The Waiting Game

photo: cafe-resto le numide

A long restaurant with a café at one, or both, ends.

Keeps Metropole Coming

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 23. August 1999:- I have been in the Internet publishing business a long time now and I have learned over and over again that it is a 'hurry-up-and-wait' affair.

Being in a hurry to be first is hardly worth it when after you've knocked yourself out doing this, you find you have to sit around and cool your heels for weeks, months - years? - before the right combination tumblers click into place.

I mentioned 'coming changes to Metropole' last week because I thought these would be happeningphoto: neon, 17 rue des gobelins soon. 'Soon' meaning, within a couple or weeks, or a few months at most.

Metropole wasn't online for more than fifteen minutes last Monday before Tim Cissell wrote from Dallas to ask about the best way to get French films on DVDs - an item I hoped Metropole would be able to offer to readers.

Digital Video Disks have many good features, but the entertainment companies have decided that they should not be sold as an universal standard - like audio cassettes.

For DVDs the United States is 'Zone 1' and its TV standard is NTSC. France is 'Zone 2' and its TV standardphoto: mosiac, sq rene le gall is the SECAM system, but the DVDs in France play on the PAL standard for TVs. Many TV sets in France are bi-standard SECAM-PAL, and some will even 'display' NTSC videos if the videorecorder can read them too.

Japan is also supposed to be a 'Zone 2' country, but its TV standard is NTSC. A friendly fellow at fnac explained this to me, while standing in front of racks and racks of 'Zone1' and 'Zone 2' DVD titles. He also showed me two brands of DVD players that are bi-standard too.

In a way, the fellow hinted that these DVD exclusive 'zones' are not etched in steel and clever people with screwdrivers will be 'fixing up' their DVD machines to play the little plastic disks regardless of the coded 'zone.'

The fact is 'universal standards' makes certain people uneasy. Rights to distribute films and music are owned, leased, rented, acquired, on a country-by-country basis and anything produced on a 'universal' support has a good chance of finding 'unauthorized' distribution systems, which may not be paying the dues for the 'rights.'

It's like we are living with a 19th or 20th century system, just as the Internet comes along to permit the 'universal' distribution system of the 21st century. The nail of this gets its final hammer with the introduction of the DVD.

Meanwhile we have our 'universal' Internet that allows all of us to be connected to each other via a standardized bundle of wires and machines. This is great, but hasn't it given all of our national and even local authorities some terrible frights?

According to many of the newsletters I get, authorities everywhere are working overtime - it's an industryphoto: rue des gobelins in itself - to get the Internet 'under control.' They are talking about regulations from 'A' to 'Z,' and dreaming of collecting huge amounts of taxes. It is a bit like the 'tax wall' that used to surround Paris - collecting its penny for everything that moved in or out.

That wall fell because it was decided that it was bad for business - which produced more tax revenue when it was freer to operate. This is the theory of 'free-trade' and all the talk we have of 'globalization' today.

It's a good thing it is only theory even if the newspapers have been able to scare a lot of ordinary people into being very worried about their personal prosperity.

Our 'leaders' give it good lip-service, and then let certain industries create their little cartels, which, if they don't stifle 'free-trade' they do a darn good job of making it more expensive for the guy who pays all the bills in the end - the consumer.

Your are reading Metropole because you are interested In Paris and I am making Metropole because if I were in your shoes, I'd read it too. We have a common interest.

I figure that if Metropole can offer bits of 'Paris' for sale to you, some of you will buy them because of the common interest and because it can be a less expensive way of having bits of 'Paris' than flying over here every other weekend.

Where I have made a serious miscalculation is in my perception of the Internet. For me, it brings all of you closer to Paris.

'All of you' are very few Parisians and even fewer residents of France. 'All of you' are all around the world - for some months, the statistics say in 85 countries.

Nobody I've talked to since the beginning of this year - or off and on for the past several years - thinks you are a potential market.

From your emails I know this is not true. Right now I am flat out of magic wands and 'presto!' ideas. This meansphoto: stairs, sq rene le gall that you will not be seeing any exclusive offers for Paris books, posters, music-CDs, DVDs, beautiful CD-ROMs - in Metropole, soon - as I suggested as a possibility last week.

Not dead is the coming 'Café Metropole Club.' This is the idea for having a fixed, weekly meeting place in Paris for readers in a convenient café. I expect to announce the startup of the 'Club' in late September, with the first session taking place then or in early October. I'm looking forward to seeing you there when you are in Paris.

The Internet address of Dot-Com will happen, sometime soon I suppose. When it does, the 'com' will stand for 'comic' - which is what I feel is the result of my commercial efforts so far.

However the Dot-Com is being tested now and you'll get a chance to see if it works within a week or two.

You can help with this. Metropole, with all its past issues online, contains over 1600 pages. Software has been used to make necessary alterations, but we all know that no software is perfect. So if you've got the time to do it, I want you to find as many mistakes as you can, and report them to me.

I'll think up some appropriate prize for the reader who rats on the most, as a thankyou for this help.

No 'Au Bistro' This Week - the papers were marked up and the photos were done, but when I think of the past week as France's 'dead-zero season,' while the horrible disaster is happening in Turkey - I am just putting the column on the spike. Look for next week's news from Paris, next week.

Metropole's Summer Guide:- appeared in Issue 4.27 in the form of two extra pages in addition to the 'Scene' column. You can quickly get to these by hitting this link to the issue's home page, or by taping on All Past Issues at the top and bottom of most pages in Metropole.

There is a lot of summer activity at the science and music park at 'La Villette,' so a list of these was put into their own 'events' page, called 'A Multi-Theme Park.'

The Fall Season and Paris 2000 - since the beginning of the year, readers have been hinting that they intend to be in Paris for the turnover from 1999 to 2000. The Ville de Paris has not been asleep; its plan is called 'Paris 2000.' It is a fairly modest plan - 'from the heart' - as it's called. The national program seems equally low-key and brief details of some of both agendas are in this week's 'Scene' column.

All of the photos on this page were taken in the Gobelins area. Read 'A Tapestry Factory' in this issue.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 3.34/35 - 31. August 1998 - This was an issue done before I went on holiday to Spain, to tide you over the end of August. The Café Metropole's subtitle for two weeks was - 'Life In the Tame Lane.' This issue had two features, entitled 'The Truthcount down Eiffel Tower About Spain' and 'One 6000 Km Round Trip in Spain.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Siesta's End.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 2.33/4 - 18. August 1997 - This was also an issue done before I went on another holiday to Spain, to tide you over the last half of August. For this reason the Café Metropole's subtitle for two weeks was - 'The Centre of Midsummer.' This issue had one feature, entitled 'Sharing a Holiday with Cows.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Hot Dogging.'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 131 more partly sunny, rarely hot, or occasionally unsettled Paris and Ile-de-France summer days to go until the really big year-end party is in full swing.
signature, regards, ric

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