Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Albinis vs. USPS

Steve Albini is the lead singer of Shellac, the highly influential band out of Chicago, and he's one of the most sought after producers in music today(he produced Nirvana's In Utero). He's also considered to be one of the biggest assholes in music, but in a recent Chicago Tribune report it seems that Albini is anything but as he and his wife, Whinna, pack a rented van loaded with cash, toys, and clothing and distribute it to the needy in his hometown of Chicago every Christmas.

"People have all kinds of bad luck, and there are only a small number of ways they can be helped through institutional programs or government programs," Albini said. "With us, people don't have to stand in line, fill out forms or justify themselves to a bureaucrat."

The funds are raised at an annual Second City charity event through audience member donations, which Second City matches, as well as a round-the-clock fundraiser that features musicians and comedians. The largest chunk of the money comes from an auction in which audience members bid for an in-house concert by Wilco frontman, Jeff Tweedy.

But, alas, Scrooge has appeared this year in the guise of the U.S. Postal Service. You see, through the century-old "Letters to Santa" program, Albini's wife is able to wade through the thousands of letters sent to "Santa" to find the neediest of families and then make their charitable deliveries from there. But a policy change by the post office has changed all of that. Citing privacy and security concerns, the names and addresses of "Dear Santa" letters are now blacked out which will now make it virtually impossible for "Santa" to find their homes.

Mark Reynolds, a spokesperson for the Postal Service in Chicago, said that the policy was altered last Christmas after a convicted sex offender in Maryland picked up a letter written by a young girl. Well, how about this post office - don't let convicted sex offenders rifle through your mail, geniuses. The post office already requires ID before taking a "Dear Santa" letter, so why don't you take a little more time to go online and see if they are, actually, a convicted sex offender. Trust me, the post office has no trouble in taking their own sweet time in doing things.

However, because of this new policy, the post office is now offering to deliver your "Dear Santa" donations.

Whinna Albini said the idea of mailing the gifts is laughable. Some of the apartments they've visited in the past had no functioning mailbox. In other instances, a large package would be stolen by neighbors almost immediately, she said.

"Just the idea of mailing a gift, it almost makes me think the postmaster general has never been to a housing complex," Whinna said. "If there's no human contact, it will kill the program."

I, personally, find it odd that a cash-strapped institution such as the post office is killing a program like "Dear Santa" yet somehow finding a way around it by offering to deliver your donations if you simply pay the postage on it. Merry Christmas.

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