Culture & Lifestyle

‘I’ve never missed anyone so much’: Fran Lebowitz on her great friend Toni Morrison

DEATH

In the age of COVID-19, have you worried about the death of New York City? Not until very recently. During the height of COVID, when everyone was saying, “New York is over”, I thought it was ridiculous. The thing that I’m worried about now, of course, is will COVID ever end? It will never end unless everyone gets vaccinated. It’s not that I didn’t know there were stupid people in the world; I just didn’t know there were this many.

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You turned 70 on your last birthday. Does death play on your mind more when you hit 70? Of course it does. But turning 70 during the height of COVID was a good and a bad thing. Because it was during COVID, it had less of an effect on me. But so many people sent me flowers that it looked like a funeral home in here.

In an ideal world, how would you like to die? In my sleep. How would I least like to die? Knowing I’m going to die. People have doctors who say, “You’ve got three months to live.” Please don’t tell me this.

Your friendship with writer Toni Morrison was renowned. You’ve said before that you’ve missed Toni every day since she died. What do you miss about her? Everything. I’ve never missed anyone so much, and I’ve known a lot of people who died, unfortunately. I talked to her on the phone several times a week. She was a significant part of my life. There’s nothing I don’t miss about Toni. Actually, my missing of Toni is increasing by the day. It’s supposed to subside. But 50,000 times a week, something happens when I think, “I have to tell Toni.” Partially just emotional habit, but partially – as you might imagine – she was an incredibly enriching person to know.

Do you wish anyone was dead? Many people. Many, many people. “One” is not accurate. Many, many … many people.

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POLITICS

You’ve said of the Trump era that your level of rage – always high – was at fever pitch. Now you’re in the Biden era, what’s the dominant feeling? It is true that the second Biden was declared the winner, life improved instantly. First of all, in not hearing or reading about Trump all the time. That in itself was like a gift. But I never liked Joe Biden. I didn’t have to be reminded of the Anita Hill hearings; I remembered it [Biden, who was the Senate Judiciary Chair when Hill brought allegations of sexual harassment against the then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, was criticised for not allowing the supporting testimonies of other women; he has since expressed his regret]. But I was also very relieved when he became a candidate, because I knew he had a chance of winning. No other candidate had a chance of winning. I still don’t love Joe Biden. He didn’t suddenly turn into Abraham Lincoln. But he’s so much better than Donald Trump.

You’ve said recently that you have become more radical, more left, at a time in your life when people might expect to become more conservative. What’s your theory? It’s because the country has moved so far to the right. I hated Bill Clinton. To me, he was a Republican. So if the Democrats were moving to the right, because the Republicans were moving so far to the right, I have definitely become more radical. It seems very clear to me how dangerous it is for the country to move to the right like this.

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Can we talk about sexual politics? It doesn’t sound as if you were surprised by the names of perpetrators who came out of the #MeToo movement. I tell you what: I was surprised that the #MeToo movement happened. Being a woman was pretty much the same from Eve until the #MeToo movement. It never occurred to me it would change. It seemed inconceivable. I know a million stories about Harvey [Weinstein]. I believed all of them. So whenever people say, “Everything’s horrible [since #MeToo]“, I say, “Yeah, but Harvey’s in jail.” This is someone who completely controlled Hollywood for decades; the way Vladimir Putin controls Russia. I know some women lie, because women are people, and people lie. If people are lying, they should be found out. But the big problem is not that women lie. It’s that men were allowed to do this.

If Fran Lebowitz ever ran for office, what would her platform be? It would be, “I’m going to tell you the truth.” And, “I’m not going to run for a second term.”

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