Defective Memory

by Ric Erickson

Number 1.20 - Metropole Paris, Monday, 8. July 1996:- It is so romantic to get married in the late spring or early summer - greenery and blossoms - summer suits and dresses like gauze - the ladies hats! - the reception in a nice garden to look forward to - and they come out of the church and stand on the steps to have the official photo taken, Saturday - with our usual European raven-black umbrellas, in the driving rain. My wife, who saw this, was worried about how the photos would look in twenty years. As if life is not a proper souvenir without sunshine photos.

I am trying to remember what I imagined about the weather in Paris before I ever came here. Either I have forgotten or I never had any such memory - I guess the idea of Paris was an abstraction and I had no fixed idea of what it might be like; not even much of a dream. The pictures in my textbook for French One had been taken on a foggy day and printed on aged but glossy paper from slipshod plates, and my mother had a bargain-basement fake painting of the Pont Alexandre III for years in the living room, and that's about it.

I saw the movie about Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and remember nothing about it other than he was short and I discount 'Irma-la-Douce' because Jack Lemon is totally unbelievable as a Paris copper and I write 'is' because I saw it again recently, in French - with John Wayne's French voice no less - but I did not go to the 'New Wave' film festival when it was on and did not see 'Breathless.'

If I remember correctly there are good descriptions of Paris in old Ernie's 'A Moveable Feast' but I don't remember when I read it. If I knew where it was, I would read it again (and if I start writing that way, you'll know I've found it) - so, it is sort of like rummaging around in an empty garage of memory.

What I'm trying to figure out is, what do people 'know' about Paris and what do they really know. Is Paris just something in the air, that mankind instinctively 'knows' because it is in history and in so many memories and is therefore lodged in the collective memory of mankind like no other place? Any ideas?

sgsaule.jpg (19k) Summer Editions of Metropole

For the rest of the summer, Metropole will be slimmer than normal, because I want to prepare a few features in advance to tide it over the August 'desert.' Most regular publications slim down in summer as the editorial staffs take a rest and holidays, and readers do likewise. In our case, since we are not on paper, we do not expect to be read at the beach or in the evenings around the patio - but for those who can not get away, Metropole will appear with new features every Monday - and I have a long list of them to do, weather permitting.


Last week I mentioned the Fête des Loges - at St. Germain-en-Laye, at the western end of the RER 'A' line. What I have just found out is that there is a shuttle-bus that runs from the RER station in St. Germain out to the site of the Fête, which is in the St. Germain Forest - a long walking distance from the RER station. This is the 344th annual edition in this location. There are 14 restaurants out in the forest, plus 200 amusement park rides.

Coming Event:

Bastille Day is Sunday, 14. July, and although I have no program, I imagine the usual parade will fill the Champs-Elysées in the morning. The popular 'fête' will take place in Paris - and throughout France - mostly on the evening of Saturday, 13. July - with popular 'bals' organized at local levels, often at local firehalls. There will be many fireworks displays, a lot of music, some dancing and possibly a little bit of drinking.

Metropole will have one or more reports about the 'Fête Nationale' in next Monday's edition; perhaps with photos that are not totally underexposed.

The usual couple of URLs :

'Art' sites :

LVI Magazine - Nicolas Thépot:


Etienne Auger and Etienne Mineur:

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