...Continued from page 1

By one way or another, I had gotten unrelated bits of nearly useless experience. 'Useless' in the sense that it wasn't good for anything where I was.

So, a year too late for the 'events of '68,' I sailed to Europe on the Russian liner Alexandr Pushkin - to begin a year of new failures - but much more interesting ones!

Strikes Caused Metropole

This will go on forever if I don't skip 25 years here, so let's jump up to 1995. It is November and I am doing 'reports' about the near-total strike of French public transport for 'The Paris Pages.'

The main idea was to let the world at large know that Paris continued to be accessible. Travellers could get from the airports to the city and back to the airports - even if they would be on foot while here.

The problem with this was the frequency of the updates, which were almost daily. Norman Barth of 'The Paris Pages' has another job to look after, so he was effectively doing two jobs during the strike - one his own and the other keeping Paris 'open.'

After it was over, I proposed doing 'Metropole' as a weekly, within 'The Paris Pages.' It almost happened and it doesn't matter why it didn't - 'The Paris Pages' still runs features from Metropole in its 'Kiosque' section.

Besides these anniversaries - 40 years in the 'press,' five years of Paris online and four years of Metropole - I am making this comment to contrast my personal experiences with the exhibition 'Liberté à la Une! - De la Gazette à Internet,' which is featured in this issue.

The 'news' is made by people and it is reported by people. This amounts to a lot of people, but most of the time all you notice is the publication's name - its corporate identity.

A fellow named Théophraste Renaudot is credited with starting France's first newspaper. It is possible, but doubtful, that he made the paper by himself. I think he may be the first 'corporate name' in the business.

Actually, to begin with he was the 'King's doctor' first, then 'Commissioner of the Poor.' He started an employment agency in his native Loudon. He invented classified advertising. He thought up the idea of pawn shops.

Being a friend of Cardinal Richelieu, he left Loudon and settled in Paris, where he launched his 'Gazette' on 30. May 1631.

The exhibition at the Palais Brongniart is sponsoredphoto: palais brongniart, expo liberte by news corporations. There is a small exhibit by - for - 'Reporters Sans Frontières' and it lists the names of journalists who have - or still are - suffering on account of their profession.

One-time Paris Bourse has reverted to being the Palais Brongniart - at métro Bourse.

While the talking-heads are sitting around in comfortable but over-heated TV studios, other people in the business are lying in unknown graves or sitting in unheated, unknown dungeons.

These are not the corporations in jails, but their footmen and women. The news - good or bad - somebody might be risking their lives to get it to you.

There is a Musée Renaudot and it is located in the house where he was born, in Loudon. It has Renaudot's original press and you can print copies of the first 'Gazette' on it - like you can at the exhibition in Paris.

The museum is on the Petite Rue du Jeu de Paume, in Loudon - which is south of Saumur. Hours are from 14:30 to 17:30 and slightly longer in summer. Morning visits can be made by appointment. Info. Tel/Fax.: 05 49 98 27 33.

Café Metropole Club's 22nd Session

The 22nd weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' came off with no usual panache at all last Thursday. You can read what little there was to it on last week's 'Club 'Report'' page.

Last Thursday's meeting 'report' would normally be re-run on this week's 'Club News' page. This is not a good idea this week, so something else will be occupying this page in this issue.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.11 - 15. March1999 - The Café Metropolephoto: paul verlaine column was headlined: - 'This Time Nothing Means Zero.' 'Au Bistro' had 'Tennis Courts At Concorde?' This issue had two features, entitled 'Anytime Is Tea Time in Paris' and 'Musing About Spring and Concorde.' This issue's 'Paris' Scene' had 'More May Not Be Better.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' as usual and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'What's That Smell?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.11 - 16. March 1998 - The Café Metropole columnphoto: rue neuve genevieve was headlined 'Three Candles for Something.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Elections: Right Unable to Regain Lead.' This issue had two features, entitled 'Conversation at the Café de Cluny' and 'At 50, Tati Shopping Becomes Class Act.' 'A l'Affiche' was an extra page with Three Events Posters in addition to four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'A 23 Cafés Day.'

The Metropole Paris Countdown to 31. December 2000:

Even though readers are specifically not asking for any countdown to the probable beginning of the next century, to the next millennium, whatever it is - to be stopped - this tedious countdown continues therefore with the 11th issue of 2000 because once something downright stupid like this is started and the longer it goes on, the more moronic it gets unless somebody complains but no one has yet.

This new countdown will last only 366 days, minus the 58 days already gone. The official reason for doing this is to give the Tour Eiffel a new chance to 'get it right' - and for a leap year it ought to - because so many count-down fans missed shouting 'Zéro' on Friday, 31. December 1999. The 'unofficial' reason will be revealed in due time.

There are about 301 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium.
signature, regards, ric

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