Friday, July 15, 2005

The Short Summer of the Jesus Streetlight in Chicago

Recently, Chicago officials decided to turn off the "Jesus’ Streetlight" after crowds fought over first dibs on seeing the Prince of Peace. See:
Now, in the grand tradition of that great Chicago journalist (Mike Ryoko, not Paul Harvey), here is the rest of the story:

Responding to complaints from neighbors over the increase traffic into this East Chicago neighborhood, a Chicago Alderman, flanked some of the city’s finest in blue, held a meeting at the ‘O’Leary’s Memorial Elementary School on Conflagration Way to discuss the situation. Neighbors crowded the gym, joined by preachers, public servants, abiders of the public dole as well as abiders of the public taverns and professors of theology, sociology, psychology and several other unnamed olgies. Tensions ran high as neighbors debated if the shadow from the streetlight was an apparition of the Savior.

"From dusk to dawn, cars keep driving by," said one of the local neighbors who refused to give her name just in case it really was Jesus. "They honk at each other as they strive to get close to the light. Why can’t they park down the street and walk? All the people who saw Jesus back there in the New Testament walked, why can’t these folks. None of us can get any sleep with all that racket out there,"

The Reverend Billy Bighair, pastor of a local Baptist Church, commented that he was shocked with how many people came out to see the light. "I’d always thought when Jesus came back most people would hide and those brave enough to venture toward the Savior would be on their best behavior."

People nodded in agreement as they’ve been numerous fights every since Josie Holk, a well known former boozer, saw Jesus’ shadow while holding onto the utility pole one evening, waiting for the earth to stop spinning. "I’m sure it’s Jesus," Mr. Holk wailed, "he’s the only one who could have saved my beloved Josie from the bottle.

The esteemed Dr. Dogood, professor of religious behavior at the equally esteemed Chicago Divinity School, noted that "Jesus told us that he would divide friends and family. Maybe," he said, "we shouldn’t be too shocked at all this fighting."

Over in the corner by the refreshment table, provided by the Haymarket Square Donuts, representatives of the police shook their heads in disbelief. "If Jesus is just going to start a riot, he can do it on someone else beat," one cop mumbled as he downed his fifth donut. All the officers were in agreement that the Anarchy Bomb Donuts, which are filled with chocolate chips representing shrapnel, are the best.

Finally, after much discussion, Police Chief Angelo Machuca suggested a solution. "Let’s have the Department of Public Works unplug the light".

"Don’t turn off the light," cried a salesman, "I’ve got a trunk full of Jesus trinkets to unload." Joining him in the chorus was a brother and sister team who’d recently begun selling Kool-Aid and hot chocolate to weary pilgrims. But the cries of the local entrepreneurs were quickly drown by the cheers of nearby residents.

The entire event came to an end later that evening after a crew from the Department of Public Works arrived on the scene. After a frantic and unsuccessful search for the plug, Frank Boss, the supervisor, ordered JohnBoy to climb the pole and unscrew the light bulb saying, "there’s more than one way to skin this cat." As JohnBoy took off the globe, he was sprayed with a host of dead moths. "Hey, I think this is the problem," he yelled. "Let me clean this globe out and see what happens." Wiping it with his handkerchief, he replaced the globe and the light shinned brightly. There were no shadows resembling the Messiah. "Here we had all those professors and folks talking Jesus and it turns out that it wasn’t nothing but dead bugs," JohnBoy proudly proclaimed when he got down the ladder. Waving into the cameras from several networks, he yelled, "Hi Mom, see, I ain’t so dumb after all, my eighth grade education did do me some good."
Most of those waiting to see Jesus’ shadow were disappointed to learn that a bunch of moths created Jesus’ facial features. "You can’t convince me that God didn’t have a hand in the placement of those dead bugs," one local priest was heard saying. Another woman who’d driven in from South Barrington expressed her frustration. "I should have known that Jesus wasn’t coming to Chicago," she said. "Why would he want to come down here when he could stay with us white folks out in the suburbs? We got a nice gigantic church there and I’m sure the pastor would let Jesus say a few words. He may even let him give the whole sermon if he could come on a Wednesday night."

However, Josie Holk, the gal who started it all, was elated. "That wasn’t Jesus? You mean I can go back to drinking!" she said as he headed off to the Billy Goat Tavern. "Shucks," Mr. Holk mumbled. "Expect I’ll now have to go back to working overtime to support Josie’s habit.

And now you have the rest of the story….


  1. Mike Royko was one of my favorites. And my sister lives in Chicago. Is this a connection, or what.

    Nice blog. I am going to bookmark and return.

  2. another great story, jeff! with such rampant insanity you should have plenty of material for satire. ...thanks for the encouraging comments on my blog. i hope your mom's tests turn out okay too. my mom is back at home now, a little tired but okay. take care.