French Take To Cashless Mode

photo: bistro vigouroux, chatelet

This café's problem is not lack of cash, but lack of temperature.

Armored-Car Crews Still On Strike

Paris:- Sunday, 21. May 2000:- As of this evening, armored-car crews have reached no agreement with their employers. This is despite an escalating offer that is getting closer to the strikers' demands.

The practical result is half of France's ATMs being without cash at any given time. Banks and other merchants are still recycling used banknotes back into the machines, while the striking armored-car employees are blockading the Banque de France - preventing the distribution of new notes.

As usual in any strikes in France that last more than a whole week, the employers are screaming for the government to bail them out - with subsidies - of our money. But with each round of negotiations, the offer increases - with the government not promising a centime to anybody.

For users there seems to be no great inconvenience other than slightly longer lines of people waiting to use the ATMs. Usually only a quick glance is necessary to see whether a particular machine is loaded or not.

If there's no line in front of it, it's probably empty - or nobody around is currently short of cash.

Bandits Not Playing Fair

Taking unfair advantage of the situation, enterprising robbers crept into a big vacation complex overnight last week with a borrowedphoto: bikini war, bus stop poster big truck with a crane on it.

Armed with pump-action shotguns, they persuaded the holiday park's security men to surrender to 'force-majeure' by getting them all together in one place and pointing big guns at them.

Paris billboard operators started a no-holds-barred bikini war during the week.

Then they politely asked where the safe was to be found. When told, they produced exactly no more equipment than necessary to extract it, and with the aid of the crane and winch on the big truck, they ripped the booty out of its resting place.

It must have been a somewhat small safe, because they tossed it into a getaway car and vanished into the night with it - leaving their trusty truck behind.

It was only next morning that the vacationers learned that they had woken up at a major crime scene.

A Presidential Term of Five Years?

A former President of France thought this idea up but I do not know why. The present term is seven years and there is no limit on how many times an elected president can re-run for the highest office in the land.

The five-year term idea has been kicked around all week and the only person in France who seems to think things should remain unchanged is a politician who will probably never run for presidential office.

This leaves the current president, Jacques Chirac, in a position to change his own five-year old opinion for 'no change' into one favoring the idea.

Except for the 'no change' guy, everybody concerned seems to want to fight over doing the change with 'Plan A' or 'Plan B.' Some politicians don't seem to care muchphoto: 2nd fiat 500 one way or the other, so they are arguing for a two-term limit just to have something to talk about in Saint-Germain restaurants.

This magazine scored two 'Fiat 500s of the Week,' setting a new all-time record.

The newspapers are trying to make as big a fight out of this as they can, but ever since President Chirac was spotted on holiday walking around sockless and bouncing his grandson on his knee like any other French grandpa, his popularity has continued to rise.

Despite some slight worry about where the next 100-franc note may be coming from, polls also show that Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's popularity is also rising tidily, although he lags behind the president a bit because he has to run the darn country, after all.

In fact, like the Paris Bourse, neither man's popularity ever seems to dip. I think news organizations reset the percent scores occasionally in the quiet of the night - to get them back to a level so they can continue to rise.

I mean, if this wasn't done, both men would be getting about 115 percent in the polls now. As impossible as it sounds, this is probably their true score, with Mr. Jospin consistently trailing President Chirac by about eight points.

This is so good that I don't think it is necessary for him to prove he's a solid guy, not even by going around sockless on his holidays.

The Battle for Paris

For those readers who may be keeping score of the RPR party candidates who would like to run for election for mayor of Paris, including the current mayor, there have been some drop-outs.

As of tonight there may be only two members of the RPR party left in the race for nomination as the RPR's official candidate, one of whom is the current mayor.

While the ultimate RPR candidate remains to be chosen or selected or elected, all other political parties seem to have decided on their candidates and these are busily going around shaking hands.

Sports News

I can honestly say I am not aware of any Sports News that was news that happened during the week.

When it comes to winners and losers, only the Cannes Film Festival seemed to have emerged from its usual swamp of dissatisfaction, by choosing what were generally considered to be the best movies for the grand prizes. I know this was not 'Sports,' but there were clear-cut 'winners.'

The server-lady, Linda Thalman, has threatened to act as Metropole's 'special correspondent' for sports results from the Roland Garros tennis thing.

As we say around here, 'Anything for Linda' - so if she can actually send 'in person' reports from the Cadillac Ranch concerning this vital activity, I will consider running her reports here without fiddling them around too much.

French Web Life: Another Week's Short Version

With the discovery of the commercial possibilities of the Web, new-site spotters seem to have lost all interest in many of the interesting less-than-commercial Web sites that used to make the Web a fascinating place to browse.

Meanwhile France has experienced its first boom-to-bust IPO startup-shutdown crash-and-burn. I learned this from TV-news the other night when good old Claude looked seriously into the camera and said 'BooHoo SA' had just folded its tent after blowing 100 million francs into outer cyberspace.

Apparently this was done without the e-Commerce Web site's customers help. They ordered goods from it and they paid for them - just as forecast.

The site's management in turn decided to use the cash flow to buy first-class airline seats and send eachphoto: bikini war bus other messages via Fed-Ex rather than email. Another loss centre was reported to be the darn bother of wrapping the goods and paying La Poste to deliver them.

Even Paris' popular transit authority was dragged into the bikini war.

I assume the entire deal was dreamed up by highly esteemed B-school grads who had started off with a non-fiction B-plan, which they let drift into the pulp fiction area as a result of being overcome by the sight of all the cash rolling in.

If these had been 'little guys' this huge blunder would have tattooed them for life, making them ineligible for jobs plucking chickens in France. But now that we have our 'new economy' too, who knows? Did they have golden parachutes?

This is only worth mentioning because of the glee with which it was reported by the 'old' media, as in " That other new media thing did a whopper of a belly-flop! Ha ha."

A late flash has just landed on the newsdesk here. It claims the 'crash-and-burn' item above concerned a British firm, which is now a former firm. My apologies to any French firms that are in a similar situation, because I did not mean you. This means all references above to 'francs' should be changed to 'quids.'

Paris' Peace Wall, Still

This leaves the URL for Paris' Peace Wall which is still on the Champ de Mars. This 'Mur Pour la Paix' - which is a Dot-Com and not a Dot-Org - continues to survive. I assume this is so because nobody has sent me any dreaded '404' alerts about it. Peace lives on! You can also learn how to read the word 'peace' in 31 languages.

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