Two Flags

From my living room window I can see two large American flags. One of the flags is on the roof of an apartment building on the north side of the hill and is visible along a long stretch of the waterfront, the heaviest tourist area in San Francisco. As soon as thes flag shows signs of wear, someone replaces it. The other flag is less obvious. It flies from the roof of a restaurant on the eastern side of the hill, a restaurant that has gone out of business. The only people who see it are locals and tourists walking the steps to Coit Tower. The pole got bent during a particularly heavy winter storm, and the flag is all tattered and tangled now. The pole changes position, now to the right, now to the left, depending on which way the wind is blowing. No one pays it any mind at all.


8 Responses to “Two Flags”

  1. Sylvia Cooley Says:

    Mixed flag feelings…it can be beautiful- the colors, blowing in the wind. My son says the flag evokes a lot of feelings for him. My husband and I are old former hippie types who tend to be wary of the dangers in blind nationalism. Our son joined the Coast Guard Reserves recently and I find I am drawn into his patriotism a little bit. He will be involved in search and rescue missions off the east coast. Here is a pretty flag photo for you from his boot camp graduation:

  2. del Says:

    We have an odd phenomenon where I live (Arizona) where apparently the bigger your flag is, the more “American” you are. There is a car dealership in a nearby town with an enormous flag that must be 50 feet across on a gigantic pole. It dwarfs the building beneath it. A flag almost as large flew over a local restaurant for a while until they went bust in the recession. Now there is just a huge flagpole sticking up in the air – the new occupants ( a mexican restaurant) don’t seem to know what to do with it. Another is fastened to a neighbor’s patio. And sometimes you see a lot of ridiculous huge flags fastened to the rear bumpers of jacked-up SUVs and redneck pickups.

    It’s strange and I’m not sure what to make of it. I think it might have more to do with annoying “liberals” than an expression of true patriotism. But maybe it’s always been this way and I just never noticed before.

    • markbittner Says:

      My father, who lived in Oregon, used to have a car with a big flag and a sticker of an American eagle coming down to pounce on its enemies. He was a hyper patriot, that is, a nationalist. One day, when I was a little boy, I found a flag in the garage and started using it as my Superman cape. An older boy pointed out that I’d let it touch the ground. He said that when that happened, you were supposed to burn it. I was really worried. God was going to get me for letting the flag touch the ground and my father was going to get me if I did anything to that flag. In a panic, I took the flag to the backyard burn barrel, set it on fire, and hoped for the best. Apparently, I did the right thing.

  3. Shelley Says:

    Perhaps not right Mark, but what the flag represents protects your right to do it.

    • markbittner Says:

      Aside from all other issues, I was a little boy when this happened. I remember my childhood as being filled with a lot of terrifying rules that no one every explained. And they were often contradictory.

  4. Margaret Benbow Says:

    I think that a lot of good, bold art comes out of a frightened childhood. (I hope so, anyway. I was a frightened child, although in my case it was mostly cowardice.) I always remembered something Charles Bukowski said in an interview. His father used to hit him when he was little. Bukowski said, “When you’re beat, and beat, no matter what, it knocks the pretense right out of you. What do you have to be afraid of? You might as well tell the truth.”

  5. Sarah Says:

    Speaking of flags, I saw the following excerpted on a Facebook wall today. Dunno why, but the words immediately made me think of you.

    White collared conservative flashing down the street,
    Pointing their plastic finger at me.
    They’re hoping soon my kind will drop and die,
    But I’m gonna wave my freak flag high, high.
    Wave on, wave on
    Fall mountains, just don’t fall on me
    Go ahead on Mr Business man, you can’t dress like me.
    Sing on Brother, play on drummer.

    — If 6 Was 9 lyrics, by Jimi Hendrix

    Have a happy 4th! 🙂

    • markbittner Says:

      A few months ago, I actually said in one post or another that I intended to start letting my freak flag fly. That phrase has been stuck in my mind a long time. I like it.

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