Power rangers

By GREG COOK  |  January 21, 2009

Discussing the history of the wooden utility pole, Stilgoe notes that other nations erected steel poles or buried utility lines under ground, "but not so in the United States, land of cheap timber, vast distances, and an easygoing willingness to accept the poles that warp and twist and finally rot." He observes that utility companies' worries about line breaks and loose electricity cause them to deforest city streets and prune everything under the long-distance, high-tension electric lines. And then these open electric line right-of-ways serve as corridors for wildlife to move between one range and the next.

Ryder and Rosa's project has the feeling of the beginning of explorations, when everything seems strange and its logic escapes you. There is alluring mystery in their scenes, glimpses of a hidden world, a sense of America seen from backstage. But I'm spoiled by Stilgoe. I wish they hadn't just stuck to making observations, but also dug in deeper.

Read Greg Cook's blog at gregcookland.com/journal.

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