Summertime is always filled with the kinds of things I like: ice-cold beverages, a place in the shade for book-reading, and plenty of postal adventures with friends. This year, the unusually warm San Francisco days seem to stretch on forever; the fog is nowhere to be found.
Last Friday I was fortunate enough to attend San Francisco’s Outside Lands Festival (a quintessential summertime “to do”) – courtesy of the USPS! The USPS was unveiling their new Janis Joplin stamp, which is part of the “Music Icons” series. To be hinest, I felt a bit like one of the kids in Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, once I found out that only fifty tickets were issued by the USPS. Lucky girl!
So you guys know how it goes: I stayed up until 2 a.m. on Thursday night, putting together commemorative postcards to mail out to some of my postal pals…
…and then the next morning (after fueling up on coffee) I headed over to Golden Gate Park. The Festival is spread out over a fair amount of GGP; since it was my first time attending, I didn’t realize that I’d be hoofing it into the middle of the Park, only to backtrack to Hellman Hollow – the scene of the ceremony. Whew – good thing I had all that coffee in my system!
Once I arrived, everything seemed to fall into place: there was a beautiful display of Joplin stamps and a wooden table in the corner became my perfect out-of-the-way work desk. The “hard-core” philatelists had arrived early, armed with their own ink pads and agendas. Many of the stamp collectors I met had arrived from somewhere else – L.A., the east coast, the pacific northwest.
I always worry a little bit when I attend first day ceremonies: will the postal employees let me cancel my own mail? Will my stack of -ahem- multiple postcards be too much of an imposition? Will I have enough time to get stamps on everything? My anxiety always amounts to energy wasted: the postal employees are gracious, interested, and (often) a-ok with me canceling my own mail.
I ran into SF philatelist (and XPF attendee!) Branton Burke and he let me capture some video of him in action…
…and then it was time to get down to the music part of the ceremony! Once Megan Brannan of the USPS had officially debuted the Joplin stamp, Janis’s brother Michael came onstage to say a few words. He was visibly caught up in the moment, stating that “the recognition of her legacy and persona on such a permanent and iconic symbol as a United States postage stamp is truly humbling”. Musicians Mary Bridget Davies (A Night With Janis Joplin), Kacey Musgraves, and Nicki Bluhm each performed incredible renditions of Joplin songs that got the crowd movin’ and groovin’.
Postcards canceled, postage stamps purchased, ceremony witnessed: the rest of the afternoon was mine! And because I was at a summer music festival, of course I hung around to see the sights. Wandering through the mass of music lovers and festival goers, it became apparent how festivals of yore – the same festivals that Joplin had performed at – were an incredible experience for so many. For a few hours or a few days, a person can forget all worries, sit on the grass in the middle of Golden Gate Park, and listen to a favorite band – a classic summertime scenario remembered long after the season has changed.
If you are interested in obtaining a first day of issue postal cancel like the one pictured above, head on over to the USPS website. Scroll to the bottom of the article for detailed instructions.