FEDERAL PLAZA — Chicagoans reacted with shock and concern after noting that Alexander Calder’s Flamingo sculpture had paled from its usual vibrant red due to a lowered intake of carotenoids.
“She hadn’t been eating as much as usual, but I thought it was just nerves,” said plaza caretaker Emmanuel Weat, 54. “The autumnal equinox always gets the statues jittery. Something about ground feel, I dunno. But recently it’s worse than I’ve ever seen.”
Flamingo, erected in 1974, has long used a filter-feed method to feast on brine shrimp, local algae and passing commuters, using its 50-ton steel frame to trap and eat even the largest insect larvae and cyanobacteria the city has to offer. Lately, though, the sculpture has struggled to hunt down its typical quantity of animal and plant plankton, causing its paint to fade to a fleshy pastel pink.
“I’ve never seen her look this pale,” said Weat, slapping one of the stabile’s enormous iron haunches with a sympathetic hand. “Not even when I told her about my son’s new girlfriend—did I tell you about her? The one with the neck piercing? Oh, she’s bad news. Ever since he met her, all he eats are saltines. ‘I’m increasing my salt stores, Dad,’ he tells me. Saving salt for what? Water’s going to be the hoardable resource in thirty years, not salt.”
Speculation that other downtown sculptures may be stockpiling nutrients in the communal feeding grounds has been fueled by the increasingly plump appearance of several structures. “The Picasso monkey always looks like he’s up to something, but lately it’s on another level,” commented SAIC sophomore Angel Petrov, 19, unprompted. “He looks evil, like he’s eaten way too many beta carotenoids for no reason but to sow discontent. And the Bean is fat with sin as the days grow shorter.”
Despite its pale appearance, Flamingo is a downtown mainstay and has no plans of withering away. “I think she’s just a little lonely, maybe looking for Mr. Right,” added Weat, sprinkling cocktail shrimp on the ground in front of the sculpture to stoke its appetite. “These birds are social creatures, after all.”