Founding Feathers


“A lot of texts these days.”

“Yeah.  I was thinking.  What messages did we used to send that didn’t contain text?”

“Smoke signals.”

“Yes.  Can you imagine sending a smoke signal today?  From one end of a city to another?  From Minneapolis to St Paul?”

“There are a lot of places where it could still work.”

“Not in cities.”

“Certainly not.  But from one farm to another.  Along some trails.  In the desert.”

“What do you burn in a desert?”

“A desiccated cactus will bank a fire for days.”

“What about hieroglyphs?”

“Were they sent?”

“Through time.”

“That’s… a stretch.”

“They were composed by hand and contained or referred to a specific language.  How do we know they weren’t meant to convey information into the future?”

“I think they were pretty close to being text though.”

“How about Morse code?”

“Hmm—yes.  Only audible.  Not a text but,—”

“Immediately translated into text, usually.”

“Yeah.  What about just the plain old telephone?”

“That’s not really a message, though.  That’s a conversation.  If you’re calling someone, you’re expecting the person to answer.”

“How about voicemails, or the messages we used to leave on answering machines?”

“Yeah, that would count.  A message on an answering machine used to be a big deal.  But these days most voicemails don’t even get a listen.”

“Immediately deleted or ignored forever.”

“The message that falls in the forest.  Does anyone ever hear it?”

“What about mail?  As in, the postal service?  Pony Express?”

“All text.”




“Kind of like a modern hieroglyphics.  A relatively recent advent of communication.”


“Merely a game.  Not the means of conveying information.”


“If mimes were ever used as couriers, maybe.  But they weren’t.”

“Homing pigeons?”


“Messenger pigeons.  Didn’t they carry messages with great accuracy over surprising distances?”

“Yeah, I guess.  But the messages they carried were based in text.”

“Dang.  Yeah.  You’re right.”

“Whatever happened to all of them?”

“They retired to landlines in Florida.”

“How about body language?”

“Not sent.”

“What do you mean not sent?  Are you getting this?”

“Stop it.”

“The singing telegram.”

“Maybe.  But those were never that popular.  A gimmick.  More of a birthday thing.”

“What about objects that people sent?  Flowers, or a fish wrapped in newspaper?”

“Those are good, those would count.  But they’re limited.  Unless societies had worked out some sort of code where they could converse by sending different kinds of flowers back and forth.”

“Lights.  In a lighthouse.  Or from a steeple.  One if by land, two if by sea.  Thus, the most famous message in our country’s history was not a text message.”

“Good one….”




“It’s you.  I should have known.”

“That pigeon get to you yet?”

“Can I just first point out that you’re asking me by cell phone if a pigeon you sent over a hundred miles in my direction has or hasn’t delivered me a message?”

“It got there!”

“Yeah, it’s sitting here shitting on my windowsill.”

“Oh, man, I can’t believe it.  Even better than UPS.”

“How did it find me?”

“A magician never reveals his tricks.”

“You’re a magician now?”

“Not me!  The bird.”

“You really don’t know?”

“Man, I have no idea.  It’s a homing pigeon.  It just homes in.”