First Abrams, then Michaels, Now the "Bureaucrat" | Bleader

First Abrams, then Michaels, Now the "Bureaucrat"

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An icon of the Sam Zell era was rolled away from the Nathan Hale lobby of Tribune Tower Tuesday.

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This piece of art, Bureaucratic Shuffle, by sculptor Michael Speaker, appeared in the lobby soon after Sam Zell took over the Tribune Company. "It was hideous," says one Tribune writer, though of course that's in the eye of the beholder. "People didn't know what it meant." Eventually one of the suits — though under Zell maybe we should say one of the denims — stepped forward and explained that this was what Sam didn't want, a company that functions like this.

And neither the New York Times nor anyone else has ever accused Zell's Tribune of sixfour-leggedness.

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Over time, feelings about Bureaucratic Shuffle softened. It became something of a mascot, decked out at different times in both White Sox and Cubs T-shirts. The statue disappeared for a while last February, and rumor had it that malcontents leaving the annual Beck Awards ceremony upstairs had tipped it over. The truth, as I was told it, was far different: a couple of revelers — revelettes — spontaneously led the statue in dance, and when Bureaucratic Shuffle was inspected after the ball was over, cracks in the pedestal were detected that required repairs.

Now it's gone again. A spokesman says the Tribune Company has no comment.

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