Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Birthday - And Earth Day!

To paraphrase my good friend Bill Shakespeare - "What's in a date? That which we call a birthday by any other name would smell as sweet." Okay, maybe that's a stretch, but today, April 22nd, has different meanings to different people.

To the Prius-driving, granola-crunching, tree-hugging, birkenstock-wearing, carbon-footprint-reducing, Al Gore-loving crowd, today is Earth Day, founded more or less on this day in 1970(thanks, Wikipedia!). I really appreciate all the environmentalists who observe this day so I don't have to. I've never looked good in earth tones myself.

To my teenage son, whose brain may be filled with more useless trivia than mine, today is Vladimir Lenin's birthday. I would be worried about Brad becoming a dirty red commie, except that I know he doesn't share stuff very easily, and I just don't see socialism working out very well for him!

For me, today marks the tenth anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World's fourth theme park, Disney's Animal Kingdom. I remember it well, because it was the first Disney park opening I had ever covered as a reporter, and I would not have missed it for the world. Robin was a little nervous to see me go, because our youngest son, Spencer, was just two months old, but she also knew that was not going to stop me. I remember they held the opening ceremonies in the Animal Kingdom parking lot... there was a lot of African-themed dancing, and the big highlight of the event came when a bald eagle came swooping in and landed on the arm of his trainer right on cue with the musical crescendo at the end of "Circle of Life".

I have covered literally dozens of Disney media events as a reporter, from the openings of the Disney Cruise Line and the Disney Institute to Walt's 100th birthday and the Year of a Million Dreams. I used to take them for granted, but now that my access to those kind of events has been dashed in my current state of unemployment, I have a real appreciation for those days! For a Disney fan, getting to see Roy Disney rededicate Walt Disney World on its 25th birthday in person, or to ride "Expedition:Everest" on its official opening day - those really were "dreams come true".

When I lost my job at WMAL, it wasn't the loss of income - it was the loss of this kind of access that bothered my son, Spencer, the most. He said, "But Dad - you'll no longer be 'John Matthews'" - an allusion to a family joke about my former "superpower" ability to gain backstage access to Disney events. Don't worry Spence - hopefully Dad will be "John Matthews" again someday soon... Until then, Clark Kent wants you to clean up the basement!


Julie Matthews Burnette said...
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Dr. Obnoxious, PhD said...

But I'd be the ruthless dictator, and I'd own everything.

The crazy hippies support me- they ARE Communists (Just Kidding...). I mean, why would they put Earth Day on the day that Lenin, the great Commie, was born? Its a conspiracy.

Oh, and who posted teh delete comment? And what did it say?