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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, July 16

Gapers Block

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ASV / April 22, 2005 11:00 AM

Initially, it irritated me that it jammed up that intersection and made me late to a doctor's appointment. Then I was a little amused at the throngs of people and thought it was pretty lucky that most images of "Mary" imitate popular artistic representations of her. I mean - how else would we know it was a miracle and not the natural flow of water over concrete?

Now, I'm mostly sad. I think it's very sad that there is so little hope and wonder in people's lives that they have to turn to a stain on the wall of an underpass for it.

Michael / April 22, 2005 11:00 AM

Heeeeeere we go again...

Benjy / April 22, 2005 11:01 AM

That's the exit where I get on/off the highway every day so it's been a bit of a pain.

I'm tempted to buy a powerwasher...

Joseph J. Finn / April 22, 2005 11:10 AM

That these are the same people who fail basic color and pattern recognition tests at the eye doctor.

Leah / April 22, 2005 11:17 AM

I did a drive by with another jewish friend on Monday night. We'd made plans to go to a movie and he couldn't get there in time because of the traffic jam of people trying to get to it.

I couldn't believe how many people were there late on a Monday night and how many people continue to go.

To each his own, to me it isn't, but who am I to say this isn't a miracle.

Tim / April 22, 2005 11:24 AM

I have always lived by the motto (one of many):

never argue about an opinion.

It can't ends well, and someone usually ends up mad.

Aliota / April 22, 2005 11:29 AM

Is it going to bail out the CTA? NO
Is it going to bail out the public schools? NO
Is it going to bail out Cook County? NO
Is it going to bail out the Cubs? NO

What good is it? We need some real salvation here, people.....

Ron / April 22, 2005 12:14 PM

Well if you'd like one in your neighborhood, you can always go bid on

Or maybe you've got some health problems and need a

healing camera


Opinionated / April 22, 2005 12:18 PM

Tim, I must say, that is the most naive "motto" I have ever heard. You must be loads of fun at parties.

Oh, and Underpass Mary? Nice little visual coinkydink, but miracle? Like Aliota said... no salvation, no miracle.

waleeta / April 22, 2005 12:36 PM

People see what they want to see.
People need to see what they need to see. Doesn't matter if it's a miracle or not.

katie / April 22, 2005 12:37 PM

this reminds me of that simpsons episode where they find that angel skeleton in the ground and all of springfield thinks the world is going to end, but it turns out to just be a promotional campaign for a new shopping mall.

Jeff / April 22, 2005 12:59 PM

It's called "pareidolia" and it's defined as "a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct."

I refer you to Robert T. Carroll, author of the fine fine book "The Skeptic's Dictionary." You can view his online entry on this phenomenon here:

flobear / April 22, 2005 1:02 PM

I think it's just as amazing as the Blessed Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

I still am impressed that people are going there, placing candles, and flowers, etc for salt. If I look hard enough, I'm sure I can find areas all over the city that look like religious icons, does that mean that they are? Seriously, the fullerton underpass? I try to turn onto Fullerton as quickly as possible when getting off at that stop because there is always someone asking for money there. Now tons of people will be there, making the left turn even hard to make because they are all standing around. Seriously people, find a better place to look...again, ebay offers many religious figures that you can spend your money on...or make your own grilled cheese!

Carrie / April 22, 2005 1:54 PM

I think people are getting carried away with seeing Jesus and Mary every where. Then they want to sell it and make a fortune on e-bay. Do they really think Jesus or Mary appeared to them so they could be sold?

I'm trying not to be a jerk about it, but really every week Jesus and Mary are appearing somewhere else.

I really like how the woman who found this one immediately prayed to it. What'd she pray for? To do good on her tests or something like that. I found that to be funny.

To each their own (thoughts/sights) I guess

Erica / April 22, 2005 1:57 PM

The VIRGIN Mary appears in MY neighborhood? Very curious. Is someone trying to tell me something?

Cinnamon / April 22, 2005 2:18 PM

I think her last name is Jane, cause seems like some folks is smoking something.

robin.. / April 22, 2005 2:23 PM

umn, i kinda thought it looked more like a georgia o'keefe painting.

if you catch my drift.

Matt / April 22, 2005 2:23 PM

Seriously, if the figure of Mary actually showed up, do you think it would be under the overpass of a bridge?!?!

I could think of a million better places.
I mean come on, why not...oh, I don't know, umm,
1. the Hancock building
2. sears tower
3. wrigley field (god knows we need it now)
4. maybe...A CHURCH, mhmm, you ever think about that people.

It is amazing how far people will go to actually try and convince themselves that something is really in front of their eyes when it a figment of their imagination. In fact, while I am thinking about, the melted candy bar that I am eating right now came out shaped like a crucifix with jesus crying on it. WOW!! I found a miracle image, by just imagining it really is there. YEAH!! I won the lottery, YEAHH!!!

Just two additional thoughts:

The other day, on the news, did anyone mind to notice that when they interviewed people about the "mysterious" figure, the only people they interviewed, both on CNN and the Early Show, was Hispanic and Latino people?

I am not trying to be racist at all but is it funny to anyone else that the majority of the people who find the image is "there" are all of the stereotypical american, poorer and less educated people? Or at least that is the concensus that the media wants people to see.

Also, did anyone notice that somehow the image "appeared" around the same time that the pope was elected? Coincidence??

It is just interesting and sad to me.

Carlos / April 22, 2005 2:24 PM

I think people now a days are extremely cynical so even if "underpass mary" were to speak to them, they still wouldn't believe.

I do see the image of the virgin mary, but do I believe it a miracle? No I don't, but if others do, who am I to judge?

Carlos / April 22, 2005 2:29 PM

What's the issue with where this appeared?

So if this would of appeared at the Hancock building you would all be a believers?

Thurston / April 22, 2005 2:32 PM

...but if others do, who am i to judge?

My name is Thurston, and I am here to judge. If you think the salt stain Virgin Mary is a mircale, than you are an idiot.

Leah / April 22, 2005 2:32 PM


From the news I heard about the Pope's election, over half of the catholics live in Central and Latin America. It is no coincidence that the faithful in Chicago who are interviewed are latino or hispanic.

I also think the appearance on the day of the conclave makes it interesting... It isn't like opus dei put it there, coincidence, synchronicity, people being focused on their faith...


Matt / April 22, 2005 2:41 PM

like i said, I am not trying to make a stereotype. I am just talking about what I saw on teh news.

Tom / April 22, 2005 2:41 PM

Amen, Thurston.

I love this site, but I am continually amazed by how open-mindedness (clearly a virtue) mutates into tolerance for feeblemindedness in much of its audience.

It is sad that these people have nothing better to do with their time than to worship a salt stain.

Andrew / April 22, 2005 2:48 PM

Most of the photos I've seen aren't doing the "likeness" any justice -- the image is best viewed from an angle, whereas most of the shots in the media are head-on.

This madness may end pretty soon -- the rain we're getting will probably change the pattern of the salt stain and Mary will disappear.

matt / April 22, 2005 2:51 PM

I am also not trying to pass judgement on people who believe in this; I mean look at all the people who ACTUALLY believe that the cubs will have a winning season, LOL!! All I am saying, I wish people would really step back and look at the funny situations of life and see how this could be construed as something totally ridiculous. I mean come on, a fish stick with a face on it? Grilled cheese where BURN marks look like something, the bun with Mother Teresa's face on it?!?! It all is pretty funny to me, that is all I am saying. It is along the same lines as, drinking a diet coke (for the calorie content) with a Super Size meal at Mcdonalds. There are generally people who like the taste of Diet Coke over reg., but if they drink it because it is going to be less calories, it doesn't make much sense after eating a total of like 3x the amount of your caloric intake in one sitting. It is kind of ironic. That is all I am saying, find the humor in life.

matt / April 22, 2005 2:54 PM

and I promise that I am making fun of MYSELF as well. I am one of those people who actually thinks the cubs will go.

Carlos / April 22, 2005 2:58 PM

Amen, Thurston.

I love this site, but I am continually amazed by how open-mindedness (clearly a virtue) mutates into tolerance for feeblemindedness in much of its audience.

It is sad that these people have nothing better to do with their time than to worship a salt stain.

So when does open-mindedness cross the line into "tolerance for feeblemindedness"?

Honestly, I think quite a bit of what I've read here in this thread is anything but open-mindedness.

Erica / April 22, 2005 3:22 PM

Robin -- yeah, my dirty mind thought the same thing, but I didn't know of a clever way of saying it looks like a labia. Feminists, let's reclaim this image as our own! Screw Mary!

Veronica / April 22, 2005 3:27 PM

I don't think it's worshipping a salt stain, as such. Most of it is probably just people wanting to see it for themselves, to see if it really looks like the Virgin Mary. As for the abundance of Hispanic people, you have to remember that Mexico's religious history (I can't speak for other Hispanic cultures because I don't know) is rich with sightings of the Virgin and holidays that are huge there, like La Virgen de Guadelupe, barely exist in the States.

As for myself, who am I to say that it isn't a holy apparition? But then, who am I, aware of the power of suggestion, to say that it is? If it inspires some people to better themselves, then it's not such a bad thing after all.

Matt / April 22, 2005 3:38 PM

I am not saying that it is a bad thing or that people are dumb for it. I think it is great that people believe in stuff, I just wish it would be a little bit more defined than a stain on the wall or the direction that the wrinkles on a bun may be. It is just kind of humous to me, but I think it is great that people believe in something.

Mike / April 22, 2005 4:06 PM

I am going to scrape a piece of it off the wall into a ziplock bag and sell it on e-bay for not less than $25,000. Someone could use the "dust" I scrape off the image to do a sign of the cross on their forehead. If a grilled cheese goes for that why not this.


Andrew / April 22, 2005 4:25 PM

Mike, that's a dumb idea. You'd be ruining the thing that you're trying to make money off of, thereby diminishing its value and pissing off a whole lot of people.

waleeta / April 22, 2005 4:28 PM

Here's the score for sightings so far:

Jesus - 9,816
Mary - 7,201
Buddha - 0

I'm hoping Buddha can make a huge comeback within the next millenia or so.

Leelah / April 22, 2005 4:34 PM

Some people see images in the clouds. Some people like bad art. I don't think it makes them feeble minded.

All the same, I'll be avoiding that underpass, the same way I avoid looking at bad art. It just doesn't interest me.

Anne / April 22, 2005 6:00 PM

It is sad that these people have nothing better to do with their time than to worship a salt stain.

Let's see . . . Someone looks at something ordinary, even ugly, and manages to find something in it that's beautiful and inspirational to them.

That doesn't sound like a waste of time to me. Nor does it sound pathetic.

Brandy / April 22, 2005 9:12 PM

(with Robin and Erica)
Uh, I think it looked like ladies gentalia in the news photos. But I also thought the uber-evil flaming eye thing in Lord of the Rings was a big ol' yoni.

Tim / April 23, 2005 7:06 AM

With regard to "opinionated", As I am sure you know, Opinions are like...well, like you. Arguing an opinion is stupid. You are not going to change someones mind with your opinion because it is simply that, an opinion, yours, not theirs. Maybe you and your fun friends should try to argue with facts and real imformation at your next "party". Oh, wait that wouldn't be nearly as much fun as your baseless opinions when you can talk in circles.

d4ve / April 24, 2005 1:00 PM

Brandy (R&E),
i was thinking the same thing. I was all like "da-amn Mary!". I think i'm a believer!

eep / April 24, 2005 2:42 PM

All I know is, I saw this on the news and the anchor asked "Is Mary here to give us a message?" And they cut back to a shot of the stain, and next to it in giant letters was graffiti reading "GO CUBS!" That made me laugh and laugh and laugh.

sousboy / April 24, 2005 3:28 PM

Well, this may be a little late but the fact is that the salt stain on a Kennedy underpass is nothing more than a new mass hysteria that is being propagated by a media that is so far gone from the reality of the moment, that to even give them a single moment of thought if to succumb to a type of mind control involving religoin that numbs one to life.

Jay / April 24, 2005 5:40 PM

Our ability to see an apparition of a mythological creature in a stain on a wall is exactly what sets us apart from every other species on the planet--by making us inferior to them all.

pj chmiel / April 24, 2005 6:00 PM

A salty image of a vagina.

Mister C / April 24, 2005 6:43 PM

Seeing a face or a figure or whatever in a cloud or a salt stain or a soiled sheet or whatever doesn't make you feebleminded, it's a natural human cognitive reaction (paging Doctor Rorschach, stat!). What makes you feebleminded is when, instead of remarking upon how cool it is that random things can often appear to look like other things (Oh, what a strange and mysterious organ the human mind is that we barely understand!), you worship it as a religious miracle and pray to it and leave flowers and teddy bears and candles around it.

All this "Who am I to judge?" and "They aren't hurting anybody with their silly little superstitions," talk is disingenuous (because you really believe that they are fools, but don't want to seem mean or intolerant by saying so) and ultimately dangerous, because the type of people who tend to get caught up in this sort of hysteria (feeble-minded people of all races and backgrounds) are also often the same ones who end up burning witches or heretics or intellectuals or whoever happens to be the enemy of the moment. I know lots of gay folks who think this is a harmless hoot and howled at the news footage. I say, "Look at the faces of those people who would gladly kill you in the name of the same Virgin."

Don't think for a moment that I'm disrepecting rational religious and spiritual beliefs (it's not an oxymoron) or genuine mystical experience (also not an OXM), but salt stains under an overpass ain't that.

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