Living in a Fishbowl


When I tell people I’m living at the Chelsea Hotel, they think of  Dee Dee Ramone and heroin overdoses, not a  church.

But that is where the  residents of Jesus People USA live: the old Chelsea Hotel on Wilson in Chicago’s Uptown.

It’s a human aquarium.

Jesus People (JPUSA) is an evangelical covenant church and intentional living community in Chicago.  I live there. Sleep there. Worship there. And I love it there.

The members of the community  work together to feed the poor and run several homeless shelters and in Chicago’s Uptown community.

Cleaned Up History

The history of JPUSA is weirder than an acid trip because it er uh, is one. A group of down and out  druggies found God in the early seventies. They started a community and a few rock bands. Feeling compassion for the homeless in the uptown area,   the Jesus People invited the down and out to sleep in their building.

But when lines to get a warm bed wrapped around the block, Chicago city officials took notice. The  city decided to work with JPUSA to manage homeless shelters and meal programs.


In the 1990’s, when JPUSA bought the  historical Chelsea Hotel on Wilson street ,it came with a free surprise inside:  a group of old folks scrounging around. The top three floors are still low income senior residents managed by JPUSA.

Along with  tattoo junkies and one seven foot marlin, the Chelsea hotel residents include  aging hippies, musicians, artists,  and characters  as interesting as those created by the writers  of the  infamous Chelsea Hotel in NYC. Along with Dee Dee Ramone, other writers that checked in with their quill , bottle or needle include Jack Keroauc, Thomas Wolfe and William Dean Howells.

Hopefully, being at the Chelsea, I’ll get my writing groove on but will keep the ink off.


By the way, this is a tattoo of a family crest, not a TV dinner, as I originally thought.




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