About To Go Missing - Your 'Ed'

photo: le bouquet, sunday

My own corner café spends Sundays by itself.

A Bunch of Election Stuff

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 12. March 2001:- Last week the weather here seemed to be pre-spring-like. The predictions for sunny periods turned out to be overly optimistic, but the rain and temperatures in the 10 to 15 range were correct.

As far as I can remember more of the same is forecast for the coming week. I don't know what I was thinking about while I was supposed to remember to remember the forecasts, but I distinctly do remember not seeing the weather-gent wearing a scarf.

The ladies wore their usual studio costumes. They change these often, so if the mind isn't focused on the weather it can think about what average ladies who-do-the-weather-on-TV wear.

France-2 TV has three ladies and one weather-gent handling this important bit of programming, so in an average week I get to see a lot of different costumes. This is the reason I sometimes forget to remember the weather itself.

If this 'weather-report' of mine leaves you somewhat at a loss, you can note from the date that Easter and its snows are still about a month off in the future. Between now and then, dress accordingly.

Metropole's 'Ed' Takes Off

With the huge staff of one that Metropole has it is not easy for the magazine to continue if this wretch insists on 'taking some time off,' but the European labor laws do insist that he must 'bug out' occasionally - especially as he is not allowed time off for Christmas, New Years, any public holidays or on any of his birthdays.

This necessity does not suit Metropole's management - the 'MGT' - one tiny little bit. The magazine's readersphoto: av leclerc, sunday will not like it either. On top of it, he has chosen to be absent just when Paris is going through an exciting - and rare! - period of municipal elections.

Some rule says all polling days are rainy.

The first round of voting for these was yesterday, and you can see the results in this week's 'Au Bistro' column. The first round either elects new municipal councilors outright, or this happens in a second round - on next Sunday, 18. March.

Also, the Café Metropole Club can not just be canceled on the arbitrary whim of its secretary, so you can expect the meetings to take place as scheduled, and their 'reports' will be posted as updates to this issue - at the same 'late' times as usual.

These will include the meeting this coming Thursday on 15. March and the following meeting on Thursday, 22. March. Between the two meetings, watch for an 'election update' to the 'Au Bistro' column, which should be online sometime on Monday, 19. March.

Even through Metropole's only employee wasn't asked, he was heard to mumble, "It sure seems like an odd way to have a week off." For this cheek, the MGT says he will work on the coming Easter Friday, Sunday and Monday - regardless of the weather!

Café Life

My First Cell Meeting

A lot of people have been standing around handing out election propaganda to anyone that will take it. Last week one of these tracts was jammed into my hand. It said, "Français, Résidents, Sans-papiers - Tous Citoyens! Prenez la Parole!"

After reading this I realized that the Monsieur who had given it to me is often in my habitual café. Between this and thinking it might be my only election rally, I decided to go.

At 19:30, in a light rain, I turned up at the given address. Even in Paris, it could be considered a slum building, but I found my way in through a cracked hallway to a tired room of about 30 square metres.

The room contained five people, two women and three men. Idly, they mentioned who else would be coming. For a while nobody did, so as a 'filler' I learned that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the 'right to vote' - or the 'access to citizenship.'

This was not, strictly speaking, an election rally at all - but one called by the Communist Party's Rue Daguerre 'Cell' to discuss - debate! - France's uneven welcome to potential voters who live in the country, pay taxes in the country - but have little chance to vote for their representatives.

These are supposed to include some four million 'immigrants,' some of whom have had French nationality for 30 years - and some who have not bothered to get it for 30 or 40 years.

According to one speaker, candidates in the current municipal elections are not overly concerned with the participation by these potential voters.

At a national level, the issue is not a burning one either. When the subject comes up, the government always saysphoto: la rotonde, bastille it will get around to the problem 'before the next elections.' One says that the Socialist Party has had this issue as part of its platform for 20 years now. The eternal answer is 'next time.'

The times were brighter last Wednesday near Bastille.

By 20:10 we are eight persons, including myself. There is one other European 'foreigner' present. 'Immigrants' as a word usually means Algerians, and includes refugees from the time of Algeria's independence from France, as well as everybody born in France with refugee parents.

Anybody born in France can choose to have French nationality at age 18, and a great many 'immigrants' have done this.

It is as if everybody who has come to France - from Algeria, from Vietnam, even from France's offshore colonies - is meant to remain an 'immigrant' for life. Immigrants from the European Union are labelled as 'foreigners.'

I don't know what classification the shipload of Kurds who arrived last week will eventually get. All of these were reported to be 'sans papiers' and there are already fair numbers of these in the Paris area, some who have been here for decades.

A lot of these people may hope that the 'next time' may be soon. The French Communist Party deserves some recognition for calling a meeting to debate the issue right in the middle of an important election campaign.

When I leave the meeting after 90 minutes, there are nine people present, excluding myself.

A Foreigner Votes

According to a headline in Saturday's Le Parisien my status has changed from 'foreigner' to 'Européen.' Yesterday, I found what papers I have concerning my local voter registration, and loped over to the nearest school to vote - for the first time in 32 years, in a municipal election.

A sign on the door said I should have my 'voter card' with me. This I didn't have - never received - but it seemed that my residence card would do the trick.

The initial problem was that I was at the wrong polling station. I was supposed to be at the city's kindergarten, slightly further away, in the same street but in the opposite direction.

After not reading all the broadsheets of voter information and dire warnings, I presented myself and papers to an election official. He matched my papers to the polling bureau's voter's list and gave me the go-ahead to pick up the ballots - which were half-sheetsphoto: bureau de vote of paper, each one containing a party's 'list.'

There were ten of these. I was given a tiny envelope, I went into a curtained booth, and put one of these 'lists' into the envelope. I guess I was supposed to eat the other nine 'lists,' but I didn't.

Beside the clear plexi-glass ballot box there were three master voter-lists. One for A to H, another for I to Z and a 'Complementary' list for us 'Européens.' There were 10 or 15 names on this last list.

My name was found, my papers were examined and one had the date stamped on it, and then I was invited to dump my envelope into the ballot box. After this I had to sign the voter's list.

The voter's lists at this polling station contained about 1000 names I was told. I was also invited back at 20:00 to observe the counting of the ballots.

Keeping my first 'cell' meeting in mind, there were two lists I did not put in the ballot envelope. One was headlined, 'Paris Ville Française' and the other, 'Paris Française Immigration Zéro.'

Paris, 'ville Française,' might find itself in pretty poor shape without its annual 40 million taxpaying visitors - or temporary 'immigrants.'

Metropole Offers Its Photos

Last week's initial offer of a large-size Metropole photo excited a few readers and they took advantage of the offer. To make this a bit more formal, a photo / image page has been added to this issue.

In theory, one 'best' photo - or cartoon - will be offered each week. In practice, many of Metropole's weekly crop of photos will match the 'best' one for interest and quality. If these are not specifically 'offered,' it does not mean that they are not available.

As this project starts out it is doing so without impersonal 'Internet- robots' to handle the transaction. This means that the process depends on personal emails. This also makes sense because I've taken the photos with you in mind.

More details are on this week's 'Photo' page. Check it out. Any suggestions, advice and comments will be welcome.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Last Thursday's club meeting was just as unusual as any other, pretty much as usual. I'm beginning to think a truly 'unordinary' meeting will be a solo one, but having one of these seems to be an increasingly rare possibility.

One family of four collectively signed up, and one other new member individually signed the members' booklet. Again this was no 'record of the week.'

Three other existing members put in appearances too. You should read the 'report' to find out how this meetingphoto: la bouquet, bd magenta was treated by the club's absent-minded secretary - if what the secretary does can be called a 'treatment.'

Keep up with this so-called 'treatment' by checking the 'report' of the last meeting. It's details may seem about as balled-up as usual and this is entirely the secretary's doing, with the members' help of course

Another Café Le Bouquet, but not in my 'quartier.'

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 15. March 2001. Even though Metropole will not publish a completely new issue next Monday, the following meeting on Thursday, 22. March will be held and its 'report' will be put online as usual

As is now normal, these particular meetings will only happen once. If you miss them, it means missed forever - which is a much longer miss than even semi-millenniums, especially as it involves two meetings.

All readers and prospective club members may also take a look at the somewhat antique but current version of 'About the Club,' which is useful for learning out about the club's reason-for-being, its meeting time and location.

This page also contains lesser but vital 'facts' about 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 or no reason in particular at all. If you do not fall into any these categories, you probably don't fall into any.

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 make 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 a real benefit if you've signed up for them before you need them suddenly. I hope won't be the case but you can never tell.

'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 in your neighborhood to introduce the game of pétanque - or boules. No particular expertise is necessary.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.11 - 13. March 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, '5 Years Online.' Last week it was '4 Years Online.' It was a fast year. The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Here Comes the Queen Mary II.' This issue had three features, titled 'Exhibition: Front-Page Freedom,' 'The Whipped-Cream Strawberry-Topped Deep-Fried Mars Bar' and 'Music, Rum, Music, Sun, Fun and More Rum' by Linda Thalman. The Café Metropole Club began its usual nonsense with something called 'Not Bubbleware, Champagne.' Thephoto: sign, bar club's weekly update on 16. March featured 'Cuba Libre' At the Club' - not Champagne. The 'Scene' column's title was 'Fous' In Fayetteville Help Replant Versailles.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Don't Monkey With the Press.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.11 - 15. March1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'This Time Nothing Means Zéro.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'Tennis Courts At Concorde?' This issue' had two features, 'Anytime Is Tea Time in Paris' and 'Musing About Spring and Concorde.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'More May Not Be Better.' There were also the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'What's That Smell?' Smell? Maybe it was supposed to be 'spell?'

The 'Count-Up' - Part 11

The server-lady, Linda Thalman, is an avid fan of this 'Count-Up' feature and she's annoyed that nobody else but her thinks it is a good thing. In fact, she doesn't like the idea of the 'First American Tourist In Paris' part. She thinks it should be a count-up from the date of the 1st tourists' arrival.

She says this '1st tourist' must have been an Italian from Rome. Shephoto: sign, autoroute magenta thinks it may have been Julius Caesar. I don't think so. According to legend, Paris was visited by Labienus and his 'Legions' in 52 BC. But the 'legend' does not give the exact date - so there is no way I can figure out the 'number of days.'

When confronted with this problem the server-lady replied, "I think you should count-up from the Roman days - but by years not days - it'll save on calculating leap years. That is, let's say 52 BC saw the 'first' tourists come to Paris. It's now 2001. So 2001 plus 52 equals 2053 years. I didn't do well in math, but isn't that close enough?"

It's 'close enough.' But what am I supposed to do? Add one year per week to the count-up number? By the end of the year we'll have 2074 years.

Metropole's postmillennial 'count-up' is reinstated. This widely popular feature, beloved by me and the server-lady, continues in spite of an inexplicably low general level of vast indifference.

Therefore, for us two diehard and truly unconditional 'count-up' fans, the current Day One of the now under-reconstruction 'Count-Up' is still Tuesday, 9. July 1776. As of today, it has been 82,151 days since the first American tourist had a skimpy continental breakfast in Paris.

I hope that readers will understand that I have to keep the 'First American' until we can get some true Italian numbers.
signature, regards, ric

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