Clueless Weather

photo: cafe deux magots, st germain

A spring evening in Saint-Germain.

Is the Big Me Necessary?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 20. March 2000:- Yesterday I ran into a fellow who has just spent ten days down south. "It was," he said, "Like summer!" Last week, I wrote that this might be the case.

I looked out of the window and noted the sun shining brightly on all and their sundries. Saturday night's forecast for Sunday in Paris was identical to Saturday's which was identical as Friday's - mostly cloudy, some rain, temperatures 'normal.'

Fundamentally, I can't do anything about the weather. Neither can the forecasters. What the weather was, it was, and this news is useless for you.

The only thing I can guarantee is that there is weather in Paris, every day, but nobody has a clue about what it is going to be like tomorrow.

The Big Me

I recently read a criticism of writers on the Web who use the personal pronoun 'I.' As in 'I did this, I saw this, I smelt this, I nearly stepped in this - on the sidewalk.' The critic said this was unprofessional and boring.

When I started online reporting, all I had for a guide was 'Wired' magazine articles and some theories dreamed up at MIT's Media Lab. To this I added my own multiple-year publishing experiences.

Before the Web allowed every Jane and Harry to go online with whatever was on their minds, practically all the information we got was either intensely personal or supplied by huge organizations.

A 'huge news organization' puts out a manufactured product which is the result of a team effort to turn 'raw' news - sometimesphoto: editions amphora even based on somebody's personal experience - but usually canned stuff 'off the wire,' and massage this to fit into a presentation formula deemed suitable for mass distribution.

Along the way, everybody involved puts their finger on it and at the end, it is usually pretty de-naturalized - ending up as more or less the 'standard' pablum.

This is fine for newspapers with print runs of 5000 or five million, fine for radio stations - who is listening? - fine for TV - is anybody in the room? The nearest thing we had that addressed your specific interests were 'niche' magazines.

Along comes the Internet and the Web. 'I' am not a huge organization and 'you' are not just any old willy-nilly mass of readers. If I follow the critic, then I should assume the non-identity of an organization; take my distance and keep you at arms-length.

Pure bushwah. You can judge for yourself by simply going to any mega-Web site and deciding how much you 'feel at home' there.

If you have to deal with one of these - take 'Lycos' as an example - where I submit each weeks' new Metropole URLs - these so-called listings are 'free' but I have to accept some email from them.

There is a guy who claims his name is 'Bob' and he is writing to me from Shoebox 23, to tell me about what's new at the Lycos corporation and about fictional office parties 'Bob' has with some other unnamed people, possibly called 'Rob,' or 'Teddi.'

And now with e-commerce exploding, Web sites are popping up like mushrooms growing in the dankest cellar in the world, and 98 percent of them are made by and for faceless hustlers - and not one of them is an 'I' who you can believe in; except it seems safe enough to risk some money on brand-names.

Meanwhile, other 'free' services - free email, host your Web site free - are showing their true colors by taking all of their 'free' hosted Web sites - hand-made by you, Joe and Tina - and peddling them on the stock exchanges. They were not 'free,' except they let you make their content for free.

France's 'Fête de l'Internet,' which I have been mindlessly promoting, has seemed to consist entirely of very deep-pockets commercial Web sites. All the newspapers and magazines that piled onto this promo, seem to be unaware of the existence of what used to be known as Web 'communities.'

Some of these may still exist, but the attraction of mega-money to their hosts seems to be irresistible.

In one case in France, of 200,000 Web sites, only about half of them agreed to 'go public.' They were not given free shares, but were offered a discount. By buying the shares, they would be helping their hosting service to make a huge windfall profit.

I know that my 'I' is ego-centric. I am not particularly happy about this - why should I inflict the way I think on you? It's just that I can't think of a better way to tell you that what 'I' write about happens to me, not a corporation.

When Ernest Hemingway was older, he slipped into using 'we' as if he was tired of being the 'I' he was born with. This is annoying to read because we know that old Ernie wasn't a corporate 'we;' so I am definitely not going to do this.

So our problem is what to do with my 'I.' It is being mentioned here because I have been thinking about it off and on, wondering if I can't think up some way to get it across without constantly using this very short personal pronoun.

So far, I haven't come up with any good, solid ideas. What do you think?

Short of Fingers

Last Friday was 17. March, Saint Patrick's Day, and last week I wrote here that it was my fifth anniversary of doing online reporting from Paris.

One thing I didn't reckon on - my fingers - is that by counting the ones on one hand, the total is five. Fifthphoto: salon, minibook, d anniversary - right? By assigning 1995 to my little finger my thumb turned out to be 1999.

We all know it is no longer the 20th century - according to some people - and it is no longer 1999 - no argument with this at all - so it means that this year's 20th Salon du Livre is my sixth.

Nothing so very special about this except that I can't count the years without using both hands. But while I was anticipating celebrating five years of being online on Friday, it failed to occur to me that Friday would also be the day I started my sixth year in this racket.

This is a daunting thought. Five years is half a decade, or one-twentieth of a century; but as soon as the sixth year starts these nice round numbers turn into uneven fractions. Does it mean I need to plough on for another five years so we can get into the even tens; the Euro-'metric' tens?

Or do I need more fingers?

How-To Paris-Expo

Down at the Porte de Versailles on Friday for the Salon du Livre at Paris-Expo, I noticed signs advertising the renovation of the Porte de Versailles area. There is nothing much wrong with it the way it is, but Paris is always 'fixing' itself up.

This made me think about Paris-Expo itself. This is Paris' main and biggest exhibition grounds and it is located at the south of the 15th arrondissement. The métro line 12 stop for it is 'Porte de Versailles,' and this is the third stop before the end of the line in Issy.

The easiest way out of the métro is to ride at the front of a train and take the exit nearest to the front of the train. At the top of the stairs you can go either right or left. Sometimes, which exhibition is where, is indicated here.

The big hall number one is to the right. Most of all the other halls - up to seven or eight - are to the left. The Palais des Sports is also to the right.

photo: bookshop r seineThe three métro exits on the Paris-Expo side of the place that is the Porte de Versailles, lead you out to either side of the Rue de la Porte d'Issy. Only one of these exits is more or less in front of the eastern entry to the exhibition grounds.

From the métro exits on both sides of the Rue de la Porte d'Issy, make a 180 degree turn back to the place that is the Porte de Versailles.

This sounds complicated, but it isn't. If you know that you have to take the sharp turn, you won't be left wondering what you are doing in the nearly deserted Rue de la Porte d'Issy.

All of Paris-Expo is south of the Boulevards Victor and Lefebvre. There are some hotels and restaurants on the north sides on these boulevards, but there isn't a great deal more.

Before getting to the Porte de Versailles is the time to think of getting any small items you may need while in the exhibition grounds. Near the inside of the entry on the east side, there is a newspaper kiosk. The next nearest one is on the other side of the Place de la Porte de Versailles - which is an even longer walk from hall seven.

This hall seven is the furthest from civilization; but it has seven floors, with escalators. Most of the rest of Paris-Expo is no more than two stories high. For any big exhibition or salon, or for multiple ones, count on doing a lot of walking.

To All Readers in South Africa

Over the years I have received a steady trickle of email from readers who reside in the same time zone, but on the other side of the equator. Nearly every time I have replied, my emailphoto: librarie reiffel has bounced back, usually labelled as 'undeliverable' by the mail robots. This may be caused by my own 'Worldnet' mailserver.

Although I mention South Africa as being the most consistent 'undeliverable' destination, there have been a few other email addresses that something in the Internet seems to refuse. I can think of one in Australia.

I don't know what I can do directly about this particular problem. In the future, with any email that bounces back, I will try forwarding it through Metropole's host server - using my goodwill 'café' credits with the server-lady, if she's not gardening.

If you know anybody in South Africa who has written to me and is so angry not to get a reply that they are walking around kicking inoffensive kangaroos, please tell them I am setting up a plaster-sticker fix.

Café Metropole Club's 23rd Session

The 23rd weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' came off with little excitement last Thursday. You can read what 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 4.12 - 22. March1999 - The Café Metropole column was headlined: - 'Big Horn Battle On a Bridge In Paris.' 'Au Bistro' had 'Dubious News Remains Unreported.' This issue had one feature like the current one, entitled 'The French Book Show - Salon du Livre.' This issue's 'Paris' Scene' had 'Free Museum Day in Yvelines.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' as usual and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Have You Read the Code Pénal Lately?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.12 - 23. March 1998 - The Café Metropolephoto: sarah bernhardt column was headlined 'Philosophy and the Front National.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Elections Turn Right Into Shambles' This issue had two features, entitled 'All That's Fit to Print - Salon du Livre, Part I' and 'Looking for Bears in the Jardin des Plantes.' And 'About Bears,' was the subject of an email from Ron Roizen. There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Gone Out.' Not 'out to lunch,' simply 'gone out.'

The Metropole Paris Countdown to 31. December 2000:

The thing I don't understand the most about this new countdown is readers not objecting to it. If I was a reader instead of 'Ed,' I would write to 'Ed' to say this whole notion is juvenile nonsense. But here it is, the 12th issue of the year and I haven't received one objectionable peep.

This new countdown will last only 366 days, minus the 65 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 when the countdown clock gave up. The 'unofficial' reason never be revealed in due time or any other time at the rate this thing is going.

There are about 294 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium.
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini