The Buffalo Grass Rip-Off

photo: cafe bleu, r j-p timbaud

If it weren't for the blue shadows, the Café Bleu
would look warm inside.

Our Local Racetrack

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 12. November 2001:- After a spell of rotten 'baloney'-type weather last week, it got a bit chilly, and a lot sunnier. This brought out Parisians and visitors, mainly to show off their winter gear while doing the year's first tours of the windows decorated for Christmas.

Always in the 'never learn' department, TV-weather news has predicted that there will be a few days of only so-so weather coming, following by a blazingly-sunny weekend.

When I look at this type of thing optimistically, I tell myself I can use the so-so days to continue my crusade to tidy up my minor administrative hassles, and then haul out the camera to capture a truly false impression of Paris under wonderful winter skies.

But when I consider the matter realistically, I think I can count of getting some truly terrible winter shots of pedestrians sloshing through puddles, nicely rippled with neon reflections.

In this manner, as a serious student of the TV-weather news forecasts, I think I have all the bases covered.

'Café Life'

The Buffalo Grass Saga - Part II

On Wednesday Dimitri was looking glum. Too much urgent work to do was getting him down, and he was getting kind of unreceptive about having a birthday party on Saturday in his atelier.

"I am not having any birthday party in my atelier this weekend," he said.

I can accept the idea that having a birthday party in Dimitri's atelier is not a good idea because he will have to clean it up first, and then he will have to clean it up again after it is over. He is not showing disrespect specifically for birthdays.

But on Friday, the situation took a sudden dramatic turn when Dennis announced that the Buffalo grass had arrived from Kiev in the Ukraine. He said it was Oleg's doing.

I think I forgot to mention that Auntie Line looked for Buffalo grass in New York when she was there in early September. She didn't find any in Manhattan.

This also reminds me that you may have forgotten what this is about. Because Dimitri has Russian ancestry, Dennis thinks any vodka consumed at birthday parties must have some blades of Buffalo grass in it to be really authentic. Two brands of Russian vodka and one of Polish are under consideration for this purpose.

Anyhow, the Buffalo grass was in Paris on Friday. It had been hand-carried from the Ukraine two weeks before, and Dennis was expecting hand- delivery over the weekend. In addition, he also understands that Dimitri's birthday party is going to be at his place - Dennis' - because it will only have to be cleaned up once. Otherwise, it has just as many stairs to climb.

Today was fixed for the 'opening of the package from Kiev' - to comply with my insistence of 'getting the photo' of genuine Buffalo grass. There was to be 'no peeking' in advance.

When I got to Le Bouquet this evening, Dennis looked sour. "They are two boxes of tea!" he blurted out. "She sent TEA!"

This hardly met the 'no peeking' rule, and it certainly blew any historic chance of getting the 'live' photo of the unwrapping.

Dennis babbled something about Dimitri being across the street at the bookshop when I asked to see the packages. I glanced out the window to the wet street and saw Dimitri, looking equally sour, returning from the bookshop.

"She wasn't there," hephoto: herb tea, not buffalo grass from kiev said. If I understood this correctly, the lady in the bookshop is some kind of Buffalo grass expert, and would have been able to tell if this 'tea' somehow fell into this category of plant-life.

Real tea, really from Kiev. Dennis told Oleg - 'Get Buffalo grass!'

To me it looked like both boxes contained some sort of dried plant shreds. I grabbed both from Dimitri, just as he was reading the Russian text. He said, "It says, take three times a day, with meals." 'Get the photo!' I thought.

While I was using Le Bouquet's only bright lights, Dennis was shaking his head and saying, "I told Oleg, Buffalo grass."

When I left to come back and do this, they were racking their brains for possible sources of Buffalo grass in Paris. I think they did this already without any success, but - in theory - everything is in Paris, somewhere.

For some reason, this has reminded me of the old days, when grass dealers sometimes sold people they were sure they were never going to see again, tea. We got 'ripped-off' alright.

Check in next week, to find out how Dennis and Dimitri are going to get around the lack of Buffalo grass for the vodka for Dimitri's birthday party. Or maybe you shouldn't bother. I've heard of parties being called off on account of a lack of grass.

The Kings of Speed

Many times during the week and sometimes more than once a day, the Avenue Leclerc is used by the French government as a speedway for getting VIPs in or out of the city.

If you hear police whistles shrilling while leaving the métro, it is also certain that all the traffic lights will be set to blinking-orange for the avenue and red for all other streets.

Since the high-speed motorcades are often timed to happen during rush-hours, a large police presence is also needed to convince civilian motorists that they should stay behind the red lights, and honk their cars' horns.

The organization for these passages of racing convoys must be considerable, because of the speedsphoto: av leclerc, high speed motorcade involved. Just think, if you come into Paris at the Porte d'Orléans and you want to be at Châtelet five minutes later, all traffic for five kilometres has to be cleared in advance.

The VIP's car at speed - or is it the decoy?

This is also done for hauling prisoners to courts on the Ile de la Cité, and it must be quite thrilling to be whistled through half of Paris, in order to listen to a prosecutor telling a court about less than stellar forms of lifestyle.

But not all convoys are for convicts. When the blue vans aren't used, then the state limos take over - proceeded by police motorcyclists, police in cars, decoy limos, the VIP limos, and all of it followed by a duplicate of the forerunners.

The whistles tweet, the orange lights blink, police radios crackle, the sirens howl, the blue lights flash, the civilian drivers honk and the curious line the curbs to see if they can catch a glimpse of a foreign statesman - or maybe Madonna! - through bullet-proof smoked glass, passing at 110 kph.

After the cavalcade has passed, the bottled-up traffic is let loose. The first cars to be freed, peel off some rubber on their sprint to the Perifreak! or to the out of town 'burbs, both near and far.

The racing convoys leave the impression that only speed can make up for lost time. Small wonder that stop signs and red lights are considered to be ambiguous here.

We Have 'Network!'

Nobody wrote during the past week tophoto: cafe, samaritaine, nigh complain about a lack of a visible Metropole on the Web. This might be because putting the magazine online seemed to work as planned.

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