A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 21, 2012
“Crime does not pay…as well as politics”

"Crime does not pay...as well as politics” has been credited to Alfred E. Neuman, the fictional mascot and cover boy of Mad magazine. It’s not known when this first appeared in Mad, but the saying has been cited in print since at least 1975.

The saying has been popular with New York City politicians. Stanley Friedman, a head of the Bronx Democratic Party who was associated with the New York City parking violations scandal in the 1980s, had a “Crime does not pay...as well as politics” office sign.


23 May 1975, El Paso (TX), Herald-Post, “Buying Back” by Norton Mockridge, pg. B3, col. 2:
ONE OF MY BEST graffiti spies, Rita Faber, of Hawthorne, N.J., has come up with a pretty package for May:
(...)
“Crime does not pay (as well as politics).”

19 December 1977, New York (NY) Times, “Goldin Calls for End To City Water Board As an ‘Anachronism’‎” by Charles Kaiser, pg. 25:
Hall office is decorated with a sign reading, “Crime doesn’t pay—as well as politics,” ...

8 June 1980, New York (NY) Times, “Philadelphians Mixed on Reaction to Abscam Indictments” by Ben A. Franklin, pg. 24:
On the wall in his paneled office behind the grocery with its tidy freezer cases of cold cuts there hangs a plaque—given him “as a joke,” he said—that reads: “Crime Does Not Pay/As Well As Politics.”

Google Books
“This is New York, honey!”:
A homage to Manhattan, with love and rage

Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart
1989
Pg. 202:
Friedman had a sign in his office: “Crime doesn’t pay—as well as politics.” Koch seems not to have noticed.

Google Books
The Quotable Politician
Edited by William B. Whitman
Guilford, CT: The Globe Pequot Press
2003
Pg. 10:
Crime does not pay ... as well as politics.
ALFRED E. NEUMAN, FICTIONAL PHILOSOPHER, Mad MAGAZINE

Google Books
And I Quote (Revised Edition):
The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker

By Ashton Applewhite, William R. Evans III and Andrew Frothingham
New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Press)
2003
Pg. 265:
Crime does not pay ... as well as politics. — Alfred E. Newman

Google Books
The Quotable A**hole:
More than 1,200 Bitter Barbs, Cutting Comments, and Caustic Comebacks

By Eric Grzymkowski
Avon, MA: Adams Media
2011
Pg. ?:
Crime does not pay ... as well as politics.
–ALFRED E. NEUMAN, MASCOT FOR MAD MAGAZINE

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, November 21, 2012 • Permalink