Welcome to the first of a series of experiences designed to take away my virginity with respect to the world of French-Canadian culture, Asian Film Festivals, Trash Lifestyles, the weird, the very beautiful, and other very interesting diversions. Yes, you shall all bear witness to my deflowering. It is not pretty. But it is funny.
Arriving in Canada, Montreal to be specific, I had a little bit of a talk with a customs person, who asked me what I intended to do in Canada. Why do customs people ask the most ridiculous questions? It's almost as if they are begging us to say something stupid. Oh, let's see, why am I here? Uh, visiting? What am I gonna visit? Oh-oh. Churches? Oh, all right, ok, I was just kidding: I am really here to bomb the city. Details of full body cavity search to follow.
We took a cab from the airport to a superb, great, cool place to stay. Let me backtrack a bit. I had called around to all the hotels along with dozens of Bed and Breakfasts, to find that not only were most of the hotels sold out because of several events going on there that week, but the ones that were available were ridiculously expensive. and I mean EXPENSIVE. I found this jewel of a place. An apartment complex right in the heart of downtown Montreal. The apartments are just that. Fully furnished, functioning apartments. All you need is a toothbrush to live there, and it included a free continental breakfast in the downstairs dining room every morning. This was a 21 storey building and each apartment had a balcony overlooking the downtown area and the view was wonderful. The price for the apartment was less than $50 a day American. It was clean, it was nice, it was within walking distance of EVERYTHING. [...and somehow Chris the hygiene specialist forgot to mention "It had a bathroom" ;-) TC Ed] If you stay in Montreal, this is the place: Click here: Bed & Breakfast and Furnished Apartments.
First night in Montreal involved a "meander" around the city to become acquainted. The main street, Ste. Catherine, has everything you could possibly want: food, drinks, cinemas, Jazz Festivals, museums, tourist traps (thousands of them), condom shops (I am not kidding), strip clubs that included erotic couples doing things on stage so you can watch. I didn't go to those. I left that dangerous piece of article writing to your fully functioning strip-club expert editor.
I did, however, attend my first strip club in Orlando, Florida, and mainly kept my hand over my face whispering to my companion - "They are all naked!!". Of course, a couple of shots of Absolut later, and I was sitting there saying "Fake, Fake, Fake, Real, Fake, Fake, Real.etc.) I had the perfunctory discussion for quite a while of what was the function of a strip club because, frankly, it did absolutely nothing for my libido. I did buy a shirt there and wore it proudly. And I did understand your editor's reasoning of why it was not only ok, but very much a necessity for men to attend these places on a social basis and with regularity. I think the conversation would have gone back and forth forever save for the table dance that occurred right next to us which kind of brought the conversation to a halt. I guess it's hard to talk when your jaw just hit the table. I gave him some ice for the swelling [Ha! Seen one, seem 'em all... TC Ed] and decided not to pursue the conversation further as it was obvious now why men go there. And if it brings them a little fun and happiness, even if only briefly, why not? Life should be enjoyed. It should be relished at every moment. I completely understand the reasoning. It doesn't mean I ever have to go back there.
Where was I? Oh yes. Montreal. There is everything you could ever want there. Lots of events were happening that week. There was a Jazz Festival, following on its heels was a Comedy Festival and, of course, the mother of all Film Festivals: FANT-ASIA '98. Having never attended a film festival in my life, it was amazing. The theatre was old, ratty, had a balcony section that was right out of "The Shining". The carpets were old and dirty. The floors were sticky and kept you thinking about what movie was on last night (yuk). There were statues of fairies and centaurs above huge screen, with a giant stage.
The first people I met were the coordinators Mitch Davis and Karim Hussain. They were wonderful, fun guys with great senses of humor who possessed an unbelievable wealth of knowledge about Hong Kong Films and all their details with their accuracy and interpretations. They treated us like gods, and gave us a table next to the concession stand to sell Trash City shirts and magazines. Ask Mr. McLennan if he were not asked for his autograph when people lined up to buy. Several times!
The throngs of people who came to the Festival were from all walks of life. There were all age groups there. I was half expecting to see only grungy, gothy young trashy people. I was pleasantly surprised. They were a feisty, happy crowd. Very responsive to all the films, very respectful to all the representatives who appeared to present the films, including Paul Rapovski (the bad guy in the "Hitman"), Chiu Chieuk (another martial arts good guy), Tsui Hark (director who will be great in American cinema, if he ever decides to use fake animals in the bear traps instead of the real ones) and others who were kind enough to not only speak with the audience, but stay after the show and speak to us underlings on a personal level and sign autographs gladly.
I don't think I have seen so many movies in my whole life as I have seen this week. I am, to say the least, burnt out, but have a renewed respect for Hong Kong and World Cinema. Fant-Asia '98 has a link to their website. Visit it, believe me, you won't be sorry. Go to their film festival if you can. Don't miss it. Click here: Fantasia 1998
I can feel the heat inside of me building as my passion for this kind of movie burns. I think I am now "hooked" on HK Action. ::shakes her head sadly:: I won't review them though. There are just too many "I'm so sures" in all those movies for me to make any kind of sense of them. I realize that sense is the last thing I need for these films. I only need to enjoy the experience. So, in conclusion, I had a great time and realized that I am standing, facing a Mt. Everest sized pile of Hong Kong and World Cinema flicks that I have NOT yet seen and with a deep respect for those that have been watching them for decades. I feel like having a cigarette because I am in the afterglow of this experience.
And I need more. I am now interested in attending more and more film festivals and will try to get my hands on as many foreign films as possible to try to catch up on what I have been missing all this time. I may have been a virgin, but not anymore. I want more. I left Montreal with that hunger, but that didn't stop me from having another *discussion* with the customs agents who insisted on searching my bags. Not for the illegal Cuban cigars I was smuggling across. Not for the extra packages of moist towelettes I had, for "just in case". No. I was being harassed and searched for "Beanie Babies" -- simply because I had listed one on my declaration sheet. I had to swear that I had only bought ONE. Can you believe it? And details of THAT deep body cavity search will follow in my next ranting...
North American Ambassador, Trash City
Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
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