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 14, 2011
“Piss on the fire and call in the dogs”

To “piss on the (camp)fire and call in the dogs” is an alleged cowboy saying for quitting time. The saying has been cited in print since at least 1969 and has been used by many Texas speakers.

Since at least 1998, to “piss on the (camp)fire” has also meant to “rain on someone’s parade” or “cause a fuss” or “upset the apple cart.”


Google Books
Defender of the Angels;
A black policeman in old Los Angeles

By Jess Kimbrough
New York, NY: Macmillan
1969
Pg. 71:
“You can piss on the fire and call off the dogs ‘cause we’ve hunted the woods all over. And what I mean, we ain’t missed nothin’.”

Google Books
Semi-Tough
By Dan Jenkins
New York, NY: Atheneum
1972
Pg. 127:
“The hunt’s over. It’s time to piss on the fire and call in the dogs.”

Google Books
Dance with Who Brung Us:
Quips and quotes from Darrell Royal

Edited by Robert Heard
Austin, TX: Jenkins Pub. Co.
1976
Pg. 27:
You can call in the dogs and piss on the fire now.
1975

Google Books
Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle:
A history of the American cowboy in song, story, and verse

By Katie Lee
Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press
1976
Pg. 46:
“When I was single and in the cow business all I had t’ do to move was grab m’ hat, piss on the fire, and call the dog.”

Google Books
Hey, wait a minute (I wrote a book!)
By John Madden with Dave Anderson
New York, NY: Ballantine Books
1985, ©1984
Pg. 205:
Call in the dogs and piss on the fire! The final was 32-14.

Google Books
Living Dogs and Dead Lions: a novel
By R. Lanny Hunter and Victor L. Hunter
New York, NY: Penguin Books
1987, ©1986
Pg. 75:
“You dumb piss-on-the-campfire son of a bitch, “ Joshua said.

Google Books
Behind the Scenes:
In which the author talks about Ronald and Nancy Reagan ... and himself

By Michael K. Deaver with Mickey Herskowitz
New York, NY: Morrow
1987
Pg. 69:
In the Old West they had a saying: “It’s time to call off the dogs, piss on the fire, and go home.”

Google Books
The Samurai Strategy
By Thomas Hoover
London: Joseph
1988
Pg. ?:
He took another sip, then turned back. “But fuck it. Remember that old saying I used to have about being a lover, not a fighter. I always know when it’s time to call in the huntin’ dogs and piss on the fire.”

Google Books
September 1991, Texas Monthly, pg. 142, col. 1:
MAYER BILLY “DUKE” RUDMAN
DALLAS, 81
OIL AND GAS
(...)
“You must have the intestinal fortitude to piss on the fire, call the dogs, and go home, or you got no business wildcatting.”

Google Groups: comp.sys.amiga.misc
Newsgroups: comp.sys.amiga.misc
From: (Skal Loret)
Date: 1996/08/11
Subject: Re: Team Amiga (was Re: VIScorp’s possible plans of using the DEC Alpha in some

Should we just piss on the campfire, call in the dogs, and say the hell with any organization of Amiga users that might communicate interest in the platform, on any meaningful scale, to VisCorp?

Google Books
True Facts, Tall Tales & Pure Fiction
By Larry L. King
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
1997
Pg. 57:
So ol’ Good Times (Charlie Wilson—ed.), after a dozen terms in the House and a political career dating back to 1960, is ready — in the patois of his native East Texas — to “whistle up the dawgs, piss on the fire, and go home.”

Google Groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips
Newsgroups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips
From: (Wakko Ellington Warner-Warner III)
Date: 1998/03/18
Subject: Re: Jumping the Intel Bandwagon

Not to be the one to piss on the campfire here, but, where’d you get that data from?

Google Groups: ba.singles
Newsgroups: ba.singles
From: Ciccio
Date: 1998/11/17
Subject: Re: TV is a waste of time… why do you people bother???

You can pout, beat your chest and piss on the campfire all you want, but that ain’t going change the fact that your aesthetics are not universal criteria.

Google Groups: alt.fan.art-bell
Newsgroups: alt.fan.art-bell
From: SMITH29
Date: Sun, 27 May 2001 02:26:53 GMT
Local: Sat, May 26 2001 8:26 pm
Subject: Re: Message for Chive

I guess Jack Hemp would start making a fuss again. Always someone around to piss on the camp fire.

Google Books
Moneyball:
The art of winning an unfair game

By Michael Lewis
New York, NY: W.W. Norton
2003
Pg. ?:
“I hate to piss on the campfire,” one of the scouts finally says, “but I haven’t heard Teahen’s name once all year.”

Google Books
Redneck Words of Wisdom:
Real-life expressions, advice, commentary, and observations from some of the smartest people around—rednecks

By Jaimie Muehlhausen
San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books
2006
Pg. ?:
It’s time to piss on the campfire and call the dogs.

RealClearPolitics
Can Romney Coast to the GOP Nomination?
By Erin McPike and Scott Conroy - November 11, 2011
(...)
“Unfortunately, after the other debate letdowns, he could not afford the brain freeze,” one prominent Republican strategist who has been a vocal Perry supporter for months said in an e-mail. “Right now, it’s all about the money. We will see what happens at the next few fundraisers. If the checkbooks slam closed, then as they say in Texas, ‘You can piss on the campfire and call it a night.’ “

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, November 14, 2011 • Permalink