An unsolved mystery reappears Sign: That cryptic message shows up again at Calvert and Redwood. What does it all mean?

January 02, 1998|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN STAFF

That does it. It's time to come out, whoever you are -- you who keeps leaving cryptic, taunting markers on our Baltimore intersections.

A new Toynbee Idea in Movie 2001 Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter street marker has appeared. You've seen the old ones -- heck, you walk over them every day. The white stenciled messages, clandestinely applied by some guerrilla artist, no doubt, have baffled the locals for years. No one seems to know when they first appeared. And no one knows exactly what the message means.

It seems obvious they have something to do with Stanley Kubrick's classic movie, "2001: A Space Odyssey," and the teachings of the late British historian, Arnold Toynbee. In some of his writings, Toynbee implied some sort of religious regeneration. The movie -- starring HAL the computer and that funky monolith -- implies something about regeneration on Jupiter.

Over the past several years, the Toynbee markers have turned up on the streets of Washington, Chicago, Boston, Providence, even Times Square. Many have crumbled into white specks, others have been paved over during street resurfacings.

Three years ago, The Sun's front page dedicated valuable space to the street marker story. The city's Public Works Department, the Maryland Institute, College of Art, and the Baltimore Film Forum were contacted and left stumped by the presence of these signs. We even called John Waters -- who was good for a quote, but not for information.

More than 100 people called the paper with their ideas on the message and unknown artist. "Some things are just best left alone," one reader wrote. So we did. The mystery was left unsolved.

Then, Calvert Street was re-surfaced and that seemed to be the end of Toynbee, Kubrick, et al. But just recently, a fresh Toynbee sign appeared at the intersection of Calvert and Redwood streets. Instead of the usual white lettering, this marker is cast boldly in blue and orange. And to further taunt us, there's additional scribbling:

You Must Make + Clue Tile!! You!! As Media U.S.S.R.

Anyone want to take another shot at this mystery?

Pub Date: 1/02/98

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