Oct 1, 2015

Pole Position

"Well, I'm a-standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona--
  it's such a fine sight to see:
  It's a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford,
  slowin' down to take a look at me.
  Come on, baby, don't say, 'Maybe.'
  I've gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me...
  Take it easy, take it easy.
  Don't let the sound o' your own wheels
  make you crazy."                                             --The Eagles

commentary by michael j. wright

Someone once said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  The photograph I wish to discuss is protected by one: a password.  Woe and alas and something else I'm sure, my tech-savvy is insufficient to hackus-packus said image to a pixilated point right before your very eyes.  I would, like, rend my garments and tear out my hair, really I would, were it not for two factors.  One: I feel that my writing chops are up to the task of activating the projector in your mind, and in far fewer than a thousand words.  Two: while it is important that you have some idea of the image itself first, the main point of this post will be the caption that comes with it.  (News Flash! Writer Discusses Words Not Pictures. Video at 11.)

The photo is patriotic porn in an almost-pure form.  It is the sort of image that seems designed specifically for those who have an absurd need to feel disproportionately proud of living in the land in which by chance they were born, but who need, you know, a little help getting their blood stirred.  I'm sure the symbolism in the image is indeed stirring, too, if you're into that sort of thing-- almost enough to make you want to recite "The Star-spangled Banner."  I said recite, not sing.  Francis Scott Key did not write a song, he wrote a poem.  It was his Original Intent that it be recited, dammit-- all four stanzas.  Yea and aye, lo and high, this country started to lose its way or something, fellow citizens, the day we put that [stuff] to music.  Only by getting back to the fundamentals and whatnot will we be able to come together as a People and beat Ohio State or whatever.

By now you are probably wondering about the actual picture.
Oh, fine, then, I guess I'll tell you.

A bald eagle is perched atop a flagpole.
Hanging limply from the pole is a United States flag.

Well, you know what they say about a limp flag: typically, it is a symptom of being in the middle of a large high-pressure center.  Hey, if you can't joke about the weather, what can you joke about?

Admittedly, I am working here with two of the most-recognizable icons in our culture: a bald eagle and a U.S. flag.  Moreover, I spent no time detailing the precise orientation of the bird (a shameful short-shrifting of invaluable info, to be sure), nor did I mention the grey backdrop of an overcast sky, nor did I attempt to capture the technicolor vibrancy of either the stars or the stripes.  Still, "A bald eagle is perched atop a flagpole.  Hanging... from the pole is a United States flag," does put a picture in your mind, right?  Seventeen words.  Just sayin'.

As I stated earlier, the photograph itself is not what spurred me to compose this diatribe.  It was the accompanying caption, which reads:

"Of all the places he could have landed..."

Yes, of all the places he could have landed... this was probably the highest.
Bald eagles are birds-of-prey, which is a cool way of saying they are flying animals who hunt small, non-flying animals.  They like to hunt from on high, because it is easier to both see the prey and attack it.  Conveniently, they're birds, so hunting from above is rarely a problem.  Every now and then, though, all that flapping and coasting and flapping and coasting gets literally tiresome, so they rest.  They don't stop hunting, mind you, they just take a break from flying.  They prefer to take these government-mandated passivity periods in places that are relatively far off the ground and relatively far from surrounding impediments, the better to see a potential target and swoop down upon it.  Flagpoles, it turns out, make for near-perfect vantage points, especially on calm days when that annoying sheet of distractingly colored fabric isn't dangerously dancing about.

For most of us, the odds against seeing a bald eagle in the wild are pretty long.  Anyone who finds themselves in such a circumstance, however, with a bald eagle hunting and a flagpole within half a mile, and some time to spend, will likely see him land on it.  He won't care what flag is flying from it, either, be it the U.S. stars and stripes, the Confederate stars and bars, or the proud pennant of the Potentate of the Prickly Pear and Chocolate-covered Prune.  He will be thinking: Is that a field mouse over there by that bush?

A bald eagle is perched atop a flagpole;
hanging from the pole is a U.S. flag;
and the caption reads:

"hay guys, seen a Balled eegle !! wated 20 mins..
for hi to sit still so i could take a pic !! lol"

Found on Mars this week:  A badly corroded
     fishing pole, and a spool of light-duty line.