Bean Counting

When in Rome, one might say, but this is Chicago.

Numbers can be hard. Dyscalculia is real, folks! And using Roman numerals can be even trickier. However, when one (or seven, depending on how you’re counting) is attempting to leave one’s proverbial, nay, literal, mark on an internationally-recognized icon, one may wish to double-check one’s work.

Last night, a group of seven adults were arrested after being caught spray-painting “35th Crew” and various tags on Chicago’s famous “Bean” sculpture in Grant Park. White spray paint also defaced the Cancer Survivors’ Garden in nearby Maggie Daley Park a bit further south. 

The taggers seem to be under the impression that the Roman numerals III and V, set next to each other, indicate 35. Alas, they are incorrect! While one might quibble that the two sets of numbers are not directly connected, and also that the arrangement of numbers is incorrect anyway, it really, really looks like they get…


According to the bare-bones basics of how Roman numerals are ordered, where lower numbers set before higher numbers are subtracted from the higher number, IIIV would be equal to two.

“Well, I can’t figure out just TWO!” – Mr. Turkentine

By the time of this morning’s commute the Bean was already being scrubbed, and the Chicago Park District has since told multiple news outlets that the walls and benches in the Cancer Survivors’ Garden have been cleaned as well.

Local news station WGN made a valiant attempt to blur, block, or otherwise obscure the graffiti in its broadcast coverage, possibly to avoid spreading either its message or the taggers’ notoriety. The vandals themselves also had their faces blurred as they were arrested, and they hurled insults and profanities at television crews filming as they were escorted away. 

I mean, I’d be pretty ticked off when I realized my compatriots misinterpreted our organization’s name in another language, too.


Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and sticky public transit and is only on her second smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around. If external links are your thing, here are links to Twitter and Instagram, and you can support her ongoing weirdness by buying her a coffee or six.

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