By Jeff Girod
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas—or possibly a Mail Boxes Etc. Because apparently the United States Postal Service doesn’t know its Lady Luck from Lady Liberty.
There are two Statues of Liberty in the United States (not counting the woman wrapped in green foam on University Avenue advertising insane cell phone deals). One Statue of Liberty resides in New York City, stands 305 feet tall and was a gift from France to this country in the 1800s. The other is half the size and stands outside of a Las Vegas casino. Guess which statue accidentally wound up on three billion of the Postal Service’s newest first-class “forever” stamps.
If you picked the statue that’s also near a $2.99 all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet and video poker, you’re the big winner! (Then again, is anyone who eats $3 shrimp a winner?)
Though almost identical, the two statues differ slightly. The Las Vegas statue’s eyes are more detailed, her hair is cropped and if you squint, right behind her is a broke gambler begging a call girl for a “Royal Flush.”
Turns out, the Postal Service doesn’t commission artists to paint stamps anymore. It buys stock photos from the same clip-art agencies used by companies who make cheesy Internet pop-up ads for online degrees and erection pills by mail. (By mail? Hey maybe they should ship their product with a Liberty forever stamp. Because unlike an erection—which shouldn’t last more than 4 hours before consulting a physician—Liberty stamps are valid forever.)
Spokesperson Roy Betts said the Postal Service is not at all embarrassed by the mix-up (really?) and would have gone with the same stock photo even had they known. (C’mon, really?!!)
“We still love the stamp design and would have selected this photograph anyway,” Betts told The New York Times. Wait, are we sure Betts was speaking to the actual New York Times or just a miniature newsstand outside of New York-New York Casino?
I’m not buying Betts’ excuse that the Postal Service is happy with their bogus choice. I remember saying the same thing when I went to Vegas and bought tickets to a “nude revue,” then realized it was for the all-male cast of Thunder from Down Under.
However, Betts said that the Postal Service is “re-examining our processes to prevent this situation from happening in the future.”
Gee, ya’ think? Because of all the things the Postal Service was trying to emulate with a stamp featuring the Statue of Liberty—pride, honor, an old-ass statue located in New York City—and out of all the cities in the United States, the most opposite of those things is probably Las Vegas—fat jumpsuit Elvis, drive-thru wedding chapels, casinos run by the mob, legalized prostitution, tour buses of Japanese tourists in matching track suits.
Ten years ago, the Postal Service recalled and destroyed an entire run of stamps that wrongly designated the Grand Canyon in—wait for it—Colorado. And almost a century ago, the Postal Service destroyed all but one sheet of a prized collectible stamp featuring an upside-down airplane. But this time? The Postal Service has no intentions of nixing the Liberty stamp.
You can go down to your local post office right now and buy a Liberty stamp. On second thought, call first. What with government cutbacks, the post office may be closed. (Little known fact: Most postal workers moonlight as delivery drivers for Pizza Hut. It’s why your Entertainment Weekly smells like peppers and sausage.)
These are harsh economic times and the Postal Service is flat broke. I have a feeling the Liberty stamp could have mistakenly featured just about anything and the Postal Service would sell it: “Wait a minute, this isn’t the Statue of Liberty . . . It’s the lead singer for ’80s hair metal sensation Def Leppard. Oh well, it has a stickie on the back. Approved!”
What does it say about our once proud heritage that our nation’s symbol is a symbol of another symbol? What’s next, presidential impersonators, faked moon landings, pigeons painted to look like bald eagles? When did “In God We Trust” get replaced with “Let it ride”?
It’s enough to make me cancel my subscription to my cheese and pepperoni Sports Illustrated.
Contact Jeff Girod at email@example.com.