Proust, Joyce & Co.

photo: terrace cafe bar

Morning sun on a terrace in Paris has been rare lately.

Lost and Found In Paris

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 18. June 2001:- The weather here hasn't gotten any less disgusting so I'm going to skip what is past. Although terrific lightening, thunder and downpours can be exciting, you've probably seen these before and if you have seen them in Paris, you will have noticed they aren't particularly 'Parisian.'

Not unless you've found an extraordinary awning to stand beneath, or sheltered café terrace with comfortable seats well out of spray's way.

Sit down at one of these, and after the first hot wine you may not notice that the sky has cleared and by the time you do, the weather is having another round of lashing Paris' pavements.

That is how it has been. Last night's TV-weather news has predicted clearing skies and rising temperatures, beginning on Thursday - for the Fête de la Musique! - and for the week's Café Metropole Club day.

Today's Le Parisien is forecasting this for Wednesday, with temperatures expected to rise from today's high of 18 - to match today's date in June I suppose - to 26 or 27 degrees by next Sunday. However, Le Parisian was off the stands for five days last week, so they might be trying to cheer themselves up.

Café Life

Speedy Lost and Found

Acting on a second-hand rumor from a third-hand party that there may be some doubt about one of my citizenships, I was at a passport office last Wednesday to find out what I could do to straighten things out.

This was a bit tricky, because this particular office was not involved - not having heard the rumor - andphoto: fiat 500 of the week the discussion I had with the passport lady was a bit like two blind people trying to describe a single-tusked elephant to each other.

Here we are again - all cheer for this 'Fiat 500 of the Week.'

Meanwhile there was another lady there with a real problem. She had lost her passport at the airport at Roissy. My debating partner decided to retire to a back room somewhere, to think over our discussion, so I moved aside to let the lost-passport lady have her, somewhat more urgent, turn.

After a couple of minutes she was invited into the back room, and my lady returned to the debating window - after doing whatever she had been doing, out of sight somewhere.

She said, "I don't know how Country 'X' would see this because we only deal with France here, but as far as France is concerned the information you need - the 'proof' - is the fact of your residence card."

'Aha!' I thought. If I apply 'French logic' to Country 'X,' then the same thing applies - provided I can find a 15 year-old document. About being able to do this, I wasn't at all sure - but at least I had a clue to the sort of 'proof' I would need to uncover.

As I was putting away my papers, the 'lost-passport' lady came out of the inner sanctum, delirious with joy. Her passport had not been stolen at Roissy. Somebody had found it and turned it into the lost and found office at the airport. 'Douce France!'

When I got home, I made a half-hearted stab at finding the 15 year-old document - everything still being in a shambles from the move to Paris in '99 - and it turned up within three minutes. Even more extraordinary, it does have the 'proof' rubber-stamped right in it.

Proust, Joyce & Co.

I am a newcomer to the Marcel Proust and James Joyce industries. Like most people I have tried to read 'Ulysses' a couple of times. I've never attempted 'A la Recherche du Temps Perdu' and never thought I would get near it, but as chance would have it, I was given two books about Marcel Proust in March.

I seem to be leading a sort of 'chancy' life. Sometime after March, I also chanced to interview author Harriet Welty Rochefort and do sort of an review of her book, 'French Fried.'

This was noticed - how? - by some people in the book promotion business, and I have received two otherphoto: shakespeare & co, bloomsday books that I've agreed to 'review.' One of them is 'The Complete Short Stories of Marcel Proust' which is in this issue.

'Bloomsday' reading on Saturday at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris.

As far as I can figure it out, there is no relationship between 'French Fried' and Marcel Proust, but there is a big relationship between Proust and James Joyce - with the two of them being big stars, if not the biggest, in Paris' literary heaven.

So far I been enjoying my 'spring with Marcel,' probably because it has required no more than a light skim. However, on Saturday I received a warning, in the form of a visit to the Librarie Mouvements, at 46. Rue Saint-André-des-Arts, to see a little exhibition called, 'James Joyce à Paris, des Photographies de Gisèle Freund.'

Not only were the photographs present, and for sale, but there was also a very large display case containing at least 50 items - books, pamphlets, odds, ends - all relating to Joyce, friends of Joyce, his translators, and so on. The tip of an iceberg of Joyce. This exhibition continues until Tuesday, 3. July.

I have taken this as a warning. If any book people are reading this, I want it known that I have no intention of working full time for the Proust, Joyce & Co.

Bloomsday - the Short Version

This is called the 'short version' because it lasted less than 24 hours, and shouldn't take more than five minutes to read.

Last week in the café Le Bouquet, I ran into Dennis, who is not a friend of Marcel Proust as far as I know, but is a Joyce fan. If I mention Samuel Beckett too, this will become Proustian, so I won't.

Without warning he told me that Saturday was 'Bloomsday.' This day can last 24 hours, like the time period in the book 'Ulysses,' but more sensible people usually cut it down to a few hours.

In Paris, after a brief stop between showers in the Librarie Mouvements bookshop to look at the photos of Joyce, we slogged our way through the crowds in the Quartier Latin, to take a look at the 'Bloomsday' readings being done in front of Shakespeare & Co. in the Rue de la Bucherie.

This was not too successful because it was outside, and the 'readers' had to compete with the noise of the afternoon traffic on the quay, and rain was threatening again.

Hoping to beat it, we crossed to the Ile de la Cité and got as far as the Place Dauphine before stopping to use a café awning as an umbrella. This pause was worth at least 500 words but I'll skip them.

We got to Flann O'Brien's pub in the Rue Bailleu, which is like an alley between Rivoli and the Rue Saint-Honoré, just before the scheduled 'readings' were to begin. Dennis got himself a proper pint of Guinness and I got an improper jar of orange juice, with ice in it.

Jonathan, another regular from the Bouquet, made it just in time and he got himself a pint of - I've forgotten the name - a pint of what I used to drink before I learned that Guinness does not taste like peat, or turf.

The introductory speaker read the text of the British judgement banning the import of 'Ulysses' to Britain - and Ireland! - and the text of the US judgement, lifting the ban on 'Ulysses' in 1933.

Three speakers followed, reading bits from the book - each followed by applause. Dennis and Jonathan criticized all threephoto: interior, flann o'brien, bloomsday speakers, and agreed that the second one came out best. My guess was that both of them have taken part in many 'Bloomsdays,' and had some standards to go by, if they can remember what they are.

Joyous 'Bloomies' at Flann O'Brien's pub on Saturday.

I was surprised that the readings were relatively short and snappy, but I only stayed for 'part one.' A pause was called for, a pause for more Guinness - absolutely vital - and on account of this, the pause also being for 'using the plumbing' - probably no worse than in Paris than in Dublin.

Dennis also noticed that some 'Bloomsdayers' had brought their children. Dennis likes the fact that kids are taken everywhere in Paris - a bit like you see them in country pubs outside of Dublin too.

With Proust on my mind, with the photocopies made by Dennis about the meeting between Proust and Joyce, I went back towards the métro. On the way I passed the Oscar Wilde pub near Les Halles, but it looked like the wildest thing going on in it was billiards. A sad 'Bloomsday' for Oscar.

Summer Sales In Paris

An informal poll done two weeks ago had two out of three shops predicting that this year's 'Soldes d'Ete' will begin soon on Tuesday, 26. June and they will continue for six weeks. The dissenter guessed the start date would be Thursday, 28. June. Make sure your card is fully charged with credit, because sales of spring gear have been slow, and a lot of unsolds will need to be moved at any price.

Metropole's Photos for You

The very changeable weather current in Paris has discouraged me from making my usual 'tours' and this has reduced the chances of accidently capturing the sort of photos I think may be suitable for this, for you.

The offer of Metropole's large-size photos falters badly this week with this link to the week before last's photo / image page.

In theory, each week one or two 'best' photos - or a cartoon - will be shown on this page. The large versions of these images are for sale. If you see another one you like in the issue, ask for it instead.

More details are on the most recent 'Photo' page to appear in Metropole. Check it out. Any suggestions, advice and comments, will be welcome.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Your club's latest meeting on Thursday had few if any odd incidents but did have a 'Quote of the Week' that was very long - somewhat in keeping with the philosophy of this issue, which has Marcel Proust and James Joyce as its patron saints.

Even if you have something better to do, you can still read the 'report' about the club's meeting anyway and still get in a round of golf before dark.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 21. June 2001. This day will be important because it will be the first official day of summer, which will be celebrated with the Fête de la Musique in Paris. Itphoto: public toilet coin slots will also be Saint-Rodolphe's Day, according to my calendar for 2000.

Metropole readers and all future 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 raison d'être, its meeting time and location and so on, and other lesser facts such as being free, except for your own drinks' tab.

This page also contains expired rules about this club in Paris - including its still valid location map - for you, who are either 'Metropole Paris' readers, Café Metropole Club members - or are in Paris for any reason or no particular reason at all.

If you do fall into a couple of these categories, but are doubtful about Paris geography, tear the map off your computer screen and glue it into your passport - right beside your glued-in membership card.

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 5.25 - 19. June 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Posters at Forney.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Montmartre Barricades the 'Butte.' This issue had one feature, titled 'In the Tuileries - With the 'New Yorker.' The Café Metropole Club asked one of its silly questions, 'Perfect Breakfast Wine?' The club's weekly update on 22. June featured the 'Nearly a 'Louie of the Week.' The 'Scene' column's title was 'If You Can't Sing, Hum.' There were four new 'Postersphoto: avenue d'orleans of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Petting Station.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago:

Issue 4.25 - 21. June1999 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Risky Living.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'Is Paris Safe To Drink? Still No Strikes.' This issue' had one feature titled, 'Salt Marshes' At Trocadéro.' Readers sending emails were seeking something, with 'Will the Real Utrillo - Stand Up?' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Midday Blackout: Celestial Show.' There were also the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Not Coke Too!' Not Orangina either.

The 'Count-Up/Down' - Version 25

Readers have possibly forgotten what this is about. On account of having both mega-length writers Proust and Joyce in this issue, this count 'up/down' sub-feature is therefore suspended for a week.

As a reminder though - the 'euro' currency introduction day will be on Tuesday, 1. January 2002 at 00:01 and not two minutes before.

The number of days remaining this year is 196. This means you still have about 225 days left to trade in your stash of crumbling old FF's for a lesser mess of brand-new shiny 'euros.'

For those uncomfortable with nearly everything in centigrade, European or newfangled, you should look at the French government's 'Euro' Web site for crystal clear and succinct information.

Almost everything for sale here already carries 'euro' and franc amounts on the price stickers. You may ignore the 'euro' amount and simply pay in francs until the end of this year. After then, the prices go up while numbers come down.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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