Hello! New Millennium!

photo: cafe rendez vous, denfert

The safe port on a New Years Day storm.

Goodbye Rotten Old One

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 1. January 2001:- Last week's prediction of warmer temperatures changed yesterday afternoon's near-freezing levels - to merely cold rain for the New Years Eve party. Today, the forecast calls for a wildly-optmistic high of 10 C in the Paris area.

The coolness didn't stop an estimated half-million revelers from seeing in the new year on the Champs-Elysées, but they were less than the expected 800,000.

It stands to reason then, that the heat seems to be off in my apartment - because I was expecting it to be functioning warmly like it was yesterday, last year, in the last millennium.

In my desire to keep you informed of what is really going on here, I think it is time to put on my scarf, hat and gloves and go outside to get the real facts - and to resume Café Life.

Café Life

Monday, 1. January 2001

In my street, and especially on the avenue, it is obvious that the wind from the south hasn't brought the heat wave from Africa yet. It is not raining but it was and it feels like it will again.

The ever-open café Rendez-Vous at Denfert is not only open but it is full at the bar and the dining areas are full of Parisians tucking into oysters, which are a well-known cure for dull heads especially if accompanied with sincere amounts of Sancerre.

Despite the bus station atmosphere, it is damplyphoto: nut machine, le bouquet cozy even if it is nearly as noisy as a blacksmith's atelier. I string out my double-express as long as my leg feels comfortable before getting back on the avenue to face into the damp breezes from the south.

Just as I near my street a fellow stroller addresses me. He knows about my leg. He claims he is locked out of my third-floor neighbor's apartment - his brother's - and on top of it, his car's battery has died on him. Can I tide him over with 200 francs until later this afternoon?

The trusty nut machine of any year.

Well, no. I haven't got 200 francs. The man doesn't seem to have one of McDo's paper cups for collecting change - and he does know about my leg.

I guess this is bona-fide enough to 'loan' him 100 francs even though I've never seen him before in my life. This will give me something else to think about instead of my heatless radiators for a couple of hours.

Later - the heat came back on, but there is no sign of the neighbor's 'brother' with the 100 francs. It may have been the ripoff of the Millennium.

Part-Time Job In the Laundromat

Although Tuesday is my substitute for a weekend, I often do my laundry on this day. The laundromat is right across the street, so it's easy to see if all of its machines are free or only some of them.

These robust industrial machines are much quicker than domestic ones, and the dryers are absolutely essential as well as fast. This means I throw the stuff in a washer and return to my place and answer a few emails, and then go back and put the duds in a dryer.

When I got back to do this transfer there was a young fellow there taking a ton of stuff out of a dryer. After wrestling with folding some it, he asked for a hand. The fish lady who sometimes comes over from the marché never asks for help, but this guy had a bunch of tablecloths.

These were from a restaurant up the street, and they had some holes and marvelous stains on them - very much like some of my own stuff.

He wasn't an expert folder either. What a pair! He kept letting go on the 'stretch' part, and I kept almost falling over when he did. But he said the tablecloths would be ironed in the restaurant, so the folds didn't matter much.

He offered me a lunchtime café in Le Mauritius, which handles Indian Ocean-type food from the islands of Maurice and Réunion - which also explains the spicy stains if not the holes too. The place is always full in the evenings, with the quarter's exotic and hot-food fanciers.

Get On the List!

One fine day some time ago when Paris was drowsing through one of its holidays, I paid a visit to the voter registration office in my local city hall - the Mairie of the 14th arrondissement. I had the whole office to myself and the registration took about three minutes.

I'm pretty sure this was followed up with some sort of 'you are on the list' document, which I was supposed to guard with my life. I filed it where I file everything else - in the mis-named 'house charges' drawer.

I recently got another letter - which I noticed again on Friday - which said that voters on the 'European list' were not necessarily on the Paris 'municipal list,' which would be locked up sometime on Saturday, 30. December.

Well, going to the Mairie is handier than finding anything in my 'house charges' drawer so I put on my coat, hat and gloves and gathered the necessaryphoto: fiat 500 of the year residence-proofs together and went over there.

The Mairie didn't seem busy. Signs posted on every available bit of wall space said, 'voter registration, bureau 262.' I took the elevator up to the second floor and its hallway was empty.

Not the tidiest, but here's the 'Fiat 500 of the Year.'

'Bureau 262' is down at the far end near the stairs. Beyond the doors to the stairway landing, unregistered voters were lined up outside the bureau's door and the line of them disappeared down the stairs - maybe all the way down to the street floor.

One glance made me decide to go home and take a serious look at my 'house charges' drawer. It'll be my first municipal election in over 30 years and I don't want to miss it.

If all Europeans who are eligible to register do so, they will total about three percent of the voter's list. TV-news showed several in the process of registering and also showed a few campaigning politicians looking for foreign support.

Eight years after the European ruling that community residents have a right to vote, France has finally decided to take a chance on it for next spring's municipal elections.

Parisian Buzz-Saw Angst

My date to get the cast removed from my right leg was on Friday, and I was on time for it. Several other people were already there before me, also waiting to get their casts removed in time to dance on New Years Eve.

When my turn came up and I saw what looked like a circular saw attached to an industrial-grade electric toothbrush, the nurse, in order to reduce my angst, said it might tickle. It didn't tickle, but it didn't hurt either.

It was a bit like the bite of chocolate out of a 'Kinder Surprise' that reveals the 'surprise' inside, which in this case was my leg - reappearing for the first time since Saturday, 2. December.

On the first test step two things were noticeable. My leg was a lotphoto: cast saw lighter, and it didn't work too well. The doctor was very happy with the 'after' x-ray. To me, it looked worse than the 'before' one - and in fact, the doctor said the kneecap was still fractured.

Not like at the dentist's, and not like a chain-saw either. Bizzzzz!

If I am very careful and do not try any hop, skipping and jumping, the leg should be in shape for dancing by Easter, even if it is not dance season then. After dark, in a light rain, the free and lightweight leg walked me home over Paris' uneven surfaces, without too many serious stumbles.

Vital Shopping Tip

Paris' annual Winter Sales - the 'Soldes d'Hiver' - begin on Wednesday, 10. January and continue for six weeks afterwards. These dates are France-wide in case you'd rather shop in Cannes or Nice. First come - best served, but don't forget the Café Metropole Club's meeting on Thursday, which will be a fine place to take a two hour 'breather' from shopping before you drop your plastic's balance into the red.

'Au Bistro' Dumped Again

This issue's 'Au Bistro' column remains unproduced - again! - not due to lack of news, but on account of the time spent on the 'extra' 'Scene' column. In the past week the Paris press has rolled a lot of ink onto newsprint with articles reminding readers of the wonderful year we've just passed.

As wonderful as they were, it is a bit like celebrating New Years Eve with old variety numbers rather than creating new ones. I have been glancing at the papers though, and saving them - with the nonsense idea of combing through to find true jewels of oddness.

On the other hand, I have two fireplaces, and these old papers might have better uses. Next week - promises! - expect the 'Au Bistro' column to be back; with due attention to be paid to all the new French laws that have come into force today.

Metropole's Services

In consideration of it being the first day of the 3rd Millennium and a holiday as well, I have reduced the usual plugs for Metropole's affiliate partners to a bare minimum - which does not mean they are any less worthy or you can't do some business with them today.

'HighwayToHealth' provides a 'city health profile' for potential Paris visitors as well as travel insurance. These services will be a benefit if you've signed up for them before you need them suddenly - which I hope you won't.

'Petanque America' imports the quality Obut boules from France and will ship them to you anywhere in the Americas - which will save you from carrying them all the way from Paris. Be the first to introduce the simple game of pétanque - or boules - to your neighborhood.

'Bookings' is a reservation service for Paris hotels. Check out their hotel previews and make your choice in the comfort of wherever you are in the world.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Last Thursday's club meeting was less normal than other recent meetings because of the huge number of new members in Paris for New Years party time, as well as the presence of the club's secretary, who turned up even though his leg was still in a cast.

Keep up with your club's 'news' by reading the 'report' of the last meeting. As usual it was written by the club's secretary from his own illegible notes. One new member who nearly came all the way from Siberia, provided a stunning photo of an Alaskan traffic jam.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on the historic date of Thursday, 4. January 2001 - representing the club's first meeting in the world's brand-new 3rd Millennium. Your club's secretary expects to be present - now without his cast - at the historic time and in the usual historical place.

New readers can also take a look at the current version of 'About the Club' to find out about the 'historic time and place.' This page also contains other slightly useful 'facts' about this free club in Paris, which is the only one 'Metropole Paris' has for all of its readers who are Metropole Paris readers, or are in Paris, or are residents, or all three or four.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.01 - 3. January 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Yippee! We Made It!' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'The Catastrophes Continue.' This issue had two roundups for New Years - '1999 - 'Bug' Hits Countdown Clock' and '2000 - Forty Tons of Fun.' The Café Metropole Club got much deeper into its geographical details with its 13th PR blast, with 'Directions To Your Club.' The club's weekly update on 9. January was more modestly titled with the quote, "If You Like Modern Art." The three holidday 'Scene' columns were dropped in favor of nothing. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'We Can't Hear You.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.01 - 4. January 1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, ''Euro' Overload Worse than Y2K 'Bug.' What 'Bug?' The 'What Bug?' was a year later. The 'Au Bistro' column, full of shopping news, was titled, 'Paris Style At a Discount.' There was one 'Scene' column, 'Life After New Year's' - as if such a thing could exist. One feature evoked this with, 'On Top of High Places and Montmartre's Parade' and another was titled, 'The Unhistorical Parc André Citroën.' There were also four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Happy Euro-Day!' Will it never leave us alone?

Metropole's Final Countdown Is Suspended

Obviously, if we have arrived in the year 2001 - today in fact - successfully, then we are also 'in' the Third Millennium, sophoto: sign, ch lebourg sc 1872 there is hardly any reason to keep this single-minded countdown going because it has clearly expired - and in these parts there is certainly no intention of starting this New Year off with a new countdown to the Fourth Millennium.

In fact, it is time to break recent old and boring habits in favor of getting into fresh new silly ones. But what will replace the wildly popular 'so many days gone' and so many days to go' either from or to something or other? Could the 'Fiat 500 of the Week' be the replacement, or maybe a Café Metropole Club member's 'Quote of the Week?'

I know that as 'Ed' of this magazine I am supposed to know the answers to questions like these even if I don't always know really important things like when Paris' Catacombs are open or closed exactly. But if you've been reading this for more than two issues you'll know already that very silly stuff is apt to show up here. If you want something like Louis XIV's birthdate instead, say so.

Happy New Year to all! Thanks for reading Metropole Paris for another very long year. Expect this first issue of the Third Millennium to be online about the time you wake up after New Years, sometime today, somewhere in the world.
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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