Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rescue Me!

A friend of mine has a theory that whatever happened to you when you were eleven or twelve years old sticks with you forever. Everything that brought you joy at that wide-eyed age—be it a camping trip or a pair of pants—is guaranteed to provide you pangs of nostalgia for the rest of your life. Think about it for a second and you'll know it's true.

I was eleven in 1977. Which explains, for better or worse, why I melt into mush whenever I think of the Waltons, James at 15, or Shields & Yarnell.  I drew Jawas on my homework while the transistor radio demanded that I shake, shake, shake - shake my booty. The relentless grasp these fragments of pop-culture have on my heart strings remains more powerful than even Lindsay Wagner's bionic hearing.

"Jawa" by a very young me

Another thing that happened that most impressionable year: Walt Disney Productions released an animated film called The Rescuers. I was totally obsessed with it.  Just ask my beaten-down parents who lovingly endured trips to Pizza Hut seven weeks in a row for a Pepsi in a "take home" Rescuers glass. (I still have the whole set, and Pepsi does taste better when consumed from one.)

I could go on and on about The Rescuers, such as the time when my best friend Joey Dolbeer and I performed a Rescuers puppet show for our fifth grade class, or when I talked my brother into building a full-sized replica of Medusa's swamp mobile that you could actually ride in (pushed on rolling casters around the backyard.)

Best of all was Evinrude, the turtle-neck-sweatered dragonfly who pushes a leaf boat through the swampy waterways and, like me, was prone to asthma attacks. (It actually took years before I caught on to the joke of his name.) For my eleventh birthday, my mom made a cake in the shape of a tree stump with a tiny Evinrude perched on top, foil wings pressed into a blob of green frosting.

Years have passed, but I can still summon up alarming enthusiasm for Jawas, The Man From Atlantis, and Evinrude.

For instance, yesterday I celebrated another birthday (do the math and you'll find I'm now eleven several times over). My birthday cake, courtesy of Jody and The Alcove in Silverlake, had a faintly familiar thing going on...and I instantly fell into that dreamlike state.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Autopian Paradise

Not long ago I had the opportunity to preview the new  Walt Disney Family Museum opening in San Francisco this fall.   This 1954 prototype Autopia car is a total charmer.  Sporting a deluxe red and silver paint job, cushioned seat, dashboard gages, and sealed beam headlights, the little car is a donation to the museum from Walt's own grandkids.

Designer Bob Gurr's drawing for a 1954 presentation at WED.

The daring young designer himself,  Bob Gurr takes a test spin in one of  two original cars painted like black and white police vehicles in April of 1955.  Most Autopia engines had governors on them to limit speeds to a safe 11 mph, but the two Tomorrowland police cars could travel as fast as 25 mph.  Bob has explained that sometimes the engines in the regular cars could overheat, causing the governors to quit, "and then some lucky kid could really go fast."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Full Tank

More wonderful original artwork for a 1955 newspaper section presenting some of the "many delights and wonders that are yours to enjoy at Disneyland."

Rough Layout

The text for this page:

"Everyone from seven to seventy will thrill to a ride over the Richfield Autopia at Disneyland.  Located in Tomorrowland, the Autopia includes the half-mile modern freeway shown below.  Large enough for adults, the Autopia cars are powered by gasoline engines fueled with New Richfield Ethyl.  

"They are truly fun to drive, yet absolutely safe.  Be sure also to see the exciting, free Richfield Show, "The World Beneath Us," near the Autopia.  Here you'll see a new Walt Disney Studios film in Technicolor and Cinemascope, and the world's most unusual Diorama.

 Final Sketch

"Before you set out for Disneyland, ask your Richfield dealer 
for the colorful, informative Official Disneyland Map.


It shows you the easiest ways to reach Disneyland. It's Free -- compliments of your local Richfield dealer."

Hop in!
Autopia Mark I, 1955

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Fine Art of Marc Davis

Queequeg Pursuing Moby Dick, 1956

There have been some exceptional art shows in Los Angeles this year, and another just opened this week:   "The Fine Art of Marc Davis" at Glendale's Forest Lawn Museum.

Horses Seeing Red, 1950
From the creative mind that conjured  Tinker Bell and Maleficent, come these fabulous images in oil, charcoal, acrylics and watercolor.
1956 Romance
According to his widow Alice, Marc would come home from the Disney studio in the evening, relax in front of the television, and work on his projects.  While watching football, boxing or a rodeo, Marc would sketch nature, harlequins, bullfighters, mythological creatures and abstracts.
Marc's Tree, 1958
The exhibit also contains a few of his beautiful sculptural pieces, including a Roman helmet made of wire, which I am particularly obsessed with.  It was just another side of this remarkable talent.

The exhibit runs through July 26, and it's FREE ...and so is parking.