Shafer Hall is the best. The best poet, the best person, the best bartender, and the best friend. Also, not to narcissistic about it, but due to his careful tutelage and encouragement he is the reason I and many others are writers today. His tremendous first collection of poetry, Never Cry Woof, is available from No Tell Books (notellbooks.org.) He is the author of chapbooks Fishing Season with John Cotter, Big Confetti with Shanna Compton, and Villanelles Are Retarded with Maureen Thorson. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Indiana Review, Octopus, Eyeshot, and others. And as you can see from his photo, he is a very handsome fellow, and also and important spiritual leader and dictator.
Here he completes the first of what will be several interviews this week, as several poets face interrogation by the House Un-American Activities Committee (better known as HUAC). Shafer has kindly channelled Mr. Walt Disney in this line of questioning, first posed by the Committee on October 20, 1947.
1. Will you state your full name and present address, please?
Walt Disney. The Cosmos.
2. When and where were you born?
December 15th 1901 in Chicago, Illinois.
3. What is your occupation?
Non-corporeal commercial and cultural icon.
4. How long have you been in that business?
The better part of a century.
5. You have been in Hollywood that entire time?
I haven't been to Hollywood since the L.A. premiere of Weekend at
Bernie's in 1989.
6. At the present time you own and operate the Walt Disney Studio in
Burbank, California, do you not?
7. How many people are employed there?
8. Will you tell us a little about the nature of this particular
studio, the type of pictures you make?
We are one of the largest entertainment and media corporations in the
world. I would describe the better part of our output as pervasively
family-oriented, but we do not limit ourselves by aesthetic or
9. Will you talk just a little louder?
My voice will ring long after your gone.
10. And some of the characters in these films consist of Mickey Mouse
and Donald Duck, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and things like that?
It's funny to call them "things." They are things. They started out
as animation cells, and now they are bits of magnetic tape, and even
bits of binary code. People didn't used to think of light or wind as
"things," but now we know they are. They are very tiny things.
Someday I think we will discover that even a child's idea, by which I
mean the actual thought in his head, of Mickey Mouse, is a "thing,"
and we will discover that a very real Mickey, composed of very tiny
little particles, actually exists within that child's brain.
11. Where are these films distributed?
Ha! I don't even think you can use the word "distributed" any more,
man, haven't you been listening?
12. Why aren't they distributed in Russia?
You need to look at your notes again.
13. What do you mean by that?
I mean I'm years ahead of you, Poindexter, and you don't even know it.
14. Have you ever made any films in your studio that contained
propaganda and were propaganda films?
Now you're being offensive.
15. Do you have any people in your studio at the present time that you
believe are Communist or Fascist, employed there?
These days, we pretty much let them call themselves whatever they'd like.
16. Have you had at any time, in your opinion, in the past, have you
at any time in the past had any Communists employed at your studio?
Oh, I see what you're getting at. There was some unpleasantness. A
long time ago.
17. As a matter of fact, you experienced a strike at your studio, did you not?
Artists being artists, I say. It's not a problem today. Everyone's
much happier now.
18. And is it your opinion that that strike was instituted by members
of the Communist Party to serve their purposes?
All of your capitalization is very quaint. History started to smear
back in the Sixties, and now I have trouble imagining a capital F
brand of fascism.
19. In what fashion was that smear, Mr. Disney, what type of smear?
"Political Parties" and "Nationalist Movements" started to
decapitalize into more palatable (lower-cased) "philosophies." Which
is when corporations and commercial enterprises really started to
20. In other words, Mr. Disney, Communists out there smeared you
because you wouldn't knuckle under?
You don't give up, do you? It was a dreamier time back then. In some
ways I really miss it. Now that there's no opposition, there's
nothing to stop the fabulously rich and successful from going quickly
and completely insane.
21. How many labor unions, approximately, do you have operating in
your studios at the present time?
Oh, tons of 'em. And that's a really good example of what I was
talking about before. Lower-cased labor unions are another way of
de-capitalizing in order to capitalize. They incorporated just like
the rest of us.
22. Can you name any individuals that were active at the time of the
strike that you believe in your opinion are Communists?
I'd have to run that one by legal.
23. What is your personal opinion of the Communist Party, Mr. Disney,
as to whether or not it is a political party?
You keep capitalizing, buddy, and it'll always be a party.
24. Do you feel that there is a threat of Communism in the
Sure. There was that one with Patrick Swayze in the early 80s. Red
Dawn. Love that movie.
But seriously. Watch out, my HUAC friend. In the new century, your
government (Government, if you prefer) will be nothing more than a
minor bureaucracy of slightly over-paid cops.
25. Have you any suggestions to offer as to how the industry can be
helped in fighting this menace?
Don't call us, buddy. We'll call you.