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Fran Lebowitz illustrated
Illustration: Sydney Opera House

Fran Lebowitz's 20 New York-iest quotes from "Pretend It's a City"

The writer-humorist shades everyone and everything in Netflix's new limited series

By Christina Izzo
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Netflix's latest limited series, Pretend It's a City, is a New York fever dream: The seven-episode docuseries is directed by Martin Scorsese, for one, and mostly follows Marty and his good friend and local legend Fran Lebowitz palling around the Players Club, the New York Public Library and the streets of Manhattan as she complains and quips about, well, everything.

Michael Bloomberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, cab drivers, distracted walkers, the Dalai Lamanobody is safe from the writer's infamously sharp-witted critiques and commentary. Through all of these tart takedowns, however, is a sweet loyalty to New York itself, as it was back in the '70s when Lebowitz got her start as a columnist at Andy Warhol's Interview magazine, and as it is now.

It's a wistful watch, especially during a time when so much of ever-moving New York City is on pause, but it's also jam-packed with quotes that will leave you chuckling long after the credits roll. Here are 20 of our favorites: 

1. "Let me tell you what smells horrible on the L train: The passengers."

2. "The only person I've ever met who disagrees with me as much as [Spike Lee] are my relatives."

3. "How would I describe my lifestyle? Well, I can assure you, I would never use the word 'lifestyle.'" 

4. "It's an amazing thing because there are millions of people [in New York], and the only person looking where they are going is me." 

5. "If you can eat it, it's not art. If you can say 'I'll have that and a cup of coffee,' it's not art."

6. "One of the reasons people our age came to New York, if you were gay, was because you were gay....That created a kind of density of angry homosexuals, which is always good for a city." 

Pretend It's a City
Photograph: Netflix

7. "If I complain about the things I complain about, will they change? Not so far."

8. "No one can afford to live in New York. Yet, eight million people do. How do we do this? We don't know!" 

9. "I cannot stand in front of a place smoking a cigarette without ten people instantly asking me for directions. And I'm always surprised by this. Like, 'Really? Do I look welcoming to you?'"

10. "The astonishing thing to me is that I'm alive, having walked barefoot in New York."

Pretend It's a City
Photograph: Netflix

11. "One thing about leaving your apartment is there's so many other people out there. The great thing about my apartment, aside from the fact that it's a great apartment, is that I control if there are other people in it."

12. "No one in the subway system has any spirit left. They've beaten it out of us. It would take one subway ride for the Dalai Lama to turn into a lunatic." 

13. "Why should it take six hours to go to LA? If they let the Concorde go to LA, you wouldn't have to stay overnight. That is an important national goal, as far as I'm concerned."

14. "At the moment, [the Chrysler building] is for sale...to me, it's the perfect size for a house for one." 

15. "About one third of people in the street in New York City have a yoga mat. That alone would keep me from yoga."

Pretend It's a City
Photograph: Netflix

16. "I went to a Muhammad Ali fight at the Garden... It was a very wonderful fashion and cultural event. Unfortunately, there was a fight in the middle of it." 

17. "I never got along with Andy [Warhol]. Andy never got along with me. He's done much better since he died." 


18. “Do you think it’s fair to bring a book into Times Square? It’s not fair to the books!”

19. "I was supposed to be writing a novel six years ago, but I took ten years off to sulk."

20. "When people say, 'Why do you live in New York?' you really can't answer them, except you know that you have contempt for people who don't have the guts to do it." 

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