...Continued from page 1

Their Friday night mass-transit through Paris can reach a horde 30,000. They are accompanied by 80 'Paris-Roller' volunteers, a dozen roller-flics, two ambulances and motorcycle cops ride herd in advance of the parade and sweep up behind it.

When one goes down, 'they can go down like bowling pins,' according to a Paris-Roller spokesman. The most important is not to leave your hands on the ground and get up as quickly as possible.

Since the Friday night 'Randos' in Paris started, only one person has been killed - tipped over by a car - but about five or six participants end up in hospitals every Friday night.

Beginners are warned to stay away. Of those who go down, 80 percent are on the 'Rando' for the first time. Better for getting up to speed, are the Sunday 'Randos' at Bastille.

Going over on the métro on Friday, there were few roller-folk in the métro at Denfert. There was one couple with alpine skis and poles though. Another couple, both wearing skates, where exchanging their California addresses.

Arriving at Italie, the métro tunnels were clogged with a trainload of full-wheeled 'randonnéers' who didn't all bother to use escalators.

The Place de l'Italie must be big enough to hold 100,000 so only 30,000 leaves a lot of room for a mis-count. Unlike last winter when I last took it in, Friday's 'promenade' got under way shortly after its official start-time of 22:00.

At the entry to the Avenue des Gobelins six moto-cops on white BMW'sphoto: roller takes tumble swept around the corner into the wide avenue and they had at least 30 of the yellow-shirted 'Paris-Roller' monitors on their rear fenders.

Oops! One of the horde upsets right on the starting-line crosswalk.

On-coming traffic hadn't been diverted, but was stopped cold as the wheeled army swept past - for 20 minutes. Some roller-jokers were tumbling right in front of me, and the monitors were trying to keep others from going between the stalled cars.

About halfway into the 'rando' which takes over three hours, there is a rest-and-recoup halt. Recent tours have been confined to east Paris, but Friday night's was the full right bank-left bank, city centre tour.

It's kind of eerie. Just before 22:00, half the people you see outside are on wheels, heading for the starting place. Then, after they've gone, everything seems normal for a Paris Friday night.

If you are unaware of this - now traditional - weekly event in Paris, and you are in the right place at the right time, I suspect it can be kind of surprising to suddenly have your way blocked by 20 or 30,000 skaters in the night.

Café Metropole Club's 36th Session

The dubious moments of the 36th weekly meeting of the 'Café Metropole Club' happened when a four-pack of new members arrived and the leader of the gang insisted on sitting out on the Quai de Louvre terrace of La Corona.

The club's secretary resisted this idea, on account of the noise level out there, but was probably considered to be an old fogy all the same. I may be old and a fogy, but I'm not a crazy old fogy.

Thursday's club meeting produced many good quotes too, including the 'Napoléon III is closed every Thursday,' which had something to do with the nearby Louvre. You can read about it on last Thursday's 'Club 'Report'' page.

Your club's next meeting will be on Thursday, 22. June, when I will not be in Montpellier covering a dance festival there. If you are in the mood, be sure to see this week's 'Club News' page too.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 4.25 - 21. June1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was headlined 'Risky Living.' The 'Au Bistro' columnphoto: smiley postbox, black was titled 'Is Paris Safe To Drink? Still No Strikes.' This issue had one thrilling feature, titled ''Salt Marshes' At Trocadéro.' The 'Scene' column had 'Midday Blackout: Celestial Show.' Another pre-launch version of the Café Metropole Club popped up with, 'Hillary and Bill, Bernadette and Jacques.' Maurice Utrillo was the subject of the email feature 'Will the Real Utrillo - Stand Up?' There were four 'Posters of the Week' as more or less usual. Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Not Coke Too!' Why not? I don't remember.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 3.25 - 22. June 1998 - The Café Metropole column had rare seasonal good news: 'Now Official: Leave Your Woolies At Home!' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'France Worries, But the Games Go On.' This issue had a bunch of features, with titles like 'Take a Slow Boat To Bastille - The Arsenal Marina,' 'Champs-Elysées - The World Cup Grill and Lounge,' 'On the Beach In Paris, and a Last Picnic,' and Linda Thalman's hair-raising 'Exciting Sailing Weekend In Brittany.' For footballing sportsfans there was 'Links For World Cup: Ready, Set - Parlez Foot!' There were the usual four 'Posters of the Week' too. Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Ticket Salesman.'

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

Due to no reason in particular, the countdown is resumed with this issue. It has become impossible to sustain itsphoto: smiley postbox, pink suspension on account of contests that may show up here as soon as the contest fund reaches a level sufficient for acquiring prizes for all the winners. Until this level is reached, readers should send their contributions to 'Doctors Without Borders.'

There are only about 195 days left to go until the 3rd Millennium. For really fussy readers, this figure is correct for today only. Due to the resumption of this section, there are now, officially, 171 days gone since the last countdown failed on account of a mysterious gremlin that ate the Tour Eiffel's count-down mechanism last 31. December, which deprived count-down fans and their groupies of the thrill of the century if not the Millennium.
signature, regards, ric

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