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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Ladies Who Lunch

“She’s so ugly she’d make a freight train take a dirt road”

“Success is when your signature becomes an autograph”

“If at first you donut succeed, fry, fry again”

“People couldn’t start a conversation if the weather didn’t change”

“No grass stains, no glory; no bruises, no story” (soccer, softball adage)

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else”

Fashion Bible (Women’s Wear Daily nickname)

Fashion Bible (Vogue magazine nickname)

The Village (airplane coach seating section)

“How do you like school, Billy?”/“Closed.”

“Good pitching will always stop good hitting, and vice versa”

“Hydrate to dominate”

“No run, no fun” (running adage)

“Move it or lose it” (exercise adage)

“No run, no fun” (fishing adage)

“If it weren’t for Spring Forward and Fall Back, I’d never get any exercise at all”

“How late does the band play?” (joke)

“How do you get a guitarist to turn down the volume?” (joke)

“Why are orchestra intermissions limited to twenty minutes?” (joke)

Honey Do List (“Honey, do this; honey, do that”)

“The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism”

“What’s the difference between a saxophone and a chainsaw?” (joke)

“What’s the range of a tuba?” (joke)

“Cowards never start; the weak never finish; winners never quit”

“What’s a tuba for?” (joke)

“What’s the difference between an orchestra and a bull?” (joke)

“You should try anything once—except incest and folk dancing”

“How do you know if there’s a lead singer outside your door?” (joke)

“How many altos does it take to screw in a light bulb?” (joke)

“What’s the difference between a violist and a dressmaker?” (joke)

“The last time I heard that I fell off my dinosaur” (an old joke)

“Cowboys don’t take baths—they just dust off”

“Our aim is to keep this restroom clean. Your aim will help” (men’s restroom sign)

“If it ain’t raining, it ain’t training” (“If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training”)

“You can best serve civilization by being against what usually passes for it”

“What’s the difference between the circus and the Rockettes?” (joke)

“There are two classes of people, those who are Irish and those who lack ambition”

“Forwards win matches and backs decide by how much” (rugby adage)

“There are two kinds of congressmen—show horses and work horses”

“Put on your big girl panties and deal with it”

“Brains are soft. Helmets are hard. Use both” (bicycle saying)

Toast (“burned” football cornerback)

Manhattan Cooler (cocktail)

Star (cocktail)

Brut (cocktail)

Sam Ward (cocktail)

Riding Club (cocktail)

Racquet Club (cocktail)

Queen Anne (cocktail)

“Why is a violist like a terrorist?” (joke)

“What’s the similarity between a drummer and a philosopher?” (joke)

“Why don’t seagulls live by the bay?”/“Because then they’d be bagels.”

“How far is it from midtown and how late is it open?” (existential New York question)

“Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

“Doctors pour drugs of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less”

“What’s the difference between a soprano and a terrorist?” (joke)

“Why do choruses travel so often?” (joke)

“How many sopranos does it take to screw in a light bulb?” (joke)

“Change doesn’t come from Washington; change comes to Washington”

“If you can’t find the key to success, pick the lock”

Little Sri Lanka (Tompkinsville, Staten Island)

Little Ireland (Woodlawn, Bronx)

“Dance enables you to find yourself and lose yourself at the same time”

“Happiness lies in our own backyard, but it’s probably well hidden by crabgrass”

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that made good under pressure”

“How do you know when a drummer is at your door?” (joke)

Bumpitrage (bump + arbitrage)

“A country with a government” (“A government with a country”)

Big Apple book by Gerald Cohen, Barry Popik (1991, 2011)

“Steal a hot stove and then come back for the smoke” (brazen criminal)

“All show and no go”

“Oversold can become more oversold” (Wall Street adage)

Joe College

“Overbought can become more overbought” (Wall Street adage)

“Survive and advance” (in a single elimination tournament)

Arbageddon (arbitrage + Armageddon)

“Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get from the work you didn’t do”

“The stock market is a barometer of business”


“Don’t count the days, make the days count”

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going!”

Airport Test (Pittsburgh Airport Test)

“Shrink it and pink it” (men’s to women’s sportswear)

“Never hook with a hooker” (boxing adage)

“I’m not fat—I’m just so sexy, it overflows”

“He cast down ten commandments. The two most important are…” (TV news joke)

First Attempt In Learning (“fail” backronym)

“The toes you step on today may be connected to the ass you’ll kiss tomorrow”

TPTB or PTB (The Powers That Be)

TPTSB or PTSB (The Powers That Shouldn’t Be)

Otto (football linebacker position)

“I would rather be governed by the first hundred names in the telephone book”

America’s Mayor

“Diplomacy without force is like an orchestra without instruments”

“You gotta love it, baby!” (basketball catchphrase)

“I’d rather be someone’s shot of whiskey than everyone’s cup of tea”

“Strong is the new skinny”

“Three umpires are sitting in a bar…” (baseball joke)

Curtain Call

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