Mr. Disney's vision - in the rearview mirror

By Tim Smith

Where A r [ts] Thou?


“I hope we don’t lose sight of one thing – it was all started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney

The “it” of Mr. Disney’s original vision remains impressive to say the very least, from my first attendance at Disneyland in 1975 until this past week. I’m grateful for that continuity.

From what is arguably the definitive book on Mr. Disney’s impact, “Walt Disney: The Triumph of The American Imagination” by Neil Gabler:

“We see the visionary, whose desire for escape honed and innate sense of what people wanted to see on the screen and, when combined with iron determination and obsessive perfectionism, led him to the reinvention of animation. It was Disney, first with Mickey Mouse and then with his feature films…who transformed animation from a novelty based on movement to an art form that presented an illusion of life. We see him reimagine the amusement park with Disneyland, prompting critics to coin the word Disneyfication to describe the process by which reality can be modified to fit one’s personal desires.

At the same time, he provided a new way to connect with American history through his live-action films and purveyed a view of the country so coherent that even today one can speak meaningfully of “Walt Disney’s America.”

We see how the True-Life Adventure nature documentaries he produced helped create the environmental movement by sensitizing the general public to issues of conservation. And we see how he reshaped the entertainment industry by building a synergistic empire that combined film, television, theme parks, music, book publishing, and merchandise in a way that was unprecedented and was later widely imitated.”

My appreciation for Mr. Gabler’s assistance here, and it was all there – as well, last week – and over the next few weeks, additional reflections based on this foundation as we traversed many a foot mile over the grounds of The Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

I hope in all of that I “…don’t lose sight of one thing…“: It was simply great fun.

Continuing the monthly salute to visionary artists, celebrating the reopening of the creative world, I invited you to savor the Academy of Achievement website and spend a few hours, reading and/or listening to the “Virtuoso of the Violin,” Itzhak Perlman and then, “Music Impresario,” Quincy Jones.

I discovered that with all of his performance success, Mr. Perlman remains a teacher at heart. During the course of his interview, he appeared to have a re-awakening to that fact, and it came in gentle reflection, when speaking of his parents and how they dealt with this youthful and prodigious talent.

He shared the simple, yet complex fact: “They took me seriously.” He further articulates: “I always mention to my students . . . ‘I want you to be a magician. Not musician, a magician.’ What does a magician do? It does something that’s sleight of hand and you see it. It’s the same thing with music. You have to be a magician so that the listener says, ‘Oh, my God. This is amazing!'”

I was re-acquainted with the fact that Mr. Jones is a voice for our times. His talents emerged from a much more diverse background than Mr. Perlman’s.

“It’s like a melody. You can study orchestration, you can study harmony and theory and everything else, but melodies come straight from God.”

”Quincy Delight Jones Jr., known to his friends as” Q,” (yes, similar to the wizard with the all the tech in the James Bond films), was born on Chicago’s South Side. When he was 10, he moved, with his father and stepmother, to Bremerton, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.

He first fell in love with music when he was in elementary school, and tried nearly all instruments in his school band before settling on the trumpet. While barely in his teens, Quincy befriended a local singer-pianist, only three years his senior. His name was Ray Charles. The two youths formed a combo, eventually landing small club and wedding gigs.”

Over T’s tube: Watch the Grand Ole’ Opry’s 5,000th Saturday Night broadcast celebration. A history lesson, 96 years in the making.

“It’s not so much what we have in this life that matters. It’s what we do with what we have.” Fred Rogers

Connections made, locally inspired, in our town, since 1/06.

See you at the local newsstand.

t A s

[For EFA-62]

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