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Love Always Remains

4 May

“There’s a place I’d like to go somewhere out west, it’s not specific, and the pictures show it best.  I know there’s trees I know there’s sand and I know there’s grass, I know it’s somewhere in the past.

There is a girl out there, who’s looking for it too, she’s not sure when she’ll go, or exactly what she’ll do.  If am I doomed, am I the first one or the last?  Am I just someone from the past?

No one has to hear, the sound of people laughing at their fears, and the ocean and sun are always there, to make you happy if you’re feeling scared of the darkness.”

-MGMT, lyrics from Love Always Remains

Daily Smiley: May Day

1 May

“The country is in deep trouble. We’ve forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. We need the courage to question the powers that be, the courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people, the courage to fight for social justice. In many instances we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that’s the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.”  

-Dr. Cornel West, September 27, 2011. 

Happy May Day, everyone.  Let’s leave the world better than we found it.

Justice Please: Reject Arizona’s Anti-Immigration Law

28 Apr

The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments on Wednesday in Arizona v. United States, regarding the Justice Department’s challenge to the controversial anti-immigration law in Arizona, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, otherwise known as Arizona SB 1070, or the “Papers please” law.  To provide some background on the racist roots of this legislation:  SB 1070 was sponsored by former Republican Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, and signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010.   Pearce received assistance from Kris Kobach and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in drafting the legislation—FAIR has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has connections on its board of directors to the eugenics movement and other White Nationalist organizations— and much of the language of SB 1070 was drafted at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), alongside officials of the Corrections Corporation of America.  In 2010, NPR published a story on the relationship between Pearce’s bill and private prison companies.

SB 1070 is being challenged by the Obama administration, which argues that measures that provide for arrests and penalties under the so-called “reasonable suspicion” of being an undocumented immigrant amount to racial profiling and are unconstitutional.

While the final vote will not come until June, according to the Washington Post, Supreme Court justices strongly suggested Wednesday that they were skeptical of the administration’s case against SB 1070 and ready to allow Arizona to allow police officers to check the immigration status of people they “think” are in the country illegally.  If this law holds, it will set the precedent for states circumventing federal immigration policies and enacting their own (racist and unconstitutional) anti-immigrant policies, as we’ve already seen take place (to the detriment of human rights and economic well-being) in GeorgiaUtah, and Alabama.  That these laws have made parents remove their (U.S. citizen) children from elementary schools and farmers leave the farms they are working on out of fear of deportation, shows just how hateful and powerful the anti-immigrant movement in America has become.     

We should protect the human rights of people who come to this country to work hard, educate their children, and make a better life for themselves and their families.  We should remove racist anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona and other states, as well as end the Obama administration’s record-setting deportation practices, which tear families and communities apart.  According to figures released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Obama administration deported nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants last fiscal year, setting a shameful record high for deportations for the third straight year (including deporting 46,686 parents who had at least one U.S. citizen child in the first half of 2011 alone). 

If the Supreme Court’s decision in this case in June comes out in favor of states being able to promote racial profiling, hatred, and the criminalization of immigrants, few will be surprised, as it would reflect an “American dream” in which liberty and justice for some has prevailed.  However, if the Supreme Court stands against racism, and rejects Arizona SB 1070, it may provide the momentum necessary for future comprehensive federal immigration reform that actually protects liberty and justice for all people in this country. 

Daily Smiley: Youth Is The Future

24 Apr

“Now that we’re getting somewhere, you know we’ve got to give back, for the youth is the future, no doubt that’s right and exact.  Squeeze the juice out, of all the suckers power, and pour some back out, so as to water the flowers.”  -Guru

Food First! Bay Area Ashoka Youth Venture. Click on photo to read more.

Daily Smiley: Creativity In All Of Us

21 Apr

“Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” -Albert Einstein

In an interview on The Colbert Report last week, Jonah Lehrer, author of the new book Imagine: How Creativity Works, explained that as much as we’d like to “outsource the imagination” to a special class of pre-ordained creative people or inventors, creativity and imagination lie in all of us.  Many of the people lauded for their creative brillance (Steve Jobs comes to mind), achieved breakthroughs not from original ideas, but from “making new connections between old ideas.”  I.e., taking an idea or a system or a business or a product, or really, anything, and making it better.  Lehrer argues that while we assume that creativity is maximized when we FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS and down three cups of coffee and WORK WORK WORK, studies show that people are most creative when they are relaxed.  Recalling Einstein’s words above, Lehrer says, “we need to make time to waste time.”  This does not mean that getting a massage or sitting on the beach or staring at the sky is the only answer; obviously hard work, research, perseverance, and collaboration, are essential for successful innovation, however, we need to remember to give ourselves time to RELAX, SIT, BREATHE, BE.  

As much as advertisers would love to have us believe that the only creative people alive are sitting on a magenta-teal-colored couch in a glass-enclosed office/amusement park somewhere in Palo Alto where there are free smoothies and yoga balls and iPad apps flying through the air, the truth is that there is creativity in all of us.  Me?  Yes, YOU.  But, I’m not a creative person.  Bullshit.  Yes, YOU ARE CREATIVE, because you can take old ideas and broken systems and make them better.  Innovate, build, establish, serve, organize, re-organize, challenge, protest, design, re-design, construct, de-construct, mix, match, make.  Relax with pen and paper, relax with trees and grass, relax with drawing and modeling, relax with sun and sand, relax with Java and HTML, relax with guitar and drums, relax with theory and thought, relax with lens and light, relax with mind and body, relax with bicycle, relax with clay, relax with test tubes, relax with needle and thread, relax with flour and butter, RELAX.  Waste time.  Create.  Because the world needs the creativity in all of us.        

Seattle Public Library. Photo by Smiley.

Daily Smiley: Thank You, Levon Helm

19 Apr

“It’s not like it used to be.” – Robbie Robertson

Levon Helm, the legendary singer and drummer of The Band, died Thursday at the age of 71 after a decade-long battle with cancer.  Helm sang lead vocals on some of the most epic, beautiful, timeless rock and roll songs of all time, including:  “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” and “Ophelia.”  He was a superb, energetic, eclectic drummer and his voice filled America with sweet country soul from his home in Arkansas all the way to his Band-bandmates’ home in Ontario, Canada.  When you listen to Helm’s voice and The Band’s music, you can’t help but feel good.  Really good.  In Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz, we see and hear Helm at his finest.  As my friend Scott put it:  In The Last Waltz, Helm sings “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” like its the last song he’ll ever sing.   Thankfully, he lived a full life and his music, passed on from my Dad’s generation, to mine, and to the next, will live on forever.  Thank you, Levon Helm.  We will miss you.  

Daily Smiley: Don’t Rush, Slow Down

17 Apr

“There’s absolutely no reason for being rushed along with the crowd. Everybody should be free to go very slow . . . what you want, what you’re hanging around in the world for, is for something to occur to you.”

- Robert Frost

Leavenworth, WA is beautiful. Photo by Smiley.

Daily Smiley: Always Do What You Are Afraid To Do

16 Apr

Daily Smiley: Top 10 Songs For A Bus Ride To New York City

13 Apr

In honor of the entire staff of What’s Up Smiley going to New York City for the weekend (which thankfully is only 1 person since the BoltBus was sold out), here are my Top 10 Songs for a bus ride to New York.  It’s hard to pick just 10 songs that encapsulate the many moods, the many shades, the many sides of a bus ride to the city.  I happen to be rather experienced at riding buses to New York.  If you count trips from Boston to New York, Middletown to New York, and DC to New York, I’ve easily taken more than 200 round trips to and from the city.  Fung Wah (if they had a rewards program, I’d be George Clooney in Up in the Air), Lucky Star (stops at a Chinese fast food buffet somewhere in Connecticut, the smell of which ruins the whole experience for me), Peter Pan/Greyhound (one word: urine), DC2NY (they give you a free bottle of water and take a vote on whether to watch a shitty movie which is quite thoughtful), Megabus (love the upper deck), BoltBus (hipster classy), Apex Bus (don’t do it), New Century Bus (you may end up stranded in a body shop outside Philly), Eastern Bus (don’t think for a minute the Wi-Fi will actually work); you name it, I’ve suffered through it.    

These rides are long, construction is constant, and the traffic up and down I-95 can be brutal, so you need a really good playlist.  Songs that get you excited about going to visit your friends, eating all your favorite foods, songs that reflect the transcendent calm and reflection of the journey to the big city, nostalgia for past visits, anticipation for the weekend, the fleeting triumph of what’s to come.  

Top 10 Songs for a Bus Ride to New York City

1.  Someone Great, LCD Soundsystem

2.  Fast Train, Solomon Burke

3.  Lovely Day, Bill Withers

4.  This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), Talking Heads

5.  Helpless, Neil Young (w/The Band and Joni Mitchell)

6.  Four Women, Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek (Nina Simone cover)

7.  Tangled Up In Blue, Bob Dylan

8.  Oh! Sweet Nuthin’, Velvet Underground

9.  Ashes of American Flags, Wilco

10.  FNYC, Kelly McFarling

Please share YOUR Top 10 in the comments below!  Imagine that all of the broken reading lights and the annoying person sitting next to you talking on their cell phone were instead giant speakers blasting music just for your listening pleasure.  Yes, imagine you could hop on top of the roof of the BoltBus, lay on a lawn chair in the sun, and space out the entire four-and-a-half hours to NYC.  What would YOU listen to?  

Daily Smiley: Questions That Cannot Be Answered

12 Apr

“I prefer questions that cannot be answered, rather than answers that cannot be questioned.”

-Unknown Brilliant Person

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