Sunday, June 2, 2013

Playing my cards

I've tidied up my cluttered desk a bit, uncovering not only travel sickness bags, but a fairly sizeable collection of postcards as well. Some are lying around because I never got to send them, while others are so ugly and bad that I could never make myself put them in the mail. Here are fifteen examples of the latter kind.
The Los Angeles card is from 1995, back when year 2000 still was a little bit sexy, and well before digital photography started pushing the standards of how good a postcard photo needed to be. Someone has just positioned themselves at a random spot in LA and taken a photo while leaving the shutter open for 30 seconds or so. Pretty basic stuff, but it was all the rage in the 1990s.
Berlin was going through an incredibly intense construction phase during the years between the fall of The Wall and the day the city again was to become the capital of Germany. Half the city centre looked like this, so they just made a postcard of it. I suppose it catered well to the engineer tourists of Germany, at least.
So, the owner of Hotel Montemar, probably in Marbella, Terrormolinos, or something like that, was very happy with his establishment, and decided to have a few thousand postcards of it printed. I'm sure at least five or six of them were picked up by inexperienced tourists and sent back to non-judging parents and neighbours. I particularly like the shorts fashion at the time, and the fact that the photographer couldn't be bothered to wait for the moment when there wasn't a car at the right edge of the photo.

Death Valley Junction, also known as Amargosa, has around four citizens and doesn't really need its own postcard. Yet they made one. They used to have an opera house as well, but the woman that knew how to sing has now retired, and the place had to close. I think the photographer should follow her lead.
It is written in Romans 3:10, "None is righteous, no, not one;". To emphasize this, the very narrow selection of official postcard on sale in the Vatican contains this specimen. They've managed to both spell "treasury" wrong, and they've chosen a fairly peculiar image. It's twelve cloned faces looking down towards Jesus who is sailing on his cross somewhere at sea. Strange stuff.

Ah. It's time for an entry from Norway. If this postcard makes you want to visit Sulitjelma in Northern Norway, you may want to have your head examined. You can't walk around in this place, only back and forth on the single road through the village, and you'll probably have to share that road with lots of heavy traffic going to and from the industrial area at the bottom of the photo. Start at the church, and then walk towards the factory until the smog gets too bad, and then run back to where you came from. 
Everyone loves the Pantanal! They have excellent wildlife, including crocodiles (well, caimans/jacare) and huge anacondas. Generally, as you can see, they are busy killing each other, but they'd love to see some tourists arrive, so that they can have a taste of that as well.
Of all the beautiful local species they could have chosen to put on a postcard, Kenya chose a cat. They didn't even bother to make paper for the card, instead they just put the postcard straight onto some strange piece of bark. The cat and the text has been etched onto the card using open fire, I think. 

This card is probably from Mombasa, but from a Mombasa in a different universe and a different time. The city doesn't look like this anymore, but as long as you have postcards left from back when, you still must sell it in the shop, you see. No matter how much damaged folding, direct sun and various stains have added to its surface, of course.

Tijuana! The place to go when you want to spend your honeymoon being pulled from bar to bar through the streets by a donkey wearing a hat and painted to resemble a zebra for the day. Just bring your own bulletproof vest, and you'll be fine!
Oh, Africa... If there's one thing I have recurring dreams of after going there, it must be the bean soup that just keeps being served while on safari in the Serengeti. That's a nightmare you'll never get rid of, that's for sure! It doesn't even help at all that the soup is being served by a kudu. On the back of the card, they actually have had the nerve to include the recipe! Who on Earth would want that?!

In the north of Thailand and Vietnam, the locals always put on their nicest traditional dress when they go down to the stream to do the laundry. As if! That girl rightfully looks suspicious at the photographer, probably wondering when she will be paid what she has been promised to pose for this weird photo.
Another shot of animals in Africa! The photographer wanted to illustrate the wide variety of local species, and used Photoshop to provide it. Either that, or the animals I have encountered have been a less social bunch than these guys are.
Another Norwegian candidate, making it all the way to the second place on my list of horrible postcards. Welcome to Sømna, where you'll find mountains, sunsets, sunrises and... the oldest preserved shoe in the Nordic countries! ("Nordens eldste bevarte sko".) It belonged to old Arnt of the marshland, who in turn had inherited it from his great uncle, Thorvald. Well, not really. They just found it in a bog, and it's estimated to be more than two thousand years old, so let's just assume that it probably is the oldest shoe around from this part of the world. Still, is this really what you would tell the people at home you saw when you went to Norway?

Oh well. By now you should be prepared for the utterly, utterly ugliest postcard that has turned up during my cleanup here at home: 
It doesn't really need any comments, but let's try to recreate the thought process behind this masterpiece anyway:

Ahmed, who is a bit deaf: People keep asking for postcards, we should make one!
Ibrahim: Ok. I've got this photo of a camel. Surely we can use that?
Ahmed: Absolutely, but let's add a woman. Sex sells!
Ibrahim: Fair enough, but don't you have a nicer-looking one? That one looks a bit fruity?
Ahmed: Fruits? Excellent idea! I'll add this basket of fresh fruit
Ibrahim: Errm, ok, but shouldn't she be on a beach instead of on a camel?
Ahmed: YES! We'll add some sea, sun and sand!
Ibrahim: Are you sure one camel is enough?
Ahmed: No, let's add a couple more. Here' I'll draw them. I'll even add my uncle in the front.
Ibrahim: Perfect. Now, finally, we should have some text. Do you know any English?
Ahmed: Not really, but let's use what little I have. "Hello from Tunisia". No room for "Special price". Grrrr.

That's what I imagine, anyway. Oh dear.


I do have lots of pretty postcards as well, but I'll save that for some other time.



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