Postage Due -- Mail Art 3: CURSE of Mail Art

The Mail Art saga V.2 continues...

Not long after posting the previous entry, I received a manila envelope full of Mail Art stuff. I think it was intended as a "welcome pack." I'm not sure. I had never had any communication with the sender, Jon Foster, nor had he included any sort of note. There was just all of this...stuff. (Okay, truth be told, it felt a bit like Mail Art spam...but what do I know? I've been away from the community for literally decades. I don't know what to expect any more. But it was still very nice of him to send me something.)

I had been working on an envelope for someone else (someone who was kind enough to comment on something I had posted), but decided to just send it on to Mr. Foster as an acknowledgement of his mailing and a sort of thank you. I was out of ink in my printer for the most part and I'd had to make do with what I'd already printed. The results were rather uninspired--but it was what I came up with. (?)

The second envelope I was readying went to the person who had started the "Envelopes" group on IUOMA (International Union of Mail Artists--the online site I had joined the week before). It was also rather "meh..." but what I could come up with using what I had already printed up. It would be heading to Greece. (D)

I got the two bits o' mail posted late on a Monday night. And then...something unexpected popped up in my mailbox two days later. Jinkies! I got BUSTED by the Mail Art Police!

I posted about the incident on IUOMA.  This is what I said:

"Since my return to the Mail Art world, I've mailed off only 11 pieces. Of those, I know that three of them have reached their destination; one in South Dakota, one in Seattle, and one in England. Of the other eight, I have yet to hear.  I found the above notice in my mailbox today. Oops. BUSTED!

I don't know how they found me exactly. I have never put my return address on any of the pieces I have mailed off. I have 'signed' the  back as 'Monster A GoGo,' but... I guess the Mail Art Police saw a couple pieces of Mail Art sent to me from others addressed to Monster A GoGo, saw the backs of my envelopes (I just sent two off late Monday night)---and put two and two together (Golly! They should work for the FBI!), and figured out I was a bad, bad boy---a  (GASP!) mail criminal! Will I be sent to postal prison? O' the HORROR!!

Of those eight pieces still unaccounted for, I at least have a photographic record of them. Six of them (along with the three that did make it through) can be seen in my 2nd Mail Art blog post here:

 The other two are posted above. 
I'm guessing it is these last two that are being held. I wonder if any of the others that have not reached their destinations are also being 'detained.'

The truly bummer-ific part is that I am currently working on three other pieces. Do I stop? Continue? I know I like to go beyond the confines of the envelope's borders. How can I work around this... Hmm?

Stay tuned and see what happens tomorrow when I go and speak to 'Josh.' Whose stamp do I gotta lick to get them off of my back? Jeepers!"

The next day, I posted this on IUOMA:

"Today, I headed to the post office with my note from the Mail Police. 'Josh,' the person I was supposed to see about my postal crimes, was (Gasp!) not in. The local yokel manning the front desk informed me that he was 'well aware of the situation,' and walked to the back to get the offending Mail Art. 

He came back with the two most-recent pieces I had mailed. He tried to be nice about it, but really? The Mail Art was outside the size of a standard envelope--which I already knew. He was trying to tell me that, because of this, they would have to be sent as parcels instead of standard mail. The one destined for North Carolina would cost about $5 to send and the one to Greece about $15. They must have been sniffing envelope glue if they think I was going to pay that much to mail my simple envelopes. They are not worth that much. 

But... I still needed to get them back.

I said I could, perhaps send them in manila envelopes. He said no, that wouldn't work as they are stiff and non-pliable, unlike envelopes of regular paper. They would not go through the sorting machines -- and the one to Greece would require a customs form. (For what? It's nothing but paper, glue and some marker. Geez!) 

That all seemed very bogus to me. Hadn't they ever heard of 'hand canceling' mail? And other people send non-pliable things in manila envelopes. It's not that unusual.

It was obvious that I was not going to pay the extra $20 bucks they wanted me to cough up for the two envelopes, so he agreed to hand them back to me.

'They got pulled and were not put in the mail stream,' he said. 'If they had been put in, they'd have to be sent and the receiver would have to pay the extra postage.'

I kind of doubt that. Four of the nine pieces I had sent have now been acknowledged as having arrived at their destination. (The latest being one to West Virginia.) No one (not even the one to the U.K.) mentioned anything about postage due.

I got the two letters and envelopes back, thank goodness. I realize the postal workers are just doing their jobs. I just live in a very small town. What else do they have to do but be nit-picky?

But I also have a Plan B up my sleeve. 

I have medical appointments off of the island and a few trips planned in the near future (one road trip throughout Washington and another trip back to California). Instead of mailing anything else from here, I will just save them and mail them from elsewhere. I'm still not putting a return address on anything...but, while I'll still number them, I'll also refrain from 'signing' the back. (Perhaps I'll 'sign' them inside of the envelopes?)

Hopefully Plan B works. Hmm..."

While all of that was going on, I got a "friend" request from a very nice guy in he's getting this (?):

Responding to my IUOMA posts, this person from The Netherlands asked me to "send me something WEIRD." This is rather derivative of some of my other recent ones and I'm not wild about it, but this is what is coming their way. (D)

And this person in Kansas asked me to "send some monster-y thing." This is what I came up with (D):

A guy in Italy "friended" me...and this is what I whipped together for him (D):

And then, on the IUOMA website, I stumbled upon someone who I think could be a former co-worker's relative here in Washington. So I sent her this to say hello and to see if she is my friend's relative or not. (?)

On April 4, I received this postcard from someone named Mike Parsons. He had responded to a post of mine on IUOMA, so I was a little familiar with him.

Although I am not thrilled with the end result, this was the next envelope I had ready to go-go, so-so he is getting this in return. (D)

I do not know Kalerina Nikoltson (aka MomKat) at all. She hasn't "friended" me nor has she sent me anything. But she has commented on several things I've posted on IUOMA. I appreciated her cheerleading efforts in my return to Mail Art---and this is what I had ready to go. Again, not great, but... (D)

With the hinderance of the Mail Art Police situation -- and now realizing I'll have to go off-island to mail things, the time it takes to make the Mail Art pieces, my general neuro-muscular disabilities and my other health issues (I have had such horrible blood pressure problems of late---from shockingly high BPs or awful medication side effects), I have felt like total crap...and have pretty much decided that I am ready to "retire" again from the Mail Art world. I've now removed my address from IUOMA.

However, Mail Art still keeps coming my way. I received this from a guy in Canada:

Aside from his faux artists stamps on the outside of the envelope, inside I found a nice note and a delightful little well as some homemade stickers. Now I owe him something in return. 

This is what I made for him. I HOPE it reaches him. The stamps and address could come off so easily. EEK! (D)

This guy in West Virginia  sent me a strange missive:

Inside was an oddly written note as well as some artists postcards. I owe him something now as well. He did say that "Zombie Proctologists", which was the piece I had sent him originally, "was praps the most wonderful I've ever received. No shit."

I responded a bit later with this piece, asking him in the enclosed letter to please not bother responding again. (Was that rude? I just want do my Garbo and be left alone again.) But I hope he likes the envelope. (D)

With the Mail Art Police still fresh in my mind, I've been trying to contact some of the people I sent things to but had not heard back from. Had my Mail Art to then made it through? BonnieDiva, the IUOMA Mail Art who sent me that wonderful little All About Me Mini-zine, replied back:

"DUDE! I got your fabulous mail. It was placed in a giant USPS 'We Care' envelope with a giant window (awesome, because I love window envelopes). I'm at work and don't have it in front of me to tell you when it came. I'll let you know. I'm surprised they are making such a big deal.

"I get some weird stuff in the mail... like one time this guy sent me a piece of wood with a stamp on it. I got it just fine. I think some post offices are more into rules than others.

"Please don't leave the mail art world. We need artists like you!! I'm going to send you my famous Bon-zine, which is my bi-monthly vintage zine.

"Cheers, Bon"

I wrote her back, thanking her for telling me the piece arrived safely. I got another reply:

"Hey Monster,

"I'm home now and looking at the collage you sent me. I ADORE Vincent Price! Fabulous! I'm sending you mail tomorrow! "

I think BonnieDiva is the favorite Mail Artist I've "met" so far... While I look forward to her sending me something--I also dread it. That's just something else I'll have to create back. I need to dissuade her. 

And that's about it. I have a few more people I feel I should send something to. (There are others I'd like to send things to as well that have their addresses hidden...) After that, barring any further Mail Art coming my way, I should be able to "retire" again.  The current "outgoing" pieces of Mail Art probably won't be sent until next week sometime when I hope to leave the island for a little road trip-a-go-go! (I HOPE I feel up to it...)


Continue to the next part HERE.


OMG, this mail art business looks like a lot of work. What did you get yourself involved in? It looks like a lot of fun though. Relax, but keep at it, if you can.
Monster A Go-Go said…
Hi Christa! It IS a lot of work---and with the Mail Art Police on my tail, it's also a hassle to get posted off into the world. I have every intention of retiring. However, mail keeps trickling in. Argh!
Thanks for reading. CHEERS
Ken Miller said…
Those envelopes are amazing, but looking at them I see a lot of pain coming your way from the PO... the problem is that when items don't fit a particular set category of size or shape, it's up to the postal worker's judgment what to do, and they have amazingly different definitions of what things should cost, especially when they want to make sure the pieces sticking out of your work won't get destroyed by a sorting machine. A few years ago, I chopped up some masonite paintings and was sending 4"x6" pieces out as postcards. Before I started mailing them I took one to the PO and asked the clerk how much it would cost to mail it, and was given a price, which I used to figure out how much postage to put on them. I was horrified when I would get them back marked "insufficient postage", or got messages that some of them had arrived postage due for several dollars, always different amounts for the exact same thing... and many of them just disappeared into the USPS never to be heard from again. These days I just stick to postcards because they USUALLY get there no problem.
Monster A Go-Go said…
Hello, Mr. Ken Miller! It is always nice (and utterly surprising) to have strangers appear on my blog's comments page. Thank you for your visit. I do send a lot of postcards myself, but I was sending Mail Art off like this 20-30 years ago. It got through. These last ten or so pieces from my recent dalliance with Mail Art will be sent out (from post offices OFF island) this week. If they arrive at their destinations--GREAT. If not, c'est la vie. But I do thank you for your visit and comment.
Ken Miller said…
Thanks for your reply! I'm surprised we haven't crossed paths in the mail art world in the past, but then again, that's what happens when things are decentralized. True, things were different back in the 90's... you could get away with a lot more. I used to send/receive irregular things like records without sleeves and oddly shaped pieces of mat board all the time, and they typically got through. Anyway, check out my former zine and now current blog Shouting at the Postman if you want to see some of my recent work. Anyway, good luck with your recent mailings!
Monster A Go-Go said…
Hello again, Mr. Ken Miller. How did you find this blog...through IUOMA or perhaps Twitter?
Yes, it is interesting that we never encountered each other back in the day. While Shouting at the Postman does sound familiar (or maybe I only recently heard about it???), I'm not entirely sure. If you read my three Mail Art posts, you know that back in the day I was "The MAIL Prostitute" among other names (but mostly that).
I'm listening to your interview. I do remember mail art chain letters, add-to cassettes and VHS tapes. Zowie! Total flashback-a-rama! Anyway, if I can figure out how to subscribe to your blog, I will. I'm very excited to have encountered you. Thank you again for leaving your notes. CHEERS!
Ken Miller said…
Ah, ok, I will have to go back and read the other two entries. I was directed here from a link on Facebook. The MAIL Prostitute does stir some long forgotten brain cells into a hint of recognition, though I can't find any record of correspondence in my database, which goes back to 1998... I started doing mail art in about 1993, though the records are spotty. Unfortunately, subscription is not an option for my blog, since I wrote all the software for my website and I didn't think of adding that, but if you follow me on Instagram (@ShoutingAtThePostman) or like my Shouting at the Postman page on Facebook, you will be apprised of updates as they emerge. I tend to post things on Instagram as I make them, essentially works in progress, and then the final versions end up on the blog which gets a post on the Facebook page. It's all very convoluted. But, great to make contact with you! I dig your work! Yours was the second monster-themed thing I found out about today, the first being a vegan restaurant in Philly called Monster Vegan. Cheers!
Monster A Go-Go said…
Hello. I saw that you posted a comment...but couldn't find it. I finally tracked it down. It thought you were "spam" and I had to approve the message as not being spam.

A link on Facebook? Hmm. That is interesting. I do have a Facebook account--but only for my former co-workers. I don't think I posted my Mail Art thing there. Maybe someone else did? Interesting...

Like you, I just started decorating envelopes on my own. It was in the late 80s or early 90s I learned about Mail Art as a thing (not just something I did)--but I had bailed out by 1998 or 1999--2000 at the latest. But it had started to wane for me before then as I was becoming a teacher (1st career) and didn't have a lot of free time.

I am on Instagram and will look for you there as well. Just found you and added you. I have my general account (mister_monster_a_gogo) which I just recently added Mail Art to. (Other accounts are for my movie poster collection, travel and tiki bars).

Monster Vegan, huh? Ha! Bon appetite!

Ken Miller said…
It was Jon Foster who posted a link to this page on Facebook, since you mentioned him and showed what he sent you.

Ah, if you were done by '98, we probably just missed each other... I was just reaching my peak mail art activity around then. I was publishing my zine pretty regularly and running my Exquisite Square project (which started in '97), and producing audio recordings. Oh, the free time I had back then!

For me, the Mail Art party came to an end around 2006, after we had a daughter in 2001 and I started spending my time building up my programming skills to try to get a new job. After I got the job I was trying to get in 2012, I started up with mail art again in 2013, and have been semi-regular since then, aside from my time in grad school.

Anyway, great getting to know you and reading your writing! Your mail art is truly amazing... and hopefully a squad of black-masked postal inspectors doesn't break down your door in the middle of the night!

Monster A Go-Go said…
How very curious. He must have found me via IUOMA, but I have never had any sort of conversation with Jon Foster other than receiving his packet o' Mail Art. I still have to re-mail the thing I made him. (It was one of the ones confiscated --and fortunately returned--by the Mail Art Police. I'm going off-island tomorrow. I'll hopefully get it posted then!)
Yes. 1998 or 1999 I was pretty much done.
Thanks for the link to the Exquisite Square project. I did hear about it on that podcast interview that you posted. Fun stuff!
Life does happen and interrupts the Mail Art thing. That's what happened with me. Teaching elementary school (Of course, Mail Art-like stuff crept its way into the classroom...). (Come to think of it, there have been Mail Art-like things throughout my post Mail Art career all along. I just didn't realize it, I suppose.) After subsequent careers as a writer for a newspaper (The Fresno Bee) and as a nurse...I rediscovered the Mail Art thing now that I have leisure time again.
Thank you again for visiting the page!
Ken Miller said…
Holy cow, thank you for the beautiful “mail art of the damned” which arrived yesterday! It arrived in one piece, and it’s really cool to see how you cantilever the parts onto the envelope! Brilliant work! So sorry to hear about your second retirement from mail art, and I wish you well. These past few years have made it extremely tough for me to answer mail health-wise due to a myriad of back/muscular problems, so I do what I can, which is maybe 20% of what I used to. But, anyway, I really appreciate you taking the time to send me one of your amazing pieces. It means a lot to me.
Monster A Go-Go said…
Hi there. I'm glad to hear that it arrived safely and that you like it. Thank you for letting me know. I apologize for the bits of glue that got on it here and there. I had posted about it here:
There you will see what I sent to your friend who did the Mail Art podcast as well.
I wish you the best with your health issues. I know they suck.
jessica said…
A pumphlet with green guy is giving a vibe of grinch.
Monster A Go-Go said…
Hi Jessica. I don't know quite what you mean, but... thank you (???)