We call my friend Becky the Angel of Death. When celebrity or other person of interest dies, I can always count on her as the bearer of the sad tidings. I don’t know what websites she frequents, or what Google alerts she gets, or what inside man at Cedars Sinai she’s got– someone dies, I hear it from her first.
When I got word from Death’s Assistant that beloved author Ray Bradbury passed away, I was with my boyfriend. I told him the news, and his response surprised me:
“What a wonderful life he had!”
Classic Michael. I was ready to beat my fists against Mr. Bradbury’s coffin like a Sicilian grandmother, and this boy had the gall to celebrate the life of a 91-year-old icon instead of shaking his fist at the moon like the rest of us.
Of course, he’s right. The man was undeniably cherished by everyone. Principally known as a science fiction author, Mr. Bradbury achieved a miracle in that genre: believing in humanity. Even in his dystopias like Fahrenheit 451 or The Martian Chronicles, he places a high premium on the human heart. To Mr. Bradbury, even in a challenging future world, it wasn’t all bleak.
This brings to my favorite of all of his works, the design of Spaceship Earth in Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center.
Ray Bradbury was a longtime friend of Disney himself, and so he was naturally one of the great minds involved in the realization of it. EPCOT didn’t exist until 1982, but it held a giant space of real estate in the mind of Walt the years before his death in 1966.
EPCOT gets a lot of chatter about being “the boring park” or “being very dated,” but I continue to have a fascination and love for it and what it stands for. EPCOT wasn’t supposed to be a theme park; it was supposed to be a city: EPCOT City.
A city where people would work and live out their days in what Disney called a “living blueprint of the future.” It was supposed to be a city that “exists in a state of constant becoming”; A vibrant new design in which Disney hoped to seek new cures for old cities’ old ills by luring in the best innovators in the world.
However, Disney pitched this very American idea. When he spoke about EPCOT City being a showcase to the world of the ingenuity of American free enterprise, I got a swell of pride at the word American that I thought Fox News had all but snuffed out.
I won’t belabor on details about the bold imagination included in the design. Just watch this three-part video Disney made prior to Disney World’s opening, exclusively for the Florida legislature in order to obtain self-governing rights over Disney World. Anyway, give it a watch when you have half an hour. I promise it’s worth it:
What a fabulous dream. I wish my eyes could see it. Ray Bradbury of course had a hand in a project that explored, challenged and showcased the best of what people are capable of creating from nothing.
We need more dreamers like Bradbury. There’s so much left to explore.