The Resurrect Dead team is about done with the research end of the Toynbee mystery… most of our goals having been met. Want to know what we found out? Wait for the movie suckers! Hahahaha! Here are a few of the mind-blowing revelations I can share with you.
Back on January 31st , I contacted a tile fan named Nathan. An article quoted him as having witnessed the legendary ‘street prophet.’ Nathan responded promptly to an email message, dispelling the rumor that he actually met the street prophet and with it, the very idea that an active Toynbee idea preacher ever really existed. Instead he explained that he remembered seeing handbills and whestpaste posters plastered on bus stops in Old City Philadelphia in the late 80’s. The article misquoted him and in doing so, created the legend of the bus station prophet. That legend is now dead.
Being long, rambling and seemingly insane, Nathan forgot the exact wording of the handbills, but clearly remembered references to Toynbee, the movie 2001, resurrecting the dead on Jupiter and most importantly, advertising a shortwave radio broadcast. I forwarded my correspondence to tile scientist, Justin Duerr who took the information and in a matter of minutes found information on an upcoming international shortwave radio listener’s festival and conference. With space and time conspiring in our favor, the convention was scheduled for the first week of March in Kulpsville, PA, (just a 30 minute drive from Philadelphia).
Section II: Heart of Weirdness
The conference was in held in a Best Western Hotel in a little known town on the side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The place was packed full of shortwave listeners as well as the Russian symphony orchestra. Why? How? I think it was some sort of hellion joke.
I can’t emphasize enough that the SWL fest was a blast. (photos) The place was full of truly intelligent, friendly and weird people. We hung flyers, I took still photos, the Resurrect Dead team filmed interviews and Justin did a live interview for shortwave broadcast. But getting back to the research side of the story…
What looked at first like a total bust, reformed dramatically into the biggest series of disclosures in the history of tile research. While following a chain of sources, including a couple of coincidentally present tile fans, our presence and purpose at the convention started generating a buzz around the Best Western banquet hall. This buzz eventually led us to a person who held the most important piece of new information gleaned on the subject in decades. The interview and its earth shattering revelations are ALL ON FILM.
But moving on to other things, the shortwave folks remained an enormous resource even after the Best Western closed its doors on the 19th annual international SWL winter festival. One email included this article from a February 1984 ACE zine:
An image showed a flyer with the following text:
And here’s the article that accompanied it:WHAT’S THIS?? DEPT.The above public notice has recently begun to appear in the center city of Philadelphia, Pa. These “stickers” have showed up almost everywhere! On USA Today boxes, telephone poles, train & bus stations, even on Communist Workers Party newspaper boxes. Mr. G. Primavera, who brought this interesting announcement to our attention, has been monitoring 6.25 MHz and says he has not heard “them” yet. He’s not sure if this station would fall under the classification of pirate or clandestine. Let’s play close attention to this frequency in the weeks ahead and see what (if anything) shows up.”
Now I know nothing about the techie aspects of shortwave, so I’m sorry me if I butcher this, but according to our friends who actually do know something, the frequency associated with the handbills was probably attached to a CB radio or some type of mobile device. The meaning of that obviously is, whatever equipment (________) was trying to use, it was something handheld or installed in a car, truck, or possibly even a train.
I say “trying to use,” because back when this article hit the newsstands, avid shortwave listeners sat at home on Saturday nights, tuning in at midnight to monitor the frequency. Sadly – no one ever heard a broadcast. Considering the attentiveness of shortwave listeners, it is unlikely that (________) ever got his equipment working.
I can say with near absolute certainty that the mystery of the Toynbee tiles is for the most part, solved. (see movie) There are still plenty of questions, but they are at this point mainly cosmetic. For example:
Did David Mamet run across a handbill during a visit to Philadelphia, inspiring the short play 4AM, or were there also handbills in other cities… like New York, or his hometown, Chicago? Is the fact that he premiered his minor work 4AM in Philadelphia meaningful of its inspiration or just another minor coincidence?
How does the Conrail rail line figure into the mystery. I’m not ready to abandon my Conrail theory and there’s still an outside shot of a connection between the rail line and the tiles. The map remains fairly suggestive of a connection.
I’ll leave a cryptic trail of crumbs for researchers out there. What does a physicist from Colorado and a supposed UFO crash in Aztec, New Mexico have to do with the mystery? Probably nothing… but it could lead you somewhere.
Did the same person who made the tiles also distribute them? We don’t have an answer. Also, why has he stopped making tiles? (________) if you’re reading this, YOU MUST MAKE AND GLUE TILES! YOU!!!!