More than a decade ago, a Valley woman got religion when she spotted the face of Jesus Christ on a tortilla. Several years ago, throngs of awe-stricken rubberneckers flocked to East Van Buren to gawk at a yucca branch that many believed to be an apparition of the Virgin Mary. And less than two weeks ago, an east Phoenix housewife revealed that she was returning to the church after discovering that a "miracle" orange tree in her backyard actually "wept" during daily broadcasts of the game show Jeopardy!.

Will wonders never cease?
Apparently not. Last week a Phoenix musician revealed that the ghostly outline of self-appointed savior of democracy Ross Perot had inexplicably appeared on the ceiling of the musician's midtown-Phoenix bachelor pad earlier this year.

The mysterious image of the meddling politico's head appeared one morning following a winter rainstorm, says apartment dweller Gary Russell of Gary Russell Apocalypse, a local band.

"It's Ross, all right," says Russell one recent morning, using a half-full beer bottle to point at the unusually shaped water stain, one of many that dapple the ceiling of his studio apartment. "See, there are his ears, and that's the top of his head. If you use your imagination, you can even sort of see that long strand of hair that bald guys like him comb across their forehead."
And just in case the resemblance is lost on anyone, Russell has even used a Magic Marker to point out the wondrous water damage for visitors and future tenants.

But unlike other Valleyites who have experienced similarly mysterious events, Russell claims the celebrity-shaped image has not changed his life one iota. If the water mark is indeed an apparition, it's wasted on the apolitical Russell, who can't even remember for certain whether he voted last November.

"I think I might have voted for William [Clinton] and his lovely wife," says Russell, pondering the question over a contemplative swig of beer. "If I did, it was a big mistake."
Although he facetiously claims he's been badgered via telephone by talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, Russell insists he has no interest in capitalizing on his freakish fresco.

"I don't want to exploit middle America," claims Russell. "They're confused enough already.

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Dewey Webb