Boffo Turnout for Eclipse

photo: brasserie

A bistro named 'Brasserie' - near Barbés
and Montmartre.

All Predictions Off Marks

Paris:- Sunday, 15. August 1999:- In two minutes of inattention, I missed couturier Paco Rabanne's prediction that the space station Mir was to fall on Paris, smashing it to smithereens, or fall in the Gers department, or both. If wrong, he said, he would forever after forsake making predictions.

A full-page advertisement on the back page of Tuesday's edition of Le Parisien, for Epson's 'Photo Studio,' showed a digital-photo montage of the jolly space station Mir, nose-down in the Latin Quarter.

At 12:23 on Wednesday, about 200 'survivors' of the 'Mir crash into Paris,' celebrated their lucky break with an 'apéro,' in the 6th arrondissement near the location ofscan: le parisien, 14.08 the couturier's shop. A container was set up for a collection of the debris from the space station.

The survival party was organized by the Cercle Zététique. A spokesman expressed disappointment at the no-show by Mr. Rabanne. "Without him, there would have been no survival party," he said.

Three towns in the Gers department also held survival fêtes. Of the towns named for destruction - Auch, Mirande and Condom - the latter held a 'world's end' dinner in its port, with the president of the regional council as a guest.

I seem to remember hearing something to the effect that if his prediction proved hollow, Mr. Rabanne intends to give up the prediction business. All of this has helped his other business considerably - making his name as a clothing designer.

Le Parisien's Eclipsogoggles

After the deception at not finding any eclipse glasses available - anywhere - at 10:00 on Tuesday morning, Wednesday's Le Parisien explained that the 307 examples sold for five francs with the paper - another five francs - were sold out in Argenteuil between 06:30 and 7:00.

Le Parisien ordered what it thought was a big enough stock of the special shades in March. But, it said, somewherephoto: tour eiffel, from metro between the warehouse and the newspaper kiosks, 'some disappeared.' Not only that, many regular readers could not even find a copy of the paper available.

The paper reported that dissatisfied readers were so angry that some sales points had to be temporarily closed. There were some speculators as well, offering the five-franc shades for 50 or 100 francs. But many public offices such as local city halls, had goggles available, as well as rest-stops of the autoroutes.

My lucky-break photo of the Tour Eiffel from moving métro train.

What the paper didn't bother to mention, was whether it sold the announced print-run of 630,000 copies - which is much higher than their daily average. Will success spoil Le Parisien?

Forecast of 'Night' for the Eclipse

Last Tuesday's Le Parisien had a 'true' and 'false' column - which is a common way the paper uses to present true 'facts.' On the subject of total 'night' the paper said 'false.' Then it said the moon would hide 99.4 percent of the sun, and even this would send light - except - in the case of poor weather.

I interpreted this to mean 'quite dark.' 'In the case of poor weather,' then darker than night! However, one percent of sunshine, coming through 95 percent cloud cover - turned out to be quite a lot of light. 'Two nights in one day?' Bah! Humbug!

Eclipse Score

Thirty million 'Frenchmen' turned out to watch the eclipse, according to Le Parisien. The estimate was made by Eclipse-Info, which expects to publish a detailed report in September.

I'm not sure if the 30 million estimate includes the 13 million who watched the live TV transmissions. This, I don't count as 'watching' the eclipse. This is watching TV.

Several satellites also got good views, including Pierre Haignere from his post in the Mir space station.

In case you missed this one, the next chance to see a total eclipse will be on Thursday, 21. June in Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Madagascar. This will be the first day of winter down there, so don't automatically expect clear skies.

Plants Survive Eclipse

The advice before the eclipse was to not water plants, feed them, or touch them too much for the duration. 'Leave them in their state of lethargy,' was another counsel. Worried wine affectionados were assured too - the eclipse would be too short to retard the development of the grapes. Tradition also says, eclipse years make better vintages.

Tardy Transport Warning

The RER line 'C' is being renovated or fixed up his summer, and this has canceled its trains that run between the Champ-de-Mars station in central Paris and the Versailles Rive-Gauche station. The line will return to normal operation at the end of August.

The SNCF advises visitors to Versailles to take the suburban trains from the Gare de Montparnasse, which go to the Versailles-Chantiers station. From the right bank, there are also SNCF trains running from the Gare Saint-Lazare to the Versailles Rive-Gauche station.

Fruit Growers Upset

Fruit and vegetable producers in France are unhappy with the prices they are getting for their produce, which are often under the costs of production. What really burns them up, are the elevated levels of retail prices in the supermarkets.

After some street demonstrations around the country which provided August TV-news with some action scenes, the producers and the retailers had a sit-down to haggle out a compromise for the problem.

Starting Monday, price tickets for produce will show the retail price - unchanged - and the wholesale amount paid - unchanged - to the producer of the fruit and veg. This is supposed to make the buying public aware of how little the producer gets and how much goes into distribution, taxes and markup.

I do not understand how this is going to help a producer of cherries who is getting a franc-per-kilo less than it photo: bistro le chinon, r abbesses costs to grow them. I do not think shoppers are going to be hitting retailers on the head with baguettes on account of the difference in prices.

The bistro Le Chinon, in the Rue des Abbesses on Montmartre.

There is a European commerce rule that forbids retailers from selling goods for less than their cost. For many farmers who produce at a loss, the EU makes up the difference, unless there is a general over-production - which the EU would like to reduce, in a desire to get production to match demand.

Fruit and veg producers have to produce, taking two variables into consideration - the weather and the demand. If the weather is good but demand is weak, wholesale prices dump. Yet, if the EU steps in and guarantees a cost-of-production wholesale price, then there will be over-production.

What seems to remain fixed, are the amounts for distribution, taxes and markup. None of these depend on the weather.

Friday, 13. August

It is a darn good thing the eclipse wasn't on Friday. When Friday is on the 13th, punters pump between 85 and 100 percent more into their Loto bets for Saturday's drawing. Racing is not doing so good, so the extra betting only amounts to a plus of 10 to 15 percent, but casinos see their traffic go up by 20 to 50 percent.

The biggest slot jackpot of 600,000 francs at the casino at Trouville, fell on an ordinary weekday. There are 160 casinos of the same category as Trouville in France.

Sports News

Last night, the Paris-Saint-German football club demolished Metz 1-0 at the Parc des Princes. After the first three of this season's matches, PSG is in first place in France's first division football league.

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