Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kudzu Jesus

If you recall from my last post, I’m from Philadelphia. I didn’t learn of kudzu, a tenacious climbing vine, until I had friends living in Asheville, North Carolina, where the stuff runs roughshod. It should come as no surprise then that a kudzu Jesus has been discovered in Raleigh, North Carolina, visible from the Boylan Avenue Bridge, close to train tracks.

What’s really interesting about this story is how it originated on the blog Goodnight, Raleigh! and then became a news item, thanks to the North Raleigh News.

Goodnight, Raleigh! is “a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night.” John Morris, one of the blog’s regular contributors, was out on the bridge one night talking trains with friends when a pub patron ambled by and pointed out how the kudzu running along wires takes on the appearance of outstretched arms, a la the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

Morris writes of the form that it is “merely a coincidental growth formation on power lines, but can still be an interesting topic of conversation.”

One man’s coincidence is another man’s human interest story, however. Writing for the North Raleigh News, Josh Shaffer came at the overgrowth from a slightly different angle: “He snakes up a utility pole, forming a majestic trunk and a head seemingly bowed in prayer or agony. A pair of arms appears to spread along the wires in each direction, inviting the world into a leafy embrace.” Shaffer even discussed the topic with Pete Surrette, who happened to walk “past with ketchup-stained pants and a Ziploc bag full of toiletries.” Says Surrette: "He's got the outstretched arms and everything. I walk these tracks and never noticed it. It was just a bush to me."

Isn’t that what Moses said?

Here’s more on Surrette as reported by Shaffer:

As he muses on its resemblance to the Lamb of God, Surrette mentions that he spent nine years behind bars for attacking a man with a garden rake. If the Kudzu Jesus turned around, he could see the window of the very cell in Central Prison where Surrette served his sentence.

But the mysterious bush keeps its gaze fixed straight ahead, vine-made eyes on the path where Surrette is strolling away, offering shelter from a hard world.

If only that rake were still around, I bet Surrette could get himself a landscaping gig down there by the tracks.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What's In Your Heart?

Philadelphia – place of my birth, the hometown, the punch line for many jokes (this Michael Vick development won't help) and a city I wish I knew better. Sure, I can navigate the streets no problem – William Penn’s street grids help – but I have no idea what’s going on along those streets. My periodic visits these days make clear that there is plenty going on, but I’m not the one to tout these changes.

But if there is a subject that I can claim authority and expertise it’s the visual manifestations of religious and secular icons. So let's set our sights on the greater Philadelphia region, Levittown to be exact – a place with some history of its own. According to this Fox 29 report, a woman discovered everybody’s favorite longhaired spokesman for peace and love in this MRI. The oft-recognized facial form can be seen in the area of her heart.

Even by Madonna of the Toast standards the information provided by the media regarding this latest Jesus appearance is sketchy at best. But that’s how the news functions these days I suppose: find the story and worry about facts never. If some unnamed person said it happen, than it did.

This item has been picked up by Fox News affiliates across the country. I guess Jesus in the heart is a nice break from false reports of “death panels.”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Toliet Seat Bumper Sticker

Bumper stickers: the excuse to espouse your beliefs and let others know what you think without ever having to engage in a dialogue. People brag about their kids, claim something or someplace as the best and get political, philosophical and just plain silly.

Of course, most people place these adhesive announcements on their cars but Las Vegas resident Magdalena Nelson loves her hometown so much that she’s affixed an “I Love [expressed with a heart] Las Vegas” sticker on her toilet seat. And, according to this KTNV report, the face of Jesus has appeared in that red heart of love. Nelson’s boyfriend sees the face too, and it’s given the couple “a positive feeling after they almost lost their home to foreclosure.”

If you’re going to be in Vegas and want to take a gander at this bumper sticker, or just need to use the bathroom, you can email Nelson to arrange a visit.