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Cow Carnage in Stockyard Central


September 03, 2000
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Cow Carnage in Stockyard Central

By Gina Gallo

In case you didn’t know, local legend has long blamed a cow – Mrs. O’Leary’s prized bovine, in fact – for starting the Great Chicago Fire in the 1800’s. Supposedly, the poor old thing was a tad ‘under the influence’ (O’Leary, not the cow, although who can say for sure since they weren’t doing barnyard blood alcohol levels at that time) and took a lantern into the barn for some midnight milking, at which time the cow did a Rockettes’ number on the lantern, sent it flying (and flaming) and it was a hot time in the ol’ town after that.

Okay, enough city history. Now, in commemoration of that history, as well as an oblique nod to our long defunct stockyards, the City Council for Tourism and the Arts, in a unique bid for cultural attention, decided it would be fun to have a cow art exhibit…we’re taking LIFE sized, fiberglass cows in rainbow colors and costumes- all over the downtown area. 500 of these babies- purple, orange, pink, fuchsia, you name it- grazing along the lakefront, on Michigan Avenue, along State Street, next to the Picasso in Daley Plaza – everywhere!

And, because we’re talking the downtown area, these are NOT naked cows. Every one has a different and distinctive costume. One red cow has a Minnie Pearl hat, complete with price tag and high heeled sneakers; another is completely encrusted in crystals, has a feather boa and a lorgnette, one is hip-hop chic in baggy shorts, backwards baseball cap and shades, and so on. The point of this is to amuse the tourists and make the city more of a ‘summer fun’ place. Although cow pies have been deleted from the exhibit, just in case there’s still some casualties from the sixties wandering about who think they’ve hallucinated their way into Jerry Garcia’s pasture.

Being the investigative officer that I am, I felt it was my duty to do a closer inspection of said cows, and gather photographic evidence of the bovines on display. Be assured that more cow pix will follow at a later date. But for now, trust me when I tell you that, having seen these cows, I can attest to their cuteness. Their ‘fun-ness’. Their absolute ability to make residual children of Woodstock swear off the orange acid forever.

Kinda cool to cruise down the high-end parts of downtown and see rainbow cows in athletic apparel, evening gowns and surgical scrubs (yeah, that’s right. They E.R. here, y’know!)

But this is Chicago, after all- the place where they had to practically declare Marshall Law every time we won an NBA championship…which might give you a clue that the natives have a somewhat WARPED sense of fun…and anything of a pleasant or decorative nature isn’t going to last for long.

So…last night the police stopped a car load of teens when they noticed their vehicle weaving along Congress Parkway…and funny thing was – there was a bright red cow’s head on the dash. Now, if Jordan hadn’t retired, this would be business as usual- we were ALL rabid Bulls’ fans during the Dynasty days, but now that the man’s retired, just about everyone’s forgotten the Bulls. So the cops rightly figured it wasn’t a display of home team pride.

And when they noticed the SECOND cow’s head – this one gold with rhinestone ears – in the back window, they figured something was rotten in the pasture. Turns out these kids decided it would be fun to take a hacksaw and do the cow cruise, decapitating as many as the could. No specific reason…just because. They got 15 cows before the police got them.

The headless bovines have been returned to the various artists for repairs and the police had had to step up ‘cow patrols’ to assure peach in the city pasture.

You can reach Gina Gallo at swornsecrets@hotmail.com




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