Really 'Real' Signs of Spring

photo: cafe, place dupliex

A café facing the Place Dupleix in the 15th.

Paris 'Peace Wall' Inaugurated

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 3. April 2000:- Since the 36-hour peep-show preview of spring early last week, there have been 10 days of constant winds from the northwest or northeast bringing the sort of weather I wouldn't want to write about and you wouldn't wish for a Paris visit.

I write a bit more about the weather because I live in Paris and can easily get out to feel it. On Sundays, I go out for a café before doing anything else. On the way out, I look straight up from the courtyard at the sky.

This doesn't show more than a limited rectangle of space. Out on the street I get a canyon-view of east and west, and at the avenue, I can see it all.

Yesterday, the avenue's trees had a green fuzz on them; their leaves are pushing their wayphoto: fiat 500 through crusty winter protection and they are just starting to show a green screen. In my apartment's protected courtyard, the leaves are well-advanced.

Here is the silly little car that won't go away, again.

While noticing this, it occurred to me that I am going through a year of seasonal 'firsts.' First summer in Paris last year, first fall in Paris and first winter in Paris; overlapping at the moment with the coming first spring in Paris.

Now it is my first 'April in Paris.' I think I am going to have to live through this before I will be able to get poetic about it and start writing lyrics.

My 24 other 'Aprils in the Paris region' don't remind me of much - other than winter keeping a tight grip with its cold fingers until after a bitter last blast around Easter.

The memory of this is so strong that seeing the apparent opposite of this yesterday around noon, makes it worth a mention. 'April in Paris, la la -la-la,' and I guess I should make the rest up even if it has already been done - by good writers.

photo: peace wallLe Mur Pour la Paix

If my memory serves me correctly, this '2000 In Paris' item was inaugurated in pouring rain last Monday by the President of France, Jacques Chirac. But there were large political events at the time - so all I have is a memory of a short TV-news clip - and the other 'events' are on this week's Au Bistro page.

The 'Peace Wall' is installed on the Champ de Mars, near the Ecole Militaire. This project is the idea of Clara Halter, and it is supposed to represent the universal desire for peace.

Thus the word 'peace' is all over it, written in multiple languages. The central corridor of the nine-metre-high structure has a multitude of screens, which display 'peace' messages from around the world, received via the Internet.

You are also supposed to be able to place your own 'peace' message on the temporary monument. When I visited it on Friday, between showers, a number of people were doing this. Kids were also copying the word 'peace' on drawing tablets.

A bit like the giant 'hourglass' in the Jardin des Plantes, this '2000 In Paris' structurephoto: centre, peace wall is supposed to make you reflect on its meaning and what it means to you.

The exercise of the passage from one century to the next, from one millennium to the next, is something to think about.

In the purest form of philosophy, you can think anything you want. In this sense, this monument is not here to do your thinking for you. It is just supposed to bump your brain off its usual preoccupations - to take a moment to consider some larger 'universal' ideas.

The 'Strange Email Addresses' Case

There has been no resolution to the problem of email bouncing back - as being 'undeliverable' - to certain Metropole readers. But by mentioning it here - 'on the Web' - Mathilda and Fred Daniel in South Africa got the message that replies via email to them were not being delivered.

Not that it sheds any light on what probably is some technical problem - the results of some email exchanges on this 'case' are the subject of the email feature in this week's issue.

Veteran Internet users will know that the Internet is a veryphoto: copying peace complicated worldwide network, that depends on a very big lot of software co-operation between tens of thousands of different machines, located all over the place.

A young boy copying the word 'peace' written in several languages and scripts.

Messages routinely make incredibly complicated circuits through the Internet maze, to get from the sender to the destination. Sometimes, one little 'dot' too many, or out of place, throws the message off the route and it ends up stuck in Internet limbo.

Even if 'undeliverable,' the machines are programmed to return the message to the sender, usually with the optimistic comment that 'they' will 'keep trying for five days.'

This is not mere PR blah-blah text. The Internet does keep on trying, even while you are asleep.

The server-lady, Linda Thalman, has told me she routinely gets an average of 40 to 60 'bounces' every time she mails her Paris In Sites newsletter. This is a problem that keeps her awake.

Café Metropole Club's 25th Session

The 25th weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' came off with considerable excitement - for me - last Thursday. You can read about it on last week's 'Club 'Report'' page.

For a few weeks I announced here that the last Thursday's meeting 'report' would be re-run on this week's 'Club News' page. This was an idea I had because I wasn't sure that regular issue readers were looking up the 'Update' on Thursdays or hitting the link above, to look it up now - or doing neither.

Strictly speaking, the last club meeting 'report' is an 'almost live Update' to last week's issue of Metropole. But it is also part of last week's events in Paris, and that is what this Monday's issue of Metropole is about.

If this is confusing to you; it is equally confusing to me. Maybe I should drop the weekly-issue notion of Metropole and just make everything an 'Update,' to go online whenever Paris is in the mood.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.14 - 5. April 1999 - The Café Metropole column was headlined: - 'Surprise Easter In Paris.' 'Au Bistro' had 'Lost' News Isn't Here.' This issue had two features, entitled 'Not Finding Paris' Oldest Tree' and 'Model Salon: On Land, On Sea, In the Air: In Scale.' This issue's 'Paris' Scene' hadphoto: pelouse interdit 'When in Rome, Do Paris.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' as usual and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'No 10,000 Lira Notes Please.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.14 - 6. April 1998 - The Café Metropole column was headlined 'Papon Trial Finally Winds Up.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Le Pen Loses Civil Rights; Is Fined.' This issue had four features! They were 'Not the Cheapest Bargins I've Seen - Rue d'Alésia,' 'In South Paris In the Rain - Rue d'Alésia,' ''Nova:' 10 Francs - 'Generation-X' on the Cheap' and 'Suburbs - A Lost Weekend in the Village.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Watercolors.'

The Metropole Paris Countdown to 31. December 2000:

Here is the 14th issue of the year and I haven't received any complaints about Metropole's all-new and whiter-than-white, fabulously stupendous count-down. Yet. I don't think anybody reads this, but I can't prove it because nobody has written to say they don't.

This new countdown will last only 366 days, minus the 79 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. So many count-down fans missed shouting 'Zéro' on Friday, 31. December 1999 when Paris' countdown clock gave up. There is no 'unofficial' reason, but if necessary I'll invent one.

There are about 280 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium.
signature, regards, ric

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