Hello, Goodbye

photo: cafe la tour, montparnasse

When it's right, find a terrace facing south.

To 'Indian Summer'

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 22. October 2001:- Last Tuesday evening the good lady on the TV-weather news said that Wednesday might be the last nice fall day for a while. It had been a ho-hum forecast, but I picked up this last comment and decided it could be true.

Wednesday was quite a way along before I took a look at it and what I saw was the ho-hum part. Nevertheless, I decided it would be 'nice' sometime, anytime, and I had better be out in it or it might escape.

Paris doesn't always get an 'Indian Summer' and when it does it is pretty feeble. This is what is happening this year. A lot of leaves are still green, even if they are showing their old age a bit. Others, where they get some sunlight, are showing patches of color.

Of course, not all Paris trees are designed for brilliant colors, and for the few that are, and are in the right places, there isn't a lot of sunshine to make the colors stand out. This is happening to some leaves in my courtyard - being somewhere else, they might be great.

Last week's featured tree in the Jardin des Plantes was about the only one there like that. It was the right kind of tree - out of all the different ones there - coupled with the right kind of exposure.

The same thing applies to the Luxembourg gardens. Out of a great variety of trees, only a few are capable of the 'Indian Summer' colors, andphoto: here comes, there goes, fiat 500 of the week every other factor has to come together to produce these. This combination is rare in Paris and even when it happens, it isn't widespread or general.

Here comes... there goes... the 'Fiat 500 of the Week.'

I didn't want to write - again - about the Luxembourg. I just felt like walking through it, just to see it. I could have gone to the Tuileries or the Parc Montsouris, but I prefer what surrounds the Luxembourg.

Being there without an intention of writing anything specific means that everything could become a potential subject. Even if nothing turned out to have a strong focus, just walking around can turn into a sort of feature - like the one in this issue called 'The Last Day of Fall.'

It is a sort of way of passing an afternoon that anybody in Paris can do, in the fall or at any other time of the year.

'Café Life'

'In Contempt of Café'

Split-second timing put me into the café Le Bouquet just after noon today, just as the café was filling up with its normal mob of starving noontime diners. I had gotten my paper and when I arrived I had quite a bit of bar to myself to open it out.

When my café arrived automatically I 'Bonjoured' Jacques and shook hands, nearly automatically, with the 'Ça va?' ending the brief encounter.

The paper, Le Parisien, has a headline on its front page, and three following pages devoted to the 'War In Afghanistan.' There is no news - as opposed to rumors and PR - about this event, and Le Parisien's three pages can be summed up with 'What's Happening?' It is a fair amount of newsprint to spend on 'We Don't Know.'

I didn't get as far as the city section of the paper before Dimitri showed up. The café was filling fast, but there was still space at the bar if I folded up my paper. Whatever he did, he was served with a glass of wine.

Then Dimitri's lunch partner arrived, and was immediately served with a Kir.

"How do you do that?" Dimitri wanted to know. "I have to ask three times at least."

I forget the lunch partner's name, but we've met before. I think he is a Scot. He used to live nearby, but only comes to Le Bouquet to have occasional lunches with Dimitri.

"You just walk in here and you get a wine without even asking," Dimitri accused. "I've been coming here as long as you have and I have to beg for one."

"Jacques knows me," the lunch partner said. "I've been coming here as long as you have."

Neither of them can remember exactly how long this is - but the point is, the one who comesphoto: hollywood at denfert, sunday occasionally gets a drink right away while the one who comes more often than daily as a rule, has to plead for a drink.

The second 'Hollywood' crew within a week - shooting on the Avenue Leclerc.

Why this should be so is a mystery. Dimitri thinks there is a sort of 'contempt of café' at work. The more often you come, the less attention you are likely to get.

It is a mystery to me too. All three waiters, and Mr and Mme Patron, start my double-café going as soon as I come in the door. Some times, I even forget to think about getting one, and it turns up in front of me like magic.

But I know what Dimitri means. There are other cafés I have been in where 'contempt of café' happened to me on a regular basis.

Getting a café to operate as if by remote-control, is not automatic.

Sexy Advertising

Advertising in France has a watchdog unit called the 'BVP' which operates with guidelines formulated in 1975. The 'Bureau de Vérification de la Publicité' is supposed to make sure that ads seen by the public do not depict degrading situations, addiction or excessive violence.

One assumes that the BVP is doing its job, but there have been protests lately concerning abuses, mainly involving the 'devaluating' exploitation of women - and men too.

For the first time, I learn that the TV-spot I have seen many times for Citroën's 'Picasso' car-van - which shows the assembly-line robots merrily painting abstract doodles on the new cars until they spot an arriving human inspector, and then they quickly respray their 'artistic' work and sign the car 'Picasso' - I learn that the doodle that's been over-painted is pornographic.

Because of this and other excesses, the 'BVP' has issued new guidelines, to ensure 'respect for human dignity.'

This comes at the same time as the couture houses are running their runway show-offs, which feature a large number of human stick-people, who all seem to be wearing various forms of transparent toilet paper without bothering to also wear underwear.

Actally, the few glimpses I've seen on TV of these presentations have shown less elaborate attitudes than merely looking like zombies dressed in wisps of tattered fog - in short, they look like flat-out freak shows, which would be rejected as circus acts.


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