someone to
die of a bullet is a gun. I mean what could
be more simple? Okay. But that’s, they
don’t want that answer, so they make a complicated
answer. I mean one of the millions
of shootings we’ve had like in the last year
was in a church in Texas. Did I press something wrong? Oh. There was a man
walked into a little church in some place in Texas. And shot many people, I
can’t remember how many because we have these
shootings every five minutes. The reason he did
this, by the way, was he thought his
mother-in-law might be there. Not, not even his mother-in-law, his ex-mother-in-law
might be there, and she was in fact not there. And the response in Texas to this tragedy was this churchy
is a little wooden church 100 years old. And the response to this tragedy
was they’re going to tear down the church, because
guns don’t kill people, churches kill people. In this high school in
Florida, they’re going to tear down the building where
the shooting happened. What does this have to
do with construction? It has nothing to do with it. It is, so I mean a two
year old could tell you if you shoot a gun and
a bullet is in the gun and it hit’s someone
they’re going to die. So that’s what causes it. And so that is why
the country is divided because half the country thinks
that it’s not the gun, you know, that it’s the church, or it’s
you know the mental health or, and the other half of the
country knows it’s the gun. And we know exactly which
part of the country this is. So that, you know, if Abraham
Lincoln hadn’t, you know, been an overachiever, they
would have their own country, and we would have
a real country. You know I mean. These southern states
are the poorest states. If you look at a list of
the countries, of the states in the United States,
the poorest, you know the ten poorest states
will be the ten southern states, and it, it never occurs
to them to ask why. Why are these the
poorest states? I mean how long will it
take you to figure out how to make money without slaves? You know, I mean come on
you got to get moving. How long will it
take you to realise, you know it would be a very
good idea if you would provide for the people in your
states, public schools. That would be good. Healthcare, that would be good. I mean it’s not complicated,
you know. But they refuse to do it and so we have the
situation we have now. That’s what the Electoral
College is for. Every time a Republican wins
by losing the Popular Vote, and winning the Electoral
College, people who are young say, why don’t they stop having
the Electoral College? It doesn’t work. And I say, (a) they’ll
never stop having it because you need a
Constitutional Amendment, and (b) it works perfectly. It does exactly, that’s
what it was meant to do. The reason for the
Electoral College is to overweight the
southern vote, and it does. And so I hope that
answered your question, and I hope you’re
cheered up by that. Yes. Yeah.>>It’s interesting your
comment about [inaudible], 50 years old [inaudible] and
one of the things I’m angriest about is that women in my
generation were led to believe that you could have it all. And frankly that’s bullshit. So what would you say is a more
realist, more realistic message for young women today in
terms of self determination and their place in the world?>>She said, she said she’s
50 years old and that women of her age, I am much
older than 50 years old, that women of her age were led to believe they could
have it all, and she found out they couldn’t. Why would you believe
such a thing? And, and what would be
advice to young women? It turns out that women
cannot have it all. The only solace for
that is that, you know, really almost no one can. But the particular things that women thought they could
have together you can’t. Okay. Here’s what
you can’t have. You cannot have some sort of, I
don’t know, very fulfilling kind of 1950’s family life and
be on the Supreme Court. Cannot do it. The, in order to have
a very big career, the chances that you have a
very fantastic personal life, if you’re a woman, very small. And this is because men get
to have such a small amount of responsibility for domestic
life compared to women. Now I know that in
individual, you know, cases, people have worked it out
better, but it’s the kind of thing men never
have to work out. Okay. Women have
to work that out. On the other hand you
could not get married, you could not have children. By the way, not having
children is a fantastic idea. I mean. In every way. And yet the culture’s
going the opposite way. So instead of like
rewarding someone like me, you know who didn’t
have children, you know, with say some pollution
credit’s, you know, like Fran you had no children. So while you’re on the
22 hour flight, light up. Because you don’t have
a carbon footprint Fran. You have a carbon fingerprint. So there’s that. You know. Instead of that,
they’ve invented ways to have babies that
are unbelievable. You’re 70 you want to
have a baby, we can do it. You know, you’re
two men you want to have a baby, we can do it. You know, you are, I
mean there’s all kinds. As if there was some sort of
shortage of people in the world. I mean there are too many people
in the world, not too few. If there were too few do you
think people would complain about traffic? There are too many
people in the world. All right. So if you have chosen,
or by happenstance not to have children,
congratulations, thank you. If you are dying
to raise a child, there are many abandoned
children all over the world. Adopt some of these children. Then you wouldn’t have to
dress that dog up, you know, in a little sweater, so. Yes.>>I’ve heard once that you had
[inaudible] supreme court judge or you know as a [inaudible]. I’m wondering if
you had achieved that vision [inaudible]
would you [inaudible]?>>Okay the question was
that he read that somewhere that I had an aspiration to
be a supreme court judge. That is true. I have not given that up. Okay. You know, he
said it was a fantasy, it’s a dream, it is a dream. It is a burning restless urge. And I think that even for
people who don’t like me, which I know is most people,
I think that people would have to agree that I would be an
excellent supreme court judge because I am very judgmental. And I make snap judgments. So like it wouldn’t
take me long, like I’d be the most
productive person ever on the supreme court,
because for the, the questions before the
supreme court are questions of constitutionality,
they’re very simple. I never understand
why it takes so long. Uh-huh, yes, no, yes, no, can’t
do this, yes you can do that. I mean it’s really simple. So but, but what the
supreme court does not do is sentence people. Because the question was
what would I sentence Donald Trump to? The people, the supreme court
is not that type of court. They do not sentence people. It is of course my dream that Donald Trump would
go before an actual court that sentences people. It is my dream, for instance, to one day see a New York
City cop put his hand on top of that orange head
and put him in the back of a cop car, you know. But I am not expecting
that to occur. Although I am, I’m not sure
expecting is the right word because that’s more confident
than you know I actually feel. I believe there is
a significant chance that Donald Trump will
not finish this term. I do not think he
will be impeached, he certainly won’t be
impeached by this Congress. But I think that if the
investigation gets close enough to the thing he’s really
afraid of, which is they find out why he was in no
collusion with the Russians, which is there, you know,
it’s money, it’s about money. Donald Trump only
cares about money. Donald Trump has no ideology. He’s not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat. He’s not even a Nazi. He doesn’t have the
fortitude, you know. I mean he cares only about that. And he cares only about himself. You know I, someone
told me, I’ve been here since last Monday, I don’t
mean here but in, in Australia, and a friend of mine told me
on the phone from New York, oh you know they’re going to
get close to Gerard there, he lost his security
clearance, and you know, Donald Trump he’s going
to be upset about that. He doesn’t care about Gerard. He doesn’t care about Ivanka. He doesn’t care about
anyone but Donald Trump. That’s what a Narcissist is. He really doesn’t care
about anyone else. And so I mean he really
doesn’t care about anyone else. So I would like to see, you
know, him get so panicked, you know, and you know,
that he would say, he would say something like,
you know, this is ridiculous, I had a much better
life, you know, people are driving me crazy, I’m
going back to that giant piece of junk I built on Fifth Avenue
and have a wonderful life. And I would say,
you know what, go. You know. That could happen. You know. It might now. Yes.>>But then you’d get Pence, so?>>Everyone says this. He said but then we’d get Pence. Okay here’s the thing
about Pence. Unlike Donald Trump,
Pence has a real ideology. Pence has a record, okay,
and Pence has an ideology. Pence is a Right Wing
Christian nut, okay. He believes in these things, not
enough of the country believes in them, he could
never get elected. I mean really what Pence
really cares about is abortion. You know that is what these
people are obsessed with. And so when you hear them
talking about this and you see, you know, the things that they, oh I’m not [inaudible] that’s
probably not the right word, but you know the material, you
know the, the product of their so called minds, you know, they,
they want to give you the idea that what they’re
concerned about is babies. But they’re not. What they’re concerned
about is women. That is why they hate abortion. You know, because it gives women
too much freedom, you know. And so the, that is their. That’s what they’re
doing on the court. That’s why the, that’s why
the Evangelical supported Donald Trump. You know it isn’t because they
had been waiting for this kind of whore mess to come along. It is because he said, okay you
want to be against abortion, I’ll be against abortion. You want to put this
guy on the court? I’ll put this guy on the court. And he did. Okay. One more person
like that on the court, abortion’s illegal
in the United States. Okay. So that, and what, when I
was young abortion was illegal. So you know, I know
what that is like. And I know what that’s about. And that is their major concern. So I, and Pence,
Pence is from Indiana. Indiana is one of the worst
states in the country. I mean I actually have a
rating system in my mind for how good states are. Okay. You’re never allowed
to say that, you know, people will say oh the
states, we love the states. You know I don’t love all the
states and I would tell you that Indiana is the
birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan. It had the largest
Klan membership when the Klan was
the most descendant. It is a Klan state. And so I’m not saying
every person in Indiana, I’m sure there are people in
Indiana who are not members of the Klan, I will
take your word for it, I’m not going there. But I really don’t think someone like Pence could be
elected, I really don’t. You know, I mean before he
was the Governor of Indiana, he was a Right Wing
Talk Show Host. I mean. Yes.>>What do you say
to young women who say they are not feminists?>>What do I say to young women
who say they’re not feminists? You mean if they
would say that to me? You know here’s the thing. I wish one thing that women,
young or old, would understand. It doesn’t matter what
women say they are. It’s not women who get
to decide, you know. It’s men who decide this. Until you understand
that, you know, as a comparison here’s
what I would tell you. Many years ago I was
speaking in a synagogue in I think Portland, Oregon. And I was introduced by
the rabbi, I hate rabbi’s. I was introduced by the rabbi who was very concerned before he
introduced me to say that this, you know, some poll had
just come out and he, and apparently all the other
rabbi’s were very distraught because something like 50% of American Jews were
marrying Gentiles. They were marrying outside
the Jewish religion. And he had this idea of
how long it would take until there were no Jews left. So that, and he was
really upset about this. So then I came out, I was not
supposed to be talking about, you know, the rabbi or Jews. But I said that the rabbi
was completely wrong. That you know it, and he
was saying what could this congregation do to prevent this? And I said, you know,
here is the thing that the rabbi seems not to understand among many other
things is that it’s not Jews who decide who’s a Jew, it’s
Gentiles who decide who’s a Jew. If it was Jews who decided that, that there would
be no holocaust. I mean it’s a ridiculous thing. If there’s a holocaust and
you get to say who you are, everyone would be saying,
no not me, you know. So it’s them. It’s like, you know, Hitler
had rules the same kind of racial laws like they had
in the south, in other words, you had one Jewish
grandparent, you went. Okay. This is the same thing as like you had one black
grandparent you were, or one black great
grandparent, you know. So that it’s not women
who get to decide whether or not they should
be a feminist. So if you, you know,
haven’t decided look around, listen to the men, watch
what they’re doing, you’ll make a better decision. You might even become a Jew. Yes.>>What do you do if you’re
reading a bad book and don’t like it, do you finish it?>>That’s a very
interesting question. What do I do if I’m reading
a bad book and I don’t like it, do I finish it? this is something that
happened to be as I got old. When I was young, I would, if I
was reading a book and I didn’t like it, I finished it. You know. At a certain age
I realised you don’t have to do this. If you don’t like a
book stop reading it. If you don’t like
a movie, walk out. You don’t have to finish
everything on your plate. Life is not a gaol sentence. So I would suggest,
you know, if you don’t like a book you’re
reading, stop reading it. Now what I cannot do is I am
absolutely consciously unable to throw a book away. I cannot throw a book away, I’ve never thrown
one away in my life. Even though many books come to
my house, unbidden, every year. We thought you might
be interested, would you like to give a,
but I can’t throw one away. So if I can’t give it away
or sell it, I just keep it until a person I think is
likely walks into my apartment and I say, you know, you
would love this book. Yes.>>Because you’re not
wasting time blowing up [inaudible] what are
you actually reading?>>What am I reading right now?>>Yeah.>>Well say you were about to
get on a plane for 16 hours, and you were very concerned, you know that you
might murder someone because you couldn’t smoke on
the plane, or that you might like be getting off the plane in
handcuffs, I was like thinking, what should I bring
to read on the plane. Well I was thinking like what
books should I bring to read on the plane, because you need
more than one book for 16 hours. And then a friend of mine
said to me in this discussion, which I drove all my
friends crazy for six months, I have to go to Australia,
it’s going to be horrible, I’m never going to be able
to get through that flight. And so in fact I saw
someone like a month ago and he said, how was Australia? I said I didn’t go yet. He said how is that possible? You’ve been talking
about it for. So I hope I run into
this guy when I get back. But a friend of mine said to me, did you ever read the Power
Broker by Robert Caro? Which is about Robert Moses. And I said I have not. He said that’s the book
to take on the plane, because it’s great,
it’s riveting, and it’s like 2,000 pages. So I got the paperback version
which only weighs 25 pounds. This is never a book anyone
would take on a plane. I mean if, it takes, like,
it’s in your suitcase then when people pick
up the suitcases, I don’t carry suitcases, but
they go like what’s in here? And I say, a book. It’s a very good choice,
and it’s a riveting book. And all of Robert
Caro’s books are great. Including the, you know,
life of Lyndon Johnson in like four volumes
is worth reading. The guy’s fantastic. Not Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro. Yes. Yes.>>Now that you have been
here, [inaudible] culture that you have an affinity for?>>Is there any, now that I have
been here, is there any element of the Australian culture
that I haven’t seen before. You mean other than in?>>Do you have an affinity for?>>I’m sorry?>>That you have
an affinity for?>>That I haven’t seen before?>>That you have, that
you like about us?>>That you like. Oh. Sorry. You know truthfully I’m
having a wonderful time. The only bad thing is
that it’s never far from my mind is you
have to go back. And so even when I
landed, you know, without coming off the plane
in handcuffs, and I, you know, I didn’t feel an incredible
sense of accomplishment, because the second I landed, I thought you have
to do this again. And then I thought,
who lives here? And then I realise, the
people who live in Australia, that most people think are
Australians, are just people who came from New York, and
couldn’t face the flight back. Thank you very much.

4 thoughts on “Who’s afraid of Fran Lebowitz? | all about women 2018

  1. I saw her on the 6 train once and she sat down beside me. I became so nervous trying to formulate a quick statement about how her commentary on how the AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s ruined art and culture(because the most talented ppl were the ppl who got laid a lot and this died of AIDS.) blew my mind. I said that to her and she said “I can’t hear you”. 😂😂😂 ….I repeated it, and she simply said thank you. I then got off the train 2 stops before I planned to so I could go out on a high note. Love her so much.

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