Happy Friday the 13th! I swear, this is the second one I’ve blogged on. Good thing I’m not superstitious.
I’m not going to talk about Friday the 13th, because I already did that about a month ago. Instead, I thought I would talk about some of the quotes that inspire me. Being a word person, I LOVE quotes. Being a rather sardonic, cheeky, humor-loving person, I love quotes with a kick of sass in them.
For example, Dorothy Parker tickles my funny bone. For years, I used this snippet of her poetry as my personal mantra.
One Perfect Rose
A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet —
One perfect rose.
I knew the language of the floweret:
`My fragile leaves,’ it said, `his heart enclose’.
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.
Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.
Irony. You gotta love it. Parker had a knife-sharp wit and wasn’t afraid to let people see and know her scorn. I would say, however, that she was equally hard on herself. She attempted suicide at least three times and drank and partied excessively.
From 1917 to 1920 Parker worked for Vanity Fair. Frank Crowinshield, the managing editor of the magazine, recalled that she had “the quickest tongue imaginable, and I need not to say the keenest sense of mockery.”
If Dorothy Parker attempted to slash you to ribbons with her words, she was almost always successful. Of actress Joan Crawford, who was trying to improve herself after marrying Franchot Tone, she coined the infamous phrase, “You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.”
Parker was also famous for the saying “Men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.”
Her extremely cutting wit, however, didn’t seem to give her joy. Consider, for example, this poem.
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Gas smell awful;
You might as well live.
Yet despite what might seem to be unhappiness, Parker had a HUGE impact on the writing world. She was there at the beginning of The New Yorker Magazine, and while there employed her usual repartee to make things interesting.
At 28 West 44th Street is the spot where The New Yorker was published from the Depression right up until the George Bush years. It is a fairly plain looking building that for decades leased several floors to the magazine. In this building everyone associated with the magazine had to come by.
When publisher Harold Ross launched the magazine in 1925 from his Hell’s Kitchen house, he relied on his friends from the Algonquin Round Table for support. He edited the magazine up until his death in 1951. By then, Dorothy Parker’s association with the magazine was long over.
The famous story of Parker and Ross is often repeated about her terrible work habits. He spotted her in a speakeasy in the middle of the day, not at the office. “Someone else was using the pencil,” she told him.
She also helped formed the Screenwriters Guild, with Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett. She worked as a screenwriter, and also had a hand in writing plays. Today, of course, she is most know for her social commentary in the form of poetry.
For some reason, today her poem about never receiving one perfect limousine just kept running through my head, so I thought I’d share a little bit about Dorothy Parker with you today.
Now, don’t go walking under any ladders. And look out for that black cat!