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DANA PARSONS

Goofy on Trial: If the Glove Fits . . .

November 25, 1998|DANA PARSONS

Kevin Bogart has been a cop for 20 years. Has he seen too much, grown too cynical, or is it possible that Goofy--that beloved madcap character--did indeed make an obscene gesture when Bogart's wife snapped a photo of him and their children at Disneyland?

Goofy, he of the previously unimpeachable reputation, giving someone the bird?

And while dressed as Santa, at that?

Sounds pretty farfetched, frankly, and Bogart didn't believe it himself

until the photos came back the next day. But there it was.

Or was it?

To say the least, the photos from the family's day at Disneyland on Nov. 10 unsettled the Bogarts, who live in Alta Loma in San Bernardino County. So much so that Kevin wrote to Disneyland and sent them a copy of the "disturbing photos," as he described them.

"Our 9-year-old son opened the pictures first and looked at them. He had a strange look on his face," he wrote. "He walked up to my wife and asked her, 'Why is Goofy flipping you off?' "

That reinforced what the Bogarts had discussed privately the day before when Mrs. Bogart told her husband about her Goofy suspicions. Kevin Bogart was skeptical: "Who would think Goofy would do that?"

Two photos offended the Bogarts--the one from the sleigh and another showing Goofy walking away alone with a finger extended downward.

In his letter, Bogart told Disneyland officials he showed the photos to his co-workers at the West Covina Police Department. "Everyone who viewed the pictures came to the same conclusion that Goofy was indeed flipping us off," Bogart wrote.

A longtime admirer of Goofy's work, I phoned Bogart, who was more mellow on the phone than he was in his letter. Within minutes, he backed off from his suggestion in the letter that Disneyland consider giving his family a yearly pass "so that we may be able to come back again and again to recapture the magic of Disneyland."

Are you trying to extort Disneyland? I asked Bogart. "I'm a policeman," he said. "I'm not looking for something for nothing. They don't have to send us anything."

It's just that his family was offended, he said, and they wanted Disneyland to acknowledge the offense and make things right.

I asked Disneyland spokesman Ray Gomez what the photo of Goofy in the sleigh looked like to him. "It looked like Goofy holding his hand up," Gomez said dryly.

Disneyland investigated the incident and cleared Goofy, Gomez said. I took that to mean Goofy was apprised of the allegations but Gomez wouldn't confirm that.

The tight squeeze in Goofy's glove makes an obscene gesture virtually impossible, Gomez said. He invited me to try on a pair of Goofy's gloves, but I declined.

Stymied by the conflicting accounts, I knew what had to be done. On Tuesday morning, Bogart and I rendezvoused at a service station in Corona and he showed me the photos.

"Interesting, huh?" he said.

I brought them back to the office and asked colleagues what they saw in them. "It's Goofy sitting on a sleigh next to a kid and giving someone the bird," one editor said. Four other colleagues agreed, but a couple of others scoffed at that interpretation.

My investigation wound up taking a lot of time, and I flashed on Ray Gomez sitting in his office, trying on the gloves himself to see if he could make an obscene gesture with them. It struck me we were all spending a lot of time.

Why did you take things so far? I asked Bogart. "If it's a dead issue, I understand," he said. "I just wanted to talk to someone and see if it was worth making a big deal about or not."

Kevin, it wasn't.

But now that your allegation is in play, though, be advised: I understand Goofy is talking to an attorney.

Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Readers may reach Parsons by calling (714) 966-7821 or by writing to him at the Times Orange County Edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or by e-mail to dana.parsons@latimes.com

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