Originally posted on my Documentary page in May 2013. Reposted in honor of Fran Lebowitz's birthday (Oct. 27).
I watched a documentary tonight about Fran Lebowitz called "Public Speaking" (2010). Martin Scorsese directed it. I had never heard of her before I read a review of this documentary in The New York Times earlier today. She's a modern day intellectual. I use the expression "modern day" because it's an archaic concept these days -- being an intellectual and that's all. It's typically tied to being a writer, and she is a writer. But she has not been prolific, and she hasn't written anything substantial in a long time. She basically just goes around speaking. She's a "wit," like Dorothy Parker, to whom she is often compared. It was a fascinating documentary, and she is or was friends with several people who inspire me, like Toni Morrison and James Baldwin. Anyway, she talked at one point about how lazy she's been -- that no one has been as lazy as she has as an artist. She mentioned how it was 1978 and then all of a sudden it was 2007, and she thought, "Gosh, I better get to work." I could identify with that. But what I really identified with was her reply when asked why she had procrastinated so long. She said that she had trouble with authority, including her own. It was good to hear that I'm not the only one who struggles with such inertia. I suppose it's not uncommon, though.