Writerís view is personal, must not be
Sender: MARJORIE GIBSON
By: John Chuckman
I thought I knew every twist of American popular culture,
but apparently not. It is an inventive society, and war is a
creative force that brings new impulses. There's a program in
the state of Maine, supported by the fun-loving,
public-relations folks of the local National Guard, called
Flat Daddy, unlike anything I've heard of before.
On first hearing the name, I thought the program must involve
a roving jazz band, perhaps one from New Orleans, but a
moment's reflection reminded me that George Bush had assisted
in removing New Orleans from atlases of the United States,
Jehovah taking care of the buildings and Bush taking care of
Readers, I am sure, have seen street hawkers in large American
cities who have life-size cardboard cut-outs of celebrities
and offer to take your picture standing as though you were
with someone famous. I suspect this provided the creative
spark for Flat Daddy.
Flat Daddy involves taking a picture of one of "the boyz" over
in Iraq, enlarging it to life-size, and mounting it on
cardboard. When a family back home goes to a pizzeria or
bowling alley, perhaps even to a revival meeting, they simply
drag along Flat Daddy and position him (the pronoun it is not
used) in a prominent place among the smiling faces. More
photos are taken and sent back to Iraq and perhaps to Aunt
Helen in the old folks' home. The miracle is that everyone
feels part of the family despite the awkward inconvenience of
There were a few points left unclear by the undoubtedly
fresh-faced officer enthusing over the program on the radio.
Does Flat Daddy have to pay admission at the movies? Is he
included in the minimum per-head table charge at restaurants?
Probably not, but when America goes to war, the nation's two
strongest impulses tend to become a little confused, preening
patriotic feathers and making a quick buck.
You might expect an idea like Flat Daddy to have come from
Texas or the Midwest, places where beehive hair-dos and prayer
in the locker room before football games are still in vogue.
But, no, it came from Maine, which despite its reputation for
sensible, traditional values, is where, several years ago, I
observed a donut shop's gigantic, ugly over-head sign,
normally given over to two-for-one breakfast specials,
challenging passing cars to "HONK FOR THE TROOPS!"
At the same donut shop, there was a huge display of flags in
the parking lot you might have assumed were part of the
patriotic outburst, but then you noticed an attendant
approaching car windows with one fist full of flags and the
other grasping a huge wad of dollar bills. It reminded me of
the man selling balloons on a stick at the circus decades ago.
Here was a celebration of invasion as only America can do it.
What about others at the casino or sports bar who have their
views blocked by Flat Daddy? The program is new, and this
potential kink may not have been worked out yet, but I can't
see it becoming a problem. Quibbling about something like a
life-size cardboard cut-out of a smiling soldier in uniform
slapped down in front of you anywhere in America could well be
hazardous for your health.
You might wonder why there isn't also a Flat Mommy or Flat
Sissy program, and I wondered about this myself, but many
parts of America have not got past the idea that it's "the
boyz" who go abroad. Never mind that White House crap about
women in Iraq. In much of the U.S., the standard for female
etiquette was set when Eisenhower was president.
I discovered on the Internet that people in Iraq know this
program, perhaps learning about it from the drawling chit-chat
between laughter and machine-gun bursts at American check
points. Iraqis apparently have started their own version,
necessarily rather low-tech in view of the lack of electricity
and running water in so many places. After allowing the sun to
bake them for a reasonable time, the bodies of Iraqi men
crushed by American tanks or flattened by 500-pound bombs are
gently peeled from the pavement. They are lovingly brought to
what remains of the family home and propped against a wall in
the basement bomb shelter, an important family-gathering place
in George Bush's Iraq.
better than wealth because it protects you while you have to
guard wealth. it decreases if you keep on spending it but the
more you make use of knowledge ,the more it increases . what you
get through wealth disappears as soon as wealth disappears but
what you achieve through knowledge will remain even after you."MORE