Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
Residents of Castro Valley, California, demand a redesign of a phallus-like cell tower.
Residents in Castro Valley, California, don't like what they see popping up into the air next to a public park and down the street from a church and elementary school. Intended to resemble an Italian cypress tree, a 60-foot cell phone communications tower – long and slender, with a slightly rounded tip – has struck many locals in this town just south of Oakland more like a part of the human anatomy than a part of the mobile communications infrastructure.
As can be seen in this picture, the tower does bear a slight resemblance to a penis – a 60-foot-tall metal penis, that is.
"It's ridiculous. Little girls point and laugh," a mechanic at the gas station next to the tower told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The outcry over the tower's phallus-like appearance has become so loud in the six months since it was erected that its owner, T-Mobile, recently sent out a crew to add some new "branches" to the structure to make it look more like a tree and less like a penis.
"When I first saw it, I thought it looked like a tree," T-Mobile Rod De La Rosa told the Chronicle. "But we want to be good neighbors, so we'll make the changes."
In a recent article, I bemoaned the lack of appreciation we give cell phone towers despite their increasingly crucial role in our highly connected lifestyles so dependent on information accessible whenever and wherever we want it. While it's nice to see that some extra attention is being paid to this important infrastructure, it's a little disappointing – though not particularly surprising – that it all boils down to a dick joke.