are a lot of things I could write about this week. On Saturday
we had a big role-playing day, and Alison
ran an adventure for our group called Thieves Island, which was
particularly cool because of all the special props she created
for the game (some of which were quite elaborate... she's been
collecting, assembling, and creating props for this game for
months). On Sunday the weather was beautiful and we took a geology
hike up to Cunningham Falls, in Catoctin Mountain Park. (I tried
using a pair of really old hiking boots I found in the closet,
and the soles totally came apart on me! Luckily, I'd brought
backup shoes.) We've been to see Revenge of the Sith (which I
actually really liked) and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
movie (which I also thought was mostly excellent). The beta edition
Desserts is almost ready to ship, the artwork for Eco-Fluxx
is coming along nicely, and our Origins
preparations are moving into high gear. The relocation project
is crawling along at the speed of ice... we've taken some more
stuff over to the new office, but I've only managed to pack 20
more boxes since March.
(We're working on hiring
some help.) But instead of talking about any of these things,
I'm going to yammer about Montreal.
I've officially become obsessed with Montreal. We haven't
been back to Canada since our trip to Hamilton
in February, but I've been checking it out from afar, and I can't
wait to go visit. Here are some of the reasons I've got Montreal
on my mind:
- People keep telling us how great the place is and how much
we will like it up there. The most recent time this happened,
I was reminded that the Just For Laughs festival, which I've
been hearing about for years, is held every year in Montreal.
I really like the idea of a city that's known for having a sense
- I read an article I really liked in the June 2002 issue of
AAA World magazine about "Six cities with a lot going on
underground," which describes the Montreal underground network
as "An Answer to Canadian Cold and Big City Congestion."
I love underground cities... if you've read my book The
Empty City, you'll recall that a well-integrated underground
network is a vital part of my idea of the perfect city. (The
other cities detailed in the article were Seattle, Beijing-China,
Edinburgh-Scotland, Cappadocia-Turkey, and the NORAD military
base under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado.)
- I'm not a sports fan, so I don't share in the joy that many
of my fellow Washingtonians do about finally having a baseball
team in this city again. (In fact, I found it immediately aggravating,
as coverage of the Nationals' first games kept pre-empting the
last few new episodes of Star Trek.) Thus, I find it intriguing
that our city's new team used to be known as the Montreal Expos.
As we contemplate the decision of what city to move to, I'm amused
by the idea of trading places, if you will, with the baseball
players who just moved from Montreal to DC.
- I've been having fun looking at places with the satellite
photos at Google (see this week's Tirade's
Choice) so of course I've been checking out Montreal
from above. I'd heard the Biosphere burned down, yet there
seems to be something similar in its place at the old Expo fairgrounds...
did they rebuild it, or what?
This brings me to the thing that really has me obsessing about
Montreal at this time: Expo '67, the world's fair they hosted
when I was 3 years old. Unlike all the other world's fairs in
history, Expo '67 wasn't torn down when it was supposed to be
over, but instead persisted for almost 15 years. After the first
year it became known as Man and His World (which was the theme/slogan
of Expo '67) and each year it was a little different, with some
attractions being closed and others opening in their places.
As Rash describes in the
final section of his New York World's Fair memoirs, our family
visited Expo '67, and we went again in 1970. Much like my trip
to the New
York World's Fair in 1965, I was too young to remember anything
about Expo '67, but I do vividly recall several things from our
visit to Man and His World in 1970. I remember riding around
on the wonderful little PeopleMover monorails. I remember visiting
the Cryogenics pavilion, and being freaked out by the whole concept.
(The images of bodies wrapped in foil being stuck in a freezer
really gave me the creeps at the time.) I remember buying a souvenir
gold coin from a vending machine, with "Man and His World"
written on it in lots of different languages. (I still have it,
but it's packed into box #18, so I can't describe it more completely
than that just now.) And I remember being at our campground and
getting a little toy airplane from inside a box of unusual-because-it-was-Canadian
breakfast cereal. And I have other, more hazy memories, just
of being amongst the futuristic pavilions and unusual buildings...
Oh, for a time machine! What I wouldn't give to be able to
step through a time portal to Expo '67! But just as it was with
my obsession over the New York World's Fairs, and indeed, as
with any historical fascinations, there are ways to take imaginary
time journeys. One way is to visit the site where it all took
place, to see what still remains, and I'm still hoping we can
take such a trip before Origins (it will depend on how productive
we manage to be in the next couple of weeks).
Another great way to take an imaginary journey to a bygone
world's fair is by reading a vintage guidebook. It happens that
I have an Official Guide to Man and His World, which someone
in our family bought for 75 cents in 1970, and I've been getting
a big kick out of some of the descriptions it contains. Here
are a few selections:
- Cryogenics: "... in the last room, a film vividly
describes the emotions of a man who awakes sometime in the future
after having been frozen for a long period." Wow, I wonder
if that film is still intact somewhere -- I'd love to see it!
- Spectrafonia: "Sound becomes visible in this
pavilion," it says at the start of the description of what
sounds like a wonderfully trippy light show. At the end, "a
final room, the 'return to calm', is provided to help bridge
the gap between the experience and the world outside."
- Space: Obviously, they had real space hardware on
display in this pavilion, but I'm fascinated by the last part
of the exhibit: "The visitor is given a look at the future,
through scientific data on mars and prototypes of new space vehicles
and life support systems. The 'trip through space' culminates
in a room of mirrors where images flash around the visitor from
all directions to convey psychedelically the infinity of worlds
yet to be discovered."
- Science Fiction: Again, my favorite part is the description
of the ending: "...in the last section, a chill, silent
world of metal, the bewildered visitor is directed toward the
exit by aluminum robots." I love the assumption that the
pavilion would have a "bewildering" effect on all visitors.
- Strange, Strange World: "The strange, yet fascinating
phenomena of the universe -- mysteries as bizarre as UFOs, voodoo
dolls, and the Loch Ness Monster -- provide a bewitching presentation
on the second floor of this pavilion," where "the unusual
is the rule."
- LSD/Pot: This is the one that really blows my mind.
Here's the complete description: "Drugs in contemporary
North American society are the theme of this pavilion on Ile
Sainte-Helene. The history of drugs is highlighted and the pavilion's
objective is to inform and educate, rather than to preach. In
a psychedelic atmosphere created through the use of light, sound,
and music, visitors observe displays of hallucinogenic drugs
and such administering equipment as syringes and pipes. In one
of the cells, visitors participate in a simulated drug 'trip'.
Legal, medical, and educational approaches to drug use and misuse
Whoa. Do any of my readers have any memories of this exhibit?
I'd love to see a photograph of it! The description makes it
sound like actual stoners were on hand to answer the visitors'
questions about drugs, much like the international pavilions
staffed by visiting natives of other countries. But that's hard
to imagine... was it really a trick, then, intended to attract
but featuring an anti-drug punch-line at the end? (Perhaps the
simulated trip turns out to a bad one...) Who was the sponsor
of this exhibit? How long was it featured at Man and His World?
It certainly wasn't there during the original year of the fair,
and if it was really as pro-drug as it sounds, it seems like
it would have been shut down almost immediately after they printed
the guidebooks. I asked Rash
about it, and he has no memory of it, so I'm guessing it was
already gone by the time we arrived, since I can't imagine him
not noticing and remembering such a thing. But regardless of
how long the exhibit ran, I'm very curious about its history!
was a time when my family and friends knew that almost any random
artifact from the New York World's Fair (which they might find
at a yard sale, thrift store, used book store, etc.) would make
a great gift for me. Then there came a time when I had so much
such stuff that it was no longer a safe bet. Well, let it now
be known: I'm starting to collect stuff from Man and His World,
and my display case is almost completely empty.
A final thing about Expo '67 that I simply have to mention:
the Canadian Pulp and Paper company. They had a beautiful pavilion
featuring a "forest" of giant, tall, pyramid-shaped
pine trees, seen here in an image I found on Jeffery Stanton's
very excellent Expo
'67 website. (Visiting his library of pages about the world's
fair is yet another way to take an imaginary journey to the past.
He has an excellent NYWF
site, too.) Could it be that visiting this forest of giant green
Icehouse trees, at
a very impressionable age, first inspired my life-long obsession
Well, I think I've yammered enough for now...