Dubious Achievement Award

photo: cafe le colonnade

The café Le Colonnade is just a block off Rue de Rivoli.

Workout At Muscle School

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 8. January 2001:- In the period between Christmas and New Years when nothing much is happening except recovering, many publications fill up their space or airtime with roundups of highlights or low-points from the previous year.

I have always had an aversion to these journalistic look-backs. Since all of Metropole's past issues remain online, it hardly seems necessary for me to inflict this sort of re-hash on you - except that I usually lead off this column with a few words about the weather.

Despite doing this week after week I am not very diligent about it, and a lot of exciting weather probably goesphoto: fake old car, real old bookshop right over my head without me noticing it much - on account of it being nighttime or on account of the six floors of apartments between my place and the sky.

Fake old car in front of real old bookshop.

If you were in France last year and the weather was crummy during your visit, you probably will not be surprised to learn that the last year of the last century collared some sort of dubious achievement award for lousy weather in France.

Take July for example. Paris scored two records - one for hours of sunshine and another for temperatures. Both were record lows, with a piddly 109 hours of sunrays as opposed to an average of 230 hours. For the month temperatures averaged 17.7 C, a whole 6.3 degrees below the normal average - but much higher than 1948's frosty record of 12.9 degrees.

Paris' average of about 5.5 cm of rain for the months of October and November was drowned by 12.3 cm in October and 10.4 cm in November.

This was followed by a high of 17 degrees on Friday, 8. December - July's 'average!' - and Parisians were out without coats on Thursday, 21. December.

Tomorrow you can expect a high of six if you are lucky. All the luck in the world will not keep it from raining though.

Café Life

School for Muscles

Regular readers with extraordinarily long memories may recall that the 'Ed' of this magazine fell down on a Paris street at the end of November and fractured his right kneecap without actually intending to.

The same readers, but this time with slightly shorter memory-spans, will probably recall the same 'Ed' whining on for weeks about hobbling around the 'City of Light and Invisible Speedbumps' with a cast on his right leg.

And for those with really short-term memories, you will probably have a hazy notion of seeing a photo in last week's issue, showing 'Ed' legs with the leg-in-a-cast getting buzz-sawed off.

Friends, this saga continues. Last Friday 'Ed' took his leg to muscle school, to begin its re-education. This process began with 'Ed' being invited to lie down, which he eagerly did because it is more comfortable than standing up.

However, this position was not selected by Madame Re-education in order to do soothing things to a somewhat worn-out leg, but to interview it.

When the interview was over, 'Ed' and his leg were invited into a mediaeval torture chambre and told to lie on the floor underneath a really dangerous-looking contraption that looked a lot like a rack, even though it had a perfectly ordinary relaxo chair for tiny babies on top of it.

Madame Re-education quickly roped together some pulleys and hooks and snap-hooks and slings, and then left 'Ed' to haul away after duly bending and dropping the leg as far down as it would go - into the 'ouch' zone.

This 'ouch' zone lasted from Friday's first session until today's second session, which began with the devious offer of a very delicious chocolate, obviously intended to reduce anxiety levels.

However, another treat was in store in the form of a leg-rub. Or, it would have been if the phone hadn't interrupted it 23 times. I guess another way of looking at it would be to consider that the leg got 25 very mini-rubs.

After this, the sling and pulley-work resumed and the leg, probably confused, dropped much deeper into the 'ouch' zone without ouching very much. This could have been on account of the chocolate or because of a promise of another leg-rub tomorrow.

I am fairly aware that 99 percent of readers are probably more 'sportif' than I and have broken halfphoto: abandoned xmas tree of their limbs at one time or another - and thereby I am fully aware that my leg's problems are pretty minor compared to the geo-political situation of the world in general.

Not waiting until January's end, used Christmas trees are already hitting the streets.

But still, even while being re-educated, I am still the 'Internet Reporter for Paris' and I may discover that there is some sort of supercool 'French-touch' to this business - which could ultimately benefit any of you - as long as you know about it and happen to be in France.

For all I know my discoveries, if any, may lead to a whole new class of tourism - bodily re-education in Paris. At the moment the only speck I see on this clear window of opportunity, is the ordinary relaxo chair for tiny babies on top of the rack.

What is it for? Why is it near the ceiling? And what is all the other stuff for in the mediaeval torture chambre? And finally, now that I've got my leg nicely bent, how do I straighten it out again?

Vital Shopping Tip: 1

Paris' annual Winter Sales - the 'Soldes d'Hiver' - soon 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.

Vital Shopping Tip: 2

While Metropole's 'Au Bistro' column has been sleeping, bandits have been attacking armored cars in France again.

A couple of weeks ago there was a big gun battle near Paris during an attack, but luckily no one was hit. The gang was cleanly nabbed a day later and the loot was recovered.

In another attack a few days later, an armored car employee was killed. This has re-lit the smoldering resentment of armored car crews, worried about their personal security.

Armored car crews and their unions have made a list of particularly exposed cash transfer areas, and these are currently being boycotted. The short list is 500 danger spots and the long one lists thousands.

The result is that many cash machines - ATMs - in exposed public places may not be re-filled with money. Since it is impossible to list those that won't be, be sure to stock up wherever and whenever you can.

Metropole's Services

The usual over-wordy plugs for Metropole's affiliate partners have been reduced - 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 - there are no 'normal' meetingsphoto: guerlain, champs elysees in fact - because of the number of new and regular members in Paris for the 'after' New-Years-party-time. The presence of the club's secretary, who turned up without a supporting cast, added to the confusion.

Guerlain's Champs-Elysées' shop - probably won't have 'Soldes d'Hiver.'

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 absent-minded notes.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on the ordinary date of Thursday, 11. January 2001 - representing the club's 2nd meeting in the world's first ever 3rd Millennium. Your club's secretary intends to be present at the ordinary time and in the usual ordinary place for this meeting which will only happen once in any of our lifetimes.

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

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.02 - 10. January 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, '2000' - A Really Big Show.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'France Gets Rewired.' This issue had one feature titled 'Closed For Facelift or Renovation? My 'Home' Café.' Several readers wrote about 'Christmas Where You Are.' The Café Metropole Club got much deeper into its geographical details with its 13th PR blast, with - more! - 'Directions To Your Club.' The club's weekly update on 16. January was alarmingly titled, "Don't Light Your Thumbs On Fire!" The 'Scene' column's brilliant title was 'A 'New' Scene Full of Old Stuff.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Where Is Dakar?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.02 - 11. January 1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Uh-Oh, Winter Is Back!' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, in celebration, 'Tintin's 70th Birthday.' There was one 'Scene' column, 'Dies Da und Das Hier' - which is plain nonsense. This issue's only feature evoked this with, 'Sun On the Montparnasse Terraces.' There were also four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Local Weather.' Will it ever leave us alone?

Replacement for Metropole's Count-down?

Metropole's readers are not without their quirky ideas and when they write from New Jersey as Paul Babbitt did last week with a suggestion for this obscure sub-section of the magazine, I don't necessairly 'get it.' Here is Paul's suggestion:

"Just a modest proposal for a replacement for the countdown. How about a count-up? It's still Monday, January 2, 2001 here in Jersey - which by the way, is covered in about a foot of snow, and hasn't seen positive degreephoto: fountain in celsius in weeks - so far the new millenium is two days old. If nothing else, this idea certainly exceeds any silliness standards you may have in mind."

I think Paul is right about silliness 'standards.' I can't 'top' this. But if I understand this idea correctly, this week's 'count-up' brings us back a week, to last Monday in New Jersey, with a foot of snow and nothing positive in the Celcius department.

So far, all is fine and good. But what comes next? Two weeks ago in New Jersey? Or am I supposed to incite readers to send in their 'count-ups' of the week, all based on last week, from wherever they are?

Maybe some more mature readers will want to go further back - to, say, Monday, 8. January 1951. How was New Jersey faring in the snow department on this day? Or maybe, was this the day that Jack Kerouac discovered be'd failed his pre-Christmas English exam? Maybe these 'count-ups' should be restricted to France?

Readers, club members and other interested citizens - make your wishes known! Are you ready and willing to take part in the Internet's one and only 'count-up?' If so, send in your personal 'count-ups' today. Don't thank me - remember that Paul Babbitt is responsible for this. I'm not sure if New Jersey has anything to do with it.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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