2000 - A Really Big Show

photo: cafe de paris

What could be more Parisian than the Café Le Paris?

With a Really Modest Budget

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 10. January 2000:- Hey, what do you know? Doesn't 2000 seem to be a lot like 1999? All the stuff is the same. Everything is going wrong and everybody is grumbling about it, as usual.

We are not supposed to be doing this. This is a bright, shiny, new year - if not century, if not millennium. We should give it the benefit of doubt. Trust it a bit. Stop condemning it before it's hardly started.

Take New Years for example. I got roasted for my comments about 'Le Grande Parade de Paris.' I just grumbled a little bit about it - but this was taken as severe criticism, and the person taking it wasn't even the target.

I prefer, and this is a purely personal opinion, that it not be a 'grande' parade; that it remain the fairly simple and straightforward Montmartre affair that it had quietly been for several years already. So what if it didn't get on thephoto: rue de commerce national TV-news for that day? It probably made it onto France 3's more localized news.

In Paris, everybody thinks the show at the Tour Eiffel went off okay - even if the count-down fell out on the 999th day at the 19th hour.

The unexciting Rue du Commerce in the 15th.

It's this minor countdown thing that the papers want us to remember - as if this made the whole thing, the hundreds of thousands there to see it, relatively nothing. The egg-timer broke - so what? - the egg is okay.

Fact is, outside of Paris, the Tour Eiffel fireworks show was a triumph. Maybe Sydney's was better for sheer size, but the Tour Eiffel's showed 'French Flair.' And remember, the professionals that do this, have to try and top themselves because they do it two times a year - the other time being on Bastille Day, Eve, or sometime.

The Champs-Elysées was properly chock-full of people. It would have been crammed to the building fronts even if a nickel hadn't been spent on all the wheels and their 'Portes de l'An 2000' show.

After all this, plus the full night up on legs for many, meant that the 'Grande Parade' was doomed to a less than full blaze of glory.

No matter what the Hôtel de Ville plans for Paris in the way of cakes and circuses, it is Parisians and anybody else who happens to be handy, who make these things successes. We are the army and if we don't show up there isn't going to be any fête - no matter how much money is spent on it.

On New Years Eve we showed up. On New Years Day, we were a bit worn out.

While there is a little grumbling going on here, you should hear what our offshore cousins, the Brits, are saying about their London show.

Apparently, what Paris spent was a drop in the bucket compared to London. And you know how the GB's are so good at PR - biggest this, that, greatest and so on.

While we are hearing rumors about their super-gigantic 'Millennium Dome' - copyright and Trademark registered - the greatest thing since man's first step on the moon! - and, I'll admit it, a bit envious - little did we know -

That the whole thing was a rubble bubble erected in some still-vacant swamp in the still unrealized Docklands.photo: cable rollers On top of it, it was supposed to be something like Paris' Cité des Sciences but 43 times larger, with all this stuff crammed into it showing off the wonders that await us in the new century.

Not for storm damage, but for mobile phones. Cable rollers outside my window.

According to my sources who would rather remain unnamed, visitors were herded through the place on treadmills and allotted exactly 45 seconds for a wink at each true exhibit, plus a bit more time to gander at all the sponsors' exhibits. That London's - biggest wheel in the whole world! - didn't turn makes Paris' countdown fumble seem like a hiccup.

Meanwhile, back in the land of 'French Flair,' Paris newspapers - who simply cannot match the insane viciousness of their cross-channel counterparts - are mildly chiding the Hôtel de Ville for some announced - and promoted by Metropole - projects that turned out to be non-starters.

Paris' budget for 'Paris 2000' is supposed to be 40 million francs, to cover the whole year. These are francs, so they are a drop in the ocean.

The city has to count on individuals to think up projects, and also think up how to finance them. If the first is acceptable and the second comes through, then the project gets a 'Paris 2000' logo.

From 500 projects submitted, 170 passed the first test - but one of these had a budget of 30 million francs.

The 'Paris 2000' czar, Bernard Bled, says that so far the global project is a success. The wind blew away the attendance at the Trocadéro alpinephoto: old delivery van village after it received nearly a million visitors, and the privately-financed balloon at the Parc André Citroen was doing fine until the wind ripped it to shreds.

'French Flair' everywhere you look, even in the Rue du Commerce.

The Tour Eiffel company paid for the show there. So the Hôtel de Ville sees the score as a turnout of more than a million for an outlay of three million francs; plus another three million for last September's Fêtes de la Seine.

The Rest of Paris 2000

'Le Livre Capitale' which was supposed to go into action on New Years Day at Palais-Royal apparently lacks enough capital to turn its 15-metre high pages.

The really big show, recounting Paris' history from Lutèce to 2000, which was to have been produced by Robert 'Big Show' Hossein on Bastille Day - now has been rescheduled for September, with the city taking control of the production with the intention of putting 10 million into it.

Johnny Hallyday, France's oldest rocker, wanted to take over the Champs-Elysées for a 'really big Johnny Hallyday show' on Saturday, 10. June - but has been allotted Bastille Day instead, because Robert 'Big Show' Hossein backed out of the other 'really big show' - partly because his 'Moi, De Gaulle' took off and has been prolonged until February.

According to rumor, Robert 'Big Show' Hossein's personal project is plastered - on this week's Morrisphoto: cafe vieux chatelet column on the contents page - all over Paris, and its title is something like, 'Moi, Jesus, I'm Back.'

The city has another project up its sleeve - a fireworks festival - and it is considering Bastille Eve, Day, for it. Will this upset Johnny? Will it upset Robert 'Big Show' Hossein?

Never mind. The other projects are still on their timetables; such as the Paris Marathon - held every year anyway - for Sunday, 9. April. Seiji Ozawa is still booked for Friday, 5. May at the Champ de Mars. The Tour de France - held every year anyway - is still scheduled to arrive on the Champs-Elysées for its final sprint on Sunday, 23. July.

If I have to juggle dates in the 'Scene' column a bit, this is a small price to pay for all these 'big shows.'

Important Dates

Winter Sales will begin possibly on Thursday, 13. January or on Saturday, 15. January. Don't forget the 'Year of the Dragon,' which is on Saturday, 5. February.

Repeat: Holiday Circuses

At this time of year, it seems to be traditional for the circus to be in town. Four of them were here and four of them got their tents blown to shreds by the storm. These have regrouped to form one unit, and they are carrying on at the Pelouse de Reuilly out at Vincennes. You've got until Sunday, 16. January to catch their act. Info. Tel.: 01 43 44 09 09.

Café Metropole Club's 13th Session Re-Run

The 13th weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' ran off quite modestly, as we again shared the club's area at La Corona with a handful of civilians last Thursday. Read all about it on last week's 'Club 'Report'' page.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.02 - 11. January 1999 - The Café Metropole column was titled by its immer-flummoxed 'Ed' - 'Uh-Oh, Winter Is Back!' 'Au Bistro' had 'Tintin's 70th Birthday,' the first of many. This issue had one feature, entitled 'Sun On the Montparnasse Terraces.' The issue had 'Paris' Scene' - again, forphoto: joachim du bellay, died here 1560 a change - 'Dies Da und Das Hier' - which means this and that, sort of. There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Local Weather.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.02 - 12. January 1998 - The Café Metropole column had 'The History That Wasn't.' Sound familiar? The 'Au Bistro' column was headlined 'If the Unemployed Can't Have Work' then they should free lodging in the Canaries. This issue had two features, entitled 'Captain Dreyfus and Mr. Zola' and 'The Woman In a Red Business Suit' which was by M-R O'Rahilly. There were four'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'The Unemployed - On Strike!' Why not?

The Metropole Paris Countdown to 31. December 2000:

For equally obvious reasons, this silly countdown starts with the second issue of 2000, because readers have demanded a 'do the right thing' countdown to the real beginning of the next century and even more importantly, to the next millennium. This new countdown will last only 366 days. The reason for doing this is to give the Tour Eiffel a new chance to 'get it right' - because so many count-down fans missed shouting 'Zéro' on Friday, 31. December 1999.

There are 357 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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