We'd been interested in this Exxopolis thing, some sort of huge inflatable structure, from its teasing in the local press, but it'd been closed for darkness by the time we got to it. That's why we went back the next day. What we mostly knew about it was that it was big and that walking through it, remarkably, was free. At this sort of venue the Exxopolises (there are multiple ones) are usually a separate charge. Whoever put together Common Ground arranged sponsorship that anone, including people not going to the music festival, could enjoy the thing.
And there's a lot to enjoy. It looked bigger than its exterior suggested, probably because we scaled our expectations of the interior to the size a bouncy castle would suggest --- lots of space lost to the cushions thick and inflated enough that you could jump on them. This was just vinyl walls, instead, so essentially all the volume one saw from the outside was there on the inside, and the place looked huge, compared to expectations. It was also hot: boiling hot, incredibly warm, and this on a day that was not all that intensely sunny. There were vents blowing air-conditioned, wonderfully cool, air in; when we left we'd realize that they were actually just blowing ambient air in. Never mind; inside, these blasts felt Arctic, and some of the venue's docents with nothing else to do huddled around them.
As for the inflatable structure itself ... it felt, quite a lot, like walking around the interior of some mid-70s talky science fiction thing set in one of those ambiguous utopias that heroes were always breaking out of. Partly that's the shape of everything, which was made of spheres and cylinders connected together, with no real straight walls and no extended lines of sight. Partly that's the strong colors, solid red or blue or green for the main walls, with occasional insets of different colors. There's some variations, including from cloud shadows moving across the top, but the effect is just to feel like you're in an alien and really quite comfortable space.
Most striking: there's a central ``tree'', which is a pillar and branches reaching out to the sides, that looks like shat you'd have the center of some weird inexplicable mid-70s talky science fiction movie city, or possibly the core of a living alien starship, be. And some of the side corners have pairs of wedge-shaped pieces of different colors, giving the impression of monster eyes if you look from the right location. It's really beautiful.
Back in the outside, and the now-refreshingly-cool air, one of the things we wandered across was the flyer, pasted to a lamppost, of a guy running a write-in election for ... it's hard to be precisely sure, but probably city council. I took a couple photos of his flyer because, well. He's an artist and author, eldest of four boys, is only eight credits away from a bachelor's degree in anthropology and political science from University of Michigan-Flint, and among his interests are encouraging business in the 4th ward, upholding the United States constitution, healthcare, ``bringing experience and ability together to produce greatness'', the white slave trade, ``preventing and responding to acts of terrorism, foreign or domestic'', immigration, and making the 4th ward ``not only the best place to live in Michigan or America, but the best place in the world to live and raise a family''. He's got other points, but I'm still not sure how the councilman from Lansing's 4th ward is supposed to do anything about international terrorism.
Trivia: In 1868 the New-York and New-Jersey Bridge Company was chartered under the laws of New Jersey, by which a bridge could be built across the Hudson River with one or two piers, provided there were a thousand-foot clearance between the piers, and a clear height of 130 feet in the center. (New York state never passed legislation that would make such a design buildable.) Source: Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America, Henry Petroski.
Currently Reading: Astounding Days, Arthur C Clarke.