Flying High: Flags of the United States By Billy McCall, 80 pgs.

Mar 15, 2022

This slim volume is exactly what it purports to be: A book about the state flags of the United States. Each flag—the base set of fifty, plus bonus flags of five territories, four Native American tribes, and the District of Columbia—has its own one page entry. You get a full color image of the flag, a brief history, the author’s take on the flag design, and his all-important ranking. There’s also a bit of bonus material by guest authors. And, while the various entries are entertaining enough—and while I agree on seven-tenths of his top ten (I’d keep Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and Texas; I’d replace California, South Carolina, and Washington DC with Hawaii, Maryland, and Ohio)—I don’t really know that this feels like a book that I’d pay fourteen bucks for. I mean, the thing is about the thickness of four Pringles (if Pringles weren’t wavy), the pages are small, the type is large, and the only font used is Times New Roman. Each entry is about 250 words; if the author cut that back to two hundred and ditched the bonus flags and guest writing, two hundred words times fifty flags equals ten thousand words—the exact length required for a One Punk’s Guide to State Flags piece. Failing that, this type of material would seem to lend itself quite nicely to online publication, where people could fight in the comments section about whether Hawaii and Ohio and Maryland should be in the top ten instead of California and South Carolina and Washington DC. Or, if this really had to be a full-fledged book to make the author happy, jeepers, zazz it up a little! A second font and some extra color won’t kill anyone! I mean, the cover’s very nice, but the interior just looks like somebody used the office printer to print a Word doc they had lying around on their desktop (after doing some research, I now realize that this material was originally published, largely as is, as a series of six twelve-page zines, so maybe this format was inevitable. But still, I don’t think fleshing the project out would have been a grave betrayal of artistic purity). Further, the author states that “the worst thing about Wisconsin is the Green Bay Packers” (thanks, asshole), but fails to discover that the Packer “G” is actually on the flag of the City of Green Bay, which replaced a previous flag so ridiculous—containing a crudely drawn Packer helmet, milk carton, and roll of paper towels, among other oddities (I’m not kidding)—as to almost beggar description. What kinda flag book can’t find the time to make fun of the Green Bay paper towel flag? Still, an entertaining read. Vexillology! It’s what’s for dinner! –Rev. Nørb (Bunny Ears, PO Box 8818, Albuquerque, NM 87198,