Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Your Cat is a Friendly Bother and Other Catchy Quotations

Just call me Bartlett. I collect quotations the way kids used to collect baseball cards. (Speaking of which, what are they collecting these days? I'll be damned if I know.) So anyway, this is a collection I've been working on for the past two years. Unfortunately, my computer crashed in 2003 and I lost all my mail files. Otherwise, I'd have twice as much. So, what makes a good quote? Well, to me, it's about truth and humor. If I can find one that combines the two in equal measure, more's the better. I'm particularly fond of quotes about the writing game. (It makes me feel better to be reminded that I'm not the only one who finds it a tough racket.) Bonus points for those that deal with race in a unique manner, that puncture pretension with wit, or that attempt to define the innate inscrutability that is Cat. And artful absurdism--along with embarrassingly over-the-top sadism--is always welcome. I recently found out that my grandmother collected quotes, so I guess you could say I inherited the hobby.

For the most part, quotes are in the order in which I found them. Sources include books, CDs, movies, and publications/websites including The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Salon.


"Our Father, who art in heaven,
The white man owed me 10 dollars,
and I didn't get but seven.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
I took that or I wouldn't have got none. Amen."
-- Sister Jones, Goodbye, Babylon gospel boxed set (2003)

"Instead of adapting to the white perspective, he forced white audiences to follow him into his own experience."
-- Hilton Als on Richard Pryor (1999)

"Man, he was a funny motherfucker."
-- Miles Davis on Richard Pryor (1990)

"If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who realizes that she can't have what's being conserved."
-- Deborah J. Dickerson, An American Story (2001)


"With those beady eyes and that moustache he looks like a cross between Steve Buscemi, John Waters, and Edgar Allen Poe."
-- Det. John Munch (Richard Belzer) describing a victim on Homicide (1993-1999)

[Homicide: Life on the Streets was set in Baltimore, home of Poe, and featured appearances by Buscemi and Waters.]


"Chris is like a poem. Trying to define him is like trying to define a cloud."
-- Sean Penn on Christopher Walken (2005)

''It seems to me that we humans sometimes forget that we are animals too; in the best sense--the pure sense of the forest where our first memories were made. And there are as many kinds of us as there are of them: solitary, gregarious, monogamous; the beach master with his harem; those who meet once and move on; the hunters; the vegetarians.''
-- Christopher Walken, Keep It Simple Guide to Cat Care (2001)

"Your cat is a friendly bother
Who’d offer his heart with allegiance
And if he could talk we’d be best friends
The only friend he has is his food."
-- Vashti Bunyan with Animal Collective, "Prospect Hummer" (2005)

"They never leave me alone,
It's always pitter patter on my floor,
Please fill up our bowls and can you maybe pet us some more!
You know that I'm so in love with my little friends."
-- The Ponys, "Little Friends" (2003)

"Cats are so intelligent it's frightening, especially this cat of mine named Garland. He's as smart as a chimpanzee and he tricks me in every way. You know, we don't know that much about cats. Cats just came in and started living among humans. You wouldn't believe what I do for Garland--I bend over and pet him for fifteen minutes while he eats! Garland likes Lightnin' Hopkins but he has too much ego to listen to my music. If I'm listening to my music while I paint and Garland's outside, I have to turn off the music or he won't come into the room."
-- Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart), Book of Changes (1988)

[From Kristine McKenna's Book of Changes, a collection of interviews--it's quote heaven!]


"You should make a point of trying every experience once, excepting incest and folk dancing."
-- Sir Arnold Bax (1883 - 1953) , Master of the Queen's Musick, quoting "a sympathetic Scot"

"Leopards break into the temple and drink to the dregs what is in the sacrificial pitchers; this is repeated over and over again; finally it can be calculated in advance, and it becomes a part of the ceremony."
-- Franz Kafka (1883-1924), "Leopards in the Temple"

[Thanks to Bob Cumbow for the above, which he had memorized.]

"When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary."
-- Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."
-- Rebecca West (1892-1983)

"Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks are born with their trauma. They're aristocrats."
-- Diane Arbus (1923-1971)

[I like Nicole Kidman, I really do, but I'm deeply disappointed she's been cast as Arbus in the upcoming bio-pic.]

"I like boring things."
-- Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

"Decorative gestures add romance to a life."
-- Don DeLillo, White Noise (1984)

''I really miss Joe Strummer. Even though he's dead, I still get advice from him...I have Nick Ray, Sam Fuller and Joe--I have some great spirits when I need guidance. I hear William Burroughs a lot, too, but I don't really want to listen to his advice.''
-- Jim Jarmusch (2005)

"If, after having been exposed to someone's presence you feel as if you've lost a quart of plasma, avoid that presence. You need it like you need pernicious anemia."
-- William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)

[Joe Economy brought the above to my attention.]


"Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of art."
-- Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

"Every writer, without exception, is a masochist, a sadist, a peeping Tom, an exhibitionist, a narcissist, an 'injustice collector' and a depressed person constantly haunted by fears of unproductivity."
-- Edmund Bergler, M.D. (1933–1961)

"As long as human life lasts, art will go on being the one activity for which no amount of calculation can provide a substitute, and the job of the critic will be to explain why this is so. The ability to realize that he can never attain to an exhaustive analysis of the thing he loves best is the indispensable qualification for signing on. What he has to offer is his life, of which his learning can only be a part: the more he knows the better, but if he thinks that nothing else counts then he will count for nothing."
-- Clive James, Unreliable Memoirs (1980)


"The Internet has a marvelous democratic possibility. I'm aware of all that, but I haven't the vaguest idea. I'm just learning the wonders of the electric typewriter. It's fantastic!"
-- Studs Terkel, author (2003)

"Whether you're browning, searing, or just setting things on fire, a kitchen blow torch is fun for the whole family!"
-- Ted Allen, The Food You Want to Eat (2005)

"If only birthdays happened in reverse. We could enjoy our youth when we were wise enough to take advantage of it."
-- Kevin Fansler (2005)

"It's easy to make the case that comic strips are art. Of course they're art. Now more than ever I think it's necessary to quantify them as garbage as well, and to quantify garbage as art, to level the playing field and take it all in as whatever human activity produces."
-- Mark Newgarden, graphic artist (2006)

Note: "Prospect Hummer" image from Amazon, Pryor from Wikipedia, Burroughs from the William S. Burroughs Internet Database, and Beefheart from the AMG. For "Black Irish" quotes, please click here and for movie quotes, click on over this way.

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