So after obsessing for months about what kind of light to get for our entryway, I was ready to remove the old one (after cutting off the power at the circuit breaker!). I knew there was something a little fishy about it, based on the canopy by the ceiling. Check out the protruding, painted over rim around the top, and the punctured hole through which the lamp wire feeds into the light. Not the usual order of things.
To get the light down, I had to cut its wire and grounding wire. The twisting motion of the nut and chain created too much tension in the off-center cord to do anything else. So once I got the fixture and the canopy down, I found:
Another canopy! Wha? Not only did this one appear to be plastered/painted to the ceiling, but it also sported the same puncture hole for the lamp wire, plus a....bit of threaded pipe? Protruding from....some sort of black metal thing? The whole contraption, though unusual looking, was very well affixed to the ceiling. I whacked it with my hammer a few times, to no avail. I resorted to ripping it apart with pliers.
The second canopy, freed from its moorings. Look at all that goop that was holding it to the ceiling!
And underneath it all.....what the hell? A hole in the ceiling with wires dangling out, no junction box, plus a large metal pipe, going up into the innards of the house, out of sight. What now? Told y'all this would get crazy.