Mark Sachs keeps 'em smiling, or at...


Mark Sachs keeps 'em smiling, or at least smiley

Mark Sachs, 47, a native of Forest Park in Northwest Baltimore, works at a telecommunications firm in Washington. However, he holds a more exotic part-time post as curator of the Smile Face Museum in Silver Spring. Set up in a basement room of the Sachs home, the museum features about 400 items bearing the familiar round face. Among them: a condom, a bag of cat food, a license plate, a restaurant menu, a mannequin dressed entirely in smiley-face-stamped clothing and an autographed picture of U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder of Colorado (who draws a smiley face in the round part of the "P" in her first name).

Credit for creation of the smiley face generally goes to a Seattle public relations man inspired by the song "Put on a Happy Face" in the 1960s' Dick Van Dyke movie "Bye, Bye Birdie." But the creator didn't copyright it, and the smiley face went into the public domain, available to just about anyone to put on anything -- and just about everyone did put it on everything in the '70s.

Such a ubiquitous product was prime fodder for an economy-minded collector.

"My kids [Eli, 6, and Adam, 4] love my collecting," Mr. Sachs says. "My wife, Luann, is tolerant."

The museum is free and open one Saturday morning a month by appointment only. Call (301) 588-3933. Mr. Sachs asks only that you have a nice day.

Who in the world is Gabrielle Goodman? A) A former backup singer for performer Roberta Flack; B) the co-writer of a hit song ++ that was performed by Chaka Khan; C) a jazz singer about to release her debut solo album; D) a featured vocalist on a recent Lonnie Liston Smith album.

All of the above describe the Baltimore native, who is a graduate of Walbrook High School and the Peabody Conservatory.

Ms. Goodman, 27, recently won an ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) award for co-writing "You Can Make the Story Right." The award was for songwriters whose records made it into the Top 10.

"I was working with [co-writer] Wayne Brathwaite, who had already written several hit songs," says Ms. Goodman. "I had written about four songs, and when Wayne ran into Chaka at a night spot in New York, he submitted 'You Can Make the Story Right' to her.

"Chaka said she wanted the song, and it just took off," Ms. Goodman says. The record is on an album that won Chaka Khan a Grammy award.

Now, with her new album scheduled for release this fall and an appearance at the international North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland this week, Ms. Goodman feels as if she is poised on the brink of fame.

"I didn't think that I would be an overnight success," she says. "I knew it would take a lot of hard work."

In the past, Ms. Goodman couldn't help feeling a bit peeved when she saw "people with no talent" zoom into instant stardom.

It no longers bothers her: "Most of the time . . . instant stardom is fleeting."


Sandra Crockett

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