I was born in 1966, the year Walt Disney passed away. He would’ve been 110 this week. I’m too young to have had a first-hand memory of him. In fact, I didn’t even know Disney was a man until late in my childhood. Disney was a place (Disneyland) and it made cartoons (Mickey Mouse) and it made movies (Snow White). I later learned that Disney was a person and not a swirling entity defined by Disneyland, Mickey Mouse and Snow White. Or so I thought.
As childhood slipped away, I clung to it through the discovery of Walt’s entire catalog of animated content. Even the earliest nightmare I can remember having was my family’s Toyota driving past me on a New York city street with Mowgli from “The Jungle Book” sitting where I belonged behind my parents. As I got older I became enamored with Fantasia and all of its psychadelia in the revival houses of Greenwich Village. Even as an adult, I am caught in the guts whenever I see Dumbo cradled in the trunk of his caged mother, no doubt accessing repressed pain through emotional back channels to when I lost my own mother as a kid.