The Flag

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The Flag of Copelandia
The Flag when it was first created in May 2007.
The Flag when it was first created in May 2007. Photo courtesy of DM-Kellie.

The Flag (also known as The Green Flag, Stewart's Flag, the Flag of Copelandia, the Little Flag That Could, the Krypton Menace, etc.) is a small green flag with the Stewart Copeland horse logo painted on the front. Originally built by a fan to make it easy to find strangers in a crowd, the Flag became a symbol of support for Stewart Copeland by the forum members of his official website, StewartCopeland.net ("SC.net"). From 2007-05-27 to 2008-08-07, these fans carried the Flag around five continents to 91 concerts and one television appearance of the 2007-2008 Reunion Tour of The Police, collecting fans' signatures on the back along the way.

Thanks to the support and interaction with the Flag of Stewart Copeland himself, the Flag's appearance in the audience at Police concerts became a kind of tradition of the Reunion tour, culminating with the Flag's appearance onstage at the final Police concert at Madison Square Garden.

After approximately a year of traveling, the Flag now resides in Stewart Copeland's home.

Contents

Fast Flag Facts

  • Concerts attended: 91
  • Television appearances attended: 1
  • Continents visited: 5
  • Countries visited: 21
  • Cities visited: 66
  • Miles traveled: unknown
  • Flag-Bearers (official): 69
  • Flag-Bearers (unofficial, including assistants and rock stars): 75, plus unknown number in audience at 2008-08-07 finale
  • Flag Mules (total): x
  • First signature collected: Divemistress of the Dark (2007-06-16)
  • Last signature collected: BABA (2008-08-07)
  • # of signatures collected: unknown
  • Total cost of project: unknown
  • Prime Directive: "The First Law of the Flag is Flag Survival."

Flag Schedule

For a summary of all Flag appearances and Flag-Bearers, see main article Flag Schedule

History

Background

The Flag was built in May 2007 by Moeskido and DirtyMartini in order to make it easier for DirtyMartini and other forum members of the Stewart Copeland Official Site to find each other in Vancouver, Canada for the opening nights of the 2007-2008 Reunion Tour of The Police.

Made of kelly green cotton broadcloth and white acrylic paint and built to last for only three days, the Flag was constructed to be easily recognizable by strangers in crowded locations, with no eye toward durability, quality, or aesthetics. The finished flag folded too large to fit inside DirtyMartini's purse, so three grommet homes were punched into the top edge so that the Flag could be hung from a large metal ring on the outside. (DM-Kellie)

The Flag served its purpose well, first spotted and recognized by samburusunset at the Vancouver International Airport customs booths. (DM-Kellie) It was carried to various gatherings and meet-up locations, as well as to the 2007-05-27 and 2007-05-28 Police concerts.

Both during the Flag's construction phase and in Vancouver, various fans joked about various fates for the Flag, from it appearing at multiple concerts to signing the back of it to send to Stewart as a memento of the beginning of the tour. (DM-Kellie) Soon those two ideas would converge independently in the mind of another fan.

DirtyMartini had posted a link to a photograph of the Flag in her signature line at SC.net so that members traveling to Vancouver could recognize it.[1][2] Forum members Hannaha and Divemistress of the Dark saw this photo and requested instructions on how they might make their own flags. While discussing how the original flag -- having served its purpose -- might be mailed to others' respective concerts, Hannaha proposed the following idea, which encapsulates well the spirit and goals of the project that was born:[3]

I think we should make a concerted effort to get this flag to circumnavigate the world with Copeland fans.
Signing the back is a great idea too. See how many North American shows we can get it to and then send it
on over to us in europe for the next leg of the tour. Finally, after South America, Japan, Australia et al
it will return, battered and battle-worn, to Ms Martini's eager mitts!

Not only will it make hooking up with sc.netters easier it will also let STEWART know we're there cheering
him on, wherever in the world he may be!

"Let Your Team Copeland Flag Fly"

On 2007-06-03 a request for volunteers was posted: Let your Team Copeland Flag fly!!! (Flag-Bearers wanted.)

The plan was for volunteers to hold the Flag during the show and make themselves available either before or after the concert so that other SC.net forum members could sign the back. The Flag-Bearer was then responsible for mailing, handing off to the next volunteer, or physically carrying the Flag to its next goal location. The hope was to show support to Stewart throughout the tour, then find a way to present the Flag to him as "the nastiest, rattiest, lovingest, most battle-scarred keepsake that Fiona has ever banned from entering the Copeland household."[4]

Response to the idea was positive and enthusiastic. Within the first 24 hours of the original request, 13 fans had volunteered for Flag Duty, offering to carry the Flag to 22 concerts in six different countries. Due to geographic and timing limitations as well as limited resources, the Flag was unable to attend every concert on the tour, but the Flag's schedule was adjusted often to accommodate as many locations and volunteers as possible.[5]

Bonnaroo (2007-06-16) and Houston (2007-06-29)

The Flag's first public appearance after acquiring its new purpose was on 2007-06-16 at the Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival in Manchester, TN. Fan cpriddims, a volunteer for the festival, was able to use his volunteer status to carry the Flag to a secure location in the backstage area and wait for The Police caravan to arrive. After an hour of waiting, Stewart Copeland's van drove through. From the back seat, Stewart spotted the Flag for the very first time and, smiling, gave the Flag two thumbs up.[6]

A few days later in Houston, Stewart spotted the Flag during a concert for the first time, and -- to the surprise and delight of many -- gave it appreciative acknowledgment in the form of thumbs ups and stick points both during the performance and the curtain call.[7] This 2007-06-29 Houston concert would mark the beginning of a tradition that would run until the end of the tour of Stewart acknowledging the Flag from onstage during a Police concert.

The Flag of Copelandia

Stewart reacted to the Flag enthusiastically, smiling, gesturing, and pointing exaggeratedly at the Flag and its Flag-Bearer at various times throughout each show. Soon it became clear that Stewart was not just happening to see the Flag in the audience but was actively searching for it. In order to make this job easier, particularly on those nights when the Flag was not located close to the stage, "Flag-Spotting" threads describing the Flag's whereabouts in the audience were posted on the SC.net forum. Judging from Stewart's actions, it seems likely that he was receiving these messages during the first half of the tour but had stopped reading them during the last legs after the 2008 spring hiatus. (DM-Kellie)

As Stewart played along with "our little flag game" as he once called it, he generated a great deal of buzz for the project, and gradually word of the Flag spread to the Police fan club forum and elsewhere.[8] Fan enthusiasm for the project became evident in a variety of ways, including avatars, jokes, a Flag pledge that helped spawn a series of "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of Copelandia" t-shirts, and even a "Flag of Copelandia" anthem.[9][10][11][12][13]

At random intervals throughout the Flag's journey, Stewart posted and spoke positively about his Flag.[14][15][16][17] By the end of the 2007-2008 Reunion Tour, his appreciation for his fans' efforts and support were evident.

The Finale at Madison Square Garden (2008-08-07)

For months SC.net forum members had been speculating and brainstorming on how the Flag should be delivered to Stewart at the end of the tour. Finally DirtyMartini got word that she should coordinate with Jeff Seitz as Stewart was "keen" to hang the Flag on the gong during "Next To You" at the final Police concert at Madison Square Garden.[18] Due to timing and logistical problems, hanging the Flag on the gong proved unfeasible, but Police crew members were able to construct a special rig at the last minute on which the Flag could hang next to Stewart's drumkit. [19][20]

So that the final Flag Duty of the tour could be performed by more than a single person, small paper "flags" were distributed to fans throughout the arena: on one side was an approximate "copy" of the Stewart Copeland Flag (the white horse logo on a green background), while on the other side were the words "THANK YOU," a message simple and generic enough to apply to all members of the band. When Stewart reached the stage, he was greeted not with a single flag but hundreds located throughout the arena, especially in the areas where Stewart had given away free tickets to many of his forum members. The original Flag was shared among forum members located in the pit through the first half of the show, then handed off to Brad Sands during "Invisible Sun" to be carried backstage.[21]

At the beginning of the first encore just before "Purple Haze," Stewart appeared onstage with the Flag in hand, which he presented to the audience, passed to a crew member to hang on the rig created for the purpose, and then saluted.[22][23] The Flag hung on the stage next to Stewart for the remainder of the concert.

The Flag appeared a number of times on the live online Best Buy broadcast, most notably in close-up during the altered " So Lonely" lyric "Welcome to the Stewart Copeland show."[24] Fans watching the broadcast all over the world were excited to see their Flag on stage.[25][26][27][28] [29] Fans' "THANK YOU" messages appeared on camera as well.[30]

Fitting with the meme that he had established, at the end of the concert Stewart pointed one-by-one to the many fans located in the pit holding paper "flags" and "THANK YOU" signs. The next day he posted on SC.net, saying "Well, I’m way too hung over for any sensible message to all of you nutters except to say thank YOU for your happy faces in the mosh. Glad you all enjoyed it as much as I did. We’ll talk soon…"[31]

Aftermath

After traveling to five continents, appearing at 91 concerts and one television taping, the Flag was finally in the possession of Stewart Copeland. Following the 2008-08-07 concert, he carried it home and arranged to have it framed for display.[32][33][34][35]

The Flag now resides on a wall in the studio of Stewart Copeland's home.[36][37][38]

It has a nice view.[39]

Timeline

Below is a timeline of some of the notable events in the Flag's history.

2007

  • On 2007-05-13 the Flag is born.
  • On 2007-06-16 the Flag is first seen by Stewart Copeland backstage at Bonnaroo. He gives the Flag two thumbs up.[40]
  • On 2007-06-29 the Flag receives its first onstage acknowledgment from Stewart.[41]
  • On 2007-07-16 the first Flag Point photo is captured.[42][43]
  • On 2007-07-18 Stewart mentions the Flag publicly for the first time.[44]
  • On 2007-08-30 the Flag enters official Police history, mentioned in a ThePolice.com news item and making a brief appearance in the band's European Tour Electronic Press Kit.[45][46]
  • On 2007-09-20 the Flag is immortalized in song, "The Flag of Copelandia Anthem" by BongoBoy. Stewart posts to express his approval, joking that "Andy and Sting are very exited (sic) about your song. Just the sort of new material that we've been looking for! We should have it worked into the set by Munich..." [47][48]
  • In September and October 2007, the Leroy Coolbreeze Fund for Melanoma is established and launched.[49][50][51][52][53]
  • On 2007-11-21 "The Little Flag That Could" photo gallery -- a collection of photos of the Flag, of Stewart's fans with the Flag, and of Stewart's reactions to the Flag all over the world -- is announced. [54]
  • On 2007-11-28 the Flag meets Stewart Copeland for the first time. This unscheduled meeting is met with mixed reactions by forum members, and Stewart posts to express both his apologies and his appreciation.[55][56][57]
  • On 2007-11-30 JMRL drives two-and-a-half hours across Argentina to convince FedEx contractor Fast Track to release the Flag, and by doing so, makes it possible for the Flag to attend three concerts in South America.[58][59][60]
  • In December 2007 Stewart mentions the Flag in his holiday greeting on the home page of his official site.[61]

2008

  • On 2008-01-19 Stewart first references the Flag in public from the stage, shouting, "Hold that flag up right there! Right there!" [62] (bootleg)
  • On 2008-02-29 ThePolice.com announces a Fan Club DVD and PDF for Legacy members, as well a call for photos, including those of the Flag. Reactions are mixed, and the request is subsequently pulled.[63][64][65][66][67]
  • On 2008-03-26 Stewart describes his Flag during a Q&A session after an Orchestralli performance in Savannah, GA.[68][69]
  • On 2008-05-14 an alternative, "freak out flailing version" of the Flag anthem, "The Flag of Copelandia 2008," is posted by BongoBoy. [70][71]
  • On 2008-05-20 the Flag inspires an eighth grade French lesson. Called "Le Drapeau Vert," the semi-fictional story will also launch a classroom board game. [72][73]
  • On 2008-07-28 Stewart Copeland and Jeff Seitz have a small scare as, due to a miscommunication of information, they fear that the Flag may have been confiscated by security.
  • On 2008-07-31 Jeff Seitz signs the Flag.
  • On 2008-08-07, just before the first encore of the final Police concert at Madison Square Garden, Stewart Copeland hangs the Flag on stage next to his drumkit on a special rig created for the purpose. [74][75][76]
  • On 2008-08-11 documentation of the Flag's arrival at the Copeland lair is received.[77][78]
  • On 2008-08-21 the Flag appears in the background of photos of the Police's reunion tour finale published online by Rolling Stone magazine. [79][80][81][82][83] A few days later the Flag appears in the print edition of Rolling Stone, issue #1060, publication date 2008-09-04.[84]
  • On 2008-11-08 journalist and filmmaker Gert-Peter Bruch posts online a video segment of an interview with Stewart Copeland conducted in Paris in which he talks about the Flag.[85][86]
  • In November 2008, The Police release Certifiable. The Flag, Stewart's reactions to it, and Flag-Bearers JMRL and stingingintherain appear a number of times during the concert footage. In addition, the Flag appears in the audience at the end of the feature "Better Than Therapy."

2009

  • In February 2009, the Flag finishes its long journey and finds a final home on the Copeland studio wall.[87][88][89][90]
  • In September 2009, Stewart Copeland's memoir Strange Things Happen is released in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. The Afterword of the book is titled "The Green Flag."

Controversies and kerfluffles

The Flag-touching incident

Because of the high chance that certain Flag-Bearers in Europe might have the opportunity to meet Stewart Copeland while in possession of the Flag, Flag-Bearers starting with the first European leg of the 2007-2008 Reunion Tour were asked as part of their instructions that they avoid showing the Flag to him or allowing him to have his photo taken with it. This request was made in an effort to keep the Flag as safe and manageable as possible and avoid giving the false impression that the Flag might be used to get backstage or to meet the band. (DM-Kellie)

On 2007-11-28 Stewart Copeland did meet the Flag and have his photo taken with it. Reactions to the event were mixed, as many members at the Stewart Copeland Official Site forum were pleased by Stewart's evident joy but upset by the "rule-breaking" and the circumstances of the meeting.[94][95] " On 2007-12-02 Stewart posted a response to the kerfuffle titled "Touch the Flag!," clearing the air and expressing his appreciation for the project as a boost to morale:[96]

Sorry folks but I never got the memo about not touching the flag. I haven’t been able to read all 200 posts
on this topic so I'm not sure why it's a problem, but if DM can survive being mistaken for DMOTD (where was
that anyway, Atlanta?) then she can survive this.

The flag thing is plenty cool with or without sacred rules. And right there at that moment in Monterey the
little blast of flag love was a much appreciated boost to morale. I’m a sucker for ritual just like anyone
else, and I’m sorry if I screwed this up, but I just couldn’t resist having a closer look at my green touring
companion. This has been a long tour for both of us. Would you all freak out completely if I offered the flag
a ride on the band jet? 

The Flag continued as originally planned, though it never did get a ride on the band jet.[97]

The Legacy Fan Club Flag photo request

On 2008-02-29 ThePolice.com, the Police's official Fan Club, announced that it would be sending to Legacy-level membership-holders a "premium gift" consisting of an exclusive Fan Club DVD and PDF tour book.

As part of this announcement, ThePolice.com made the following call for photos:[98]

We want both the tour book and DVD to include lots of your personal photos from the tour and
are therefore encouraging your help. Please note, if you submit a photo we can not promise it
will be used in the DVD or the tour book.

Specifically, we are looking for:

a. Any great photos you have taken of the band on stage.

b. Any great photos you have taken at pre or post show fan get togethers, parties and/or tailgates.

c. If you've been a bearer of Stewart's flag, we'd love photos of you with it to accompany some
terrific video footage we have of Stewart chatting about the flag.

The general photo request was met with mixed reactions, with issues ranging from questions of compensation, profits, and copyrights issues to the concern that the request was made of all Fan Club members but the distribution of materials would be restricted to Legacy-level members.[99]

The inclusion of the Flag in the request added another level of controversy, as the handling, language, and absence of reference to the Stewart Copeland Official Site gave many members pause. Some members found the assumed association of the Flag with ThePolice.com Fan Club inappropriate, while some disapproved of the idea that a not-for-profit project whose sole financial association was in fundraising for a melanoma charity might be used to generate profits for a corporate entity.

In addition, the limited distribution of the DVD and PDF were again of issue: many members of SC.net who had not paid for a Legacy-level ThePolice.com membership would not have access to materials salient to the project that they themselves had worked to support.[100][101]

On 2008-03-03, in response to forum members' concerns, Stewart Copeland posted:[102]

ok oK OK!

I forgot all about the profit part; just thought you’d all like to be DVD stars. Well I nuked it;
so you can all relax back into your lairs. C’mon Dirty, you enjoyed the little rush of outrage didn’t
you? I love a good tirade myself whenever possible but I haven’t suffered any tangible injustice lately.
 On your behalf I took an imperious tone and informed my connection over there that they could NOT profit
from your WORK. And you’ll be glad to know of the anguish that resulted. They were smote. 

Although the issue at hand had been the request for fan's Flag photos specifically, Stewart's diction and ThePolice.com's removal of the Flag entirely from the announcement led some to question if only fan's Flag photos or all Flag-related content had been "nuked" from the Fan Club DVD and PDF.[103] Although an appeal was made that the Flag as a whole not be stricken, the Fan Club DVD released in November 2008 contained no video of Stewart speaking about the Flag.[104]

The Flag does, however, appear briefly in the Fan Club DVD. In addition, it appears in the official Police release of the 2007-2008 Reunion Tour, Certifiable, as well as in the contained feature "Better Than Therapy."

Leroy Coolbreeze Fund for Melanoma

On 2007-09-28 the idea was proposed of "attaching" a charity to the forum's Flag project.[105] After much consideration, dialogue, and research, the Leroy Coolbreeze Fund for Melanoma to benefit the Melanoma International Foundation was created, organized and named in honor of Stewart's brother Ian Copeland who passed away from melanoma on 2006-05-23.[106][107].

Although the Leroy Coolbreeze Fund was originally conceived in association with the Flag, members of SC.net quickly took it upon themselves to raise money for the Fund through various means, encouraging fundraising in such large-scale capacities as melanoma walks and charity bike rides, as well as through small methods, such as bumping the relevant fundraising thread at the holidays, in association with the passing of loved ones or celebrities, and in appreciation of Stewart Copeland for his generous donation of concert tickets to forum members for the final Police concert.[108][109]

As of 2008-09-05, approximately $5500 had been raised for melanoma research through the Leroy Coolbreeze Fund.[110][111][112]

N.B.: While the Fund was supported by members of the SC.net forum, it was established by private persons independent of the Copeland family and the Stewart Copeland Official Site. No endorsement by or association with the Copeland family or the Stewart Copeland Official Site is implied or should be inferred.

See also

External links


References

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