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Gas station sign in Texas August 30, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley, Travel.
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Smiley sign on a Texas highway. Photo taken August 2012.

As we wrap up our Texas trip, I have to share this smiley sign for a gas station on a Texas highway. It’s not the first such sign I’ve seen in Texas, and big as this state is, there are bound to be dozens — or hundreds — more, so keep your eyes peeled, Texans! 🙂

Orange juice sign + bicycle (and 10,000 hits!) February 16, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley, Travel.
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Orange juice sign. Phuket Town, Phuket, Thailand, November 2010.

Ever since I stumbled across my friend Dena Rash Guzman’s photo essay about Phuket, Thailand at Luciole Press, I’ve had Thailand on the brain. And having Thailand on the brain is just a small step away from having smileys on the brain — after all, Thailand is the Land of Smiles. They even have smile bikes you can rent:

Bangkok Smile Bike, Bangkok, Thailnd, November 2010.


Also, as I hoped, today the Smile! blog surpassed 10,000 hits! Thanks, happy readers! You all make me smile! 🙂

Graffiti in Vienna January 30, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley, Travel.
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Graffiti on a concrete divider in Vienna. November 2009.

Some of my favorite smileys are graffiti smileys. Because if you’re going to deface property, you might as well face the property. And make people happy in the process.

Also, if you’ve followed this blog for long, you’ve probably noticed that Vienna comes up a lot. That’s partly because the whole idea for this blog really took shape while we were in Vienna. But judging from the multitude of smiley graffiti (and signs, and artwork) I spotted there, Vienna must just be a really happy city. 🙂

Smiley sitckers as luggage labels January 5, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Smiley, Travel.
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So, the New Year is well underway, and everyone is returning from their holiday vacations. (Or, as some of my good friends, are leaving home for conferences.) You’ve flopped on the couch, you’ve kicked your shoes off, you’ve slept off most of the jetlag. But unpacking? That can wait for the weekend. Because you only have a couple of bags, right?

Last spring, I had thirteen bags.

That's a lot of luggage.

I had so many bags last year because I was moving back to the United States from the United Arab Emirates and was taking basically everything we owned over there, minus furniture and my wife’s wardrobe. You should have seen me at the airport. The gate agents were walleyed.

Anyway, to keep track of all the bags and which bag contained what stuff (you know, for the customs forms — my librarian wife likes to keep me well organized!), I had to number every bag. And what better way to stick a number on luggage than with a smiley sticker!

Thirteen bags. Sixteen stickers. Phew! Three to spare!

You’d think these tiny schoolroom stickers would fall off just loading them into the taxi, but believe it or not, every sticker survived the entire trip: taxi to airport, two flights overseas, and a five-day drive across the US.

Because happiness sticks!

BookSmile sign in Thailand December 29, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley, Travel.
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BookSmile sign. Phuket Town, Phuket, Thailand, November 2010.

Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, so it’s no wonder I found so many smiley faces there. This one was a sign for a Thai bookseller, BookSmile. Apparently, they’re pretty widespread, but they’re not a huge bookstore like Barnes & Noble or our massive Powell’s Books here in Portland. They’re more like the Starbucks of books, small operations that can stand alone but are perfectly happy to tuck into corners of other businesses. This one was in the back of a convenience store. Which was very, well, convenient!

Meditating gingerbread July 21, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley, Travel.
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Smile! sign promoting meditation. Photo taken in Vienna, Austria, 29 November 2009.

This past week, in the space of just a few days, one of my good friends returned to the US from Vienna, and another good friend left the US for Vienna. Which is fun for me, because my wife and I LOVED Vienna when we were there a couple of years ago.

This sign on the trash bin reads “Smile! Mehr Lebensfreud durch Meditation,” which (Google tells me) translates as “Smile! More joyful living through meditation.” As a Buddhist, I can tell you this is pretty well true, though only the Austrians would think to join the message with smiling gingerbread men! Of course, it was nearing Christmas….

I hope all my traveling friends find more joyful living, and I hope you have a merry Christmas in July!

Smiley simulacrum: “Door chain” July 14, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Simulacra, Travel.
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Back in April of last year, my wife and I visited The Netherlands. On our second day, we toured the Amstelkring, a 17th-century Catholic Church hidden inside the attic of a narrow canal house during a bitterly anti-Catholic period in Amsterdam’s history. It was a fascinating tour, and sometimes a somber one, but I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I descended the steps to the basement of the house and found this unexpected smiley on the back door.

Door chain "smiley" in the basement of the Amstelkring, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Photo taken 7 April 2010.

If you want to read more about the tour, check out the website for Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (its official name; Our Lord In the Attic Museum, in English). Or, go to my personal blog and read my travel journal entry for the day. In the meantime, here’s a closer view of that happy door:

Close-up of the door chain "smiley" in the basement of the Amstelkring.

Thai beach smileys July 7, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Art, Smiley, Travel.
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Sand smiley, Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Photo taken 21 November 2011.

Last November, my wife and I went to Thailand on a short vacation, with just a night in Bangkok but several days on the island of Phuket. The weather was perfect, the beach was perfect, the people were perfect…. It was a serene vacation made all the more relaxing because everyone seemed so happy. Including me, which is why I used my feet to carve this big smiley in the sand of Kata Beach on the southwest coast of Phuket.

Tree leaf and twig smiley, Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Photo taken 21 November 2011.

Later, coming in from a relaxing swim, I spotted this crescent-shaped leaf near a stick in the sand. So it was a no-brainer to snap the twig in half and make another smiley.

Tree leaf and twig smiley, Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Photo taken 21 November 2011.

And with views like this, can you blame me for being so smiley?

Smiley street sign April 18, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley, Travel.
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"Smiley walker" on a street sign. Photo taken near the Museumquartiers in Vienna, Austria.

When my wife and I visited Vienna about a year and a half ago, we had almost as much fun reading the street signs, advertisements, and graffiti as we did visiting museums, churches, and parks. In fact, this blog was born in Vienna, thanks to a piece of smiley graffiti my wife spotted.

This is just a plain street sign showing a stick-figure pedestrian making his way to the Museumsquatier, where we ourselves were headed this same day. But some mischievous Viennese decided to cheer things up with a sticker, and now this pedestrian is a happy fellow indeed!

 

Detail of the "smiley walker."

 

Smiley sign (in The Netherlands) March 7, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Public art, signs, & graffiti, Smiley, Travel.
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Logo sign for Arke. Photo taken in Hoorn, The Netherlands, 13 April 2010.

My father’s father’s father came to the United States from Hoorn, in the Netherlands. So when I visited the homeland of my great-grandfather and made a special trip to Hoorn, I was expecting to find a bit of my own family history. But I was delighted to also find this clever smiley sign. Doubly appropriate: it’s the logo for Arke, a travel agency.