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Not for Nothing

March 19, 2015

We love the phrase “not for nothing.” People say it when they are about to make an off-hand remark. It’s supposed to soften the blow of what you’re going to say, but in reality, it kind of works to underscore your comments.

The phrase is a New York-ism — part of our regional dialect. We actually don’t have a lot of these despite being one of the areas of the nation that has been settled the longest.  The phrase that is often associated with New Yorkers is the nasty “fuhgedaboudit.” But no one ever says that except in cartoons and commercials. It’s a caricature.

“Not for nothing” is something you’ll actually hear fairly often if you’re listening for it. In our circles, it’s used as a kind of grounding device in a conversation. You employ it when you want to remind an acquaintance of the eternal value of self-awareness and common sense. There’s a tiny edge to the comment, however.  You use it when you might really want to say something like : “Hey shithead, what the fuck are you thinking?”, but, instead, you decide that it’s better to be polite.

Here’s an example of how one might use it in that regard: Say you were acquainted with people in the Cuomo media affairs office and you wanted to help them out, but, knowing how stubborn and irascible they can be, you kind of have to tip-toe around the topic. In such a circumstance, you might say:

“Not for nothing, but when you issue a public comment to the effect that the administration will go along with financial disclosure for Sandra Lee when the rest of the lawmakers agree to financial disclosure for their girlfriends and mistresses, well, when you say something like that, you’re actually equating Sandra Lee with a group of women whom you’ve just cheapened and insulted, and, thereby, you’ve just cheapened and insulted Sandra Lee herself.  That’s not your intention. That’s not what the governor wants you to do. But clearly, when you draw such a comparison — between the governor’s long-time companion, who is an accomplished person in her own right, and a loose women whom a lawmaker might pick up in an Albany bar —  that’s exactly what you’re doing. You see that, don’t you? And, not for nothing,  don’t you think  you ought to rethink the approach? Maybe, huh?”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 19, 2015 12:21 PM

    Not for nothing, check out excerpt from the new Cuomo bio. Apparently it was Cuomo who coined the phrase “chipmunk balls” in reference to Dinapoli.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    March 19, 2015 12:29 PM

    And the First Lady of the State Of New York says: “My endless search for the perfect margarita has come to an end.”

  3. Anonymous permalink
    March 19, 2015 12:48 PM

    Thank you for your columns. Your insights are brilliant, and so refreshing after reading the mind numbing bloggers in the TU and YNN. As my coworker and I are legislative employees of 25 years, we are absolutely dying to know who you are.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    March 20, 2015 4:38 PM

    I second the kudos! You folks are smart, funny, and spot-on, and remarkably civil and respectful while getting your points across. I love the institutional knowledge and perspective, especially; in general, despite all protestations to the contrary, the sky really ISN’T falling.:-)

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