Underground Bikini War

photo: cafe la corona

Waiters take the air before all the seats fill up -
within two hours.

Fine Sights For Sore Eyes

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 31. May 1999:- This magazine survived last week's technical melt-down, by simply declaring a week of six days instead of seven; to compensate for going online 24 hours later than usual.

You didn't know about this? Why am I mentioning it then? This is this week, last week is in the dim and distant past.

But last week, chez the server-lady, Linda Thalman, there were many many empty cups of café, some torn hair, broken dishes - but finally as the weather wasn't too bad, a lot of gardening got done. You see, everything down has an upside. Except, of course, toast with jam on it - whichever side has the jam, it is the downside.

In the editorial office, Professor C. Northcote Parkinson's Law took over and I simply took another day to do what should have been finished more than a day earlier. I don't quite know how this happened, butphoto: avenue clichy since it is a 'law' I need not seek an explanation. The end result was, my 'weekend' was reduced from 24 hours to three. Hardly enough time enough to have Sunday brunch on Tuesday.

The weatherman forgot to send rain 'as usual' for the tennis at Roland Garros.

This kind of accounts for my landing on the Paris headquarters of the 'Freak Brothers' comics empire last Wednesday. No, yes, no, this isn't the real reason. It was as I - have written in this week's 'Club' column - a neighborhood drop-in to sniff out an apartment for rent - plus! - to do a make-up call to compensate for not falling by around the time of the Mayday parade.

While riding in from La Défence on the métro I had gotten no further than Neuilly before realizing that there might be a 'Paris Bikini War' going on. Neuilly and the three following stations all had huge posters, showing what well-undressed young ladies should be wearing.

Marks & Spencer, the British textile retailer, started it off a week ago, fairly innocently. Last week the Swedes of H & M swung into heavy rotation with two posters, both in underground métro versions and above ground on bus shelter panels. By Saturday they had upped the ante to three different posters in all.

Meanwhile, Galeries Lafayette has a tamer version of their own, and British-Dutch retailer C & A also has a tame version. If you go through a métro station where all are present, it is a bit sensational.

So far, BHV is sticking to its hammers and tools, Samaritaine photo: tuileries, thurs 27 may is continuing with its 'Pont-Neuf-chic' home decor, Printemps has something forgettable and the Bon Marché is being its left-bank aloof and moody self.

In the Tuileries, a cloudless ahead-of-time, July sky.

The sheer size and numbers of posters underground make an impression, so its a good thing the underwear maker Aubade is relying on surface poster panels that are relatively isolated as well as smaller in size.

I was hoping to get a good and complete set of four for this week's selection of posters. I did get a fourth; another one by Aubade - but it is so far out, that I decided to be civic instead and run the one for the coming European elections.

Being in this crowd may lead to you to think 'Europe' itself is sexy. The Aubade one 'not seen here' - may be unremarkable on a Paris street - but many of you won't want it in your living rooms. The Internet is not a 'plain brown wrapper' either.

Meanwhile, it has been very warm in Paris and the local ladies have ceased to wear their raincoats and other weather-dictated disguises. I'd like to do a 'lady on the street' interview - or pose a few 'lady in a métro station' questions.

Such as, "Would you wear one of these things?" And, "Do you think these models are real people, or virtual?" Of course, since the mainstream textile merchants are showing these 'uplift' or 'booster' models on semi-skinny mannequins, the most important question is, where does Aubade get its full-sized models?

I might have this all wrong. All the suits have their noses buried in Internet magazines and some of the lady passengers are reading books or thinking about the hammer they're going to buy at BHV. Taking in the poster show probably makes me some kind of degenerate voyeur. Uplifting thoughts, to brighten the underground all the same.

An elegant green-plastic twig broom got my attention last week while waiting at a crosswalk beside a guy who had a trash barrel on wheels and a new broom. I touched one of the 'green twigs' and they really are real plastic.

I asked some silly question and set the guy off; "Some months ago the city changed suppliers," he said, "And now they are just junk." He was taking it like a personal insult. "Just doing the marché at Richard Lenoir wears one out. Only lasts one day!"

It was bright, warm and sunny, and his trash bucket was empty. Once the shoddy green-plastic twig broom beefphoto: painters, sat 29 may was off his chest, he was happy. Jacques Q. Citoyen was concerned even if his superiors were not. Reinforced in his belief that 'us' understood the irresponsibilities of 'them,' his day was made.

On Saturday, at the Rond-Point of the Champs-Elysées; for the paint-in.

And me? My mind's eye called up the image of the 'after' of a marché like Richard Lenoir - mountains of empty fruit and veg flimsy-wood boxes and bits of lettuces and other market garbage, and an army of these guys dressed in viper-green and their fake-twig brooms shoving it all into one pile and other guys hosing the whole thing down and a gang of them keeping the bigger junk out of the drains. What a lot of work!

On the other side of the street, I went into the Mairie of the 11th to find out about the 11-day Fest Onze and its 200 free shows. It starts this coming Thursday and the posters are not printed yet.

For Rent - Flat In Paris:- Available from Friday, 16. July to Saturday, 24. July, inclusive. A 75 square-metre apartment with two bedrooms, which can accommodate four or five. Located in the Marais, 3rd floor, walkup; all mod. cons., bright with windows; near five métro lines and several bus stops. Rent for less than hotel rates; buy goodies and do own continental breakfast. For full info, contact Ms. Adrian Leeds. This is a private-to-private deal.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

count down Eiffel TowerIssue 3.22 - 1. June 1998 - This issue featured - Café Metropole - 'Starving Artists Discovered Squatting' and the 'Au Bistro' column had 'World Cup Ticket Monkey Business.' This issue had one feature entitled 'The 'Panoramas' - The Eldorado of Passages.' 'Links For World Cup SportsFans' was an additional service feature. There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was about 'Not artist! Clochard!' - pretty close to what is reported in this issue.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 215 more quite sunny, and much warmer Ile-de-France pre-summer days to go until summer really happens.

signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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