There’s a lot about Chicago that I absolutely despise. I want to punch Patrick Kane straight in the jaw. Notre Dame grads are on-par with Cardinals fans on the Holier Than Thou Scale of Miserableness. Transplant Cubs fans might be the most annoying group of people that have ever collected in one geographical area. And while I’m sure the Au Cheval burger tastes like a little chunk of heaven that fell directly onto your plate, I’m sick and tired of seeing the same goddamn picture of it on Instagram. Like, we get it, there’s a knife through it and an egg. No one cares.
But above all, by far, bar none, the worst part about the city of Chicago has nothing to do with food, sports, or people. It has to do with the mirrored lump of coal that sits smack dab in the middle of Millennium Park. That turd nugget of a disco ball that’s consistently surrounded by tourists and native Chicagoans alike. It’s apparently called “Cloud Gate,” but it’s more well-known to the rest of the world as The Chicago Bean.
Since 2006, we’ve all been staring at photos of this abomination on every form of social media that Mark Zuckerberg shoves down our willing throats. It builds during the spring only to culminate during Lollapalooza when every millennial on your feed flocks to Chicago to dress like a gypsy, carry around water bottles full of vodka, and black out to a bunch of bands they just started listening to on Spotify once the lineup came out. It’s gotten to the point of self-awareness where people know that taking a photo in front of it is cliché, yet they still indulge because they yearn for people to know that, yes, they did go to Chicago and they did do something else besides drink well vodka in Wrigleyville.
And while my hatred for “The Bean” is perpetuated by the photos of it, it goes deeper than that.
I, personally, am not a fan of any monument that holds essentially zero cultural relevance. Sure, this is “modern art,” but I could literally prick my finger and smear blood all over a canvas and dub it “modern art” too. The only difference is that mine is less Instagrammable so no one would take selfies in front of it. Half of modern art is just the product of an artist telling you there’s significance behind something when, in actuality, they’re just trying to make an honest buck like the rest of us. The Bean’s designer, Anish Kapoor, actually hates the fact that it’s called “The Bean,” but earth to Anish Kapoor – it’s a fucking bean and nothing else. You can call it “Cloud Gate” all you want but I’ve never seen a cloud shaped like that before.
You know why people aren’t taking selfies in front of the Monument to Joe Louis in Detroit like they are in front of The Bean? Well, sure, it’s partially because not that many people are visiting Detroit. But more importantly, it’s because The Fist lacks the mirrored surface that graces the entirety of The Bean. We’ve reached a point as a society where everything is about you. You don’t like this stupid monument because it’s architecturally beautiful – you like it because you can stand in front of it, stare at yourself, and make a goofy face that you can Snapchat to your friends. People aren’t taking photos of it because of the reflection of the skyline and its surroundings; they’re taking photos of it because they can still be the focal point of the photos no matter what vantage point you take it from. It’s essentially one giant bathroom mirror that’s in service for selfies all day rather than between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
This “monument” was selected over thirty other designs pitched. Thirty. Set down your phone. Take a step back from your keyboard. Do whatever you need to do to get into some deep thought before I ask you to do this. But can you simply fathom how monumentally shitty the other thirty designs had to be in order for this to emerge as the favorite? I don’t even want to know how much this thing cost to erect, let alone how many minds collaborated in order to make this dream into a reality. Imagine being a designer whose pitch got snubbed. “Nah, we’re going to go with this massive reflective dump instead, but thanks for pouring your heart and soul into it.”
Me? I’ll stick with Detroit’s Fist. And hopefully be able to use mine in real life should I ever cross paths with Patrick Kane. .
Image via Shutterstock