Standing Invitation

photo: cafe club metro?

At the Café Metropole Club, the weather is nearly
always perefect.

Is This How the 'Café Metropole Club' Begins?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 10. May 1999:- An idea has been rattling around in my head for a few weeks, and this is what is behind it. Lately readers who are coming to Paris have been arranging to meet me in person. Weekly on the Web, virtual, is not enough for these people who like Paris well enough to find Metropole in the Web jungle.

To be quite honest, I like to meet Metropole readers who have taken the trouble to write. While email is wonderful stuff, conversations with it are disjointed and lack all of the hand signs, the body signals and the rolled eyes that make real conversations human.

Yesterday I met Frank Watson from Uppsala, just north of Stockholm, for a chat about photography. Frank teaches it where he lives and he's conducting a group of students aroundphoto: frank watson Paris this week, through the museums and other places where there are photos.

He noticed, and you may have too, that there are usually a number of photos in Metropole every week and you might have, like Frank did, guess that I may have a passing interest in them.

Frank Watson frames the likely shape of the club's 'bunnies.'

We did talk a bit about photos and the teaching of photography, and we talked about this business and about Sweden and Paris - for about four hours; which has been tacked on to this issue's production time somewhere.

Actually, I think Frank mentioned the writing you see here more than the photos. The photos are meant to illustrate the articles in the magazine and are not necessarily the photos I would shoot to stick on my own walls.

We agreed that it was possible to 'get' 10 good photos a year, as a result of steady shooting. Some few of these don't even appear in the magazine because they don't go with anything - or they don't show enough 'Paris,' which is the point of it all. The other 960-odd annual photos aren't second-rate; they merely do their job.

It is very useful for me to talk the readers because it gives them a chance to say critical things they won't necessarily write. Sometimes there are questions too, about 'Metropole behind the scenes,' and I don't mind these - although I don't care to write about this area because it is not about Paris.

All in all, it is quite easy to fill up four hours with shooting the breeze on a warm and sunny, quiet Sunday afternoon in Paris, sitting on the terrace of a handy café.

And this brings me to my idea. If the online magazine 'Metropole' is virtual Paris as it is today, why not add an element of reality to it by having a 'Café Metropole Club?'

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a property agent and he told me that bar-cafés in centralphoto: cafe on grands boulevards Paris sell for 'millions of dollars,' but none are for sale. This kind of lets me off the hook two different ways as I currently lack dollars in any amount.

Also there are a lot of regulations and licenses involved, so pretty much all of the central bar-cafés are controlled in some way by drink-supply conglomos. You have to be friends of these to get anywhere.

A café, almost any café will do. Here, a big one on the Grands Boulevards.

But anybody can walk into any café and sit down anywhere there is a free seat. So the question is, if I say I will be at the 'Café Metropole Club' on Thursdays at 11:00, will anybody come?

Since Frank was handy yesterday, I ran this scheme by him. At first he didn't follow my drift so I said it would be sort of like a 'Playboy Club' with me instead of bunnies. No entry charge, no need to wear a tie, no tipping (me) and no need to make reservations.

Actually, a few weeks ago when this idea was 'rattling around my brain' - I am a noisy daydreamer - I had the place tricked out with a couple of imaginary online PCs, so the 'Club' could be used as a handy email-drop for readers in town. There were special sandwiches on the menu too, but this is part of another 'maybe' deal. Also, I thought it would be useful to keep a couple of the larger reference books handy, in case anybody has a tricky question. And there were a couple of other things which I did not jot down.

Since buying a café is out of the question, I have been snooping around for a likely, informal, location.

I believe I've found the spot - which is very central, near the Seine, has a large terrace area, a zinc bar, high ceilings, one medium-sized 'salle' and another big one. It has a good view and gets light all day, and is only two blocks from a good métro station. Too much traffic going by is its one drawback, but what would Paris be without a whiff of diesel?

Is this the 'Café Metropole Club?' The real place has another name, because the 'club' is just an unofficial place to meet the editor of Metropole.

Come by on the right day at the right time and I will be there to say 'Hi' or 'Tag' or 'Bonjour' or 'Buenos Dias.' Because this will be for Metropole readers who are so inclined and not because I am famous, I doubt if I will sign autographs. On what? Not 'on Metropole,' because it is only a state of mind.

I did think - the old daydream again - that visiting 'club' members could have their portraits shot, and thesephoto: terrace drugstore champs elysees could be put in the following issue of magazine, in a feature called 'Readers In Paris This Week,' which would make everybody just as famous as me, for about the same length of time - about 15 seconds.

But not the Drugstore on the Champs-Elysées - it's too busy.

Although all of this is a daydream, I think we should do it. The café is real and its got enough room. Doing this 'club' will add a new dimension to the Internet; mixing up the virtual with the real. Being able to meet your 'man in Paris' may be handy too. Who knows where it may go?

For the moment, this idea is a 'flag' being hoisted. If enough of you salute, I will talk to the café's management to let them know what's afoot. I suggest a tentative start-date for September or October.

I don't think the 'Café Metropole Club' can begin before then. If it's too late in the year for anybody to drop by, I will go there anyway and read the newspapers or think about what I might write for this column.

Even if there is no 'club,' I may do this anyway. Let me know what you think about this idea. You won't need to fill out a form to get a membership card and quitting the 'club' will be just as easy.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 3.19 - 11. May 1998 - This issue featured - Cafécount down Eiffel Tower Metropole - 'Do Not Adjust Your Web Browser' and the 'Au Bistro' column had 'Big Dump At Culture Box-Office' The issue had two features: 'Grand Marché d'Art Comtemporain' and 'Man Ray in Montparnasse, Forever.' Three eMails were collectively entitled 'Echos of '68.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'The Unemployed Clochard,' a redundancy which was meant for last week's cartoon too and may apply to this week's as well.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 236 more quite warm and breezily blue, Ile-de-France spring days to go until it's over.

Regards, Ric
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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