Category Archives: quotes

Disgrace

“How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.”

—Henry David Thoreau, “Resistance to Civil Government” (1849)

Cheap Coffee

“Cheap coffee is one of America’s most unsung comfort foods. It’s as warming and familiar as a homemade lasagna or a 6-hour stew. It tastes of midnight diners and Tom Waits songs; ice cream and cigarettes with a dash of Swiss Miss. It makes me remember the best cup of coffee I ever had. Even though there was never just one best cup: there were hundreds.”

—Keith Pandolfi, “The Case for Bad Coffee”

(Via Austin Kleon.)

Previously: “A Beverage, Not a Lifestyle.”

Let’s

“Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito’s wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry — determined to make a day of it. Why should we knock under and go with the stream? Let us not be upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called a dinner, situated in the meridian shallows. Weather this danger and you are safe, for the rest of the way is down hill. With unrelaxed nerves, with morning vigor, sail by it, looking another way, tied to the mast like Ulysses. If the engine whistles, let it whistle till it is hoarse for its pains. If the bell rings, why should we run? We will consider what kind of music they are like.”

—Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854)

New Persona

“The man who has just left his wife or his profession or both often stops shaving temporarily. The resulting beard, as it develops, will most obligingly give him the different successive aspects appropriate to the stages of psychological and social development he is about to pass through. That is, first it makes him look like someone caught in a natural disaster—flood, earthquake, fire; then it makes him look like a bum; then like a shipwrecked mariner; and finally like a desperado. Eventually the man either returns to his wife and/or job (or to a very similar wife and job) and shaves off his beard; or else he changes his life permanently, in which case the beard (if allowed to survive) takes its final form and becomes part of his new persona.”

—Alison Lurie, The Language of Clothes (1981)

Bruce Bliven on Los Angeles

“Here is the world’s prize collection of cranks, semi-cranks, placid creatures whose bovine expression shows that each of them is studying, without much hope of success, to be a high-grade moron, angry or ecstatic exponents of food fads, sun-bathing, ancient Greek costumes, diaphragm breathing and the imminent second coming of Christ.”

—Bruce Bliven, The New Republic, 1927

An Entire Weekend

“I don’t read the paper every day. I read the [New York] Times only on Saturday and Sunday, and it takes me the entire weekend to read it. I don’t know how people read it every day, and I’m not a slow reader.”

Fran Lebowitz

Two Villages

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“Show me two villages, one embowered in trees and blazing with all the glories of October, the other a merely trivial and treeless waste, or with only a single tree or two for suicides, and I shall be sure that in the latter will be found the most starved and bigoted religionists and the most desperate drinkers. Every wash-tub and milk-can and gravestone will be exposed. The inhabitants will disappear abruptly behind their hams and houses, like desert Arabs amid their rocks, and I shall look to see spears in their hands. They will be ready to accept the most barren and forlorn doctrine,—as that the world is speedily coming to an end, or has already got to it, or that they themselves are turned wrong side outward. They will perchance crack their dry joints at one another and call it a spiritual communication.”

—Henry David Thoreau, “Autumnal Tints,” The Atlantic, 1862

(Photo by James Besser.)