Unheated Starving Artist's Garret

photo: cafe le bearn, les halles

In the Les Halles-Châtelet area, there are many
'Cafés of the Week.'

Unhemispherical Oz Dreams

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 22. May 2000:- I shouldn't have written what I wrote here last week because it caused life in Paris to take a sharp turn for the worse.

I am thinking of 'my life' so this doesn't necessarily apply to all the people here who happily got themselves married or who saw their first kids for the first time, and gave them names the kids will detest for their entire lives.

See? I send people from happy marriage to lifelong doom in one paragraph. This is what the weather did. Paris - me especially - enjoyed the departed unseasonal heat wave.

My windows were open, my shirts were sleeveless and my neighbors were standing around in the street, shooting the breeze until after dark. My building's guardian watered the courtyard, which turned it into a wonderful wind-powered air conditioner.

Tuesday may have not been sunny edge-to-edge, but the air was way up there, around 27 degrees. By Wednesday it dumped to 20 degrees - to 'normal' for this time of year - and on Friday the monsoon even returned, although it was a mere shadow of its former self of the week before.

Yesterday, 18 was forecast for the high - which is 'below normal.' I had on long sleeves, a t-shirt and my warmest winter jacket - all on while inside Metropole's so-called editorial office, which metamorphoses into an atelier while I do the cartoon.

This brought back memories of some really silly Paris dreaming Bobby and I did sometime around 1959. We did this in his cellar, which was damp because all the shabby furniture and a moldy carpet never seemed to shake it off, even though it was not far from a furnace.

We were supposed to be learning a lot of Shakespeare lines, but instead - with the help ofphoto: 1st fiat 500 a bit of VO or CC - we were imagining the 'romance' of being starving artists in an unheated garret in Paris.

The first 'Fiat 500 of the Week' was in pretty good shape.

There were no course credits in this for us, and we didn't get any for the English out of it either. Even if the exam had had Paris questions we would have flunked it because we made up the 'romance' part. Even the 'unheated' part was phoney on account of the excellent drink we had.

Fast-forward 41 years to yesterday morning, to bring me back to the 'unheated' part. My place is on the street-level so it is not a garret, I am not an 'artist' and I am not actually starving, but the 'unheated' part is true.

I was seriously thinking of taking off my winter jacket and putting on an old bathrobe, and putting on my winter jacket back on over it because my knees are cold. I still have some good socks I wore in Hamburg when it was 20 below; but I am keeping these as a last resort.

The other 'last resort' is simply take some outer clothing off and go outside where it is warmer and walk around a bit.

But when I did this on Saturday. I only expected to be out about 30 minutes. Instead it turned into a complete three hour tour of Montparnasse - so two hours lost on it got tacked onto this issue's deadline.

A little over a week ago, long-time Metropole reader Kim Murray tuned in again with a note from Margaret River, which is somewhere in extremely far-away Western Australia and Margaret River is another 200-odd kilometres beyond.

Apparently Kim's neighbors have gotten bored with shark fishing or whatever it is they do for fun down there, and have decided to 'do a French thing.' They have a historical incident to celebrate, namely the shipwreck or marooning or drowning or imprisonment of Timothee Vasse - who was part of the French exploration expedition that found Geographe Bay for the first time.

Besides writing a play about this true historical incident - to be staged on the 200th anniversaryphoto: interior coupole montparnasse on 8. June 2001 - the committee of wine-growing shark fishermen have also figured out they need a replica of one of Paris' 'Morris' columns.

The interior of La Coupole, turned into a photo gallery for the 'Mai des Montparnos.'

The new ones are all over Paris but they are too complicated to reproduce. Looking for one of the older, simpler, models is what took me all over Montparnasse on Saturday. Of course I didn't find one, even though I'm pretty sure I can get one in the Quartier Latin in about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, down 'there' things have heated up and a neighboring town, named Augustus, has some sort of public toilet problem, which they decided to fix by staging the 'Clochemerle' story and having a public toilet-building contest.

This in turn has caught the attention of a town in France and it has decided to erect a wooden 'dunny,' which is a standard Western Australian version of a public toilet - while the Australian town's elders have given the go-ahead for their 'French' toilet contest, which will take up half of the main - perhaps only? - street.

My neighbor, Antonio, told me the Vespasienne outside the wall of the Santé prison had been repainted. So, on my Saturday search for the 'Morris' column I got photos of this supposedly last remaining Paris relic, and sent them over the equator and te dateline.

Continued on page 2...
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