FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Flag in the Rain

Bored white corpuscles, the wife and I alternately crept and cruised the clogged arteries of Empire on our way to some godforsaken suburb to visit reactionary relatives in the rain.

We passed depressing god awful towns. Same supermarkets, drugstores, fast-food, Starbucks, Gap, Barnes and Noble what-have-you (just like NYC!). Hundreds upon hundreds of flags in every neighborhood, lining every Main Street and pocking every block. You could tell the truly lower and working class neighborhoods cause the flags had yellow ribbons on them, which meant the kids were off from school that day, out fighting for–what else?–The Flag.

On the highway we played “count-the-flag:” Old Glory waved from both domestic and imported cars. Soggy cloth and nylon flapped like rat-tails in the rain.

And of course, the bumper stickers and decals: “Proud To Be American United We Stand Remember 9/11 and The Alamo Valley of Heroes No Smoking Please Sit Down Chew Your Food Forty Times Don’t Interrupt Me When I’m Speaking…”

“Why you wanna wear Daddy’s clothes?” I screamed out the window at everyone, at no one. “Look at you dressing in THE MAN’S clothes pretending you’re Big Daddy!”

We pulled into a Shop-Rite parking lot in one of the wealthier towns–no yellow ribbons on the flags–and parked beside this shiny Jeep-type vehicle, looked like a Brink’s truck. But my wife said it was an SUV.

“Americans gotta find some way to blow gas,” she said. “Twenty-five years ago it was the Cadillac. Today it’s the SUV — hey, look at that, that’s illegal!”

“What, the big ugly gas guzzler or the ‘United We Stand’ bumper sticker on its fender?”

“No, no, the flag in the rain,” she said.

“We’ve seen about two thousand–”

“But look at the shape it’s in,” she said. “It’s a mess.”

Soaked and tattered; faded and fringed. I wouldn’t wipe my ass with the rag on that SUV.

“Oh yeah. I remember. Something about not letting Old Glory hit the ground or get spit on and stuff.”

Years ago, in the Age of the Cadillac, the Cub Scouts taught me the only proper way to dispose of a flag was to fold it neatly and burn it, yet here this guy had this REDWHITEandBLUE shmateh rotting away on his big brassy truck or sports van or whatever the salesmen told him it was supposed to be.

My wife ran in to pick up a cake for our hosts. I wasn’t alone more than a few minutes before Flagman walks up to the SUV, keys in hand, and damned if he’s not wearing a stars-and-stripes cardigan. Now, why was Abbie Hoffman considered a yippee yappy yahoo radical for wearing a hand-made flag-shirt while this guy’s considered…uh…”normal,” in a super-patriotic way, for sporting an off-the-rack Betsy Ross cardigan?

“Hey man, that’s illegal,” I said.

“Excuse me?” said Flagman, obviously anxious to get outta the rain lest he shrink his sweater.

“You’re mistreating that flag. Abusing it, in fact. It’s illegal.”

“My…my flag?”

“Sure,” I said. “Can’t let Old Glory fade out like an old hippy bandana. I mean, I’m not gonna report you, but…”

“Report me? To who?”

“You know. TIPS. The flag codicil of the USA PATRIOT act. Don’t tell me you don’t know?”

“No, I…”

“Anyway, ignorance of the law is no excuse…”

“Flag,” he said, as if appealing to some star-spangled deity.

“Again, I’m not the type to squeal on a guy who’s basically, I mean who appears to be patriotic, but some folks don’t take kindly to flag abuse. Also, there’s the type who’ll do anything for money…”

“Money?”

“Yeah. The TIPS people pay about fifty dollars for confirmed reports of abuse. All someone has to do is call the HOTLINE and…”

“Whoa. I don’t want trouble. Look, man, I’ll get rid of it as soon as I get home.”

“What do you mean, ‘get rid of it?’ You can’t just throw away Old Glory like a piece of cloth. You have to burn it.”

“Burn it? Ain’t that illegal?”

“Yeah. Go figure. But it’s also the only legal way to dispose of it. You can look it up if you don’t believe me. One of those Catch-22 deals.”

“No, it’s just that…look at it. It’s soaked.”

“Yeah. That’s a problem with keeping a flag in the rain. Well, it’s against regulations, probably, though I’m not sure, but you may want to blow dry it first, then fold it neatly and light her up.”

“Jesus Christ. Okay, man. Thanks. I gotta go.”

And with a chugga chugga zoom and toxic fumes, the flag burner sped off.

ADAM ENGEL was thrown out of the Cub Scouts for flag-burning, though he swears he was performing a mercy burning on a tattered remnant of Old Glory and not desecrating a virile, vigorous banner in its patriotic prime. Anyone up for a game of “count-the-flag” can reach him at bartleby.samsa@verizon.net

 

More articles by:

Adam Engel is editor of bluddlefilth.org. Submit your soul to bluddlefilth@yahoo.com. Human units, both foreign and domestic, are encouraged to send text, video, graphic, and audio art(ifacts), so long as they’re bluddlefilthy and from The Depths.

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail