Category Archives: Quotable



Accounts of George Herriman’s arrival in New York City are livened with the blend of facts and storytelling that is the hallmark of early newspaper humor writing. Some stories are Herriman’s own creations. Others are from friends. Some tales are plausible, other ludicrous. Herriman acknowledged this years later when an interviewer came to his house to ask about the early days. “I think it would be a good thing if you had two or three men all together,” he said. “Maybe they would be telling the truth.”

-Michael Tisserand, Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White

The Terror Years


Terror, as a strategy, rarely succeeds, except in one respect: it creates repression on the part of the state or the occupying power. This is an expected and longed-for goal of terrorists, who seek to counter the state’s vast military advantage by forcing it to overreact, generating popular support for their cause.

-Lawrence Wright, The Terror Years: From Al-Queda to the Islamic State

Insane Clown President

Every mechanism our mighty oligarchy had devised to keep people like Trump out of power failed. This left the path to power wide open for anyone who understood, or sensed, the crippling weaknesses in our political infrastructure.

-Matt Taibbi, Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus

Something in the Blood


There was no advance announcement of the book, save [Bram] Stoker’s cryptic comment to an Atlanta journalist, who told readers in January 1896 that Stoker’s “next book is going to have ghosts in it.” Sometime later that year Stoker delivered a final, professionally typed and hand-emended manuscript called The Un-dead to Archibald Constable & Company….For seven years of work, he received no advance, only a guaranteed first print run of at least three thousand copies and a payment of one shilling for each copy sold. No one knows when the title was changed to Dracula.

-David J. Skal, Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula

Black Sunset


Agents do what?

“They sell the writer–or sell out the writer–depending on who the agent values most, seller or buyer,” advises my friend and comrade, the banned screenwriter Paul Jarrico, in his cramped editing room off Wilshire Boulevard where he cuts dailies of Salt of the Earth. With too much time on my hands, I help with the crap work. Paul was sometimes agented by the Jaffe office, which dropped him when the House Un-American Activities Committee subpoena came.

“If you have to ask what an agent does,” Paul says, “maybe God doesn’t mean for you to be one.”

But God doesn’t pay my rent.

-Clancy Sigal, Black Sunset: Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal, and Raging Egos



The romance of Nelson Algren and the French writer, philosopher, and feminist Simone de Beauvoir was the most ridiculous, exotic, corny, impossible, unreasonable, and amazing thing to come into both their lives.

-Mary Wisniewski, Algren: A Life

The Mayakovsky Tapes


Face it, there’s a whole generation out there, in post-Soviet Russia, in the West, that never heard of a Russian poet named Vladimir Mayakovsky. These tapes might whet appetites–what these ladies said, back in March of 1953, in room 408 of Moscow’s deluxe Hotel Metropol–sure as hell whet mine. I mean, it isn’t every day a young exchange student from Brooklyn, New York, USA, gets to hear four raunchy Russian ladies talk about their sex lives. Boy oh boy, did I get an education. Even the Kama Sutra doesn’t have a position called over-the-edge!

-Robert Littell, The Mayakovsky Tapes: A Novel

Cast Away


You can’t shield your children from the truth forever. Hanan al-Hasan, a Syrian mother-of-four, had tried so hard, but when her two daughters returned from university one day and retreated to their rooms in silence, she knew she had failed. The news reports she had been watching all day must be true. Students at their university had staged a protest, and President Assad’s Shabiha militia had responded in the only way they knew how: with clubs and fists and broken skulls in the campus car park. Rim and Bisan had seen blood spilt and now everything was different.

-Charlotte McDonald-Gibson, Cast Away: True Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis

Assassination Generation


Video games can be superb at teaching violence–an education packaged in the same format that has more than quadrupled the firing rate of modern soldiers on the battlefield. We see violence-enabling in games in which you use a joystick or controller to maneuver a gun sight around the screen to kill gangsters who pop up and fire at you. The games in which you actually hold a weapon in your hand and fire it at human-shaped targets on the screen are even better at enabling violence.

-Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing

You Have the Right to Remain Innocent


One of the worst things about talking to the police…is the fact that our legal system permits and even encourages the police to lie to you in ways that are absolutely shocking, and to use all sorts of grotesque deceptions if that is what it takes to get you to waive your right to remain silent. The police are well aware that many of us harbor the mistaken assumption that they are even our “friends.” But the truth is that you cannot safely trust a single thing police officers say when they are trying to get you to answer their questions.

-James Duane, You Have the Right to Remain Innocent