Saturday, July 23, 2011

Are You "Experience"'d?

As I sit here awake at a ridiculously early hour on my first morning back from Italy, I'm filled with so many memories, impressions, opinions and desires, but only one real dread: having to face my first North American "espresso".

I was up for 23 hours yesterday travelling and have now slept a scant 5 back in my own bed in Montreal so I'm desperately craving a coffee to smooth out the jagged edges of my jet lag but oh god, I am loathe to do anything to corrupt or contaminate this still intense, sensory memory of the dark, hot, rich ambrosia I shamelessly binged on overseas!

Right. I know. Overkill. But can I just tell you that there is NO COMPARISON between theirs and ours? And I'm not just talking about the flavour or the texture or the intensity of the actual drink. Or about the majestic, offhanded elegance of their whole ubiquitous ritual. I'm talking about the buzz.

As in, there is none.

Well, at least none of that jangly new-world kind anyway. And even though I regularly exceeded my usual maximum intake of two per day while I was away, I never not once EVER experienced that raunchy, acid-stomach after-burn from any Italian coffee - espresso, macchiato, cappuccino or otherwise - that passed my grateful lips at all times of day and night.

It's like the difference between the pure stuff. And the stuff that's been cut with something.

Or, like the difference between a festival that exists for the pure celebration of films and their audiences. And the other kind.

"The Giffoni Experience", as it's officially called, is exactly that. 100%. Panoramic. Technicolor. 3-D. Experience. It's a full-hearted, richly textured carnival of (for, by and about) kids - and the many kinds of cinema they respond to.

And for those of us ex-kids who were lucky enough to be invited in, it's also a regular, written-down reminder that a festival of film can (and should) be a whole, living, breathing, 360 degree, multi-levelled, cultural and interpersonal EXPERIENCE!

As it was for me and so many of the people I met there. So in the coming days, I'll post photos, faces and some stories that go with them. I'm not reporting in "real time" I know. It's already all happened and behind me. So yeah, I'll be sharing it in slight retrospect and I realize that makes me a dinosaur in this, the "instantaneous information age", but so be it. I've always been someone who likes to eat slowly, savour the meal, then respond and recount (also, internet access was sporadic there and a bit of a pain in my lazy butt).

So, with the exception of any "breaking news", which you know I'd tell you as soon as I possibly could, I figure if I introduce you to some people, tell you some stories and show you some pictures after having been as present in the moment as possible, it will feel as instantaneous as it needs to for you - and as fully-lived as it needs to for me.

Meantime, it's not even 9 am here and I'm feeling all heavy with fatigue and "black bliss" withdrawal... so ... do you think it's the actual espresso machines over there that make all the difference?... or the beans? ... or the way they're ground? ... or the water?

...or the whole unbeatable, unrepeatable experience...