I Want To Live At Wardenclyffe (aka More Tesla)

Remember when I went to celebrate Tesla’s birthday last year? Yes, cake and everything.

This year, I took a tour of Wardenclyffe since I can’t go to his birthday. I’ve decided that I would like to live there. Sure there are plants growing out of bricks, and none of the buildings are habitable.

Side Note: Brace yourself. I just looked up the word habitable to make sure I was using it the right way. What has become of my lazy-writer-MO? Oh, wait, I’ve been doing some proofreading gigs. It’s that grammar stuff.

Side Side Note: I still have like five jobs.

Anyway, Tesla! I love him! Here’s why. [All this is from notes I took in 90 degree heat in the blazing sun, so, you know, “facts.”]

The Bauer House

The Bauer House was originally a shoe shop before prohibition. Then it (allegedly?) became a speakeasy. There are tunnels leading out that were probably built to avoid police raids. The last time Telsa came to Wardenclyffe, he sat with the Bauers, speaking to them in German. German, y’all!

Tesla’s Coil

Tesla’s coil uses magnetic and/or electrical fields and can play music when hooked up to a keyboard if it doesn’t first give out so much energy as to render the keyboard inoperable. The first solution to any technology that isn’t working is: Turn It Off and Turn It On Again. I didn’t catch the name of the volunteer running the show here, but he knew, like, everything. Lots of stuff about induction and resonance. We listened to the coil play the theme song to Game Of Thrones.

Did you know that if you play a note on a stringed instrument next to another stringed instrument, the other instrument will play the same note? Yes! Because waves of some sort.

[Again, it was hot, I was sweating–yes, I know, I’m always sweating, but this time it was from the heat–and I was following science the best I could, and I’m not a science idiot but I’m also not Tesla or this very knowledgable volunteer and I don’t play violin, so let’s just accept my “waves of some sort” as accurate. Also, I don’t know if I spelled knowledgable right; it looks wrong. Back to being lazy].

Then we moved onto the Van de Graaff generator. It’s the thing that makes your hair stand on end if you put your hands on it. However, humidity can put a damper on all that electrostatic, lit-er-al-ly. So while the VdG generator messes your hair up in a fun way, humidity interrupts the fun and messes your hair up in a not fun way. This is why everyone moves to Arizona. The dry heat.

Finally, someone played the theramin. It’s an electric instrument that works without touching it. The inventor, Theramin, was from Russia and also invented things for ships to help them with navigation. Possibly.

Teleautomaton

Tesla created the first remote-controlled machines. Like, robotics, y’all. In 1898, he presented his teleautomaton at Madison Square Garden to the crowd at the Electronics Expo. Some people accused him of occultism and that bad magic. Some people thought he had a monkey inside his machine. Because somehow that’s more believable than scientific inventions.

IMG_3955

Is there a monkey in here?

Tesla’s Tower Of Power

Tower To The People is a documentary directed by Joseph Sikorski about Tesla’s Wardenclyffe dream. Sikorski offered some insights into the story, complete with sound effects of buildings crashing down when he got to the part about destroying Wardenclyffe. Basically, after Tesla’s friend Astor died on the Titanic, his estate pursued back-rent for Tesla’s living at the Waldorf Astoria and kind of not paying sometimes. Somehow, destroying Wardenclyffe led to getting the money they wanted.

Also, here is exactly what I wrote in my notebook after all that: Telefunken in West Sayville = other huge LI tower.

Discuss and get back to me.

Induction Motor

There were Teslas there. Like, the cars. They look like any other cars but they run on Tesla technology (not monkeys). I don’t know much about cars, but I do know a scooter built for two is the epitome of everything life is meant for.

B1404B48-2B79-46C9-93C7-7536647D5652

Train Spur and Lab Chimney

The train spurred off right to Tesla’s lab. It doesn’t do that anymore. The decorative cap on the chimney is called the wellhead. That’s about all I gathered because I was distracted by the plants again.

20EC5F63-1E62-45F3-8B1B-179CB32D81A4

Lab and Tunnels

The lab has tunnels running out from it to where the tower was. These tunnels were to get water and air to the tower and for steel and copper electrical grounding rods.

That does not sound right at all, but these were words I heard. Feel free to continue to play around with them until you find an order that makes sense to you.

IMG_3962

Isn’t it pretty?

IMG_3965

I wanted to get a Tesla pin, but all they had were t-shirts, so I instead donated some money and headed out.

I want to go back, though. There’s something about that place. There are spirits. It hums with something special. So if I could just live there, you know? To soak up all that vibration day after day.

I know. I’m aware that my idea of camping is watching Naked and Afraid while wearing clothes under my ceiling fan. I’m aware that living at Wardenclyffe would mean living without modern day advances like plumbing. Also, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to live there.

So, here’s the deal. I’ll keep visiting whenever it’s open. I’ll keep taking my notes and writing my poems. I’ll keep falling in love over and again with this inventor. My collection, Tesla, My Love, Our Everything, will one day be complete and published, and then maybe it will win an award, and then maybe I’ll get rich and famous and then I can refurbish the Bauer House and live at Wardenclyffe. That’s the plan.

Advertisements

Tesla, My Neon-Bright Love

IMG_1068Nikola Tesla invented. From his mind circa the 1880s came electricity. Okay, not exactly, but his inventions harnessed power and revolutionized technology. Also, he’s been popping up in my life in various ways. Remember that time my brother and I went daytripping in StonyBrook and stumbled across the Tesla exhibit? Remember that time I trounced around NYC and stumbled across the random street sign for Tesla? Remember that time I was on vacation and the hotel tv was playing a series about Tesla non-stop? Remember that time Tesla opened for Def Leppard at Jones Beach? Okay, different Tesla, but still. And but really? Is it different? Anyway, Tesla needs me. Maybe I need him.

In fact, if you’ve been at any of my recent poetry readings, you know I need him. I’ve been writing about him. If you know this, then you also know he’s the basis of my next collection. Poetry needs Tesla, too.

The best way to discover why our mutual affinity has been growing was to attend his birthday celebration. You might say, But wait, isn’t he, like, no longer among the living? To that I say, What’s your point? Wardenclyffe is still standing.

Out in Shoreham, Tesla did some things. His lab is there along with the remains of his tower of power–just the base squares in a circular pattern on the ground. The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe plans to reopen the grounds as a science center. Right now, it’s still kind of desolate, but it serves quite nicely as a place for a birthday celebration.

This year, they held the Neon Birthday Expo. The expo included tours of the grounds, robotics demonstrations, tables of local artists and science-related clubs and organizations, a neon tent dedicated to neon things, and a PSEG table from which I scored another new pair of free sunglasses. All my sunglasses are now sponsorships. Tesla cars lined up and showed off.

I was in my nerdy geeky techy love glory. Moseying along the nature path. Moseying around the perimeter of the grounds. Moseying through the neon tent and then moseying quickly out because it was about 1000 degrees inside. (All the moseying was due to the day being really hot and we were all in direct sunlight. Which is actually a good thing because it was a birthday celebration and birthday parties should be sunny. )

IMG_1026

Find Clayton Orehek for all your neon art needs.

The keynote speaker was Gregory Olsen. Um, you guys, he’s an astronaut.  This totally made up for my not being able to find the astronaut at BEA. 

img_1072.jpg

Kyle Driebeek played Happy Birthday on the theramin. If you don’t know what that means, click this link because the link is better than any way I might attempt to describe it.

Then, there was cake. I shit you not. They had two sheet cakes complete with Tesla’s face on them.

IMG_1073

I’m looking forward to the day when we can head out to Wardenclyffe when it’s all decked out as a science center. It’d be one step closer to meeting the man himself. In the meantime, there’s always Belgrade.

Oh, and this. Because I like to amuse myself.

IMG_1070

Daytripping With Tesla

My brother and I are both teachers, so we have summers “off.” Those quotation marks mean we are not working in the normal sense; however, if writing syllabi and reading for the Fall are not working, then syllabi-writing is somehow a hobby that I can’t stop doing, not for the fun of it but for the mandatory necessity of it. (Full disclosure: the Virgo in me loves writing syllabi because I get to plan things. Planning!)

The “off” also refers to the ability to gallivant across the tri-state area to see things we live near yet have never seen before. On the list for the first jaunt (bum leg and all) were a memorial, a bull, and a tiny village of shops and artsy things within Stonybrook. Some of these things were demapped. My brother must have said this word maybe 52 times. Also, we found Tesla. Like, the guy, not the car. But also, the car.

First stop: an apparently demapped Vietnam memorial in Bald Hill. Or, if not demapped, then not easy to find on a map. The GPS took us to in and around the area of the memorial. We could see it rise above the trees along the road. However, we were on the opposite side of the road near the Pennysaver Amphitheatre, which was closed but had an open gate. We rolled in and rolled out. Then I suggested parking in the tiny park next to it and walking back over.

Vietnam Bald Hill Memorial (3)

My brother taking pictures of the top of the memorial from all the way across the road and the trees.

Vietnam Bald Hill Memorial (13)

And this is how much of it we could see.

As we walked uphill towards the open gate that said they were closed, a tiny car with a large cigar-smoking, 7-11 coffee-drinking man rolled up behind us and shout-asked: You lookin for somebody?

We were like, no, something–the memorial.

After starting to say it was way deep into beyond the gates, it dawned on him what we were talking about and he was like, Oh you guys gotta go back to how you came in and then take the next exit off ’cause this whole area is Bald Hill.

I was like, Yeah, the map said we should go here.

He was like, Yeah, it’s a good thing I found you because you woulda got lost back there and you have no water. He chuckled. We thanked him.

We made our way back to find the next exit and my brother was like, That guy needs a name. At the same time we automatically said, Vinnie. He was totally a Vinnie.

Thanks to Vinnie, we found the memorial. It was a weird exit because the memorial is located in a park in the middle of a highway. It’s quite breath-taking, literally and figuratively. It’s on a hill [hence, Bald Hill], and it’s simply stark in its simplicity and tribute.

 

Side note: several times, my brother asked me if I could keep walking and if I’d be able to get up the hill. Boys sometimes notice things. I made it up the hill all right and back down, much more slowly than usual, of course.

Second stop: The bull statue in Smithtown is in the middle of a very busy road. At first, we couldn’t find it, so my brother kept asking, When do we give up? I was like, Never. So on we drove until he was like, There it is! It’s hard to miss. First we turned before it and realized we couldn’t pull over. Then we backtracked and I told him to turn into the bike path that also indicated parking. He was like, No because we can’t get out then. I was like, but the big gardening truck is there and it has to get out somehow, pointing at the gardening truck that we would be parking behind. We drove under the overpass and I was like, Pull into the urgent care. He was like, it’s private parking. I was like, there are enough spaces in there so other people can park so we won’t be blocking any urgency. He parked.

We walked over to the bull. It’s pretty large and anatomically correct.

 

The Bull (1)

He was like, I’m not sure I got its head in. Thanks, bro. Then again, I did accidentally photobomb his picture (see above).

Third stop: Stonybrook to see a bunch of things that are all in one spot. The neat thing about his wanting to see things is that they crossed over with a bunch of lists I have about the best tea and coffee and oddities across the land. We found a very fancy post office, Hercules, an old boat, pretty water, and the Grist Mill which was closed. I walked around it to see if we could get better photos of the water wheel but my brother was like, this is a private road, and I was like, It’s not like I have a car. Then we couldn’t get around the mill anyway so we headed back.

 

Hercules (1)

In honor of Hercules, we look Herculean here.

Two girls arrived behind us and were taking pictures so I offered to take one of them together. They declined just as me and one of them at the same time noticed that we both had Gatsby bags. They’d dropped off books at the little library near the tea shop and I was like, I wished I had books with me to leave. Apparently, it was their second time there, so they knew to bring the books. I know for next time, but I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon because it’s quite a drive and I’ve got other places to see. (Also, we didn’t ask them to take our picture and they didn’t offer, so the only one I have is the one I took by leaning my phone against a tiny tree stump).

Starved, we ate at Crazy Beans. They have a Crazy Ruben and a Crazy Cuban. We debated about which would win in a fight. The ambience and the deliciousness of the food make me forget the outcome.

 

The biggest part of our outing, however, was a very unplanned excursion into the world of one Nikolai Tesla, inventor of many electric things and patenter of very few. Also, fun fact, lover of pigeons. That fact didn’t actually appear in this exhibit, but it’s something I know because I once wrote a poem called “Tesla And Marconi Throw Down For Patent Rights, Royalties, And, Most Importantly, Fame” that was published in Spilt Milk, a now defunct British online poetry mag. It’s one of my favorite poems I’ve ever written because not only does it discuss science, patents, and what a douche Marconi was, but it also refers to the band Tesla, a very underrated band concerning nostalgia and the 90s (but who also played Jones Beach last year and seemed to be very happy and very much still underrated).

we found the educational and Cultural Center at the back of the large parking lot where all the other shops stand. There was a Tesla exhibit that cost $5 to see (marked down from $7 because of change issue–score!). The first thing I noticed was that everything was written in both English and Russian. Then I noticed it was not Russian. Tesla was not Russian. It was a different language. Now if you think I’m going to remember or look it up at this point, you don’t know me at all, do you. At least I know about his pigeon-love.

Anyway, the exhibit had trivia and lots of things to read and some things that we weren’t allowed to touch because they obviously generated electricity. There was a neon Tesla. There was also the Tesla car that Tesla did not make. We waited around for the presentation that we were told would happen in 15 minutes. It didn’t happen in 15 minutes even after we took a bathroom break, so we decided to bow out of the demonstration, knowing that there would be some sort of electricity happening. We did partake in the Look At How White The Paper Is Under The Tesla-Inspired Light Bulb, however, which was good enough for us.

 

The misfortune of Tesla stems from his failure to patent his most precious inventions. He did patent some inventions, but not enough. Maybe he trusted people too much or maybe he thought gifting it all to the world was the way to go. However, he died poor. There’s a movie you can watch about it on Amazon, and the exhibit featured a suit and fancy hat worn in the movie.

Since then, Tesla has been following me. Popping up on the television, a documentary about Tesla. Driving down the city street, a street named after Tesla. Tesla cars everywhere I go. Pigeons. Lots of pigeons flying around. Tesla may be trying to tell me something.

Then we saw an old house. Demapped, we first found the address given near the house. Then we drove back and forth through the backroads of Stonybrook and Stonybrook-adjacent, trying to find another old house. Back and forth until, oh, there it is, next to the historical society. The houses were really old. My brother is a history teacher. It made sense to see old things up close. These houses look the same in these photos. They are different.

Tesla-ed out and in a food coma, we found our daytripping coming to a close. I arrived home with a half a sandwich and a bit of a limp, worth every moment.