...Continued from page 1

I passed it the other day and did something I thought was only allowed in old third-rate movies - a double-take. I walked past a display window full of hats and was part of the way to Buci before realizing that real hats are rare - anywhere.

I went back and peered in the window and saw lots of hats. I walked further back and went in, and through the place to where the hats are. Ladiesphoto: latreille hars may be interested to know I had to pass hats for them first; but ladies hats are less rare so I didn't pay a lot of attention to them.

On the left are Panamas and the Stetsons and Borsalinos are on the right; with lesser ilk below.

The 'Indiana Jones' movies have made a certain style of hat popular again, for weekend bush rangers, and 'Latreille' has these. But its Stetsons and Borsalinos are slicker. There were straw hats - 'boaters' - 'Panamas,' tweed jobs from Dublin, fishermen's caps and even bowlers!

Since there were no customers I didn't see any harm in having a chat with the Monsieur of the hats, about the general situation of hats in the world today.

The first thing to let you know - Stetsons may be less expensive in Paris than in New York - according to Monsieur. He did admit that they may be made in Europe under license - and also thought that all fine hats start life someplace in Poland before getting their form and style in Italy and France.

He had never heard the term 'mad as a hatter' but said he had heard of an Italian family firm that had abandoned the business of making felt hats the traditional way - possibly because of this hat-maker's affliction.

While we were chatting a gent came in to rent a dove-grey top hat and some other customers picked out new lids, and the shop's third-generation owner came over to help them make up their minds. He knew the 'hatter' term, but said it had never caught on in French.

My Monsieur was kind enough to give me the name of a - rarer still - hat-cleaning place, so if you happen to need this service I'll pass on the address. If you are ever hatless in Paris and don't care for umbrellas, 'Latreille' can probably give you suitable head cover.

Since this discovery I've told my little herd of hats that their slightly shabby days may soon be over.

Checking the Bars

Jerry from Brooklyn, now known in Paris as the 'bar spy,' has been in town picking up more secrets, and picked on me Friday night to act as a 'front' while taking 'sneak-peak' at my local watering holes.

Jerry is right out in front with this, so I am exaggerating about him being sneaky. He's fun to be with when he starts analyzing a bar. "Lookit this inlay! See the join there!" This bar 'crawling' unnerves bartenders, who seem to be surprised by a customer who looks under their edges instead of just propping himself against them.

Before getting to the bars and cafés, I asked him to sight-measure a Morris column for the folksphoto: music cafe, le beliere in Margaret River out in Western Australia, who intend to build a replica. Jerry said, "22 to 24 feet high!" I hope they know this is a British-type measure and is not metric.

Yesterday I dropped into Le Belière which had a special afternoon session to drum up signatures for a petition to 'save it' from the cement people. For the occasion there was music - which the place usually has later at night - and more free food and drink than I've seen at any recent 'art' opening.

Welcome to the Belière says Monsieur Greets, the piano player, with the bar's dog.

Le Belière is like a '50s jazz and accordion café, in a not too ritzy 1890's building. Tidy but funky I would call it. Its organization has 9000 names now and needs another thousand - but they are not online.

If you want to lend support by sending a message such as 'Sauvez Le Belière!' - send it to me and I'll pass it on. Be sure to add your full name and home town. Jerry would have approved of its small bar and the lady with the accordion had a big voice. Folks were dancing too.

Café Metropole Club's 33rd Session

The highlight of the 33rd weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' was stuffing two similar Zorro hats into a single 'Hat of the Week' award. This was pure co-incidence and had nothing to do with the hat business above. You can read about it on last week's 'Club 'Report' page.

But if you intend to skip it, the club's next meeting will be on Thursday, 1. June. Be sure to see this week's 'Club News' pagephoto: il sole di sicile anyway for the continuing wrangle over classes of memberships..

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.22 - 31. May 1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Underground Bikini War.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Springtime For Jacques and Lionel.' This issue had one feature, titled ''Art' On Paris' Main Street.' This issue saw the beginning of the Café Metropole Club News, with something called 'Annual Visit to the Freak Bros.' The 'Scene' column had 'Sow Didn't Go; Neither Did Strikes.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' with some kind of 'warning' attached and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Your Prize?!?' What prize?

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.22 - 1. June 1998 - The Café Metropole column had a mindless title: 'Starving Artists Discovered Squatting,' as if itphoto: ici mourut racine never happened the year before and this year too. The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'World Cup Ticket Monkey Business.' This issue had one feature, titled 'The 'Panoramas' - The Eldorado of Passages.' For footballing sportsfans there were 'Links For World Cup SportsFans.' There were four 'Posters of the Week' as usual. Ric's Cartoon of the Week was had the stupifying caption of 'Not artist! Clochard!' because the reverse could be true.

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

Due to lack of interest in this section, it is hereby suspended unless called back by popular acclaim.

There are only about 216 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium. For really vigilant readers, this figure is correct. On account of this section being suspended, the number of days gone since New Year's is unavailable.
signature, regards, ric

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