The other day while lackadaisically walking across Houston I spotted a tiled message in the street. Was it one of the famous Resurrect Dead signs from the Kickstarter-funded film that premiered at Sundance? Then, just as a I took my phone out to try and capture the sign, a Volkswagen peeled onto Houston St and nearly took my leg off. My photo opp had vanished. Luckily for me these signs placed in concrete aren’t very good at getting up and walking away, which is nice, because I was able to go back the next day and truly capture the essence of this unique sign on Houston St in all its (slightly shadowy) glory.
And that’s when things got weird. After I took the picture, Daniella & I were trying to make out what the sign, half eroded from vehicular traffic, said.
House of Hades
One Man Against
ShitoCrat and Neocon
What the hell is a shitocrat? Aren’t these signs supposed to say “Resurrect Dead” somewhere in the message? Perplexed, I began digging into a digital cave of information, and speculation, about the notorious signs. While the Toynbee Tiles, as they are known, have been spotted all over the world, their messages have also inspired others. “House of Hades” is one of the noted copycats, which, at first, made me kind of bummed. Here I was thinking I had unearthed a piece of Kickstarter history in real life. But, instead, it was just some knock off wanna be. Or, was it?
While reading up on the Toynbee Tiles, I found that there were numerous “Resurrect Dead” signs on the Lower East Side, including one on Delancey, and another on Bowery. In addition, turns out that the “House of Hades” signs, which have popped up all over the Lower East Side, are considered by some to be the work of Adam Purple, a Lower East Side artist who reportedly began putting these messages into the Street sometime in the mid-80s. While Purple’s involvement is unconfirmed, the fact that the artist called the LES his home and studio for so many years made me think this wasn’t so unlikely. Even weirder, since an exhibit of Purple’s work was recently funded through Kickstarter.
What began as a chance encounter turned into a wild goose chase. Like many before me, I became eager to find out the origins and people behind these little mysteries. Luckily, Director Jon Foy will be screening Resurrect Dead at the (appropriately titled) Stranger than Fiction film series on Tuesday March 29th in New York City. Oddly enough, the theater is on 1st Ave, roughly 88 blocks straight north of my original encounter with the signs. Full circle.