Thursday, October 11

Flaggin' A Dead Horse

THEY'RE Dicks! And here I spent two days trying to figure out what to say about Lapelgate.

In my defense, Mr. Edroso is smarter, more savvy, and younger, which means among other things that his recollection of the Flag Decal is more theoretical than my own; I was a surly, anti-war, anti-nuke, anti-haircut teen when those things became the must-own accessory for your 1970 Ford Country Squire, and I took it personally. Which means my post turned into a thesis right away, something that wasn't helped by the fact that the first partisan use of the flag that I recall was the Impeach Earl Warren billboard the Birch Society put up across the street from the Track in Speedway in the early 60s. To my ten-year-old nose he thing had a distinct odor of violence, like they planned to plant the thing in the poor man's chest as a way of marking territory. It's another sad commentary on a society that pisses its Bloomers at the thought of a child glimpsing a human breast but gleefully allows a national symbol to be linked with the sort of partisan disagreements that frequently wind up with someone under the treads of a tank.

There is, of course, the other thing, namely that beyond freely co-opting Old Glory for partisan political purposes the flag idolaters routinely disrespect it, the primary example here being that the flag is not a decorative item and doesn't belong on civilian clothing. (For that matter, "uniform" in this case means "Army, Navy, Air Force, Firefighter..." and not "Ladies and Gentlemen...YOUR ST. LOUIS RAMMMMMMS!" Y'know, counting the refs there's roughly ninety men on the field every Sunday with flags on their chests, sleeves, helmets and possibly socks, in an average of sixteen locations for an average of sixteen weeks, and yet when one of those men--Pat Tillman, that is--actually volunteered to serve that flag the whole fuckin' country was dumbfounded!) I would have been tickled to death to hear Barack Obama say, "The flag isn't a piece of dime-store jewelry, and everyone who wears it like one is showing disrespect."

I have another problem with The Flag, and I've been a secret sufferer for years: aesthetically, it sucks. The opposite ends of the visible spectrum rarely go together well, and horizontal stripes!? Also there's that violation of the fundamental design principle One Flag At A Time. The whole upper-left-hand-corner thing doesn't work for me, nor the pennant-within-a-flag bit like Cuba, or Djibouti, or The Bahamas. Greece looks like a test for astigmatism. Personally, if I'm going to get nabbed by a Press Gang I'm hoping it's Belgian. There's a flag looks good on a beret.

The best thing about The Flag is the bold graphic elements put us near the top when it comes to bunting, but even there we should acknowledge that Liberia, with that Jasper Johns crossed with Folk Art thing going on, went us one better. as they can just recycle old flags for the purpose if they want to.

I think it's time to admit we shoulda stuck with Don't Tread On Me, and get to work doing what we do best: slapping a new label on things. If we don't want to go with that retro-snake thing, what about tie-dye? I'm not sure we invented it, but we sure perfected it. Every flag would be different, reflecting the whole E Pluribus Unum thing, but instantly recognizable as well. Plus every faux-hippie would become an instant patriot. And to keep the dicks happy we could switch from Red White and Blue to Woodland Cammo so they could wear it on everything.


Porlock Junior said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Porlock Junior said...

As George Washington said to Betsy Ross,

Stars? with stripes?? How does that go together -- design-wise? I distinctly said polka-dots.


Look at the colors you chose!
The best you could do, I suppose,
Was peppermint stripe with royal blue,
The same as the British colors, too,
Now how will we know whose side is who?
Look at the colors you chose!

--Stan Freberg Modestly Presents the United States of America.

Actually I like the (grand) old rag. Its intrepid garishness suits the country pretty well. ("Oh well, I gues I'll run it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes." -- Washington again. You can tell that record came out around 1960.)

I also secretly believe that

...The myrtle of VE-
Nus with Bacchus's vine

is not as good a use of the music as

...The land of the FREE
And the home of the brave.

The drinking song is just less serious and pretentious, that's all.

And who would sing such a tune unless in a state of intoxication, whether alcoholic or patriotic?

R. Porrofatto said...

The Cammo idea is brilliant. Liberia has the right idea, but another star & stripe, red, white & blue comrade is North Korea, whose elongated rectangle is not only bumpersticker proportioned, but a ready-made armband. One of my favorites is South Korea's, which, for all the symbolism, still looks like a floor plan for an in-the-round production of Hair.

Chris Vosburg said...

Great post and great comments. Thanks for the link to the flags site, where I wasted an hour of the precious little time left to me.

Agreed on the Belgian flag. If you gotta go red/white/blue, it's the Netherlands flag for you, which turns out to be Guadalupe's flag sideways. Cheers to Gambia for an RBG flag for video engineers, and to Nepal for saying "where does it say it has to be rectagonal?"

And lastly, special mentions for Oman's dildos rampant on a field of red, and South Georgia Sandwich (who knew?) for it's extraordinarily busy arrangement of penguins, walruses, deer and other assorted waterfowl and woodland creatures. No I'm not kidding, it is that weird.

Chris Vosburg said...

Okay, now I'm embarrassed and a little pissed off. I constructed those links with utmost care, and now they all point to nothing.

Note to self: stop trying. Stop caring. About anything.

Oh well, mmm, South Georgia Sandwich... argghhhhh...

Harry Cheddar said...

A local defense counsel likes to show up for jury trials wearing a conspicuous flag pin. So I picked one with flashing LEDs. I plan to flip on the disco lights and say, "Ladies and gentlemen, our great nation is counting on you to provide justice for my client". (Actually, I probably won't have the stones to wear it to court).

Also, Soul Coughing rox.