Along the river near the Chicago Skyway
When the turgid, silver-sheened twenty-foot-tall ego-alephs rose up along the mirrored surfaces of the Trump Tower like a logo from 1980s straight-to-VHS monster movies, the slow reveal seemed like a joke from another Michael Bay Chicago-River-side blow-‘em-down, especially the days that “TRUM” stood without quite attaining completion. “T-Rum”? Would this be the new rap name of the trigger-fingered twitterer and perennial candidate-not-candidate for president? But once the last letter landed, the “short-fingered vulgarian,” to use the celebrithet coined by Spy magazine in the 1990s, was quickly, if ineffectually barked out as “architecturally tasteless” by our missing-middle-fingered mayor. While it would be beguiling to see those letters thrusting up from the foul black piles of life-endangering petroleum waste dumped along the Calumet River, like a befouled rendition of glasses on the billboard in “The Great Gatsby”—The Donald’s I’s instead of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg’s—there’s a wrack of ruin that suits the mogul’s latest self-erection better. Think of the Calumet River near the Chicago River, the acres-upon-acres of rusticated buildings, bulwarks of decline that will stand for decades longer, even after Trump’s hair no longer blows in any given wind. The silver word would grow increasingly mysterious, iconic, reduced to its sounds, like the byways of Chicago named for mayors whose names no one has recognized for decades.
Audience Choice: At the bottom of the Chicago River
Best of Chicago 2014