Friday, April 1, 2016

Yellow Smiley Face Outlawed In Duluth

You might call this a sequel to last month's ouster of Bent Paddle Been from the municipality of Silver Bay. In that instance the controversial decision to eliminate Bent Paddle was made by the city council. Yesterday my inbox contained a press release about the breaking story here in Duluth in which a local judge outlawed the Smiley Face here in the Northland. I'm not sure whether we'll see protests here locally, but I do expect to see a few countersuits related to the iconic emblem of appreciation. Facebook will no doubt weigh in to see just where the law applies and does not apply. For example, are Smiley Faces forbidden on billboards but permitted on our laptops and other devices? Is the image forbidden on T-shirts, but OK when we're doodling? What kind of fines will be levied against those who use them?

You no doubt recall from the epic biography of Forrest Gump how he played a role in Harvey Ball's development of the image. Serendipity plays a role in many success stories.

Personally, I think the judge is overstepping his authority, but we'll see how it plays out.

Here's the press release as I found it along with a video clip of the judge handing down his controversial verdict:

DULUTH, MINN. March 31, 2016 – The career of the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face has reached the end of the line in Duluth.

“I hereby order Mr. Smiley Face to leave town forever, because Duluth’s new symbol of joy is the happy visage of Thomas the Tank Engine,” said Lake Superior Court Judge Foyer Self, citing the delight Thomas brings to thousands of kids each summer along the Duluth waterfront.

The judge said that, effective April 1, the lifetime Smiley Face ban covers everything – including LOL text messages and emails. “Sure, Mr. Face could appeal, but he won’t,” added the judge. “That’s because he’s too cowardly. He’s yellow.”

Judge Foyer Self said rumors about Smiley Face being railroaded are untrue: “This court has no ulterior loco-motives. We simply choo-choose Thomas.”

By now you realize that the judge hasn't gone off the rails. Director Ken Buehler of the North Shore Scenic Railroad (NSSR) and "Buehler's Bygones" is just trying to see how punny he can be while simultaneously drawing attention to the North Shore Scenic Railroad, which is back on track.  This is the same railroad that the Duluth Dylan Fest folk rent for the annual "Blood on the Tracks Express" event on Thursday night each year during their annual week of Dylan-themed events (which you can read more about here on Facebook.)

If you like making puns or enjoy winning contests, Judge Self, uh Buehler, is inviting people to submit their best train-related puns to by June 1. Entrants will have a chance to win tickets to Day Out With Thomas, who will be at the Duluth Depot Aug. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14, 2016.

The NSSR’s Smiley Face campaign was created by Greenfield Communications, a PR and advertising agency that has coasted since about 2005. The video shooting and editing were deftly handled by Stokes Media House. Both companies got stiffed by the NSSR.

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That's all folks!

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