A critical glance at some of the things to see and some of the things to miss at Expo this year
The name of the game at Expo is Passport. The little admission booklets, resembling real passports, will be stamped at any foreign pavilion you visit, and a good many other places as well. Among visitors who are probably impulsive autograph hounds when they’re not at Expo, getting the passport stamped is the first solemn duty to be taken care of at each pavilion visit. Mind you, you don’t have to — it’s just to provide you with a record of all the “countries” you’ve seen.
^ Pink Powder Dots applied to the middle of the forehead by a pretty girl in the India pavilion are Expo’s first instant fad. “Do you just want the dot or do you want to know what it means?” she smiles, and many’s the teeny-bopper who has learned that the dot originated as a mark of bridal dependence.
^ Aquanauts: What's more fun than watching a man live in an undersea house? Watching a girl live in an undersea house, of course. At the Man And Oceans exhibit, you’ll see a shapely girl in a wet suit dive into a glass-walled pool and come up inside a bubble-shaped house which may not be the right answer to the current housing problem, but it’s progress.
^ A rabbit that plays the piano and a chicken that dances the moment the music starts are part of a must-see attraction for kids who visit the Man The Provider Pavilion. What does it prove? That by using rewards (e.g. food) rather than punishment, you can train an animal to adapt or extend one of its natural abilities (for a chicken, dancing is an extension of scratching for worms).
Blue Marlin: The little Indian Ocean island country called Mauritius claims the world's record for the 1,100-pound blue marlin it has on display.
View Magnifique: If you can drag yourself away from the priceless art treasures in the upper regions of The French Pavilion, head for the top balcony. It's the best view of the fair— and it’s easier to enjoy than the view from The Canadian Pavilion’s Katimavik: Canada offers foot-weary
visitors merely a tiny elevator that’s frequently jammed, plus a long staircase. The French trip is by indoor escalators. Expo abounds with moving stairs, by the way, but the U.S. claims it has not just Expo's longest but the world’s. It’s 125 continuous feet.
Talking Chairs: Don't think you're just going to relax when you see those cosy, modernistic armchairs in The Australian Pavilion. The minute you sit down, one of dozens of tape recorders installed in the basement will switch on and play you a stereophonic conversation through two speakers in the chair back. Science is wonderful, but in Australia the art of scripted conversation is quite apparently coy, cute and boring.
^ Paul Bunyan’s Logs: If you like feeling insignificant, march into the centre of The Western Provinces Pavilion and stand beside the loaded logging truck bearing a variety of BC timber. Westerners claim the truck and its load are so big they had to put that display into position first, then build their pavilion around it.
Lie Detector: What happens when a woman from the audience sits down to a polygraph, alias lie detector, and is confronted by a young man who suddenly exlaims, “breasts!”? You can see for yourself on the graph inside one booth at the Man And His Health exhibit next door to Habitat.
*" Man In The Community, Expo's searching probe of the interpersonal relationships that can bug us all, could use a new title. It sounds dull but it’s actually one of the most unusual and stimulating pavilions at Expo. In one room, you find yourself trapped in near darkness, seemingly surrounded
by mirrors while blinking lights and melancholy life-sized statues provide an eerie effect most visitors find spinechilling. Located next door to Habitat. ^ Viva Cuba. Even if blatant propaganda makes you feel they're taking unfair political advantage at Expo, you won't be sorry you dropped in if you head for the pleasant bar. Recommended: the frozen daquiri, as frozen as sherbet but a heck of a lot punchier. And it's under a dollar, even with Premier Johnson’s crushing eight percent sales tax.
*" International Broadcasting Centre:
This is where you can see just how it's all done, except that these studios are much more modern than the rest of our studios. A guided tour takes you past the nervous producer calling his shots, the frustrated editor trying to patch up his mistakes, and the hardy performer climbing around cardboard and plastic sets.
*" Polytope (France): Twelve hundred lights are strung up on a huge spider web of black cables running through the centre of the French Pavilion. The lights are programmed by a computer and sparkle in time to Japaneseflavored modern music by Iannis Xenakis. Dazzling electronic fireworks.
Art Gallery (Canada): The art scene is really more lively than this selection makes out, with the notable exception of two kinetic pieces by Zbigniew Blaizje: a room full of sculpturepaintings that change color in different lights; and three wheels in an outdoor well that rotate, scream like sirens and bang gongs as they go.
*" Habitat, conceived as a daring experiment in public housing, succeeds in making any $250 luxury apartment look shoddy. A typical two-floor unit, one of several open to the public, has two garden-sized sun decks, two toilets, spacious kitchen, living room and bedroom, a study and complete privacy. Every public housing official in Canada should be forced to visit Habitat once a month.
Safari is a not-very-convincing attempt to recreate a corner of Africa on the edge of La Ronde. The animals include an aging tiger who spends most of his time in TV studios or posing with pretty models. So far the
only person he has hurt is a Montreal cab driver. Returning from a TV appearance, the tiger got caught short while the cab was stalled in a traffic jam. The flood w-as so devastating that the CBC has agreed to compensate the driver for extensive damages to his cab.
^ Dancing Waters on Dolphin Lake at La Ronde is the most complex fountain unit ever devised. Sponsored by Westinghouse and controlled from a giant console, it squirts water to music while colored lights play on the high-rising fountains. During the first performances, though, the water seemed to be having trouble learning to waltz.
Canada 67 (Telephone Pavilion): A Disney - eyed view of the Canadian wonderland beginning and ending with stirring versions of O Canada. “You are here" inside a nine-screen circle, celebrating the glories of our mountains, lakes, and musical Mounties, swelling with pride about our railways, steel mills and hockey players. A spectacular collection of irresistible clichés. * Earth Is Man’s Home (Man The Explorer Pavilion): Bucket seats, a 45-foot screen, and a film split into three different levels like a Cinerama screen stood on end. Directors Nick and Anne Chaparos cover a lot of Earth in 12 minutes of striking contrasts. Intriguing but chaotic. Continuous daily.
^ The Growth Of Canada (Canadian Pavilion): Five short films in one rotating theatre. You might feel like leaving after the first dreadful rehash of Canadian postcard pictures, but the best is yet to come and besides you can't get out once you're in motion. It's worth it for Michel Brault’s evocation of historic side - lines, and George Dunning’s joyous three-screen cartoon, Canada Is My Piano. Continuous daily when working.
*" Kaleidoscope (Man And Color Pavilion): It’s all done with mirrors and it's something like being inside a giant toy. Three chambers of color-happy images are reflected and repeated as far and as wide as eyes can spy. Good, clean, psychedelic fun. Continuous daily.
^ Kino-Automat (Czechoslovakia): A push - button - choice film where you
participate by voting on alternative story-lines . . . and watching how your friends vote. The ingenious gag-filled story concerns one man’s responsibility towards his neighbor’s wife, his family-in-law, the police, and a fire in his apartment building. Check showtimes in advance. Children arc not encouraged.
Magic Lantern (La Ronde): The sensation of the Czech Pavilion at the Brussels World’s Fair returns as a straight variety entertainment combining movies, slides and live actors to create dramatic optical illusions and circusy thrills. Fine family fare. Get tickets in advance.
^ Motion (CN Pavilion): The subject is a natural for film treatment and Vincent Vaitekunas makes the best of it in a swinging 70 mm. short. Among other things it has the best rocket shots in a fair full of them. Continuous daily.
* A Time To Play (USA): The American competitive spirit appears at its most charming in Art Kane’s witty three-screen essay on such children’s games as Hide And Seek, Shadow' Tag, and Tug Of War. People are already lining up for the 25 daily shows.
Urbanissimo (Man In The Community Pavilion): Two kinds of animation make a double comment on today’s expanding cities. A funny film by John and Faith Hubley alternates with colored geometric patterns created by that tireless experimenter, Norman McLaren, with the help of some translucent mobiles. Continuous daily.
^ Exposé 67: Blessed relief from Centennial pomp and circumstance is a rollicking spoof, the gem of Arc Records’ Centennial Series. Sacred Canadian cow's such as the National Hockey League, Laura Secord, Gerda Munsinger and Doukhobor strippers are parodied by a trio known as the Brothersin-Law (because a pair of them are Windsor, Ont., policemen). Their funniest barbs are packed into the lead item, This Land Is Whose Land???, which concludes with: “Y’all hear — this land is mine and Ladybird’s.” (Arc 257)
* Les Feux Follets: Billed as Canada’s National Dance Ensemble, Les Feux Follets troupe has been recognized
abroad as characteristic folklore comparable, say, to Mexico’s Ballet Folklórico or Yugoslavia’s Lado Ensemble. Pity that more non-French Canadians aren’t aware of this pot-pourri of Canadian tunes, now available in RCA Victor’s International Series. Nine exciting suites range from Acadian songs to Pacific Indian dances and a betrothal ceremony of the Plains Indians. (PC 1088)
Pauline Johnson: “I am an Indian and my aim, my joy, my pride is to sing the glories of my people,” said the poetess who charmed the salons of Victorian London, dressed as an Indian princess and billed as Tekahionw'ake. Her favorite works such as The Song My Paddle Sings, The Cattle Thief and The Legend of the Two Sisters receive careful if uninspired readings in a new album from Arc Records. Mitch Sago’s rich voice thunders through the Indian tales, with minor support from Hannah Polowny. ( ACM-5004)
*" The Dolphin Pool: Five times a day four Florida dolphins put the human entertainers at Expo to shame with their talent, exuberance and sheer delight in their performance. The dolphins leap, plunge, soar through hoops and scurry backwards on their flippers — grinning all the while. The glass-fronted pool gives a perfect view but avoid the front rows unless you're carrying an umbrella.
The Golden Garter Saloon: “If you’re feeling lowdown/Take a trip up the town/To the Golden Garter Saloon . . So advises Candy Kane, the belle of the bar, and everybody on La Ronde seems to be listening. The decor is Old West, the beer’s draught, the show’s awful and the applause is deafening. “I've been told I have the dirtiest and heartiest laugh in show business,” says Miss Kane, a red-hotmomma type w'ho once w;as billed as The Girl That Drove The West Wild at the Theatre Royal in the restored gold-rush tow n of Barkerville. Will she drive the East wild?
^ Le Striptease: A Maclean’s survey of the Montreal tenderloin indicated that Expo visitors who hunger for this kind of action are in for a good grind. Les girls are topped, or at least pastied, and the whole scene shows
signs of a recent cleanup. Try Rockhead’s Paradise, in the lower town.
^ Ben Nobleman, a TV-struck Toronto-area alderman who is president of something called The Society for the Recognition of Canadian Talent, has taken to lashing Expo for not signing more Canadian performers. “There’s not one top Canadian variety entertainer at Expo,” says Nobleman. “Many of the top Canadians in Hollywood w'ould give their right arm to appear at Expo. But they haven’t been asked and they are all very hurt.” Examples? “Lome Green is coming to Toronto for the CNE but he wasn’t asked to Expo. Rich Little was given an insulting offer.”
^ Glass Elevator (France): Offers a vertiginous view through nine stories of the complex French Pavilion from the movie screen on the ceiling to the fountain in the central well below.
* Motorized Gondolas cost $1.50 for ten minutes, hold six people comfortably and are sometimes the fastest as well as the prettiest way from here to there.
The Gyrotron: Maybe it’s worth the dollar you’ll pay (50 cents for kids) just to say you’ve been on the ultimate in carnival rides. But for anybody who has ridden a big roller coaster, raced a snowmobile or even ridden a skateboard, Sean Kenny’s $3 million “ride through space and descent into hell” will seem slow, phony and hardly worth the price. It’s at La Ronde, Expo’s amusement park.
^ The Skyride is a 75-cent, fiveminute glorified ski-lift over La Ronde that provides a spectacular view but is otherwise uneventful.
^ La Spirale spins slowly up a 300foot pole and then spins down again. Fine for bird's-eye views but like other high rides at La Ronde, the effect is marred. A hill and the Jacques-Cartier Bridge block out the view of the main Expo sites.
^ Kaney Bar-Restaurant (Cuba): Just beyond the visually splendid hardcore propaganda of the main pavilion lies a first-rate moderately-priced restaurant The menu is limited to a few choice specialties with seafood and
rum flown in from Cuba. Breaded frogs legs at $1.40 are even cheaper than in Montreal.
^ Maharani Restaurant (India): Thick carpets, girls in saris, a good view of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and Chicken Tandoori make this a highly congenial place to eat. The menu also includes the famous Indian curries and marvellous hot vegetarian yogurt dishes. Go early or reserve in advance if you don’t want to be driven wild by the tantalizing smells as you're turned away at the door.
^ The Fondue Pot, a Swiss restaurant on La Ronde, offers excellent cheese and beef fondues plus a cherryflavored cocktail with a punch.
* The Klondike Steak House (La Ronde): The steaks are authentic but the 1890s décor tends to be garish and the prices charged leave no doubt which way the gold is rushing.
^ The Atlantic Provinces is the place to go at Expo for seafood: oysters, lobsters, clams and schools of fish at reasonable prices. One drawback is that the restaurant’s overhead lights tend to bake the customers as well as the clams.
* The Brewers’ Pavilion offers a wide variety of Canadian dishes — most of them cooked in beer. The results aren’t all as boozy as they sound.
^ The British Pub is loftier and cleaner than most licensed premises over 'ome. The bitter is good but expensive, the dartboard authentic, the ice buckets full and the barmaids saucy and pretty — though obviously baffled by decimal coinage.
*■" The Bavarian Beerhall: Genuine Munich beer at fantastically high prices. Worth a visit to hear the continuous thump-thump of the German band; they pause only for liquid refreshment.
* The Ontario Pavilion Bar is a triumph of the human spirit over Ontario’s starchy liquor laws. It is, actually, one of two bars and five restaurants in the pavilion, most of which weren’t ready for the opening. This bar we are referring to is a poem of red light, giving everyone a suntan, and the most comfortable chairs and bar-stools at the fair. Surprisingly uncrowded, a condition that may not prevail.