'Is Smoking Pot On Buses Legal?'

photo: me photos ric

When less than one charter member arrives, I shoot me through the one of the café's mirrors.

News from the 'Café Metropole Club'

Paris:- Thursday, 25. November 1999:- The city is not staggering under the effects of a heatwave, but it is noticeably warmer than last week. Nearly 'normal' November weather, I'd say.

I've seen an ad for Christmas trees from a shop on the Quai de la Mégisserie. This is the pleasant stroll, past all the greenery of the plants and the animal shops, but there are not many Christmas items, which is a good thing because it is Thanksgiving today in the United States.

What has this got to do with anything? Simply this; the server-lady, Linda Thalman, who was at the 'Club' last week told me she saw Christmas stuff at her hypermarché on Saturday - last. Apparently this breaks some rule or other.

But not in Paris! Christmas stuff started to appear as soon as Halloween was taken down. When I arrive at La Corona, Christmasphoto: mlle corona decor mixes with last week's Beaujolais Nouveau. You see, we have this extra 'season' called Beaujolais Nouveau day tucked in between Halloween and Christmas.

Also, Christmas was going full-blast at the 'grands magazins' on the Boulevard Haussmann last Saturday, without a care in the world about any Thanksgiving 'rule.' You didn't have to drive all the way out to a hypermarché near the Cadillac Ranch in the sticks to see it.

The 'Club's' very own and elegant Madesmoiselle Corona.

At 15:00 I am in the 'Club's' area in the 'grande salle' of the café La Corona. I take out the charter members' booklet and the 'Club' reports booklet and the 'Club's' official pen and write in today's date. Then nothing happens for a while.

So I take out a photocopy of the city's 'secret' Christmas program and study it. The only thing 'secret' about it are the vague details for the Christmas Mass at Notre-Dame. It also hints the construction of the Big Wheel at Concorde started the day after I was last there.

Monsieur Ferrat brings me my double-express café and I drink it slowly. It does not last long. Even if there are no members, I still have to do a 'Club Report,' so I photograph the 'Club's' area of the café with nobody in it.

This reminds me that I've never read all of the camera's user manual. This induces me to try out somephoto: annie of its trickier features, including shooting Monsieur Ferrat again - who is standing outside the café, looking for 'Club' members - or any likely customers who may need onion soup.

I shoot my café cup. I shoot the overhead lights that are draped with fake grapes. I shoot me shooting me, so I'll have an opening photo for this non-report. I shoot the vinegar and oil set, together with the plastic mustard container. I shoot La Corona's Mademoiselle Corona statue.

Meet Annie Salmona , fresh from touring the Musée d'Orsay.

About the time I am thinking of having a second dose of double-express, Annie Salmona asks me if this - this huge empty space in the 'Grande Salle' - is the Café Metropole Club. I almost tear off her hand, shaking it. She has brought Isabelle Eyman, her daughter, and Orion Litzau, her son. I almost pull their arms off too.

Whew! Annie and family were having such a good time in the Musée d'Orsay that they only remembered to get to the 'Club' 100 minutes after it started this week's session.

Annie has written several times over the past years and I am glad to see her at last. She was born in Paris at grew up at 9. Rue Chappe in Montmartre; on a street that is all steps.

Since she now lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this becomes the 'Club's' 'city of the week.' Except, Isabelle lives in Shermanphoto: isabelle Oaks, California - so I think this should be a 'city of the week' too - because, even though Mark Kritz gave us Santa Cruz some weeks ago, I think he spends most of his time in Albany.

Anyhow, Annie speaks very good Parisian and orders a sandwich for Orion and a green salad with tea for Isabelle. A few minutes later Orion is hungry again and Annie hauls out her personal hand-wrapped supply of 'Petit Lu' and Orion tries to take four of them but only gets two.

Isabelle Eyman is from California, and has a smile to match.

'Petit Lu' are biscuits with chocolate coverings and all French schoolkids eat a lot of them at some time in their lives. Isabelle dunks hers in her tea. I've never seen this done before.

Dunking stale baguette halves slathered with butter into bowls of morning milk-café - yes, but never a 'Petit Lu' in tea. Especially not after a green salad.

Annie tells me a lot of her history, the history of her mother in Paris and eastern places, and how her grandfather managed to arrive in France as a stowaway from Turkey. I think she should save this for her autobiography - because all of it is pretty fantastic in a couple of different ways.

Orion is pretty good too - asking me questions that I can't answer. Like, 'what's the penalty for smoking pot on a bus?' All I know is that the French are starting to treat it as an evil weed, and give penalties to users as well as dealers.

The reason for the question - they were in on a drug bust - on the RATP's number 80 bus, as it was coming down the Rue Caulaincourt to the Boulevard de Clichy, on the elevated part that crosses the Montmartre cemetery.

Just as Orion got a whiff of the stuff, three or four plainclothes narco dicks leaped up to arrest these three kids, who were smoking on the bus. One cop almost bowled Annie over with his truncheon.

Ah, hem; certainly a colorful tale of Montmartre's wildphoto: orion west no doubt. Reader's should know that smoking anything on a Paris city bus is a no-no. So is smoking in the métro or in train stations or post offices.

This is possibly the reason why there are so many people smoking on the streets; because their old favorite places are out-of-bounds, and as self-defense against traffic gases.

Orion wanted to ask the 'question of the day' more than have his photo taken.

We have a short but fine meeting, with one period of overtime and I am very happy the 'Club' has three new charter members; who come from two 'cities of the week,' which are hereby duly saluted.

Thanksgiving is something I possibly shouldn't mention because many readers will be stuffing themselves with it while this 'report' is going online.

Isabelle has written in the 'Club's' clubnotes booklet, "My 5th year of missing turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie!" She got to dunk a 'Petit Lu' into her cup of tea in Paris though, and this is definitely not an every-day thing. She said it was really good.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Next Thursday, 2. December, is a perfectly ordinary Thursday, named after Sainte-Viviane in France. The café La Corona meeting place will be as open as usual, so the time for your club's meeting still is from 15:00 to 17:00. I now have 200 surplus photos of La Corona, so next week I will bring Le Parisien to read in case you don't show up on time or slightly before. The place is:

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

A bientôt à Paris,
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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