May 28, 2008
I Gots Me Some Enthusiasm
Larry Young, the Chief Visionary, Creative Engine, and Marketing Guru for AiT/Planet Lar has got himself some enthusiasm, and isn't exactly shy about sharing it.
This week Larry's talking patches.
So, I gots me some enthusiasm.
My family moved around a lot when I was a kid, and I started at a pretty young age getting into logos and design and insignia and patches. At first, it was because I'd just throw on a t-shirt with the mascot and colors of the new school I was attending so I'd visually fit in right away, but it quickly developed into some enthusiasm for collecting embroidered patches when I noticed that all the guys being shot up into space, there, in the late Sixties, all had different mission patches on their sleeves. Since we lived just up the road from Mission Control, back then, when you could look up in the sky and know that guys named John and Al and Gene and Neil and Pete and all were walking around on the actual green cheese, well, it sure seemed a fun way to be part of the trip by collecting all the different mission insignias.
I have quite a lot of them now, forty years later.
Anyway, when we started up our publishing house, I figured a neat little commemoration for folks on our side, people going above and beyond, guys helping us to tote that barge and lift that bale... might be our own little mission patch:
...sort of our version of a No-Prize. if you've got one of these, it's because I gave it to you.
But in looking up the history of these sorts of things, I uncovered a little-known section of the Pentagon called the Institute of Heraldry, responsible for all the logos and design and insignia and patches of the Army and other government sections that I had such enthusiasm for as a kid. And, sure, who hasn't seen sergeant rank patches on the sleeves of "Don't salute me, boy; I work fer a livin'!" actors in WWII movies? Who hasn't seen the Seal of the President of the United States on rugs and flags and press conference podiums? Podia? Whatever. We're not Latin scholars over here. So these things all come from the same place.
But there are patches and insignia that are disavowed, like Casey Randall in Mission: Impossible. In fact, according to Trevor Paglen, who has written a book for which I gots much enthusiasm called I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me, there are a whole suite of used-but-unapproved, or completely made-up, or party favor patches (according to Freedom of Information requests he's filed) that still appear on Secret and Black Ops uniforms. Here are a couple of my faves; if you see a guy in fatigues sporting one of these and he's got a light steam coming off him and he's asking you the date ("No... THE YEAR!"), maybe it'd be best to steer clear:
This one's a little on the controversial side. It's apparently a patch commissioned for the 509th Bomb Wing; the guys who dropped Fat Man and Little Boy that ended World War II. The other thing is... well, they were stationed in Roswell in 1947. Roswell, as you know, isn't just famous for being the birthplace of Demi Moore; there was that whole alien crash thing, too. Which explains the alien eating the B-2 and the dog Latin that roughly translates to "Tastes Like Chicken" at the bottom of the crest.
I haven't figured out what this one is yet, but I love it because it seems to speak to me about a secret moon mission, and anyone who's read my Astronauts in Trouble books know I love me my secret moon missions. "Don't Ask!" with a crescent moon and a question mark and "None of Your Fucking Business" across the bottom. Ah, this one's awesome.
I like this one because it's a secret patch for the support service guys who tend the secret missions. Even planes and craft that officially don't exist need to be topped off every once in a while, and this is a patch reminding the Black Ops flyboys that they can't do their jobs without the clandestine maintenance and refueling men. "Nobody Kicks Ass Without Tanker Gas... Nobody." Maverick and Goose don't get the girls and down the bad guys unless there's windshield wiper fluid in the reservoir.
Anyway; people are proud of what they do, and want to show the world who they're working for and what they're a part of...
...even if they... and their jobs... don't officially exist.
May 28, 2008 09:36 PM
My two Whiskey Island patches still hold a place of honor in my office.
Posted by: Chris Gumprich at May 30, 2008 03:23 PM
I'm not kidding you, I'm honored.
Posted by: Larry Young at May 31, 2008 06:47 PM