Subscription postcards: Big trees, big bears, angry moose

Postcard collage: Man on ground in front of tree-trunk cross-section with date markers. Text: Class is now in session.

Hello Kevin, and happy New Year! Every January it is nice to look back across the years and take a gander at the soul-crushing march of human progress. And what better way to do that than in tree form? Class is now in session! You’ll need a notebook, work gloves, and a chainsaw. Excelsior!

Professor Tree

Postcard collage: Black bear climbing up sand dune. Text: Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan.

Hello Elizabeth! This postcard is from Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan. They are big hills made of sand, located on the shore of Lake Michigan. The dunes got their name from a Native American story. They say a bear and her cub swam across Lake Michigan. When they were done, they laid down on the shore for a long nap. It was so long that they got covered with sand, forming the big hills! According to the story, the bears are still down there sleeping.

Postcard collage: A moose sneaks up behind a man with a fish. Text: Moose on the loose.

Hello Carmel! This is a postcard that I made last summer while traveling in Minnesota. It depicts a moose sneaking up on a man to steal his lunch. According to the book Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the Limits of Human Endurance, moose in the United States and Canada kill more people per year (six) than any animal except snakes (twelve). In Anchorage, Alaska, more people are attacked by moose than bears. An Alaska state wildlife biologist warned to “assume every moose is a serial killer standing in the middle of the trail with a loaded gun.” Personally, I think that makes Americans sound more dangerous than moose.

Art by mail: Sleeping Bear Dunes

Postcard collage of Sleeping Bear Dunes, flag, and gun diagram

Message on postcard:
Hi Evan — It’s been a great summer and I hope you enjoy this postcard. It’s from Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan. At least, it’s a picture of Sleeping Bear Dunes in the background. The raw materials for the collage came from what I think was a semi-permanent garage sale in the Black Hills, and I glued it together in California Colorado, and I’m writing it in Berkeley, California.

I hope you’ll forgive the typos; I took a Percocet earlier because my legs were hurting, but I really hate these pain pills. They make me feel foggy and stupid and it’s difficult to concentrate. My brain starts thinking of words that come later in the sentence and that my hands shouldn’t yet be ready to write, but my hands are like, “What’s that, Brain? Okay, that seems like a good word to write; I’ll just skip like half the sentence; that should be okay.” And my brain is like, “What? Sorry, I was thinking of the music from Sonic the Hedgehog,” and my brain completely fails to stop my hand from doing something dumb.

And in a more general sense, I just write weird sentences. Like when I want to say that I write wrong words, I’ll say that “my hand does dumb stuff”, which makes it sound like I’m shoplifting candy bars or scratching my crotch while I stand in line at the post office.

I had intended to write about the creative process here, and how this postcard came together, but instead I wrote about how painkillers make me feel, which you really could have learned from any seventh grader with bad decision-making skills, poor self-control, and access to an unguarded medicine cabinet. And if he had written this postcard it would have been much more upbeat because he would love the way Percocet makes him feel, and he would think that parsable sentences are for punk-ass dweebs.

The creation of Sleeping Bear Dunes

Detail from reverse side of postcard: The creation of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Sleeping Bear Dunes and artillery mini-collage

Detail from reverse side of postcard: Mini-collage of Sleeping Bear Dunes and artillery.