Hope You Survive New Year 2000

photo: cafe l'atlas, buci

One of Paris' livliest areas: the marché at
Buci in the Latin Quarter.

The Long Shampoo

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 6. December 1999:- By the standards of the previous week, last week in Paris was pretty calm. By this I mean I didn't notice much going on.

I was involved with no strikes, no tree plantings, no gallery openings and no ultra-stupendous '2000 In Paris' events.

Although I moved from the suburbs to Paris in July, I am still getting settled in. In practice, I have only one day a week to do this, so it is taking its time.

But with it being December, I have to get my French papers in order before the year's end. I have chosen to write about part of this adventure in one of this week's features, called 'Getting Papered In Paris.'

This led to the idea of doing a feature about the Ile de la Cité a day later, but by yesterday this had become 'The Big Café On the Avenue.'

Another thing I have to do - just like anyone else at thephoto: buci fruits time of the year's major festive event - is get ready for it. Mainly this involves sending out change of address cards so people will know where to send - or not send - Christmas cards.

A fruit and veg stand at the Buci marché.

'Or not send' applies to the French, who do not send anybody Christmas cards. Instead, the French send 'hope you survive New Years' cards and these are on time if they arrive anytime in January.

This is much easier than sending Christmas cards because it involves no 'black mark' against your name so long as they arrive within six weeks of the first of the year.

Trying to get your Christmas cards - from France! - to friends, relatives and business associates before Saturday, 25. December, is a hassle and a strain - which I'm sure everybody knows all about.

I was in a supermarket in Montparnasse trying to find cheapo Bic pens for office use here and I happened to notice that greeting cards cost about 25 francs each. I think they cost this much because, technically, there are no Christmas cards.

Anyhow I only learned the price of them after I had been at a cheapo photocopy place, where I made 40 cards for about 35 francs. The stamps for them will cost several times more than this.

At my news dealer, I ordered a 2000 calendar and a 365 page 2000 logbook. The way it is, the only way I can find out what I've done is to read Metropole, and it doesn't have enough 'between-the-lines' stuff in it. So my New Years' resolution is to keep track of the next year.

I did keep a logbook for many years. It was useful. About 18photo: buci cafe months ago it somehow fell into the category of 'one thing too much' to do, so it faded away - and with it, the useful information it contained.

Fruit and veg shoppers taking a breather at a café on Buci.

Having the past being a blank is a bit like not having lived it. I now remember what it is that Metropole lacks - it is the ups and downs of life behind the lines. Generally, the magazine is on an even keel no matter what goes on in the background.

For example, the whole business of last week's Carte de Séjour change-of-address, was a time of high anxiety, although I was not completely aware of it.

With this type of thing, 'something can go wrong' and this gets into the subconscious, and it 'invents' problems which lead to outcomes which are total fantasies. I imagined being deported to Ireland, and then not being able to talk the Irish into deporting me to someplace dryer.

This woke me up in a cold sweat.

Claudio's Barbershop and Shampoo Salon

My budget allows me one item a week for frivolities. My hair was last week's lucky winner. Next week I get to pay for cleaned and ironed shirts, so I can look spiffy at the Café Metropole Club. Sort of, to match this week's haircut.

Now, without my logbook, I can't remember whether it was Tuesday or Wednesday. Whichever dayphoto: buci snack it was, I started it with the intention of doing it, but it slipped my mind until late in the afternoon.

Claudio's hairdressing salon and barbershop is a place of some chaos. There are ladies hanging about reading the free magazines and there are local drop-ins to shoot the breeze, and actual customers have to thread their way through this to find out about the salon's hair-trim possibilities.

A boulangerie with an outside snackbar on Buci.

Claudio's nifty assistant got me into a black cape-like thing, like the big kung-fu dudes wear. While going down a long hallway to the shampoo station we passed two guitars, so we had to take them out and strum them a bit while I told my 'buying a guitar in Madrid' story.

Then while under the too hot water, then the too cold water, I ask for music. The guitars are great, but the music machine is so bad anybody playing the guitars with two left fists, sounds like Arcos de la Frontera. It was a long shampoo.

When I get back to the main arena, I am told to cool my heels and I pick up a magazine which only has one theme - loosely translated, 'Ripoff France.' Before I can get the cover read, the shampoo nifty tells me the gent Claudio is doing a big movie actor. 'In 70 films,' she says.

Before I can think of not being silly, Claudio has the guy's kung-fu outfit off, and the actor says, 'Yeah, more than 70 movies.'

And 'about 15 or 17 stage plays.' He is an older guy; on the 70-level I guess, but looking just under 60. I look close, but I do not recognize him - but it is almost certain I've seen him on TV's movie reruns.

Meanwhile the shampoo nifty borrows my lighter to sneak a smoke outside. I want to know where the Paris film studios are, so the actor sits down in a barberchair again. Basically, he says, there aren't any. Hundreds of movies and made-for-TV films get made in Paris every year - just here and there.

It is too cold to smoke outside so the shampoo nifty comes back in and Claudio tells her to hide behind the reservation desk. The actor lights a filter cigarette. The shampoo nifty comes out of hiding to bring him a secret ashtray she has.

I guess I've had thousands of haircuts and during every one I've always sat like a cement mummy, but I forgot this time. All of us were in this Paris-as-Hollywood chat.

Our man has been in a film with Brigittephoto: butcher, buci Bardot. We discuss her current animal-rights stuff. Jeanne Moreau is fantastic. Writers can't write stories anymore; just sketches. Movies today are terrible. He's glad he was in it when they were good.

Less than 30 metres away, a butcher shop also has an outside snackbar.

Claudio is just eating this up. I don't know who cut my hair. The shampoo nifty holds the mirror for the back-view. I tell Claudio it looks too neat and tidy.

The actor and I exchange numbers and addresses. I want to know more about the movie business in Paris and he may be a good source.

To write, I trade my Café Metropole Club official pen for a slim one the shampoo nifty has. The salon fills up with smoke. It looks like a saloon with hair on the floor.

The hour and a quarter it took was the longest 15-minute haircut I ever had in my life. If I could, I would forget the shirts next week and go back for another one. But not if I am in a hurry.

Café Metropole Club 8th Session Rerun

The 8th weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' ran off pretty successfully, without much to eat or drink last Thursday. Read all about it on last week's 'Club 'Report'' page. The coming 'Club' meeting is on an ordinary Thursday, which is nothing unusual in Paris so the meeting will be held as usual.

Ad Nauseam New Web Address Suspended

This note has gone on far too long. If you are reading this and don't know what Metropole's new Web URL is, I don't see why you need to know it if you are already here.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 3.49 - 7. December 1998 - The Café Metropole column was titled by its cranky 'Ed' - 'The End of 'Humbug!' 'Au Bistro' had 'The President Is Not On Strike' This issue had only one feature, entitled 'Waiting Lines and Weather At the Marché.' The issue also had 'Metropole's Pre-Christmas Program V - Xmas '98.' The week's 'Scene' column headline was 'Last Chance for the Festival d'Automne.' Where is this festival this year? Sever-lady Linda Thalmancount down Eiffel Tower sent an email about the joys of pre-Christmas 'HyperShopping!' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Ohh, It's Scratchy!'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 2.49 - 8. December 1997 - The Café Metropole column had the obviously premature title of - 'My Development Is Over.' The 'Au Bistro' column was entitled ' General Winter Pays Paris Brief Visit.' This issue had no features but did have 'Noël 1997 - Opera, Ballet, Theatre, Concerts and Events,' from the days when I obviously started pre-Christmas well after Halloween and Thanksgiving. Two 'Posters of the Week' doubled to four and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Little Gifts.'

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 31. December 1999:

Only 26! very short and increasingly wintry days and even cooler nights in to go in Paris and Ile-de-France until the really big year-end party bursts upon us.
signature, regards, ric

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