'Bad' News For Hard Times

photo: cafe rivoli, interior
October sun finally showed up in Paris this week.

Too Much 'Good' News Is Unreal

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 23. November 1998:- When I started this magazine in early 1996, my conception was - and is - to have only 'good' news about Paris, the Parisians, the French and France.

I felt there are enough other sources to get a steady diet of 'bad' news. And all of us get more than our fair shares of it. In fact, most mainstream 'news' is nothing but 'bad.' What does this do to our collective psyches? I don't know; my guess is that it isn't positive.

The way France is, the way visitors like to think of France, is that it is a place with little else but 'good' news. In the weekly 'Au Bistro' column I steer away from all the stories of modern mayhem, meanness, crime, corruption, folly andphoto: seine at issy stupidity; not because these are unknown in France - but because I don't think you need more of it, or really need to know about the French versions of it.

If you look hard enough, you can still find scenes of the Seine like this.

Endlessly likening Paris to 'dreamland' is harmless in itself. But one of my other aims is to tell you about the Parisians and the French. If I never mention that 'bad' things happen here, it makes everything in the magazine a fantasy - like the only unfantastic thing about Disneyland is that it is an amusement park.

Although I have kidded around to suggest that Paris is an 'amusement park' for adults, the fact is that Paris is a real place inhabited by real people. As fantastic as Paris may seem to you, it is reality to some 12 million people in the city and the surrounding region.

Part of this reality is winter. Another part of thisphoto: st germain in rain reality are the homeless, who are mostly French. Put the two together and it is a recipe for dramatic situations.

Two such related stories are edited into one item of 'bad' news in this week's 'Au Bistro' column. The whole story is about the French and the way a particular situation happened and was handled; it is not meant to draw your attention to winter and the homeless.

On the boulevard Saint-Germain.

It is up to you to draw your own conclusions. I'm not telling you to 'draw conclusions,' just as I will try not to inject my opinions into the account. You'll have to figure out your own 'punch line.'

Transport Strikes This Week

For the first time, a 'Euro-Strike' of rail operations has been called for today, and French rail workers are to take part in it. It is possible that this 'Euro-strike' is a French term - to protest against wider competition - and does not actually mean a continental-wide train strike.

This will affect TGV service between Brussels and Paris, with about a 30 percent reduction in scheduled trains. Train services to other countries may be affected as well. Not expected to be affected is the London-Paris 'Eurostar' service.

Throughout France, do not expect more than one train out of three to be operating on any long-distance runs. Regional traffic between major centres is expected to be close to zero.

In the Paris region, the RER lines 'C' and 'D' will be most severely affected with only one train in four running, and one in three on the RER line 'B.' The RER line 'A' should be operating normally. Suburban SNCF trains will be running at the rate of 25 to 33 percent of normal.

Later in the week, SNCF ticket controllers have called for a strike on Thursday. On Friday, train drivers take their turn. The Friday strike is expected to be widely followed.

Train personel around Marseilles settled their two-week strike over the weekend, but have joined in today's 'Euro-strike.'

As usual in these circumstances, road traffic is heavy in the Paris region, with serious bottlenecks reported at 8:00 this morning on all incoming highways.

The Tocqueville Connection Looks At Photos

While commenting on French-American relations and other political issues, The Tocqueville Connection also takes a look at 'French Style' and this week their gaze falls on the current 'Mois de la Photo.' They say that the city has its own collection, containing eight million photos - and some of these can be seen at four different city museums. I believe it.

Télérama Online

France's thickest TV-guide has a Web site with today's TV program. For example, tonight France 2 will broadcast a feature about the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights at 23:00, which is not exactly in 'prime time' but this is not Télérama's fault.

The site does require Java though; if you don't have it installed you'll get annoying 'error messages' to remind you how clever some programmers are. Télérama, in its paper version, is more of an all-round culture magazine than one simply focused on the tube - but if you read all of it every week, you will have little time to spare for watching TV.

Newspaper Does the Web for Kids

Since 1996, ''Le Progrès de Lyon' has been producing the 'Le Web des Enfants' and it is so popular that it is in third place after 'news' and 'sports.' Be sure to check out the section named 'Les Echos du Zoo,' and watch for new things to come in January.

Chronicart

This is a cultural magazine in French which I think I've mentioned before. Chronicart gets into some odd stuff, such as somehow acquiring a tape recording of a conversation made in August 1994 just before TV airtime, between a former Minister of Defense and the boss of a major private TV network. There was an open mike and it was being picked up by a satellite that somebody was bugging. In September the 'Le Canard Enchaîné' got their copy of the conversation and splashed it all over their front pages, and in December 'Chronicart' got its own copy too. Where will it all end?

The Sept Became the Cinquième

And if I've got this right, the Cinquième becomes 'Arte' after a certain time of day - turning into our Franco-German 'cultural' TV network. However it goes, the Cinquième does culture and the Cinquième does it on the Web too. I think the main thing to remember here is that the Cinquième has more resources than I do, so their stuff about such things as the 'Salon du Livre de Jeunesse' in Montreuil might be more complete than what I've accidently found out and put into this week's 'Scene' column.

L'Institut Géographique National

If you are a fancier of geography and focus on the geography of France, then the IGN has probably got what you want. For example, I'd like to get one of theirphoto: place vendome satellite photos of Paris - but I can't quite afford it. One of these days I will - and I hope it's soon.

From the Tuileries towards Vendôme - last Tuesday.

The Winning Irish Times

This Dublin newspaper has just won the 'IP Top Award' top prize for content, narrowly beating out Sweden's 'Aftonbladet.' Find out more about European online publishing by checking out the full list of winners of the 'IP Top Awards.' It is too late to send 'write-in' votes for Metropole, but you might think about doing it for next year. Meanwhile, take a look to see how it's done in Ireland.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 2.47 - 25. November 1997 - Thiscount down Eiffel Tower issue appeared on Tuesday last year and featured the columns - Café Metropole - 'Rain and Wine, Weather and Beaujolais' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'The Second Last Red and Jospinomania!' The issue had two articles, entitled 'Fancy German Cars and Freibier' and 'Car Showrooms on the Champs-Elysées.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' again and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was subtitled, 'Singing in he Rain.' All I can remember is the Beaujolais Nouveau, reminding me I'll probably forget it again this year.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 404 days and nights left to go.

Regards, Ric
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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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