Peeking Under Marilyn Monroe’s Skirt

July 27, 2011

There’s a big, new peep show open in Chicago that has a lot of cameras pointing up.

Not toward our iconic architecture – but to underwear in the sky.

It’s a 26 foot Marilyn – right there on Michigan Avenue – and it has given the tottlin’ town’s legendary sportscaster and neighboring statue, Jack Brickhouse, a hell of a view, as well as something new to talk about.

Forever Marilyn indeed.

Surprised seeing big bloomers in the sky? You really shouldn’t be. After all, this is the Windy City. Skirts are always being blown around. And this is the twon that gave the world Playboy.

Amazing to me, though, is that this 60-year-old pose still packs a wallop. There are more revealing and suggestive messages and images at every bus stop, on electronic signage in the public square, on TV in my living room or in the Sunday paper. Hell many of our daughters dress more suggestively when they go off to junior high school.

Again… not really a surprise. Beautiful women (and men) revealing themselves in suggestive ways will always attract attention. Given that humans are born to mate, software for that was probably pre-loaded at the factory.

It is just that, well, no one really expects to see Marilyn so in your face – so big and all hangin’ out – in a place and in a way they not seen before.

Such is the power of public art.

One of the popular video genres these days is behind-the-scenes. Seeing what goes on, off-camera. The sneak peek at how the magic happens.

I like seeing how things get done, or made.  Especially in complex urban environments. The stuff that is hidden in plain sight. What you notice if you slow down enough.

Lower Wacker Drive is being repaved.  Not exactly carmageddon – but an iconic roadway (think Batman chase scenes) that is getting a new surface. And to do that properly the upper roadway had to be peeled back, showing places where the sun don’t usually shine.

License to peek into someplace people don’t ordinarily look is one of reasons people used to go into Journalism. That is – Journalism, when it was practiced with actual reporters, and editors and fact checkers and researchers  and photographers – instead of staffs consisting entirely of rewrite interns and content optimizing robots.

So, given my curiosity, Journalism was a good fit for me as career.

I am sure it is no surprise to you, as you read your shrinking daily newspaper or watch your local TV newscast, that Journalism is fast disappearing, replaced by the cult of perpetual celebrity voyeurism, pseudo-reality based-re-enactments, and dime store politicians and their platitudes.

Leaving us on the banks of the stream where  newer, louder, bigger, and more outrageous flow.

As viewsers, we must create our own filters and find our own context, as there are fewer navigational beacons, long since replaced by thousands of points of light shining in our eyes.

Otherwise we are fated to be transfixed by the stream – rendered blinded, or numb – constantly thirsting for more, more, more.

Newer, louder, bigger, more outrageous.

Only able to notice things such as massive Marilyn on Michigan Avenue.

I’ll try to remember to visit her in February and see if she needs a cup of coffee.


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