Club Members Do Not Grouch - Much

photo: l to r, dana, jan, mark, heather

From left to right: Dana Shaw, Jan Shaw, Mark
Kritz and Heather Stimmler.

News from the 'Café Metropole Club

Paris:- Thursday, 28. October 1999:- Getting ready to go to the 'Club,' I decide not to overdress - thus guaranteeing that somebody will show up in a tuxedo - or in a suit at least. It is not raining, it is not summer, so I go like I am, and take the bus 38 again.

On the way over from Châtelet I do not see anything except a poster on the side of the Théâtre de la Ville and a lot of people on the Rue de Rivoli. At Samaritaine, the Rue de la Monnaie is closed and full of sales booths in the street, which seem to be drawing a lot of Parisians with the weather being good enough for browsing in comfort.

On the Quai du Louvre not many are sitting outside on the terraces of the string of cafés, and only a couple are on the long terrace outside La Corona.

As I am taking yet another photo of the exterior of the café from a traffic pylon in the middle of the Rue de l'Amiral Coligny, Patrick the waiter waves from the doorway.

Inside La Corona I shake hands with all; Patrick, Monsieur Ferrat - last week's waiter - with the manager and his assistant. In the big room behind the bar I head for the club's area and Patrick comes over and tells me two possible new arrivals are sitting closer to the bar.

This is how I meet Jan and Dana Shaw from Florida for the first time. Dana wrote in April 1996 to ask if the Rue de la Huchette had changed much; hisphoto: patrick, mark email appeared in issue 1.09 of Metropole and he has been writing pretty steadily ever since - which gives him and Jan not only 'charter members' status, but an 'honorary members' rating as well.

Mark has a salad; searches for anchovies and finds some.

Patrick shifts all their stuff to the club's area and the meeting starts precisely on time. I don't do any head-counts until Heather Stimmler, Mark Kritz and Kathleen Bouvier arrive - thus technically reaching a quorum. I don't know why I bother with it because it has all been abolished.

Mark is wearing a suit, of course. It is one I haven't seen before because it is the first time I've ever seen him wearing one. It is probably because he wants to have a collar to be hot under, because in this week's club promo 'Lots of Mirrors, But No Smoke' I wrote that he comes from Santa Clara instead of Santa Cruz, California.

Right away I see this has been a serious error because he carefully writes it all down in the club's non-minutes booklet. I have failed miserably, because he writes two other corrections to last week's 'report' too. Passing off the Santa Clara mistake as a result of reading a lot of Raymond Chandler lately - is no excuse.

Then he says, "We should only talk about things that have gotten better in Paris! There was too much grouching last time."

Meanwhile, Heather and I tell Jan about what she will see if she looks west from the top of the Arc de Triomphe because she has said that she finally wants to go to the top of the Tour Eiffel.

"La Défense," Mark says, "Is an abomination!"

But we have also heard his 'no grouch' comment so we don't pursue this line. Nobody has to look west from the top of the Arc de Triomphe if they don't want to.

One of Mark's pastimes in Paris is finding spare parts for old European appliances that friends have bought when new and taken back home. He pulls out a Braun electric razor part - in its original package - from the '60's. He declined buying a replacement for 50 francs and now all he can find are ones for 100 francs.

I switch ears and Heather is saying, "Tell her something funny and then she'll tell all her American friends," and then she says she was at some wine-tasting. When she was asked which fruit one tasted like, she guessed 'kumquat?' Heather says she can tell if a wine is 'corked' and that's it.

By now Mark is drawing a map on the placemat. He has rented is apartment to the Shaws for a couple of months and is explaining the boulangerie situation.

On the map he has marked the boulangeries by their quality: one, two and five. To get to 'one' you gophoto: kathleen, heather down the stairs and then up a long block to the corner. So his solution is to keep going downhill after the stairs, to a boulangerie by the Mairie - which is neither one, two or five - because there's a bus there that runs a zigzag route back up the hill.

Kathleen and Heather agree: 'See the bag guy at Temple.'

For Jan, Kathleen and Heather both have ideas about where to get leather bags. The Carreau du Temple is certainly a place for getting leather coats; so the bags should be somewhere around there.

This leads to a dispute about which is the best métro stop for it because nobody likes my suggestion for the closest one - Temple. Heather thinks it may be necessary to buy a coat before the dealers will divulge the secret location of the bags.

Dana is not getting many quotes here because I can't hear what he is saying to all the advice he's getting from Kathleen and Heather. Samples:

Kathleen: "You can get hamburgers at Joe Allen's even though they're not on the menu."

Jan wants to know why the American Embassy is guarded like a federal prison. "You can't even walk on the same side of the street," she says. "Just how do you do business there?"

Nobody knows but somebody guesses it is because the Chinese Prime Minister was in Paris earlier in the week. For this, French authorities temporarily suspended several articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - while TV-news stated that the US secret service claimed the demonstrators belonged to terrorist groups - but this was about the visit of the Iranian Prime Minister, which has been more recent.

Dana Shaw lived in Paris during a couple of his high school years and after marrying Jan, they spent an entire summer in Paris. Since then, they have returned as often as possible. This time they are staying for the millennium roll-over.

Heather has taken up riding a bike around Paris and had many tips about how to do this without getting squashed by buses. Apparently, sharing the same reserved lanes as the buses use is not an exactly equal proposition.

I see that Kathleen is drinking Martini. She says it is funny to see Americans order a martini in a Paris bar and get Martini red vermouth, which I guess she has ordered on purpose. The white version of Martiniphoto: wineglass, hand is used in certain circles to make martini cocktails, but a lot of serious martini drinkers prefer other brands of vermouth.

Not Martini nor martini; just French red wine.

My experience convinced me that no vermouth is reliable for anything but causing hangovers; so when I did this sort of thing, I switched from gin to vodka and did without the vermouth entirely. Mixed with Spanish mineral water, with a bit of lemon peel, it was a very smooth drink - if a bit stunning.

Jan says that the best vodka she has ever tried is the French brand, 'Grey Goose.' Mark has heard of this, but does not know were regular supplies of it can be found.

On this semi-positive note, this 3rd session of the Café Metropole Club comes to an end and the smoking lamp is lit. Patrick is apologetic about not having strewn the tables with ashtrays.

I find it impossible to explain that the ashtrays are only for 'show' while the club is in session. In other words, the 'non-fumeurs' light is lit during the club's time, as it is held in the non-fumeurs area of the café - possibly with non-fumeur charter club members.

But after? This is why it is hard to explain.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Next Thursday, 28. October; from 15:00 to 17:00, which is also known as 3 PM to 5 PM in some of the world's time zones. Place:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral Coligny
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli or Pont-Neuf

Café Metropole Club Rules Suspended

Dress code: none. Behaviour code: none. But being pleasant to our club's waiter is permitted. See the coming issue of Metropole Paris next Monday for additional information about memberships.

The 'No Café Metropole Club Services' Note Is Suspended

A bientôt à Paris,
signature, regards, ric

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