Saturday, May 30, 2015

Off To The World's Fair!

Milan's Expo 2015

Next September I'll be riding a bicycle with friends through Normandy. And, I'll be using some of my zillions of frequent flier miles to get there and back.

Using frequent flier miles typically requires flexibility with travel dates. So, I'll have a couple of extra days in Europe after the bike trip ends. Days I initially figured I'd enjoy in Paris.

But, then I found out there is a World's Fair in Italy with a food based theme. Think of it, a world's fair in a country that worships food, hosted in Milan, the epicenter of design.

So, when the bike tour returns me to Paris Charles De Gaulle airport, I'll catch an EasyJet flight on to Milan. 

The goal of Milan's Expo 2015 is more than epicurean, it stresses protecting and the expanding the world's food supply. The US pavilion features rotating American chef's and food trucks!

You can see a bit about Expo 2015 here!

Some of the 140+ pavilions are showcased here.

Back when the US used to host Worlds Fairs they were a big deal with my family. I am an architect today in part because of a visit to Seattle's World's Fair when I was about 8.

Growing up in Chicago my mom cherished the 1933 Century of Progress. At the very height of The Great Depression, she drew hope and inspiration for a better future from that fair.

It all kind made me reflect how, World's Fair's tend to leave more than memories. They leave legacies; Paris' Eiffel Tower, Seattle's Space Needle (and from an earlier fair the University of Washington campus design), the Palace of Fine Arts in SF, the Tower of the America's in San Antonio, Lisbon's amazing aquarium, Fair Park in Dallas, San Diego's Balboa Park, Vancouver's Cruise ship terminal, Barcelona's Magic Fountain and Mies Van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion and Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry all originated from International Expositions.

It occurred to me that my own children are now adults and have never had the opportunity to experience a world's fair in the United States.

A few Google® moments disclosed that the US is no longer eligible to host authorized worlds fairs because the US quit paying its dues to the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) a long time ago. Hence, no American World's Fair in over 4 decades. The last big fair in North America was Vancouver's Expo 86.

It's not like the world's fairs disappeared. There have actually been many expositions during those forty plus years, just none hosted by the wealthiest country in the world.

The situation is wonderfully portrayed in an award winning 2013 documentary Where's the Fair?

Our withdrawal from BIE ended the Silicon Valley's sincere bid for the 2020 fair. And, LA's recent efforts to mount an "unofficial" bid for a transit themed exposition in 2022 will also almost certainly be dashed.

Yet, if the US rejoins the BIE, both Houston and the SF Bay Area have announced intentions to bid to host a 2025 Exposition.

All this made me wonder who built the US Pavilion America2.0 in Milan?

Turns out we American's owe profound appreciation to the James Beard Foundation and a bunch of (mainly) food related companies whose corporate sponsorship took the initiative to organize, design and pay for the America2.0 Pavilion in Milan.

I say, you are all awesome! I am personally really looking forward to enjoying your gift to the world on behalf of the citizens of the US!

In the meantime as a nation lets pull on our big boy pants and rejoin the BIE. Lets enable a day when American families can once again experience the wonder of a real world's fair right here in the US!

If you'd care to, you may add your name to a petition asking the US to rejoin the BIE here. At the end it will (like everything these days) ask for money. And, if you are so disposed, cool!

But the main thing is that you add your name.

Roadboy's Travels © 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

My New Blog Banner!

Paris at Night

My ever-so-talented sequential artist* daughter just created the new Roadboy banner above as a birthday gift.

So Cool!

Her site is here!

Roadboy's Travels © 2015

* Sequential artist = comic books.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Weekend in Bisbee

An Arizona Treasure

Last weekend Roadboy took a road trip to SE Arizona, specifically Kartchner Caverns and Bisbee.

For those who might be unaware of Bisbee, it a history rich and very cool former mining town that has been adopted by artists, retirees and an assortment of free spirits.

From Phoenix a trip to Bisbee can be a perfect weekend escape. And, at 5,300 feet, it can offer relief from Phoenix's scorching summer. 

Just before arriving in Bisbee from the north you pass through a tunnel. When you emerge you are rewarded with the first glimpse of the fragile old mining town still tenaciously clinging to the very hills that once produced massive amounts of gold, copper, silver, lead and zinc.

During its heyday Bisbee was the largest community between Saint Louis and San Francisco. It suffered a catastrophic fire in 1910 and was the site of a tragic labor dispute known as the "Bisbee Deportation".

Bisbee Circa 1916

A View Down Bisbee's Main Street Today

The View Looking Down From Opera Drive

After the Bisbee fire, the City constructed fine commercial buildings, high quality school's, Arizona's first community library and the state's first golf course.

The Bisbee "Deportation"
Arguably Bisbee's lowest point came in 1917 when 3000 of its miners, some attempting to unionize with the International Worker's of the World (IWW), began a peaceful strike.

The strike was met with a fierce and well-orchestrated response from the principal mine owner The Phelps Dodge Corporation. First Phelps Dodge demanded that President Wilson send federal troops to end the "Pro German" strike (this was happening at the end of WWI). President Wilson saw through the BS and declined. Phelps Dodge then circulated a list of striking miners to the 2200 members of Bisbee's "citizens protective league". At the same time Telegraph communications to / from Bisbee were severed and roads to / from Bisbee were sealed.

The roundup resulted in the kidnap of 2000 striking miners. The miners were taken to a ball field. Those miners who had not yet joined the union were offered release if they renounced the union. 700 miners renounced.

The 1300 remaining miners, under the gaze of Sheriff Wheeler's belt-fed machine gun, were then loaded into 23 manure laden cattle cars. At 3:00 am, after 16 hours in transport, the miners were dumped penniless in Hermanas New Mexico. They where told that returning to their homes and families would be deemed wartime sedition.

An eventual Federal investigation pronounced the kidnapping "wholly illegal and without authority in law".

From Boomtown to Ghost Town to Artists Haven
Over the next few decades, Bisbee became the home of a stunning new art deco County Courthouse (filled with WPA artwork). And, just down the hill, the Iron Man (Iron Miner) sculpture was installed at Courthouse Plaza.

The Cochise County Courthouse

Art Deco Doors To The Cochise County Courthouse

Bisbee's Iconic Iron Man

In reality the Iron Man is artist Raymond Philips Sanderson's 2000 lb concrete sculpture he finished by coating it with sprayed layers of heated copper.

The Emergence of Modern Bisbee 
From 1950-1970 large scale mining operations in Bisbee closed down leaving the local economy in decay. Eventually however, its climate, character and devastated property values, attracted the artists and residents whom call it home today.


Today, Bisbee's economy relies on tourism; featuring B&B's, restaurants / breweries, a chocolatier, and a variety of unique shops and galleries.

Any Bisbee Shopping Trip 
Should Include a Stop at Optimo Hatworks

And nearly anywhere you look in Bisbee you will find art; street art, fine art and (of course) some not-so-fine art. 

Armed Clowns

Dancing Dead

Painted Corrugated Metal Art 

The Peace Wall 

Domination Art Bisbee Style

After a full Saturday afternoon of strolling and exploring Bisbee we overnighted in nearby Sierra Vista. On Sunday morning we enjoyed a cave tour at Kartchner Caverns (pretty darned amazing). But, regrettably Kartchner prohibits photographs, so no blog post from Kartchner.

Our visit to Bisbee was too short. Next time it will include (at least) an overnight and dinner at Cafe Roka.

Roadboy recommends a weekend in Bisbee! 

Bring your camera.

Come hungry (and thirsty).

Roadboy's Travels © 2015