Liquid Research at Le Procope

Le Procope, from the alley side
The back door of Le Procope; where the boules were played 300 years ago.

eMail from Dana Shaw, via the Internet:

Dear Ric,

Tuesday, 23. December 1997:- My father was a college professor, as I have told you when explaining our family's reason for being in Paris, during the 1954-55 school year.

Decorated by the government of France with Palmes Académiques, both Chevalier and Officier, he was something of a renowned figure on the writings of Voltaire. Indeed, during our year in France we even visited his refuge on the border with Switzerland. Close enough, so the famed writer could walk or run - depending on the urgency - out of France when the authorities got too close.

While in Paris, living within a few blocks of the Odéon in the rue d'Assas, we would often go to the Café Procope for 'research' purposes.

My parents preferred Le Dôme or La Coupole in Montparnasse, but Le Procope was a favorite haunt when my father was feeling the urge to intellectualize his need for an aperitif. The owner once graciously showed us a table in which Voltaire had supposedly carved the initials 'FMA' - for François Marie de Arouet - the initials of his given name.

Your photograph of the old place brought back memories long forgotten of that adolescence when Paris became my mistress for life. Vive l'amour!

Cheers, Dana

Update from Vegas; Questions About Paris

eMail from John McCulloch, via the Internet:

Dear Ric,

Friday, 26. December 1997:- Bally's in Las Vegas has placed a model of the new 'Paris' hotel-complex in the dining room.

Regretfully this has a low ceiling, with large model of 'Paris' in Las Vegas - Opera fluorescent light panels. No way to eliminate the reflections, Can't attach anything to the camera case, and there are no filter holders or adapters for the Mavica - yet.

Have to comment on your snowfall 'prediction.' Why don't you just do as the professional weathermen do and blame your miss on 'El Nino?'

Every time they miss here, we get another blast of "Well, the regular weather would have been as predicted, but 'El Nino's' effects are not yet understandable, and thus the weather didn't follow its 'normal' pattern for the conditions observed in the vicinity and surroundings..."

'Real Parisian snow" - In America, you'd have decorated the bush or tree before taking the picture! Darn near every tree or bush has something on it when people decorate their houses. Not me, though - I just put up an outline of a tree or wreath in green lights on the courtyard fence, and fill it with a few colored lights.

Fake $2.00 and $10.00 notes? Here they don't bother with anything under $20. - about 100 francs. Have heard of one attempt at passing a forgery of one of the new US$100s. Maybe a bit more on this subject?

'Gloomy Louvre buildings' - have they lost their patina once again? When I left in '63, they were just cleaning the facade, and the stone was almost yellow gold in colour. Notre Dame just being finished? Wow!

Place 'Something-Else'. Hmmm a bit of a puzzle. I read your text with a map. So now I'm not sure if you meant the Place where the métro Odéon is - place H. Mondor -, or the north side of the Odéon itself - place de Odéon -, or the south side - place Paul Claudel. I suspect H. Mondor, as the rue de l' Ancienne Comédie heads off from there.

With all the Merry-Go-Rounds, I remember there always seemed to be a little kitchen cart, which sold a dough ball covered in powdered sugar. It was made by a machine that kept plopping out a small bit of dough, and dropping it directly into a vat of oil or fat. The operator would then scoop out the ones that were 'done,' scatter on a 'screen' draining the excess oil, and then tilt onto a shallow 'tub,' sprinkling sugar over them. They were served in a newspaper cone. Still there? I've tried making them, but can never get just the right 'remembered' flavor.

Asnavour - still performing! I worked with him in 1966 on the Hollywood Palace TV show. 'Les Comédiennes' was his 'hit'.

May I have a good sized file of the cartoon of the bar with the wreath? I'd like to print that one - if you'd not mind.

Best, John
Photos of Bally's models for 'Paris:' John McCulloch ©1997

The 'Old' Procope and Oodles of Eiffel Towers
Bonjour Dana, Bonjour John,

Paris:- Sunday, 28. December 1997:- The Café Procope came up when I was trying to think of just one place to celebrate New Years' Eve, so I wouldn't have to write a list of 1,387 other places in town. As it is Paris' only 311-year-old café, I thought it wouldn't be biased to propose it.

About six months ago, when Thirza Vallois suggested we 'do' a history on it, I thought, 'Un de ces jours.' Now I am expecting a report about it from Professor Gordon Greb, who is to have his 47th wedding anniversary party there tonight; together with Mrs Professor Gordon Greb, who is known as Darlene.

He wrote to say that if the food is good enough to satisfy 'plain, hungry, Americans,' it will be okay especially as the place is older than both their ages combined. He talked his travel agent into trying it out too. Watch for his report to appear here, 'Un de ces jours.'

John McCulloch in Las Vegas is following the progress of the Bally Hotel plan to build a replica of 'Paris' in the Nevada desert, with - according to the photo - a copy of the Tour Eiffel, half-surrounded by a very big hotel. I find this doubly model of 'Paris' in Las Vegas - tower interesting as now Paris has a plan to build a new 'Tour Eiffel' itself, for the Year 2000 thing.

About John's other comments: my weather predictions - I can't blame 'El Nino' because I insist on blaming TV-weather news. If they want to 'blame' 'El Nino' for continental weather it is okay with me, but I can't do it until they do.

If I had taken the time to decorate the tree - or bush! - covered with rare Parisian snow, it probably would have melted before I could find the twinklies. And that's why people here don't bother shovelling it off their sidewalks.

About the new, fake US$100 notes; I reported several weeks ago that local crime-stoppers tipped over an east Paris printing plant, which had printing films for the new US currency as well as new French notes, just coming into circulation here. I always thought these fancy printing jobs cost the bandits more than the product was worth, but it seems I'm wrong.

'Gloomy Louvre buildings' only appeared to be so because of the gloomy overcast, which was threatening rain at any moment. In sunshine, the 'new' and now 'grand' Louvre, nearly sparkles.

The place 'Something-Else' is your first guess, the place Henri-Mondor, at the intersection of the boulevard Saint-Germain, rue de l'Ancienne Comédie and the rue de l'Odéon. The métro exit Odéon is a favorite meeting place and it is there, so that is where you meet people - not a couple of blocks away up near the theatre. If you agreed to meet a friend at the place Henri-Mondor you would probably not see them again for years.

I didn't see any machines making 'dough balls covered in powdered sugar' near the merry-go-rounds. There were treat vendors, but I didn't look at what they were offering - these things sound like mini-doughnuts without holes. Spanish types of this thing have been gaining in popularity in Paris recently. [For some reason there are no words starting with 'ch' in my dictionary; this is why I can't find the Spanish name for them.]

Charles Asnavour is alive and well and he had a prime-time show on France 2 TV on Christmas evening; singing duets with a horde of top musical stars, few of them half as old as he is or nearly as good. It was a rare performance, when everybody was trying to reach his level, and he was helping them get there.

'Printable' Image Copies

The request for a printable copy of the 'Christmas Bar' cartoon is a reasonable one - other readers have asked for specific photos and posters too. Unless I am in a terrible wrangle, I save large copies - the originals, really - of all images which appear in Metropole.

The problem is that the file-size of large originals or high-resolution images is fairly large - about 200 ko for a high-quality 640 by 480-pixel photograph. To cover my expenses with France Télécom for the transmission charges via the Internet, I would have to ask for payment for these. If I copied sets of images on to diskettes and mailed, this would involve the other, usual, charges.

I expect the sums involved would be nominal - unless you ordered a whole issue's worth of photos - but first I would like to know if there is enough of a demand, to justify setting up a catalogue and an order form. I can tell you right now that you'll be able to use Mastercard or Visa, and Metropole runs on a transaction-secure server.

Let me know what you think about this. Don't bother filling out a form; just send an eMail.

Regards, Ric
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