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Quotes of the day: A.J. Liebling

Published Friday, October 17, 2014 @ 9:09 PM EDT
Oct 17 2014

Abbott Joseph "A. J." Liebling (October 18, 1904 - December 28, 1963) was an American journalist who was closely associated with The New Yorker from 1935 until his death. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A city with one newspaper, or with a morning and an evening paper under one ownership, is like a man with one eye, and often the eye is glass.

A Louisiana politician can't afford to let his animosities carry him away, and still less his principles, although there is seldom difficulty in that department.

An Englishman teaching an American about food is like the blind leading the one-eyed.

Chicago seems a big city instead of merely a large place.

Cynicism is often the shamefaced product of inexperience.

Freedom of the press belongs to them who own one.

I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.

I take a grave view of the press. It is the weak slat under the bed of democracy.

If the first requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite, the second is to put in your apprenticeship as a feeder when you have enough money to pay the check but not enough to produce indifference of the total.

If you just try long enough and hard enough, you can always manage to boot yourself in the posterior.

It is impossible for me to estimate how many of my early impressions of the world, correct and the opposite, came to me through newspapers. Homicide, adultery, no-hit pitching, and Balkanism were concepts that, left to my own devices, I would have encountered much later in life.

No sane man can afford to dispense with debilitating pleasures. No ascetic can be considered reliably sane.

People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.

Show me a poet, and I'll show you a shit.

Southern political personalities, like sweet corn, travel badly. They lose flavor with every hundred yards away from the patch. By the time they reach New York, they are like Golden Bantam that has been trucked up from Texas- stale and unprofitable. The consumer forgets that the corn tastes different where it grows.

The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money.

The pattern of a newspaperman's life is like the plot of 'Black Beauty.' Sometimes he finds a kind master who gives him a dry stall and an occasional bran mash in the form of a Christmas bonus, sometimes he falls into the hands of a mean owner who drives him in spite of spavins and expects him to live on potato peelings.

The science of booby-trapping has taken a good deal of the fun out of following hot on the enemy's heels.

The way to write is well, and how is your own business.

The world isn't going backward, if you can just stay young enough to remember what it was really like when you were really young.

There is no concept more generally cherished by publishers than that of the Undeserving Poor.

Two kinds of person are consoling in a dangerous time: those who are completely courageous, and those who are more frightened than you are.


(October 18 is the birthday of Logan Pearsall Smith. Lewis Mumford, and Matthew Henry.)

Categories: A.J. Liebling, Quotes of the day


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