Jesus in Berkeley

by Steed Dropout
Nov. 2, 2013
Berkeley, Ca


At Elmwood-Halloween, I saw a costumed Jesus wearing a rag-mop.

Earlier, I had seen a more credible Jesus outside the Caffe Mediterraneum. It was Halloween. Then he was gone, like the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

I asked Julia Vinograd, Berkeley’s poet laureate, about my Jesus sighting.

She shrugged her shoulders saying, so what? “I’ve seen a lot of them,” she said.

I wondered if she weren’t referencing your typical 60s hippy.

Street kids told me Jesus was in the (People’s) park. One said, “the quest for Jesus is eternal.”

“He’ll miss the free meal,” I blundered. I added that Jesus didn’t need a free meal because he could make his own, but I was bluffing.

I found Jesus in the Food-Not-Bombs food line.

I found Jesus. Photo by Ted Friedman.

“Jesus? I presume,” I asked.

“Yeah,” he admitted. “I’ve tried being Diogenes and Socrates, but it doesn’t work for me.”

“You could have someone wheel you around in a bath tub as Diogenes,” I suggested.

Beneath the robe, Jesus wore a Superman tee-shirt.

“I was in a mall, out of costume once,” he related, and a little kid yelled out, “Mom, I just saw Jesus Christ.”

“No you didn’t,” the mother snapped.

“Can you imagine the conflicts this kid will have?” I said.

The last Jesus of note on the Southside was Alan Noonan, who founded the “the One World Family Commune,” where Amoeba is. Noonan created the rainbow design which

But Noonan was old–and bald–and he chain-smoked. He churned many books about being abducted by extraterrestrials and recruited for his commune in the hills with outreach dinners, like Moonies.

Noonan was later busted for teaching his followers how to commune with spacemen, then swiping their disability checks.

As I told the street kids, “Jesus has a special place in Berkeley. His philosophy is the basis for a sub-culture of slackers on the avenue and in People’s Park.”

Although some mistakenly believe skeptical Berkeley is God-less, we live out our lives in the shadows of vast churches, which dot the neighborhood, like crime flags on a map.

I’ve called it the “Jesus Jungle,” at the Berkeley Daily Planet.

One of these days, I’d like to do feature on our South Side churches. I’ll ask the ministers if they’ve seen Jesus.

Ted Friedman has more South Side Tales in Berkeley Times, (print only), and his usual wierdities here.

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