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Doug Clark: Son’s in the Thicke of breaking celeb news

Sun., March 2, 2014, midnight

Robin Thicke is seen at Disneyland with his son, Julian, and their guide, Austin.
Robin Thicke is seen at Disneyland with his son, Julian, and their guide, Austin.

They don’t call it a Magic Kingdom for nothing.

Yes, I’m home from my family trip to Disneyland. We flew back from the land of palm trees and Southern California sunshine the other night only to find Spokane buried in piles of white, just like Ankeny’s in the ’80s.

But I’m excited to report that Disneyland is still the planet’s happiest place.

And even happier if you happen to be hanging around the Haunted Mansion when a celebrity wanders by and you’re hip to the social media.

Sadly, I’m not that guy.

What I’m about to tell you is how my son, Ben, gave his dinosaur dad a demonstration about why old-school journalism has waddled into the tar pits and will soon be …

Glub. Glub.

Actually, our story begins a half-hour earlier, as the Clark family was maneuvering through last Sunday’s crowded walkways of Tomorrowland.

It is there we learned that Robin Thicke – big-time crooner and Miley Cyrus twerk buddy – was enjoying Disneyland, too.

Actually, Ben learned this because he follows a Twitter account that keeps tabs on famous people who visit the park.

Ben follows something like 150 Twitter accounts related to Disneyland.

If he could, I think Ben would live at Disneyland.

In the Tiki Room, probably.

But getting back to the Haunted Mansion: We had just finished the ride (man, I love those waltzing ghosts) when – speak of the diva – here comes Robin.

A dark-haired, handsome lad, Thicke was toting his son, Julian, and accompanied by a gaggle of friends, plus an official Disney guide who wore a sporty red plaid vest and a name tag that said Austin.

Don’t know if that was his name or where he was from.

The Clark family, alas, didn’t rate a vested escort.

Having one means you’re important enough to cut to the front of lines that sometimes stretch so long that seasons will actually change before you get to hop on a ride.

Waiting is part of the Disneyland magic.

Anyway, as the star approached, Ben discreetly positioned his iPhone at shoulder level with the camera set and …

Well, you can see the result: A stellar photo of Thicke, who grinned slightly as he passed, obviously enjoying the attention.

Oh, yeah. Who da man?

A few minutes later, my lovely wife, Sherry, discovered from an Internet search with her own iPhone that Thicke had canceled his Friday and Saturday night concerts (the kickoff shows for his new tour) due to some alleged malady.

Back in my fledgling reporting days, here’s what would’ve happened next.

I would have gone back to the newsroom and “souped” my film and printed a photograph. Then I would have sat at a desk for hours making phone calls to try to find out what was going on.

If I got lucky and tracked down someone who actually knew something, I would have written a story to go with my photos, which would have been published in a day or two, presuming I made deadline.

That was then, of course.

The digital revolution has now made everybody a journalist with instant access to everyone and everything.

By the time the Clark family had finished their next ride, Ben had contacted his sources at the online entertainment news site TMZ, which paid him for a couple of his photos and then connected them with the tip on the cancellations.

“I Can’t Sing … But I Can Go To Disneyland,” blared the TMZ headline.

The next day, the Internet was abuzz with even more Thicke news. He and wife, Paula Patton, were splitting up, which, I’m guessing, had more to do with those no-shows than any sore throat.

Who knows?

I find this sort of gossip stuff rather tawdry.

I don’t go to Disneyland for celebrity sightings. Of course, I don’t go to Disneyland for those wild rides, like Space Mountain, either.

The cinnamon churros, however, are fantastic!

Glub. Glub.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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