Friday, May 27, 2011

Treasure Island, e-books, The Carolwood Pacific Railroad & David Mickey's Sandlot Bar & Grill

Dear Reader,

What do my slip covered Folio Society edition of Treasure Island, complete with the wondrous original Andrew Wyeth illustrations, e-books, Walt Disney's original backyard railroad the Carolwood Pacific, and David Mickey's Sandlot Bar & Grill have in common?

Absolutely nothing.  And everything.  Sort of...

Let's talk about books first.  I love books.  The way they look, the way they feel and what they represent, but mostly because of what they actually are: the repository of the sum total of all human experience.  There are those that make the argument that books are dead, that the internet is not only quickly becoming, but already has become the sole repository for the sum total of human knowledge and experience -- the modern day library of Alexandria or indeed that of Atlantis -- but can you touch it?  Sure you can see it, interact with it, maybe even in 3D, but can you feel it?  Can you smell it?  Can you actually feel the author's dramatic intent?  In other words a book is much more than the sum of it's raw materials parts.  As you turn the pages, as the story unfolds in your hands, the author, the storyteller is actually there with you, speaking to you, telling you the story.  On the internet, e-books, in other words, it unfolds before your eyes certainly, but not in your hands.  No, not even with a Kindle or a Nook.  Books are paper, letters in ink on pages your can touch.  E-books are not books.  They're digital representations of books in two dimensions.  Virtual books, but certainly not virtually books.

Now, having said that, I recently downloaded Kindle for Mac and bought my first e-book.  It's very very cool.  And I like it fine.  Really cool functions like book marking, the ability to jump instantly to anywhere in the material, etc...  But it's all removed from you the human.  It's there alright, all the information and words and the material, but think of it like this, do this little experiment, google "Chauvet Caves Southern France."

The cave paintings in Chauvet are the oldest known pictorial, that is to say "story," creations of humankind.  Now look at those drawings on your computer screen.  Neat, huh?  Now, get on a plane and go to The Chauvet Caves in Southern France and stand there are stare at the real thing on the cave walls.  Neat, huh?  No, it's transcendent.  It's astonishing.  It puts you in direct communication with who you are and where you came from and even give you some sense of why.

That's what books do.  That's why books exist.  That's why I love books.

So the point of all that is this, story.  Story matters.  If there is a single word to which the sum of human existence and experience can be reduced it is "story."  Story is memory.  Story is imagination.  Story is history.  Story is the who, what, where, when, how and why of all of us.

I look at the Chauvet cave paintings and I ask myself, "Why did this person, or people, 30,000 years ago feel the need to put those pictures there?  Those stories?"  Know what I think?  I think he/she they created it for a reason that is perhaps the single connective piece of sinew binding all of us, every human that has ever lived, lives or will live... and it is this...

... they did not want to be forgotten.

Our stories -- and every one of us has a story both unique and the same all at once -- are all we are.  I do not want to be forgotten.  Do you?

Yes, story matters.

So what do this have to do with Walt Disney's Carolwood Pacific backyard railroad and David Mickey's Sandlot Bar & Grill?  Well, story.  Disney's small scale fascination with miniature steam locomotives lead directly to a large scale kingdom.  Disneyland is the single greatest piece of architecture in the history of humankind.  It's form and it's function are perfectly integrated.  Why?  How did he do that?  Story.  He said a million times during the planning and building phases of the Magic Kingdom, make sure the story comes through.  It was his underlying principle to the entire idea.  It had never been done before, or had it?  Certainly not within the context of an amusement park, but obviously in movies, in books.  Yes, books.  Disneyland and Walt Disney World are books architecturally.  They are, like books, story made actual.  Story made to exist in the dimensions beyond the spoken word.

That's what I want to do with a bar and grill.  I have every meaningful prop and memorabilia from every movie I have ever directed. My little dream is to display it all within a Bar and Grill and theme the entire place loosely around baseball - more specifically The Sandlot.  Maybe with batting cages out back.  A monitors playing my movies.  Sell t-shits, caps, books, autographed stuff... sound egomaniacal?  On the contrary,  there's two reasons I want to have a place of my own like this where everybody can come and enjoy.

Because it's fun.

And because I don't want to be forgotten.

Scribes in ancient Egypt knew they were as important as great men and pharaohs; their writings could triumph over death, as in this elegy from a 19th-dynasty papyrus of about 1300 B.C.:

Be a scribe! Put it in you heart,
that your name shall exist like theirs!
The roll is more excellent than the carved stela.

A man has perished: his corpse is dust,
and his people have passed from the land;
it is a book which makes him remembered
in the mouth of the speaker.

So every time I think the task is too daunting, I look at Disneyland and Walt Disney World and, realizing  that "one guy" did that, just one man out of his own mind, I say to myself, "Shut up, Dave.  Just shut up and tell your story."

Thanks for reading and check back soon.

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