Toynbee, Jupiter, 2001
Since I started working in Cleveland last year, I’ve walked over this thing –
– many times, but only last week got around to Googling “Toynbee”, “street” and “Cleveland” to see if there was any kind of story behind it. (Being a geek, I recognized the 2001: A Space Odyssey reference to Jupiter, but instead of knowing who the real Toynbee was, I figured it was some kind of nod toward “The Toynbee Convector,” one of my favorite Ray Bradbury stories.)
Turns out the thing is part of an odd pop culture mystery dating back to the mid-1980s and covering a bunch of U.S. cities and a few places in other countries. And there’s even a guy making a movie, “Resurrect Dead” about his quest to find out who’s behind these things and what they mean. (Two other stories about him here and here.) Part of me thinks that’s very cool, but part of me was also a little disheartened to read that the moviemaker claims to have a pretty good idea who was behind them. (Likewise to find out that some of the tiles seem to be copycat versions, and not authentic placements by the original Toynbee Tile-maker.) I kind of like the idea of these plaques having survived for so long without their origins being revealed.
To change the subject completely, I’m scheduled for my first non-friends-and-family promotion of “Crossing Decembers” next week. I pitched the idea to the local TV program “State of the Arts” and the woman who hosts it, Lois DiGiacomo, said she’d love to have me on. (Hm. Perhaps to promote the book more effectively, I could get the POTUS to carelessly insult me and then apologize. It worked for Peter Wallsten, whose forthcoming book jumped from #513,432 on Amazon.com to no. 2,513 in the 24 hours after the incident.)