Native New Yorkers know him as DADDY KNACKERBLASTER, jovial spirit of their mighty metropolis, and one can think of no figure better-suited to personify the diversity, vitality, and modernity of this grand city than a garrulous, periwigged white gentleman of the 1700s, in his tricorn hat, breeches and buckled shoes!

As you approach the hustle and bustle of AMUSEMENTS FURLONG, it’s hard to miss the 60-foot tall effigy of a guffawing Knackerblaster bestriding the gates of the New York World’s Fair like a colonial Colossus! The merry mascot is flanked by a pair of equally vast folkloric sidekicks, both of whom may already seem outlandish, even alarming, to modern eyes - the aggressive, racially-insensitive Lord Goose, and the perhaps even-more troubling Ma Turkey, of whom decency precludes any further elaboration.

Looking at her now, towering over the happy crowds at the Fair, with her formidable meat cleaver, sharpened sickle, and over-generous supply of eyes, it’s hard to believe Ma was once as popular as Santa Claus! As it is, she stands as one more sobering reminder that the Past, for all its sassy trappings of knights, pilgrims, and bucolic slave laborers, also plays host to a veritable shit parade of creepy and shameful traditions, rituals, habits, customs, and excuses; all of which tends to cast our illustrious forebears in a less than admirable light. Thank heavens for the bright and certain Future, as celebrated here in this sprawling spectacular festival of forwardness!

‘Howdy yez’aaall!’ is the cheery and historically-accurate greeting that awaits every visitor who buys a ticket and passes between the vast natural arch of Daddy Knackerblaster’s powerfully akimbo legs on their way to an unforgettable experience at this spectacular exposition in the heart of Flushing, NY.

First on any itinerary is a stroll along the GREAT RAINBOW WAY, where visitors can sample cultures as different and yet alike as the concave and convex sides of a spoon! This colourful celebration of the Triumph of Democracy in the World of Tomorrow is as American as pumpkin pie, Martin Luther Kong, and the moon!

On your way to GAY NEW ORLEANS – a flamboyant LGBTQX salute to the Big Easy and its laid back ‘come one, come all!’ attitude to alcohol, drugs, and sexual experimentation – try not to miss the SMARTCAR DODGEMS, or the aptly-named SCREAMING CENTIPEDE – a ghastly and perverse surgical experiment given a mischievous World’s Fair spin!

Other attractions include the CRIMSON TOWER - where visitors can ‘experience’ for themselves gruesome CIA ‘special rendition’ techniques such as piss-boarding, the ‘Toenail Clippers’, ‘Noise-Crash Monday’, and the terrifying, emasculating ‘Pants Invader’ – and SINISTER THIBET, where Buddhist monks at the end of their tether, self-immolate in spectacular fashion, while soldiers of the Red Army frown upon this ancient inexplicable culture of weird ceremonies, sacrifice and idolatry.  

The world’s oldest collection of prophylactics, excavated at the Jamestown colony, delivers a fascinating, indeed stomach-churning, insight into the bedroom antics of the Pilgrim Fathers and can be found on exhibit in the CONDOM CENTER, a building made almost completely of rubber, gas, and whispered promises!

Elsewhere, the spirit of undergraduate frivolity is captured in the starkly-named ROOFIE TENT, while easily-triggered college students are catered to with differently-shaped ‘safe spaces’ in SNOWFLAKE ALLEY, and even ‘safe rides’ such as the COMETRON – a gentle, completely horizontal rollercoaster attraction which only turns up once every 75 years and travels at an upper speed of 3 feet per month.


But there’s more to the Fair than amusements and frivolity. Educational exhibits include the SCIENCE SHACK, KEMISTRY KIOSK, MATHEMATICS IS FOR EVERYONE and the LEARNING CAN BE FUN enclosure, notable for its tumbleweeds, distant mission bells, and the hollow sound of the sirocco.

And here I pause for a moment to come across some Boy and Girl Scouts burying a time capsule they’ve created to show people of the future what life was like at the dawn of the Space Atom Age! The fresh, eager, and ever-smiling faces of these spunky youths offer a brief preview of a coming time where everyone is happy and nothing bad can ever happen again.

The turquoise heated expanse of LIBERTY LAKE offers the ‘freedom to just be yourself’ – but one warning: may contain NUTS! And when I say nuts, I mean nude nuts, let’s just leave it there.

It’s from here, that an ill-advised left turn will bring you, as it brings both myself and my emotionally-vulnerable elderly mother to a corner of the Fair I had no idea existed until I made that fateful decision to follow the left-hand path. A moment I bitterly regret and wish I could erase from history’s storied pages.

The so-called SWAMP OF NATIONS, offers a disconcertingly lifelike panorama of desolation that contributes a bracing note of caution, even dire warning, to the World’s Fair celebrations.

Before us, a crumbling, hauntingly-familiar ruin, half-submerged in the waves, and lapped by a froth of sediment and distressed plastic, turns out to be the Statue of Liberty with a skull for a head! Riptides swirl around the 20th storeys of gutted skeleton skyscrapers – the hollowed-out remains of the Chrysler Building, the Empire State and Trumpet Tower.

But don’t imagine that only the proud monuments of Manhattan that have been brought to their knees by years of decay and damnation!

Nearby lie the shattered fragments of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, now merely the Seven Neglected Ruins; here, the Eiffel Tower, partially-melted, snapped at the base by some brute force beyond imagining; there, the Houses of Parliament gutted by fire, the haunt of subhuman bandits and mutant jihadis; a grubby pile of bricks and toilet paper marks the place where the White House once stood, immersed in a spectrum-slicked, and poisonous lagoon from which all life has fled, leaving only a nausea-inducing synthetic parody of existence that flops and gasps in the shallow muck, like a jellyfish filled with needles, ever eager to bite and infect visitors with some terminal malady before it dies in agony under the bilious sun of that merciless sour firmament.

We may deduce, from these glimpses, that the entire world of Tomorrow is but a noxious corpse dressed in the rotting shroud of its decaying architecture.

And it’s OUR fault.

Daddy Knackerblaster himself looms eerily over the desolate gloomscape that surrounds us – but this version of the reassuring figure casts him in a far more ominous light, where he appears to drown in a quicksand of reeking refuse with a knowing, insane leer that seems to implicate us all in what should have been an easily-preventable apocalypse.

The eye-popping exhibit Mother and I have so rashly stumbled upon is entitled THE WORLD’S UNFAIR, and it’s safe to say that while the rest of the Fair celebrates a frankly unlikely future of longevity jellies, jet people, sarcastic washing machines and boisterous pet pterodactyls, this exhibit reminds us in no uncertain terms that there may be a darker side to the world of tomorrow, and offers an alternative look at what life in New York City might actually be like in the year 2050!

A year in which life as we know it will have choked to death on its own ‘infected filth’, according to THE WORLD’S UNFAIR creator, ‘performance commando’, Solomandos Croatoan. In the enfant terrible’s diseased vision of the mid-21st century, incestuous mutant monsters, bred to live on garbage, will snout mindlessly through the trash and faeces clogging Madison Avenue and Broadway, without ever finding what they’re looking for.

If the sickening tableau of witless crustacean conflict Mother and I are forced to endure is anything to go by, theirs will be a savage future of motiveless cruelty, characterized best by its extreme ugliness and bleak futility.

A gloating Croatoan – ‘I wanted to show them what the future would REALLY be like,’ he repeats continually, robotically - directs our attention, with an oddly spastic and unsettling sequence of gestures and winks, to a filthy crater where a mob of scrabbling crab people are excavating a time capsule that looks exactly like the one I saw those smiling Scouts loading earlier.

Mother and I bear speechless witness for quite some time as the squabbling, imbecilic crab-sapiens, inheritors of a senile, dying Earth, empty from their canister the contents so lovingly selected and chosen by those beaming, can-do youngsters in the world’s past. I notice a recipe for Apple Pie shredded to confetti and spat from churning tool-faces as though it were poison.

Then, chuckling mindlessly, these hideous inbred descendants of that golden generation apply formidable mandibles and nippers to the task of demolishing the worthless memorabilia of a long-gone civilization - devouring photographs and children’s drawings, regurgitating marriage certificates and zip drives filled with classical music and artistic masterpieces - as an ailing, toxic sun sinks, as if to its knees in preparation for a beheading, across contaminated waves.

Mother dies not long after.

And is that a knowing leer of terror and futility I remember on the eroded, imbecilic face of our toppled idol, Daddy Knackerblaster?

Or am I simply alone, with nowhere left to go, no future?

Staring into a merciless mirror.

Don’t take my word for it! Come see for yourself!

The World’s Fair is a thrilling value-for-money tribute to the ideals of our great country and every American should be proud to take part!

Originally Appeared in: 
Issue Appeared In: 
High Heaven #1