Art by mail: Devils Tower National Monument

For the next week or so I’ll be posting a series of oversized postcards I sent to my Kickstarter project backers. For this first post, I’ve taken the liberty of including a scan of the back of the postcard. It should give you an idea of what the handwritten component actually looks like.

Especially astute readers will notice that there are one or two tiny differences between the original and transcribed text. As a general rule with these postcard updates, I preserve the text as originally written except in cases where the addition, removal, or rearranging of a very small number of words can remove ambiguity or clarify my original meaning. But there’s no heavy editing, because I want to preserve the original flow of the text. When I write things out with pen and paper, the slower writing pace seems to affect the way I frame/state ideas.

If there’s a more substantial change, I’ll place it in brackets, as I’ve done with the new sentence at the very end of the transcription.

I hope the above explanation comes off as informative and not blah-blah-blah art-guy wankery. The sad thing about art-guy wankery is that the spank material isn’t even art, it’s the art-guy’s ego.

Postcard collage of Devils Tower National Monument and elaborate costume

Message on postcard:
01. Sebastian — Thanks for backing my Kickstarter project! This is Devils Tower, a huge column of rock in Wyoming, just west of the Black Hills.

02. Devils Tower was featured prominently in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Actor Richard Dreyfuss sculpts the tower out of mashed potatoes in the movie.

03. This was parodied in the Simpsons episode where Homer goes to clown college. Homer sculpts a circus tent out of potatoes at dinner.

04. I frequently goof up when spelling “Devils Tower”. There’s no apostrophe in the name. Apparently there is (in the U.S. at least) a geographical naming convention that drops apostrophes. English is weird.

05. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks while I travel. One of them is called In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Devils Tower was sacred to American Indians.

06. This book is mostly about troubles on the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s. In 1868 the Lakota Sioux and the U.S. Government signed a treaty guaranteeing the tribe ownership of the Black Hills and nearby land. Of course you can imagine what happened when white people found gold.

07. In the 1970s, some American Indian activists demanded that the tribe be treated as an independent nation in accordance with the treaty.

08. Others on the reservation wanted to take a cash settlement for the Black Hills. There was fighting within the tribe and between activists and the F.B.I.

09. If the Pine Ridge Reservation had their 1970s murder rate but New York or L.A.’s population, they would have had about 15,000 murders per year. There’s no real resolution today. [Although the murder rate has fallen.]

Text for Devils Tower postcard

If you’re wondering why the text above is numbered, it’s because I sometimes use a layout that places the text into little word balloons.

Clown college and Devils Tower

A detail from the reverse side of the postcard — one of the word balloons. I self-assess my handwriting legibility at maybe 7.5 out of 10, and I welcome courteous corrections from anyone who thinks my estimate is off.

Devils Tower doodle

Another detail from the reverse side of the postcard — a little doodle of Devils Tower. I love drawing tiny little things like this.

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