If you’re anything like us, you’ve been on Zoom a whole lot these past few weeks.
A work meeting? Zoom. A family gathering? Zoom. A virtual happy hour with pals? Zoom. A therapist session? Zoom.
The idea behind video communication is that if you can’t be with others in person, at least seeing their faces will make you feel less alone. In practice, though, a Zoom meeting is often alienating and unsettling and just reminds us all that we can’t see be around other humans because we're all potentially poisonous lung-infectors. Way to fuck things up again, technology!
That’s where Zoom backgrounds come in. You can superimpose yourself over a selected photo so you look like you’re somewhere you’d rather be, like the beach, maybe, or out in the country.
The folks over at First Ave had a really good idea: Why not provide Zoom backgrounds of their venues, to remind us all of happier times? With these gorgeous photos, you can take your next work conference call in the Mainroom, or hang virtually with your friends outside the Turf Club.
We at City Pages had our own really good idea: Why not steal First Ave’s idea? After all, we’re also a
beloved still-existing local institution. No, we don’t work in cool clubs that people tearfully wish they could visit again. But “Zoom backgrounds” is really just a fancy way of saying “photos,” and we do have those.
And so, we scoured our archives to curate “the virtual City Pages experience” for you, our readers. Here are seven Zoom background photos that say, “I’m not trapped in this video conference with you—you’re trapped in here with me.”
Lizzo’s inflatable ass
Is there anyone who doesn’t love Lizzo? There’s only one way to find out: Select this image of the giant inflatable ass (designed by Burnsville-based Landmark Creations) that shared the stage with her at the 2019 VMAs as your Zoom background. “B-b-b-ut, this is not acceptable in the workplace!” your stodgy boss will complain. “No ‘butts’ about it,” you’ll respond, and as your co-workers laugh uproariously in appreciation of how cool you are, your boss will shrink away in defeat. You’re the boss now.
This diseased deer
Why would anyone want to stare at fibroma-afflicted wildlife for the length of a video conference? Hey, don’t ask me, bud. But this was City Pages’ most-read story of 2019, so clearly it is a sight many have chosen to behold. Every day I’d go into work and ask, “Are people still looking at the damn deer?” And you know what? People were still looking at the damn deer!
This Dan Savage column
Ooo-eee, some readers sure took offense to this headline—like it was our fault this guy fucks bad. One woman even left a voice mail where she said the word “fuck” repeatedly, something none of us at City Pages would ever do. It’s one thing to print that language, but to say it out loud?!?
I know what you’re thinking: “This can’t possibly be safe for work.” But! We were paid to choose the photo and write the headline for this story. A task you get paid to do is a job. And a job takes place at work. Therefore! This is a work-appropriate image.
This array of creepily lounging Macy’s mannequins
Tired of having to answer the question “How are you holding up?” on every Zoom call? Well, no one will bother asking when they see you’ve chosen this photo, taken during the last days of the downtown Macy’s. They’ll know how you’re holding up all right.
This penis-shaped weather pattern
Remember when the worst we had to fear from going outside was snow? Think back fondly on those days with this notably phallic image of a winter storm. If anyone objects, you can tell them to get their mind out of the gutter and claim you’re merely an aficionado of historical TV weather maps. (Sample phrasing: “Get your mind out of the gutter! I am merely an aficionado of historical TV weather maps!”)
This horrifically glistening brain-shaped tuna creature
Last year, the CP staff dug up some of the worst-sounding old-time recipes, followed their instructions, and forced each other to eat the results. Among the most disturbing in appearance was this Glace Fish Mold, a gelatinous tuna sculpture that looks like a brain with eyes. Do you miss gathering at friends’ homes for parties? Maybe this photo will help you miss that a little less.
This skeleton playing basketball
We have been looking for an excuse to use this stock image in a story for over a year. Strangely, the time has never been right. Maybe the time still isn’t right. But if your friends don’t like the skeleton, they’re not really your friends. The skeleton is your friend now. All you need is the skeleton. And all he needs is the basketball.