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 May 20, 2012
No Action Talk Only (North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO nickname)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949 by member states in North America and Europe for collective defense (against what at that time was the Soviet Union). The “NATO” initials became famous and soon were applied to something very different than the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In August 1961, it was reported that New York City teens were using the slang “N.A.T.O” meaning “No Action, Talk Only.” The slang spread to Asia, where “No Action, Talk Only” is still used.

“No Action, Talk Only” is sometimes applied to NATO, although NATO has been involved in various armed conflicts. “No Action, Talk Only” has been applied to ineffective politicians since at least the 1980s.


Wikipedia: NATO
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO ( /ˈneɪtoʊ/ NAY-toh; French: Organisation du traité de l’Atlantique Nord (OTAN)), also called the (North) Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. NATO’s headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, one of the 28 member states across North America and Europe, the newest of which, Albania and Croatia, joined in April 2009. An additional 22 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the world’s defence spending.

Abbreviations.com
NATO is an abbreviation for:
No Action Talk Only

15 August 1961, Springfield (MA) Union, pg. 3, cols. 3-4:
Teen-Agers String Initials
With Meaning On Letters

Stretching a string of initials across the back of envelopes is a popular teen-age fad throughout the country.
(...)
N.A.T.O.—No action, talk only.

20 August 1961, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Initials Mystify Postman,” sec. 3, pg. 13, col. 5:
NEW YORK (WNS) --
(...)
New York—N.A.T.O.—No action, talk only.

Google News Archive
14 February 1962, Spokane (WA) Daily Chronicle, “Office Bliss Amiss” by Hal Boyle (AP), pg. 4, col. 4:
Winnie Winsome, the bleached blond steno, has a peeve against the two junior executives who give her a lot of sweet talk but never take her out to dinner or the theater. “Those creeps remind me of NATO—no action, talk only,” she tells the other girls.

Google Books
The Pacific Rivals:
A Japanese view of Japanese-American relations

By Asahi Shinbunsha
New York, NY: Weatherhill/Asahi
1972
Pg. 367:
“A lot of American girls used to call some boys that took them out ‘NATO.’ It stood for ‘No Action, Talk Only.’ It wasn’t long before Japanese girls had picked up this bit of slang.

Google News Archive
Contemporary Moral Issues
By Harry K. Girvetz
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub. Co.
1974
Pg. 97:
Some New York college girls use a blunt acrostic, Nato, which stands for “No action — talk only!”

19 January 1980, Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), William Raspberry column, pg. 7B, col. 1:
The cabbie, being neither journalist nor politician, didn’t understand.

“It looks to me like Americans are members of NATO—No Action, Talk Only,” he said.

Google News Archive
23 June 1986, Tuscaloosa (AL) News, “Goals required for change” by William Raspberry, pg. 4, col. 3:
WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives has sent South Africa a message: You can no longer count on us to play the role of NATO—No Action, Talk Only.

New York (NY) Times
Manila Journal; A Land Where Tinsel Lies in Tatters
By STEVEN ERLANGER, Special to The New York Times
Published: December 25, 1990
(...)
Others joke that while the Philippines may be giving the United States a hard time in negotiations over American military bases here, Manila has joined NATO—No Action, Talk Only.

Google News Archive
14 September 1993, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Idiocy commission may be smart step” by Allan Sloan, pg. 2D, col. 2:
But when I read the report in the cold light of day and watch the Clinton-Gore show, the only conclusion I can draw is that we’ve got NATO on our hands.

No, I don’t mean the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. I mean people who are No Action, Talk Only.

Google Books
Sexual Revolution
By Jeffrey Escoffier
New York, NY: Thunder Mouth Press
2003
Pg. 14:
When New York girls speak of a date as NATO, they mean contemptuously, “No Action, Talk Only.”

Wall Street Journal
ASIA BUSINESS April 25, 2012, 3:35 p.m. ET.
Japan Inc. Rushes to Myanmar
By YOREE KOH
(...)
“Japan has always been described [by Myanmar authorities] as ‘no action, talk only,’ said Toru Hiroe, head of Japanese trading giant Itochu Corp.’s branch in Yangon, in an interview. Japanese companies are now more willing to change that perception, he says. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, May 20, 2012 • Permalink