A few modest proposals for ways the cell-phone industry might dress up its towers

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Dispatches, October 1998

Public Relations
No Wonder the Reception's So Good at the Statue of Liberty
A few modest proposals for ways the cell-phone industry might dress up its towers
By Bruce McCall

The purveyors of cellular communications, anxious to be a "good neighbor" to those folks living in the shadow of its billion-volt, thousand-foot-high relay towers, is embarking on a crash program that industry spokespersons call "cosmetic-environmental adaptation." With top camouflage artists working around the clock, and zoning boards paid off, those mighty technological totem poles will soon be visually transformed into local landmarks of beauty, historical interest, and fun for the entire family. A few random examples:

Tower C-1006, Furrow City, Iowa. Iowa's first man-made giant redwood tree — indeed, its first redwood of any kind — is taking shape out here in corn country. And a sensational shape it is! When completed, the 1,200-foot, drive-thru, styrofoam "Big Red" promises to become a tourist attraction second to none in the Hawkeye State.

Tower AX-873, near Seattle, Washington. This ingeniously lifelike "sinking oil tanker," anchored in an artificial lagoon, conceals a functioning cell-phone tower while artistically deflecting blame for environmental mayhem onto the Pacific Northwest's pet whipping boy, Big Oil.

Here at Tower VT-90003, five miles outside Minnetonka, the sacred Viking heritage of Minnesota is memorialized by a 1,100-foot metal sculpture of Eric the Red. "Those superstitious Swedes will think twice about whining," reasons a tower designer, "when they find a Norse conqueror glaring down on them."

Soon, all Florida will be "abloom" with monster palm trees like this, Tower B-768-FG, near Sebring. Its electrified metal "trunk" will shoo away would-be shimmiers, while every month artificial coconuts will be released to fall earthward and shatter, scattering special introductory long-distance offers to the four winds.

— Text and Illustration by Bruce McCall

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