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Cross purposes

All right, I’ll admit it.  This is actually my very first time visiting Colorado Springs.  I’ve been to Denver a few times and Fort Collins once; I’ve even driven over the Rabbit Ears Pass and down into Steamboat Springs back in 1996, when I was speaking at the University of Wyoming and just trying to see as much of the West as I could (because until I was 21, the furthest west I’d ever been was Hershey, Pennsylvania).  But I never really visited Focus on the Family back in 2004.  I was lying.

I did, however, speed by FoF’s Welcome Center last night as I drove down from the Denver airport.  (I figured there was no point getting yet another flight, after State College - Philadelphia and Philadelphia - Denver, just to go another 45 miles.) And I was reminded of the presence of another important institution in the area: the Air Force Academy.  One of my cousins on my mother’s side of the family serves in the Air Force, so I thought of him.  And then I thought of something else: when Jamie and I drove to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago to see our very first Penguins game (and that will be the subject of another post in the near future—not the game, not the trip, but the economic conditions of hockey fandom in our time), we were tooling along route 422 deep in the wilds of western PA when I saw a recruitment billboard for the Air Force.  It read:

CROSS INTO THE BLUE

Now, I know a thing or two about semiotics, but this slogan has been around for a couple of years, and I’ve always found it puzzling.  Why, here I am a-puzzlin’ about it right now!  I mean, it’s not like there’s some kind of vernacular tradition out there in which people say, “I got many rivers to cross before I get to the Air Force Academy” or “let me cross the Jordan, Lord, let me rest my weary soul at the Air Force Academy” or even “until now I have been a struggling musician with two highly-praised but obscure records to my credit—I so wish I could cross over into the Air Force market and get me some serious airplay.”

The Air Force’s previous recruiting slogan was “No One Comes Close,” which sounds much more Top Gun.  But “Cross Into The Blue” sounds . . . I don’t know . . . kinda Crusadey in a way.  It’s since been changed to “Do Something Amazing,” but still, there seems to be a Cross Into The Blue Tour, and I’m just wondering if this is one of those special whistles that people like me can’t hear.  Because I might need to know these things while I’m visiting the area around here.

Posted by on 11/02 at 01:51 PM
  1. But you still live blogged from the RNC in 2004, right? Right?

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  03:07 PM
  2. No no no.  When you’re feeling cross, the best thing to do is to take out the anger harmlessly, say by dropping daisy-cutters: “Cross?  Into the blue!  Turn that frown upside down with a barrel roll and pick up your spirits with jet fuel fumes and hypoxia!”

    The whole devotion-to-our-one-true-Lord-and-Savior thing is pure coincidence.

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  03:11 PM
  3. Of course, we might consider that the new USAF emergency supplemental budget request for an additional $50 billion to cover the increasing costs of transporting of “supporting our” troops dead bodies and the injured back to the US from the Mid East, might represent the crossing of blues??  This year the DoD budget was $467 billion not including the $94 billion of supplemental emergency war funding, and now this new request.  We aren’t getting much from our forces* except the “crossing into blues” for more than half a trillion dollars per year we spend on them.  Even some tin-sheriff-puppet prime minister can order them around (is a tin-sheriff-puppet something like a sprezzatura?).

    Meanwhile, back on our side of the Continental Divide, we are arguing more.

    *forces = captcha

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  03:32 PM
  4. An Army of One? Or an Army of THE One?

    .

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  03:36 PM
  5. I am not sure which whistle you aren’t sure you can hear…

    “Cross into the blue” is a great 4 word icon as all slogans should be.  It is both evocative and promising.  Cross in this case is a challenge to JoeAverage to make a decision to improve their lot in life.  Even though it seems a bit ambiguous cross, as you suggest, does carry a certain religiosity in its action verb state.  This gives it a certain social legitimacy or moral foundation. To cross resonates as well with being cross or mildly agitated, a perfect state to foster subtle dissatisfaction with one’s current condition and then offer the promise of the Blue (wild blue yonder).

    ...I doubt seriously if you are or ever were in the principle demographic for which this slogan was ‘built’.  Unless of course you are in your late teens/early 20’s and feel as though you haven’t achieved at the level of your potential.

    Posted by William Meloney  on  11/02  at  04:02 PM
  6. URL Typo… sorry
    http://pa-2.blogspot.com

    Posted by William Meloney  on  11/02  at  04:10 PM
  7. "Cross into the blue” attacks on several simultaneous fronts.

    The central story of this slogan is primarily an abstract symbolic one. The reader, as protagonist, is being asked to leave where ever they may be and enter the “blue”. Where the reader is, isn’t elaborated on, so it’s an every-and-any-place. What’s important is the blue. In this case, the “blue” clearly represents the literal sky, but also a combination of freedom and heaven. The religious tones of the noun Cross, and the verb crossing, both reinforce the idea of heaven. At once going to some place better, the after-life, and abstract ideas or ideals.

    With this in mind, as well as the context in which it’s being used, we could easily replace this slogan with the following: “Kill yourself for an ideal”.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  11/02  at  04:45 PM
  8. Like William (#6) I read nearly all of military recruitment slogans as pitches for a conversion experience, often dabbed with a bit of the religious or mythic:

    Be all you can be (the old Army one)

    Accelerate your life (the current Navy one)

    The few, the proud, the brave--with crazy magical-sword iconography thrown in for (special) effects (the long-standing Marine one)

    Howver, MFA (#4) the “Army of one” is about to be replaced (it stirred up some controversy--don’t ask), by

    Army Strong

    At first, I took this as some sort of regression to Tarzan-speak until I learned it’s meant as a compound adjective:

    “It’s a strength like none other. It’s the strength to get over--and get over yourself”

    All in all, I suppose training to kill people can be a transformative experience.

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  04:52 PM
  9. "No One Comes Close” is the Air Force’s uncharacteristically honest estimate of the accuracy of aerial bombing.  And “An Army of One” is the Cheney Admin’s way of telling the G.I.s, “You’re on your own now, kid.”

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  05:39 PM
  10. It does read a little oddly, so was intrigued and Googled around a bit and found this profile from Hilsdale College some interesting info - but no direct discussion of how it was selected. It plays on both the blue sky and the blue uniforms of the Air Force.

    Apparently it premiered in Nov. 2001, and the original TV ad campaign was run by GSD&M - Austin TX. (they may have been the originators of the slogan - found no earlier mention - also wonder if it was conceived of pre or post-9/11.)

    Harper’s had the following:

    The following slogans were submitted to the United States Air Force Academy in August 2002. The school solicited suggestions to replace one of its mottoes, “Bring Me Men,” which was deemed inappropriate following the discovery that rape and sexual harassment of female cadets were endemic at the institution.

    Cross Into the Blue was one of the entries (and it appears that the Academy specifically uses it now - but if the dates are right it was already in use by the Air Force for advertising at the time.)
    Some pretty po-mo slogans suggested if you ask me - my favs:

    Oh, I Have Slipped
    Sunward I’ve Climbed, and Joined the Tumbling Mirth of Sun-Split Clouds
    The Road to Dreamality
    Up, Up, The Long Delirious Burning Blue
    Without Desire, the Mind Ceases to Exist
    The Word “American” Ends in “I Can”

    And finally, an interesting article on military recruiting advertising from the LA Weekly 2003.

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  05:44 PM
  11. Really, to me “Cross into the Blue” sounds like an exhortation to use drugs. Probably LSD. More seriously, it suggests some kind of transcendental experience.

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  06:03 PM
  12. On behalf of the WAAGNF (We Are All Global Nuclear Fireball) defense team of the CCST (Chris Clarke Show Trial), I would like to insist that our client has never crossed into the blue, nor do we foresee any such crossing in the future remaining to us before the GNF.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  11/02  at  06:38 PM
  13. But you still live blogged from the RNC in 2004, right? Right?

    And oh, what fun it was.  My one and only time among the real elite.

    “No One Comes Close” is the Air Force’s uncharacteristically honest estimate of the accuracy of aerial bombing.

    Hmmm, that makes sense.  I’d assumed it was a commentary on the state of the anti-aircraft weaponry possessed by our recent bombees, and thus a form of reassurance to recruits that they’d be far safer in an F-16 Fighting Falcon than they would on the ground in the Fallujah Cleanup Detail, but sure, it works this way too.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/02  at  06:39 PM
  14. At least it didn’t say cross over into the light. Because I don’t see tha tone working.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  11/02  at  09:35 PM
  15. Well, considering today’s news out of Colorado Springs regarding Rev. Taggart’s alleged dalliance with a male prostitute, perhaps the ‘blue’ refers to some sort of gay thing.

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  10:26 PM
  16. yeah, “the blue” is the term the kidz use to describe the legal right to make medical decisions for one’s same-sex partner. Totally a gay thing.

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  10:33 PM
  17. "Army Strong” sounds like something from a pickup truck ad…

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  10:43 PM
  18. To Canadians, “Cross Into the Blue” sends an obvious subliminal message: Labatt Blue.

    http://www.labattblue.ca/

    This is clearly an underhanded effort to seduce Canadians into the U.S. Air Force by offering brew in exchange for blood, sweat, and tears. Now all they need is Pamela Anderson on the billboard, and recruitment numbers will soar.

    By the way, the old Canadian Armed Forced slogan used to be “There’s No Life Like It.” That’s almost kind of inviting!

    Posted by  on  11/02  at  11:11 PM
  19. Your Eminence,

    Perhaps “Cross Into the Blue” is a thinly veiled threat directed toward and a rallying cry against the blue states. My only question is if “crossing into” entails air strikes, recruiting efforts, or some sort of more nebulous cultural re-programming campaign.

    Posted by e. fiction  on  11/03  at  01:11 AM
  20. Sure, I’ll cross into the blue. Anything to get out of the red.

    Posted by  on  11/03  at  02:53 AM
  21. Hey Michael, now that “we” own the Penguins (Jim Balsillie=RIM=Waterloo=we) maybe “we” can score some tickets some time and come down and see our team.

    captch word is “states.” I didn’t know this was a manifest destiny blog. Or maybe it refers to the ultimate repatriation of the Penguins. hmmm.

    Posted by  on  11/03  at  09:25 AM
  22. Cross into the blue = fly-boy porn?

    captcha: there

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/03  at  09:42 AM
  23. You’re right, Idle Mind. “Army Strong” seems a ripoff of “Ford Tough.”

    If Michael Moore and F-9/11 can be trusted, the Army already has a pretty catchy, if unofficial, slogan: “Burn, Motherfucker, Burn.”

    Posted by  on  11/03  at  10:10 AM
  24. bluecross

    WAAGNFN
    Ministry of Visual Propaganda

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/03  at  10:19 AM
  25. One of my best friend’s brothers went to the Air Force Academy in the 80’s, and he was sickened by how he saw the women there being treated. I guess they’ve since channeled a lot (but certainly not all) of their rampant sexism and misogyny into Christian fanatacism.

    On behalf of the WAAGNF (We Are All Global Nuclear Fireball) defense team of the CCST (Chris Clarke Show Trial), I would like to insist that our client has never crossed into the blue,

    christian h. - would you please be a dear and add “crossing into the blue” to the list of charges? Thanks.

    Message for you back at the Halloween day post, John Protevi!

    Oaktown Girl
    Minister of Justice
    WAAGNFN

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  11/03  at  10:32 AM
  26. Tristero on today’s (Friday, Nov. 3) Hullabloo has a very nice round up about what’s been going on over at the Air Force Academy with the Christian extremism issue. Apparently, newly disgraced evangelical head honcho,Ted Haggard, had his nose all up in that mess.

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  11/03  at  11:13 AM
  27. Who in their right mind would try to tempt a Canadian with Labatt’s? It’s like trying to tempt an American away from America with tv. “Lookie, lookie, we’ve got tv. Huh? What’a’ya say?” If it was meant to tempt Canadians it would have read, “We pay in USD.”

    And, I don’t know about this whole business of titles within the WAAGNFN. You give someone a title, and the next thing you know they’re issuing edicts, having luncheons, and scheduling briefings. It’s not seemly.

    Damn, someone’s at my door. Why do I always think “police!” when my doorbell rings? Hold on.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses… of course. And they have literature. Thank you. And look! Surprise surprise, it calls for my death, and the death of every non-believer as well as every member of every ‘false religion’. How quaint. The cover bears the title “The End of False Religion is Near!” Well, that *is* “good news”.

    News of the GNF has apparently reached the Johos.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  11/03  at  11:21 AM
  28. Would you, CCP, by any chance be looking for the title of Minister for Outreach and Foreign Operations, aka MOFO?

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  11/03  at  11:42 AM
  29. I’ve known some flyboys in my lifetime and even the ones who don’t subscribe to some specific religion associate flight with a higher spiritual existence. In fact, some of them think of *themselves* as gods or at least demi-gods.  (I’m pretty sure my father’s sincere, unjoking insistence that’s he’s always right is related to his having been in the Army Air Corps and Air Force.) I suppose it makes some deep psychological sense—flight is pretty super-human.  In fact, you might call a man who could fly a “Superman.” smile Of course, this is all pretty adaptable to a Christian conversion/martyrdom narrative, too—take your pick of periods and denominations.  So as unsettling as the notion of “crossing over” might be to those of us resistant to it, I have to hand it to the marketers or whoever came up with it:  I bet it plays *really* well with the audience they hope to reach, death-wish connotations and all.

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  11/03  at  11:46 AM
  30. along route 422

    Dr. Bérubé, you give yourself away. The official Foundationalist position is that there does exist an objectively best Pittsburgh - State College route independent of any human mind (PennDOT is clearly a non-human entity*) - and it does not involve 422. (which heresy do you choose - Saltsburg cutoff or “Stay the Course” via Kittaning?) In fact I suspect you are even a situational or diurnal routist, allowing construction and time-of-day to influence your route choice. How quotidian - I would not even be surprised if you chose a different route for the return leg of your trip.

    *[PennDOT is actually considered only the second most malevolent deity in the PA Pantheon, continually striving but failing to match the PA Turnpike Comission.]
    pyrite ... or Breezewood interchange

    Posted by  on  11/03  at  02:17 PM
  31. I could have sworn that “cross into the blue” was the code for when she wanted me to take my viagra??? Or was that the 10mg valiums’ moments after a night of too much cartel magic dust, and/or trying to stop rushing on the run of china’s white stuff?? Well i guess and i just don’t know.

    Posted by  on  11/03  at  04:02 PM
  32. “let me cross the Jordan, Lord, let me rest my weary soul at the Air Force Academy”

    Such songs, due to their religious content, were indeed made mandatory at the Air Force Academy, until someone pointed out they were too Negro.

    In fact, you might call a man who could fly a “Superman.”

    Aha!  So “Cross into the blue” means “put on blue tights.” I suspect Pastor Haggard owns a pair.  And we were wondering why he’s been looking so… tired!

    Posted by  on  11/03  at  05:19 PM
  33. Clover/ Revloc says:  The official Foundationalist position is that there does exist an objectively best Pittsburgh - State College route independent of any human mind (PennDOT is clearly a non-human entity*) - and it does not involve 422. (which heresy do you choose - Saltsburg cutoff or “Stay the Course” via Kittaning?) In fact I suspect you are even a situational or diurnal routist, allowing construction and time-of-day to influence your route choice. How quotidian - I would not even be surprised if you chose a different route for the return leg of your trip.

    I reply:  Wrong on all counts, Velcro!  I have taken every conceivable route to Pittsburgh, including the obscure 219 through Johnstown to 30, and there is nothing better than 422, the “stay the course” via Kittaning.  (This has the advantage of taking one through Blawnox, a fine town that crossword puzzlers—Orange, are you listening?—should make better use of.)

    Perhaps you are referring to the 22 Fundamentalists, who are wont to insist that theirs is the One Way—and that it is only sporadically interrupted by construction.  Well, I have tried their foolish faith-based driving strategies time and again over five years, and I have never—never—failed to lose 30 to 45 minutes thanks to construction or accidents.  I was almost an hour late to my own minnesota review interview at Jeff Williams’s Squirrel Hill apartment because I took 22 to 376, and I have been held up at 2 AM in the rolling hills by construction crews working under the bright lights.  So talk not to me of 22.

    If you know of yet another route, though, I’m still willing to hear it.  My only stipulation is that the roads you name must be paved.

    Posted by  on  11/03  at  06:31 PM
  34. [Imagine devastatingly witty foreign language phrases sprinkled liberally throughout this comment.]
    Having actually lived in Blawnox , I am hereby taking over for Revloc (for the seriously life-deficient, here is a link to an article on reversed placenames.) and bring some clarity to your “anecdotal” reply.

    So talk not to me of 22.

    1) Aha! Revvie never once mentioned 22, so I suspect that your use of it contains a “catch” (maybe - “Crazy people are forbidden to drive on Route 22, however anyone who does drive on Route 22 must be crazy.” ... something like that.)

    2) That notwithstanding, I am interested in how you get from Hollidaysburg to Ebensburg without using 22. (perhaps you take the back way via Allegheny Wells?)

    3) Blawnox place name etymology. Was renamed when the Blaw-Knox steel company moved in. Its original name was ... wait for it ... Hoboken. Having acomplished the nearly impossible feat of finding a name less euphonius than its original, when I lived there it boasted within its tiny confines, at least 10 places to drink beer and watch the election returns, but precisely zero to buy a loaf of bread or gallon of milk. It has continued its run of improbability by becoming an antiques center.

    the roads you name

    Cool, I get to name the roads. OK, I-99 is now the Pork Barrel Express express, rather than the the Bud Shuster Highway. (And yes, Buddy Ebsen did in fact once campaign for Bud against “Miss Hathaway.)

    Oh, a better way to get from State College to Pittsburgh, not a clue?

    Posted by  on  11/03  at  07:53 PM
  35. I don’t know . .
    “Cross into the Blue” has always sounded vaguely nihilistic to me--a little close to “the great blue yonder.” I thought it odd that one of the branches of our esteemed military would have a slogan that subtly advertised the very real mortal danger that cadets might face, but maybe none of them read Philip Larkin . . .

    Posted by  on  11/03  at  07:57 PM

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