Going Postal: How I Intend To Thrive In A Post-Apocalyptic World

April 21, 2008

The drumbeat that we, as a species, are reaching the closing credits keeps getting louder and whether we are or not is anyone’s guess. I, for one, am now able to face such a proposition with a new-found sense of contentment and a plan for success in a brave new world which doesn’t rely on AdSense earnings.

I have seen The Postman.

I had seen a bit of Kevin Costner’s magnum opus years ago and had no intention of ever seeing more, but it was late and the pickings were slim. “I know that Tom Petty’s in it,” I said to Paloma, shrugging, trying to feign a semblance of optimism. It was some of the best acting of the evening.

I have now seen it, though, and I am richer for the experience. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, it’s set sometime in the near future and there has been some disaster that has left civilization in ruins with pockets of refugees and a quasi-military strongman who is trying to consolidate power. I’m not sure what the disaster was as Paloma and I were going full-freakin’ Mystery Science Theater on the flick. There was some comment about drought, but everything seemed pretty lush and well-watered to me.

Enter Costner, a drifter with a penchant for Shakespeare, who takes refuge in a mail truck during a thunderstorm and dons the dead carrier’s garb. With nothing more than a bag of mail, a USPS jacket, and a rather snazzy cap, he becomes The Man. Actually, he becomes The Postman.

Coming upon an enclave of survivors, Costner is soon more popular than Jessica Lange when she was rescued by that oil tanker full of roughnecks in the ’76 version of King Kong. He gets soup. He gets a bath. They throw some party which gives reason to believe that bad jam bands will indeed survive the apocalypse. He gets hooked up with a fetching, young village lass.

The Postman is livin’ la vida loca and there doesn’t appear to be a dog in sight.

Sure, it’s not all seashells and balloons. There is that strongman to contend with who doesn’t like the fact that The Postman is giving the punters hope that the United States is being reformed. There’s also the sheriff of the village who is suspicious of The Postman’s credentials. Of course, said sheriff is actually Mr. Kruger from Kruger Industrial Smoothing (this will make sense to Seinfeld fans), so George Costanza and the legacy of The Human Fund has obviously made him cynical toward do-gooders.

The Postman must also contend with cavernous plot holes, inane dialogue, and acting that would mar a good sock-puppet production. So, hey, he does have his hands full, but he also has soup, a hot soak, and a nubile companion.

He also gets to hang with Tom Petty, who is the major of Bridge City. As my girlfriend reminded me, Petty also has had a recurring role on King Of The Hill and, like that part, in The Postman he essentially seems to be playing Tom Petty. However, he gives a tour de force performance because, no matter how gifted an actor – DeNiro, Pacino, or whomever you might fancy – no one plays Tom Petty like Tom Petty.

Forget stockpiling bottled water or canned hams. I intend to thrive after armageddon using the lessons I’ve learned from Kevin Costner, I’m off to find a mail carrier’s jacket or a patch of the US Postal Service which I might affix to my Belgian army coat.

David Baerwald – The Postman

Aztec Camera – We Could Send Letters

PJ Harvey – The Letter

The Posies – Love Letter Boxes