by Michael Yessis | 08.03.11 | 2:16 PM ET
Charles Simic laments the dwindling number of postcards arriving in his mailbox this summer.
Until a few years ago, hardly a day would go by in the summer without the mailman bringing a postcard from a vacationing friend or acquaintance. Nowadays, you’re bound to get an email enclosing a photograph, or, if your grandchildren are the ones doing the traveling, a brief message telling you that their flight has been delayed or that they have arrived. The terrific thing about postcards was their immense variety. It wasn’t just the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal, or some other famous tourist attraction you were likely to receive in the mail, but also a card with a picture of a roadside diner in Iowa, the biggest hog at some state fair in the South, and even a funeral parlor touting the professional excellence that their customers have come to expect over a hundred years. Almost every business in this country, from a dog photographer to a fancy resort and spa, had a card. In my experience, people in the habit of sending cards could be divided into those who go for the conventional images of famous places and those who delight in sending images whose bad taste guarantees a shock or a laugh.
He ends his New York Review of Books piece with something World Hum contributor, Mad Libs-style postcard-template maker and campaigner to make handwritten postcards and letters cool again Doug Mack finds off-putting.
That generalization that people who write postcards are, in some nebulous-but-important sense Older—well, it’s probably correct. Almost certainly. And yet there’s also something so reductive about that artfully-drawn scene and its insistence on corralling the postcard-writers into some dusty museum display of a bygone era, as though to write a postcard is to put down one’s shuffleboard stick and scribble some comments about how Truman sure was a good president, gee whiz, before pushing the walker down the hall to the activity room for the 2pm ragtime sing-along.
Come on. Don’t consign the very act of postcard-writing to the nursing home for lost-cause, nearly-dead communication, along with Morse code and the Pony Express. Don’t take pity on postcard writers. To ask for pity, to claim that this is the domain of only the “problem”-ridden “older people”—this isn’t going to do much to make anyone else want to write postcards, either. Lament the decline, sure, but spare me the elegies.
by Doug Mack | 07.27.11 | 4:59 PM ET
Keep in touch the easy way with Doug Mack's all-purpose postcard template
by Michael Yessis | 07.13.11 | 4:37 PM ET
There is something by turns comforting and disturbing in the fact that places like the Eniwetok Proving Ground—the Pacific atoll where tests like “Bravo” promised a thousand Hiroshimas—should have its own two-color lithograph postcard; and that the back of cards sent from places like the top-secret “City of the Atomic Bomb,” Oak Ridge, Tenn., should have little more to announce than: “Plenty hot.”
by Eva Holland | 06.24.10 | 3:34 PM ET
Once again, Geist has announced the winners of their annual Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest, celebrating very short stories inspired by vintage postcards. I liked Honorable Mention We Are Electric, by Kellee Ngan, about a couple on a beach holiday. Here’s a taste:
We were supposed to be spotting wildlife for him to photograph. I pointed out pigeons and other everyday animals. He wielded his camera more like a telescope than a machine gun. He gazed through the lens but didn’t fire, didn’t try to catch the heron I spied mid-flight.
“It’s got to be something special,” he said.
I drew a line in the sand with my big toe. “You can erase what you don’t like.”
by Eva Holland | 05.28.10 | 11:51 AM ET
by Eva Holland | 07.20.09 | 3:42 PM ET
by Eva Holland | 06.29.09 | 9:20 AM ET
Once again, Geist has announced the winners of the annual Literal Literary Postcard Contest—in which writers submit very short stories inspired by vintage postcards. First prize went to Mark Paterson’s Spring Training, a compact piece about a boy not traveling to Florida for pre-season baseball every year.
by Rolf Potts | 04.09.09 | 10:09 AM ET
Vagabonding traveler Rolf Potts answers your questions about travel and the world
by Sophia Dembling | 02.05.09 | 4:20 PM ET
I like buying postcards when I travel, partly because I’m cheap, but also because they’re fun to collect and to mail to friends anytime.
But my favorite postcards, the ones I cherish and don’t send to anyone, don’t have postcard-perfect images. Watch my slideshow and see what I mean.
by Michael Yessis | 12.04.06 | 8:31 AM ET
Apparently U2’s guitar player The Edge has been sending postcards to his mum since the band started. McSweeney’s recently posted excerpts, including this from 1996: “I am writing you this from Japan. The picture on this postcard is of a monastery. We went there to visit. Bono kept asking what things were called in Japanese. The monk would say a word and Bono would repeat it. Except poorly. And in this annoying reverential whisper. He thinks the monks are so serene, but what Bono doesn’t know is that they are, in fact, killing machines. Any one of them could crumple Bono’s windpipe with a single swift blow to the throat. Bono would stagger around gasping for air before he collapsed in a Zen rock garden, dead. And that would be ironic. Because Bono talks so often about how much he loves to ‘rock.’”
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