Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Like To Think That I Remember...

...hearing this the night it was spoken:
It would take more time than anybody has around the daily news shops to think of the right thing to say about Disney.
He was an original. Not just an American original, but an original. Period.  He was a happy accident, one of the happiest this century has experienced. And judging by the way it’s behaving, in spite of all Disney tried to tell it about laughter, love, children, puppies, and sunrises, the century hardly deserved him. He probably did more to heal - or at least soothe - troubled human spirits than all the psychiatrists in the world. There can’t be many adults in the allegedly civilized parts of the globe who did not inhabit Disney’s mind and imagination for at least for a few hours and feel better for the visitation.
It may be true, as somebody said, that while there is no highbrow in a lowbrow, there is some lowbrow in every highbrow. But what Disney seemed to know was that while there is very little grown-up in every child, there is a lot of child in every grown-up. To a child, this weary world is brand-new, gift wrapped. Disney tried to keep it that way for adults.
By the conventional wisdom, mighty mice, flying elephants, Snow White and Happy, Grumpy, Sneezy and Doc - all these were fantasy, escapism from reality.  It’s a question of whether they are any less real, any more fantastic than intercontinental missiles, poisoned air, defoliated forests, and scrap iron on the moon. This is the age of fantasy, however you look at it, but Disney’s fantasy wasn’t lethal.
People are saying we will never see his like again.

Eric Sevareid of CBS Evening News, eulogizing Walt Disney on Christmas, 1966.


  1. You've been posting up a storm today, Mr. Bruce.

    Disney was a true original: who after, or even before, has done what he has done? I have a love/hate relationship with Disney - there's no better place to visit for me and my family than Disney World though I loathe the high prices and, sometimes, crass commercialism. A small price to pay, I guess, to participate in the fantasy. His vision has given me and my family many precious memories. I can't say that about any other cultural icon.

  2. Hi Pete, Nice to see you here again.

    I've been to Disneyland a dozen times or so, usually in the off-season between October and February. We're going in October this year. Our kids are getting older and becoming teens. Soon they won't want to be seen with us anymore

    I have have little interest in Disneyworld. Some of my interest is historical. Here's a website called Yesterland that documents many of the changes over the years.

    The "Mark Twain" riverboat has remained unchanged throughout the years, though "Tom Sawyer's Island" has been Johnny Depp'd to the max.

  3. Walt Disney figured out how to make money in Hollywood.

    True, he put no "scrap iron on the moon." But getting there, after Sputnik took a lot of effort ... where academia actually kicked in.

    Today, what's the worth of a harvahd credential?

    And, where did all the old movies go? Lucky we found a way to save stuff that was on film that degenerated over time. (And, a short time, in fact.)

    I just picked up a kid's book: GO THE F#CK TO SLEEP! Because, yes. Kids should hear all words. Going all cutesy poo doesn't tell kids what to expect, ahead.

    But to each his own. I'm still more impressed with the connectivety of the Internet ... that we have now. Than anything Sevaried or Cronkite ever did. (What they did? It was like the BIG CON. They fooled you into thinking they were in your living room.) A good place to sell SHAMWOW.

    Today, you can pick and choose.

    That was also something I learned you could do at the library. And, I absolutely HATED cartoons!

    Even in terms of theme parks ... All Disney really taught is security that you do not see. And, waiting on lines that meander ... so you don't think you're waiting all that long. Then the ride's over in a flash. And, you don't get splashed.

    Maybe, I got spoiled? As a kid Coney Island was so close ... that I can still remember hearing "We could go to Nathan's" for supper. Disney doesn't shine a candle! (But it's just my opinion.)

  4. And, waiting on lines that meander ... so you don't think you're waiting all that long.

    There's an App for that now Carol. It tells you what the wait times are and what time slots are available for Fastpasses. Much less waiting & frustration. New rides still suck crowd-wise.

    I think you might like the "Tower of Terror" at California Adventure.

    Coney Island. I would go there just to have a Coney Dog.

  5. And, I absolutely HATED cartoons!

    What? How could a person hate Tex Avery?

  6. They scared me to death.

    My mom said when I was two, she took me to see Disney's Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs. And, I began screaming. She had to leave the theatre.

    I don't know why I hated cartoons. I just did.

    On Saturdays the local move theater used to pile on cartoons. And, kids would get a quarter from their parents so they could attend.

    Disney, here, in LA, never really got me excited. While when my son was in band, we made a trip to Orlando ... the kids were in some kind of competition. And, besides Disneyworld, there's EPCOT center ... which I adored.

    Yes, it's true. Our kids outgrow us.

    And, when they leave for college it is over for us. The nest empties out.

    Lucky for me, my son chose Mudd. (And, they chose him for early admission.) It's only 23 miles away from here. But right off the bat, there was this "change." And, I stopped knowing what was going on with him. And, all of his friends.

    I used to know he came back home, because he'd leave his laundry bag against the washer.

    Then, he moved to San Diego. To work at Sony. And, sometimes I see him, here, because he likes to leave his dog to play with all my crew. But it's not the same. Over dinner, sometimes, we can have a conversation ... that feels like old times.

    But instead? I'm just the old timer. And, kids move on. (Which is as it should be.)

    I still can't understand how General MacArthur's mom followed him to West Point. If I had done something like that I think my son would have run away from school.

    Oh. I don't own a cell phone. I cannot imagine why anyone would even want one.

    I've got my land line, here. And, a computer that's wonderful to play with. But when I go into the kitchen? I'm out'da here. I guess I can just stand to be bugged so much.

    Meanwhile, go to Amazon. Find "Shut The F#CK UP" ... and tell one of your kids to "go read it." See if they laugh. Or just roll their eyeballs.

    And, no. I wouldn't stand in line to go into "Tower of Terror." You're lucky I'll look at holograms.

    Plus, one thing Coney Island has is SMELL! It's very special. Even though Nathans is about a block away from the Atlantic Ocean. Disneyland doesn't even come close to the magic of Coney Island smells.

  7. Disney was one of those original people who translated a dream into reality on a grand scale with a vision, a lot of guts and a little luck. There are very few people who can say that -- and that the dream was good for everyone who touched it.

    There are quite a few people who translated a dream into a nightmare, historically speaking. It's easier to be a Hitler or a Mao than it is to be a Walt Disney.

  8. Disney didn't run for office!

    When he built Disneyland ... And, KNOTT'S also built right next door ... You were in JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY TERRITORY!

    As to Disney building anything ... Barnum was first. And, Europe had sites just like Coney Island.

    The rides. And, the food. You can still get this going, anywhere. Because you can set it up. And, take it down. And, people show up to be entertained.

    I don't confuse public entertainment with politics.

    Now. Take Nathan's. (The man was illiterate. Couldn't read or write.) He began selling hot dogs from a push cart. Competing with FELDMAN's. When Coney Island had LUNA PARK.

    The subway station out to the corner where he had his stand, still wasn't built yet. (And, even though he had sons, because he didn't want to run other operations; he forbid expansion to other locations.) Yes. He expanded his space in Coney Island, when he bought out the corner business. Which was a neon lit pinball shop.

    Disney was just a cartoonist. Who picked using a mouse. And, then, he hired others to help him create the drawings. I don't think his first movies even lasted ten minutes, each.

    Was he a difficult boss? Probably. But his business THRIVED. And, that always brings you more people who want to work for you. Just as it did HENRY FORD. (Ford loved Hitler! So, too, did Joe Kennedy.)

    We're always better off when individual families can't build dynasties.

    And, everything eventually gets rolled over by the tides of time.

    You know, after Walt died, the company was getting run into the ground by Roy. So, they went outside and hired Eisner.

    The first thing Eisner did was go into the Disney vaults ... where he took the stock that was there. Repackaged it. And, made fortunes. Stock investors flocked in like crazy.

    When you bet your money you're going to be taking risks.

    Disney's success? Probably due a lot to Eisner's moxie.

  9. Disney's success? Probably due a lot to Eisner's moxie.

    That would be ironic if true. (Eisen = iron in German :)

  10. I fondly recall watching Eric Sevareid follow up Walter Cronkite's newcasts back in the days when CBS dominated the TV news. He always tried to explain what the news and events "meant."

    Sevareid's voice was familiar, having also grown up in the upper Midwest; I could tell by his accent (or lack there of). He spoke just like me, a more nasally though. But Sevareid was a big Norwegian. I wonder what he'd be saying now.

    I remember when I heard Bob Dylan speak for the first time how Midwesterner he sounded too. It shocked me a little because it proved that he hadn't sold out his core to the East Coast.

  11. I remember going to the Disney pavilion at the New York Worlds fair and riding through the Small World ride.

    It scared the crap out of me.

  12. Especially when the Norwegian doll tried to shoot all the other dolls.

  13. Walt was really ahead of his time.

  14. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever met anyone from New York who liked Walt Disney. Bunch of Thomas E. Deweys.

  15. Palin-loathing east coast establishment types hate Disney too.

  16. Dewey people really really hated Senators from Ohio too.

  17. Tom Dewey was LOATHSOME!

    And, Truman beat him ... back in the days the polling stopped in October. So following the election ... Truman who was traveling by train all over the country ... (I think his train was called the Magellan) ... Picked up the newspaper to show that famous headline: DEWEY WON!

    By the way, I don't hate Disney! I think there was a time I even owned the stock.

    Which is why I know EISNER (A Jewish fella) turned the company around. Because Roy was flushing it down the toilet.

    As to Disneyland, I've been there. Both of them. LA, and Orlando. While I loved EPCOT! Because it looked like New York's WORLD'S FAIR (1964 and 1965. Meadowlands.)

    You really shouldn't jump to conclusions about other people.

    Coney Island is not an aquired taste, though. It really worked with kids! It gave a reason to stay on the train until the end of the ride.

    If all you had was a dollar, fries at Nathen's were a nickel a bag. The grape drink, ditto. The train ride was in the nieghborhhod of 15-cents.

    At a time when you got in to see a movie for a quarter.

    Did you know movie theaters were air-conditioned first?

    Did you know the appeal of a "double header," which included two films (plus cartoons) ... PLUS NEWSREELS ! filled up theaters on hot summer nights?

    Palin is NOT loathsome! She's got a style all her own.

    Maybe, that's what I'd say about Walt Disney, too. In that he chose a mouse. When the rest of the world lined up to see Punch & Judy shows.

  18. I guess chemists mistake the fact that you can line elements up in a row ... with the same sort of detail you could do with human beings.

    I'm not a chemist. Obviously. But since I'm Jewish ... I know if you have two people standing together ... you're gonna get three arguments. And, opinions don't line up as beautifully as the Periodic Table.

    What's worse? Having to memorize the Periodic Table, or multiplication? (I thought multiplication was a beast you couldn't memorize even with the best of efforts.) Except for 1's, 2's, and 3's.

    I also know that before there were rulers there where feet. And, you could identify your territory ... even among peoples in the same tribe. Who'd fight you tooth and nail ... if they thought you were standing on "their" space.

    Easy come. Easy go. But the fighting Herodotus reported seeing 2,500 years ago ... stands pat. Some things just never change over time. Or across time.

  19. I guess chemists mistake the fact that you can line elements up in a row ... with the same sort of detail you could do with human beings.

    I don't see it as a mistake--just being very analytical with the world. No more harm than taking the letters of sentence and reordering them:

    For example, the letters of "SEE SPOT RUN" become E2NOPRS2U

    The converse of analysis in chemistry is synthesis but reverse engineering "E2NOPRS2U" back into SEE SPOT RUN requires creativity, insight (and the use of spaces).

    A novel's story is defined by a very long sequence of characters set down neatly on a series of pages. A chemist could chop that novel up until a "formula" having just 24 unique characters. Each novel would have a unique formula.

    Humans are physically defined by their DNA, also a sequence of encoded information, like a series of characters in book.

    I don't know where I'm going with this but I smell a blog post.

    Thanks Carol!