They are mysterious markers with bizarre messages.
Artists or pranksters have been sticking these plaques on roadways and other places around the globe for years now.
"Toynbee Idea in Kubrick's 2001..." manz... Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter."
I have no idea what it means.
Maybe it's a message from space.
The plaques were first sighted in the early 1980s.
There are 130 known plaques, most in the US.
Philadelphia, Baltimore... New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Saint Louis...
Plus, they have been spotted in South America.
City officials we contacted were not aware of their existence.
It's anybody's guess what the meaning really is, or who's behind it.
So who is placing these tiles all over Philadelphia, and all over the world, for that matter?
It's like a scene from "The Twilight Zone."
I've never seen one.
Well, I have all these... Toynbee tile photographs and artifacts.
Here's one that was in New York on Fifth Avenue and West 34th in front of the Empire State Building.
This is from December of 1998.
Here's one from Maryland and Meridian in Indianapolis.
Here's that D.C. one.
We don't have this one on the website and it's in reverse.
It's in mirror writing.
These old New York ones were so incredible.
You know, I always had this idea, like, someday maybe there could be a museum and I could get each one of these photos in a little frame or something.
The first time I noticed a Toynbee Idea tile in the street was on South Street.
It was this tile, like a floor tile or whatever, embedded in the asphalt in the crosswalk that bears this message on it.
"Toynbee Idea In Movie 2001 Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter."
I started really thinking, that's weird, what's that all about?
Why was it there?
What did it mean, who made it?
Me and some of my friends lived in this squat on Fifth and Bainbridge at the time.
It was a chaotic squat full of 17-year-old runaways and, you know, people like that.
It just caught my eye one day.
I started thinking about it 'cause I guess we were sitting on that corner and we were looking at that tile.
And I said, "Hey, Vern, isn't that weird?
"That there's that thing in the street that says, 'Resurrect the Dead on Planet Jupiter'?"
A couple years later, I got this job as a foot courier for this company, Kangaroo Couriers.
I began to notice more of these cryptic street messages all over the place... y'know, from walking around the city and looking down all the time, delivering packages.
I would walk over the tiles over and over and over and over again.
So I'd think about them every single day.
And, you know, I would just constantly think, like, "I wonder how long they've been there?
I wonder what they mean?"
So I started following them when I'd see them around downtown.
I would make sure to take note of them and I started to write down where they were all at.
I had a little notebook I would take around.
Around 1996, 97, it became possible to go to the Philadelphia Public Library and get on the Internet.
So I thought, "Oh, I can't wait.
"L'm gonna do an Internet word search on this Toynbee message."
So I actually took off work the next day.
I called in sick to work so that I could go to the library as soon as it opened.
And I went to the library as soon as it opened and I ran up the steps.
"Toynbee ldea" was the first thing I ever typed into an Internet search engine.
"Your search returned zero results."
You've got to be kidding me, there's nothing?
This term has never been mentioned on the Internet ever, y'know?
And I'm like, "Whoa.
Y'know, this is, like, weird and kinda creepy."
I went back a couple months later.
It might have even been as much as a year later.
This time... I think I pulled up about ten results.
Toynbeemet had occurred and I was like... it blew my mind.
I start to see listings for all of them.
I'm like, "It's spreading!"
You know, I was, like, just ecstatic.
Then... this is what blew my mind right out of the water...
I start going down and it's Baltimore, Maryland.
This isn't just a Philadelphia thing.
Y'know, these things are, like, in New York, D.C., Boston.
And the person who made them was a compete mystery.
I was like, "I've got to find out who made these things."
I think one of the best descriptions that I've ever heard of Justin is the "unstoppable force."
He's very stubborn once he gets his mind set that he's going to do something.
Y'know, he's just constantly on the move and, uh... he's at least trying to take down everything in his way, in his path.
He's manic when it comes to that stuff and he can't stop thinking it, he can't turn it off.
There could be an explosion in front of him and the fire could be burning, there could be people running out of the fire, like, screaming...
I got the Toynbee Idea flier up there at all times, y'know?
I see it every night when I go to sleep and I also keep these things next to my bed.
I know he used to go all over the city and... you know, be like, "There's one here."
And then he used to take bus trips with his girlfriend and drag her along.
We were in New York City and going to New York City, to me, is kind of a big deal.
I was, like, elected to be the Toynbee secretary and it seemed like an important job.
We were there for one reason, you know?
And that was to look on the asphalt for tiles.
The Toynbee Idea tiles' message is basically a four-part message.
So what are all of these things?
What do all of these things mean?
Well, the Toynbee referenced is almost definitely the historian, Arnold Toynbee.
Toynbee was known as a universal historian because he was not only a historian but a philosopher as well.
So he would write books dealing with all of human history.
The general sweeping arch of the history of the human species on the planet Earth.
The movie "2001," of course, is the movie A Space Odyssey," directed by Stanley Kubrick.
And that was considered, when it came out, I mean, I think it was pretty much... as far as special effects and everything... pretty much the most spectacular movie that anybody had ever seen on the big screen.
And, y'know, I'm sure that it was a... y'know, some sort of proto-religious experience for many people that saw it.
Resurrect dead, obviously, is the idea that there will be some sort of physical resurrection of the dead.
And then planet Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system by far.
And it's a gas giant, it's mostly made out of gas.
I don't think it has too much of a solid surface, really.
The message itself has been such a mystery to people over the years, and each of the parts, in and of themselves, makes sense.
The mystery mainly lies in the way that the parts intermesh with one another.
There was always these little sidebar text pieces on tiles, and after a while, those started to become more interesting to me than the main message 'cause I had seen the main message hundreds of times, but these little sidebar texts started to get really exciting because I'd be like... sometimes they would say stuff that was unprecedented.
Sometimes there would be tantalizing clues where one would say:
People had always speculated, "Well, do you think it's more than one person making the tiles?"
And I always said no way.
I always thought it was one person 'cause they all look so similar, et cetera, et cetera, but it was always open to conjecture.
We see this claim on this tile, "I am only one man," so, all of a sudden, we know more information than we knew before, that it's one man.
There'd be this other sidebar text that said:
That's when I begged them not to destroy it.
Thank you and goodbye.
I always pictured him on his hands and knees in front of the table at the board room, y'know, where the Cult of the Hellion is gathered, begging them not to destroy it, with tears, of course, streaming down his face, y'know?
"Please, I beg you, don't destroy this movement."
They're cackling and they're not taking him seriously.
And then he says, "Thank you and goodbye."
It's sort of sad, y'know?
It's sort of like a-— I don't know.
That was a heavy extra message, that one.
The Manifesto Tile was a tile that was on 16th and Chestnut in Philadelphia, with just hundreds of words inscribed on it.
It has this very long, paranoid, rambling message.
It was pretty wild.
I mean, it was probably in the top five most intense things I've ever seen in my life.
It's not an art project put together by some art students or something.
It's like something that's insane.
Y'know, it's, like, something that's real.
The Toynbee Idea tiles were something that had this quality to it that was very, sort of, frightening and disturbing and strange.
And yet, at the same time, because it was occupying space in this very public sphere, people just kind of tended to pass it by and ignore it.
When you start to realize that it's unusual and strange and unexplainable, it's like waking up from this dream where you're like, "Wait a minute.
"This thing that's been here all along doesn't make sense."
Well, this is Daisy.
And, well, Daisy got hit by a car or a bike or something.
Maybe he'll be able to use his legs again, but maybe not.
So I'm kind of trying to get him to do these balancing exercises where I just kind of push him off his feet and let him try to stand on his own a little bit.
But he's really a handsome dude.
Me and Justin's grandfather raised pigeons.
Fancy pigeons, he had.
We grew up in a barn and half of it was our house that our parents built.
I got a... went up in the rafters and got a baby pigeon and... me and Justin used to feed that pigeon popcorn.
We built a pigeon coop out in the barn.
So we had, like... the biggest amalgamation of different pigeons you could possibly imagine.
Like, we had... it was like the Noah's Ark of pigeons, we had two or three of everything.
And then they all started interbreeding 'cause... well, we just had no idea.
I went to get a snack.
This must have been now around, like, 4:00 a.m. or so.
On my way home I see this mound.
Just this black, shiny mound.
It was tar paper imbued with tar.
I pull up the edge of the tar paper and, sure enough, there's the edge of a Toynbee Idea tile.
It was fresh, as in a-car-had-not-hit-it-yet fresh.
I'm sure that there was no fresh tile there when I went to the deli.
I thought, "Oh, man, y'know, this person could be, like, on the block or something," y'know, so I leaped to my feet.
I jogged down the block to the north and I start shouting out, "Toynbee Idea!
"Toynbee Idea, I believe it!
I believe the Toynbee ldea!"
I jogged down the other way, "Toynbee ldea!"
Nobody ever answers me and there's nobody to hear me except a sleeping pigeon up there somewhere or something.
Yes, I came within minutes of solving the Toynbee Idea mystery for all time with my own two eyes because I missed the person putting down the tile within minutes.
Then I went back and I just hung out with the tile until 7:00 in the morning and, uh, watched the first sunrise on a new tile or something.
I've been interested in the tiles for years, since middle school, in the early 1990s in Philadelphia.
Every few years I'd, like, sort of get into it and see what more had been found out.
No one had solved it.
It had been years, so I was like, "All right, screw this."
The aspect of the Toynbee tiles that really spoke to me was just the impossibility of the mystery.
I was probably the most skeptical person involved in the detective work.
I really thought we were just gonna say, "This is a black hole.
"Here, look at this crazy phenomenon "that has absolutely no possible explanation that we could ever come to."
I remember my very first e-mail to Justin.
He was another person who genuinely wanted to solve the mystery.
As a team, we could really pool our resources, come together, and figure it out.
So when we started researching the tiles, we really only had a very small number of clues to go on.
We had an address to a South Philadelphia home.
We had an article from 1983 printed in the "Philadelphia lnquirer."
And then there was a play by playwright/film director David Mamet.
And these three sources were basically where we began our quest to discover the identity of the tiler.
There was a tile discovered in Santiago, Chile, and it gives a specific street address of a row home in South Philadelphia.
Let's really investigate this address because it's one of the very few... it's one of just one or two, really, actual concrete leads that we have.
"You may have information to help solve "a 20-plus-year-old mystery.
Do you know anything about the below pictured message?"
We went to Kinko's and made these fliers and decided that we would give them to everybody on the block.
Resurrect the Dead on the Planet Jupiter?
I don't know about it.
One fellow named Frannie talked to us a lot and he filled us in as to who had been living in that specific house that was on the address on the tile.
He drives a bike with no tires... with no... rims with no tires.
I don't know, I don't fucking know.
He lives over there, got all birds in his house.
Goats, geese, things all over his house.
The fellow living there now they call, "Sevy the Birdman."
My first impression, the very first thing that I thought was:
That must be the person who made all the Toynbee tiles.
And equally exciting was they told us about the fellow who had lived there before.
The guy that lived in there, we only can account for, like, 3O years.
Because he lived in a green thing... That was Railroad Joe.
Railroad Joe had lived in that house into the late '80s and he had worked for the railroad.
His real name was actually Julius Piroli.
We went to the address that was listed on the South American tile.
No one answered the door and there's a bar put through the door with two padlocks on it.
Since no one came to the door, it's sort of a dead end, except for the fact that all around in the surrounding blocks are these sort of proto-tiles, test tiles.
Sort of test materials layered on top of each other.
Weird tiles, a couple in Spanish.
The blocks around it are a testing ground for the tiles.
And so I thought this person lived at this address at some point, for sure.
At some point, somebody on the Internet mentioned this newspaper article.
It was such a weird thing that just came out of nowhere.
Well, here we are at the Philadelphia Public Library.
We're going to the microfiche room.
We're gonna get on microfiche the "lnquirer" article from March 13, 1983.
Wanna run that one by me again?" by Clark DeLeon.
Despite the fact that the article is just a couple of sentences long, it opens up all these questions.
It's more information than we ever had from a tile.
There was a time line put on this stuff for the first time where you're like, "Early '80s was when whoever it was first had this idea and really started to promote it."
But now there was at least this potential name of James Morasco that was brought up into the fold.
This person really actually believed, quote unquote, "dead molecules would be put back together on the planet Jupiter."
There was this group, the Minority Association, that existed.
This was something nobody ever heard of before.
The way that I pictured it in my mind was probably that it was just at somebody's house in their front room, in a living room or something.
The Minority Association, at least according to this article, according to what James Morasco is saying on the telephone, had somebody doing the typing.
So then you think, "Oh, my gosh, "somebody doing the typing, they had a newsletter?
They had a typist, so they were typing stuff, right?"
I was in love with the idea of discovering whatever it was that was typed because it must exist somewhere.
And... I wanted to see it so bad.
Toynbee tiles first appeared in the early 1980s, around the same time playwright David Mamet published "Four A.M."
It's a one-act play about a radio host and a strange caller who wants to talk about his plan to, yes, resurrect the dead on Jupiter.
Now, all the sudden, we've got this play.
So David Mamet, highly decorated playwright.
He had won a Pulitzer Prize, nominated for an Oscar, wrote this one-act play called "Four A.M."
As you're going through the play and you're reading the transcript of the play you think, "Wow, this is uncanny.
"L mean, this guy is calling up this talk show host guy
"and he's talking about, okay, Arnold Toynbee.
"That's a little bit weird.
"Oh, jeez, he's talking about in the movie '2001,' that's weird."
And then he says, "Yes, we want to resurrect the dead," and you think, "Whoa, that's crazy."
And then, "The planet Jupiter."
You're like, "All right, this is no mere coincidence."
He's basically reiterating a conversation with the Toynbee tile guy or a member of the Minority Association or something.
And you just think, "So... so David Mamet had something to do with it."
And it just makes your head spin where you're like, "What?"
But even more telling is he mentions that phrase, "dead molecules."
There had never been a tile photographed or documented or described by anyone that mentions this phrase "dead molecules."
The only time that the term "molecules" has ever connected, is in, of course, the Clark DeLeon newspaper article.
Y'know, it's the same... it's the same concept.
Mamet wrote that piece but it was... y'know, it didn't appear anywhere publicly.
And then DeLeon's 1983 article was published.
And then Mamefs play was published.
It seems like they were working independently and that was the assumption that we had going into our detective work.
Mamet insists the play is not based on a real caller.
People used to ask me where I get my ideas and I would always say, "I think of them."
There was no call on the radio, I made it up.
Severino Verna, AKA Sevy.
He's the resident of this address that was found on the tile in Chile.
I don't think he's answering.
Yeah, I don't know if he wants to talk to us.
We didn't really know what to do other than try and talk to him.
So we talked to some of the people from his neighborhood, who were very personable.
They think it's him putting the tiles all over.
Like, South America had his address on it.
Down here, like, 7th Street, 9th Street had one I think... Sevy don't go anywhere.
Sevy goes nowhere.
He just worries about his birds.
Sevy's a very a guy... a very hard guy to talk to.
Well, did you knock on his door?
Yeah, I don't think he's home.
See you, Frankie.
And he wouldn't answer?
Yeah, we've knocked on his door a bunch of times, I don't think he'll answer the door
'cause he doesn't know us, y'know?
I'll walk down with you and knock on his door.
Sevy's very intelligent.
Yeah, yeah, he seems like it.
Very, very intelligent man.
You just talk about, like, plants and stuff with him?
Anything, anything he feels... Sevy's very quiet. - Yeah, yeah.
Very quiet person.
After knocking on his door and everything we decided an obvious step is to try to call this person on the telephone.
Dude, my adrenaline is like... I'm gonna say something stupid, I just know it.
His phone has been disconnected.
So we call, actually, his mother.
And Justin... has a conversation with her.
I'm trying to get in touch, I think, with a relative of yours?
Um, Severino, Sevy?
I'm doing some research into an art project that I think that he might be involved in.
And I've been trying to get ahold of him but he's kind of hard to get ahold of, so...
I don't know if you ever heard of this thing, Toynbee Idea.
It's, like, it's in Philadelphia, New York, it's all up and down the east coast and then it's also in South America.
Like, do you know if he ever... has he been to South America or...
So somebody contacted him before about it?
She said he's never been to South America.
And she said we weren't the first person to bring this up to her.
And she said that Sevy had mentioned that somebody had come to his door asking about it.
And he told her he didn't know anything about it.
So, I mean, you definitely don't think that your son has any involvement it in?
Like, he never talked about Arnold Toynbee or anything like that, like... Yeah.
Is he, like, into history of anything, like... No?
She said there's no way he has anything to do with this and I don't know what you're talking about.
He can't travel because he has a lung condition.
Your son, with his lung condition, like, he never travels or anything, so... Yeah, huh.
Yeah, because that would really put him out of the picture for being the person because whoever's done it has at least traveled, you know, up and down the east coast of the United States.
All right, thanks for your time.
When I heard the name Railroad Joe associated with that address and that he worked for Conrail Railroad, I went and found a Conrail map.
Not only did Conrail pass through every city that had a tile in North America, but... the tiles stretch exactly as far as Conrail's routes travel.
No further west and no further south, with the exception of South America.
However, we found an article about a telescope.
It was, at the time, in the early 1970s when it was made... the largest telescope ever made.
And bits of it were being shipped, one-by-one, to Chile, South America.
They were going through the railyard that Railroad Joe worked at at the time.
The article mentions him by name.
I went to the library and did some research on his family name.
The only reference I found in the early '80s Philly directories were tombstone carving.
Railroad Joe's family is carving tombstones.
It's not a whole huge leap to get from carving tombstones to carving tiles.
Railroad Joe... really fit my mental image of the tiler.
Working on the railroad as a profession is someone who is gonna fit this profile.
Traveling, traveling late at night.
Just that sort of lonely, "moving through empty space" sort of person.
I imagine the tiler to have a lot of those qualities.
And Railroad Joe... fit that.
So many things line up: the map, the profession, the address, the tombstone-carving business in the family.
All of these things were coming together on this one suspect.
The fatal flaw of the "Railroad Joe as tiler" theory is that... he died.
You need to find a way for him to be tiling beyond the grave.
Short of resurrecting himself, it's difficult to make that argument.
So James Morasco called up Clark DeLeon in 1983 and was interviewed espousing the same ideas that the tiles have.
Clearly this is a leading suspect.
It's the only real tangible piece of evidence.
I contacted Clark DeLeon via e-mail and I started to kinda get him talking about anything that he remembered about this caller, that the caller might have said in addition to the basic message that he wrote about in the article.
"L think that Morasco said he lived in Fishtown or Kensington, "which are working-class, mostly white neighborhoods "that run along the Delaware River
"north of Center City.
"He sounded blue collar, proud of his education, "certain of his information, "but not confident of his presentation to me "or, rather, to the 'lnquirer.'
"He had a soft bass voice "which was definitely Philadelphia working class.
And that's about it, my friend."
Yeah, this is sort of pointing to a different area of the city.
It's giving a little bit of a profile of Morasco as a person.
But that's about all we know about him.
There's not a whole lot more information aside from that about James Morasco as a person.
Based on trips to the library and looking at old, early '80s- 1983 or so... telephone directories, the only James Morasco that existed was not in Fishtown, not in Kensington, not in South Philadelphia, but in the northwest of the city, in a very not working-class neighborhood called Chestnut Hill.
He's been interviewed by reporters.
"Cincinnati City Beat" ran an article in, I think, in 2001.
The person who answers the phone says, "Well, Mr. Morasco can't speak because he's had his voice box removed."
His wife spoke for him and said he had nothing to do with the tiles.
Based on his age, when the tiles would have been put down across the country, he would have been in his 70s and even 80s.
It doesn't fit, obviously.
We're looking for a social worker named James Morasco.
We've never found a social worker named James Morasco.
The more we looked into James Morasco, the less likely it seemed that he even existed.
There's still this lingering question, "Who's James Morasco?"
The cutting of the cake!
Justin's exhibit will be up for the next month, so please come over and take in the art.
When he came into 7th grade, he was a really talented artist.
He had the same art teacher from 7th grade to 12th grade and she loved him.
I remember being in 9th grade and I had an art class and she had all of his art laid out.
She brought everybody from our class over and was like, "Look how good this kid is, he's gonna be great," and she was like, "You should really be proud of him."
It just seemed like she just always had one kid that was, like, her favorite.
And she put all their artwork in these art competitions and you'd win these gold keys.
Where I think things all went... took a turn for the worse was, she really... wanted him to just kind of conform to this thing that she thought was going to win him these awards in this competition.
He didn't take instruction well and he didn't do what he was told.
That naturally put him at odds with the art teacher.
He was on a controversial mind trip.
It was a slap in the face to her that somebody that she championed as being talented could not be exactly the person that she wanted them to be.
It was a love affair gone sour, y'know?
So there was just a conflict about that and then the conflict just escalated and got worse and worse.
My day-to-day life in school was pretty much a war.
I would walk through the hallway and kids would open up a locker and smash me into it and, y'know, push me down the stairs.
And then they'd be like, "Fucking pigeon man."
He received a lot of abuse.
It was personal, y'know?
They were anti-Justin and he was anti-them.
He definitely has always been an outsider.
It really got to a fever pitch.
I would skip classes and I would just go back behind the auditorium where there was a area back there that was dark and lonely and gloomy and I would just draw pictures, y'know?
Once he got kicked out of art class, I think in the beginning of 11th grade, his high school days were numbered.
Justin was out of step with the world from the very beginning to what he is now.
He's a strange bird.
Think he's gonna carry that right on out.
Let's see this.
Bill O'Neill eventually lost interest in the whole phenomenon and decides, "I'm just going to hand it over to you guys.
"L'm passing the torch.
"It seems like you guys are keeping up "on investigating the mystery and everything.
So here you go."
And he hands over the access codes and everything to Toynbeemet for us.
There we go.
Aw, shit, here it is, man.
So we start going through the back... the back catalog of all these e-mails.
Most of it is just this endless array of people who believe that they've figured out the Toynbee tile message or they know what it's really all about.
And it's anything you can think of.
People have conspiracy theories about the Toynbee tiles.
And people who believe that they've solved the mystery.
There were multiple who mentioned seeing the tiles in the early '80s.
We're not the first people to try and solve this mystery.
Yeah, it's definitely been investigated in depth by other people.
We learned from the Toynbeemet e-mails, there's two other groups of people who had resolved to make documentary films about it, even.
Everybody who researches this seems to just hit a brick wall.
And this has been going on for decades, yes.
A detective tried and failed.
Two documentary teams tried and failed.
Countless other people tried and failed to solve this mystery.
It seemed to me like we weren't special.
Y'know, we had, y'know, no training in being detectives.
We're not gonna make this discovery.
Y'know, we're wasting our time.
We're barking up the wrong tree, it's... You know, it's a quagmire.
Ahh, like, who is-— it's a person.
Like, it is someone... somewhere.
There are so many ghosts and phantoms and shadows to chase.
But the tiles are a physical thing.
They exist in physical reality.
We're not dealing with the supernatural.
The tiles are being cut out with some kind of blade.
A hand is holding the blade.
It's totally real.
It's physical, it's tangible.
It's not a shadow.
It's not a phantom, it's not a ghost.
Somewhere there's a human being who's behind all of this.
One interesting thing that came out of the Toynbee.net e-mails was an e-mail that came from a guy named Joe Raimondo.
He said that in 1985, this really strange broadcast came over his TV.
Look, I got a real story here 'cause I heard this.
I was watching "Eyewitness News" at 11:00 on Channel 3.
I was by myself, kind of in the dark, just chillin' out.
All of a sudden, I heard this thing about Toynbee's conception of 2000... of Clarke's "2001" or whatever it was.
Like, the television newscaster is talking and, all of a sudden, like, they kind of faded out and then this voice comes in, you know.
And then they said it real fast and then there's all this static and then it went away.
Somebody hijacked the TV news and they're beaming this Toynbee Idea thing at me.
Like, it took me a minute to get my head together, like, "What-s gging on here?"
So I thought, I gotta find out what's going on here.
So I called Channel 3.
I called... like, I called them up.
I'm like, "I'm watching your news and I just heard this thing about Toynbee."
And the person who's the operator is like, "Um, yeah, well, you're not the only one."
The voice of the Toynbee tiler is apparently coming through his TV set.
This is just fascinating.
So... how is this happening?
I mean, that's like some "Twilight Zone" thing, y'know?
I'm not crazy.
I definitely... I definitely heard this.
This guy, Nathan Mehl wrote into Toynbeemet many, many years ago with this story of running into this street prophet guy in the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Philadelphia.
And he's giving out these pamphlets or pieces of paper with the Toynbee message on them.
Steve Weinik... decided he was going to track down this Nathan Mehl guy because we were thinking, well, maybe he's got one of these pamphlets or something, still.
Nathan Mehl told us this story, "Oh, Bill O'Neill misquoted me.
"There was no street prophet guy or whatever.
"L didn't meet a guy on a Greyhound bus or anything.
"What happened was, in those days, in the early '80s, "there were wheat-pasted fliers all over the city...
"... with the Toynbee message on them.
"And then a pirate shortwave radio address, so you could tune in."
Now, we knew something we never knew before, which was somebody involved in the Minority Association or in spreading the Toynbee message had involvement in the shortwave radio community.
So I thought somebody in the shortwave world knows who these people were or who this person is.
Well, we're here at the shortwave radio convention in order to track down people who may remember the shortwave radio broadcasts from the 1980s.
Is this fictitious?
No, it's not fictitious.
I mean, I don't know... - Well, who... I've never... I don't know what you're talking about.
And they were propagating this message of Arnold Toynbee's ideas in the movie "2001" to reconfigure dead molecules on the planet Jupiter.
This is the thing, you found it.
That's the gold mine.
We found a schedule of events.
Most of the discussions were just technical radio things that were way over our heads but there was one thing that did sound interesting.
So now what I'm gonna do is conduct this paranormal experiment with you.
I'm going to think of one of these cards and then we're going to find out if my messages got out to you.
How many people think that I thought about the star?
One, two, three, four.
How many people think I thought about the square?
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11,12,13,14.
How many people think I thought about the wavy line?
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11,12,13,14,15, 16,17,18,19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26... So all of you thought, in my fine thinking apparatus, that I was thinking about the wavy line.
That was the majority of the people.
Well, I'll show you what I was thinking about.
I was thinking... see, there's nothing here.
That's the... I was thinking of the wavy line.
Maybe there's something to this.
At the end of the lecture, the guy who did it opens up a little forum for people to ask questions.
Question and answers, you know.
I apologize, it's kind of off the subject, but it's a mystery that we're trying to solve.
Somebody's been creating sort of like an art piece or whatever that's... somehow, Arnold Toynbee's ideas in the movie "2001" would... people would be able to raise the dead on the planet Jupiter.
They were doing shortwave radio broadcasts in the early '80s.
What we were basically trying to do here is see if anybody remembered those shortwave broadcasts talking about this stuff.
And I figured this would be as good of a place... You've got an old-fart audience here, so they ought to... Anybody remember any of that stuff?
Big zip here.
Right after everybody says nobody knows anything and the guy says, "Okay, well, we're gonna move on then," somebody sitting in front of me turns around their little metal folding chair a little bit and whispers to me, "Hey, listen, I know some guys that probably
"know about what you're talking about.
"It's some of the pirate guys.
Y'know, just catch up with me after it's over, all right?"
We were going to go upstairs and we were gonna be let in on this secret part of the shortwave fest.
So we've been led to believe they may know something about this.
So we are on the mission.
Over here is a very low-power transmitting device that is radiating a signal around the hotel here.
He's actually performing a shortwave broadcast on the fourth floor of the hotel or whatever where the shortwave fest is at.
This is Radio Clandestine.
All right, on this broadcast from Radio Tim Tron Worldwide here in room 412, we have some gentlemen from another aspect of an interesting life form that have arrived.
And who do we have seated at the guest microphonium?
Well, my name is Justin Duerr and I'm from Philadelphia.
And we're filming a documentary about a mysterious phenomenon that has been unfolding, as far as we know, well over a decade.
There was a distinct possibility that Tim Tron might say, "Oh, back in the early '80s, "I mean, everybody knew the Toynbee tile station.
Y'know, we used to listen to it all the time."
And maybe he'd even have a tape of it or something.
This is the first time I've ever heard of this, so I guess putting it out there in shortwave radio land we'll get it out there and maybe somebody who has experienced this phenomenon can get back to you all.
Colin was in and out of the room during Justin's interview.
And he comes back in... We have a development downstairs, you guys.
The guy pulled me out of the room and he said, "There's someone you really should talk to.
Here, come down and talk to him."
"There's someone... we've got to go downstairs."
We go over and start talking to this guy, John T. Arthur.
You were saying you remembered something about that... the shortwave broadcasts?
Well, they contacted me to use my post office box for a mail drop.
It's exactly what you describe in the little flier, there.
When did they contact you?
Well, I was in school there between '81 and '83 so it was early '80s.
Wow. - Do you remember any... did you ever listen to the broadcasts?
Do you remember anything about those?
I never could hear them, not from out there.
And I never saw any reports of them.
Never got any mail for him, either.
Just being there, in the flesh, with someone who had had communication with the Toynbee tiler.
It was like, everything comes together, everything clicks, where you're just like, "Whoa, like, y'know... "my head is spinning.
Like, this is just crazy."
Do you remember any... do you remember talking to any other people orjust him or...
It was all by mail. Yeah, okay.
I didn't talk to him, and, no, it was just him.
And you didn't save any of the mail or anything, obviously.
No, I didn't, unfortunately.
Did he mention anything about a group, like the Minority Association?
Yeah, I recall that name, too. Yeah, really?
Do you remember any of the names of the people that contacted you?
If you could rattle off some names, it might jog my memory, but... Severino?
Yeah, how 'bout that?
Colin throws out the first name.
John T. Arthur completes the last name.
We know conclusively who the tiler was.
Sevy Verna, yeah.
After the shortwave fest, we got together and we had a little round table discussion about what our next steps would be.
Well, stranger things have happened.
Well... Nah, that's not true.
Nothing stranger has ever happened.
Well, where do you guys want to take it from here?
I mean, what can we do from here, y'know?
We should go back to the neighborhood or at least, like, nail Frannie down more into just being like, "You've gotta talk to him," you know what I mean?
Because now we know something we didn't know before.
So, yeah, knowing more about him is really what's important at this point.
Right, yeah, yeah.
And just filling in all the holes.
We go back to the neighborhood...
Here's a man that no one sees.
Here's a man that, if he goes food shopping, he goes 2:00, 3:00 in the morning.
He just put about half-inch plywood on the windows and nailed it into the window.
And, like I say, then he used to chain the door.
People like him, they just... they don't want to be bothered.
They live by themselves.
I think he works a little night work.
I'm not sure, we don't see him.
All I do know is people used to bother him, but he didn't bother nobody.
He used to have a car.
One side of it was... the floorboard was out of it.
I know that because one day I happened to look and I went, "Oh, my God," you know.
I said, "How can he drive it like that?"
It only had one seat on one side, I remember.
And I looked and I said, "Man don't have no floorboard in his car," y'know?
The tiler doesn't have a floorboard in his car.
It takes a second.
You're like, "No... no floorboard?"
Immediately, makes you think, "Well, that's how he's
"putting the Toynbee tiles down, is he's driving in his car, "dropping the Toynbee tiles through this floorboard-less part of the car."
No one would see a thing.
I remember seeing that tile in the middle of the highway and I wondered, like, "How did he do that?"
You're on the interstate, you drop a tile.
You're at the entrance of the Holland Tunnel and you drop a tile, y'know?
So you can put tiles in impossible locations.
It's brilliant, it's...
Well, I remember there was a car up here with a big, big antenna.
With a real big antenna.
He used to come over on the TV screen.
Like, he used to come in with the TV back in the day.
Like, he used to come across, like, you'd hear... you're watching a TV show and you would hear somebody talking.
My father used to complain about it going onto the TV.
'Cause it would be the floor model, back in the day, and it used to go...
You hear him talking on the thing and then my father used to go out there and scream and holler.
He's got his car, and before he starts tiling, he's tiling the airwaves.
He's tiling the 11:00 news.
You basically, you've got this guy in a car with the floorboards taken out of the passenger side of the car with no passenger seat, with a big Texas Flycatcher antenna attached to the car, transmitting a signal.
Driving down the street in his neighborhood and, as he passes each house, the television in the house goes haywire and his Toynbee message is coming over the speakers on the television.
And people are coming out of their house and yelling at the car because they know that it's him that's transmitting this signal on to the televisions.
It's a pretty intense story, you know.
I remember, younger, when we were kids, we called him the Birdman 'cause he would take the birds.
Like, if there was a broken... a bird on the street with a broken wing or whatever, he'll take it back and he'll nurse it and this and that.
Like, he does do stuff like that.
He's very timid.
Like, he has to know you, I guess, to talk to you.
But other than that, he keeps to himself.
He rides his bike and then he comes back.
He was, in his house that he lived in, he's, like, made himself a prisoner in the house because he had a confrontation with one of the neighbors that was renting off of the next-door property.
See, he's like a late... like a night owl.
And he plays the organ and then he plays the thing... - The accordion. - The accordion.
And he plays that, like, 3:00, 4:00 in the morning.
And so the neighbor that lived next door to him was drunks and they broke into the back of his house, and while he was sleeping on the couch, they put a knife to his throat.
One time he had the music so, so loud.
He says, "Well, we hear your piano all the time."
So he said... so he threatened him.
And that's why he barricaded the windows.
And now, recently this year, he just took off all the boards.
But he still locks his door up with the big lead pipe with the lock 'cause he's still a little timid.
These guys break into his house and hold a knife to his throat.
I think that would make anybody paranoid.
It's interesting because it ties into a message that was actually found on a tile.
People trying to kill him and he boards up his house with blast doors.
This is another version of the story.
Do you think if you knocked on his door and said, "Hey, it's Frannie," do you think he would come, just for you?
Well, we can knock, we'll try.
I see somebody there, like...
He was home.
And, um, hejust wasn't answering the door.
We start to realize here's somebody that's really sensitive to any kind of outside pressure.
And it's doing something bad to him.
I don't think we'll ever talk to Sevy.
It's a mystery.
It's a public mystery, it's been put out in the public for 25 years asking to be solved.
But once you solve it, you realize that the person really doesn't want you to solve it.
He doesn't want it to be a mystery.
He doesn't want that kind of attention.
And what do you do with that information, then?
At that point... we had kind of hit a dead end.
I've been looking for this needle-in-the-haystack name or whatever for years and years and years and years.
Y'know, it's, like, how do you connect with this person, y'know?
I always had doubts that that would ever happen.
A mysterious phenomenon that has been unfolding, as far as we know, well over a decade.
I guess putting it out there in shortwave radio land, we'll get it out there and maybe somebody who has experienced this phenomenon can get back to you all.
Ulis Fleming has this amazing story.
When he was a kid, he was driving from Baltimore to Philadelphia and he was listening to shortwave and he picked up the Toynbee Idea message shortwave transmission.
And at some point in the transmission, the person read out a PO Box address that he could write to.
And so he wrote to the address and said, "Yes, I'd like some of your information."
It was the press packet for the Minority Association.
Ulis still had all of the material.
Still had all of the papers.
We all got together to have a meeting while we received the e-mails in real time.
So, as Ulis was scanning in the sheets of paper and sending them to us, we were actually receiving them as they were coming in to us.
And we're all watching them unfold out of the ether world.
And we finally get to see the type-written messages and all the details of everything and who knows what.
I couldn't even imagine what would be in the material.
All these details were running through my mind like wildfire.
The information that he had was a personal letter signed from James Morasco.
As well as some other documents on the Minority Association.
The fact that we knew that it was an original letter from James Morasco was incredible.
Y'know, who... we had pretty much given up on the name James Morasco at this point and now here it was being tied back in to the mystery.
The question then was, why James Morasco... how did he fit in to all this?
James Morasco was the publicity director for the Minority Association.
The name Julius Piroli never came up.
The author of the documents refers to himself repeatedly as James Morasco except for one time when he refers to himself as Severino Verna.
"He sounded blue collar, proud of his education, certain of his information."
Sevy is very intelligent.
Yeah, yeah, he seems like it.
Very, very intelligent man.
"But not confident of his presentation to me, "or rather, to the 'lnquirer.'
He had a soft bass voice."
Sevy is very quiet.
Very quiet person.
I don't think there ever was a James Morasco in Fishtown.
I think Clark DeLeon remembered incorrectly.
The descriptions of James Morasco via Clark DeLeon all matched with the descriptions of Sevy that we had gotten from Sevy's neighbors.
They could have very easily been describing the same person.
James Morasco is sharing the same PO Box.
He's got the same handwriting.
He's using the same typewriter.
He's got the same phone number.
Everything really suggests that James Morasco never existed.
There was only ever one person and that person was Sevy.
The fact that he would create a pseudonym to unleash his idea on to the world made sense.
It's very difficult to do that if you're not an outgoing, charismatic person who's willing to deal with the public and everything.
And so I feel like he wanted there to be somebody like that, so he just made up a character to do that.
In the writing of Arnold Toynbee he felt that there was a promise that physical resurrection could be achieved through scientific means.
Toynbee never uses the exact phrase "dead molecules," but he comes real close to it.
If you look at it from his point of view it seemed as if Arnold Toynbee was giving specific instructions about how, if you were to take every molecule that made up a person while they were alive and you were to reassemble those molecules exactly as they were when that person was alive, that they would then be alive again just as they had been at that point.
The tiler tied Toynbee's idea of physical resurrection being a scientific process in with the movie "2001," where humanity achieved its next stage of evolution on the Jupiter mission.
In the end of that movie, there's this section where the astronaut sees himself dying.
But then he could be coming back to life.
He had some trouble with death.
I think he felt that people die, and they're gone.
Yeah, heaven, now at this stage of evolution, does not exist.
I think that the basic thinking is: the promise that God has made for there to be some type of afterlife is true... it will be true... but it will only become true when humans use science to actually fulfill this promise.
You could build heaven from the ground up.
If you interpret the end of the movie "2001" as people building a physical afterlife in outer space, then that basically is the Toynbee idea in movie 2001 to resurrect dead on planet Jupiter.
In the play "Four A.M.,"
David Mamet uses this phrase "molecules."
Another one of the enduring mysteries of the whole Toynbee story was where David Mamet got this idea, y'know, what this was all about.
So it was incredibly revealing to read this little piece of information in one of Sevy's letters to Ulis.
Well, David Mamet actually had even done interviews where he said...
The play is an homage to Larry King, the days when I used to listen to him on the radio in the middle of the night.
Well, now we knew there was a specific phone call made in February 1980.
And he was on the air on Larry King.
And who knows?
But Mamet insists the play is not based on a real caller.
People used to ask me where I get my ideas and I would always say, "I think of them."
There was no call on the radio, I made it up.
There are so many similarities between "Four A.M." and the Toynbee Idea campaign.
Certainly, all of the things that the caller says sound like they could have come directly out of the mouth of James Morasco.
The phrasings in the literature that we got from Ulis are so close to that source in "Four A.M."
Maybe he wrote something down at the time he heard it.
4:00 in the morning.
Went to bed.
Three years later, he forgot about where he got the idea and then wrote a short play.
It's kind of mind-boggling somehow, I don't know.
This is all somewhat up to conjecture because we don't know any of this stuff for sure.
It's all from context clues.
But this is what I'm thinking...
1979, he discovers the library book, has seen the movie "2001," puts two and two together in his mind.
February 1980, he makes a phone call to "Larry King Live" and gets on the air.
1980 through 1983, attempts are made to contact major media outlets.
Very little comes of that above and beyond the Clark DeLeon article.
His ways of publicizing the idea become more street level and grass routes as he experiences more rejection from the established media.
Sometime around this point, he has developed stationary and is making wheat pastes.
He is also experimenting in shortwave radio.
He tries to get a pirate radio station up and running and broadcasts via his car.
They won't put the Toynbee Idea on television and so he just drove around transmitting directly onto people's television sets.
He had this grandiose plan to build a pirate shortwave broadcaster to transmit signals into the USSR.
He actually had plans and schematics drawn out so that he could do that.
Sometime between 1983 and 1987, he perfects the tile-laying method and the first tiles begin to appear.
In the late '80s, Sevy drove his car across the US and also visited South America and laid hundreds and hundreds of tiles.
This process continues to this day.
You have to look at it from his point of view, which I'm sure is hard for a lot of people to do.
I think he became fixated on this idea that he had found the answer to overcome death and everything and decided that if he could just figure out a way to publicize the idea the rest of the story would kind of write itself.
When this didn't happen, not only did people not listen to him but they were actively mocking him.
There's a big part of that story that has to just do with empathizing with him as a person.
We found out everything we needed to find out.
We found out why the tiler never stepped forward and took credit for everything.
It gets to this point where there's this strange kind of dilemma where you say, "Okay, how much is too much?"
And let's just step back and leave it as it is.
"Mr. Verna, I have so many questions for you.
"L have listened to the shortwave frequency "listed on the fliers from so many years ago, "but have never heard you.
"L want to make perfectly clear to you
"the immense amount of respect I have for you as a thinker, "as a creative individual
"and as someone who has persevered "despite being ignored or mocked in the press
"in the early stages of your campaign.
"L sincerely admire you for your stalwart dedication
"and your innovation of a method of circumventing the media.
"Mr. Verna, if it is at all possible, "we would love to have you tell the story
"of this unparalleled publicity campaign in your own words.
"You have my solemn word, as someone who has followed "your creative work for over ten years
"that it is my highest priority "to present your thoughts and words, "in whatever form, in the most respectful and positive manner "of which I am capable.
"We have tried knocking on your door to speak in person, "but began to feel as if we were making pests of ourselves, "so we will not do so anymore.
"L write all of this to you in a spirit of total "openness and frankness.
"L hope you will be able to respond to us
"and that you would be willing to share your thoughts with us.
"But whatever decision you make, "please know that you have my understanding.
"L hope this finds you in good health and spirit.
Very truly and respectfully yours, Justin Duerr."
Imagining this ending up in his hands kind of makes me nervous with anticipation.
I run scenarios over in my head.
It's just that whole world of possibilities.
I mean, I... I... after I do that for a while, I just have to stop doing it 'cause it will drive me insane.
Late spring or early winter of 2007, I got off the subway train at Broad and Oregon in South Philadelphia.
And I catch a bus.
Around the 700 or 800 block, which is in the neighborhood where the address on the Toynbee tile in South America was... was... listed, or whatever, I just... I had an encounter with who I assumed to be the Toynbee tile culprit.
I kind of kept looking at him 'cause I thought, "Could that be... could that be Sevy?
I mean, it very well could be, he's the right age."
He looked like, sort of the type of person that was wrapped up in his own thoughts or whatever.
Certain people that you see, you can just tell that they're more on an introspective mind trip.
We exited the bus at opposite sides.
There was some extremely uncomfortable, you know... glancing back and forth and eye contact and stuff.
It was, y'know, uncomfortable and tense.
But nothing was said.
And... but we definitely noticed each other.
All kinds of stuff went through my head.
For years and years, I wanted to talk to this person and for years and years I wanted to solve the mystery.
But the thing was that when I ran into him on the bus, I didn't want to do it.
It's not that I couldn't bring myself to do it.
I decided not to bring myself to do it because I felt like it was not the right thing to do.
You can't force somebody to open up to you.
You can't force somebody to decide that they're gonna share things with you.
I need to know when to let go.
I had a moment of emotional and intellectual clarity about where I stood with the story.
Let them go in peace on their way and I would go in peace on my way and that would be it.