'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.


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