The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) hosted an event on January 2nd at Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturdays, that caught my attention.
The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture is NOT a government agency. It is the nation’s newest people-powered department, founded on the truth that art and culture are our most powerful and under-tapped resources for social change. Radically inclusive, useful and sustainable, and vibrantly playful, the USDAC aims to spark a grassroots, creative change movement, engaging millions in performing and creating a world rooted in empathy, equity, and social imagination.
In the museum’s beautiful Beaux-Arts Court the USDAC set up a range of art making activities conceived to imagine the future of New York City, which is currently in the midst of an unprecedented affordable housing crisis. There was a Letters to the Future station, where people could write to a friend or loved one in the year 2036, telling them how they helped to keep New York City affordable. While the solutions to our housing crisis are so much more complex than the actions of individuals, posing the question is valuable. What kind of a city do we want in the future and what can we do collectively to make it so?
I love when several people alert me to the same article because it makes me feel like y’all got my back. Thank you! So here it is, a link to an opinion piece by Zeynep Tufekci in yesterday’s New York Times titled, “Why The Post Office Makes America Great.” I appreciate Tufeksi’s perspective on the relationship between infrastructure and innovation in our country. And while I tend to want more public funding for infrastructure, especially for train travel, its good to be reminded that there would be no internet without the federal research funding that brought it to life and there’d be no internet economy without the USPS to guarantee delivery.
Last month we went to Honk!, a festival of activist streets bands in Somerville, MA. It was excellent! Brass bands from around the country, and a few from overseas, descended for a weekend of noise and fun. This one, Extraordinary Rendition Band, is from Providence, Rhode Island and they were so good.
Like the tuba player’s Marilyn Monroe postage stamp tights?
Like how I brought it back to mail?
Have you seen the video of Melvin the Postcard Machine?
Its a much smaller version of the first Melvin the Machine, another wonder built by the design studio, HEYHEYHEY.
Both machines are fantastic. Rube Goldberg would be proud.
We subscribe to magazines that arrive in the mail right? But what about subscribing for actual mail?
This past summer I subscribed to Abe’s Penny, a literary and art micro-magazine that arrives in the form of weekly postcards. While I was at it, I bought my children a subscription to Abe’s Peanut, the same idea but for kids. The postcard magazines are consistent treats in our mailbox. We love receiving them and following the serialized content from week to week. Here is an example of an Abe’s Penny postcard front and back.
Last week my friend Randi alerted me to Rumpus’s Letters in the Mail. For five dollars a month ($10 for international subscriptions) you will receive letters from writers on topics of their choosing. I signed up immediately!
So what do you think of the mail subscription model? A great use of your mailbox as a cultural receptacle? Kind of like hiring a prostitute? A bit of both? I for one, am inspired. I’ll let you know when I get my first Letters in the Mail letter.
Have you seen the video, Keep Wall Street Occupied? A good use of junk mail?
And Happy (day after) Halloween!
Here’s my pal Haley’s costume from last year. Viva Snail Mail!
If you subscribe to Garrison Keiller’s Writer’s Almanac, a poem gets sent to your email address every day.
Here’s one that Biskit forwarded to me:
I see a postman everywhere
Vanishing in thin blue air
A mammoth letter in his hand,
Postmarked from a foreign land.
The postman’s uniform is blue.
The letter is of course from you
And I’d be able to read, I hope,
My own name on the envelope
But he has trouble with this letter
Which constantly grows bigger & bigger
And over and over with a stare,
He vanishes in blue, blue air.
According to the New York Times, the USPS is going to change their policy of only featuring dead people on postage stamps- now living people can appear on postage stamps too. The NYT article linked to the USPS Stamps Facebook page. I didn’t know they had one so I went and its great! As of now 5,844 people “like” the page and out of those people a whole bunch want Lady Gaga to appear on a stamp. A Lady Gaga stamp might just save the USPS. All her little monsters would be buying up sheets and sheets of them! I also read suggestions for Dolly Parton, Madonna, and Maya Angelou and I could not agree more. Someone suggested Gilda Radner, who unfortunately is not alive. But Kristen Wiig is. I just watched “Bridesmaids” again and I would LOVE to stick a Kristen Wiig stamp on my mail, if you know what I mean.
This pop culture influx might be shocking to traditional philatelic folks but as long as the artwork on these stamps is good, I think this change could breathe some fresh energy into the form. What do you think and what are your suggestions for future stamp subjects?
Viva Snail Mail!
This video clip from Wall Street Journal dot com makes me feel like I am on hallucinogens. Please watch.
While you’re at it, check out Katherine Rosman’s article, “Stationery’s New Followers”.
Photo by Peter Earl McCollough for the Wall Street Journal
Hey guess what? Viva Snail Mail was included in a round up of analog love in New York City in this week’s New York Magazine. I loved reading about the other users and enthusiasts of pre-digital technologies, because my analog appreciation extends beyond paper mail. I am also a fan of film cameras, vinyl records, letterpress, bookbinding, pinball, and typewriters. Let’s face facts. I kind of want to be this lady, but with fluffier hair.
Analog love from 1947. I found it at the New York City Public Library Picture Collection but don’t know who the photographer was.