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September 23, 2005

Do You Remember When We First Met? Back When We Had The Ability To Hover Several Hundred Feet In Mid-Air?

For the past few weeks, Salon has been intermittently running flash ads for Visa. They begin with the statement, "I wish we could relive the night we first met" and then segue into a picture of a happy couple eating dinner with a night city skyline behind them. If you have flash you can watch the section of it I grabbed, here.

Otherwise, here's a frame from it. The city in the background is clearly Chicago—you can see the Chicago River and Sears Tower:

What I enjoy is that, judging by the view, the happy couple is floating several hundred feet above Lake Michigan. Maybe the Visa ad is targeted at the demographic of "affluent people who are not subject to gravity."

The above claim was, in fact, completely wrong. The view is not looking west down the Chicago River as it enters Lake Michigan, but south down the river from where it forks. Thus, the whole raison d'etre of this post has collapsed.

Still—and I think this is the important part—this would have been a very, very funny thing to point out in an alternate universe. In other words, it is comedy from another dimension. I am disappointed, though not surprised, that normal people have a hard time appreciating it.

Posted at September 23, 2005 09:06 AM | TrackBack

Very funny as always. I highly enjoy the site. However, I must point out a correction, as someone who knows Chicago a bit. As you can just make out on the google map, the Chicago River branches, and its south fork goes straight, just to the west of the Sears Tower. The vantage point of the photo in the ad is looking southward down that south fork of the river. The other buildings in the photo back up this hypothesis. I don't believe there is a restaurant where they are supposedly sitting. In fact, I'm not even sure there's a building at all. They are likely still floating in midair... just not over Lake Michigan.

Posted by: Reid Sherman at September 23, 2005 09:57 AM

Hrm. Perhaps you're right. What other buildings make you think this?

Have you watched the flash file? By the end the people have disappeared and the buildings are easier to see.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 23, 2005 10:08 AM

I'm almost positive happy couple is eating dinner on an overpass. I can't think which one it is right now but I know I've seen that view from my car before.

Posted by: Ed Marshall at September 23, 2005 10:20 AM

Well, after closer examination I'm sure you're right. The first bridge is covered, which it wouldn't be if you were hovering over Lake Michigan. Also, once the people have evaporated, you can see the C&NW building in the lower right hand corner.

Moreover, there is a building from which the skyline picture could plausibly have been taken. Thus, the entire foundation of this post has crumbled.

Score one for the self-correcting blogosphere. God damn it.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 23, 2005 10:27 AM

I've tended not to bother with the use of the 'strike' tag to strike through altered weblog text, leaving the correction obviously visible. When I post an item on my weblog, I often end up reading and rereading it afterward, making many small (or sometimes not so small) modifications to it. I realize that this is dishonest on some level, but for some reason it doesn't really bother me.

If a "sufficient" time has elapsed (where "sufficient" might be 20 minutes or so, maybe), I start to get concerned about people who will have read the original, and then be confused or annoyed by the alteration, so at that point I'll often include a little "Update" warning, in which I describe the changes I'm making, and my reason for doing so. But I still don't bother with the use of 'strike' to leave the original there.

But in this case, I think the convention works very much in your favor. The original post was kind of interesting, but at least for me, the corrected one is much moreso. The post is now "about" you and your reaction to the rapid feedback possible in the realm of weblogging, rather than about the image in the original ad.


Posted by: John Callender at September 23, 2005 11:04 AM

Looks like maybe the photo was taken from the the Apparel Mart or the Riverbend condo highrise.

Posted by: Benjy at September 23, 2005 11:23 AM

I'm disappointed that the map photo doesn't have a funny caption!

Posted by: Aaron at September 23, 2005 12:55 PM


The original post was kind of interesting, but at least for me, the corrected one is much more so

Well, now I can reveal that that of course was the plan from the beginning.


Which buildings are these? Can you see them using the Google satellite pictures?


Are you disappointed in the absence of an actual caption, or pop-up text?

Although I agree, it's a disappointment either way.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 23, 2005 04:44 PM

Now that I've had time to consider this post, and two pitchers of beer, I've decided that it's the sort of post I should expect from someone whose father worked for the geodetic survey. More or less.

It was the funny pop-up caption I missed. That little extra kernel of fun was irresistible! Yum!

Posted by: Aaron at September 23, 2005 09:50 PM


This is a real view. How do I know? I'm having my wedding reception at the Holiday Inn at the Mart this fall -- the Ballroom has this exact view (although a few floors lower). This picture was without a doubt, taken from the top of the Apparel Mart.

Posted by: vouchey at September 24, 2005 06:47 AM


Yes, I've fallen behind on that. We will redouble our efforts.


Oh sure, just because my "assertion" was "completely" "false" to the degree that "everything" I said was "stupid," it's supposed to be noteworthy.

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say your approach is the very essence of fascism.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 24, 2005 09:57 AM

Very Funny Ha ha.
Have you heard the one about five-sided cuboid containing granular silica located at the top of the heliosphere?

That one kills me.

Posted by: Potee Winco - King of the Planet Barstelhac at September 24, 2005 09:58 AM