Cruising the Green of Second Avenue

Wild Child Publishing has issued the second volume of short stories in Cruising the Green of Second Avenue. The tales take up where Vol. I left off — bringing back Klein the Biker, Straight Charlie and Sammy the Madman while introducing new characters stumbling over life’s difficulties in the late 60s. Vol. II is an e-book published by Wild Child Publishing that you can download, save as a pdf (Adobe) file and print. Read both volumes and see that life isn't all that serious. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online book sellers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Eternal Smile

Michael Quinion reminded me that Sept. 19 was the 25th anniversary of the smiley face. In his weekly online newsletter (available at he wrote, “The :-) symbol, necessarily created from standard keyboard characters, was invented…by Scott E. Fahlman in a post on a bulletin board at Carnegie Mellon University. It formed part of a thread on the way humorous remarks could be tagged to avoid misunderstandings. His message was brief, though a tad ungrammatical: ‘I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) Read it sideways.’” Mr. Fahlman is these days the Research Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon.

I remember being in New York City in 1982 when I first saw this innocuous, bulbous, caricature with two dots for eyes and a quarter-circle smile. The word emoticon hadn’t been invented, and an icon was something you’d find in a Russian Orthodox church.

The smiley face now has taken over as an icon of inanity. I was walking on the National Seashore at Wellfleet last week and stooped down to find, not a stone or shell, but a yellow rubber ball the size of a quarter. It had a smiley face on it. And the word “China.”

At this quarter-century mark, we can pause and think of Percy Bysshe Shelley writing, “My name is Ozymandias, kind of kings: / Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” / Nothing remains: round the decay / Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, / The lone and level sands stretch far away.

It would be ironic and sad if, centuries from now, we were remembered by little more than a vapid pie-face. On a non-biodegradeable ball from China. I hope something that I write lasts longer.