The Cookie Monster Came to Peoria
When I think of pranks, crime, or deception in Peoria… I never thought those terms would be used to describe a building-sized mural of a Soviet Cookie Monster but I was wrong. This is the story Peoria needed in 2020, a mystery to solve that would distract us from the election drama & Covid 19.
The cast of this story is as follows:
Nate Comet as ” Real Nate”
Fake Nate as ” The Prankster”
Josh Hawkins as “The Artist”
Soviet Cookie Monster as “Himself”
Peoria Citizens as “Confused Crowd”
About a month ago I woke up and started my daily routine .. coffee, shit, shower, and read Reddit. Instead of doing work at my work-from-home job (thanks Covid) I spent an hour surfing the internet to see what is new in the world. During this day of reading Reddit specifically r/PeoriaIL subredit, I came across a post stating that a new business was coming to town. Now I love new businesses because businesses only seem to leave Peoria and nothing new opens up. I like that someone is investing in the area even if it’s Stalin-era Russians who love cookies.
The post said that a new possibly Russian cookie establishment is coming to town. “Wow, this is neat … I love big murals and cookies,” I thought, so I was in. The Russian text “мир, земля, печенье” (“Peace, Land, and Cookies”) seems odd but hey I like Russian people and I like cookies. Admittedly though I know more about cookies than I do about Russians, but I can learn!
The mural was painted by Joshua Hawkins a local Peoria artist who had been who was paid to paint this massive piece of art. Hawkins said a person claiming to be the buildings owner “Fake Nate” contacted him via telephone and wanted to commission the mural and wanted it done quickly. Soon after Hawkins and Fake Nate met in which Fake Nate gave Hawkins the design, paid half the commission up front, and paid for the paint. Hawkins began his work on the mural and life was good … for now.
A few days later as I did my morning routine (every morning), I saw a new post on r/PeoriaIL subreddit, saying the whole mural was a fraud and the owner of the building (Real Nate) Nate Comte did not authorize the painting and it had been done while he was out of town by someone impersonating him. My first thought was “wait .. so no new Russian Cookie Store?” Then I thought who would does this type prank .. it costs money! Someone really wanted to mess with the Real Nate and they put money behind it … I love this type of prank.
As told by Hawkins the Real Nate contacted him and was not happy. “What the hell are you painting this weird-ass shit on my wall for?” Hawkins explained that the was commission to do the work but after an angry conversation he was hung up on by the Real Nate.
A side note … I wonder what was going on in the Real Nate’s head as he pulled up to his building and saw a massive cookie monster shooting a cookie laser beam and turning all the buildings to cookies. I would have paid money to be in the car to listen to his bewilderment.
The mural was painted over with white paint soon after this conversation between Hawkins and Real Nate and to some this was the end of the story. No new cookie store … no new business .. this is Peoria after all.
Hawkins was in bewilderment much like the rest of the community wondering who the hell plays a prank like this and now he has the owner mad at him and might face possible legal action. He posted the following about the situation.
Now at this point in the story the Real Nate goes from pranked business owner to hated man by the Peoria residents. People started to show up to the mural and paying their respects.
Some opted for a direct approach in letting Real Nate know how they felt.
Others opted for a less direct approach and laid out cookies and flowers for our fallen cookie comrad.
One man dedicated a song to the mural and his feeling about Real Nate. You .. cannot make this up!
On December 28th some prayers were answered and a big rain came and washed off the white paint covering the Cookie monster and he was once again shining his rainbow cookie for Peoria to see.
Soon after this a Facebook page was created to come up with a new mural for the wall by none other than the Real Nate. I guess he noticed that the mural in it’s short lived live became something us Peorian’s admired and loved.
Per this Facebook Page the building was sold and the new owners are going to restore the Soviet Cookie Monster mural.
Was this a ploy to sell the building? Was Fake and Real Nate in on it? From all the accounts I can see Hawkins was not in on it but Real Nate and Fake Nate … I have my suspicions about them.
Hawkins has prints of this mural for sale on his site check out https://hawkinsartworks.square.site/ 50% of all profits from the art work sales go to www.artincpeoria.org now that is something you can feel good about.
In the end this story was truly what we needed … a mystery, a coverup, a talented artist, a scrooge business owner, and a Soviet Cookie Monster.