Friday, December 15, 2000
It's true, money talks. Just listen to your cell phone. That's why one of those "personal wireless facilities" will be poking up over the pines here before long. Someone gets a lot of money, and we get to talk and talk and talk.
Our current lack of a so-called cell tower saves us from ourselves. All needless mobile jabber drowns in static at the town line. We must then drive in silence through unspoiled beauty. But that won't do. We humans must babble, and for that we need a tower.
Could we, at least, demand a "pretty" tower? A kind of Pelazzo Vecchio for the wireless world? Fuggeddaboutit! Concealed in a belfry or disguised as an evergreen, the ugliness abides. One proposal calls for kind of a flagless flagpole a leafless stick amid the multiplying fauna of transmitters and antennae. Ugly. That's too bad, because a true tower can be a magical thing. Kids, so easily awestruck by steeples and silos, are enchanted by a genuine tower. They are the sum of all that is terrible and wonderful in a big world.
Take the old submarine lookout at Brant Rock, Marshfield. I was small, it was huge a rearing serpent with a jutting forehead and narrow windows, like squinting eyes, looking seaward. How terrible! How wonderful!
The U Boats never came to Brant Rock. But the old lookout survives shabby and unadorned, save for a cheesy yellow "For Rent" sign. Terrible! But still, in my memory, wonderful. Could it be doubling as a cell tower? Where's a German torpedo when you need one?
The health conscious see cell towers as torpedoesor time bombs. Pulsed digital waves, microwave radiation, electromagnetic fields = brain cancer, eye damage, asthma, lymphoma. Harvard researchers with their laboratory mice are investigating. Good people disagree here. But if you ask me, cell phones are a health risk and a towering nuisance. Weaving, one-handed drivers; bleating Yankee Doodle interruptions in theaters and restaurants; silly, self-important chatter all around us. Such is the unhappy legacy of these plastic toads.
But do I own one? Of course. Don't you? We might credibly insist they are for emergencies. The cardiac victim calling an ambulance; the midnight breakdown on Westford Street. But then there's that sudden mean urge, while driving, to ask your Democrat friend in Palm Beach if he'd prefer a ballot that looks like a Bingo card. Sheer, frivolous babble.
Truth is, the towers and the phones, like toilets and sewers, are our destiny. Give up your cell phone, or look for some skinny Eiffel to pop up near you soon.
Meanwhile, a modest proposal. In warm weather our town is home to swarms of blood-crazed airborne pests that, as a health risk, rival a shower of electromagnetism. Yet, with apparent affection, we've named this newspaper for one. So, why not crown that ersatz flagpole with a flapping, fearsome image of a giant mosquito?
How terrible! How wonderful!
The sunlight is weak, the nights are long, and the cold has settled in for the season. Neighbors drive by with their ear-flaps rolled down and their windows rolled up. Whether this is your first winter in town or your thirty-fifth, it can be very lonely in Carlisle. It's easy to lose bonds to the town and the neighborhood as life patterns change: children graduate and leave the local schools, friends move away, local projects end. Attending the Town Meeting once a year or doing the dump run once a week, you may not meet anyone you know. Carlisle can feel like an address, not a home.
Without an invitation or appointment, it may feel awkward - even scary if you're shy to knock on a neighbor's door. So what do the other town residents do? If you drive down Westford Street any evening, Monday through Thursday, you will notice that the Town Hall is brightly lighted. Many of your neighbors are attending meetings of town boards and committees, serving the town's present needs and charting its future course. They are also meeting other townspeople, creating new friendships, getting involved, staying connected.
Look at the back page of this and every issue and note the Carlisle Calendar. The public is invited to every listed event. Attend a meeting. Meet one new person who is working on something that interests you. There are always opportunities to become involved in town government and activities, many requiring little time. Or, call the Mosquito office (369-8313) and speak to one of us about a regular or occasional reporting assignment. We need help covering town committee meetings, reporting on special events, and researching issues or questions of interest and significance to our readers. For the time you give you will be paid in dollars (a few), new acquaintances (maybe real friendships), and a greater understanding of what moves and inspires this town. And we will say thank you.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito