The Rockford Files

The Tower of Babble

The first call comes late on a Friday night. "Welcome back," says Mark Dahlgren, the organist at St. Mary's Shrine, who is nine months through the one year of probation he received for hugging a tree at Tom and Jan Ditzler's farm (see "For Keeps! A Christian Defense of Property," Views, April). "You probably haven't heard the news."

"What news?" I ask, dreading the tone of his voice.

"Oh, it's nothing really. The city just wants to put a cell tower in my front yard."

Well, not exactly, but close enough: The City of Rockford has entered into negotiations with Vertical Partners, a Minnesota company that sells space on cell towers to multiple cellular providers. Vertical Partners wants to market 13 sites around Rockford, most of them at city wells. One of those sites, City Well No. 10, sits less than 100 feet across the street from Mark's house; the picture window in his living room faces the well.

"Are you going to help us or not?"

I have to admit that I have no particular animus against cell phones. I have stayed away from them mainly because I do not want people to be able to reach me at their convenience. Still, if I could snap my fingers and make all computers, televisions, and cell phones disappear,...

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