(Photo by Joe Eskenazi; cable car was coincidental)
When I finally stumbled upon an R2D2 mailbox in San Francisco, I thought of the praise Obi-Won Kenobi bestowed upon a whiny Luke Skywalker: "You have taken your first step into a larger world."
And indeed I had. It was my first step into a world where even mailboxes have gone the way of NASCAR vehicles or coffee sleeves and become corporate billboards (albeit, in the R2 mailbox's case, a very cute corporate billboard).
It's hard to be outraged, though. Plastic pith helmets and awkwardly short faded blue shorts with a tuxedo stripe do not pay for themselves and the Star Wars stamps the mailbox droids are shilling for is a way for the United States Postal Service to rake in some cash.
Getting your face on a stamp used to a posthumous privilege privy to only a certain sort of person. Luther Burbank, Dorothea Dix, Cordell Hull -- these are stamp people. And then, 15 years ago, 1.2 million Americans cast their votes, selecting Dreamboat Elvis over Jumpsuit Elvis to adorn our postage. Write-in votes for Jowly Elvis did not tip the scales. (pun intended. Sorry.).
The awkward juxtaposition of images of men and women shooting one another and the Post Office have not kept the Star Wars stamps from selling.
Eric, a San Francisco postman, broke into a huge smile when I asked about the stamps. Yes, they're moving a lot of them. And, yes, plenty of "unusually emphatic or fanatical" people have stopped in to buy them.Colleague Andres added "you'd think it'd just be the egghead type, but all sorts of people are buying them."
Then he sold me some.
With the likes of Haym Salomon (Revolutionary War financier) giving way to Han Solo (former wall decoration), one has to wonder who will be next to grace our postage. Jack Bauer? Tony Soprano?
Actually, you could do worse. Now that you can put nearly any image you want on a stamp, jokers snuck through Slobodan Milosevic and the young Unabomber.
Wouldn't those be perfect to put on a letter to your Bosnian computer whiz friend? --Joe Eskenazi