No. 16: “Not Our Fault”

No. 16: “Not Our Fault”

No. 16: “Not Our Fault”

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
March 20 1998 3:30 AM

No. 16: “Not Our Fault”

No. 16: "Not Our Fault"

By Randy Cohen


They told federal regulators that the problems were caused by Midwest blizzards, Louisiana rain, and backups at the Mexican border. Who? What problems?


by noon ET on Thursday to e-mail your answers (

Responses to Tuesday's question (No. 15)--"Isolated Incident":

Anthony King told a NewYorkTimes reporter, "I would like to think that what happened last year was a very isolated incident." Who is he, and what is he talking about?


"Anthony King is a very stupid man who mistook the movie Titanic for a documentary about a particularly unlucky Circle Line cruise around Manhattan."--Patty Marx

"... the Manhattan restaurateur who'd just opened 'Tony's,' one of those new steak-and-cigar outfits, only to catch a diner named Tony leaving with extra matches."--Bill Franzen

"... a Clinton assistant press secretary, discussing the last time the president told the truth."--Jim and Rhonda Chapman

"... a spokesman, describing the first time in 20 years that CBS canceled The King FamilySpecial, bumping it for a very special Touched by an Angel."--Meg Wolitzer


"King, a proponent of chaos theory, was talking about everything that happened last year. According to his theory of randomness, everything is an isolated incident, nothing is causally connected to anything else, nothing means anything, and it's all going nowhere in what may look like a handbasket to you but is actually just an accidental collision of several billion wood molecules. Does this answer in any way disguise the fact that I don't actually remember anything that happened last year except for the death of Princess Diana? I hope so."--Nancy Franklin

"A spokesman for the NYPD was referring to one unfortunate incident at last year's St. Patrick's Day parade where a drunken reveler was beaten to death by other drunken revelers. In keeping with the Social Darwinism platform of the mayor's new civility campaign, the PD promises to have many more such incidents at this year's parade. (I wanted to see what it was like to have an answer the same length as everyone else's. I feel a glow. Anyone wanna go jump off a bridge?)"--Beth Sherman

Click for more responses.

Randy's Wrap-Up


Ordinarily, if you want to see crowds of drunken, violent Long Island white guys, you go to a Rangers game. But once a year, in a mobile festival of embarrassing national stereotypes, they come to you: It's the St. Patrick's Day parade, as several of you knew. Ethnic pride is a curious thing; it's taking credit for something you had nothing to do with--your place of birth. I always thought the whole point of the late 20th century was alienation and rootlessness. That and never being more than two blocks from a Gap.

Note 1: Several of you sent some lovely Giuliani responses, but I'm trying to cut down. Really.

Note 2: Yes, 9 a.m. PT is a ridiculously early deadline, dictated by Slate production schedules and my admiration for the wholesome lifestyle of the family farm: up with the sun, do your chores, write an amusing satiric response, apply for more federal aid.

Note 3: "Brevity is the soul of lingerie, said the petticoat to the chemise." This is said to be the sentence that got Dorothy Parker fired from her caption writing job at Vogue. But we could all profit from Ms. Parker's advice. Brevity.


Don't Slip on the Pools of Green Vomit Getting to the Answer

Anthony King, manager of the New York bar Finnegan's Wake, alludes to the fatal beating of a Bronx high-school student by a gang of drunken teens during last year's St. Patrick's Day parade. Detective Mark Patterson of the NYPD, his remarks taken out of context for cheap comic effect, says, "There will be nothing different this year from last year." He was referring to security procedures. Mayor Giuliani, his remarks taken out of context to reveal his cold, cold heart, says, "The police have done a really good job and so have all the participants in the St. Patrick's Day parade." Once again this year, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization was forbidden to march under its own banner.

Update 1: No one was beaten to death by a gang of drunken teens during this year's parade.

Update 2: Cutting down. I'm not kidding.

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