The Weather, Photos and the Hôtel de Ville

Cafe Luxembourg
On the beach at the terrace of the Luxembourg.

Plus an Expo and a New URL

by Ric Erickson

Issue 2.29:- Metropole Paris - Monday, 21. July 1997:- I was coming back from the café in the early evening a couple of days ago and it occurred to me that it is not as warm as usual for July. I noticed this because I didn't feel warm and comfortable.

The weather report following the TV-news laconically says - night after night - that the temperatures are a little less than normal for the season. What they do, they look at the thousand-year average for July, which includes several ice-ages, and this is how they justify their fibs. It is nowhere near as warm as usual for July; not around Paris.

For people who don't like it warm - above 25 degrees that is - the weather is perfect. Clouds add character to the sky, which is certainly boring to some if it is all blue or all grey.

For me the clouds are more of a nuisance than a grey sky. I line up the camera to shoot a sunny, summer scene, and paff! - a little cloud comes along, effectively making the photo look like it was taken on a crummy day in late spring.

Often, to get the 'right' photo, one has to wait. Wait for people or cars or trucks or buses to clear the scene; wait for something to fall into place - this is called anticipation - or in the case of this weather, wait for summer to return.

You might think I have the luxury of taking my time to do these photos, but most of the ones you see here are from the date of the article they are with - so they In the Tuileries are little snapshots of time. If I have to come back and re-do them, it throws the date off, puts the time out of sync with the experience.

On the beach, in the Tuileries Gardens in the sun.

Sometimes I wonder why I made this 'rule.' It is not done with other media; everything comes out of a can or off the shelf, and the date is simply ignored. The photos in today's newspaper could have been shot at any time, and the most you know for certain is the news might have happened yesterday. If I didn't have this 'rule' of mine, my life would be a lot easier.

After all, this is a weekly publication. What difference does it make if I was at the Hôtel de Ville last Wednesday, or five Wednesdays ago? Not much.

On the other hand, I had no intention of doing a feature about the Hôtel de Ville last Wednesday when I started out. Metropole's Web-server lady, Linda Thalman, suggested I do a piece on it a couple of weeks ago and I was mulling it over. Last Wednesday it was merely on the way to where I thought I was going to do a feature, and I had to get off the métro there.

When I did, I remembered that its little 'remember-the-'50's-in-Paris' show had been prolonged and decided to give it a hit in passing. Instead of doing this right after leaving the métro, I decided to first check out the big place in front to see if it was as dead as usual. It was.

Then I watched the guards filter people entering the front door and this had the look of employees coming back from lunch - which made me wonder where the public entry is.

The exhibition is in the Salon d'Accueil - the reception - so after looking over the exhibits, I asked the reception lady about how one gets to look around the building and she said one doesn't. Then she gave me the brochure with the pictures of what I wasn't going to see.

If you get one of these brochures, you may want to see the original in person. The interior widely outmatches the over-elaborate exterior for excess of decor; it looks like they got every craftsman in France to do his or her 'Metropolar' competition major specialty in there. It may be in doubtful taste, but the interior of Paris' Hôtel de Ville is a major sight. That it may cause sensory overload is neither here nor there.

The people of Paris paid for it and all the people who come to visit Paris pay to get here, so I don't understand why somebody doesn't set up a ticket booth in the big place de la Hôtel de Ville - where there is standing room for a couple of hundred thousand - and charge ten bucks a pop for entry.

Metropolar' is a crime story - not a weather report, running this summer.
Continued on page 2...
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