Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Writers on the Vine at Palmer Vineyards-Walt Disney author Neil Gabler-July 1, 2007

For the past seven years, Palmer Vineyards in Aquabogue has had a really exceptional series in the summer called "|Writers on the Vine." The idea is fairly simple: An author and moderator (the adroit Larry Davidson) have a casual discussion about the author's work for about an hour and then take questions from the audience (usually about 20-30 people). Finally, there is always opportunities to have the authors sign books available for purchase. The authors are a various bunch (Chris Elliot, Anthony Swofford, etc) and are typically extremely approachable and relaxed. The wonderful setting is no hindrances either. The setting of Palmer is perfect and there wines (many a reasonable 4.00 a glass) are a great decadent treat on a lazy Sunday morning (a personal favorite is the Sunrise-Sunset Blush wine which is a first-rate summer wine).

Most recently, author and commentator Neil Gabler spoke as part of the series and took questions about his recent biography of Walt Disney entitled Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination (Knopf). Mr. Gabler's enthusiasm and encyclopedic knowledge of Disney the man and Disney the corporation was dizzying. Mr. Gabler spoke nearly non-stop for two hours (he could have gone longer) relaying anecdote after anecdote and theorizing about Walt Disney's life and work. The questions from the audience were interesting and often provocative (Was Disney an anti-Semite?, a Racist?, How much did Disney pay attention to work done by other animators and animation studios?-According to Gabler no, probably not and not much). The picture that Gabler paints of Disney is of a flawed man (a genuine control freak who wanted to create a kind of alternate reality which resulted in, among other things, Disneyland and Disney world) who demanded excellence and kept many in the studio off balance with arbitrary firing and hiring practices; who preferred a work of art that elicited an emotional response rather than the years ahead of its time wit and sophistication of the Warner Studios animated work.

When I asked Gabler about my own favorite Disney film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, he ticked off fascinating info about the film such as the fact that the films Director Richard Fleischer was the son of Walt's old animation rival Max Fleischer. When everyone left all were buzzed with the History of Disney (or, maybe it was the Rose).

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I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...


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