Not Much About Anything

by Ric Erickson

Number 1.17 - Metropole Paris, Monday, 17. June 1996:- In order to put Metropole online on Mondays, I write this column fairly early on Sunday evenings. With the kind of weather we are having, 'fairly early' these days, as 21. June nears, are like the middle of the afternoon, and I wish I was doing something else just like practically everybody else - like the students in France who are doing their final cram this weekend for the Bac and wish it were over.

The past week's events go into the 'Au Bistro' column and this is datelined Saturday, even though, technically, 'last week's events' include what happens on Sunday. If I am top of things, all 'Au Bistro' needs is 'topping-up' on Sunday with the latest results of major events; but like just about everybody else I am never 'on-top' of things.

I worked on a country weekly paper a long time ago and writing anything for it was an agony because by the time it was distributed everybody in town knew the news already. What I didn't realise then, was that the newspaper made the news 'official.'

Like the 'official history,' what was printed was a huge distortion of what actually happened. Because it was a small town and everybody knew each other, everybody knew everything - except for one person: myself. As an imported 'outsider' nobody would tell me anything. What little I was told, I could not dare print, without fear of libel. I had not been there long enough to 'write between the lines' and I had no desire to do so because I had nearly nothing to go on.

Reporting for Metropole, in contrast, is like a dream situation. The majority of readers are anything but local. All I have to do is try to find stories that I am in the dark about as much as readers, and do them. If they have already happened and they are only of local significance, I will do them if they may tell the reader something new about France and Paris. If they going to happen, I will only include them if they may affect a reader who is planning a visit.

There are no guides for doing this and I have to sort of make up whatever 'rules' there may be as I go along. The subject is so vast in any case, that it is not a problem to find things to write about.

The problem has more to do with the one rule that Metropole does have - the one of putting a dateline on every article. While the dateline for the 'Au Bistro' column is Saturday and there are 'Sunday' items in it, and 'Diary' is written on Sunday instead of Monday morning - all the rest of the reporting and the accompanying photos, are done on the datelines attached to the features.

Metropole does not have any stories in inventory - ready to run in a slow week - and although the archive is acquiring a lot of photos, they are seldom used. Because Metropole is distributed via Internet, it is delivered 'fresh' - it is not in pre-production three months in advance. Although this makes for an authentic publication, it is a bit nerve-wracking to always be on the 'deadline.'

In other words, being inside writing this while my neighbors are outside having fun and picking up lots of Cs - is not quite as exciting as doing the reporting.

Coming Events: A Selection:

The 11th Paris Film Festival
From Tuesday, 18. June to Monday, 24. June. At Theatre du Rond-Point, 2 bis, avenue du Franklin Roosevelt, Paris 8. Tel.: 40 30 20 10.

Antiques Fair:
Grand European Antiques and Second-Hand Market, with more than 400 exhibitors. Dining facilities.
Until Sunday, 23. June; from 11:00 to 20:00 daily, late evening on Thursday, 20. June. Located at the field of St. Cloud, west of the Auteuil racetrack at the Porte de Passy. Métro stations Porte d'Auteuil or Ranelagh and take the shuttle-buses.

Annual Course des Serveuses et Garçons de Café Sunday, 23. June at 16:00. Start and finish at the Hôtel de Ville.

The usual couple of URLs:

Les Verts - French ecologists online:

La Poste - The French 'snailmail' is about to get into the electronic mail business. Express your interest in this extra postal service at:

Novel, video and unique: 'Dobermann':


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