It takes more than an Old Line to draw the Lone Star.

I’ve fixated on flags more than a few times over the years, and I’ve honed in on the Maryland flag a disproportionate amount—perhaps more than it deserves. No offense intended to Marylanders, but the fact is it’s easy to spot the Maryland flag because 1) it’s a good flag and 2) people wear or display

Tourist traps and coastal cosmopolitanism—a profitable pairing.

The trendy tourist trap town offers more than a chance for alliteration (which I obviously can NEVER pass up). It affords great opportunities for analysis, because, nine times out of ten, this funky community with abnormal appeal differs from the surrounding areas in numerous other ways beyond the dollars it racks up in out-of-town visitors.

The Maryland flag: anything but a flop.

Sure, each one of our nation’s fifty states gets two senators to represent its constituents federally through the legislature, and each state claims an individual vote on amendments to the Constitution. But on matters of the House of Representatives, votes for the Electoral College, budget allocations and just about every other consideration, not all states

From offal to awe-ful: branding the Meatpacking District.

Forgive the awful triplicate pun, if you can, and step back in time for just a moment. If we were to take some fashionable New Yorkers from 1986, shove them into a DeLorean, then shuttle them to the present, can anyone imagine the shock on their faces if this were the first thing they saw

Some cultures go full bloom; others are happy to remain bulbs.  

Considering that our landscapes are replete with signifiers, why is it that we typically only notice the big, garish ones? It doesn’t take a brain surgeon—or a semiotician—to answer that question: big symbols tend to dwarf little ones, so they nearly always get an upper hand in their ability to convey a message. If this

Who’s YOUR state’s prime mascot?

When a highly localized slang term pops up in an environment far removed from its natural home, it’s inevitable that it will cause some heads to turn. And that’s exactly what happened when I passed this sign along a fairly busy stretch of highway:People who follow college basketball—and particularly those who followed it in the

Rental respites for refugees.

Imagine a major city where owner-occupied, single-family housing dominates the landscape, more than anywhere else in the country. Complete with garages, chimneys, front yards, back yards, one-and-a-half baths (minimum), and more than a few basements. Virtually all the houses sit on lots of equal size, with nearly identical space between them and the exact same

Economizing and downsizing a city’s landmarks.

When navigating through an unfamiliar place, either urban or rural, we tend to seek visual points of reference to aid us in further wayfinding.  It is as instinctual of an action as folding the corner of a book.  Across the countryside, visual cues assume a variety of incarnations: a distinctive geological form, an unusual sign,

DUST: What does the flag capture?

My suspicion is that I have less to say on this subject of national flags than I’d like to think, but I’m still feeling my way around in terms of the appropriateness of featuring certain material on this blog, so in the meantime it is best that I linger on the fluffier subjects. And I

It takes more than an Old Line to draw the Lone Star.

I’ve fixated on flags more than a few times over the years, and I’ve honed in on the Maryland flag a disproportionate amount—perhaps more than it deserves. No offense intended to Marylanders, but

The Maryland flag: anything but a flop.

Sure, each one of our nation’s fifty states gets two senators to represent its constituents federally through the legislature, and each state claims an individual vote on amendments to the Constitution. But on

Who’s YOUR state’s prime mascot?

When a highly localized slang term pops up in an environment far removed from its natural home, it’s inevitable that it will cause some heads to turn. And that’s exactly what happened when

Rental respites for refugees.

Imagine a major city where owner-occupied, single-family housing dominates the landscape, more than anywhere else in the country. Complete with garages, chimneys, front yards, back yards, one-and-a-half baths (minimum), and more than a

Economizing and downsizing a city’s landmarks.

When navigating through an unfamiliar place, either urban or rural, we tend to seek visual points of reference to aid us in further wayfinding.  It is as instinctual of an action as folding

DUST: What does the flag capture?

My suspicion is that I have less to say on this subject of national flags than I’d like to think, but I’m still feeling my way around in terms of the appropriateness of