Double down on doubling down

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It’s everywhere. Our language is polluted.

On this week’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report I heard more mentions of the term “double down“. Not only did Jon Stewart refer to the KFC pseudo-sandwich, The Double Down, he included a clip from another news program in which someone’s political idea was “doubled down” on.

And then on The Colbert Report, his guest, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, on the show to discuss his new doc, The Address (about Abraham Lincoln‘s famous Gettysburg Address), said Lincoln was “doubling down on the Declaration of Independence“. Learn the Address! (The next night, in discussing green energy, Colbert also used the term “double down”! I swear, it’s everywhere, and I wish it would stop.)

Colbert also discussed the new USPS Harvey Milk postage stamp, exclaiming, “A gay man on a stamp!” I love mainstream coverage of stamps! “Make no mistake folks – if it’s mail, I’m licking something.

USPS Harvey Milk postage stamp

USPS Harvey Milk postage stamp

Philatelic Controversy

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Could you have imagined that postage stamps could summon controversy? Okay, maybe, Finland’s recent “unfurling” of homoerotic stamps featuring the artwork of Tom of Finland will not be everyone’s favorite (I love them!), but conventional philatelists are pretty up in arms about non-conventional stamp releases.

Unfurl it! Cannot help but think of classic Kids in the Hall skit “Danny Husk is Blade Rogers” – the whole clip is chuckle-worthy, but the final 30-40 seconds feature the clip I thought of. (Love Scott Thompson and Dave Foley!)

“Now that I own it, let’s say I see it. Unfurl it, boy. It’s not a flag, let it touch the ground.”

Not being a stamp collector – at all – but someone who likes to choose interesting postage stamps when I send out postal letters and my quarterly soundtrack CDs (yeah I am that old school – actual CDs in the actual postal mail), I sort of keep my eyes open for cool stamps.

Recently while stumbling through the United States Postal Service website, I found that there will soon be a Jimi Hendrix stamp (looks vaguely psychedelic).

USPS Jimi Hendrix postage stamp

USPS Jimi Hendrix postage stamp

But it got me to thinking, “Why Jimi? Why Jimi and not Jim or Janis?” I searched more and found a Rolling Stone article that confirms that the USPS will release stamps of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, James Brown, Roy Orbison, Tammy Wynette, Michael Jackson, Sam Cooke – and others. Including John Lennon. This is where the controversy begins.

“A U.S.P.S. rep told the Post that stamp subjects may change at any time. The Postal Service is looking to attract younger stamp collectors with some of these new additions; because some of these proposed stamps betray previous stamp guidelines (such as the subject being American, in the case of John Lennon), this new direction has become controversial among older philatelists.”

Who knew that stamps could cause controversy? While I can imagine that something like the Finnish stamps might stir up some grumbling among some people, the idea that a non-American appears on an American stamp seems like igniting a controversy where there isn’t (or shouldn’t be) one. Then again, there is something called the “Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee” – stamps really matter to someone.

For the Philatelically Inclined: Homoerotic Finnish Postage Stamps

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Just hours before I saw that Finland had introduced these unusual and rather groundbreaking postage stamps featuring homoerotic images, I had a playful debate with someone about “the best stamps ever”.

Homoerotic philately in Finland

Homoerotic philately in Finland

Now, sure, I write and talk about stamps a lot – but I am no philatelist. I have never collected or thought about the value of stamps (other than when the price goes up and my postal costs – as a lifelong pen pal type – go up). I have always sought to get the most interesting or visually stimulating stamps because I assume that is the kind of stamps my pen pals (and anyone receiving mail from me) would want to see. Not patriotic row on row of American flags! No. Give me the Johnny Cash or the March on Washington! Or Harvey Milk or… Jimi Hendrix! Give me the Imagine Peace Tower or Eyjafjallajökull! Give me the cutest depictions of animals ever on Swedish Christmas stamps – or even Swedish luminaries (albeit from totally opposite ends of the cultural spectrum – Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer and footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic!). Give me heart-shaped French designer Valentine stamps! Just not something boring. So the playful argument ended up with a UK resident telling me he was going to outstamp my stamp prowess (I argued that my Swedish wildlife Christmas motif was the best ever, hands down). He claimed he could outdo it.

But before that could happen, I saw the breaking news – Finland had unleashed these stamps by influential artist Tom of Finland. Well, announced them, anyway. The real release, according to the Finnish post website, is in September.

Not that Finland has bored us too much with stamp design before (quite unlike Scandinavian nation, Norway – almost the world’s most boring stamps in my humble opinion. Bore-wegian stamps!) – they’ve given us Angry Birds, police cars, a whole lot of postal representations of Finnish design (and when it comes to design, is there any better?), an homage to their world-leading education system, Tove Jansson, teddy bears for Valentine’s Day (Teddy feels honored of course), Moomin, ice hockey, loads of nature – and that is just in the current lineup.

Postcards from Paradise” – Flesh for Lulu… “I fell under your spell…