Saturday, July 03, 2004

Little Skyboxes Made Of Ticky Tocky

As I got out of my car with my camera I worried a bit about the department of homeland security. Was that woman over there watering her lawn a Tom Ridge proxy ? Were there black helicopters hovering just over the horizon ?

The big industrial complex at whose chain-link-fence-and-barbed-wire I was parked had been, after all, Raytheon , a major purveyor of a wide range of weapons of individual destruction. Which, taken collectively, do add up to weapons of mass destruction. But they are the good weapons of mass destruction. Our weapons of mass destruction.

Does "Raytheon" really mean "the light of God" ?

For the ladies, they produce a swell line of ornithologicaly themed missiles -- lark, sparrow, hawk, shrike, falcon, phoenix. For the gents, there are several phallically themed devices -- javelin, stinger, excalibur -- in addition to the ever-macho cruise, sidewinder, maverick and tomahawk missiles, the brilliant anti-armor tank submunition (BAT), the exoatmospheric kill vehicle, the aptly named HARM (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) and RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile). Why, they even produce a groundbreaking, post-modern, gender-inclusive device, the LGB, aka the Paveway Laser Guided Bomb.

A munition for practically everyone. (Note to CEO, how about a line of Celibate cruise missiles ?)

Of course, the plant whose perimeter I was stalking had closed a few years ago. The buildings have been refurbished, but are still mostly empty save for a gym and a bio-tech firm. There's lots of primo real estate left, just waiting to actualize its full negative capability.

I had come to photograph the Raytheon skyboxes -- curious, white shingled rooms on stilts. For all their evocation of desert stylites, Swiss Family Robinson and the tree houses of our childhood, I suspect they relate more to the testing of radar-related devices than to peaceable shelterings.

Along with The Church Of The Holy Armadillo

they represent one of Waltham's chief architectural curiosities. In fact, the military quonset hut motif of the church goes well, don't you think, with the munitions plant down the road ? And isn't it, well, practically chiasmic -- bomb plant named after God, God house shaped like a army barracks ? Onward Christian Soldiers ! Onward War-Mongering Christians ! And, come to think of it, isn't the armadillo like a little armored tank ? And isn't the church also awfully like Darth Vader's helmet ?

Nonetheless, I do admire these little stilted dollhouses. I would like to decommision one and live there, especially the one with the little rooftop garden. The location is a little stark -- overlooking an enormous, empty parking lot. But don't they seem like hermitages ? Perfect for a little laura of aerial hermits ?

I am imagining a Robert-Oppenheimer-like geek-monk living there, deeply contemplative, rapturously filling volumes with abstruse and beautiful symbols. Using a quasi-medieval slide-rule, of course. And, later, recoiling in horror from what he'd wrought.

Just as I can imagine a forlorn priest in the Holy Armadillo's rectory (or an imam in the Mosque of the Sacred Porcupine) lamenting all the ordnance being deployed and all the lives being lost in the name of "God."

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