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Fran Lebowitz is in Concord. Here are her thoughts on touring, cowboy boots and a few things N.H.

Fran Lebowitz talks about a wide variety of topics — including her stint as a New York City cab driver — in the Netflix series <em>Pretend It's a City.</em>
Fran Lebowitz recommends promiscuity in your twenties.

Author, humorist, social observer and style icon Fran Lebowitz is stopping in New Hampshire to share her insights on life with Granite Staters this Friday.

From working with Andy Warhol to writing acclaimed books, including one translated into nine languages, she’s known for her incisive social commentary, love for New York City and disdain for quite a number of other things.

Lebowitz is performing at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord on Friday and, in advance, she spoke with All Things Considered host Julia Furukawa, offering up opinions on everything from New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” motto to the waning art of shoe shining. Below is a transcript of their conversation.

Julia Furukawa: Fran, I want to ask your input on a few things New Hampshire. New Hampshire is known for its motto, "Live Free or Die." Tough call there. What's your take on our slogan?

Fran Lebowitz: Well, it's a great slogan if you always had the choice. It's very optimistic that people think you always have that choice. Sometimes you don't have either choice. So, I mean, it is a great slogan. Of course, like all slogans, it's misinterpreted many times. And people use slogans for their own advantage. That's why most slogans can be used from either side.

Julia Furukawa: So I wanted to ask you, now that we're in a kind of different place in the pandemic, you're back on the road, you're traveling constantly, you're touring. What's it like to be in so many cities, and how are they different from the place that you will always call home, New York City?

Fran Lebowitz: Well, I can tell you that Europe, where I was a lot, and also Scandinavia. These places are the same, these cities, as before COVID. And that is because, apparently, the people there didn't ask people if they wanted to go back to work. They told them to go back to work. So everyone went back to work. So all the cities are, you know, as they were before. In New York and most American cities that I'm aware of, they said, would you like to go back to work? And who would say yes? You know, so if people don't go to the office, the cities are quite different.

Julia Furukawa: I wanted to ask a little bit about fashion. You were named to Vanity Fair's international best dressed list Hall of Fame in 2008. And a classic element of your look is a cowboy boot. So I'll share with you, I used to live in Texas. I've got a well-loved pair of cowboy boots, and I've seen quite a few pairs of them up here. What is it about a cowboy boot that just works?

Fran Lebowitz: Oh, well, this is going to be, unfortunately, probably not the kind of answer you might expect. I used to wear penny loafers, which maybe you're too young to even remember what they were. I wore them, and then I got something called a heel spur, which people are now kind of familiar with, because Donald Trump said he had one that kept him out of the Army. It is just something you're born with and sometimes it hurts, sometimes it doesn't. Just a little piece of bone or something on your heel. It's very painful. So I went to the doctor and he told me I had this, and he said, what you have to do is take the weight off your heel. So you should wear high heels. So my idea of high heels was cowboy boots, and that's when I switched to cowboy boots. These cowboy boots that I have now that I consider my lifetime cowboy boots, they were made in 2008.

Julia Furukawa: Those brown ones that you wear in a lot of interviews?

Fran Lebowitz: Yep.

Julia Furukawa: Wow, you do take great care of them. I'm impressed.

Fran Lebowitz: I get them shined every week. I take very good care of them.

Julia Furukawa: I mean, in my brief time that I've spent in New York, you do often see the shoeshine setups on the street. Do you have one in particular that you go to?

Fran Lebowitz: Yes, I do. I mean, the ones on the street you don't see very often anymore. Sometimes you do. These kind of places used to be everywhere in the country. They've disappeared, you know, mostly. Every airport used to have them. Now as a denizen of airports, I could tell you the only one I still know still has shoeshine guy is O'Hare. And since you're always there for hours, you have plenty of time.

Julia Furukawa: I have been trapped in O'Hare for quite a few hours in my life, but I'll have to wear my real shoes the next time I go and get them cared for.

Fran Lebowitz: It's always a different guy, I assume, you know, but he's always very good.

Julia Furukawa: Fran, I wanted to ask in a CBS Sunday morning interview with Mo Rocca, and many of our listeners will know and love him from "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," and you offered him and I guess the the viewer some advice: Have fun in your 20s. So I'm in my 20s, and I'm sure some of our NHPR listeners are in their 20s, too. Do you have some wisdom as to what we should be doing?

Fran Lebowitz: Well, I would suggest promiscuity. I'm sure this is not going to go over big. But I remember I did that interview. I don't remember the details of it, but I do know that I am frequently stopped in the street by people that age asking me advice for their life, which is, you know, really surprises me.

Julia Furukawa: Why does that surprise you?

Fran Lebowitz: It surprises me because one of the things that people always say is, I wish I lived in New York in the seventies. You know, it seems like it was so much fun and it's not so much fun now. You know, and I always say, well, you know, I was in my 20s in the seventies, you know, So of course, it was fun. So I would suggest that what you do in your 20s is have fun, because life does not get more and more fun. It's not more fun to be in your fifties. Anyone would tell you this. I mean, any honest person would tell you that. So I always say, yeah, what you should do is have fun.

Lots of people in that age come to see me speak. They are so organized. I mean, I certainly wasn't organized, but most people I know in their 20s were not organized. I personally never actually got organized. But a woman stood up and I don't remember what city it was. She said, I'm 22, could you recommend a good retirement plan for me? I was stunned because I don't have a retirement plan. I guess I should get one. I'm 71. You know, if I had a good retirement plan, I wouldn't be standing there. You know, I mean, no one I knew thought of that we were in our 20s. So that's what I would just say, have fun.

Julia Furukawa: Well, Fran, I appreciate you sharing your final thoughts and your reflections on cowboy boots. I will be looking for that person at O'Hare because my boots are due for a shine.

Fran Lebowitz: Is there no place to shine your shoes in New Hampshire?

Julia Furukawa: You know, I haven't found one yet, But, you know, we can crowdsource. If anyone now is listening later when this airs, let us know. Let me and Fran know what the best place to get our boots cared for here is. Because this is important.

Fran Lebowitz: It's essential.

Julia Furukawa is the host of All Things Considered at NHPR. She joined the NHPR team in 2021 as a fellow producing ATC after working as a reporter and editor for The Paris News in Texas and a freelancer for KNKX Public Radio in Seattle.
Mary McIntyre is a senior producer at NHPR.

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