Culture
10:46 am
Tue September 27, 2011

Honoring Living People on Stamps?

You have to admit, this has been a very odd year in Michigan, and things seem likely to get odder. We have a governor who happily calls himself a nerd, almost never wears a tie, never ran for office before, and has been phenomenally successful at getting the legislature to pass whatever laws he wants.

His only failure so far has been to get them to accept a bridge which wouldn’t cost anything, would mean ten thousand jobs and two billion free dollars from the federal government.

Meanwhile, our governor has been handing out Tiger baseball caps in Japan, before he went on to move his traveling office to what we used to quaintly call Red China. The world’s last major Communist country has become a huge capitalist superpower.

And Michigan wants to get in on some of the action. Back here at home, the state’s football team, the Detroit Lions, has played three games so far and won them all. To put this in perspective, this is one more game than they won in two entire recent seasons combined.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some religions took this as a sign of the end of the world. The Detroit Tigers, meanwhile, have a real shot at winning it all, which, if it happens, would violate the well-known law of nature that we cannot have two good teams in the same decade.

And if you think all this was strange, it’s about to get worse. This morning, my significant other asked me how I would feel about  sending her a Valentine’s Card with a Kwame Kilpatrick stamp.

I told her that no matter how bad things got, we are unlikely to have to worry about that. We are much older than he is, and The United States Postal Service does not put living people on stamps.

“They do now,” she said, and thrust today’s New York Times at me. Sure enough, in what can only be described as a desperate bid for revenue, the post office is going to start honoring living people.

“Having really nice, relevant, interesting, fun stamps might make a difference,” a postal official said. I really can’t blame the post office. They are losing vast sums of money and struggling to survive. But somehow, it seems wrong to put living people on stamps.

I mean, you don’t really know how they’ll turn out. As a boy, I had a collection of Eastern European stamps featuring living communist leaders. I guess maybe the governor wasn’t the biggest nerd in Michigan, eh? Anyway, Leonid Brezhnev stamps aren’t too popular anywhere these days.

However, my guess is that we are far more likely to see entertainers than politicians, given that two of the biggest selling stamps ever were the freshly dead Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.

So if we see a living Michigander, it is probably more likely to be Madonna than John Engler, though personally I’d prefer Bob Seger. I was heartened by CBS news’s report that people overwhelmingly would prefer Neil Armstrong to Mark Zuckerberg.

But I worry that even this won’t be enough to save free daily mail delivery.  The Times reported that one person asked their reporter this question via Twitter:  What’s a stamp?”