The city so nice they named it twice

Dan Goodman dsgood at VISI.COM
Sun Jul 21 05:40:49 UTC 2002

> Date:    Sat, 20 Jul 2002 13:30:36 EDT
> From:    "James A. Landau" <JJJRLandau at AOL.COM>
> Subject: Re: Horsethieves (was  Matrushka; Hryvna: more)
> In a message dated 07/19/2002 7:45:57 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> mam at THEWORLD.COM writes:
> > OK, where did you get the expression "The City With Two Names Twice"
> > for
> >  NYC? I grew up there, and the only source I know for it is James
> >  Blish's "Cities in Flight" series (4 sf novels).
> The only place I ever heard "two names twice" was in Blish's _Earthman
> Come Home_, which is the third volume of the Cities in Flight series.

My memory says "What city has the same name twice?"

> Blish was not much given to inserting wisecracks in his writing,

I recall, from Cities in Flight, a substance called
polybathroomflourine because of its hexagonal structure.  [For those
who don't get the reference -- hexagonal bathroom tiles used to be
very common, at least in New York City.)   I suspect there are other
wisecracks which I missed.

so I
> guessed that it was an old New York riddle that Blish (who I think
> worked in Madison Avenue) had heard.

Blish was a native New Yorker.  He did indeed work in the advertising

> There are only 2 Blish wisecracks that I can remember.  Both are
> obscure puns, made even more obscure by not being in English.  One was
> from the Cities in Flight series---one of the first cities to go
> flying away was "Gravitogorsk", punning on the (real) city of
> Magnitogorsk.  The other was in _The Night Shapes_, where a Latin
> teacher had an affair with a student. "Together they studied all the
> conjugations of _amo_".
> > Since I don't know the expression from any other source, I assumed
> > all along -- evidently wrongly -- that Blish had made it up
> I have no evidence either way as to whether Blish invented it, so your
> original assumption may be right.  Blish's sense of humor was
> sufficeintly recondite that he could have invented it himself.

More information about the Ads-l mailing list