Bouncing Back

photo: cafe terminus du chatelet

A right-bank café near the very heart of 'oldest' Paris.

Elvis Was Here

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 30. April 2001:- I know perfectly well what I wrote here last week about the weather but I am not going to be churlish and ask you to look it up in 'All Past Issues' because it would be cruel and unusual to do so.

In fact, this last phrase fits last week's weather to a 'T' and applies to the coming week's weather as well. Even for Paris, even for May, it is cruel and unusual. The only semi-positive thing I can say is, the 'high' temperatures might be over 15 degrees. They will definitely be under 20 though.

Tomorrow is May Day. This is a traditional day for either carrying around little bouquets of Lily of the Valley - shouldn't it be plural? - in French, 'muguet' - or giving them to other people for some symbolic reason, such as the fact that they are supposed to 'flower in May.'

TV-news has been showing the damp difficulties encountered by traditional 'muguet' harvestersphoto: plage solaire sunlab harvesting 'muguets' in the rainforests in April in anticipation of May Day, and these have not been pretty scenes due to all the rain drops on TV camera lenses.

'Beach,' 'Sun,' 'Sunlab' - Institut de Beauté - all dreams last week!

Slightly less sad, is tomorrow's forecast - which may allow the traditional May Day parade of workers, artisans, midwives and civil servants to march from République to Bastille and on to the Place de la Nation, with dry hats and red flags. For the Fête du Travail, I hope so.

Café Life


One thing I notice in cafés is that sometimes I don't know anybody in them. Oh - I know the three waiters and the owner and the owner's father and the owner's big dog and the owner's wife, and even the cook nods, and I vaguely know the other habitués, the usual noisy crowd of loud talkers and big laughers. The ones who get on Dimitri's nerves sometimes.

What I mean, is sometimes I go to the café - my weekday one - twice a day from Monday to Saturday, and I don't see any Dimitri or Dennis or Jonathan. Sometimes a whole week goes by before I realize this.

Sometimes it takes even longer to remember that they've gone to Pisa, to Connecticut and to Chicago and San Francisco. Usually I don't remember this until they come back and I happen to be in the café at the same time, and they tell me where they've been and how long they've been away.

For some reason this always surprises me. I know there are people who travel and that they go on trips. Dimitri, for example, moaned about the fare to Pisa until somebody found him a cheapo flight. When he came back, he moaned about how a 90-minute flight from - Pisa? - took him 18 hours.

There were so few passengers that they kept canceling the flights, and he got bumped from one to the next all day long. He probably has a very low opinion of Web-based discount flights now. I think his first airline was Air Libya, and the second, Maltese Falcon.

Dennis went to Chicago to see a play I think he might of translated, or hacked out of prose into a script. He loved Chicago. When he went on to San Francisco, his home town, it paled in comparison to Chicago. He is a big Chicago fan now. It was like love at first sight.

Jonathan said it was too cold to swim in Connecticut, even though the weather was great. He said the Gulf Stream hadn't kicked in yet. He didn't say he'd gone there expressly to swim, he just said it was too cold to do it. He didn't say he took a bathing suit or anything like that.

While I have a bad memory and have a hard time keeping track, Jonathan remembers about the 'Sounds of Paris' we werephoto: storm coming talking about - when? - when was that? He even remembered the sounds ambulances make, but I've forgotten this already. Again.

The only trip I took was to the 1st. In a café there, a lunch crowd was still sprawled around a table, with the time going on for four. They were pretty mellow. The whole tiny place was pretty laid back.

In my street - just before the sky fell in it.

To go to the toilet I had to step carefully over some legs, squeeze past some crates and boxes, to arrive at the top of a very narrow, tiled stairway. It went down a way and turned, and went down some more, and turned again. At the bottom, the low ceiling was full of angles.

It must have been two floors underground. I figured it was below Roman Paris, which hadn't even been in the neighborhood. I listened to hear if it was quiet but it wasn't. It must have been the métro, at least two blocks away. I felt I should have had a hard hat with a lamp, for cave exploring.

Going back up the stairs was like coming out of a cave too. Some steps and turn, some more steps and turn again. Lurch against a wall at each turn and there seemed like 15 of them.

The lunch crowd were leaving - their three-quarter-hour departure effort finally on the move - so it was no easier to get out of the place. It was neat though - right across the Rue Saint-Honoré from a butcher shop I photographed in 1989.

I don't think anybody in my number one café noticed that I had been on a trip. I guess it's too soon for them to know. I think it was on Friday, but it was so long ago that I'm not sure.

Oh. 'Paddle-ball.' You know the small paddle with the ball attached with an elastic? This is what these trips are like. Everybody bounces back. It happens so fast that they're back before I know they've been gone.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

The club meeting last Thursday featured a return visit of Member Number One, from Antibes, which was two true 'firsts' of significant importance. Although it was pure chance that Heather Stimmler registered herself first, and then moved away to Antibes - having her back was a treat.

Other new and existing members put in appearances too. An existing member sent a new one from Rochester and two others turned up from warm and sunny Newport Beach. This was a fine example of 'braving the weather' and I'm sure this town will become 'City of the Week' someday.

If you have time, read the 'report' about this meeting. It's details may seem more boggled than usual and this was entirely the secretary's doing.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 3. May 2001. Although seeminglyphoto: samaritaine iron, glass routine by now, this particular meeting will be unique. If you miss it, it means you can try again any other Thursday, up until 2005 at least.

Iron, steel, glass - keep Samaritaine as the classiest building on the Rue de Rivoli's 'new' commercial stretch.

All absent-minded readers and prospective club members are urged take a look at the current version of 'About the Club,' which is handy for finding out about the club's reason-for-being, its meeting time and location and so on, and other lesser facts.

This page also contains vital 'notions' about this free club in Paris, which is the only one this magazine will ever have in Paris - for you 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, the club will find new ones just for you.

Metropole Offers Its Photos

The offer of Metropole's large-format photos continues with a new photo / image page, which is included in this issue.

In general, one or two 'best' photos - or a cartoon - will be offered each week. Many of Metropole's weekly crop of other photos will match the 'best' one for interest and quality. If you see another one you like, ask if it is available.

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

Metropole's Affiliates

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

'Bookings' has a reservation service for a wide selection of Paris hotels. Check out their offers 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. If you've signed up for these services before you need them suddenly you will benefit from them. 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 the effort of carrying them all the way from Paris. Be the first on your block to introduce the game of pétanque - or boules. Nearly everybody can play this game, nearly anywhere.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.18 - 1. May 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'May Day? May Day!' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'The 'Sockless' President.' This issue had one feature, titled 'Red Flags, Blue Skies, May Day.' The Café Metropole Club flubbed its lessons with 'Wobbly Geography.' The club's weekly update on 4. May featured, I think, the 'World's Worst Violins?' The 'Scene' column's title was 'Short-term 'Parisphoto: sign, rue fean lantier, 13th c Beach.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'It Must Be Queens.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.18 - 3. May 1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'A Week Asleep; Train Strike.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'Hunters Lose Free Range 'Rights.' This issue' had two features, 'The World's First Land-Speed Capital' and 'Foire de Paris Spotlights Artisans and Creators.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Less Than ALL of the Events.' This is always true. There were also the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Not for Us.' No omelet again, either.

The 'Count-Up' - Part 18.9

This week there is really exciting news for all - all three of us - happy count-up fans. Last week, the new count-up person, Charles A. Lindbergh, had his arrival in Paris verified by Bill Hilton, with the aid of a Web site devoted to Lindbergh's flight. His arrival in Paris at Le Bourget was fixed at 22:22 on Saturday, 21. May 1927.

By using a computer-savvy calendar, aphoto: sign, horse butcher sunlight-powered pocket calculator and a Bic pen with red ink, I got a count-up total of 26,983 days last week. Of course this was wrong, and Bill Hilton - again! - has come through with the correct figure.

"Applying Astrology, Theology, Texology and a flop-eared text book assiduously, I find that tomorrow at your Thursday, April 26 club meeting, the true count-up total will be 27,003 days and some 12 hours or so," Bill wrote.

This means that today's count-up total is - let's see, from Thursday, makes four more days - this now totals 27,0007 days exactly, and 'some 12 hours' of course. I don't know how Bill did it, but it looks good. Thank you, Bill!

Good things come in dozens too. The one remaining question, about Elvis, also got a positive answer. The question nagged at Sally Dilgart, who looked then wrote, "Yes, Elvis did visit Paris. See the 'Facts About King Elvis' section of this Web site. You'll note that 'France is the only European country Elvis visited,' and he stayed at the George V." At last we know. Thank you, Sally!
signature, regards, ric

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