Almost Without Features

photo: veranda rest. fournaise

Veranda of the Restaurant Fournaise in Chatou.

An Issue More Accidental Than Others

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 12. April 1999:- I don't expect that anybody really cares about how I organize myself to produce this magazine every week. I fact, I wouldn't be surprised if some readers are convinced there isn't any organization at all.

It is a bit of both. Thanks to readers, there are some projects that take a while to put together - but many features are just like the 'lightbulb' idea. 'Bif,' my lamp is lit. I get on the train headed to Paris and by the time I get off I know what that day's feature is going to be.

Last week - while worrying a bit about not taking care of some current proposals fromphoto: poster: vous pouvez resister readers - I managed to get to Paris without any 'bif,' without any illumination in my dim recesses. Another day I was in Versailles on unrelated business and when it was finished, I had no 'bif' there too.

Thursday night's TV-news showed a Moorish Arch being erected in the Place de la Concorde. This sort of thing does not happen every day in Paris, so I figured it was worth a look on Friday.

Yes, this is definitely not what the doctor ordered - but what the heck!

This I did, but it was not worth a feature article, as it is a promo for an exhibition which starts this coming Thursday. With just the little vernissage at the Musée Fournaise in Chatou on Saturday, I was looking at writing a feature about odds and ends, or about 'how not to write a feature.'

Then the Musée Fournaise turned out to be more interesting than I'd thought it would be, and writing about it left me no time to write a lot about four other unrelated subjects. And since I am writing this explanation here, these four other unrelated subjects will not fit in here either.

This reminds me of the man on the street I ran into last Wednesday. I was in the Latin Quarter, on a street which was flanked by a high wall, with what appeared to be an old fire station, and behind the wall there was a big building that was certainly old.

I was wondering if it were a 'find' when the man saw me looking and deduced I had no idea what I was looking at. He told me what a scandal it was, this old convent or something, how it was now a police barracks, somebody should 'do' something - you know, the kind of conversation you can get into.

I walked around the whole block and could find no main entry, so I am just as much in the dark as before. Later, I checked my Paris map, and it shows nothing; and I haven't the time to look up the four main street references in my 'street' dictionary, plus all the sub-references.

But if I did, this probably would have been a big feature - except the thing is behind a high wall and full of policemen. So, it could have been, almost was, a feature. But it didn't pan out.

Tocqueville's News This Week

'The Tocqueville Connection' has been forgetting to send me highlights from their current Friday editions, but I've gotten into the habit of taking a look anyway to see their view of things Parisian. This week's feature about the Opéra Comique's 100th anniversary is worth your time - especially as this opera house seems to be having a renaissance - after 300 years of operation.

Email News and Views

Emails from readers are welcome and there are a constant stream of them. Most of these do not lead logically to article ideas. I don't feel I should publish all the ones saying 'three cheers for Metropole!' either - although these are particularly welcome - and arrive fairly steadily.

However, Metropole does have readers who write occasionally about this or that, and here are two of them.

Don Smith of OzArt in Seattle is a Paris fan and he's threatened to photograph me during a Paris visit in May, when I may spend a Saturday being a Sunday-painter on the Champs-Elysées. Don, as a Paris fan, has Paris on his Web site and he's written to say his travelogue is now ready for viewing. This may involve big images, but if you like them, be sure to drop him a note.

On account of getting involved with a mad marathoner last year - one who trained for the Paris Marathon by running up somephoto: bike lane, rue rivoli hills in Nepal - I relentlessly plugged this year's marathon. Doing this got me a big ho-hum from all except Eric and Kirsten, who may live in Stuttgart. They wrote last night:

"We just wanted to thank you for helping us find the Paris Marathon link a few months ago, and tell you that we finished the marathon last Sunday in 5 hours, 02 minutes. We got to see more of Paris than we had ever bargained for, and we were also impressed with the support we got from the spectators, a mix of Parisians and tourists. Out in the neighborhoods the fans cheered the loudest, so the residents of Paris apparently were enthusiastic about thousands of people in shorts running through their city. This is what I like to think anyway."

I don't normally buy Monday's edition of Le Parisien so I didn't get the results of the race. If I remember correctly, 22,000 hardy souls raced through Paris - for fun! - and this was worth about 15 seconds of clip-video on Sunday evening's TV-Sportsnews. Since you probably can't access France's Minitel to get the results, you can try to find them on Le Parisien's Web site.

The Festival Season Starts

Since there are so many annual festivals in France now, the season has to start earlier and earlier. Pretty soon, I expect festivals will begin their new season last year, to get a proper head-start. The one known as the 'Printemps de Bourges' starts tomorrow. Although I have lived here a long time, I don't know what it is about, except that it is a 'big deal.'

The Basque Country as Trans-Frontier Land

If you can get away from problems caused by nationalism, you can find people who live in regions without getting too uptight about far-off national capitals. France and Spain have three of these: Catalonia, Andorra and the Basque country. Oddly, these particular regions not only slop across a line on the maps, they transverse the natural barrier of the Pyrenees successfully.

This Web site has the somewhat unwieldy name of 'Eurocité Basque Bayonne-San Sebastián,' but I likephoto: opentour bus, arc triomphe the 'Eurocity' idea of it. The site is divided into eight sections, and for map fans, there are some big ones.

Montmartre Continues Online

When I heard about 'Paris18 Net' some weeks ago I took a look at what seemed a good idea. Two weeks ago the information came to me again, and it said 'Paris18' is a doorway to 600 Web sites up on the Butte. Grouped into eight large categories and even visitors are supposed to be able to find information about all their favorite Montmartre places. Give them a tryout if you are a Montmartre fan.

Paris' 'LiveCam' Shows Spring Weather

Metropole readers are giving this site a hit because they think I should know about the weather in Paris. Readers have stopped writing to tell me about the weather here, but thank you all the same. Typical early spring weather looks like Paris occasionally bathed in bright, blinding sunlight, but mostly dull and chilly overcast. I will content myself with looking out of a closed window - one magically cleaned a couple of weeks ago, probably by the Easter bunny.

count down Eiffel TowerThis Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 3.15 - 13. April 1998 - This issue featured - Café Metropole - 'Unusually Small Edition,' without an 'Au Bistro' column. The issue had one feature, entitled 'Models and Games Salon On Annual Display,' and two email features: 'Email from Margaret Gilsenberg: Parisians 'Find' Issy for Visitors' and 'Email from Prof. Greb: Rights, Justice, Tyranny.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Chocolate colors.'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 264 more bright, fluffy, fresh, flowery, springs days to go.

Regards, Ric
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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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