Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The President and the Godfather

Floral tributes honoring James Brown and Gerald Ford both say “big shot.”


Rev. Al Sharpton remembered The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, during a memorial and viewing Thursday at New York’s Apollo Theatre.

Photo: Kathy Willens, for AP

Saying R.I.P. to a V.I.P. demands flowers to the max. But the looks of “maximizing” rightly depend on culture, ethnicity, and social role.

Today’s news photos tell the story, with images of floral tributes to performer and musical pioneer James Brown, who died Christmas Day, and to former U.S. president Gerald Ford, who died December 26.


Gerald Ford’s official presidential portrait received a white rose tribute and was draped with black at the White House.

Photo: Gerald Herbert, for AP

In Washington, D.C., a black sash was hung across the top of Ford’s portrait in the Cross Hall of the White House; “In memorium” below,  a silver vase filled with four dozen white roses and a few airy ferns stood on a marble-topped table. One source said white roses are “Mrs. Ford’s favorite flower,” but we doubt that explanation. Rather, this is how high-church Episcopalians mourn in public.

For James Brown, thousands of fans gathered at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem to pay their respects. At either end of Brown’s open casket (Ford’s will be closed) were two large arrangements, also of white flowers, but they were drowned out by a stunning floral placard nearby. GOD FATHER had been spelled out in what appear to be red carnations against a wall of white Gerberas, the whole arrangement edged with palms and red ribbons. This is the floral equivalent of a marquee—huge, explicit—the perfect memorial for the author of “Say It Loud.”



Posted by Julie on 12/28 at 11:12 PM
Culture & SocietySecular CustomsPermalink