Pictured: A Skyscraper Beam of Lies

Brace yourself. Today may mark the 80th anniversary of the famous shot of the world's most terrifying lunch, but everything you know about the picture (assuming you think you know something about it) is wrong. This iconic image may not have been a candid shot at all, but instead an elaborate publicity stunt by the Rockefeller Center. Of course. There can be no magically nerve-wracking moment that is just honest without the Rockefellers getting involved. Next thing you know, we'll be hearing that Paul Revere was just trying to sell lanterns ...

2 Comments

Steve Perkins

2

Steve Perkins commented…

This is my all-time favorite photograph. Generally speaking, I'm not much of an art guy, and I don't see any particular "meaning" when I look at most visual artwork. However, the first time I saw a print of this photo, I stopped in my tracks and stared for a solid 20 minutes.

For me, its meaning was obvious. It's about fear, and overcoming fear. A normal person would be terrified in that situation. You can't quite tell what's below them, but even if there was a platform just out of view, it still would have been a heck of a fall. Given the surrounding view, it would have been a terrifying place to sit regardless. Nevertheless, all of these guys look completely calm and casual.

How did that come to be? I'm pretty sure that they WERE terrified on their first day at the job. However, I bet that by putting themselves out there one step and one day at a time, on faith that things would okay... they slowly grew more and more comfortable. Eventually, what seems terrifying becomes natural.

I got a large print of the photograph framed... and look at it all the time when I start a new job, or when my wife became pregnant, or when anything else is coming at me that makes me feel scared or shaky. It's a reminder that helps me keep faith that what's scary today will seen normal soon enough. It's one of the few pieces of visual art that's really meant something and had an impact on my life.

Anyway, I think the headline here is more than a bit silly. "Beam of Lies"? Apparently the "controversy" is whether the men posed for this photo or whether it was a candid shot. I don't see that it makes much difference either way, as they still went out on the beam all the same.

Ryan Thompson

66

Ryan Thompson commented…

"can't quite bring myself to do it"
...except that you just did

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