A New New-Age 'Startup'

photo: startup reporter unmasked

Your 'startup' reporter, who is undecided about selling
'Pig of Steel' masks on the Internet. Photo:©Pic

"This Meeting Is Moot!"

Paris:- Wednesday, 28. March 2001:- Now that left-wing reds and plant-fan 'greenies' have taken over Paris' city hall for the first time in nearly a hundred years, we can turn our interest back to serious matters - especially since the first major tidal-wave of Internet 'startup' Dot-Com frenzy has disappeared into the trashcan of history too.

As a premature Internet 'startup' myself - history is littered with the corpses of us! - I reckon now that all the squeamish Venture-Capital crazies have been driven back to their municipal bonds, now is the time to come out of the woodwork with modest projects that will succeed.

I have run some ideas for these past my colleagues who hold up the bar in the local café, and they immediately caught on to the importance of producing something - anything. They think an audio rendering of Paris in the form of a musical selection of ambulance, fire department and police emergency sirens - "Po-Lice, Po-Lice, Po-Lice" - could be catchy.

When I left early to go home and get the latest news on Paris' floods, they were still doing it - piff-paffing their hands on the wooden bar and dancing to the beat a little bit.

So, in order to get this 'started-up' fast I phonedphoto: actual startup location Gilbert this morning in the early afternoon. The first surprise of the day occurred when he answered the phone. The second occurred when he said they were having an 'Internet meeting' this very day.

East Paris 'startup' headquarters disquised to look like a slum.

Even better, I could possibly talk to the musical director, as well as the expert for beer-bottle labels. As a bonus, he offered the presence of the 'Green Giant' who he couldn't believe I hadn't already met.

This was like hitting odd and even and red and black on the first roll of the dice. Wow! This should be a 'startup' like gangbusters!

I chucked my gear in the sack and immediately jumped on the métro to head for the Champs-Elysées. Despite all the trains in France being on strike today, the métro is unaffected because it is in Paris. This town is always out of step with the country that surrounds it, but there are occasional advantages to this odd rule.

The avenue required no glances because spring has been put off until after Easter, as usual. I flashed through my habitual routine of collecting information andphoto: startup peligro de muerte hopped on the east-bound métro, riding it beyond Bastille - to the 'start-up' district.

Before the recent Dot-Com crash and burn, 'start-up' central used to be in the garment district around the Sentier. Now that there is no money for these rents anymore, new 'startups' that are being attempted without any money have centered in an area of very low rents, known as 'Paris-east- of-République or Bastille,' whichever is further east and cheaper.

Attention! 'Startups' can be bad for your health, or mine.

Just off the Boulevard Voltaire I find the world headquarters of the Freak Brothers, which is located in a shop cleverly designed to look like lower than low-rent. Its false-front is matched by its interior, so if one were inclined to say these things, one might say it is harmonious if not much else.

Although the 'Green Giant' is dressed in black I immediately recognize him because I have to look quite high up to see his face, which I have never seen before no matter what Gilbert says.

The 'Green Giant' is many things he tells me, but mainly he is a leading French rock-and-roll critic. This is somewhat ironic, because he says there is no French rock-and-roll because the French rock-and-rollers do it with poetry and philosophy, instead of noisy grit.

All this is revealed in a whisper, because Gilbert is being interviewed in main atelier number one by a couple of dudes from Web-TV. What we don't realize, after we go outside, is the door sounds like it is being hammered on inside - by what seems to be a gentle breeze outside.

Pic, who is the beer-bottle label expert, comesphoto: model startup products out too to get away from the door's noise. We both admire the 'Green Giant's' authentic French Foreign Legion Zippo lighter, which was given to him by a graduate of the Foreign Legion's dryout post somewhere near Timbuktu.

Possible 'startup' products include 'Freakish' beer and crunchies.

While Pic goes back inside to get a parka, the 'Green Giant' tells he has switched to being the Internet critic for the roll-and-roll magazine, so I am really sure than when Web-TV wraps up - and our musical director arrives - we will really get down to 'starting-up.'

Finally Paris' pre-spring weather drives us inside, to find the Web-TV guys finished with their shoot. Cocktails are offered and I chose an Orangina, while everybody else has red plonk. The musical director is supposed to arrive at any minute now.

While waiting, Pic tells me that Champagne makes no bubbles in glasses that are too clean. Rather that switch the glass-cleaning machines to slightly dirty mode, a special brush has been invented to put a little dust on the inside of clean Champagne glasses - et voilà! - bubbles appear as if by magic.

His advice for making labels is succinct. "Make them so they fit on the bottle," he says. Other than legal stuff, he adds, I can put anything I want on them - just as he's done for the beer-bottle labels.

When I bring up the subject of an audio rendering of Paris, they suggest that a form of a musical selection of ambulance, fire department and police emergency sirens - "Po-Lice, Po-Lice, Po-Lice" - could be catchy. Apparentlyphoto: startup fish eye tie what ambulances do is three syllables, something like - I don't know, but it isn't 'Do-A-Loodle-Do.'

Pic also thinks I should add some photos of water rushing around in Paris gutters and I admit this is a good idea, although maybe not for bottle labels.

An absolute 'killer' product is the 'fish-eye' tie without a shred of doubt.

The Web-TV guys tell us they don't know if Web-TV is a good idea or not, but they are doing it anyway. Apparently at broadcast time, the firm lays on free drinks. Between the lines, I get the idea that these little perks do not attract many groupies, and fewer viewers. Internet gurus say Web-TV on portable phones will be the next 'killer-app.'

Since the musical director isn't with us yet, I admire Pic's unusual shoes. He says he got them in Belleville, hand-made by a Turkish guy named Hanny, who is known as 'Le Roi de la Gégène.'

I forget what this means because Pic says it is 20-year old Argot for something or other. He wants to know if I know anybody who wants to buy a neat apartment right at Odéon. Only 1.4 million francs for a pad right in the middle of the Latin Quarter. It sounds like steal.

The musical director still isn't with us yet so I trade busted-knee stories with the 'Green Giant.' His was worse than mine.

Gilbert says there are two million Germans living in the 'middle of Texas.' This surprises me because none of Metropole's Texas readers has ever mentioned this important fact.

After several more Oranginas it begins to dawn on me that there may be no 'startup' meeting after all. Gilbert says the musical director was at the meeting before I arrived and didn't know whether he'd be coming back.

This is about when Pic discovers that nobody has set the clocks forward one hour last weekend on accountphoto: cool startup shoes of it being springtime in Paris. General panic is the result with Pic getting out through the rattling door first and by the time me and the 'Green Giant' hit the sidewalk, Pic has disappeared.

Unsuitable as a 'killer' product are 'Le Roi de la Gégène's' hand-made shoes.

Thinking back over the 'startup' meeting, I have to conclude that the best thing I heard was the fish-eye tie. With a truckload of these, one could make a fortune on the Internet.

This, and selling turtles made out the wire and caps from Champagne bottles. Pic said whole zoos can be made the same way, and he knows people with important collections of them. So, you see, this 'startup' meeting hasn't been a total waste of time.

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