Lots of Mirrors, But No Smoke

photo: heather, ed, kritz, levine

Last Thursday; from left to right - Heather Stimmler, Ed, Mark Kritz and Dan Levine.

News About the 'Café Metropole Club'

Paris:- Saturday, 23. October 1999:- Now that our little club has had its official launch, it seemed to have settled down to a routine for its second meeting last Thursday.

By 'routine,' I mean it was threatening rain and we were just as well inside as out. Not 'routine' was having waiters switched without warning; but last Thursday's Monsieur Ferrat told me the first week's Patrick will be 'our guy' next week, because they trade places every week. Having two good waiters is twice as good as having none.

Three new charter members turned up last Thursday and original charter member Heather Stimmler came back with her big smile. If it were her own club, I'd become a member of it instead.

For an account of the second meeting, you are requested to hit this link in order to have it before your eyes. This link, by the way, will work this week.

Since a quorum was again reached - this is some of the 'routine' I mentioned - within fifteen or twenty minutes of thephoto: nigel white, photographer official starting time of 15:00 - aka 3 pm, in certain time zones - the meeting was held again without a head-count.

During the space of time between the initial club meeting and last Thursday, a group of readers apparently led by a ringleader named 'Dale' turned last week's 'report' into 'minutes' - had a vote on them which passed and added a new virtual member named 'Frank.' Not to leave anybody out, another virtual club member named 'Billy' seconded the minutes.

Another charter member, Nigel White, is not in the photo above because he shot it.

That it was this same 'Dale' who protested about all of the club's initial 'rules' - rightly so, causing me to suspend or abolish them - the business of the 'accepted' minutes has me confused. But they are valid all the same and into the archive they go and the key to it, I toss out the window.

'Dale' also claims the club has spread to Tennessee, so if any residents of that state have become recent virtual charter members and are reading this, all I can say is 'welcome to the club!'

The concept of 'virtual members' of the Café Metropole Club had not occurred to me and I thank 'Dale' for making it possible by thinking it up.

Obviously it means you do not have to actually show up at a regular Thursday session of the club meeting in Paris to become a charter member of it.

I am giving this careful consideration because it adds a level of administration to the overhead of operating the club that I had not anticipated.

Since the club has no rules and if you are in Paris all you have to do is show up at the right time in the right place, this is easy to administrate. If you come and are relatively sober, you will remember being at the club. Your membership is therefore secure.

But in the virtual world of Web membership, where there are even fewer rules than none, virtual charter members will need some form of proof of membership - I think.

Now - without votes, minutes, rules - how about letting me add a 'virtual charter membership' card to this column next week? When you see it, just clip it out and put your name on it and put it in your wallet or someplace, and you will have secure knowledgephoto: non-fumeurs that you are a bona-fide 'virtual charter member' of the Café Metropole Club in Paris.

'Non fumeurs' is not the name of the club. It is the name of our club's area in the café where its meetings take place.

At dinner parties or outdoor barbecues you can use this as a handy conversation piece - don't forget to mention this magazine's URL - if there is any lull in the conversation. If some of your friends think this is a plain stupid idea, you may want to reconsider spending your time with them - but that is all up to you.

If you have read this far without bothering to find out what happened at our meeting last Thursday, this is where I put in the little 'teaser.'

New charter club member Mark Kritz, from Santa Clara California, noted that the Café Metropole Club was, "Not full of smoke!"

Mark, who is a professor of something or other and frequent visitor to Paris - an alert observer in other words - was right on the mark with this observation. The Café Metropole Club is conducted in the café La Corona's non-smoking section.

In most places in Paris this designation amounts somewhat to pyromaniacs working as firemen, but during the club's first two meetings nobody fired up even though I arranged for three ashtrays as well as fixing it so the no-smoking signs were temporarily suspended.

But the practical result is that the Café Metropole Club has been a rare Parisian non-smoking area for the duration of its meetings on Thursday afternoons.

I am not trying to suggest non-smokers may be more welcome than confirmed addicts of the evil weed. If really desperate, there is a lot of café La Corona left to smoke in without going outside and standing in the rain. It even has a 'tabac,' so you don't even have to bring anything.

Remember, this is the club that abolishes rules and has 'no governor.' It does have its 'Ed' but you don't have to talk to him either. Last Thursday, in true Parisian custom, everybody talked to everybody else all at the same time.

For this reason my notes are somewhatphoto: location map, la corona abstract. You can read them for what they are but if you are dead-set against doing this, well, forget it then.

Here are the day, time and location details for you to note:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral Coligny
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli or Pont-Neuf
Every Thursday at 15:00, until 17:00.

La Corona has a small 'salle' just off the bar and a large 'salle' behind the bar. There is a small terrace on the Rue de l'Amiral Coligny side, which faces west; and a big terrace on the Quai de Louvre side, which faces south. The club meetings are at the rear of the big 'salle.'

About the Café Metropole Club

The 'Club's' purpose is to offer an opportunity for all readers to meet each other and me, the 'Ed' of this online weekly magazine about Paris. Together, we will have an opportunity to transfer from the 'virtual' of the online magazine to the 'real' of Paris.

However, as of right now 'virtual' membership is not only permitted, but encouraged. It is no longer necessary to be in Paris in person if you wish to do this.

For my part, I am going to try to answer any questions you may have. Do not be surprised if for every question you ask me, I ask you one. Do not be surprised if I ask for your permission to take your photo and run it in Metropole Paris, along with my version of your story. This part is not compulsory; a simple 'no thanks' will be sufficient to maintain your privacy.

For readers who are unable to attend 'Club' sessions, do not be surprised to see accounts of these encounters appear in Metropole Paris. The magazine's normal weekly edition will continue to appear as usual on Mondays, but the weekly 'Club' meeting 'report' will be added as an update to it on Thursdays.

The Café Metropole Club's Boilerplate Cop-Out

I will be in the 'Club' at 15:00 every Thursday. With Paris being the way it is, please take into account the usual unreliable fates - if you look out of a window and see the Seine flooding all the way up to Montmartre, there will probably be no club meeting, if the day happens to be a Thursday.

The Café Metropole Club has no 'dues' in the form of cash in any sort of currency, cheques or any kind of plastic. Therefore everything you consume at the club is your responsibility. There will be no pressure to consume anything. If you prefer not to, nobody is going to notice except possibly our waiter, who earns his livelihood at La Corona.

Club meetings will officially end at 17:00, which will release all of us from these humble formalities.

In theory, I have to return to the editorial kitchen table of the magazine to prepare an account of the day's meeting for immediate online publication.

In practice, if nobody shows up, I will sit around reading Le Parisien until I fall asleep or until 17:00. If nobody has still not shown up, I will make up an entirely fictional account of the meeting that will make you curse missing the meeting of a lifetime.

More Café Metropole Club Boilerplate:

At the moment 'exclusive club services' still amount to none. But this is your club as much asphoto: ric mugshot it is mine; so I expect there will be suggestions for services. If these are possible to implement then they will become available.

We are starting out with two 'suggestions' but otherwise everything else is a blank. Together we will make up the transitory details of the 'Club' and together we will see what becomes of it.

At left, Ed's mugshot. If I'm asleep when you arrive, drop an ashtray on the floor.

Last week I re-wrote that Groucho Marx said he wouldn't join a club that would have him as a member. In fact, Groucho Marx is dead and this class of people cannot even become 'virtual' members. The only 'live' person required to attend this club's meetings is the 'Ed' who is really me. If you want to avoid Ed, or me, you now know where not to go in Paris next Thursday.

A bientôt à Paris,
signature, regards, ric

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