"Could be Worse, Could be Green"

photo: la corona terrace, marilyn, charles

Today's traditional huge group shot posed on the club's terrace lacks only the 'huge group.'

Hoboken Quashed As 'City of the Week'

Paris:- Thursday, 29. March 2001:- Now that we are firmly in the grips of spring the weather has settled down to being what it has been for weeks - holding on with its tight little fingers to the lingers of winter. Rain is on the hour every fifteen minutes.

This is no great hardship. I am, like most other people, waterproof. Besides, I ride to the club in the underground safety of the métro - right under the flooded Seine.

Speaking of the métro - it and Paris' buses are running today. But nothing else on public wheels in France is, and even Paris' RER wheels run by the SNCF are not running either. Paris is a small tropical island of public transport in a mean sea of stranded commuters.

The strike is so successful that some unions will run a replay of it tomorrow. There is nothing like a successful country-wide strike to add a bit of tonic to life in France, so long as it doesn't affect Parisians.

Strangely, the club's area of the club's café La Corona is almost without civilian non-members. The 'Waiter of the Week' Patrick hustles them off and clears the decks for the hordes of newphoto: charles' goodies members I expect to arrive. I set up the books with the meeting numbers and the date, and wait.

But oh ho, not for long! Marilyn Burke and Charles Eitel arrive together and settle in to wait for new members with me. Charles tosses out the first ball with, "Paris can't have the Olympics because Air France will be on strike."

Charles shows his cooking treasures, imported to order by Marilyn.

"In 2008?" I ask. Strike warnings as long-range as this one are rare. Marilyn and Charles get tangled up ordering pots of wine, with Marilyn narrowly escaping getting a big one.

She wants to know why people come to the club too. This is not as membership-threatening as it sounds, because she really does wonder why people with only five days in Paris would want to sit around for a couple of hours watching her and Charles drink pots of red wine.

The mood is strange. Charles wants to know why Marilyn has 'Chinese eyes.' Marilyn doesn't know and Charles says, "Your eyes are lovely" - partly because he knows his wife isn't going to read this.

His wife immediately calls him on his porti-phone and tells him to stop complimenting club members' eyes. This is embarrassing and he changes the subject by asking, "What's the 'City of the Week?'"

Marilyn says it should be Hoboken, because, "It was nice 50 or 60 years ago," - before yuppies moved in, she adds. Frank Sinatra's hometown of Weehawken is admiredphoto: marilyn too, but he is not a club member yet.

This leads into a discussion of all the movies that have been made in Jersey lately with Marilyn capping it with, "And you think I come from a schmuck place!"

Marilyn's eyes are caused by laughing a lot. There is no cure for it.

While we are talking about fondly-remembered club members who are not present today, Charles confirms that he really does intend to go to cooking school in Paris.

"To learn to make cheese sandwiches?" Marilyn asks. With this Charles shows me the ready-made food mixes Marilyn has brought him from across the sea. He has been carrying them in a plastic bag, wrapped in newspapers, so nobody in Paris will notice that he has these politically incorrect food 'goodies.'

"He emailed me and asked for them," Marilyn explains. Charles says he will make this stuff for us if we don't tell his cooking secret to anybody.

What has been a pleasant, quiet and really friendly but dull meeting suddenly gets its first real 'first' at 16:30 when Frank Watson staggers up to the club area, laden with hanging bags, a suitcase and a camera stand only slightly smaller than a telephone pole.

Frank arrived in Paris two and a half hours earlier and discovered the transport strike. But club day is club day and if you've come all the way from Uppsala in Sweden, you'll walk all the way from Roissy if you have to if you intend to be a true club member, like Frank does.

Frank, I would like to point out, is also a rare club member who emailed first to say he is coming to a meeting - today's in fact - and actually comes. I forgot all about his email, just like I forget about all emails from ordinary people and club members whophoto: frank's entry say they are coming, on account of overbooking.

Frank's dramatic arrival - unfocused.

Thus, Frank scores two major 'firsts.' He's here despite his email and he's brought his suitcase, making it the 'Suitcase of the Week,' which is a 'first' as I've already pointed out.

Frank's entry is so astonishing that I get him to repeat it - twice. He's a bit winded and doesn't understand that the club's camera is too slow-witted to capture him lurching towards the club's table.

On seeing the photos - later - I am fairly surprised that not one of them is in focus, in spite of all the re-trys.

The only possible explanation for this is Frank's being a professor of photography at the university up there - and all of his students are watching this space to see Frank in focus in Paris. Maybe he'll come back next week when the camera is in a better mood.

Frank is also unusual because he came to a club meeting in 1999, about six months before the clubphoto: club cocktails officially started. At the time, it was taking avoiding strikes to an extreme - and today's adventures are obviously a 'pay-back' for trying to beat the system.

Cocktail time at the club involves different-sized pots, as usual.

While Frank is going through his suitcase to try and find the stuff about his expo in Le Mans called 'Le 'Moi' de la Photographie,' I quietly switch the 'City of the Week' from Hoboken to Uppsala to make up for all the 'adventures' he's been having.

About the striped underwear that he finds instead of the expo stuff he says, "Could be worse, could be green." He does not find the expo details, so all we know is that Frank's show is at the Palais du Culture in Le Mans, starting tomorrow.

By now it is somewhat after 17:00 and Marilyn and Charles have left. Frank is starving and orders one of La Corona's hot dogs from Patrick.

Since it is after my lunchtime too, I order a croque-monsieur and ask Patrick to ask the cook to put mustard in it. Patrick saysphoto: real frank, real unfocused he will give me a mustard pot, but I say it will be too late by then - I want the mustard on the inside.

Frank takes three strikes and the camera is out - of focus. An unphotographic score.

In France this is 'not done' but I am either a local hero or an 'urban legend' in the Café La Corona and the staff tries to humor me sometimes.

While Frank hacks away at his contraption of a hot dog, I discover my croque-monsieur to be nicely mustarded. This is on the side I first bite.

At the other end of it, there is at least a whole pot-load of ultra-hot Dijon-style mustard filling it. It makes my eyes water and Frank leads me to the métro, which is not on strike.

Update: While writing this with watering eyes, Frank gave his suitcase - 'Of the Week'!' - another toss and emailed me the Web address for his expo. It's been added in above where it says 'Le 'Moi' de la Photographie.'

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

Traditional and 'unofficial' former club 'rules' concerning your Café Metropole Paris Club - as opposed a shake-and-bake 'report' like this one - can be found on the 'About the Café Metropole Club page,' which is about your club and has a link on each issue's 'home' page, in case you forget to hit the one here.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

Take a look at the 'about the club' stuff if you have time. You should read the following about the next Café Metropole Club meeting - it will be held on Thursday, 5.photo: club food feast April, which is a week from now, just like every other Thursday of the year.

If you are in Paris or not it will be Sainte-Irène's' Day. The following Friday will be just another ordinary Saint-Marcellin's day unlike it was last year when it was on Thursday.

Today's meeting ends with a regular feast - of mustard.

The café La Corona meeting place will be open as it is all the time well as every Thursday. Your club's meeting time will be from 15:00 to 17:00 in Europe's Central European Time Zone - 'CET' for short and not 'ANEI' - and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm otherwise.

The club's secretary, which is normally myself in person, will be laboriously writing some 'report' notes during the coming meeting, but do not pay any attention to this because it is pretty harmless because it is done by hand.

Dream up a new 'Quote of the Week' or bring your own new 'City of the Week,' or even any other 'Thing of the Week,' if you want to share it, them, with other members - and readers.

The café's location is:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral Coligny - or - 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Pont-Neuf or Châtelet.

A bientôt à Paris,
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini