“Quote Wall”



“You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.”

David Lloyd George, as recalled by Nikita Khrushchev in Secret Tapes 1968

“Too often we relied on administrative means rather than permitting events to develop in a creative direction.”

Nikita Khrushchev, Secret Tapes 1968


“Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”

John Houston, playing the role of Noah Cross, a down-home, wealthy old tycoon, in the film, Chinatown, 1974

“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.”

Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker, 1980

“You can’t get what you want,
Until you know what you want…”

Joe Jackson, from the album Body and Soul, 1984

“I learn by going where I have to go.”

Roethke, as quoted by John Le Carre in The Russia House, 1989

“… an actor who is always onstage reciting his lines can never really look at himself in a relaxed and critical manner and address his shortcomings in an honest and meaningful way.”

Thomas Friedman, From Beruit to Jerusalem 1989

“To live
is to satisfy the craving
that allows you to live some more.”

Geoffrey Norman, Playboy, March 1990


“… I wanted to be among English-speaking people; I wanted to hear English spoken 24 hours of the day, and nothing but English. Talking and listening to English meant just that less strain.”

Henry Miller (on living in Paris), Nights of Love and Laughter (read in Jerusalem) 1990


Ted Turner, quoted in the New Yorker, 1991

“”Remember Charlie, you’ve got to be willing to lose a deal to make a deal.” In other words, if you do not have the strength of mind to know when to walk away from a negotiation, you will never be a good negotiator…”

New York Times, quoting Dick Snyder, CEO Simon & Shuster, 1991


“A manager’s role is to keep focused on what’s ahead of you.”

Butch Hobson, when named Boston Red Sox manager, October 8, 1991

“You laugh, you think and you cry. That’s a full day, that’s a heck of a day.”

Jim Valvano 1993

“In the Indiana locker room before a game earlier this season, Knight was telling his players to concentrate on the important things. He said: ‘How many times I got to tell you? Don’t fight the rabbits. Because boys, if you fight the rabbits, the elephants are going to kill you.’

Frank Deford quoting Bobby Knight in Sports Illustrated, January 26, 1981; reprinted January 10, 1994


“Beginning, build-up,
climax, conclusion”

Eric Rector, when asked about story organization, October 1995

“In movies these days, if people have jobs at all it’s in fields like architecture or publishing — professions, it would seem, that don’t demand you do very much. In contemporary American novels, what people mostly do, besides sort out their relationships, is write or teach.”

Charles McGrath in The Triumph of the Prime Time Novel, New York Times Magazine, October 22, 1995

“We have to keep moving forward.”

Carol Rector, watching TV as the World Trade Center collapsed at the hands of terrorists. September 11, 2001

“I don”t ask that my opinion be made into law.”

Bill Maher on his HBO show, Real Time, referring to neocon members of Congress, January 2006

edith_piaf.jpeg “Non, je ne regrette rien”

Edith Piaf, as quoted in SF360 to publicize the SFIFF50 Closing Night film La Vie en Rose, May 2006

“Turns out I”ve got a Lesbian computer, I can”t turn it on.”

Craig Ferguson, Late Late Show February 2007

“A traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

British Journalist Gilbert Chesterton, quoted in SF Chronicle Magazine column, What Does it Take to be a Wonder of the World? December 2007

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

Robert Frost, quoted in SF Chronicle column by Steven Winn, “Pimp my House” January 2008


“I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony. I know what to do; I just don”t know where to start.”

Pat Riley, coach of the 11-46 Miami Heat, in Sports Illustrated, March 2008

“Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mainly Plants.”

Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food, 2008


When I was working at Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern in Roanoke, Virginia, in the late 60’s, I started sticking quotes up on the wall beside my desk. One of the first was; “We get too soon oldt, and too late schmart.” That was something that Art, an elderly (hey, I was twentysomething) career draftsman used to say, pretending to be German.

These quotes were usually handwritten, and tacked up on individual sheets of paper. I continued this habit sporadically over the years, but most of those tack-on-the-wall quotes are lost.

In Jerusalem, I had my very own computer and my very own office, so I could type my quotes and post them on a sheet of paper. And I could add to the list and delete the ones that grew tired.

These quotes are not profound — I doubt that any are in Bartlett’s — but they struck my fancy at the time. Clearly, I phased in and out of the Quote Wall habit, but in January 2006, Bill Maher said something that resonated with me, so I unearthed my Quote Wall, converted the old file from Apple Works to Word, and resumed the habit.

Now, it seems like a good time to share.

  • If an illustration looks like it came from Google Images, it did come from Google Images.

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