Nine / Twelve: let the cynicism begin

I don’t know what kind of neighborhood you live in, but I live in one that is owned, not by the residents or even the banks, but by a bunch of realtors. On most days, I can expect that a member of this cadre will place a magnetic calendar or some other such piece of ridiculous crap on my doorstep.  Can you tell by my tone that this bothers me?  It does so partly because I like to view my house as a home, not as an investment. For the realtors, however, their game-plan is to convince me of the reverse — to monetize the walls and roof that act as a shell for much of the love that I own in my world.

So what does any of this have to do with 9/11?  Great question! One of the strategies that this insidiously self-promotional group employs is to plant my neighborhood with little American flags a few days before patriotic holidays.

Why does this bother me?  Great question! Partially because I’m ME, and I’m sure that some of you know what I mean by this, but the other reason is that the realtors usually attach business cards to the flags of which I speak. I think you’re starting to see where I’m going with this.  The other day, I came home to a neighborhood flag planting in honor of 9/11.  The above image was attached to each flag.

Is there anything printed on the back of the image? Why yes, there is; thanks you for asking. Here’s the text:

“On this observance of Patriot Day, we remember and honor those who perished in the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. We will not forget the events of that terrible morning nor will we forget how Americans responded in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in the skies over Pennsylvania — with heroism and selflessness; with compassion and courage; and with prayer and hope.  We will always remember our collective obligation to ensure that justice is done, that freedom prevails, and that the principles upon which our Nation was founded endure.”

Oh, then underneath that moving (yet somehow so deeply troubling) tribute is this: “X CRUZ: REALTOR * * Direct: (562) 313-****.”

Again, you may wonder why this bothers me so much. Well I’ll tell you. I see right through their little ploy (and it’s actually quite brilliant): unless one wants to be seen as an unpatriotic heathen by their neighbors, homeowners are compelled to leave the little flags planted on their lawns, so passers by can examine the cards, and hopefully list their homes with X. Cruz — Ms. Cruz and her kind are playing a really messed up game with us here.  Even if we disagree with the sentiment on the card that reads, “We will always remember our collective obligation to ensure that justice is done…” we are still supposed to feel a guilt-driven compulsion to swallow it and leave the flags firmly planted in our yards.

As I see it, the flags are not a patriotic expression as much as a reminder that the realtors have lain claim to our home. They are little Columbuses, Desotos, Cabots, and Hudsons who fail to understand that someone already lives here, that this is a neighborhood, and not simply an untapped resource. But given that this is the spirit upon which America wasdiscovered and founded, I guess maybe it all makes perfect sense — maybe too perfect.

This is why when one is planted in my yard, I pull the cheap, plastic advertisement out of the ground and toss it in the recycling bin. Does that make me a bad American? Maybe so, but not unAmerican.

13 responses to “Nine / Twelve: let the cynicism begin”

  1. Stella says:

    Please, please, please write to each realtor when they do it and ask them not to put their stuff on your private property. You could have a form letter ready. It will make them crazy and they deserve to be messed with. I used to hate getting gifts on holidays from my former realtor (not our beloved AE of course) – I’d end up schlepping down to the post office on a saturday morning to pick up a packet only to find it’s July 4th candies that I don’t want. Thank you for wasting my time and the earth’s resources, I’d think.

  2. lane says:

    9-11 is so overblown. the reading of the names… stop already.

    do they do this in hawaii on dec 7th? maybe i guess.

    and look how that image forms a cross. nice one ms. catholic cruz.

    what a huckersterville country we live in.

  3. KS says:

    I’m enraged by proxy and agree with Stella that you should respond with letters, at the very least, because you so eloquently point out how appallingly “hucksterish” these scams are and should at least make them think about it. Perhaps you can make a sign for your yard that reads something like, “To all realtors, this is OUR home, not a potential future sale for YOU. Leaving your propaganda will ensure we will NEVER give you our business.” Then stick a few fliers on it for decoration with captions like “Isn’t it kind of UNAMERICAN to capitalize on 9/11 to sell houses?” and “Beware of conquistadores with free recipe cards.”

    And how about deconstructing the word “unAmerican”? Is there any other nation that “uns” itself in this manner?

  4. F. P. Smearcase says:

    I don’t wonder at all why it bothers you so much. It’s galling and you’re right to be bothered. What could be more crass and depressing than advertising and the unbidden commodification of your home tacked onto parasitic, cheap patriotism? Ukh.

  5. Tim says:

    Those flags are the disingenuous reverse of the F\_/ck Communism posters produced by The Realist in 1963. In 1963, “f\_/ck” was not nearly as a common a word as it is today. It was not spoken on television or movies; it was not printed anywhere. (I note the irony that I avoid spelling it out here, but for a slightly different reason – so that it won’t be picked up by Google.) It was considered extremely, extremely offensive and objectionable by nearly all American citizens. The genius of the poster was that people objecting to it for its crass language could be called into question for their politics, thus putting them in a moral bind.

    There is a genius to these flags, too, but as you point out, Scotty, both principles (cheap patriotism and gonzo capitalism) inhabit the same end of the political spectrum, making it easy enough for you to toss them out. (Though it still is a subversive act.) I especially love that you take care to recycle the flags. It’s an ironic equivalent of a sort (in my mind, anyway) to “burning Old Glory” when “she” is tattered and torn.

  6. Jim says:

    Awesome Scotty! Not bad or even un! Peace.

  7. Dave says:

    Completely appropriate to be annoyed.

    On another blog, someone quoted a magazine piece (Time, maybe) from the 10th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. It was quite deflationary, not nearly as histrionic as what went on over the weekend.

    I like Kotsko’s take on it.

    Also, this.

  8. e.nalt says:

    10 years ago today i got really baked and listened to paul mccarty all day. “with a little luck” “hands accross the water”… all that sappy bs.

    cried like a baby… very theraputic.

  9. e.nalt says:

    “patriot day”… gimme a fuckin’ break already!

  10. e.nalt says:

    “trapped office workers day” is more like it… : – (

  11. j woo says:

    This reminds me of how the post-911 wars have been marketed to Americans with the slogan “support the troops.” It’s the same rhetorical moral bind that Tim just mentioned. I think the reading of victims’ names is also propagandized in this way.

    I happened to turn on a TV during the ground zero ceremony yesterday morning. Flipping from channel to channel, seeing the same scene from different angles, I realized how many TV cameras must be there, strategically hidden from the home audience. The procession of the Obamas and Bushes seemed so well choreographed, I felt like I was watching a ballet. Later, as I returned to the ceremony (during commercial breaks from Law & Order) it felt more like the Oscars. Overall, I was struck by the sense that this was more a media event than anything else.

    Am I wrong to be disturbed by this “memorial?” Am I an asshole for thinking it insincere and inappropriate?

  12. lane says:

    it’s sincere, overblown, but sincere. but it is like the oscars too.

    bloomberg nyc is like this. the quality of life is like this here. with all the new street cafes and new glass buildings and security guards and duane reads and banana republics.

    it’s a show, non-stop, 365 days a year!… : – /

    and no, you are not an asshole, or maybe you are? but there are a lot of us here.

  13. sg says:

    Thanks everyone for your support. I was actually a little worried when I posted this one that I might offend someone. My intention was certainly never to discredit the real pain that the event inflicted upon thousands and thousands of people.

    j woo: I love your comparison to the “support the troops” slogan, which we all know is code for “support the war.”