Friday, August 19, 2005

Stamping out mediocrity at the source

A couple of years ago, I somehow discovered that the Irish Philatelic Service had issued a commemorative series of stamps honoring...Irish Rock stars. So I ordered a set, thinking if nothing else, this kind of magnanimous and open-minded gesture should not go unrewarded. So, barely a week of two later they arrived in a very pretty Irish Post envelope, carefully packed in a glassine envelope (...where else do you get to use the word 'glassine' except in the context of ilicit drug purchases?) and surrounded by enough chipboard to preserve the Mona Lisa.

Ireland has thus honored U2 (all four of them on one stamp), Phil Lynott (c'mon, you remember him...late bassist of Thin Lizzy...oh come on now...dark-skinned Dublin lad, great big 'Fro...), Van Morrison (technically from Belfast, so not quite Irish, if you know what I mean), and Rory Gallagher, the world's greatest dead unknown Irish blues guitarist and possibly one of the world's greatest rock guitarists ever from anywhere.

I congratulate Eire for their decision to acknowledge these artists while some of them are still around to enjoy it and to recognize that popular does not mean bad. Their selection was rather eclectic (it's not like there weren't a bunch of other candidates for the honor...) and it's amazing to me that in the United States we were only offered the choice of "Fat Elvis" or "Skinny Elvis," a decision of monumental bathos and mind-numbing irrelevance. The USPS and Congress should get together and loosen the restrictions on who and what we put on stamps—we should be able to have one square inch of fun per item mailed, minimum.

My only regret regarding my purchase of these stamps is that I seem to have made a friend for life in the Irish Philatelic Office, and I regularly receive their offerings catalog. Its arrival has become a bittersweet event, because they haven't seemed to come up with anything since that's quite so...unique. Probably the poor sod who came up with the idea has been "downsized" for his efforts. Well guys: You can take me off your mailing list now.

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