Friday, December 30, 2005

Walt Disney: Terror Master

In my continuing effort to point the NSA at the real threats to our national security, I propose the following question:

What is it about Disneyland that inspires terrorists?

Everyone agrees that Osama Bin Laden doesn’t actually bomb anyone….but he is the inspiration for multitudes. Walt Disney and Osama have more in common than the NSA knows.

Our friend Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping ( ) has just completed his US tour….by getting arrested at Disneyland in Anaheim, accompanied by his choir.

On Christmas, no less.

Here are Sister Marianne's notes:

The Church ended its Tour in one of America’s most ironic and twisted entities.
On Christmas morning we set out for the High Temple of Sweatshop Retail (15,000 sweatshop suppliers). We have been to Disney stores before, but that was small potatoes compared to being in Disney’s Mothership.
We stealthily entered the park in five separate groups of choir members and crew. With our robes in our bags, we maneuvered through the park without consequence.
With timely precision we processed to our designated location: Main Street. I gazed at the Disney Castle looming in the background as my group mellifluously blended with the others, all converging upon Main Street where we would meet Reverend Billy.
We paraded down Main Street joyfully singing "Stop Shopping," "Convenience," and "What Would Jesus Buy." While we sang I believe I heard an announcement stating that our group was NOT the Disney Parade.
Reverend Billy vociferously preached about the REAL Magic Kingdom, imploring our audience to envision a world without sweatshops, without towns in peril, and without a product-filled Christmas.
Before long the guards surrounded the Reverend and pulled him away. The choir followed for as long as we could until the guards told us to stop singing and stay where we were.
Eventually we were all brought behind the scenes of this Disney stage and held while the Disney authorities decided what to do with us.
We were held for just under an hour. The Rev was arrested and the names, addresses, phone numbers, age, and physical descriptions of each choir and crew member were taken. The police explained that we had caused a disturbance on private property and therefore would be asked to leave the park immediately. Our hands were all stamped with some kind of marker that would apparently set something off if we tried to enter the park again within the next week. If we tried to enter the park again that day, we would be arrested for trespassing.
The Rev was released at about 9 p.m. As he left the police station he was met by a lovely candle-lit ceremony we held for him outside. We were all very thankful.
Last night as I sat and wrote out the day’s events from our deserted hotel lobby I thought, "What a strange Christmas!" But as Rev Billy says, sometimes we must get a little strange in order to make a change. We must break out of the patterns that have been prescribed for us and not BY us. We must do this so that we ensure the authenticity of everything we do and preserve our rights in a time when they are disappearing.
Life is not supposed to be like a product that was mass-produced on an assembly line. It is not supposed to be a dull, predictable meal that you get at a fast food restaurant. It is not supposed to be lived under the fluorescent lights of a big box store, where individuals have limited rights and are valued only as consumers. Life is supposed to be unpredictable, unique, creative, and…LIVED.
As the Rev says, we must stop shopping and start living.
Can I get a Change-Aliuia, brothers and sisters?
Sister Marianne

Getting arrested in Disneyland is old-school. I cut my terror-teeth with Uncle Walt myself. I think the count is one arrest and three successful ecape-and-evasions.

I grew up (well, physically…..) a few blocks from Disneyland. I actually remember opening day. Yeesh...old age. I was a good little boy….I even tried out for the ultimate summer job: being Tom Sawyer on Tom Sawyer’s island.

Until one fateful day: Roger, the high school kid across the street, gave my buddy and I a dollar to dive into the submarine tank and swim a note over to the mermaid. Respect for elders, right? We were twelve, he was sixteen. We got to the mermaid (a high-school girl Roger fancied), but there was no escaping the Cavalry (literally, the Cavalry were the cops, complete with F-Troop uniforms). We were frog marched to security, booked, lectured and banned for the summer. The crowning indignity was that the goody-two-shoes creep who DID win the Tom Sawyer job stood there gloating at us ......with his painted-on freckles..... as we got tossed.

Now we were mad. We snuck back in over the wire immediately. Since we were already wet, we waded and swam out to Tom Sawyer’s Island. We crept through the Indian Village to the mouth of Injun Joe’s cave. When the coast was clear we grabbed two sticks and sprinted into the cave, smashing light fixtures as we went. With the cave filled with screaming tourists, we grabbed two empty popcorn containers, filled them with river muck and dumped them down the cave ventilators that they disguise as rocks. We hid in the labyrinth till the Cavalry came, then slipped around to the Landing. Sure enough, there was "Tom", the prick. We grabbed him, slammed him into a utility closet and locked the door from the outside. We jumped on the next raft back to the mainland, innocent as apple pie, and headed for more trouble.

At that time they still had the mine-train ride. Tourists would sit in the open cars and marvel at geysers, bubbling hot springs, Indian attacks, precarious balancing rocks and such…..all triggered by pressure switches on the tracks. We crept up the berm behind the Carnation ice cream stand into the ride proper. We hid in one of the caves, and took turns hanging onto the back of the mountain lion there. When the train hit the switch on the track, the mountain lion shot out of the cave on a catapult, to growl at the tourists….complete with sopping, grinning twelve year old, hanging on for dear life.

A couple of turns each, and the Cavalry was on to us. There was chaos in Frontierland by now. Pissed off tourists, Cavalry everywhere. Back to the bushes, hide in the rushes of the nasty ‘river’….where no sensible adult would ever go, especially one dressed in Cavalry blues. We waited until dark, then “Bye, bye, Disneyland.”

It turns out that we moved away that summer, so I never got back in until years later. We were touring the US one summer on motorcycles…..Nortons, not Harleys. Still, we were burned black, and I had long enough hair that they thought I was a girl. (Long hair was banned, and only uniformed soldiers and sailors were allowed to dance at the Park concerts. This was the height of the Vietnam War.) Still, all of us got in, except Peter….our straightest buddy, later to become a doctor. His pants were torn, you see.

What to do? I repaired to the nearest men’s room, handed out my Levis to Frank, who got his hand stamped and went back out of the park. Peter put on my pants, and…….They still would not let him in! Apparently even OWNING a pair of jeans with a tear in the knee was politically uncool. They also would not let Frank back in.

By now the Cavalry had figured out that there was a biker in the park with no pants, and a massive search ensued. Meanwhile, I was trapped in a stall on Main Street. No graffiti in Disneyland to entertain. At one point a little kid came and stood in front of my stall. Daddy hadn’t told him to go into ANY stall, so he stood there dancing from foot to foot for a while. "Psssst! Kid! Use the next stall! Go away!"

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew went to buy pants at the Pendleton outlet. Too late. The Cavalry were standing at the registers, waiting…..

The doors crashed open and I saw Cavalry boots stomp through the rest room. Luckily, they were too uptight to check the stalls. As soon as they left, I pulled on my Levi jacket upside down, with my legs through the arms. It buttoned almost to my crotch. I asked one of the dads washing his hands: “Does this look indecent?” He sprinted from the bathroom.

I waddled outside and sat on a bench next to Jane, and we opened up a big Park map. Just then a squad of Cavalry, accompanied by my dad friend, came crashing into the mens’ room. This time they kicked open the stalls….you could here the doors crashing against the walls, and little kids screaming.

By some Irish blarney miracle, Frank had talked his way in. He put my pants on underneath his, and allowed the Cavalry to pat him down and search his stuff. Moments after the Cavalry left the bathroom, we went in, shared a broken stall…..and emerged transformed.

Victory over The Oppressor! Walt Disney is my Osama. Thanks for setting me on the Right Path.....


Blogger Brian said...

Ah yes, I remember it well. Call it Fear and Loathing in Disneyland. But then the crowd at Disneyland made it all worthwhile. A much stranger lot than the Vegas touristas and gamblers we encountered later on our trip but not quite as thrilling as the Sioux in South Dakota.

7:02 PM  

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