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 the dateline.

This is how I got two hours late, but nicely warm before getting back to my 'garret' on Saturday. I have two fireplaces but I don't know if they work, so I declined Antonio's offer of some kindling. It wouldn't look smart to start a chimney fire in May.

Vigilant readers will likely recall that I mentioned this Australian business here last week. In the meantimephoto: ateliers poussin Kim has reported that his neighbors have gotten really serious - plus he has unilaterally honored me with the title of 'Honorary French Cultural Advisor' - so I think I am obliged to keep everyone informed of these vital events.

Artists in the ateliers 'Poussin' have open doors for the event in Montparnasse.

According to Kim's latest message, received yesterday, the local electricity company was in town by chance to see if any lights are on, and the wine-growing shark fishermen hornswoggled them into financing construction of the replica 'Morris' column - which now makes them famous worldwide by being mentioned here, even if I don't know the name of the company.

If you are reading this, you will know I survived the horrible conditions in my unheated 'garret' - by dreaming of building a replica of a Paris Vespasienne in Western Australia.

However, if you'd rather I write about being freezing cold in Paris, I will do it instead because I have a fair amount of experience with this too.

Café Metropole Club's 32th Session

The highlight of the 32th weekly meeting - way over the 30th-week mark! - of the 'Café Metropole Club' - exceptionally held last Friday - was getting Sweetwater exchanged for Stillwater, Oklahoma as the previous week's 'City of the Week.' You can read about it on last week's 'Club 'Report'' page.

Because the last meeting was held so recently, I doubt that you have read its 'report' even once, and twice seems exceedingly doubtful. This issue's 'Club News' page treats the membership question raised last week, because no two members agree with my proposal or each other's.

If this sounds more tiresome than usual, there are also two other wonderful 'firsts' - one from Friday and one I forgot from the week before.

But if you intend to skip it, the club's next meeting will be on Thursday, 25. May. Be sure to see this week's 'Club News' page anyway for tips on how to tell whether it is Thursday or not when you are in Paris. Even if they are 'old' tips they still work.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.21 - 24. May 1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Techno Bubble Explodes.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'State Museums Hit by Strikes.' This issue had one feature, titled 'The Rue Cler Is Not Funky.' There was one eMail page, which posed the question, 'Does Paris Stink?' by Johanna Shirley. The 'Scene' column had 'Paris Issues 'User's Guide.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Is the Champs-Elysées Ready?' - but then it always is, isn't it?

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.21 - 25. May 1998 - The Café Metropole column had a mindless title: 'Rattled in Long Weekend May,' as if it never happened before. The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Libération: Paper of '68, Born in '73, Hits 25.' This issue had two sappy features, titled 'Paris Is a Moveable Picnic' - still! - plus the vastly snappier 'Véloville! Rollerville!' Murray J. Aronson sent an eMail which was titled, 'Hôtel des Bains.' Therephoto: pleure pas grosse bete tu vas chez hoblet were four 'Posters of the Week' as usual. Ric's Cartoon of the Week was had the unexciting caption of 'Season Ticket' because it was the best I could invent on short notice.

Metropole Paris' Nearly Solo Countdown to 31. December 2000:

Relentless reader Paul Babbitt only skims this section to see if it contains a thrilling contest for him to enter. Paul need skim no further, because there is no contest this week, which incidently marks the 21st issue of the year. This proves that whining that nobody but contest contestants speed-read this had paid off. I need write no further.

'Moreover' is a word just as silly the word used here last week, so I will clip the rest of this too. 'Clip.'

Now back to our regular but equally mindless 'countdown' program: this 'new' countdown will last only 366 days, minus the 143 days already gone. The official reason for doing this is to give the Tour Eiffel a new chance to 'hit the zero' once and for all. This is a re-run countdown for thousands of count-down fans who missed shouting 'Zéro' - its French spelling - on Friday, 31. December 1999 when Paris' Tour Eiffel countdown display blanked out with only minutes left to go.

If you don't happen to be a count-down fan, then you have probably already skipped reading this. But I warn you that if you have - you may miss the next ultra-exciting contest, which will be reserved for vigilant readers.

There are only about 223 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium. For really perceptive readers, this figure is again correct, I guess. The thing I like least about the count-down is calculating the days gone and the days-to-go each week. I do this by adding seven to the number in the paragraph above and subtracting a like amount from this one. If the number was 10, it would be easier.
signature, regards, ric

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