Thanks, Ashcroft!

I am outraged. Outraged, I say.

Just now, having finally, and very belatedly, send the ms. for a long book on the Right to Die off to my editor (a grim story for another day) , I was able to make my way downstairs to get today’s mail.

There were packages for both me and Zachary from the State Department. Oh, goody, I thought: Our new passports have arrived. And so timely! We sent in our renewal forms only 3 weeks ago. (My passport was due to expire in Feb, Zach’s this month, and we feared long turnarounds.) So I ripped open the package, full of innocent glee. Well, that didn’t last long.

A quick google just now revealed that the press and the blogosphere have been buzzing about the revolting new passport design since April! Alas, I happen not to have seen any of that stuff, or anyone’s brand-new passport, and the thing came as such a shock to me that I actually thought someone was playing an elaborate joke. Really. If only I had been forewarned I might have been spared a nasty shock, or possibly considered changing my nationality.

The combination of terrible aethetics and simplistic, ham-handed patriotism makes me suspect that John Ashcroft designed this piece of crap. The worst part is that I greatly enjoy reading and admiring the many wonderful stamps on my old passports–a pleasure made possible by plain pages. I suspect that the montages of Mt. Rushmore, cowboys, choo-choo trains, and something suspiciously like a tablet of Commandments will greatly interfere with, if not preclude, such pleasures in the future. I must be sure to warn Zach, and possibly make sure that he’s had a drink, before I let him open his.

And perhaps it would be as well, when memorizing the short list of useful phrases I try to learn in the languages of countries I am visiting, to add: “Please stamp hard. Our passports are very ugly.”