Culture

Anaheim Journal

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo: Joshua Rainey/Dreamstime)
Baseball, DECA, Disney, and more

Anaheim, Calif., is the home of Disneyland, of course. It is also the home of a Major League Baseball franchise. What are they now?

They started out as the Los Angeles Angels. Then they became the California Angels. And then the Anaheim Angels. And now they are — drumroll, please — the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

That is a rebranding odyssey. And they’ve remained angelic all through it. In fact, there is a book about the franchise called “Under the Halo.”

‐It’s hard to think of people living in Anaheim. You think of it as a place that people come to, in order to visit Disneyland. But of course people live here — some 335,000 of them.

I have a friend who grew up in Anaheim. He sometimes calls himself a “Disneyland Republican.” Why? Well, when he was growing up, he liked to go to Disneyland because it was clean, safe, and fun. There were rules — but there was also fun. Indeed, there was fun because there were rules. Disneyland, he saw, was an atmosphere of ordered liberty.

He was struck by the contrast between this and Knott’s Berry Farm, several miles away. There, you sensed danger, with gangs and the like. Knott’s Berry Farm was not well policed. You were better off at Disneyland.

Funny how people come to the views they hold. My friend’s early experiences make perfect sense to me.

‐“Anaheim” is a nice name. A peculiar name. Where did it come from? The almighty Wikipedia will tell me. “Anaheim” is a joining of “Ana” and “heim.” “Ana” comes from the nearby Santa Ana River. Heim, in German, means home. The city was founded by German Americans in the middle of the 19th century.

I’ll be danged.

‐Believe it or not, I have not come to Anaheim to visit Disneyland, pleasant as that would be. I have not even come to see an Angels game. I am covering an event for National Review.

That event is the big annual conference of DECA. And what’s DECA? An association that prepares high-school students for careers in business, and for life in general. It is a “point of light,” as the first Bush would say.

I’ll tell you about it in National Review. Then, I’ll have a series of notes here on the website. But I can’t resist saying a couple of things now, seeing as we’re here.

‐DECA’s conference includes competition — business competitions, which test students in a variety of areas. While competing, a student must wear the blazer: a blue blazer with the “DECA” patch on it. That is the uniform, so to speak.

The blazer looks pretty sharp, yes. (I’ve long said that a blue blazer “will cover a multitude of sins.” Bill Buckley practically lived in a blazer. A “blazuh,” he called it.) But the DECA blazer is required because it is an equalizer: Everyone looks the same, more or less. Rich kids, poor kids, and kids in between. The blazer obviates the vexing problem of dress.

So, I have a memory. When he was defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger was invited to Oxford to debate E. P. Thompson, the famed British leftist. Weinberger showed up in black tie, as he had been asked to do. Thompson was in a worn tweed jacket or something.

And, in his opening remarks, Thompson mocked Weinberger for his fancy wear.

I’m going from memory here, but I believe that Weinberger responded, “My father always said that a tuxedo was the most democratic of costumes — because everyone looks the same in it.”

Heh. Nice goin’, Cap.

‐The DECA conference has an Executive Mentor session. My own bad self was in it, as a mentor. They were scraping the bottom of the barrel. Another mentor was Allan Bell, of Atlanta. He did not start out in Atlanta. He started out in Detroit.

In the hard-core ghetto, a difficult place to escape. A difficult place to survive.

Allan was the youngest of 16 children. His mother died when he was ten. His father could not afford to send him to college. Think of the strain on that father, trying to take care of his family.

You’ll never believe this: At twelve, Allan formed a career aspiration. To be an accountant. Yes, an accountant. He was a 4.0 student. He got a scholarship to Butler University in Indianapolis. He went on to Northwestern. Today, he is a CPA.

And he has just started a venture called BizWhizz.org, which aims to introduce young people to the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. Talk about a point of light.

I will talk more about Allan Bell in the future.

‐During the activities of DECA, I have a memory of Bork — a happy memory. A wonderfully peppy organizer has people high-five their neighbor and all. Do little games with their neighbor. Touch them and so on.

Most people, or a lot of people, take to it like a duck to water.

Bob Bork was very uncomfortable with the “sign of peace” in church — shaking hands with your neighbor and whatnot. Oh, man, can I relate.

Heh.

‐A restaurant here in Anaheim advertises chicken and waffles. That is very American. Or is it? Does this tradition, this peculiar combination, come from some other country? I sort of doubt it …

‐Another restaurant advertises “Classic American Comfort Food.” There is no grilled-cheese sandwich on the menu. What the …?

‐There is an Alpine Inn, with snow on the roof and icicles hanging down — right here in Southern California. Cute. (Not in a bad way. I like it.)

‐A shuttle bus from a hotel to Disneyland has this on the side: “It’s not a shuttle bus, it’s a dream machine.”

‐Everywhere, there are mouse ears. Girls wear them, women wear them. They come in much more than the standard black now. They are made from all kinds of materials with various designs.

One mom says to her little girl, “Oh, Melissa, did you leave your ears in the car?”

Bummer.

‐In the lines outside Disneyland, people ask, “Where are you from?” “Utah,” comes one answer. This has the feel of a national reunion. It is certainly a rite, a pilgrimage.

‐May I make an observation? There are a lot of white parents with dark-skinned adopted children. A lot. If America is a racist country — well, would that other countries were as racist …

‐Disneyland is advertised as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” (I once knew an ice-cream parlor whose slogan was “Ice cream is happy food.”) It is pretty damn happy. It is also very, very clean. Practically Singaporean.

Do they cane you if you litter? Cane you with something relatively soft and pleasant?

Years ago, I heard that Walt Disney had a philosophy: Keep the place absolutely spotless. As soon as someone drops a gum wrapper, pick it up. That way, people will not be inclined to litter. They do not litter in pristine places. To litter would be jarring. In dirty places, they might litter freely. Because what difference does it make?

This relates, of course, to the famous “broken windows” theory promulgated by Jimmy Q. (James Q. Wilson) and George Kelling in the early 1980s. If someone breaks a window, don’t leave it unrepaired. If you do, people will sense that there is no authority here. Everything might be permitted.

(Think of your own home, and even your life more broadly. Doesn’t something like the broken-windows theory apply?)

‐Disneyland has an area, a promenade, called “Downtown Disney.” It has restaurants, shops, and the like. You don’t pay to stroll “downtown.” This is an area free of charge. It reminds me of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco — but much nicer.

Ah, San Francisco: one of the most beautiful places ever devised by Nature and man — but marred by (utterly unnecessary) dirtiness.

‐Downtown, here at Disneyland, music plays constantly, through loudspeakers placed just so. It is happy music. Is it cloying? Only occasionally, and only a little. To me, it is a nice accompaniment to the experience — part of it, really.

I’m reminded, listening, how much wonderful music has come out of Disney movies. There is non-Disney music from these loudspeakers, too. I mean, “California Girls” doesn’t spring from Disney, does it? It springs from the Beach Boys.

‐Here is something else that is nice about Disneyland: There are young employees, of course, in their teens. Doing their first jobs, probably. And there are elderly employees as well. They can profit from one another.

‐Up the street from Disneyland, there is a restaurant called “Tru Grits.” What comes next, under the name, I am totally unprepared for: “Modern American Asian Kitchen.”

Really? Okay.

‐Here is something else I’m unprepared for: a Shakey’s Pizza parlor. I knew them when I was a boy. I thought they were gone. But no …

‐Is there anything that doesn’t grow in California? There are flowers and trees and bushes that I am completely unfamiliar with. How the early visitors must have gaped.

‐Tell you something funny about palm trees: Their trunks look fake.

‐There is an adjective, “Disneyesque,” that is often kind of a putdown. At a minimum, it is condescending. It means goody-goody, frou-frou, superficial, and so on. I have sometimes (often) used “Disneyesque” in my music criticism. I might be describing something cinematic, with tinklies and related touches.

But, you know? Disneyesque is good. And it is good to be in Anaheim.

 

A word from the National Review Store: To get Digging In: Further Collected Writings of Jay Nordlinger, go here.

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