Magazine article The New Yorker

FROG TALE; MASCOT DEPT. Series: 2/5

Magazine article The New Yorker

FROG TALE; MASCOT DEPT. Series: 2/5

Article excerpt

A rumor came around recently that the employees at Bloomberg LP, the financial-information company that Michael Bloomberg founded and still owns, have adopted, as an unofficial corporate mascot, an albino frog. Word had it that the frog is a killer. Mike Bloomberg loves tropical fish and has long maintained aquariums in his company's offices around the world, as well as at home and at City Hall. According to the story, this frog had been introduced to a tank or two at global headquarters here in New York and had devoured all the other inhabitants, and, as a result, had earned the esteem and even the empathy of the humans in the building, who were perhaps eager to think that to gather financial news you need to be voracious, even deadly. This seemed plausible. The Mayor, anyway, has something froggy in his face, a fly-eater's permanent grimace.

A white frog. Herman Melville had some interesting things to say about whiteness. Melville wrote, in "Moby-Dick," that for all the associations the color white has "with whatever is sweet, and honorable, and sublime, there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood."

And so, off to see the watery part of the world, or at least the watery part of Bloomberg's new headquarters, at Fifty-ninth Street and Lexington Avenue. All the walls are glass, and there are luminous fish tanks everywhere--seventeen in all. The theme is transparency, but, of course, the effect, if you are in an aquarial frame of mind, is that even the humans begin to seem like fish, especially when you see them convening in conference rooms, in their colorful shirts and blouses. You can't hear them. They don't move much. They are nibbling on things. You half expect a giant hand to appear overhead, sprinkling down pretzels and chips.

Bloomberg LP employs four people full time to look after the tanks. One of them is Scott Williams, who first discovered the frog. The frog is a foundling. One day four years ago, a new shipment arrived--a box full of fish, each in a plastic baggie of water. The frog, in a baggie of its own, was wedged among them. No one had ordered it. But Williams felt that the frog needed a home.

Williams did a little research and learned that it was an albino clawed frog, Xenopus ("strange foot") laevis, native to southern Africa. …

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