Vexilloid Tabloid #30

John Hood 1934-2011

At long last, a new edition of  The Vexilloid Tabloid is here!  Ted Kaye is serving as interim editor.  The new issue features:

  • Obituary:  John Hood 1934-2011
  • In John Hood’s Footsteps (Ted Kaye)
  • United Nations Flag Project (Michael Orelove)
  • Honoring the Designer of the “new” Oregon State Flag
  • Old Glory Afghan (Michael Orelove)

and as always the “What’s That Flag?” quiz (from our new quizmaster, Max Liberman), Flags in the News, and notes from our 2011 meetings.

Click here for this latest issue (PDF, 0.7MB), or see for access to this and all previous issues.

Mike Hale (l) and Randall Gray (r) with Gray's winning design in The Oregonian's New Oregon Flag contest

John Hood 1934-2011

John Hood and Mayor Vera Katz with the first redesigned Portland Flag, 2002
Everyone who drove on S.E. 39th Avenue opposite Laurelhurst Park knew the Flag House. Portlanders enjoyed the changing daily display of three flags—all flown for some special reason—by John Hood. There, with his long-time companion Vivian Jackson, he built a collection of over 600 full-size flags and enthusiastically shared them with passersby based on a database of flag-flying days he’d built over several years.

John, who died at age 77 after a battle with cancer, was a charter member of the Portland Flag Association, a group which had grown out of the organizing committee for the 1994 annual meeting of the North American Vexillological Association. After his friend Harry Oswald moved to Texas, John took over the “central coordinator” role for the PFA, and created and published its occasional newsletter, The Vexilloid Tabloid. In it he chronicled PFA meetings, challenged members with flag quizzes, and documented local and national flag doings. He famously wrote, “If you wish to compliment the editor, contact John Hood. If you wish to complain, call your mother.”

He was the first and most gracious host of the now-bimonthly meetings of the PFA, catered with bountiful sweets baked by Vivian. In his living room in 2002, the group hatched a successful effort to redesign the 1969 flag of the City of Portland. After PFA members arranged political support, testified before city council, and watched the redesign ordinance pass unanimously, Mayor Vera Katz asked them to replace the council chamber’s old flag. John attached the newly-adopted flag to the pole, becoming the first person to raise Portland’s current flag.

John was raised in Idaho, served in the Navy, and had a career with the telephone company in San Francisco. A generous soul, John especially supported up-and-coming vexillologists, recently giving his entire collection of flag periodicals from around the world to young members of the PFA.

His colleagues will miss his jovial spirit, expansive knowledge of flags, and commitment to inclusion and conviviality.

Ted Kaye

Notes on the September 2011 meeting

We had another lively discussion, this time in the somewhat hard to find Tupelo Alley “Eco-Lounge”. We had decent attendance, though we particularly missed John Hood, who was unable to attend due to health issues. Here are a few highlights, each with an illustration!

Scott Mainwaring and Ted Kaye gave a brief report on their experiences at the Washington Flag Congress (which was both the 44th annual NAVA meeting and the 24th biennial International Congress of Vexillology convened by FIAV, Fédération Internationale des Associations Vexillologiques in the language of international diplomacy, French, or International Federation of Vexillological Associations, in English). Scott and Ted are shown here holding the flag designed for the congress (now part of the Kaye collection). Scott wondered aloud if our own Portland Flag Association, being in fact a vexillological association, might qualify for membership in FIAV; Ted seems to like that idea. More at the next meeting. Continue reading “Notes on the September 2011 meeting”

Rainbow flag foolishness in Antelope Valley (Cal.)

Apparently the organizers of the Antelope Valley Fair in the California desert inadvertently chose to festoon their venue with LGBT rainbow flags. A local blog documents the official and community reaction:

Underscores the need for more widespread flag education, this does.

Half the Oregon flag on a stamp

Forever stamp featuring Oregon state flag
Oregon’s entry in the “Flags of Our Nation” stamp series, released August 12, 2011.

There was a ceremony in Salem today to announce a new USPS stamp featuring the Oregon state flag. (Actually, only one side of the state flag — the obverse — leaving what some would argue is the better side hidden.)

See: Elida S. Perez, “Oregon state flag is featured in latest Forever stamp”, Salem Statesman Journal, 8/11/11

Ted Kaye on South Sudan’s New Flag

Our very own Ted Kaye is on the 7/13/11 episode of Ian Chillag and Mike Danforth’s podcast How To Do Everything, discussing the new flag of South Sudan and principles of good flag design:

Flag of South Sudan
The flag of South Sudan

Bastille Day and the Drapeau Francaise

By Patrick Genna

In 1991, I took my first trip to Paris. Before leaving, I had memorized 25 key French phrases. But once there I rarely used any of them as I was too intimidated to ask: “ou est le toilette?” Say something in French and you get a reply with comments that you can’t answer.

One of my goals in Paris was to visit the infamous prison fortress, the Bastille — only to be embarrassed by the fact it was not there. There is no trace of any of the original structure. Today, where the prison stood is a public square, Place de la Bastille.

To get to Place de la Bastille, I had asked a particular Paris gendarme (police officer) for directions to a certain Metro Station. He replied in English to my French question, saying that many police officers in Paris speak at least two other languages.

July 14, 1789

The events of July 14, 1789 that were to become commemorated as Bastille Day were predecessors to the French Revolution that descended into the Reign of Terror by 1790. Unlike our Independence Day, July 4, Bastille Day marks the start of a civil war — French against other French — whereas ours was a revolution or rebellion by 13 colonies against their owners to create a new nation, the United States. We did not march British loyalists or military to a place of public execution. When the Reign of Terror became known, both the Americans and the British were horrified by the senseless violence of the guillotine.

Today, like July Fourth, Bastille Day is celebrated with much national pride, with military parades and fireworks. But most Americans barely know of it and that it is celebrated 10 days later after our July 4th.

La Marseillaise

Bastille Day has always fascinated me with its war-horse-like national anthem: “La Marseillaise” (de Lisle). The words are not known to us as much as the tune is.

Some of us know this anthem’s tune from the 1943 film, “Casablanca”, where the character Viktor Lazlo instructs the café orchestra to play it so that it will drown out the strains of a group of German officers singing a kind of Nazi “Horst Wessel”.

The French Revolution

The French Revolution begins when an armed mob of Parisians stormed the unpopular Bastille prison and released its prisoners, a dramatic action that came to symbolize the end of the ancien régime. The Bastille was subsequently demolished by the Revolutionary government and Bastille Day (July 14) has been a French national holiday since 1880.

Following this event, the Reign of Terror would become its most visible symbol of political murder, paranoia, and power struggle. In the beginning, the royal family, most of the nobility, and the higher clergy would lose their heads.
Toward the end, the bourgeois revolutionaries themselves would suffer the same fate. No doubt the French Revolution consumed its victims without distinction.

How did it all start? Under the old regime, King Louis 16th was the State. Indeed, he actually declared this: “I am the State”! Everyone else was a subject of the King within three orders: clergy, nobility, and others (the Third Estate). There was no national citizenship!

Le Drapeau (The flag)

The French call their flag “the tri-color”.

In the beginning, the colors were represented by a cockade. The flag of the First Republic between 1789 and 1815 was a variation of blue, white, and red.

After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, the Restoration of 1815-1830 would end the First Republic and restore the Kingdom of France. The return of the very unpopular royal flag created public scorn and resentment. Napoleonic reforms provided new legal codes and public institutions had made the French people all too aware of the Rights of ordinary citizens.

The tricolor was not restored until the Second Republic in 1848.

The colors are symbolic. The white has been always been identified with the royal colors of the monarchy. The many variations of the familiar gold fleur-de-lis (lily flower) pattern has alternated between white and blue fields. The colors blue and red are identified with the Cite de Paris.

The Tricolor and the Red Flag

The red flag appears to have its origins in political radicalism and perhaps in the violence and blood of revolution.

From FOTW (Flags of the World website):

It is well-known that the French Tricolore flag was challenged by the red flag after the fall of King Louis-Philippe in 1848 and the proclamation of the Second Republic. Most history books say that the Tricolore flag was “saved” by Lamartine. Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869) was a poet and politician known for his Romantic works and his complicated love life.
. . .
On 24 February 1848, King Louis-Philippe left and Lamartine, member of the Provisory Government, proclaimed the Republic at the town hall of Paris and spoke at the Chamber. The next day, he convinced the mob to support the Tricolore flag.

The flag has changed very little since 1830.