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.

Recent entries:
“After winning, I threw the ball into the crowd. Apparently, that’s unacceptable in bowling” (5/23)
“She made French toast and got her tongue caught in the toaster” (5/22)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/22)
“The job requires me to get a potato clock” (get up at eight o’clock) (5/22)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/22)
More new entries...

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Entry from September 18, 2007
“Lear jet needs fuel” or “Lear jet out of fuel” (Austin panhandler sign)

When you stop at a traffic light in Austin, you might see someone approach you with a sign: “LEAR JET NEEDS FUEL.” Ronald Korne possibly coined/popularized this one. There are quite a few other popular panhandler lines.


Austin (TX) American-Statesman
Panhandlers! Got a funny sign? Prove it
Author: John Kelso, American-Statesman Columnist
Date: June 24, 2001 Publication: Austin American-Statesman Page Number: B1

Being a community-spirited kind of guy, I’m always looking for ways to improve our city. So I’m starting a contest to find the spare-change artist in Austin who can compose the funniest panhandling sign. Let’s see some imagination out there, folks. I’m tired of looking at the overused “Will Work For Food.” Instead, how about “Stew: It’s Not Just For Breakfast Anymore”?

Austin (TX) American-Statesman
If you see this panhandler, applaud him
Author: John Kelso, American-Statesman Columnist
Date: July 8, 2001 Publication: Austin American-Statesman (TX) Word Count: 506

Ronald Korne turned out for the best. He says that when he was a young man attending college, he wanted to become a city planner. Since then, however, he has switched gears and become a part-time panhandler.

Anybody who has seen the traffic configuration in downtown Austin lately knows this is a major step up.

Korne, 59, is the winner of my funniest panhandling sign in Austin contest. Korne is the guy you see around town who displays the “Need Fuel For Lear-Jet”... 

Googel Groups: austin.general
Newsgroups: austin.general
From: “Shane Jordan”
Date: Wed, 08 Jan 2003 13:09:23 GMT
Local: Wed, Jan 8 2003 9:09 am
Subject: Re: Streetcorner panhandlers

Well chris rock says that real homeless people are too HUNGRY to be funny. But as a rule if someone makes me laugh its worth $1.  I always likes the one with the sign that read “Need money for my lear jet.  Please help”

Austin (TX) American-Statesman
Will wax creative for food
Author: Michael Corcoran, AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Date: December 12, 2003 Publication: Austin American-Statesman (TX) Word Count: 1657

Some are funny, some are tragic. Some praise God and country, some just want a drink, a sandwich or gas money for a Rolls Royce. Some are so bad that they’re good; the more misspellings and skewed sentiments the better. Almost all are scrawled on cardboard, and the holders are mostly white males of about Vietnam draft-eligible age. And they all hate the pixie stick hawkers who sometimes take over their corners.

...saying, for instance, that you need fuel for your Learjet. ... 

Why lie in need of a drink
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Two Other Panhandlers
(...)
I saw a guy up in Rocklin last week with a sign that said, “Need fuel for my Lear jet.”

Barbelith Underground
Father Mirror
20:01 / 08.04.06

The best panhandler sign I’ve ever seen:
LEAR JET NEEDS FUEL

Jason Langridge’s Weblog
re: Will Work for Bandwidth...
Friday, January 05, 2007 9:02 PM by patrickj
Those are cool. Our favorite guy here in Austin has a cardboard sign reading ‘Lear Jet Needs Fuel’ ... 

American Small Business
LEARJET OUT OF FUEL. CAN YOU HELP?
Finding creative ways to state what’s already apparent
2/19/2007 4:18:00 PM Read About: Cynthia Williamson

The grey-bearded man holding the sign at the street corner figured out a way to compete against other homeless people begging on one of Austin’s busy street corners. I watched in my rearview mirror as person after person handed bills out the window.

He gave a contagious ear-to-ear grin as he held up his carefully lettered blue words on a white background. His competitors with their downcast looks using black letters on a brown cardboard box interior looked on in envy. 

The Herald (Glasgow, Scotland)
April 09 2007
Idea takes off

Our story of the American panhandler brandishing a sign offering folk with road rage to swear at him instead for a dollar, reminds Andy Macleod in Austin, Texas, of a mendicant there last month, looking about 95-years-old, clothes a mess, wearing a huge hat and a big toothless smile, holding up a sign stating: “Please help. Stranded. Learjet out of fuel.”

He was doing pretty well, says Andy, but word spread, and by the end of the week every begging sign in Austin claimed that their Learjets were fuel-less. “Surely some potential copyright infringement?” ponders Andy.

Austin (TX) American-Statesman
Shoelaces & Stamina: Raising Kids, Staying Fit, and Chasing Happiness
by juliebrowncasey
Posted Apr-24-2007 1:09:16 AM

“Lear Jet out of Fuel”

“Hey, Mom! Look at that guy!” my five-year-old called out from the back seat.

We were stopped at a traffic light at the end of a MoPac exit ramp, and ‘that guy’ was a homeless man panhandling on the corner.

“I see him,” I replied. He was dressed in long pants and a threadbare t-shirt. His weathered face and long beard revealed old age and hard times. He paced slowly up and down the line of cars, hoping for a handout.
(...)
“What does his sign say, mom?” I then noticed that the man was, indeed, carrying a tattered white cardboard sign, with letters scrawled across it in black pen. I read it out loud to her.

“It says, ‘Lear Jet out of fuel. Please help.’”

My daughter looked at him again, surveying the whole situation. “Well where’s his jet?”

I laughed. “I think he’s just pretending, sweetie.”

MySpace.com Todd
Jun 30 2007 3:36P
Hey mister...can you spare some change? My Lear Jet needs fuel. I Will Work for Fois Gras.

MyFoxAustin
panhandler signs
Aug 24, 2007 12:43 PM
the story you did on panhandling was excellent...however have you ever seen the some of the signs these people hold up...."need a beer”; “my lear jet was repo’ed” and my favorite is a guy at 5th and lamar with a sign the size of a postcard reading “just whatta get high, please help”....what are some you’ve seen?

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, September 18, 2007 • Permalink