"Is there a place to throw my garbage?" someone asked.
The response: "Yeah, right behind you."
From the outside, Brian Borrello's Last Thursday "art bubble" looked a lot like a giant, oblong trash bag. Or a gargantuan womb, with the umbilical cord represented by a generator inflating it with air. Or, as another onlooker pointed out, "It's like the Tardis in Dr. Who."
Whatever it looked like, it was a portable structure, with a sign posted that read "MAXIMUM CAPACITY 150. By order of the Portland Fire Marshall." Inside, people played improvised music on cello, drums, and guitars, to a backdrop of red and green lights. Even including the instruments and players, there was enough space inside for about 40 more people to sit on rugs and pillows.
The structure recalled the campy fun of space movies like Flash Gordon or Barbarella. From the outside, it seemed a bit like The Blob, but with cooler music. Soapy foam poured from a nearby machine titled "Alberta Street Hot Springs," and occasionally Borrello or one of his cronies would spray the bubble with a hose.
Inside, it was a surreal space pod, where voices came from nowhere (outside the bubble), space debris (water from the hose) rained down on the rooftop, and no one wore shoes. The musicians were the navigators.
One could interpret the pod in a million ways: "It was a renegade annexation of public space," "An experiment in the varying transmission of sound," or "A brilliant homage to Ed Wood." But you could tell the art bubble wasn't meant for rhetorical deconstruction, really. In my opinion, it was an oddity meant to bring people together. And it did. The people who came and marveled at the bubble included the regular crowd of bourgeois bohemians, improv music fans, fellow artists, a lot of bewildered and giggling children, and people who actually live on or near Alberta (a Last Thursday rarity).