Tuesday, May 23


I'm Falling Down on the Job

...since, as head vexilologist (flag nerd) at The Shrine, I did not know that Montenegro (the nation, not the guy who wrote the theme music for I Dream of Jeannie) has not only finally gotten around to moving out of the condo she's been sharing with Serbia since Yugoslavia disappeared, but she's got a rather splendid new flag, and she's had it since 2004. Though she only declared independence on the 21st of this month, so that's not too bad, I guess. (The big problem now is sorting out who owns which Beach Boys records).

I've had a soft spot for Montenegro's flags ever since I was a child, what with the lion and the double eagle and the crowned "HI" on their old war flag which was really the Cyrillic cypher of some prince or other named Nicholas. (Краљ Никола I Петровић Његош, if you want to get technical). In retrospect, I think it would have made a more dignified replacement for the inevitable "Hi" on that creepy TV screen Mr. Rodgers used to have, the one he used to show educational videos about bathroom fixtures. (Really. You know me well enough to know that's actually pretty believable).

What makes this even more interesting is that it's one of a goodly number of former Eastern Bloc republics who have taken to adopting the old monarchic insignias of pre-Communist days. Russia and Serbia have already done this, and have taken up the old Byzantine double-headed eagle as well. Bulgaria has, as well. Montenegro's changed hers around a little bit, but the general theme's the same. This isn't so strange, as the aristocratic Republic of Genoa long had a crown on its coat of arms, and turreted mural crowns have long been a symbol of republican city-states. I will conclude by suggesting that the U.S. should pick up on this trend by re-introducing the ducal corno of the Republic of Venice, not to mention wigs and ceremonial umbrellas. Entertaining headgear always makes politics much more relevant.

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