This is a scene a couple of blocks from where I live. The curvature of the pole isn’t just distortion from the cheap zoom lens; it really is leaning over slightly.
When I first moved to America, one of the things I noticed was the ugly cabling everywhere. Not just cables, either—big cylindrical metal transformers are stuck out in plain view on the tops of poles. I’m not alone in noticing this; friends who’ve visited from the UK have also taken pictures.
If you’re American, you might be wondering what the alternative is. Well, basically you bury the cables under the ground. Or failing that, you string up the cables, but you bury the ugly complicated transformers and cross-connections underground, or hide them away behind bushes.
Burying cables underground costs more, of course—or rather, it costs more initially. New England is known for wet snow and ice storms, which have a tendency to rip down overhead cables. I can’t help wondering how much money is spent fixing broken cables that wouldn’t have been damaged if they’d been routed underground. It wouldn’t be practical to dig cable tunnels across (say) Arizona, but you’d think they could manage it for a densely populated area like Boston.
What I particularly like about this example of American craftsmanship is the horizontal rectangular metal box just beneath the second-lowest cable on the right. You can’t see in the picture when it’s scaled to web size, but the only thing holding the box in place is that it’s lashed to the cable above it with some kind of insulating tape.
This pole is a metaphor for America. You don’t notice it initially, but once you’ve been here for a while you realize that the entire country is lashed together temporarily until something better comes along. As you travel west, it becomes more and more obvious.
In Seattle, I went on the Seattle Underground tour. No, it wasn’t a secret political movement; for those who don’t know the story, I’ll explain.