The US Postal Service, desperate to stop 15 years of bleeding caused by email and private competitors, announced that it will soon feature living people on stamps (the post office has long had a policy of placing only the dead on postage).
Of interest to this column, the USPS will consider featuring musicians on postage and even allow the public to vote on who gets to appear.
We fully expect established acts like Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder to make the final cut. We think that's a shame. Today we suggest ten performers that are way more fitting to occupy the upper-right corner of all the collection notices and 2-for-1 car wash coupons we get just about every day.
10. Britney Spears
Brit's a perfect choice, once you think about it. Aside from rare collectibles that someone bothered to preserve and are now worth a fortune, the majority of stamps are so cheap and disposable that by their 25th year they become wrinkly, acidic in taste, and foul in aroma--just like Spears.
9. Kanye West
We don't actually think this guy deserves recognition of any kind. We're just taking bets on how finicky, ungrateful, and psychotic his reaction will be to receiving what everyone else considers an honor.
8. Michael Jackson
An MJ Halloween mask (above). Or so we think.
He was the undisputed King of Pop, or so he always claimed, and he's still selling records and getting a lot of media coverage two years after death, so it's a safe bet that his stamp is on the way. We're okay with it, seeing how influential he's been over the last 40 years.
Do you know what would be creepy? If a Catholic church used MJ stamps to mail out their summer camp newsletters.
7. Lance Bass
The N'Sync singer deserves an honor for being the first "boy band" member to publicly confirm what we all suspected about grown men who spike their hair, talk in laughably affected "street" accents, and spend their spare time perfecting synchronized dance steps.
6. The Nelson Twins
Sure, their dad Rick wrote "Travelin' Man" and their sister Tracy is one of our favorite actresses in Lifetime Network history, but what exactly have Gunnar and Matthew Nelson done since the early 1990s, when they scored a handful of Top 40 hits?
We hear they write songs for other artists in Nashville and make the occasional TV appearance.
Hey, wait a minute! That's hardly a reason to include them on this list! Why on earth would you guys nominate these two?
Because this picture would look amazing on a stamp:
5. Ted Nugent
"The Nuge" with his dueling passions
The classic rocker deserves a stamp for his astounding musicianship. Just kidding! The man's been abusing the same pentatonic scale for 35 years.
We actually nominate Nugent for sticking to his unpopular convictions for so long. As the world's most visible hunting and gun rights activist, Nugent has pretty much alienated himself from the entire music industry, antagonizing not just other artists who abhor his views but even the politically apathetic guys who enjoy classic rock.
This is quite an accomplishment. In today's pop culture world, just about any oddball can count on ironic appreciation from audiences that enjoy liking the unlikable (David Hasselhoff is a master at exploiting this callow mindset).
The Nuge will have none of that. Whether he's disrupting a talk show or shooting live game on live TV, Nugent seems disinterested in pats on the back from folks who prefer their entertainment "so bad it's good." The Nuge just wants to convert them to his way of thinking, and if it means hollering at some uptight talking head or gunning down a clueless herd of bison in front of a terrified camera crew, so be it.
Lest you think it's all an act, Nugent's craven pursuit of his 2nd Amendment rights has even spilled into his personal life. Upon reuniting with his long-lost son last year, Nugent immediately took the guy out hunting and harangued him with a political lecture.
We admire this ability to stay "on message" for so many years, sanity be damned. Nugent may not deserve the spot on Mount Rushmore that he probably wants, but he's at least earned a place in a "Legends of Detroit" postage series.
4. John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp. His stage name used to be "Johnny Cougar."
Bruce Springsteen is reportedly a shoo-in to get a stamp, and whenever The Boss does something, Mellencamp has to go out and copy him. We figure we'd spare Mellencamp the time and energy of lobbying on his own behalf and put this out here today.
Also, it's the kind of transient honor that Mellencamp would talk about for the rest of his life ("Goddamn, I did so much for the working man that I even had a postage stamp in my honor...back when people still used those things!").
3. Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston
We've always found it kind of charming how these two kept their marriage afloat for almost 15 years despite freebasing about 3,500 pounds of cocaine. The Brown-Houston union is such a testament to the durability of love (if not the septum, the veins, or prefrontal cortex) that it demands recognition; a small, easily overlooked kind of recognition. Perfect for a stamp.
2. Gary Cherone
Gary's the guy who sang "More Than Words" with Extreme back in 1991 and then a few years later replaced Sammy Hagar in Van Halen, himself a replacement for David Lee Roth.
After his exit from Van Halen, Cherone tried to reunite Extreme unsuccessfully for a VH1 reality show and has since been goofed on in hundreds of "worst lead singer" blog posts. We also have a dim memory of Gary, as part of another reality show, standing around a construction site and haggling with the guys building his dream house.
The sad part is that Cherone actually has a good voice in the Roger Daltrey tradition. Since he's not going to nab a Grammy anytime soon, we figured we'd make it up to rock's ultimate also-ran by nominating him for a stamp.
1. David Crosby
Also known as "Killer Crosby"
We know what you're thinking--if anyone from the 1960s should get a stamp, it should be The Beatles, not this guy.
We suggest Crosby because more than any of his peers, he embodies not just his era and its music but our country--then, now and forever.
If Lennon told us to imagine, Crosby tells us to face the failed promise of our ideals and to accept the inevitable darkness with the light--to put a little less milk in our coffee and acquire a taste for the bitter roast, because once the tasty foam is drying on your lip, all that's left are the dregs at the bottom of the cup. And Crosby, like a lot of us, is the absolute dregs.
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On the surface, you wouldn't know it. Nowadays, and especially to younger audiences, Crosby is best known as the mustached sperm donor to Melissa Etheridge, a jovial Green blogger for the Huffington Post, and a comforting, elder presence at protest rallies. In other words, he's America's favorite tie-dyed teddy bear. What a sweetheart! Let's invite him over for tea.
Not so fast. The same guy reportedly blew $25 million on drugs in the 1960s and 1970s, which would be around ten times that amount today; has been arrested for packing heat and a hunting knife as recently as 2004; and did nine months in a Texas jail in the '80s, for, you guessed it, drug and weapons violations.
Part peacenik and part Charles Manson, Crosby is not quite the Shaggy to Neil Young's Scooby, but a wheezy Bruce Banner housing a monster as convoluted as the Military Industrial Complex he loathes.
We like the man's music well enough, especially his work with The Byrds, but we like Crosby himself for his lifetime of outrageous and excessive contradictions. In fact, we urge you to read one of his interviews with Rolling Stone or Creem from the 1970s and to find a musician today so pleasingly deranged yet undeniably gifted.