The cows were dumb.

Today is the final day for the cows.

For the benefit of those who didn’t visit Chicago this summer:


I posted:

I’d like to hear any arguments supporting the artistic value of this display. Is anyone sad to see them go?

Yes. I thought they were cute and interesting and fun. Great art? likely not. Funny? Yes. Amusing? Yes. Attracting people to downtown areas? Yes.

During the summer, we must have made five or six driving tours to show off the cows to various visitors. Everyone had the same reaction – cute, droll, amusing, interesting, different. In a world where increasingly every street corner looks like every other street corner, where the same stores and shops and brand names are everywhere, the cows were unique – both as a phenomenon, and each cow as an inidividual work of art/craft.

So what’s not to like?

I liked the cows. I am an artist, and it is my considered opinion that some of them were very well done. Some were not so well done, but a many were painted by kids, so I am inclined to be lenient. Art doesn’t have to be solemn and serious and beautiful; it can be whimsical too.

It certainly succeeded in its stated purpose of getting tourists in; I admit I’m not always thrilled to be dodging tourists taking pictures of cows all the time. However, if it wasn’t cows they’d be taking pictures of something else, and the tourism helps local businesses. I don’t think Chicago’s image is so fragile that a few silly cows will ruin its dignity.

“Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.”

  • Bertrand Russell

Hey! Don’t you be dissing thecowgodmoo!

On a related note, here in Cincinnati, there is talk of duplicating the cow thing, except we’d use pigs.

I was in Chicago this past summer and I, too, liked the cows. They added a much-needed sense of whimsy. I second what CX said, American cities are getting too identical, virtually clones of each other at street level. The only way to tell one city from another is by the skyline, but a skyline is visible only from a distance.

Hollywood knows this. Most films and TV series set in Manhattan or Chicago are actually filmed in Downtown L.A. Add a few fake subway entrances and voila, NYC! Add a fake elevated train and you got Chicago. And most people never notice the difference.

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

It’s true the cows were good for a chuckle. But frankly, I’m happy they’re gone. They just didn’t seem real (if you know what I mean. Of course they weren’t real cows).

I know Chicago has a proud history as the hub of the nation’s cattle trade years ago, but that’s not what Chicago is about these days. And the cows did little to evoke history.

When I saw the cows, I had the same emotional reaction that I have when I see a new Gap or Starbucks opening in an empty space formerly occupied by a neighborhood merchant. Sure, it’s nice and all, but why do we need these things everywhere? They’re just a little too contrived.

I guess in reality, I was more ambivalent about the cows than anything else. I think the display would have been much more interesting if it had been based on figures of people instead of cows.

Tem, you musta missed the one in front of the Chicago Historical Society that was kicking over a lantern.

IMHO, it was the sheer incongruity of cows that made the whole things absurdist and droll. (If cows are in-congruous, are they mostly democrats or republicans?)

I thought the cows were charming and whimsical (I’m one of the tourists that they were there to attract, although I didn’t come to see them).

Another aspect is that they showed that Chicago doesn’t take itself too seriously. I mean, can you imagine cows in NYC? No! NYC is the center of the universe, damnit, and they don’t do silly things like cows. That is just silly. But Chicago can relax and have cows all over downtown and laugh about it.

That’s how I saw it, anyway.

Never attribute to malice anything that can be attributed to stupidity.
– Unknown

Geez, I don’t get out of MPSIMS for a week, and people start talking shit behind my back… I thought it was a good idea at first, then I realized something… these cows are the shittiest representations of bovines ever made in the name of art! I didn’t even bother goin to see em, just so I wouldn’t be even more depressed at feeble attempts to praise me (or chicago, whichever way you want to interpret it)

and its good to know I’ve got some people on my back (thanks PunditLisa)

also- Are they really thinking about doing the pig thing in Cincy? I thought cincy was dirty enough! Ugh… that’s one more reason I need to move back home…

“I’m not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information.”-- Calvin and Hobbes
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I think they are silly, and had no interest in them, but my disdain for them was tongue-in-cheek. I am all for anything that brings in tourists, and as long as they don’t take themselves too seriously, its cool by me. Money is money, and the cows while frequently tacky and uncreative, weren’t too much of a headache. The several that were inspired balance things out. Unfourtunately I think the idea was repeated by Chicago (not an original), they repeated to the n[sup]th[/sup] degree a European cities idea. I think it may have been Zurich, but I’m not sure.


Yes, it was Zurich. A friend of ours from Zurich was in Chicago at the same time we were, and he was able to confirm this. No word on how Chicago’s cows compared to Zurich’s, though.

Never attribute to malice anything that can be attributed to stupidity.
– Unknown

Yes, cowgodmoo, there is truly talk of decorating my fair city with PIGS. As a Cincinnatian, I am (sob) SO proud!