Mystery solved! The grave smiley Samaritan steps forward

20120717-220452.jpgI just got this excellent message on my Facebook page.

It seems the mystery of “Who’s leaving smiley faces beside celebrity graves” has been solved, and the answer is rather beautiful in its guilelessness:

Hi Jason. — It’s been brought to my attention that you have been curious to who has been leaving the rock smileys on the celebrity graves… That would be me!
I also leave them on other graves that catch my attention, next to street art, and anything else that catches my attention in the Los Angeles Area. — Also as the commenter on your blog mentioned, Pittsburgh. I just came back from visiting there where I spent a lot of time visiting their cemeteries and leaving my rock smileys.
If you go to my Facebook page, you will see several albums of pictures of where I have left them.
It all started with my friend Tamra finding a little rock with a face on it, and how it made her smile. Then a few of us thought we’d leave some rock smileys around for others to find, sort of like a pay it forward type of thing. — And well, I’ve gone a little crazy with it.
And I am totally flattered that you made a blog entry about my rock smileys… 🙂
—Lisa Albanese

I am sad to say that when I went back to those celebrity gaves in February, groundskeepers had cleared the rocks away. But as I told Lisa, she’ll just have to replenish the happiness. And as she told me, she does.

Lisa places rocks on graves all over the country whenever they move her to do so. She calls them “rock smileys.” Sometimes people take them because they make them smile. Sometimes groundskeepers do.

“Symbolically I leave them as my way of paying respect to the dead and to leave my mark that I was there. I also hope that they bring a smile to the faces of the living and maybe the dead too…,” she told me.

I do this a lot. I always have at least a dozen rock smileys in my purse with me, and I have several bags of them in the trunk of my car. — And I go to local cemeteries often.
I would love to be able to travel more and do this. Next week I am going back to visit my boyfriend in Pittsburgh and we plan on doing some traveling and he’s a good sport about taking me to cemeteries and finding me rocks to paint. I visited 26 cemeteries within the two months I was there in March and April.

I really dig what she’s doing. I’ll bet the spirits of the departed do, too, if you believe in that kind of thing. And I do.

She’s not the only one. I got this message on my Facebook page in response:

Lisa has inspired me to make/leave Rock Smileys, in my part of the country. Mine are not as artistic as Lisa’s, and I don’t typically leave them in the same kinds of places as Lisa. She has set the standard.

And it’s one big undiscussed phenomenon. Some people paint rocks to share with cancer patients. Some paint them to brighten the day of people on wherever they go. Some people just paint them to be able to spend time with each other, and figure out where to leave them later. Maybe on a remote hiking trail. Maybe in the deli case. You never know where your smiley rock winds up after you leave it — but that’s not the point. The point is the smile.

It’s really hard not to love something as whimsical and thoughtful and goodhearted as the smiley rock trend.


9 Responses to “Mystery solved! The grave smiley Samaritan steps forward”

  1. Kim

    Awww Lisa is such a sweet person trying to spread smiles 🙂 Love her my friend <3

  2. ghost

    I find it still deeply offensive that one can desecrate a very deeply respected man and actor’s gravestone. She needs to apologize publicly and to his family for offending them and his fans. You DON’T go around leaving faces and then later calling them art. By leaving them you are desecrating the memory their loved ones hold for them. She needs to be arrested for this…sorry but one needs to be more sensitive to these issues.

    • Jason Cochran

      I think you are wrong. She called it art from the very beginning, long before that stupid gossip column fodder incident, and the spirit of her intentions are well recorded going back for a while now. I think your reaction is not based on the facts and it is exactly what sleaze journalists are going for.

  3. Alice

    I just hope it’s clear to everyone that Lisa has never and would never deface anyone’s grave, nor even private property. All she does is leave a little painted rock NEXT to it. I have never seen Lisa refer to her rock smilies as art, but I suppose they can be viewed that way. She does make her mark on the world with them, so sure, it’s art. But her motivation is just to make people smile and feel good, and perhaps to inspire them to do the same… to pay it forward.The article on that so-called Inquisitr page is patently false. The one harmed in that case was only Lisa’s reputation, not Michael Duncan’s grave. She is a friend of mine, and I am personally offended on her behalf by what they posted, and by anyone who would believe that nonsense without even attempting to verify it first. Thank you, Jason Cochran, for standing up for the truth, and for appreciating Lisa’s efforts to make a little smidgen of the world a better place, one rock at a time.

  4. Tamra Cloud

    My family was honored and happy to receive some of Lisa’s adorable and uplifting rock smileys for my cousin Patti’s headstone on Oklahoma City last year! These adorable rock smileys have absolutely no negative value. Lisa is an amazing person who does not deserve this negative attention. If a person doesn’t want tiny rock smileys on their loved one’s headstone all they have to do is simply pick it up and remove it!
    Lisa has brought attention to so many people who have passed away by posting pertinent information about their life, that it gives us all a chance to remember and honor them and empathize with the remaining family members.
    Perhaps the problem is not Lisa’s colorful and cheerful rock smileys but it is the folks who have unresolved issues and may just possibly be looking for a place to unload them.
    Thank you Lisa, I have learned so much from your passion of honoring those who are no longer with us 🙂

  5. Jon Clifton

    Even someone trying to put a smile on someone else’s face gets twisted into being racist. This is the problem with America these days. As soon as something offends a black person, the first words out of their mouth is racist. This is NOT always the intention as Lisa has explained. I can’t think of anyone doing anything racist to an actor that was as great as Michael Clarke Duncan was. He put many smiles on peoples faces and all one person wanted to do was put one on the faces of his family members.

  6. James Mason

    Well wonders never cease! I have had the pleasure of working with Lisa, through “edits” on Thanks to Jim Davis who pointed me to this site I now know who that special person is. I know they have given me some big smiles and I love it. James Mason (Romper90069)