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Behold the creeping bollards of Boston. These globules are found in front of the Tip O’Neill Federal Building on Causeway Street in Boston. Combine post 9/11 paranoia with the endemic American hatred of artistry, with the opportunity to money-grub in the trough of public works, and you end up with another parody of civilized life. Below, see how bollards are done in an authentically civilized place (Amsterdam, Netherlands).
Thanks to Richie Guerin for the nomination !


About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

20 Responses to “October 2014”

  1. Steve S October 6, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    I would have gone with the “bulbous bollards of Boston”, merely for the alliteration.

  2. Greyghost October 6, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I guess all I can say is Boston has balls. Imagine the havoc that could be created by nudging one or two of these bad boys off their perch and rolling them to a spot where gravity takes over. Something you might see depending on which sports team takes home a title.

    While you can’t call this eye candy, October is no where near the tasteless shit displayed in April and July.

    There is more out there. Keep looking.

  3. kleymo October 6, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

    “Fast and bulbous!”

    “That`s right, The Mascara Snake, fast and bulbous! Also a tin

  4. San Jose October 6, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    I think Boston got the idea from Target. Our newest Target has big red balls in front of the store. I’m not surprised….Boston has the most hideous City Hall I know of.

    • davidreese2 October 7, 2014 at 8:34 am #

      All I can say, living in Boston and have to pass by City Hall from time to time, saying it is “the most hideous City Hall” is an understatement.

      Perhaps Boston’s hideous City Hall is testimony, unintended, of the level of idiocy and incompetency in government.

  5. Leftbanker October 7, 2014 at 2:09 am #

    The ginormous tennis balls (I guess that’s what they are) serve to keep truck bombs from ramming into the building while the little metal rods in Amsterdam (and ubiquitous in Europe) are to keep people from parking on the sidewalk. For pedestrians they both represent a nuisance but like in so many things we Americans take ugly to a truly epic scale. I’m sure the Boston project netted a fortune for some intrepid security company—our biggest growth industry.

    It’s highly ironic that the same people who just yesterday bitched about the government mandating safety regulations for industry today are turning the country into an armed fortress because of a few religious lunatics. Conservatives bemoaned that seat belts would cost too much yet now they spend hundreds of billions of dollars so that jihadis don’t invade North Dakota. It would almost be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

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  6. dikke October 7, 2014 at 3:12 am #

    Serendipitously, those balls could double as insta-roadblock if the need should arise.

  7. AKlein October 8, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    The picture of the Amsterdam street makes me envious indeed. Why can’t we have such a civilized cityscape? Oh well, no matter I suppose. Maybe we could have a faux Amsterdam street added to Disney World. That way we could all imagine – if only for a few minutes – that we lived in a commodious environment.

  8. smoothtom October 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Oh, come on, there’s nothing particularly pleasing about the line of phalluses along the street in Amsterdam. That’s not to defend the things in Boston, but the Amsterdam street scene doesn’t somehow prove that we’re a bunch of rubes here in America.

  9. AKlein October 9, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    I wasn’t commenting about the “phalluses” as you call them. Frankly, I hadn’t thought of them in a sexual context, just as I did not think of the Boston orbs as gonads. I was, however, commenting on the gestalt of the Amsterdam street scene. To wit, it is inviting, it is human scaled. It has many, if not all, of the attributes that JHK opines makes for a liveable city environment. The Boston street scene? Shock and awe with lots of space devoted to the automobile. I’ll grant that the Boston locale is meant to be more commercial, but it sure as hell is not inviting in any way. As far as our not being “rubes”, well, I get your point, I think, but you could have chosen a more accurate word. Rubes are from the country (as in rubric). Our city folk are not rubes. More likely overfed, jaded, megalomaniacal poseurs. Rubes can actually have good taste, and when they don’t, it wouldn’t express itself in a streetscape such as that with the orbs.

    • AKlein October 9, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      A correction: the etymology of “rube” is not “rubric”. I had confused the term “rubric” with “rustic”. Nevertheless, “rube” does mean an unsophisticated person from a rural area. There is a slight implication of childish innocence and ignorance, but not necessarily a lack of taste or stupidity or lack of character.

    • smoothtom October 9, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

      Hi, AKlein, just to clarify I was responding to Jim rather than to you.

      I don’t disagree with your post, though. The Boston street scene is not nice, and the Amsterdam scene is lovely. But there are certainly other lovely street scenes one could find in the U.S. of A.–take a trip down the road from me to Columbus, Ohio, where you can find lovely, walkable, human-scaled streets in the German Village and Victorian Village. (You can also find wretched car-oriented sprawl, so Columbus is far, far from perfect.) I was mainly referring to Jim’s asserting that some bollards are good and wholesome (the ugly sticks in Amsterdam), while others are ugly and bad (the ugly balls in Boston).

      And, yes, “rubes” was a poor choice of word. Maybe “slobs”? “Classless fools”? I don’t know.


      • AKlein October 20, 2014 at 9:16 am #

        Ok, Smooth, I understand. Regarding your quandary regarding what to call the denizens of our cities – I’m with you – what to call them? What overwhelms me is just how tasteless most Americans have become. So little sense of proportion, such grandiosity, such megalomania, so little real creativity, such an utter lack of understanding that simplicity can be elegant. How about “vulgarians” as a word which encapsulates their mindset? They all want to be different yet they all want to be the same. Add this conflict to the stew and you got yourself a really odious populace. Every once in a while one encounters a real person (versus these caricatures of persons). They can come from a variety of ethnicities and socioeconomic strata too, amazingly. They must have some kind of immunity, I guess.

  10. Being There October 11, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    How sad is this? I always considered Boston to be one of our more attractive cities.

    Looks like somebody went crazy, but what else is new with this “leadership”?

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  11. Don October 20, 2014 at 4:17 am #

    Besides the skinny posts vs fat balls, please note the Dutch bicycles vs the fat ladies and the row of parked small cars vs the bloated US car in the foreground..

  12. edward4432 October 20, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    I agree that the concrete globes are to prevent a terrorist attack with a vehicle. The posts in Holland are too close to the curb and probably damage cars at some point. As for the Boston city Hall…one of America’s great buildings.

  13. wellnoted January 11, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    well, not as ugly or nakedly chickenshit as the crenulated vertical battering rams that appeared around the federal building in west los angeles after 9/11. this looks positively flintstones friendly compared to most in-your-face tip-offs that some activities damaging to the public good are being carried on within.

  14. venuspluto67 January 20, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    I think they should all be painted blue. Then they could be called “The Blue Balls of Boston”! 😀

  15. PeteAtomic February 23, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    Are they trying to force people off sidewalks? That’s what I got from this.

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