A small (~ 4x6 in.) piece of cardboard with a picture (usually of vacation scenery, art, girls with big boobs at the beach, obscene drawings, kittens in "cute" poses, etc.) on the front and a place to write on the back. Sent traditionally to friends and family back home while you're on vacation, or sent to you, Everynoder, by The One and Only dem bones whilst he vacations in sunny Cali.

Postcards can be sent by US Postal Service domestic mail for 20 cents. In Europe, they can be found in bars and clubs, usually near the bathrooms, advertising plays, concerts, art openings, telephone service, etc., etc.

         I just received a postcard. So, of course, I want to node about it.

Postcards are one of the more fascinating things to me. I often sit back and reminisce on "postcards" stored in my mind, moments in time that I remember completely and fondly. These postcards will only ever belong to me, unfortunately, since as of yet no way has been devised to ESP or communicate with a person brain-to-brain. I, for one, will be the first to sign up for that, if and when it comes. Real postcards have the advantage of 'sharablity', and this is indeed their sole purpose in life (hmm… must be nice). They are purchased cheaply, mailed cheaply, but the impact they always have on me is somewhat disturbing.

First, the buzz of actually getting mail kicks in and I'm elevated somewhere slightly above the cold concrete floor.

Then, I make the difficult decision of sides: Front or back first?
         The front has the picture
         The back is the person's thoughts (not necessarily based on the picture)

I usually choose the back first. I like to hear the person's words when I flip the card over and stare fascinated into this world of another individual. To them, it's every day and ordinary. To me, however, it is a brief moment of connection with that person. My jaw always drops a little, and my eyelids stop blinking, the walls start spinning, and my world is transported to inside the camera, where I can see all that it can see… but only what it can see… and I love it all.

Sometimes I wonder how something so inexpensive can be so meaningful to me. Then I realize that some of the cheapest stuff, a hug, a napkin with a hastily scribbled message on it, a unique trinket, can have more value than anything, ever. (MasterCard has picked up on this quite well.) Whenever I am given an example of this wonderful principle, like the postcard now propped up against my monitor, I am glad the giver took the time to spend so little on me.

It means so much.

Postcard is also the name of a Scottish record label. It considered itself the "Sound of young Scotland" in the early 1980s, when it was home to such classic bands as Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and Josef K.

More recently, it has put out records by The Nectarine No. 9, Paul Quinn and Vic Godard, and it has a long association with ex-Orange Juice singer Edwyn Collins, although he has recorded for Setanta for some time.

Postcard Recordings of Scotland, as it styles itself, is largely the product of the obsessions of one man, Alan Horne. Its main musical genre has its roots in the post-punk pop-soul of Vic Godard and Orange Juice.

Writing you a Postcard

Don't panic. It's a postcard. A simple postcard. A small piece of cardboard. A novelty people send home from holidays to talk about the weather, the local food and the price of pirated cd's...

'Dear J.'

Dear J. what? Where the hell are you? Why in God's name are you not here? The reason you haven't called me better be that you've been kidnapped by mutant wasps with lazer pointer eyes who have you locked and bound in their secret underground lair...

'How are you?'

I'm going crazy. I miss you. I need you. I see your face in my morning cereal. I almost rugby tackled a man on the street yesterday just because the back of his head looked like yours...

'I'm doing pretty well.'

I think i see you in every crowd. I think I hear you in every breeze. Every day I expect you to turn up like the hero in one of those terribly predictable Hugh Grant movies... standing in the rain (because to be truly cliche it MUST be raining) declaring your love while a string quartet plays softly in the background...

'I guess I might see you soon.'

With love. With lust. With hope. With the kind of disgusting puppy dog expression that people roll their eyes at...

'-Josie'

Postcards are good for many things-for sharing scenes of a vacation spot, as flashy, quaint or sentimental curios, and to show someone you are thinking of them even though you can't fill up a full letter with things to say.

But postcards have another advantage, at least in the United States: they are cheaper to mail. (We are talking postcards of normal dimensions. If you want to get all fancy and mail out an extra long postcard, or a circular postcard, you can't expect a bargain on your postage). Since complaining about the price of postage is tied with complaining about the decline in quality of Saturday Night Live as a popular pastime, choosing to limit your epistles to a single paragraph allows you to win a moral victory over big postage. The current prices are 42 and 27 cents for letter and postcard, respectively, and it has been at about this ratio for the past several decades. However, just recently, the United States Postal Service has discontinued dual rates for international postcards. So now, if you are trying to share the beauty of your hometown with your friends in Estonia, you won't be able to save fifteen cents doing it.

Overall, the cost issue is probably not a determining factor in most people mailing postcards. Anyone analyzing the cost structure of the postcard would realize that on a per-word basis, the postcard is actually probably five times as expensive as a normal letter. I don't think that postal cards are actually cheaper for the postal service to handle and ship, either. The difference in weight being fairly negligible, they probably actually end up being more expensive, since it is probably more difficult to design postal equipment that can pick out the address amidst the writing. So the decision by the postal service to charge a lower rate is probably due to the fact that they know that if people weren't getting a bargain, they might be less inclined to pay the full, torturous forty two cents to mail a silly picture with a silly paragraph to Aunt Mabel. Although who knows what the real justification for it is?

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