Our Friend the Atom

Let me be clear: Walt Disney did not split the atom, or build the bomb, or drop it. It all would have happened without him.  But the A-bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese surrendered, American war industries triumphed, Disney cheered with everyone else – then proceeded to suffer a breakdown, abandon his studio to his brother, immerse himself in flushing out Hollywood Communists, and play with his trains. Months and years passed, with many other projects to preoccupy him, until the vision of Disneylandia (as it was first called) arose, which would celebrate the American past, world fantasy, and – what else? – a future that would not be blown up.

Atomic Bomb -- Disneyland

The great public Nightmare -- The great public Dream

Read More
John FoleyComment
Lost in Mudlin

When I think of Dublin now I first see those astonishing mud flats, spreading far out into Dublin Bay, gleaming in the grey late afternoon, barefoot loiterers here and there, puddles and little inlets everywhere, Howth Head low in the haze beyond, and tiny waders out where you'd think the freighters would be plying. The mud looked so fresh. I had expected this Sandymount strand, of course, where Stephen Dedalus contemplates the ineluctable modality of the visible, and Mr. Bloom later admires Gerty MacDowell's nainsook knickers to the accompaniment of fireworks. I had expected to see two women, one swinging lourdily her midwife's bag, the other's gamp poking in the beach. White thy fambles, red thy gan. But mud flats all along the swerve of shore to the Tower at Sandycove!

Read More
John FoleyComment
A Visit to Szoborpark

After a fascinating trolley and bus ride out of Budapest you will find Szoborpark (in English, Statue Park).

From inattentive reading of our guidebook, and the bright red ad on the standard tourist map, I had expected a large green public park to which the old statues of the Communist era had been hauled for the liberated masses to picnic beneath and let their children climb in pleasant vengeful mockery of the symbols of the dictatorship, now reduced from monsters to clowns.

     Not quite. Far from being a large park in or on the edge of the city, it's miles out of town, in hilly countryside marked by expensive new American-looking suburban homes; it's tiny; and it's surrounded by weeds, wild flowers, and other scrub not yet cleared for the encroaching homes.

Read More
John Foley Comment
LEE HARVEY OSWALD: DEEP CLASSIC AMERICAN HERO

Lee Harvey Oswald is as American as Davy Crockett. If it ever turns out that he was indeed a patsy, that he had nothing to do with the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy, we'll never forgive him. We'll obliterate him. Our outrage at this betrayal will unperson him faster than any of those burn holes in Orwell's 1984.

From the moment of his arrest in a Dallas movie theater at 1:50 p.m. CST, November 22, 1963, Lee Oswald has been less a subject of American history than a creature of American imagination.

Read More
ESSAYSJohn FoleyComment