Over-Plastered Under-Postered

photo: bar cafe artoire, depuis 1911

Linda Thalman's selection for the 'Café of the Week'
only holds five customers.

France's Food Thing

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 26. February 2001:- On Saturday night the TV- weatherman appeared in the hot TV-studio wearing a scarf. He said we could expect the coldest night in the year, with the thermometre registering minus two.

I arranged my apartment's baffles, to try and hold the cold - not 'at bay' - but to keep its circulation inside to a minimum. To this I added staying in bed until noon as another way of keeping warm. Even at noon on Sunday, it was chilly inside.

Opening the window shutters didn't seem to let in totally frigid air, but cars parked outside had snow on their hoods and windshields. Strangely, sunlight seemed to be blazing at the street's eastern end.

It has been a dismal week for posters in Paris. I thinkphoto: display cows the newsmagazines are saving up poster-spaces for the municipal elections. Having shot only one, I had been putting off getting the other three, in hopes somebody would put up something decent on Saturday night.

Cowboys and girls, cows, and a judge at the big Paris cow show.

This never happens, but there must be four 'posters of the week' and out I had to go - without my gloves, which had blithely sailed away out to the Cadillac Ranch on Friday, after the Guimard tour with the server-lady.

Surprise then, outside, to find it seeming not to be cold at all, even in my street's canyon of shadow. On the avenue bright sun was actually warm. The air was nearly still. A perfect day for carnival in Paris, but still a lousy one for good posters.

The official billboards are now in place for the coming municipal elections, but as yet they have no posters. The illegal and wildcat poster locations are showing their usual collections of defaced and over-plastered posters - none of which have any artistic merit whatsoever.

Café Life

Agri Facts and Bérets

Edgar Ladouceur is a Café Metropole Club member and he comes to Paris annually for the 'Cow Show,' to attend a club meeting and because he is in the soja division of the agri-business.

He is also into something he calls Cowbell Conservatism, which has "I Am Therefore I Eat" as its sort of motto, which is another important reason for coming to Paris.

You are probably aware that Parisians are being told that their food is unfit to eat. I asked Edgar for some of his valuable time, to explain to me how this situation is seen in the outside world.

Cows don't eat meat is the most important fact he told me. Their stomachs can't handle it, being tuned as they are, strictly to plant food. Feeding cows recycled meat scraps disguised as cattle-feed is not good for them, or the people who may eat them.

Europe is a small place - compared to North America, Brazil, Australia or Argentina - and farmers here, eitherphoto: edgar ladouceur knowingly or unknowingly, have been feeding their cows the wrong stuff - instead of the best stuff, which is soybean-based, and it's cheap.

Edgar Ladouceur explains the food-chain and gives 'vertible' Basque béret tips to Metropole's Ed.

But France decided that colza, also known as rape, is better - or cheaper, or easier, or something - than soya, so this is cultivated but it is not nearly as good or as cheap as soya. As far as cows go, soya is the best way to feed them cheap proteins.

Feeding cows junkfood can result in 'mad cow disease' and some scientists think this can be transmitted to us humans. The latest news here is that scientists also suspect that the junkfood thought to be 'safe' for other food-chain animals such as pigs, may cause them problems too.

As far as genetically-modified grains go, Edgar says, "France imports 'everything,' modified or not."

In France, many farmers - and the Peasant's Confederation - are publicly against the use of genetically-modified seed grains. "Who knows what the long-terms effects will be?" is the question of the day.

Edgar thinks the French are being a bit coy. For example, a toxic by-product somewhat like mustard gas from EDF's nuclear power plants is used to stunt the growth of barley, a cereal grass - so it grows shorter, faster.

He says another by-product from nuclear power plants - non-toxic, simple heat - can also used to compress alfalfa - lucerne - so that it can be made into handy-sized pellets instead of huge bales.

But Edgar's most important 'find' on this trip has been the acquisition of a genuine Basque béret. I saw these on sale in one of the regional food halls last Wednesday.

The bérets are sold according to size, and ordinary ones cost from 199 to 229 francs. The 'plus beau' one, "Feel the material!" - costs 299 francs. Order from Sophie Grange in Biarritz - InfoFax.: 33 5 59 23 62 60 - and don't forget to send Sophie your head size.

5th Anniversary

Today is considered to be the 5th birthday of this weekly online magazine, which some people insist on calling a 'newsletter.' Tomorrow is considered to be the first day of 'Metropole Paris' sixth year of regular publication.

Metropole Paris first went online on Monday, 26. February 1996..

This date is due to a change in Web-servers in July of 1996. The actual first-online date was Friday, 23. February. Changing servers and switching to the Monday issue-date messed up the 'official' date a bit.

All of Metropole's contents remains online. As Metropole begins its 6th year, a rapid check says that it contains about 2500 Web pages, going all the way back to issue 1.01. Older issuesphoto: decor, rue de l'assomption have not been reformatted, so they look the way they did when they were put online.

In January of this year, readers living in about 76 countries accessed 64,400 Metropole pages. The number of 'origin countries' is unchanged from a year ago and has remained constant over several years.

Exterior three-story high 'home' decor, in Paris' upscale 16th arrondissement.

But the 'pages viewed' this January show a 20,000-page increase over the amount for January 2000. Of all the pages available, readers looked at 1700 different ones in January.

Your magazine about Paris 'right now' seems to be appreciated by readers, according to their emails, and according to comments made by signed-up members of the Café Metropole Club, as well as those who have not yet had the chance to become 'signed-up.'

Due to the usual 'rush of events' this anniversary has snuck up on me. I do do 'Metropole One Year Ago' every week but it has taken several days for it to finally sink in that this is an 'anniversary' issue. Too late for cards or a cake, in other words.

'Not Playing' This Week

Last week there was no 'Au Bistro' column. This was not due to lack of news, but caused by a little bit of too much everything else. This week the 'Scene' column has its turn for a no-show, despite minor items that have been added to it during the week. Hitting the link here or on the contents page will bring up last week's column, which is not totally out-of-date.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

As of last Thursday's regular club meeting, your club in Paris has 183 'signed-up' members. This may seem like a low number to you, but it is a high number for me, because as the club's secretary, I'm supposed to have all your names memorized.

Some members have come to club meetings from as far away as New Zealand and Australia. Other club members come to meetings repeatedly, but all are only counted once. The club has been in existence long enough so that some members are making 'first anniversary' re-visits.

Last Thursday's club meeting was no more routine than any other, pretty much as usual. Four new members individually signed the members' booklet. This was far from being a 'record of the week,' but is no less significant.

Four existing members put in appearances too. You'll need to read the 'report' to find out how this meeting was handled by the club's secretary. A recent 'facts bungle' gets further treatment in this issue's email feature.

Keep up with this 'bungling' by checking the 'report' of the last meeting. It's details may seem just as unfocused as usual and this is entirely the secretary's doing.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 1. March 2001 - and not on Thursday, 29. February as I have previously announced due to a mix-up of leap-year fingers.

As is now routine, this particular meeting will only happen once. If you skip it, it means skipped for forever - which is much longer skip than the average millennium.

New readers and prospective club members may also take a look at the current version of 'About the Club,' which is practical for finding out about the club's reason, its meeting time and location.

This page also contains lesser but vital 'facts' aboutphoto: sign rue agar this free club in Paris, which is the only one 'Metropole Paris' has for all of its readers who are either Metropole Paris readers or Café Metropole Club members, or are in Paris for any reason. Should you not fall into any these categories, come anyway even if you are in London.

Metropole's Affiliates

The following product or service providers have chosen Metropole because their offers may be of value to readers and I agree with them.

'Bookings' has a reservation service for a selection of Paris hotels. Check out their offer and settle on your choice long before your arrival in France.

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

'Petanque America' imports 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 on your block to introduce the game of pétanque - or boules. No particular experience is necessary.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.09 - 28. February 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Four Years Online!' Incroyable! The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Alimony - French Style.' Thisphoto: sign, rye agar issue had one feature, titled 'Zingg Is Back! Original, Right Now, For Sale.' The Café Metropole Club began its 'Week's' honors in ernest with a 'Quote of the Week' like "What Was That Demo?" This was not quite the same as the previous week's 'Demo of the Week,' but nearly. The club's weekly update on 2. March featured 'Real Farmers On Real Rampage.' The 'Scene' column's title was 'Food-Chain Show Tops List.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'The Birthday Cake.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.09 - 1. March1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Strolling for Stories.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'Ohhhh - The Winter!' This issue' had two features, 'A View of the Musée Fournaise' and 'On the 'Route des Impressionistes.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Now, the Russians Are Coming.' There were also the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Skip Hamlet!' No omelet either.

The 'Count-Up' That Used To Be

Metropole's postmillennial 'count-up' was suspended during the week. This widely popular feature has lapsed due to an inexplicable level of total indifference.

However, for the remaining 1.5 truly unconditional 'count-up' fans, the current Day One of the now suspended 'Count-Up' is still Tuesday, 9. July 1776. As of today, it has been 82,137 days since the first American tourist had a skimpy continental breakfast in Paris.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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