October 13, 2006

Heil floor!


Allston, Massachusetts: Home to drunken college students, funky coffee shops and, apparently, Nazi floor designers. That last part's probably not true, but how else to explain the lobby in my friend's apartment building? And don't give me that "ancient Indian symbol" stuff. Nobody's sending smoke signals from this building (unless, I suppose, it's a signal to buy more weed).

Does anyone know what's going on here? Maybe this is some sort of normal, outdated tile design that was laid down before the 1940s?

Posted by Jason Feifer at October 13, 2006 08:08 AM


Could be worse.

Posted by Stealth at October 13, 2006 12:10 PM

Unless I'm mistaken, this is an ancient symbol that means balance truth and something about nature (bit like Ying and Yang). It was INVERTED by the nazi's, so the arms on the swastika rotate in a clockwise direction. However, the BORDER of the floor has the symbol this way round, so what do I know?! Either way, it would be interesting to find out when the floor was laid.

Posted by Kate at October 13, 2006 02:19 PM

I once was in a high school in a small town in Illinois that had this same symbol in the lobby. Obviously, I was taken a little aback.
It was explained to me that the symbol was used in Germany and elsewhere as a symbol of luck near the beginning of the last century.
I would say the floor probably predates the war. Which is nice, because it is a reminder that all the pain and suffering of the last century is actually not our full history.

Posted by Eric at October 13, 2006 02:40 PM

Hull town hall has them too. And yes, it's a very old building - pre-1920s if I'm not mistaken.

Posted by ivymike at October 13, 2006 03:23 PM

Hitler didn't invent the Swastika, he just reversed it and perverted its meaning. This is a left-facing swastika, a symbol that is still used commonly in China and Japan. On Tokyo city maps you will see this symbol to denote the location of Buddhist temples. It ain't no big deal.

Posted by tommy at October 13, 2006 06:50 PM

It's not a symbol from Native American culture but from the Indian subcontinent, for one thing.

For another, its construction probably predates the use of the symbol by the Nazis and its prominence in their propaganda in the 1930s and 1940s.

Not everything in Allston was built since 1978, no matter what John Silber says.

Posted by leonardo at October 14, 2006 10:26 AM

Not to be a know-it-all busybody, but it is easily found on wikipedia, where it gives the explanation for Hinduism (where it is still in use), Buddhism (also still in use), Jainism (not a clue what it is) and Odinism (same). Swastika means good fortune or well-being.

Posted by Mara at October 14, 2006 11:38 AM

Hey, this is kind of unrelated to the current post, but I was wondering if you knew what happened to the comic Duck and Monkey, since www.duckandmonkey.com is currently registered to some sort of cyber-squatter.


Posted by Jono at October 15, 2006 10:10 PM

Aw, really? Lousy. I do hate cybersquatters.

Duck and Monkey met a quiet, unresolved fate, when its creator (my friend Joe Perna) ran out of enthusiasm for it. It had a good run: about two years in our college magazine, and then a year online. Heís since moved on to various other projects, including a collaboration with me on a comic book. Donít worry: If thereís anything worth noting, Iíll be whoring it out on this here blog.

Posted by jason at October 15, 2006 10:17 PM

Vietnam also has the swastika symbol on a lot of older architecture as well as in Buddhist temples and on tombstones, all of which makes traveling in a post-war, Walt Disney-worshipping, Communist country even more of a surreal experience.

Posted by Jenn N. at October 16, 2006 12:58 PM

Ivymike: Hull's Town Hall had this same floor. It was altered so that the symbols were filled in to make squares.

Posted by stummo at October 16, 2006 06:59 PM

Do you know if there is an archive of Duck and Monkey comics around somewhere? I started reading it a couple years ago then lost track of it for a while, I'd really like to find the ones I missed.

Thanks anyway

Posted by Jono at October 16, 2006 09:58 PM

Hi Jono-

I'm flattered that you enjoyed Duck and Monkey and interested in catching up on some of the strips you may have missed. I have them all archived on my pc, and will look into sharing them online. Until then, send me an email and I'll make sure to notify you when that happens.

Thanks for the interest,

Posted by Joe at October 18, 2006 12:06 PM