Gaité In Crises

photo: cafe leonard

With sofas and a salon, the Café Léonard.

Pepe In Barcelona

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 18. October 1999:- Last Wednesday I was minding my own business - which is always sort of snooping around - on my way to check the autumn leaf situation in the Luxembourg gardens, when I happened on a story in the Rue de la Gaité.

This is a short street in Montparnasse, between the Avenue du Maine and the Boulevard Edgar Quinet. Gaité's main features are theatres, before and after restaurants, and some peep-show places. But it is mainly theatres.

One of them is an antique called 'Théâtre de la Comédie Italien.' Last summer, I saw that it was being repainted, and made a note to myself to photograph it when it was finished. And so it was last Wednesday.

But, not quite so alert, I had failed to note newspaperphoto: theatre italien, goldini stories in late September - aboutthe possible closing of this landmark, for being in serious tax arrears.

This came about partly because the theatre was reclassified from being a cultural association into being a commercial enterprise. Founded as a 'Commedia dell'Arte' theatre 26 years ago, it is the only Italian theatre like it in France. Like the Comédie Française, it has its own troupe - of nine or 14 - actors and its repertoire of about 100 pieces.

The Ministry of Culture considered 'La Comédie Italien' to be inadequate as well as badly managed. The antique theatre has just under 100 seats, and its particular structure doesn't lend itself to other types of theatre; to renting it out for other purposes.

Despite all the uncertainty, the director Attilio Maggiulli, began rehearsals for Goldini's 'Le Femme Puntigiose' for this fall season.

On another scene, appeals were made, press ink was spilled and there was even a hunger strike by Attilio Maggiulli, who also wrote an appeal to President Chirac and Prime Minister Jospin, denouncing the greediness of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Strass-Kahn.

In pleading for the statute of 'Théâtre d'Art,' he reminded everybody that closing his theatre on Gaité would probably mean one theatre less and one sex-shop more.

Attilio Maggiulli has also been reminding the press about a telegram he received from New York's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, who was alerted by Robert De Niro to the Gaité theatre's misfortunes.

Well nobody wants a Times Square - that was! - scene in Montparnasse, and so the Finance Ministry is rethinking the theatre's tax bill and its tax status as well. Ten days ago total relief and full aid was announced for the theatre.

Last Wednesday, Attilio Maggiulli was still giddy about it as he gave me a handful of press clippings about the affair. About a bit of Italian theatre on Gaité.

On the Little Screen

I'm surprised nobody has written to comment about how much this magazine has fallen off lately on account of all the TV I've been watching. It's on my mind, so I skipped the TV-news one evening last week. It was on, but I didn't watch it.

It's another show, on Arte, that is causing the trouble. It's on Friday night too - when I should be doing the photos or looking for items in Le Parisien.

What it is, is a Catalan version of the mid-'50's 'Peter Gunn.' For those who don't remember 'Peter Gunn' from TV's really small screen, black and white, 26-minute half-hour series' days, it concerned a very cool private-eye who dressed like Cary Grant, whophoto: moms in luxembourg hung out in a Greenwich Village-type jazz joint - which played the jazzy theme from 'Peter Gunn' - and his girlfriend sang there, somewhat like Julie London - and her real name was Lola Allbright.

Moms in the sun in the Luxembourg last week.

Arte's modern TV-color version is from Barcelona, on a slightly larger small screen - is about Pepe Carvalho who is the 'eye' and his girlfriend, Charo, who is blond and very curvy. She doesn't sing in the club she owns in a Barcelona alley, and neither do the girls who dance in it wearing flamenco dresses about the size of ten-peseta coins.

Pepe dresses better than Peter Gunn - who was always in grey flannel. Pepe smokes a long, thin cigar non-stop too. He also has a sidekick named 'Biscuter,' who is usually cooking something he just picked up in that big market on the Ramblas.

Biscuter shaved off his mustache in Friday's episode, so he doesn't look like one of the guys in the café around the corner from here anymore.

Last Friday Biscuter cooked three meals and Pepe cooked one and nobody ate any of themphoto: rue des archives because of the phone ringing at a crucial moment. For those about to miss these meals, all the ingredients were given beforehand.

Pepe also gets a lot of good tips from an old guy who sells lottery tickets and is Pepe's main cigar supplier. Barcelona cool is a lottery ticket vendor who has a cigar cutter.

In the Rue des Archives on Friday in Paris' 3rd arrondissement..

Unlike the old Peter Gunn show, 'Pepe Carvalho' is shot outside on the streets of Barcelona, which is about as colorful as Pepe's wardrobe. Pepe is also a hip dick; he has a gun but he keeps it in a box on his mantelpiece, unloaded. He drives an old Peugeot 504, which is clean and sturdy but boring.

The scripts are based on stories by Manuel Vazquez Montalban. On Friday, the story was about the modern governor of Barcelona and his anti-Franco past, and its return 24 years later. Like everybody else in Barcelona, Pepe has an anti-Franco past too. In the end, the governor got blown up by a former anti-Franco never-ex bomber ex-girlfriend.

As far as I could tell, it was because he had 'sold-out' - then? - now? - it doesn't matter because his daughter was saved, which was what Pepe was hired to do. While this was going on, another woman also hired him to find out who her husband was seeing.

He turned out to be seeing guys - so Pepe fixed him up with some fake photos with non-girlfriends - Charo's dancers - and this saved his marriage, because he wasn't quite ready to come 'out of the closet' yet.

This sub-plot was in addition to Pepe's eternal wrangle with the police boss; which caused Pepe to just miss grabbing his own Franco-time secret police files from the police archives.

As usual there was a lot of wine drinking, cigar smoking and large amounts of Charo, whophoto: light & shade at chatelet is somewhat taller than Pepe except when they are in bed, which was two or three times during an episode.

Light and shadows at Châtelet on the right bank.

This morning, radio-news says that the ruling Catalan nationalist party squeaked back into power in elections held yesterday. The Spanish Socialist party gained, especially in low-population rural areas, and the right-wing ruling party in Madrid, came in third.

Back on the TV front, the rest of French TV shows a lot of TV-series from the USA, but all their stories - not plots - are about aliens or millennium-angst or serial killers. If you've seen one of these, you've seen them all.

Café Metropole Club Launched

The first session of the 'Café Metropole Club' ran off successfully last Thursday. Read all about it on last week's 'Club 'Report'' page. I am not a bit nervous about it being a bit haphazard because this is a planned feature. Otherwise, no need to dress up for this; just come as you are.

Metropole's New Web Address Continues

This is the new Web URL for 'Metropole Paris:' Some readers have said the old URL works fine, with the 're-direct' sending them automatically to the latest issue. Please 'bookmark' this new URL.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 3.42 - 19. October 1998 - The Café Metropole column was titled - 'Get On the New Métro and Drive!' 'Au Bistro' had 'Student Demos in France.' This issue had only one feature, entitled 'No Hassle From Airport to Snow - Gare du Nord to Lyon.' count down Eiffel Tower The week's 'Scene' column headline was 'The 'Italian Autumn'.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'All Aboard!'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 2.42 - 20. October 1997 - The Café Metropole column was called - 'Broken Promises: Another Ordinary Week.' The 'Au Bistro' column was entitled 'Papon Trial Switches from 1942 to 1961.' This issue had one feature too, entitled 'The Great Pencil Hunt, Part Two.' Reader John McCulloch wrote about 'Sharing Lunch With Emile' and reader Susan Beaupre wrote 'Seine Boats are Made for Not Walking.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Trolling Speed?'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 75 more partly cloudy, partly very sunny, slightly warm and occasionally warm Paris and Ile-de-France autumn days to go until the really big year-end party is in full swing.
signature, regards, ric

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