Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Public Works Used To Be Heavy-Duty

Old school
Think back to the Days of Rage, when Chicago was hosting the Democratic National Convention and the war protest movement arrived to, well, protest. Some of the unwashed masses climbed the statue of Civil War general John Logan and did their protesting from an elevation. The statue didn't break, did it?

Of course not. Because back in the day, civic leaders ordered memorial statues that were built to last. The statue is still there, in fact, still standing proud and tall in Grant Park.

The new trend these days is to slap up a monument that isn't going to be permanent. Change them out every year or two, and then advertise like crazy to get the tourists in to see the new series of memorials. The statues aren't intended to last forever because tourists don't come back to see the same painted cows or furniture or even a giant Marilyn Monroe.

There is a slight problem with these temporary installations.

Tourists take pictures with them, in part to memorialize a trip to Chicago and in part to preserve an image of an object that's going to be taken off the street in a short period of time.

And when tourists take pictures, there's no security guard there to yell at them when they decide to pose themselves on the statue.

Not exactly Days of Rage posing, but isn't it cute to put little Junior on the back of that colorful horse statue that commemorates one of Chicago's fallen police officers?

Modern throw-away culture
And isn't it funny to mount up when you're drunk and have your friends snap your photo while you do your impression of the 1968 protesters climbing all over John Logan's horse?

When that equine objet d'art is made of fiberglass, you can bet that at some point things are going to get broken. And that is exactly what is
happening to Chicago's horses on parade.

A horse decorated to look like Pegasus lost its wings when a man at the age of foolishness (twenty-something is a dangerous time for the developing male brain) climbed up and sat on the horse. The wings, unfortunately, were right where a rider's legs would be, and, well, this isn't a bronze replica of a horse. The wings broke off and Darius Moss is looking at three felony counts of criminal damage to property. News reports don't say, but we all can assume the man was under the influence of intoxicating beverages at the time. Or he just thought it would be funny. Not that he's laughing now.

Then there was the horse that the cast of "Chicago PD" was good enough to sign. At the conclusion of the exhibit, the horses are going to be auctioned off for a charity benefitting the families of fallen police officers, and that horse was likely to bring in some big money. Someone saw all those signatures and thought the art would be improved with graffiti. Somewhere there's a cell phone with a picture of the art and the artist, If the photo finds its way to the police department, there'll be a second individual looking at a felony count or two.

There's the horse-tipping incident that resulted in some serious injury, to the statue. A family was doing what they were supposed to be doing, but who knew there was a load limit on the statue? Did the John Logan statue buckle under the weight of the hippies? No. But the horse statue went right over. What's next? Some prankster will find inspiration and decide to reproduce the horse head scene from THE GODFATHER, but with fiberglass. Halloween is coming. What could be more fun at the end of a night of binge drinking?

They don't make art like they used to. Nothing is made to last.

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