Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bad postcard of the week: Sweden needs a tutorial on glorious bad postcards

Qwert needs to know more about boring postcards.
As we've mentioned before, I’m a member of a worldwide community called Postcrossing that sends postcards back and forth. This is fun.

We all have a profile page where we tell a little about ourselves and tell other Postcrossers what kind of postcards we like to receive.

Naturally, my profile mentions a fondness for really boring postcards. Some people like to accommodate and have sent some wonderfully boring cards. Others are a little confused.

Yesterday I received a fantastically boring card from a Postcrosser named Qwert. His note on the back gets right to the point.

Qwert writes: “I do not know what cards are boring to you. There are no cards boring to everyone. Regards. Qwert.”

Qwert, my new friend, I would love to explain what makes a boring postcard.

But first, a little about Qwert, who also goes by Kjell and lives in Southern Sweden. Dude is a veteran Postcrosser, sending 3,520 postcards in four years. By comparison, I’ve sent about 200 in two years, clearly a rank amateur.

He’s also, might I say, a little standoffish. He certainly has a lot of rules, according to his profile. He’s studying postal automation and Swedish postal history.
Aside from thinking the Russian post office runs a little too slow compared to the mail system in Finland, he notes:
“PLEACE, I beg you, NO MORE city views or buildings, churches etc. DO NOT send cards or envelopes and not bigger than C6. (10x15 cm)(4 X 6 inches)

“Just send a Beer mats, just put stamp and address on it, or a WHITE BLANK card/paper max. 15x10 cm. 
Pleace, NOT in envelope, (Beer mats, Bierdeckel, bocks, maty piwo, posavasos, підставки під пивні кухлі, подставки под пивные кружки). If this is too difficult to find, just cut out a postcard-sized piece of cardboard food packaging and use/send that as a postcard to me. I also like "cards" sent via Internet by Touchnote or similar services. 
“I like all the stamps located ON the card not broken stamps half sitting on the card. I have got too many of those. I also like franking with "Meter stamps" automatically made by any kind of machines. I DO like cards with 3D stamps. (f.ex. Finland - Canada) The postal side of the card is the one I like the best.”
Since Qwert is studying postal history, I welcome the opportunity to tell him – and anyone else – the glories of bad postcards.
The 1960s and 1970s are considered the golden era of bad postcards. So if you’ve got something from that era, you’re a step ahead.
There are naturally several categories. Let’s break them down.
Ghost town: This would be a building; usually a bland government building made blander by a complete lack of people, cars, pets, squirrels or anything else that might imply life. 
Long-distance dedication: This would be a photo taken from very, very far away so that any detail of the subject is difficult to ascertain. As we are fond of saying, Casey Kasem has offered long-distance dedications on behalf of people who were closer than the photographer and the subject of this card. RIP, Casey. We’ll miss you. 
Bad photos: Sometimes we have no indication that a skilled photographer took the photo depicted on the card. A card can be made gloriously bad by the subject matter, or the action being wildly off-center, or with people posing in unusual ways. You look at a bad photo postcard and say, “What the heck is going on here?” And, in the best cards, something is going astray and the photographer either didn't catch it or just didn't care.
Little Harry is ready to give them hell!

My favorite bad photo postcard – and possibly the best bad postcard of all time – includes Little Harry and his family reverently gazing upon the plaque honoring the Trumanfamily in a Missouri shopping center. Actually, Mom and Dad are reverent, Lil Harry is about to hurl.
Roads: These are awesome, especially when the roads are empty. I have an entire flip book ofOhio Turnpike cards, complete with overpasses and rest stops. Many of the poorly cropped cards include the same car, which I can only assume belongs to the photographer. I get that interstates were once wild and crazy and new. But even then, an overpass couldn't have been worth writing home about.
Pet caskets: These are typically advertising products and are very dull. But the best one of all was found in the old Booth Newspapers Lansing Bureau and depicts pet casketsfrom the Upper Peninsula. This is so awesome, that the entire genre bears the name. As an aside, I spoke to the folks who work at the pet casket place and they are very nice. I learned a lot. Now you can, too.

Speaking of pets: Postcards showing us animals doing things they are not supposed to be doing is always considered a great bad postcard, be they brainy poodles or water-skiing dogs or musical monkeys.
Perfy: Perfy is the patron saint of bad postcards and a bad ass. He’s the mascot for New Jersey’s tourism bureau – talk about a tough assignment – and no one has any idea about what Perfy is supposed to be. I love Perfy, and have found several cards showing him in various places around New Jersey. So anything with a bad mascot doing unusual things – or being unusual – falls into the Perfy genre. Corky gives Perfy a run for his money.

Mis-named photos: This is easy. The postcard tells us one thing, and the photo is, well, open to interpretation. My favorites are a collection called “Michigan ThumbScenery,” and show us things like the guard rail on the Blue Water Bridge. We've also uncovered several cards announced to be the Mackinac Bridge, and showing instead the tollbooths to the Mackinac Bridge, with no bridge in sight.
There are probably several more, but you get the idea.
So let’s review Qwert’s offering:
We get a ghost town view of a hotel – or something – that’s poorly cropped, cutting off one part of the building. It’s pretty far away, and we can’t tell if this is the back or front of the building. We do see what appears to be a putt-putt golf course – with no one playing, of course – and some mystery vegetation.

And Qwert, my friend, you might not know what a boring postcard is, but you nailed it.
Here's a link to bad postcard columns from the MLive days.

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