It's Raining But It's Not Pouring

Cafes in Montparnasse
It is almost time to go into the cafés for winter.

Take Your Pick: Pencils, Tools and Photos

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 13. October 1997:- For some reason I do not have a clear memory of last Monday, but I'm sure it was raining by Tuesday. As it kept on intermittently all week, I guess I can safely say 'Golden October' is over. It was good while it lasted.

From this point of view, this means that Paris returns to its more or less normal state of being more or less grey; this soft, almost velvet color, when highlights are seldom and shadows are no longer pitch-black. It is soft; Paris doesn't stand up to too much light over a long period of time.

The rain is seldom serious; it is on or off, often many times in a day, and it seldom settles down to rain non-stop for days on end. It is a 'supportable' rain I would say. It offers views through bus windows, dotted with shiny drops, and when it is a café window and you are inside you can be comfortable because you know the drops are on the outside of the glass.

If you are shy of rain, waiting for it to stop is a good excuse for spending longer than you normally might want to, in a café. Now 'moulage' at Rougier that I've written it here, I've started to think about cafés I'd like to sit in - a good number that I hurried through while the weather was fine, are really worth revisiting to try out their essential sitting qualities. It's something to look forward to.

At right, and the photo below, are Rougier window displays.

This is an issue of no important or big subjects. For various reasons, I decided to do some new cartoons especially for this magazine - but this will get going slowly because I have been away from it for a good number of years. It is a bit like a sport you can only be good at if you practice; one has to build up a mental 'set' for it, to get the right kind of 'quirk' going.

I've been using this under-utilized set - some of them 25 years old - and one of you caught me running one for the second time, although it was for a different subject. That made me think that this magazine really does have 'alert' readers, so I'd better get out my pencil sharpener and use it on my head.

Actually, thinking up gags is a useful occupation while standing under a shower-head - more useful at any rate than just standing there watching the water not go down the drain.

Although I am terribly unhandy with any sort of tool and don't like doing anything with them as a consequence, I like tools for themselves - especially well-made ones. Being very old-fashioned, I like well-made ones which are made out of materials which are extremely hard to make things out of - like heavy-duty ultra-hard high-grade, steel.

You look at the stuff - the good stuff - and it is smooth and shiny and you can tell this isn't an item you can tear off a tree and fashion with a pocket-knife. It comes out of the deep ground and gets run through 'beaux arts' at Rougier the fires of hell before being crafted into something both beautiful and utilitarian - and you can usually buy one of these - for really little money for what you get - and you get something that will not rot or fall apart and may last a thousand years without showing any sign of wear and tear.

I have thought this for a good many years so you can imagine my excitement when Allan Pangborn wrote to the magazine about the tools in the basement of the BHV. I hadn't looked at any in some years - not since I bought a golf club for 10 francs - and I was surprised to learn that good tools are still, in fact, being made. And some of them are made in France.

Allan, by the way, visits France fairly often as he is in the wine business. A lot of people visit France for the wine even if they aren't in the business; so I think it's really cool of Allan to cruise the tool shops as sort of a hobby - which is kind of a hint to everybody, that there are a lot of unusual things to see and do in this country, which are not your usual cup of - tea.

Some Shows

The Photographer and His Model

'L'Art du Nu au XIXe Siècle' and 'Portraits, Singulier Pluriel' are two parallel exhibitions mounted by the departments of stamps and photographs of the Bibliothèque Nationale.

'L'Art du Nu au XIXe Siècle' is an exhibition of 350 - mostly expo photographer and model photographs - donated to the bibliothèque, from a time when the photography was not considered an form of art in itself. Most of the photos were used by illustrators and painters, for use as models for their work. At the time, a 'nude' was considered more or less equivalent to a view of the forest at Fontainbleau.

A reproduction from the BNF show of 'L'Art du Nu au XIXe Siècle'

Delacroix was the first big-time painter to use photographs for this purpose; and others either bought them 'ready-made' or commissioned them for their specific use. For big scenes, painters could divide a photo into squares, and transfer the elements within a square to a corresponding piece of canvas.

Around 1910 this practice began to wane - but at the same time scientists began to use photographs of humans for systematic studies of the body itself. Time-lapse photography was used to study body movements. In this way, photography distanced itself from painting and began to become an art form of its own.

'Portraits, Singulier Pluriel' [1980-1997] focuses on photographic portraits, with a selection from the work of 11 photographers. To figure out 'who we are' from photographs is no easy matter, and in many cases only auto-portraits come close. Portraits are a search for identities.

'Claude Ferrand, Photographies' is yet another BNF exhibition, featuring many photos taken for purposes of publicity. This is a separate show, on at the Galerie Colbert, 2. rue Vivienne, Paris 2 - until Saturday, 8. November.

The first two exhibitions mentioned above, can be found in the Exhibition Galleries at the new bibliothèque at Tolbiac.

From Tuesday, 14. October until Sunday, 18. January 1998. Open daily except Mondays, from 10:00 to 19:00; on Sundays from 12:00 to 18:00. Quai François Mauriac, Paris 13.
Entry: 35 francs, reduced 25 francs.
The art book publisher Hazan has produced a book for each of the Tolbiac exhibitions.

Maison de la Culture du Japon

Officially inaugurated in May of 1996, the Japanese Cultural centre only opened to the public this last 24. September. The brand-new, but sober building was 15 years in the planning and three years in construction.

The work of famous Japanese graphic artists can be seen in an exhibition entitled 'Le Siècle du Design' in the grand hall on the second floor; on until Sunday, 9. November. This will be followed, starting Saturday, 20. November, by a large collection of Raku ceramics, which are used for the tea ceremony.

Maison de la Culture du Japon
101 bis. Quai Branly, Paris 15.
Open Tuesday to Saturday, from 12:00 to 19:00.
Information tel.: 01 44 37 95 01.

Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 1.34 - 14. October 1996 featured the columns - Metropole Diary's 'Total Strikecount-down eiffel or Only Semi - Be Prepared' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'Time, Heavens, Fallout, Bikes and Hero.' The articles in the issue were 'Nifty 50 Year-Old Cars - From the 1946 Auto Salon in Paris' - 'Not for Urban Cowboys - Sub-Mini Vans and a Couple of Pickups at Auto Salon' and 'Save the Faubourgs! - Paris' Planning Department Signals Change in Thinking.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week rounded off the issue.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 2000:

Only 810 days left to go.

Regards, Ric
Attachment Converted: C:\Eudora\Attach\cafe241.jpg
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini