Dear students of New York City:
Once again, we’ve come to the end of another century. And as we face this new era-lo, this new millennium-it’s time, once again, to find out: Do you have the credentials to pass into the next century?
Or will you be held back and forced to repeat this one?
Thus, in keeping with the famously high standards currently employed by the New York City Board of Education, what follows is a simple test to evaluate your knowledge of the city.
Good luck. And as Mayor Rudy Giuliani says: “Sit up straight. No talking. Lose that gum. And remember, cheating is a quality-of-life issue.”
( Hint: In all multiple choice answers, the last answer is always the correct answer .)
Section One: The City
1. The Second Avenue Subway system was first proposed by: (a) Abraham Beame; (b) Fiorello La Guardia; (c) F. Scott Fitzgerald; (d) the pharaoh Rameses II.
2. E-Z Pass best describes: (a) an electronic device to speed your way through bridge and tunnel tolls; (b) the Mayor’s new zero-tolerance campaign against double-parked cars; (c) the New York City Board of Education’s grading system.
3. The homeless are: (a) a terrible tragedy that can only be solved by big, compassionate government; (b)performance installation artists from the Charles Saatchi collection, sponsored by the Brooklyn Museum and underwritten by Christie’s; (c) suspects and perpetrators, as defined by the Giuliani administration.
Section Two: Politics
1. Alec B. and Rosie O. are well-known entertainers. As a celebrity in Manhattan, your job is to: (a) entertain the masses; (b) shed some light on the human condition through your work; (c) muse about running for Governor.
2. You’ve never lived in New York, never voted in New York, have no grasp of local nuances, but have decided to move here and get involved in the community. The smart plan is: (a) keep a low profile, learn the lay of the land, volunteer and work your way up the ladder; (b) spend $30 million running for Senate.
3. On the same topic, the New York Senate seat is: (a) a solemn chance to serve a proud state and its proud people; (b) a consolation prize for a bad marriage.
4. The Saint Patrick’s Day parade is: (a) a joyous celebration of the Hibernian culture; (b) an opportunity for high school punks from Long Island to get drunk, fight and vomit on Manhattan streets; (c) a walk through a political minefield.
Section Three: Manhattan Culture
1. Koslo, the Czech-born taxi driver, is stopped at Bed Bath & Beyond on Sixth Avenue and 19th Street. Danny, an African-American who is also a gross-point player in the Lethal Weapon film series, wants to go 15 blocks north to Macy’s. The correct question Koslo should ask is: (a) Do you want to go through the park? (b) Should we take the bridge or the tunnel? (c) What are you talking about, officer? What black man?
2. The woman who had the greatest influence on arts and letters in Manhattan during the 20th century was: (a) Joyce Carol Oates; (b) Ayn Rand; (c) Tina Brown; (d) Germaine Greer; (e) Dorothy Parker; (f) Elaine Kaufman.
3. What continues to baffle scientists? (a) Fermat’s last theorem; (b) The appeal of professional divorceé Pat Duff; (c) dinosaur extinction; (d) the itemized-charges section of Bell Atlantic telephone bills.
4. You will never find
a real New Yorker: (a) watching the Macy’s balloons being blown up on Thanksgiving Eve; (b) using the phrase “amicable divorce”; (c) shopping in Bloomingdale’s.
5. The celebration that comes closest to being the official Manhattan high holy day is: (a) New Year’s Eve; (b) Ramadan; (c) Yom Kippur; (d) Halloween.
Section Four: Manhattan Irony
1. Essay question. Please compare and contrast a weekend in the Hamptons, summer 1999, and Dante’s Inferno, the sixth circle of hell, as sponsored by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and American Express.
2. In precisely which month of the year 2000 will Newsweek magazine begin the anti-Tina Brown backlash by announcing that Tina is now “talking the talk” and has struck gold again? (a) April; (b) June; (c) September.
3. The previous question notwithstanding, should Newsweek not defend Ms. Brown by September, her most likely exit strategy will be: (a) blame Miramax interference. “They wanted final cut”; (b) “I discovered a yearning to write”; (c) Tina.com; (d) “In truth, I always wanted to direct.”
Section Five: Bonus Round
1. The function of an art museum is to: (a) display art; (b) turn a profit; (c) piss off the Mayor.
2. David X. is a 28-year-old stock trader who earns $8 million a year. After he turns to drugs, losing the loft, the model girlfriend, the Porsche and the house in the Hamptons, he enters rehab and turns up inside the pages of New York magazine. As a compassionate but savvy New Yorker, your correct response should be: (a) pity; (b) camaraderie; (c) Haven’t I read this before?
3. As you wake up on the morning of Jan. 1, 2000, which is the correct way to greet the new millennium? (a) “Can anybody break a 50?” (b) “My condo is worth what ?” (c) “This time, I’m going to get it right.”
Final Question: MEN OF THE CENTURY
Donald Trump and King Kong. Icons. Giants. Hands-on real estate guys. Connoisseurs of beautiful women. Am I right, or what?