Poor Excuse for 'Café Life'

photo: harry's new york bar

Harry's New York Bar, at the famous 'Cinq Rue Daunou.'

Fallback On Happy Feet

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 1. October 2001:- Now that autumn or fall is officially here, the weather has settled in to being what it was in late summer - sort of like early winter. To drive the point home, my heating which has been working fine since August, quit over the weekend - which has made going outside attractive.

None of this is unusual or anything to get in a dither over. Wednesday had really significant rain, and Thursday was, more or less, a perfect fall day.

According to TV-weather news, our local forecasters are having some sort of strike, so the long-range forecasts only include tomorrow, and only three temperatures for all of France. They are something like this - 12, 20 and 22.

I think '22' may be for some place in southern Corsica, in a wind shadow, if there are any down there.

If I've said it once I've said it 238 times - the average weather in Paris either resembles early winter or late winter, with short and exceptional periods of spring, summer and fall.

Last week the only seasons not represented were mid-winter and mid-summer, and even this is not exactly true because these seasons are so rare anyway that I'm not sure I should mention them as possibilities.

'Café Life'

Vital Tools

You might not think that a vital tool for putting this magazine about Paris online are highly complex technological marvels normally referred to as shoes, but this is so. Paris requires walking more than it requires a Web-surfboard.

Last Wednesday, after an hour of stuffy administrative mangle, it turned out to be pouring rain very steadily outside in the real world.

As I was sloshing along, trying to avoid the bigger lakes that had assembled on the sidewalks and the mini-waterfalls cascading down from awnings, it occurredphoto: old, new paris shoes to me that the Internet tools on my feet had worn down beyond the markers that say 'replace these shoes immediately - because you will have wet toes soon.'

In my kind of shoe store, the floor looks better than the shoes.

Also, I was in danger of accidently bumping into the shoe police. If they inspected not so very carefully what I was using, I could have received a hefty fine for having out-of-tune, overage footwear, with leaky de-smoggers.

How many kilometres did I have on these things? Were they 1997 or 1998 models? They way they looked, they might have been in the '100 Years' War' or one of those other wars where everybody walked around a lot.

Whatever their age or mileage, they were clearly beyond the point of recall - which hinted to me that the very least I could do was go back to the place where I got them, to get another pair - on the theory that the same brand may still make shoes that will go two years beyond their junk-date.

Tune in to this spot in 2005 to find out the results of this latest shoe-test-walk.

The First Polaroid?

On another 'administrative-mangle' day, one with pretty good weather, I was in the Rue de Miromesnil. This is a tricky street because being able to say it doesn't mean you can spell it, and it cuts through the 8th arrondissement on an angle that you might only take by accident - which is why I was on it.

The Rue de Miromesnil started out in 1776 and by the time it stopped growing in 1862, it had achieved a length of just over a kilometre. It runs from Villiers down to the Elysée Palace, known for the past six years as the 'Maison de Jacques.'

Close to this palace, there are a number of academic-painting galleries - I suppose because thisphoto: camera dubroni, 1860 area is close to the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, where they gather for the convenience of possible clients, who want decor of their walls rather than puzzles.

Some of the paintings are not bad to look at for free from the sidewalk, but the shop 'Antique Caméras' caught my attention because it has manufactured antiques in its windows.

The 1860 Dubroni camera was a daylight instamatic-type. It still is.

Inside it turned out to be more like an small but extremely tidy museum than a shop. Its operator, Monsieur Amezal, has put some effort into arranging photographic-related displays, to enliven the several wood and glass display cases, which are sort of antique too.

To give a quick idea of the rarities here, Monsieur Amezal showed me an original boxed 1860-model Dubroni camera. It was conceived for 'operating without a photo-lab, in the open air, in a living room, or on trips.' Monsieur Amezal said it was a forerunner of a Polaroid camera.

Other than a vast array of still cameras, the shop also has a large selection of early movie equipment, from cameras to projectors. Oddities and curiosities are included, both the still and movie categories. Worth a visit, at 8. Rue de Miromesnil, in the 8th arrondissement.

One Plaque More

"I've lived here - oh, how long is it?" Dimitri said, temporarily forgetting how to count much above twenty. "You've got to see this!"

"Right here, across from the Bouquet, two or three doors down from the boulangerie, on Boulard," he went on, in semi-disbelief, "You know these plaques you see all over - the Révolution happened here, Paris liberated there?"

He was almost sputtering with the enormity of it all. "Right across the street, and somebody just showed it to me! After all these years! And I thought I knew everything."

Like Dimitri, I don't know 'everything' either. In Paris, I think it might be impossible.

We are both anxious about Denfert's missing lion. It was taken away for repairs, and its first reinstallation date was 29. July. The most recent date was 23. September. No lion.

Since Friday there has been a constructionphoto: cette plaque, 1953 barrier around the statue's base. Every time I go up to the avenue I look to see if its head is showing. As of today, no lion.

Harry's New York Bar

The first time I was in Harry's was a tiny bit more than 25 years ago. I haven't been back often since then because I ran out of money the first time and was sort of invited to leave.

So it was only yesterday that I found out that Harry's does not serve café - or anything hot - not even hot dogs! - and does not have Orangina either. Whatever orange thing I did have, had ice cubes in it. Harry's likes to make sure nothing has a chance of getting hot.

Other than these petty gripes, Harry's is a great antique of a bar, if you don't mind its hard seats, and don't mind over-cold orange drinks that cost more than vintage Bordeaux.


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