Molly Pitcher, Toynbee tile

Yesterday, I mentioned that my girlfriend often asks why I’m so distrustful of ruralites. Today I come to you with a different question she often asks me, why do I care about the Toynbee tiles.

I don’t actually understand the question. How could I not care? First off, they’re a Philly mystery. Secondly, they’re laid in the dead of night, have a strange and esoteric message, are created and presented on a completely unique medium, and (having spread all over the country and even the hemisphere) are a tremendous success. The person behind them takes no credit for them, the idea being the only reason for their existence. Beyond even this, they’re conspiratorial, sci-fi inspired and beautiful pieces of art. Finally, the mystery is incredibly fun to research, with bizarre plot turns and magical coincidences occurring with such starting frequency that my very ideas regarding the fabric of the universe and of life itself are often solidified and sometimes even shaped by the process of this research.

That’s all what interests me about them.

But anyway, one of these ‘coincidences’ took place the other night on a trip back from Connecticut. The Resurrect Dead team successfully filmed the solitary new school tile beyond the Philadelphia area. For some reason it was glued at exit 55 off I-95 in Connecticut. But while finding out about that tile was a coincidence in itself, it’s not the magic thing I’m talking about.

On the way home, we stopped at a New Jersey rest area a little over an hour from Philadelphia. I was absolutely certain there was a tile there. Now maybe I saw this tile on one of my many trips up the Jersey Turnpike sometime in the last decade. Maybe the tile at Molly Pitcher rest area was buried somewhere deep in my subconscious. But my certainty felt more like intuition than subconscious knowledge. (assuming there’s a difference between the two…)

You can say that tile research requires you to tune into some bizarre frequency. (probably somewhere around 6.25 megacycles) At any rate, Molly Pitcher rest area felt very, very right. To quote Colin, I searched the place “like a drug-sniffing dog in Colombia” but found nothing. As we started to pull out, my eyes were trained on something that looked like a fast food bag crushed into the pavement. As we passed over it, I saw that it was actually a fractured old-school tile. Of course we had to stop and film the thing. Here are a few photos of that discovery.

3 Comments on “Molly Pitcher, Toynbee tile

  1. Why do we care about the tiles? To quote Miles Davis… If you have to ask, you’ll never understand.

    That bottom-most picture is beautiful, by the way. You should use that tecnique on a more intact tile sometime.

  2. Thanks. The effect is just making the range of focus very narrow and shooting very close up. If I run across any nice old-school tiles, I’ll get a better shot.

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