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Sarah Vowell quotes (showing 1-30 of 140)

“Just the other day, I was in my neighborhood Starbucks, waiting for the post office to open. I was enjoying a chocolatey cafe mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle's Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top.”
Sarah Vowell
“I no longer drink nearly as much as I used to but, still, my motto is Sine coffea nihil sum. Without coffee, I'm nothing.”
Sarah Vowell
“I talk about going to [George W. Bush's] Inauguration and crying
when he took the oath, 'cause I was so afraid he was going to
wreck the economy and muck up the drinking water'... the failure of
my pessimistic imagination at that moment boggles my mind now.”
Sarah Vowell
“Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know. For me, the spark that turns an acquaintance into a friend has usually been kindled by some shared enthusiasm . . . At fifteen, I couldn't say two words about the weather or how I was doing, but I could come up with a paragraph or two about the album Charlie Parker with Strings. In high school, I made the first real friends I ever had because one of them came up to me at lunch and started talking about the Cure.”
Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot
“Like Lincoln, I would like to believe the ballot is stronger than the bullet. Then again, he said that before he got shot.”
Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation
“We are flawed creatures, all of us. Some of us think that means we should fix our flaws. But get rid of my flaws and there would be no one left.”
Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli
“Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know.”
Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot
“In these fast and fickle times, it’s nice to know that there are some things you can always count on: the enduring brilliance of the last page of The Great Gatsby; the near-religious harmonies of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls”; and the lifelong friendship of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.”
Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot
“Buffy's high school was built on top of a vortex of evil, the Hellmouth. And whose wasn't?”
Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot
“I have a similar affection for the parenthesis (but I always take most of my parentheses out, so as not to call undue attention to the glaring fact that I cannot think in complete sentences, that I think only in short fragments or long, run-on thought relays that the literati call stream of consciousness but I still like to think of as disdain for the finality of the period).”
Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli
“I'm always disappointed when I see the word 'Puritan' tossed around as shorthand for a bunch of generic, boring, stupid, judgmental killjoys. Because to me, they are very specific, fascinating, sometimes brilliant, judgmental killjoys who rarely agreed on anything except that Catholics are going to Hell. ”
Sarah Vowell, The Wordy Shipmates
“[Martin Luther King, Jr.] concluded the learned discourse that came to be known as the 'loving your enemies' sermon this way: 'So this morning, as I look into your eyes and into the eyes of all my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you,'I love you. I would rather die than hate you.''

Go ahead and reread that. That is hands down the most beautiful, strange, impossible, but most of all radical thing a human being can say. And it comes from reading the most beautiful, strange, impossible, but most of all radical civics lesson ever taught, when Jesus of Nazareth went to a hill in Galilee and told his disciples, 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”
Sarah Vowell, The Wordy Shipmates
“The true American patriot is by definition skeptical of the government.”
Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot
“There are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who alphabetize their record collections, and the kind who don't.”
Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot
“When I think about my relationship with America, I feel like a battered wife: Yeah, he knocks me around a lot, but boy, he sure can dance.”
Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli
“The only thing more dangerous than an idea is a belief.”
Sarah Vowell, The Wordy Shipmates
“I wish that in order to secure his party’s nomination, a presidential candidate would be required to point at the sky and name all the stars; have the periodic table of the elements memorized; rattle off the kings and queens of Spain; define the significance of the Gatling gun; joke around in Latin; interpret the symbolism in seventeenth-century Dutch painting; explain photosynthesis to a six-year-old; recite Emily Dickenson; bake a perfect popover; build a shortwave radio out of a coconut; and know all the words to Hoagy Carmichael’s “Two Sleepy People”, Johnny Cash’s “Five Feet High and Rising”, and “You Got the Silver” by the Rolling Stones...What we need is a president who is at least twelve kinds of nerd, a nerd messiah to come along every four years, acquire the Secret Service code name Poindexter, install a Revenge of the Nerds screen saver on the Oval Office computer, and one by one decrypt our woes.”
Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot
“Except for the people who were there that one day they discovered the polio vaccine, being part of history is rarely a good idea. History is one war after another with a bunch of murders and natural disasters in between.”
Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation
“American history is a quagmire, and the more one knows, the quaggier the mire gets.”
Sarah Vowell
“But when I am around strangers, I turn into a conversational Mount St. Helens. I'm dormant, dormant, quiet, quiet, old-guy loners build log cabins on the slopes of my silence and then, boom, it's 1980. Once I erupt, they'll be wiping my verbal ashes off their windshields as far away as North Dakota.”
Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation
“Oh my dear, idealists are the cruelest monsters of them all.”
Sarah Vowell
“Despite his consistent party-line voting record, some independents and Democrats still think of Senator McCain as the most palatable, independent-minded Republican. But this is the sort of empty compliment a friend of mine once compared to being called “the coolest Osmond.”
Sarah Vowell
“Dig deep into its communitarian ethos and it reads more like an America that might have been, an America fervently devoted to the quaint goals of working together and getting along. Of course, this America does exist. It's called Canada.”
Sarah Vowell, The Wordy Shipmates
“That's what I like to call him, "the current president." I find it difficult to say or type his name, George W. Bush. I like to call him "the current president" because it's a hopeful phrase, implying that his administration is only temporary.”
Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation
“Behind every bad law, a deep fear.”
Sarah Vowell, The Wordy Shipmates
“I guess if I had to pick a spiritual figurehead to possess the deed to the entirety of Earth, I'd go with Buddha, but only because he wouldn't want it.”
Sarah Vowell, Unfamiliar Fishes
“You know you've reached a new plateau of group mediocrity when even a Canadian is alarmed by your lack of individuality.”
Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation
“If I looked in the mirror someday and saw no dark circles under my eyes, I would probably look better. I just wouldn't look like me. ”
Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli
“As recently as fifty years ago my grandmother was picking cotton with bleeding fingers. I think about her all the time while I'm getting overpaid to sit at a computer, eat Chinese takeout, and think up things in my pajamas, The half century separating my fingers, which are moisturized with cucumber lotion and type eighty words per minute, and her bloody digits is an ordinary Land of Opportunity parable, and don't think I don't appreciate it. ”
Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot
“Heaven, such as it is, is right here on earth. Behold: my revelation: I stand at the door in the morning, and lo, there is a newspaper, in sight like unto an emerald. And holy, holy, holy is the coffee, which was, and is, and is to come. And hark, I hear the voice of an angel round about the radio saying, "Since my baby left me I found a new place to dwell." And lo, after this I beheld a great multitude, which no man could number, of shoes. And after these things I will hasten unto a taxicab and to a theater, where a ticket will be given unto me, and lo, it will be a matinee, and a film that doeth great wonders. And when it is finished, the heavens will open, and out will cometh a rain fragrant as myrrh, and yea, I have an umbrella.”
Sarah Vowell, Take the Cannoli

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