Radio Free Albemarle

Dear Ace: Surely you’ve noticed that rather large, frankly ominous structure that popped up recently at the southwest end of the Montalto Ridge, among all those glowing red towers near Carter’s Mountain Orchard? What is it, and should I invest in a tin-foil hat?—Inquiring Mind

That hat sounds like a good start. Why do you think Ace wears lead-coated long underpants under his trench coat, except to guard his chakra system from the subtle emanations of those sinister pylons, that array of neon archons crouched upon our skyline like a soundless symphony of ghouls?

Ace recently had a dream in which he found himself navigating a hedge labyrinth in an idyllic garden. He happened upon an immense clearing, out of which rose one of those very same towers, its antennae scintillating like a tapestry of blood rubies. Only its lattice was made out of ivory, and smelled of ambergris and myrrh. And at its crown, among the heavens, Ace saw David Bowie dangling from a rope tied around his left ankle, reciting William Blake and portions of the Zohar translated into Koine Greek. Then the entire scene lifted like a velvet curtain, and just before waking, Ace found himself alone in the dark under the infinite gaze of a lidless, solitary eye.

And no joke, ladies and gentlemen: The lights just went out in the C-VILLE Weekly newsroom. So Ace, who was never all that intrepid when you get right down to it, will leave that trail for someone else to investigate. (Actually, Carter Mountain Trail runs directly through the array, if you’re feeling inquisitive. And brave.)

But for what it’s worth: In a 2002 Environmental Impact Review nestled in the bowels of the University of Virginia’s Emergency Health & Safety website, Ace discovered plans to expand the Carter Mountain complex—already comprising “at least ten radio, TV and cell phone towers,” but who’s counting?—to support a new emergency communications system “that will provide coordinated emergency and public safety radio communications coverage county wide.” A cooperative effort between the City, County, and University, the project entailed the addition of “a new tower and support building” to the south end of the existing tower farm.

The document also refers to plans for renovations to the Fan Mountain radio tower, about 13 miles south of Charlottesville; the addition of a new tower to Peters Mountain in Gordonsville; and the placement of a self-aware, super-intelligent satellite into geosynchronous orbit over the Rotunda.

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 21 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to

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