Roadside Blasphemy: Walgreens Replacing Chicagoland Icon

“The Spindle,” sometimes known as the Car-Kabob, a giant sculpture in the parking lot of the Cermak Plaza strip mall in Berwyn, Illinois, is set to be destroyed as part of a strip mall reconstruction. Instead, drugstore megachain Walgreens, apparently not content with its near-complete saturation of the Chicagoland landscape, will replace the legendary sculpture. Goodbye, quirky art, hello, homogeneity! (You might remember the 1989 sculpture by artist Dustin Shuler from the movie “Wayne’s World.”) But fans of the art and the citizens of the Chicago suburb of Berwyn aren’t sitting still: The website SaveTheSpindle.com has launched, and there’s a resolution in the Illinois House decrying the teardown. Will the sculpture survive? Hit the supporters’ site and show ‘em your love.

Save the Spindle
(Photo: Seth Tisue)

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  1. The Bigger Unit says:

    Enh, not being from Chicago, nor planning to ever go there, I must say that “sculpture” is horrendous. I’d be glad they were tearing it down if it was in my city.

    It looks like a beacon to a massive junkyard. Maybe they should sell it to “Junkyard Wars” (is that even on anymore?)

  2. Melov says:

    @The Nature Boy:
    I’ve come to the conclusion that Chicago is full of cry babies. Instead of the Windy City they should be renamed to the Piss and Moan capital of the world. They complain about the stupidest things, IE This and Marshall Fields name change.

  3. mopar_man says:

    @The Nature Boy: @Melov:

    Walgreen’s is notorious for tearing down landmarks to make way for their stores. The Marshall Fields thing wasn’t just a name change. MF was a tradition. Obviously neither of you went during the winter to see the Christmas display. And it seems now that Macy’s has taken over other Marshall Fields stores, the store sales are declining. Good.

    In the meantime, I’m not from Chicago but I’ve added my name to the mailer list on the “Save the Spindle” site.

  4. XianZhuXuande says:

    Eh, I can see how something like this might grow on a lot of people. And to have it replaced with Walgreens parking lot or more Walgreens store? I’ve got to toss my voice in and say it sucks to see creative landmarks destroyed to pave way for megachain corporate expansion.

  5. Consumer-X says:

    I would boycott Walgreen’s for even thinking about removing this monstrosity.

  6. overbysara says:

    that’s depressing…

  7. Consumer-X says:

    What are the car models that make up the “8 car pile-up”?
    1. VW Beetle (Bug)
    2. BMW?
    3. Ford Escort?
    4. ?
    5. Ford Mustang II
    6. Chevy Monte Carlo?
    7. Ford LTD
    8. Mercury Marquise

  8. bohemian says:

    I would rather see the car kebob than another cast tan concrete Walgreens.

    Things that may just seem old and outdated today might be the historical treasure of future decades.

    Maybe Walgreens should be forced to modify the facade of their stores to fit the nature of the neighborhood.

  9. Tackifier says:

    It may help to know that there already is a Walgreens in the Cermak Plaza, along with several acres of empty parking spaces in the generously large parking lot. While McD’s already has the prime corner spot, the new location will move the Walgreens farther from Harlem Ave (the busier of the two main roads). In fact, the area between the McD’s and the spindle provides more space than the typical Chicagoland Walgreens site.

    @ Melove: Perhaps these outcries are whining, or *gasp* maybe we cherish the things that make us unique. What’s your strip mall got?

  10. Murph1908 says:

    @ Bohemian
    Unlike the Son of Svenghoulie, you apparently have never been to Berwyn.

    I grew up in northern Indiana, and live in Chicago for a few years. I am partial to the landmarks of the city, and don’t want to see them torn down…

    But the spindle is an eyesore.

  11. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @The Nature Boy:
    @Melov:

    It’s not in Chicago, it’s in the boring as hell suburb of Berwyn.
    You would have known this if you had both read & comprehended the first & fifth lines of the post!
    “”The Spindle,” sometimes known as the Car-Kabob, a giant sculpture in the parking lot of the Cermak Plaza strip mall in Berwyn, Illinois”
    Don’t blame us in the city for what goes on in the burbs!

  12. hoo_foot says:

    Maybe I’m asking a stupid question, but can’t they just move the sculpture to another location?

  13. magellan says:

    While I have been “through” Berwyn, most of you apparently haven’t. If you think this is an eyesore, wait to you see the rest of the town.

    And for the record, most people who refer to Chicago as the Windy City don’t live there or even now where that nickname came from. Nor do they know where the term Second City comes from(think Chicago fire). And their opinions of Chicago should be taken with a grain of salt.

    None the less, there are plenty more landmarks that are actually interesting and not an eyesore still. Be gone with the kabob!

  14. eli_b says:

    I can’t believe nobody likes this…I think it’s hilarious.

  15. JosephFinn says:

    As a Chicagoan, no. It’s an eyesore and deserves to go.

  16. mermaidshoes says:

    what about the “pinto pelts” that the same artist apparently also did? [us.st11.yimg.com] are those even still there, and will they go away as well?

    i am filled with questions.

  17. Chicago7 says:

    It’s not only hilarious and fitting for Berwyn, it’s a collection of “classic” cars. Hahahahaha! I remember when they put it, we had a family trip to go see it. Ah, those were the days….

    /I’ve boycotted Walgreen’s for over 4 years now, anyway, due to their advertising one thing and the price on the cash register being another and then making you go back to the photo section (which usually has a long line) to return the item, even though you are standing right at the cash register and telling the cashier the price was wrong.

    I can’t tell you how many times that happened to me.

    So, short of breaking windows, there’s nothing more I can do to Walgreen’s!

  18. ARP says:

    I think its very befitting of Berwyn- classless art. Even though it was built later, it reminds me of 50′s Americana. I think it should stay. I’d rather have bad art than non-art. A bit of history, most people thought the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza was an “eyesore”

  19. SirNuke says:

    Spindle is rather hideous, but I’d much rather have it than a new Walgreens.

  20. JayXJ says:

    I’ve seen this thing a couple of times. Classic Americana. I hope the efforts to save it bear fruit.

  21. Howie999 says:

    Car #4 appears to be a Mercury Capri.

    While I’m not a big fan of this “artwork”, it seems to be part of the neighborhood and deserves to stay, if for no other reason than its part in Wayne’s World!

  22. FLConsumer says:

    Why would anyone want to keep this eyesore? Granted, the Walgreens/CVS stores which show up on every streetcorner aren’t great, but I’d rather have that than this “artwork” which strongly resembles a redneck trailer park.

  23. Maulleigh says:

    There was a similar situation in SF many years back. The DOGGIE DINER down by the Ocean had a huge Dog head that was going to be lost once the restaurant closed. It was a real dilemma because it was a beloved landmark. I guess someone bought it, refurbished it, and moved it across the street cuz it’s still “there” but the diner is no longer.

    I hope maybe something like this happens. Let Walgreen’s move in but move the sculpture? We can put man on the moon: we can move a car-kabob.

  24. Televiper says:

    Well, now that’s a real piece of Americana!! Honestly, Walgreens should put a giant burger on top, with giant fries and a bendy straw leaning against the side.

  25. hyperlexis says:

    Walgreens has a terrible, arrogant history of doing things like this. In Lincolnshire, they bought a corner lot that contained an historic home, and dozens and dozens of full growth, very old trees. (+100 years old). But oh no, that site would be better suited for blacktop and another Gdamned pointless, faux-brick drugstore. They cut down almost every single tree save two. It was a disgusting display and so unnecessary. There is a stupid Walgreens within three miles around almost everywhere in this area. I frankly stopped going to them unless absolutely necessary. Even though they are a Chicago company, they act like bullies, don’t care about the environment or neighbors, and I’d rather get my prescriptions at neighborhood drugstores. Shame on Walgreens — now they want to cut down a sculpture for the sake of another one of their stupid stores. You would think their egghead cookie-cutter architect could have thought of a great way to incorporate the artwork, but hey, like keeping historic, beautiful trees on a site, that would make too much damn sense.

    Oh and MELOV, come up here and say that to our faces, big man. The sculpture might not be the only thing with a spike shoved up its ass.

  26. HilltopMichael says:

    I haven’t been to Cermak Plaza in over ten years, but I do hope that the Spindle can be saved. However, what about all of the other sculptures at that mall? Are they still there? Are they getting removed as well? I remember many wonderful smaller pieces scattered around that mall. While I enjoyed the car kabob and the other pieces there, I would rather see places like that preserved even if I didn’t personally care for the artwork, just to have the diversity. Do you really want to see the same, generic, bland architecture at every mall in the country?

  27. Jiminy Christmas says:

    @hyperlexis: Speaking as an architect, I sincerely doubt the one working on this particular Walgreen’s had much say in the matter. It’s the landowner and the one paying for the construction, i.e.: Walgreen’s, who ultimately decide these things.

  28. welsey says:

    @mopar_man: According to my mother Macy’s is totally shit, as well. Apparently Field’s use to have good stuff and good sales, but Macy’s has neither. And it’s not as if we’re lifelong Chicagoans, my ma is just a serious department store shopper.

    And nasty weird art is totally great. It’s interesting, at least, even if it’s not pretty. Cars stabbed with a giant stick?? Yes.

  29. forever_knight says:

    @Chicago7: it appears your boycott is only making them stronger. perhaps you should do the opposite. who knows, maybe shopping there again would eventually KILL walgreens.

    also, is it just me or is there a stream of poo flowing down that “sculpture”?

  30. @welsey: “Apparently Field’s use to have good stuff and good sales”

    Field’s (on state) was worth a visit just to go to the entire floor (9th? 11th?) of furniture-that-had-been-floor samples that was dirt cheap. It was one of the floors that was mostly offices and maintenance, with the show floor very ill-lit and AWESOME with furniture.

    You could furnish your entire college apartment in gorgeous high-end furniture on a student budget there (well, okay, ALMOST), and some of it was really unusual stuff!

    Sometimes you went and it was like the world’s greatest mismatched fleamarket. Other times it was, like, festival o’ boring dining room tables.

  31. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    So you Chicagoans don’t call Chicago the “Windy City”?? Does that mean you also don’t sit around and shout out “Da Bears” and “Ditka” all the time? My vision is shattered!!!!!

  32. morsteen says:

    Yeah I’m all for keeping unique interesting landmarks around. Everything is so cookie cutter these days, nothing has any character like it used to. It’s f*cking sad. Walgreen’s is just another boring stucco box to sell overpriced crap in. You’d rather have that than a crazy unique car kabob? Well that figures, nowadays people don’t appreciate unique landmarks because they are so conditioned to only expect boring old boxes for buildings.

  33. FLConsumer says:

    @morsteen: I’m all for good, quality architecture and landmarks. The Car-kabob certainly doesn’t fit my definition of it. Just because something’s been around forever doesn’t mean it needs to be saved/preserved. New construction CAN be a huge asset to the community, even when done by a chain.

    For example, here’s a Publix supermarket in Miami,FL:

    They also will re-use existing older buildings when possible:

    I think Walgreens should be APPLAUDED for removing an eyesore, but I say that with the hope that they wouldn’t put something bland in its place. If I was the architect, I probably would incorporate some features of the store to recognize what was there beforehand. Maybe a 1950′s-style diner type building or art deco with automobile accents (a la Chrysler Building, NYC.)

    It should also be noted that a vote was taken in 1990 and a majority of the residents in the area wanted this eyesore torn down.

  34. crankymediaguy says:

    “Nor do they know where the term Second City comes from(think Chicago fire).”

    Bzzzt. WRONG! “Second City” comes from an old article in the New Yorker magazine which compared Chicago unfavorably to New York City. It was adopted in a sort of ironic fashion by the people from the improv theater.

  35. glenndo says:

    I do believe I may be the first Berwynite to comment on the matter. Berwyn is a burb on the southwest side very close to the limits of Chicago (so close that I would consider it one of the more difficult suburbs to find/remember). The Spindle is only one piece of a large collection of “junk” art. As a kid shopping with my parents I used to enjoy all the bizarre displays, including a clock similar to those featured in the movie “Fracture”, a moving rock, the aforementioned pinto pelts, a permanent steel drum set, and of course the towering Spindle. The shopping complex in question has shops on the west side, with small displays at the front of the stores, with the parking lot taking the middle and east portions of the complex. The spindle sits almost smack in the center of the parking lot. I can imagine that the only reason Walgreens would remove it would be to cut the parking lot in half to create their own dedicated lot. This seems totally unnecessary, especially since Walgreens already owns a store there that is part of the overall complex and not of their current store design. Regardless of what people may think of the Spindle it has at least brought some attention to our ill thought of town and for that it should remain. History, be it ugly or beautiful, should be preserved.

  36. glenndo says:

    @FLConsumer:
    As mentioned Wlagreens already owns a store there in the current architecture. They plans are to build a new Walgreens in the middle of the parking lot.

  37. bluemeep says:

    While I think it’s a damn shame to destroy any piece of art…just look at that thing. The cars are getting all weathered and rusted, the glass is gunked up and the pole is stained. How much longer would they even stay up there before disintigrating? You could probably get tetanus just from being in the vicinity of it.

    I’m of the mind that it should probably be taken down. Do it with a bit of reverance, but still do it.

  38. mrmysterious says:

    If this thing is art then wouldn’t any rednecks yard be art?

    Seriously, tear this down.

  39. @Melov: U wanta a breaka you face? Chicago is the best thing between New York and Seattle.

  40. @Greasy Thumb Guzik: Berwyn smells funny too.

  41. ancientsociety says:

    You know what the great thing about art is?

    It’s subjective.

    So while most of you may not LIKE it, that doesn’t mean it’s not art.

    The thing about landmarks (which BTW The Spindle is – check out any Route 66 guide) is that they too are subjective. Just because you may think it’s an eyesore doesn’t mean it’s not a landmark.

    Unfortunately, this attitude is prevalent across the US and has destroyed some really interesting landmarks up and down Route 66. I wonder what some of you might make of Cadillac Ranch in TX or ghost towns like Two Guns, AZ. Eyesores to be destroyed lest they impede “progress” and “good taste” or landmarks to be preserved and cherished for what they are?

    Whether you like it or not, you have to agree that it’s unique. No other city in the world has cars skewered by a giant phallic symbol. Frankly, I’d rather have a historic “eyesore” than another homogenized, faux-facade chain store anyday.

  42. FLConsumer says:

    @ancientsociety: Disagree. Up until the 20th century, there was a general standard as what constituted art. Buying a regular urinal, throwing it on a pedestal and calling it “Fountain” like Marcel Duchamp did is crap. (He should have used regular crappers to prove the point that it’s crap.)

    Marcel’s “Fountain” display:

    Can a urinal be art? Sure it can. Here’s one from the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI:

    Even the actual design of a urinal could be considered “art”:

    BUT, I would credit the art as to the original designers of the fixtures and not some bozo who just runs out & buys one and calls it art. If anything, I’m surprised academia hasn’t caught onto what the “Fountain” work really is — plagarism. Then again, they still think Aaron Copland was a musical genius, but I’ll save that for another rant.

  43. mupethifi says:

    berwyn is on the south side of chicago, a suburb, but still south. Any Chicago can tell you Chicago’s south side is garbage. Night and day to the north side. Money is on the north, lower income south. The spindle represents what is on the south side…crap. The people are mostly nice and very welcoming, but the south is not the same as north.

  44. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:
    And on Monday, the Chicago Dept. Of Consumer Services closed the Macy Food Court in the basement of the State St. store for being filthy with insect & rodent infestation.
    [www.chicagotribune.com],1,6697385.story
    [Reg. required]
    or
    [www.suntimes.com],CST-NWS-macys24.article
    No reg needed

  45. ancientsociety says:

    @mupethifi: Wow, just wow. If you live in Chicago, I can guess you’re either a suburbanite or a Lincoln Park/Gold Coast resident (not much difference there though), considering all your misconceptions.

    First, Berwyn is on the West/SW side. It is a suburb though.

    Second, the South Side isn’t “all garbage”. Hyde Park and Bronzeville are both very nice (and affluent) neighborhoods. It also home to many Chicago landmarks – the U of Chicago, Jackson Park, The Museum Of Science and Industry, etc. The Southside is also where a LOT of Chicago history took place – Union Stockyards, World’s Fair, etc.

    Sure, there are some very bad neighborhoods on the south side. But there are bad hoods on the SW, West, NW, and North sides as well.

    So, yeah, you’re really knowledgeable about Chicago. Moran.

  46. @ancientsociety: Hyde Park does have some crime issues though… And I reject your blanket classification of the burbs as tantamount to the Gold Coast. Oak Park is not the Same as Oak Brook as Naperville is not Downers Grove/Lise. There are huge differences between the burbs. I’d even say theres some error in lumping together Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast.

  47. @stanfrombrooklyn: Don’t worry, we do say “da bears” and “ditka.” (And just last night when I was lecturing on Nazi medical experiments during WWII I said “Nat-zi” just like the Blues Brothers (who hate Illinois Natzis) and we had to stop class so my students could laugh their heads off at my accent.)

    When we’re being cutesy we call it “Chi-town.” “Windy City” is sort of radio broadcaster-y (“Coming to you from right here in the Windy City!”).

  48. Youthier says:

    @ancientsociety: Right you are! Plus, the North Side has the Cubs so, -1.

  49. mupethifi says:

    While you may say the south side houses the museums, grant park and a few nice spots, if u look at over all data between the two sides, housing and development are greater and more expensive than the soutern side. Mayor Daley soends a ton of money dressing up the touristy areas, including the museums and affluent areas such as Hyde park, which still has issues, but it is nice only because of U of C. go beyond the science and industry, it turns bad quickly, while the north side is cleaning up Cabrini and yuppies flock north.

  50. Tackifier says:

    It was not that long ago that the gr

  51. Melov says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: The tribune is a joke, just fyi. Most poorly written news I’ve ever read.

  52. Tackifier says:

    It was not that long ago that North side favorites like Wrigleyville and Bucktown/Wicker Park were dangerous places to live. Humboldt Park (excuse me, Logan Square) is still as dangerous as many places on the southside.

    The same gentrification that happened up north is happening in Bridgeport and areas around UIC. There are also great southside neighborhoods like Beverly you are forgetting. And the funny thing is, those great southside neighborhoods are generally filled with 2nd generation families. Those great neighborhoods on the north are filled with kids from Downers Grove, Des Moines, Milwaukee and Western Michigan and claim “I’m from Chicago!”

    For the record Berwyn is on the West side of Chicago. Its even served by the CTA. Look at a map before you speak of things you don’t know.

  53. mupethifi says:

    what 100 is Berwyn? that’s south side, even if west as well. and west isnt so great as well, west side of chicago?

  54. Chicago7 says:

    @AngrySicilian:
    New York and Seattle? HA! It’s the best thing between New York and TOKYO!!

  55. ancientsociety says:

    @mupethifi: Do you have anything intelligent to add to the commentary?

    You just keep proving how little you know about Chicago and its suburbs whenever you post something new.

    As far as “yuppies flocking north”, they’ve always had enclaves on the near Northside (which was part of the reason I mentioned the LP/GC area).But their also all over Chicago – Wicker Park, South Loop, Andersonville. And the tearing down of Cabrini (which BTW only started ~2 years ago, they were right on the “yuppies’” dorrstep for 30+ years) has just caused all the crime to migrate into other “safer” neighborhoods of the city.

    Besides, if you definition of how “safe” a Chicago neighborhood is by the number of “yuppies”/chads/trixies there are, you are SERIOUSLY out of touch with this city.

  56. Chicago7 says:

    When I name our fair city, I ALWAYS say “Chicaguh. Chicaguh, Illinoise – the Greatest City in the World”

    Just like da Mare.