Wednesday, January 05, 2011

New Orleans' flag

That's a nice flag.  It represents Indianapolis, Indiana, the state capitol.  The design means something.  Indianapolis was laid out so that the governor's mansion would sit in the middle of a circle where the two main streets intersected.  If you look at a road map of Indiana today, you will see that the layout of the state resembles the flag of its capitol city.  Wheels within wheels around a hub in the center.

Shall we look at New Orleans' flag?

Why three fleurs-de-lis?  To represent the sovereignty of France Spain and the US?  Why three fleurs-de-lis then?  That's the symbol of the French monarchy, not Spain or the federal government that has had jurisdiction over this former French colony for nigh 200 years.   What's with the narrow red and blue stripes?  I suppose the blue on the bottom can represent the mighty Mississippi River but why the red.  Why the white field sullied by three fleurs-de-lis?

Red, white and blue are good flag colors as any American citizen will tell you.  The French would reply that they are more properly listed as blue, white and red.  I find so much white on a flag a distraction.

When I was in the military I was stationed in Italy.  The Italians found it amusing how much reverence we showed the flag, running it up the pole at dawn and lowering it slowly and folding it with care at sunset.  "We use our flag as a tablecloth," the Italians told me.  There are worse uses for the Italian flag, I suppose.

There is no denying that the fleur-de-lis is a symbol of New Orleans.  I don't know about having three of them on the mast in front of city hall and every municipal building.  In a city with so many artists and that is currently driven to remaking itself, my impression is that the flag needs a makeover.  It will be a contentious subject of debate between traditionalists and modernists, old school and new branders, natives and transplants.  The city itself doesn't even use the flag's fleur-de-lis as its symbol.  The city's fleur-de-lis is a more baroque and whimsical-looking thing.

One fleur-de-lis on a flag is enough.  A better design would be better.  No black and gold please.  New Orleans is more than a football team though it is a city full of saints.

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