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 October 30, 2010
“Don’t back no losers” ("Don’t make no waves, don’t back no losers")

Milton L. Rakove’s book, Don’t make no waves; Don’t back no losers: An insider’s analysis of the Daley machine (1975), included these classic Chicago political rules:

“I got two rules,” 29th Ward Committeeman Bernard Neistein confided when asked how he had operated so successfully in politics in Chicago for most of his adult life. “The first one is ‘Don’t make no waves.’ The second one is ‘Don’t back no losers.’”

Bernard S. Neistein (1916-2003) put them both together in Chicago lingo, but “don’t make waves” and “don’t back losers” are old, undateable proverbs. 


GenealogyBank.com
Bernard S. Neistein: Social Security Death Index (SSDI) Death Record
Name: Bernard S. Neistein
Date of Birth: Tuesday August 15, 1916
Date of Death: Friday October 03, 2003
Est. Age at death: 87 years, 1 months, 18 days
Last known residence:
City:  Chicago; Fort Dearborn
County:  Cook
State:  Illinois
ZIP Code:  60611
Latitude:  41.8946
Longitude:  -87.6187
Confirmation:  Verified

(Oxford English Dictionary)
wave, n.
Phr. to make waves: to stir up trouble, make things worse, make a fuss. orig. and chiefly U.S.
In quot. 1925 used in the literal sense.
[1925 ‘KIMBO’ Tropical Tales 10 Back at the foul stinking bog Potts heard himself hailed by the well-known voice of his late father. ‘Hello, sonny,..slip in gently...for the Lord’s sake don’t make any waves.’]
1962 A. LURIE Love & Friendship xiv. 277, I think it will be best if she tells him herself… After I’ve left. We don’t want to make waves.
1972 Publishers’ Weekly 10 Apr. 58/2 Dr. Wilkins..had just been fired from Willowbrook for allegedly making waves about conditions.
1983 Times 19 Feb. 11/5 He is..a solid dependable Scotsman who runs a company at a profit in an orderly fashion and doesn’t make waves.

27 February 1953, Marysville (OH) Journal-Tribune, “Bearing Down on the News” by Arthur “Bugs” Baer, pg. 2, col. 2:
There’s one thing to remember in international doings. When you’re carrying water on both shoulders don’t make waves.

Google Books
Come with me to Macedonia
By Leonard Drohan
London : Hutchinson
1958
Pg. 321:
“Yes, Dawson will be there. But you can beat that stallion’s ass, if you follow one bit of advice that I once gleaned from an old joke — ‘Don’t make waves.’”

8 February 1964, Berkshire Eagle (Pittsfield, MA), “A Tale of Two Projects” by Thomas W. Bleezardo, pg. 15, col. 1:
Spearheaded by the few residents of the immediate vicinity whp are genuinely concerned over their personal comfort and the value of their homes, this campaign, unhappily, is attracting the professional objectors who, with their “don’t make waves” attitude, have managed to block the majority of progressive proposals made in this area in their lifetimes.

OCLC WorldCat record
Don’t make waves : from the original sound track
Author: Vic Mizzy; Byrds (Musical group)
Publisher: [New York] : MGM, [1962] (1967 appears to be the correct date—ed.)
Edition/Format: Musical LP : Motion picture music : English

The Internet Movie Database
Plot Summary for
Don’t Make Waves (1967)

New York tourist Tony Curtis falls asleep on a Southern California beach on his first night in the West and wakes up to The New Phantasmagoria--catamarans, surfers (including a dog), bodybuilders, acrobats, motorcycle chicken races, a nut fishing in the shallows . . . and Sharon Tate as a skydiver named Malibu who gives Curtis the rapture of artificial respiration when he is conked on the head by a flying surfboard. This is the ‘60s American Dream: youth and beauty and money and sex in Southern California. Go west, all men.
Written by alfiehitchie

24 March 1969, Simpson’s Leader-Times (Kittanning, PA), “Don’t Make Waves” by Bob Crane (Star of TV’s Hogan’s Heroes), pg. 5, col. 1:
Now the phrase, “Don’t make waves,” has different meanings to different people, but for me it has a very special significance, one that I have applied successfully to a number of difficult human situations.

Google Books
Don’t make no waves; Don’t back no losers:
An insider’s analysis of the Daley machine

By Milton L. Rakove
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press
1975
Pg. 11:
“I got two rules,” 29th Ward Committeeman Bernard Neistein confided when asked how he had operated so successfully in politics in Chicago for most of his adult life. “The first one is ‘Don’t make no waves.’ The second one is ‘Don’t back no losers.’”

In those two brief sentences, Committeeman Neistein capsuled the political philosophy of the men who dominate the Democratic organization of Cook County.

Google Books
The Drama of Democracy:
American government and politics

By George McKenna
Boston, MA: McGraw Hill
1998
Pg. 472:
“Don’t back losers,” the old maxim of American politics, is carefully observed by political action committees (PACs). Since about 90 percent of incumbent members of Congress get reelected, the overwhelming bulk of PAC money goes to incumbents, not challengers.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Saturday, October 30, 2010 • Permalink