I turned on the TV one morning a few days ago and there was Michael Coe talking about Disraeli Gears, the second album by the super group Cream.
I was shocked, “What did Michael know about rock music?”
But, I wasn’t surprised. It seemed that he was a man for all seasons and the type of Renaissance person to take all knowledge for his province.
It turned out not to be Michael, but a doppelganger, Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of Atlantic Records.
But for a few moments, I was surprised and convinced it was Michael.
I first met Michael in 2008. He was giving an all day series of lectures on Angkor Wat at the Smithsonian one Saturday. At that time, I had no idea who he was. I had been interested in Angkor Wat since I was a young boy. No doubt, inspired by Richard Halliburton’s writing about the place.
The Smithsonian put Mr. Coe in one of their largest auditoriums and it was packed with over 500 people. At lunch time, everyone exited. I had brought what food I needed with me, in the form of several food-bars and a bottle of water. Michael was sitting on a chair behind the lectern. He was alone with his bag lunch. We were the only two people in the place. He seemed kind of lonely up there on the stage. I went up and asked if I could sit with him. I thought we could talk a bit. At first, he wasn’t sure what I wanted and then he said something like, “Oh, you want to shoot the breeze.”
I said yes, and once he understood, it was fine. I sat on the steps to the stage and he in his chair.
He told me that he had first seen Angkor Wat in 1954. He said, “and then a few things got in the way.” So, he said he became a Mayanist.
I remember we talked about tours he led and he said he did them with Far Horizons.
In 2014, I went to my first Maya at the Lago and the first person I met was Stan Guenter. He told me he was leading some tours to the Mayan world. “Who with?” I asked.
“Far Horizons,” he replied.
I signed up for a 2015 trip to the Peten with Stan, and thus began my association with one of the premiere tour companies in the world.
Several years ago Michael came to a Maya at the Lago and gave a talk. I had found my ticket to his lecture on Angkor Wat. When I showed it to him, I remember him smiling and gesturing with both hands toward it as he exclaimed, “That’s a real artifact!”
What a wonderful person.
PS Michael’s signature on my copy of his and Mark Van Stone’s book “Reading The Mayan Glyphs.”
PPS Mark’s Glyphic inscription is the vertical strip on the left side. It is left to the student at lab time to decipher.
Nevermind. Here’s the answer.
“To Lick from Mark of the Stone”
(It’s an “L” because the Mayans did not have an “R” so I am “Lick” not “Rick”)
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