• ZOL87@FLICKR.COM

If you are a connoisseur of pretentious videos about nonexistent buildings, I recommend watching the short movie on the website for the now-doomed Chicago Spire. In slow-motion, the clip depicts the tallest building that never was nor, apparently, ever will be, shining and gleaming like the beacon of hope it would have become. As Disney-style background music swells, wispy clouds drift past and night descends, turning architect Santiago Calatrava’s skyscraper into a skyline-dominating sparkle stick. Make sure to watch the vid—I’m calling it “Potemkin Tower”— in full-screen mode, to maximize the experience.

Though tacky and dumb, the video’s kind of the perfect metaphor for what the American economy is all about these days: the branding and promoting of things that don’t actually exist, at least not in the physical world.