'Café Life' Takes a Beating

photo: cafe le pascal

The café Le Pascal in the 13th, is a shrine
to Serge Gainsbourg.

But Access to Metropole Picks Up

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 10. September 2001:- A new reader has recently written to ask about appropriate clothing for Paris. I haven't had time to respond, to find out if the query is about fashion or about portable body shelter.

If it is about fashion, then the answer is 'no' - it will not be appropriate to wear resort gear in Paris at the moment because the weather is not appropriate for late summer or early autumn.

If the question is about 'what to wear to hold body and soul together,' then I suppose it is about the weather, and what to wear to shelter from it.

The short answer for the second possibility - if you are visiting Paris now you should be dressed for an average November day on a deep-water fishing outing in the North Sea.

For readers who know nothing of the North Sea - and I can't say I blame you for being ignorant on purpose about this - the North Sea is definitely a place in this world that only has decent weather for about ten minutes once a year.

Up there they don't call it a hurricane or a typhoon. What they call it - if they are still bothering to call it anything - is unprintable here.

This is, of course, a slight exaggeration. In Paris, the weather, even in the first part of September, can seldom be compared to the North Sea's average summer weather - but I'll tell you, it is giving it a darn good try.

In fact, the North Sea effect is covering the top four-fifths of France pretty well at the moment. According to tonight's TV-weather news, Paris can expect highs in the range of 17 to 18 degrees - 62 to 65 F - with sturdy breezes coming from the north-west, with lots of clouds being pushed over the city.

This means that if you are walking in a north-westerly direction, wearing a scarf is not a totally insane idea. If you are walking in a south-easterly direction, with your collar up, the situation isn't quite so critical.

The problem is, if you walk a long wayphoto: librarie rodin towards the south-east you will be out of town before you get far, and you will probably have to turn back. When you need to do this, you might wish you had remembered to wear a scarf.

The bookshop, facing the café Le Pascal across the odd intersection.

I see a lot of people on the streets who have abandoned their vacation wear. Sometimes they wear the same clothes as they do on their holidays all through September, but this is not the case this year.

What I can't figure out is where all the umbrellas come from when it rains. One minute nobody seems to have one, and a minute later when rain is falling in sheets, everybody is scuttling along under one. I think it is amazing that so many people have this remarkable trick down pat.

'Café Life'

What's Wrong With Metropole?

Quite often in Paris when your favorite or habitual newspaper isn't visible on the kiosk it is because there is some sort of labor dispute going on. Since there is no newspaper, you can't find out about it by reading the paper.

It happens often enough so that news-kiosk operators often scribble out their own posters - 'No Le Parisien - On Strike' - so that they don't have to repeat the same thing to 500 habitual paper buyers 500 times.

'Metropole Paris' is not on strike. I have not fractured my knee again. This part of Paris is not even flooded. I am up-to-date with my utilities bills too. In fact, this week's issue, though 'late,' maybe even a bit later then usual, is complete and ready to be online.

Sometime last Wednesday or Thursday, something bad happened to a bit of the Internet that connects Metropole to you. It was very bad, and all sorts of minor fixes were tried before it became apparent that the 'fix' needed was going to be major.

This bullet was bitten and the major fix was done. That was machinery. The other part of what makes the Internet function is software, and it is very complicated stuff.

The software wasn't broken, but when the machinery fails, it can take quite a lot of fiddling to get the software to work again like it did before the machinery fell apart.

I don't do software myself. Oh, I do the code for Metropole's own pages, but this is at about a level that was kind of snazzy four or five years ago. It is simple, and it works - but I don't know why. I only know the minimum that people who know better seem to think I need to know.

From where I sit, I am supposed to use a simple routine - 'even I can do it!' - that has been working without many hitches for several years now. I have been told to keep doing this.

Other people have been working day and night - since last Wednesday or Thursday - to get everythingphoto: cafe interior, chez gladines to work pretty much as it did before, and they are having a dickens of a time with it. This business, as they well know, will shorten their lives, because it burns up a lot of grey matter.

Tiles and checkered tablecloths in a café on the Butte-aux-Cailles.

They are looking for needles in haystacks - or, in the case of code, they are looking for orphaned commas or semi-colons, that have mysteriously displaced, misplaced themselves, or have simply disappeared. There is some place these things go and nobody knows where it is - or how to get them back, and if they get them back, where to put them.

But eventually, the missing pieces of the puzzle do fall into place, and one of hundreds of trials returns a successful result - and the whole thing works again.

Since you are reading this, this is what has happened. If we could, we should both be thanking some frazzled code wizard who probably has a bad hangover and very bleary eyes by now - now that we are online again.

The Rest

The rest of 'Café Life' is shortened this week to this paragraph on account of I don't remember why I suggested that Richard should have sent Falstaff to Persia as an ambassador, or what I intended to write about the practice of recycling hard goods - furniture, appliances, whatnots - off the sidewalks and back into homes and apartments.

No New Metropole Photos

The offer of new Metropole's large-size photos resumed several week's ago, with this link to the photos on the photo / image page. Since none of the most recent photos were even close to 'above-average,' there are no new big ones in this issue.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Last Thursday's meeting had its usual half-dozen unusual 'firsts.' Included among these was the fact that it was the club's 100th meeting, which I'm sure has had nothing to do with the current technical problems - because nothing has been the same since then.

To bring yourself up-to-date on the important subject of ever more outlandish 'firsts,' you can still read this meeting's medium-length 'report' in less than three minutes, more or less.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 13. September. This day will be another one of hum-drum even though it will be a club day on which Saint-Aimé Day will be celebrated in Paris this year.

The club's meeting numbers are a bit skewed, but the very first meeting was held on Thursday, 14. October 1999. This year the 14th is on a Sunday, so I propose that the club's 2nd anniversary be held during the meeting on the Thursday before, on 11. October.

It the 'count' continues from where it is now, this will be the 105th meeting, or the 54th of its 2nd year. However, this date will effectively place the birthday club report in Metropole'sphoto: buildings on the bievre, suze issue 6.41, which matches the very first meeting report in issue 4.41. The other numbers are 'skewed' because of the year '2000' thing and leap year, I'm sure, or because I'm just an average club secretary.

I could be wrong, but I think these buildings are on top of the Bièvre river.

Metropole readers and intentional club members can find out more about this free club by reading 'About the Club,' which is handy for finding out the reason for the club's existence, its meeting time and location and so on, and other true facts such as being free.

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. Or, if all the other hotel booking services are 'sold out,' try this one. Other Metropole readers have.

'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 'Things Happen.'

'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, nearly anytime.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.37 - 11. Sept 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Post-Summer Festivals' and the 'Au Bistro' news column was titled, 'Back To Square One?' This issue had two features, titled 'Down and Out In Paris' and 'Free Meat for Paris' Art Fans.' This issue's update for the club meeting on 14. September somehowphoto: sign, rue des tanneries turned out as the 'Your Club Turns 50!' Report. The week's 'Scene' column was titled 'Carry On - September.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'No Twingo!'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 4.37 - 13. Sept. 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Between Waves.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title ran as 'José Bové Freed!' This issue had two features, titled, 'La Hôpital Saint-Louis' and 'The Canal Saint- Martin.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Paris Pumps Up the Volume,' and there was an additional column for '2000 In Paris' titled, 'No Wheels In Corcorde's Sky.' There were also the usual four 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the gasless caption of 'Pedal Day - Coming Soon.'

The 'Count-Up/Down' - Version 37b

Sooner or later one of you is going to be hit with the 'Aha-Effect' and there will be another new count-up or down goal or subject appearing here, for the enjoyment and enrichment of us all.

Since this 'Aha' is exceedingly slow in coming, the 'Count-Down's Funeral' announced here two weeks ago, is being seriously reconsidered.

The Euro's Ever-Shorter Count-Down

The number of days remaining this year is 112. This is the number of days until the 'euro' currency introduction day on Tuesday, 1. January 2002 at 00:01. On this day, you can say 'hello' to Europe's brand-new uni-currency.

'Euromania' is gathering ever more steam. Ifphoto: sign, passage du moulin des pres you plan a visit before the end of the year, do not be surprised to witness Europeans acting gaga about it - with everyone having a pocket calculator to find out what euro prices mean in francs. This will become unnecessary after 1. January of course.

For fun, some places will be selling baggies containing 100 francs-worth of real euro money, sometime in December.

If you are curious about the new European-style money, you can take a look at the French government's 'Euro' Web site for whatever it has to say about the looming arrival of the euro.

This site probably has images of the actual currency because it was rolled at the European Central Bank two weeks ago.
signature, regards, ric

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