Wednesday, January 11, 2012

[230] A Dreamland Path to Kim Dietch

Un post basado solo en curiosidades.  Como correlacionamos temas sin sentido y de repente llegamos a una conclusion interesante.  Comencemos por el principio, con todo el hype de Peter Jackson y su nueva version de The Hobbit de JRR Tolkien.

Bueno.  Simplemente digamos que por cumplir con un contrato se exhibio una version sumamente abreviada del libro en 1966.  Gene Dietrich, director de varios cortos de Tom y Jerry y de producciones de Terrytoons y UPA, entro en este proyecto.  Gene aparenta haber hecho maravillas en hacer una pelicula para cumplir un compromiso en menos de 30 dias y con un presupuesto infimo.

Cartoon Brew posteo el corto en linea:
A long-lost version of The Hobbit by animation legend Gene Deitch has resurfaced online in the past few days. Why did Gene produce this 12-minute “animatic” version instead of the feature-length version he’d originally planned with Jiří Trnka? Why did he have just one month to produce it? Why has nobody ever seen it? The crazy circumstances that led to the production are revealed in this piece that Gene wrote on his website. In short, the film was a financial ploy by Deitch’s producer William L. Snyder to earn himself a nice chunk of change.
knew my screen story line by heart, so I just had to put it through a mind-shredder, and wrote a sort of synopsis, with a few key lines of dialog scattered throughout. I called on close friend, brilliant Czech illustrator, Adolf Born, well known even then, and now the premier book illustrator. We managed to work out a simple storyboard. Adolf came up with a paper cutout scheme, and I worked out some multiple-exposure visual effects and scene continuity. We worked directly under the camera to shoot it. I got an American friend here, Herb Lass, who worked as a broadcaster for the Czechoslovak Radio’s English language transmissions, to come up to our apartment and record the narration. I borrowed a tape of dramatic movie music from a composer friend, Václav Lidl, which I quickly extracted and cut together, also at home. It was no problem with music rights, as I could assure him that the film would never actually be distributed, but would be – sadly – a mere decoy.
I love to see my name as director on the screen credits of my films, but I modestly refrained this time. I did not want my name on such a chopped down version of my script, even though, thanks to Born, the film looked amazingly good.
We actually managed to get it shot and out of the lab in time, (without bribes, but with Zdenka’s usual brand of irresistable-object techniques), and I arranged for my New York air ticket. I arrived with the rough answer print on June 29th. Snyder had already booked a small projection room in midtown Manhattan. After a quick test screening – and Snyder was duly impressed – I ran downstairs and stopped people on the sidewalk, asking them if they would like to see a preview of a new animated film, for only 10¢ admission. I handed each willing customer a dime, which they handed back. After the screening, the few, puzzled audience members were asked to sign a paper stating that on this day of June 31, 1966, they had paid admission to see the full-color animated film, THE HOBBIT!”
Thus Snyder’s film rights to the entire J.R.R. Tolkien library were legally extended, and he was immediately able to sell them back for nearly $100,000. (Remember, this was 1966). My share of this weazled boodle was – you guessed it – zip.
You've probably never heard of Gene Deitch, but you were likely exposed to his work at a young age. The American illustrator based in Prague produced episodes for the "Tom and Jerry" and "Popeye" throughout the 60s, during a time where the productions were being partially outsourced to Prague. Deitch's films for the series have been called the worst of the lot, but Deitch attributes that to his Czech style, which "had nothing in common with these gag-driven cartoons."

Contrallacion.  Ojala yo pudiese tirar un betunazo asi...Se hicieron milagros con poco presupuesto (y tiempo).  Relacionado, el hijo de Gene Deitch es Kim Deitch, caricaturista conocido, mas de el en un rato...

Luego de esta historia leo un articulo que publico BLDG BLOG hoy.  Tesoros acuaticos de la ciudad de Nueva York.  Algo parecido a lo que hice en Carraizo...

submarine treasures of new york

Going through old links this morning, I found a story originally published in New York Magazine back in 2009 about the waters of New York City—a maritime metropolis that, many forget, is also an archipelago.

"What, exactly, is down there?" the magazine asked, looking out at the urban waters. "For starters, a 350-foot steamship, 1,600 bars of silver, a freight train, and four-foot-long cement-eating worms." There are also the now submerged ruins of "Coney Island’s great early theme parks," discarded in the waters after the fun ran out.

Dreamland...Coney Island...NY Mag...tenia que investigar.  Recuedan el dark train de Dante's Inferno de Astroland?  Este es viejito:
El articulo de las cosas escondidas bajo las aguas del archipielago de Nueva York es sumamente interesante, denle una vuelta.  Una vez mas mencionan a Dreamland.
28. The Last Remnants of Dreamland
One of Coney Island’s great early theme parks, Dreamland existed for only a few years before it burned down in 1911. Nothing survives of it aboveground, but a group that Speregen co-founded, called Cultural Research Divers, found the lampposts underwater, melted and deformed from the fire.

El gran fuego de 1911...un poco de historia aqui:
On the night before opening day [for the 2011 season], a concession called Hell Gate, in which visitors took a boat ride on rushing waters through dim caverns, was undergoing last-minute repairs by a roofing company owned by Samuel Engelstein. A leak had to be caulked with tar. During these repairs, at about 1:30 in the morning on Saturday, May 27, 1911, the light bulbs that illuminated the operations began to explode, perhaps because of an electrical malfunction. In the darkness, a worker kicked over a bucket of hot pitch, and soon Hell Gate was in flames.
The fire quickly spread throughout the park. The buildings were made of frames of lath (thin strips of wood) covered with staff (a moldable mixture of plaster of Paris and hemp fiber). Both materials were highly flammable, and as they were common in the Coney Island amusement parks, fires were a persistent problem there. Because of this, a new high-pressure water pumping station had been constructed at Twelfth Street and Neptune Avenue a few years earlier. But on this night it failed. Water was available, but not enough to contain the fire before it enveloped Dreamland.
Chaos broke loose as the park burned. As the one-armed Captain Bonavita strove to save his big cats with only the swiftly encroaching flames for illumination, some of the terrified animals escaped. A lion named Black Prince rushed into the streets, among crowds of onlookers, and was shot by police. By morning, the fire was out, and Dreamland was reduced to a soggy, smoldering mess.
Dreamland's Trained Wild Animal Arena with Colonel Joseph G. Ferari in 1911
Dreamland's Trained Wild Animal Arena with Colonel Joseph G. Ferari in 1911
In the century since this horrifying accident, several preservation forces for all Coney and sideshow-related history have emerged. In keeping with this mission, The Great Coney Island Spectacularium have been “hard at work with our team of distinguished collaborators attempting to finish The Cosmorama of the Great Dreamland Fire, a 360 degree immersive spectacle in the style of the mighty cycloramas of the 19th Century” (
Interesante, tenia que conseguir algo del parque y tropece con Midgetville.  Algo del tema aqui:

Dreamland, the early Coney Island and Midgetville
While none of Dreamland's owners were of show business background, they were fortunate to obtain the services of Samuel Gumpertz, a successful show business prodigy from Missouri. He was born in 1868 in Washington D.C. to Herman and Elizabeth Gumpertz. His father, who was a Civil War veteran and lawyer, soon moved his family to St. Louis. When the Montgomery and Queens Circus came to town when he was nine, he fulfilled his dream of joining the big top by running away from home. He won his first job by walking on his hands and doing flip-flops. He became so adept, that when the Jackley family of acrobats lost a "top mounter" they hired young Sam at $3.00 per week to fill the spot. However, his acrobat career was short lived when one day he did a double somersault from the top of the human pyramid and landed on his head on the sawdust below.

He returned home and resumed school, but three years later when his family moved to San Francisco, Sam became an actor. He performed children's roles at the Tivoli Opera House, but when his voice changed at age fifteen, he was demoted to an usher. With hurt pride, he traveled to Texas to become a cowboy and worked three years on a ranch. When Buffalo Bill Cody's show played in nearby Abilene, the lure was too great. He joined the show as a candy butcher, but later performed in the ring as a member of Buffalo Bill's famous Congress of Rough Riders of all Nations.

From 1893 to 1897 Gumpertz ran two theaters and four amusement parks in St. Louis. He produced a series of Shakespeare plays, managed Shadow the Strongman and was Harry Houndi's first manager. Then from 1897 to 1903 he operated a chain of 17 theaters for Colonel John D. Hopkins who he met while working for Buffalo Bill.

Gumpertz brought his theatrical and circus background to Dreamland. He proposed one of Coney Island's most unusual attractions, a miniature village for hundreds of midgets to live in and entertain the paying public. It was his love of the circus that convinced Bostock to combine his American and European trained animal shows and perform with them in a permanent arena during Coney's summer season. And he recruited other circus acts to perform in a ring at the center of Dreamland's lagoon.

Dreamland, when it opened on a rainy foggy Saturday at 4 P.M. (three hours late) to a crowd of 135,000 enthusiastic visitors, was certainly bigger and bolder, but not necessarily better than Luna Park. The owners intended that their park show the unappreciated public, beauty and grandeur in its architecture, but the public found it stilted. Since it was located on the sea, Dreamland was planned around an actual inlet of the Atlantic and had its two piers jutting into the sea. Visitors for 35 cents including admission (30 cents on weekdays) could arrive by steamship from terminals in Manhattan at the Battery, 23rd Street and Harlem. Elaborate amusement structures with gaudy facades painted virgin white fronted on broad promenades surrounding a horseshoe shaped lagoon. At the inland end the 375 foot Beacon Tower, pure white with 100,000 lights, dwarfed Luna's multi-colored forest of spires and towers.

Habia leido en una antologia una historia de Kim Dietch donde encontro a Midgetville

el link es raro asi que incluyo texto

midgetvilleONCE THE ROAD TURNED YELLOW, we knew it was going to be a weird day. Our search for the fabled, often sought after town of Midgetville brings us to this year's site somewhere in northern New Jersey.

Here, our normal sized friend inspects the tiny houses in a community we believe may be the town that everyone and their brother has been to, but can never remember how to get there.

Although we cannot be sure this is the property once belonging to the Ringling Company, we can attest to the fact that these homes come complete with four-foot doors and undersized windows.

Is this Midgetville? One of our informants told us there was a tiny Victorian castle in Midgetville, but we didn't find one here. The stop signs weren't three feet tall either.

Unfortunately, there was no one around to confirm this site as being the real Midgetville, so we're keeping it logged in the database and we're off to another lead on tracking this elusive community. But if you must tell your friends where you vacationed this year, tell 'em you visited Midgetville . . . in Weird, NJ.

After a crazy night of drinking and skiing, my friends and I had the great idea to check out Midgetville. We heard that if you go there at around 2 it’s awesome, so we said “What the hell?” So we’re driving down that stretch of road, when out of nowhere we see this midget walking across the street. We were bugging out. We had heard the stories about Midgetville, but never believed them. Me and my friends were going nuts. None of us knew what to do. Some drunken teenager in the back yelled out “MIDGET.”

The lil’ guy saw us, then ran onto this back road. We turned down the road, but no midget - all we saw was woods. We went up and down this small stretch for about 25 minutes and saw no trace of the midget. We never found any houses or small stop signs but ever since then we all now believe in Midgetville. We always cruise on down that road now, hoping to come in contact with another one of the infamous lil’ people.
- Mike K.

I don't know if any "little people" lived there when you guys visited, but recently I visited this small place and there were many, many little people there. I was driving by and I heard bangs as I saw a few dwarves and I thought they were throwing cans at my car. When I got out to check the damage, it was much more than I had expected. What I found was 9 bulletholes on the passenger’s side of my brand new car. I went to the police and asked them about this. They told me that I wasn't supposed to be down there, and that any car without a permit to enter that did, was shot at. The "little people" apparently have the right to shoot at you from the waist down.
- Jessica M.
WNJ Readers Write In About Midgetville:
Midgetville was on River Road before the GWB. The houses were small and the stop signs small. They were cottages and still exist, although no midgets lived there. It was a rumor spread to keep people out of this exclusive area, even though we always wound up there at 5am after a drunken night.
- Steve D.
One of the Ringling Bros. had an estate in Morris Township. I found out about this when we visited the very elaborate Ringling Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. I think they even mentioned people from the circus staying on the estate. I had driven past it a few times but never investigated further.
- Mark R.
My brother visited the house called Midgetville. It was built to the size scale of a pair of height challenged folk who had made a great deal of money in motion pictures way back when. Supposedly the house looks no different from the outside. After the house was sold, the small scale interior was left intact, but the floors were dropped to provide head room for the average height occupants. My brother is going to contact the person who took him there many years ago.
- Renee M.
WARNING: Due to a rash of late night disturbances in this neighborhood there is now an increased police presence and those who are caught breaking the law are subject to fines, arrest and prosecution. We urge readers to respect the privacy, property and peace of the residents living along this road and in nearby communities. – Weird NJ
The only thing the people of Midgetville want printed about their block is this: There are no midgets here, only midgetized houses.
The people are of normal size, but what has become colossal is the Midgetville myth: That Norwood Terrace, a short residential block along the Passaic River about 15 miles west of Midtown Manhattan, is inhabited by little people.
In the early 1900's, when the river was clean, this was a breezy resort area lined with summer bungalows. Now the river is polluted and most of the 20 bungalows have become full-time homes, many of them enlarged. About half the houses here remain the size of a mobile home, which has apparently given way to the local legend that this is a land of Lilliputians.
Late at night, several times a week, young people full of beer come in carloads to carouse. Some zip through with headlights off and car horns on. Sometimes the convoys troll through with hood-surfing teens screaming obscenity-laced commands for the midgets to wake up and show themselves. When the midgets don't show, the revelers may throw bottles or eggs at front doors, or knock on windows and ring doorbells to ask or scream for the midgets.

Kim Deitch and Alias the Cat
Anyway, after receiving this beat-up, well-worn and OLD Cat Suit in the mail, Kim and Pam get curious as to where itt came from. Some lucky diggin’ through old papers reveals the origin of the suit; Turns out that the suit was both a movie prop and worn by a real life superhero, or somethin’ close to it. (He’s the dude we see on the cover.) Deitch spends most of this chapter researching the history of the suit, digging through old papers, simultaneously following a comic strip adaptation of the movie serial Alias the Cat, and also finding strange parallels between the strip and actual events.
We’ve moved staunchly into fantasy here, (probably. Almost certainly.) still exceptionally true-to-life and believable fantasy, with a bunch of acutely observed details to ground it. Deitch brings a really keen understanding of the early 20th century to bear, slippin’ in a concise history of early American cinema without ever dropping the threads of the plot. And the poor Cat-cowled superhero… /but no. I’m trying to keep the backstory spoiler free. I WILL say that “Alias the Cat” applies to more than one character, because while we never SEE Waldo in this chapter, there’s a mysterious, off-screen figure handin’ out Cat Suits to wanna-be vigilantes…

WEISSGARDEN Fully Anti-Terror secured State of the Art Gated Community.
And Deitch is here to watch the abandoned city, supposedly the site of “Alias the Cat’s” unhappy adventures, in it’s death throws. There’s another major plot concerns a hidden cache of munitions built by amoral war profiteers in WW I that tie into a homegrown terrorist attack on the Big Apple today… But all that feels beside the point. You get the sense that the story started before the book did, and will continue after we’re gone. For all of Kim Deitch’s… or the narrators… or who-the-hell-ever’s…. attempts to unearth and connect with history, he ends up being almost completely irrelevant to the overall plot. History just sweeps right over him… Until the end, where he’s newly released from the asylum, an’ he gives us a wink and a nod, and gets to work drawing, a world he finally – on the last page- confesses is “Half Remebered, Half Imagined.”
And, sure, the Stuff Of Dreams is part of it all. There’s a cache of terrifying statues carved by the chief architect of Midgetville (and part time mad bomber), there’s the whirring, clanking, flashing scale model of WEISGARDEN, and there’s the town itself… Midgetville was a tourist attraction, where out-of-towners would come to watch the townies dress up as elves as they worked, but, as Waldo tells us
“BUT RIGHT UNDER THEIR NOSES [Mr.] Beckendorf was running those midgets ragged. Damn few lasted more than a couple of years.”

Which is really just another secret history.
There’s an ironic contrast here between the poor Midgetvillians being worked to death square in the public eye and the way the book ends with Deitch/the narrator at the drawing table, enthusing that he can recreate the world HIS way,
“A wonderful place, where midgets make bread softer than the pillow you lay your weary head on at night.”!

Gosh!  Les dejo el maraton aqui.  Ahora mas que nunca tengo que leer esa historia de nuevo.  Todo esto por un corto de The Hobbit y mu/nequitos de Tom and Jerry subsidiados a los checos.  CHURN OUT!


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