No. 31: “$353”

No. 31: “$353”

No. 31: “$353”

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
April 16 1998 3:30 AM

No. 31: “$353”

No. 31: "$353"

By Randy Cohen

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$353. What is the significance of this sum?

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by noon ET Wednesday to e-mail your answer (NewsQuiz@slate.com).

Responses to Monday's question (No. 30)--"Illumination":

"It's tacky, it sheds a truly hellish light, and it's invasive," said New York City Councilwoman Kathryn Freed. What is it?

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(Hint: not Donald Trump's halogen penis.)

"That was her overly generous assessment of Elizabeth Wurtzel's new book, Bitch, whose tedious--sorry, I meant daring, provocative, and witty--jacket features a photograph of the unjacketed, bird-flipping author."--Nancy Franklin

"The Travelers umbrella in TriBeCa that's irritating residents, as opposed to the pieces of Prudential's rock actually falling on residents in midtown."--Beth Sherman

"On second thought, maybe it's not Pat Robertson's smile. Maybe it's a hydrogen bomb."--Morris Jackson

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"Oh sure, it's easy to object to laser-assisted fiber optic in utero urinalysis for late term fetuses, Councilwoman Freed, but some of us are a bit more serious than you seem to be about the war on drugs."--Greg Diamond

"Hollywood diet mogul Nikki Haskell's latest GI apparatus: Fiber Optic Rigid Sigmoidoscope of the Stars."--David Rakoff (James Poniewozik gave a sigmoidoscopically similar answer, with an Elvis twist.)

"Love. No, hate. No, envy. No, capitalism. God, there's so much that's human that fits the description. And yet maybe it's inhuman. Maybe it's the Travelers Insurance Co.'s gigantic, red neon umbrella making its presence known to lower Manhattan."--Alfa-Betty Olsen

"I could care less about that. In one weekend, he finishes facilitating the Irish peace agreements, performs a lewd act in a restroom, and then comes out. George Mitchell rules."--Kate Clinton

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Click for more responses.

Randy's Wrap-Up

New York players (which, by the way, is the name of Disney's new hip-hop family musical) all knew about Travelers' screw the neighbors policy. It puts me in mind of a dog pissing on a lamppost but, hey, what doesn't?

Those who show up only for the anal antics can immediately click for more responses. Lava lamp lovers, likewise. And those who demand an anal lava lamp can go directly to Leslie Goodman-Malamuth's response.

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Mighty Neighborly Answer

Shining into neighboring apartments and ruining everyone's sleep, it's the 50-foot-wide, four story, red neon umbrella high atop the Travelers Group's Greenwich Street headquarters.

Zoning regulations forbid signs more than 40 feet high. Travelers says it's not a sign; it's a logo. And it plans to erect another atop the midtown Citicorp building when the merger is complete. City officials say, oh well, in that case, go right ahead.

"It would be in keeping with a great New York City tradition if a corporation of that stature displayed its emblem for New Yorkers to see every day," said traditionalist Warren Wechsler of the Real Estate Board of New York.

"It's like living next to the No Tell Motel," said Jack Lester, lawyer for the TriBeCa community association.

Leftovers

"It was not lobbying; there was no arm twisting. It was awareness-raising."--Frederick C. Smith, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security

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