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, night complain about a lack of a visible Metropole on the Web. This might be because putting the magazine online seemed to work as planned.

What 'worked' last week is expected to repeat itself this week, but I won't know how certain this will be until this issue goes online - later today or early tomorrow morning. At the rate I'm going right now, tomorrow morning seems more likely.

The lights of Christmas were turned on in Paris last week.

In order to have a little of tomorrow left over for my 'weekend' - to do some more of the administrative chores I've been mentioning, I'm going to give the 'Au Bistro' column a pass again this week.

Thank you for writing all of your messages alerting me to the online problem.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

You can catch up with last week's club subjects - about the 'Church of the Week' for example - by reading this meeting's digest of a 'report,' which also contains some important information that I've already been repeating endlessly here.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 15. November, but not at the café La Corona. See the 'Change -Location Alert' below. See it again if you've seen it before.

This day will not be just another ordinary Thursday-type day called Saint-Albert because it is the third Thursday in November, which means that it will be 'Beaujolais Nouveau' day, which is semi-holy in France.

Metropole readers and those intending to become club members can learn scads more about this free club by looking at the 'About the Club' page which explains how to join it, its meeting time and so on, and other true facts such as being free. This page also contains a location map for the club's regular café, La Corona.

Café Metropole Club Change-Location Alert

The coming meeting, on Thursday, 15. November, will be held at Le Café Lodi. Other weekly club meetings will be held at this café on the Thursdays of 22, and 29. November and are projected for the 6. and 13. December too.

But Madame Naudan of the club's regular café told the club's secretary that La Corona mayphoto: eurocafard shop and cybercafe, oberkampf have its renovations completed ahead of time due to a change in its staircase plans. While 6. December may be cutting it fine, expect the club meeting on 13. December to be in La Corona.

Only in east Paris - cybercafé in front, rat-catchers in the rear.

Le Café Lodi is located at 24. Quai du Louvre. It is about 60 metres away from La Corona, towards the Pont Neuf, next to the pet shop. See the map on the special club page in a recent issue or take a look at last week's club 'report,' which also contains a map showing the location of Le Café Lodi.

La Corona's renovation is now scheduled to be completed earlier than Friday, 14. December. Watch this space for the latest news about the club's next meeting in its 'home' café.

Metropole's Affiliates

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This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 5.46/7 - 13. Nov 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, ''Ed' Does a Bunk' and the 'Au Bistro' news column was titled, 'Where's the Beef?' This double issue had two features, titled 'The Prince of Montparnasse' and 'Two Photo Exhibits.' Paul Babbitt sent an email concerning the election in the United States. The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 16. November turned out to be the 'Meat of the Week' Report. The second update on 23. November had thephoto: sign, impasse de la baleine catchphrase, 'Vachement Cool!' The week's 'Scene' column was titled 'Besides Photos, Other Stuff.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Are You Blind?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 4.46 - 15. Nov. 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled 'Terminal Weasels.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'The War of the Beef.' This issue had one feature, titled 'Blue Skies In Paris - Rare In November.' As befits this nearly third week in November, there was a thing called, 'Update - The Beaujolais Nouveau of the Century' - which is an annual event. The Café Metropole Club had two items, titled, 'Pets Gain Right To Join' and this was followed up by the club's 6th 'report' on 18. November, which was summed up with 'A New Member - the Server-Lady!' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Online Ticket Sales.' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were followed by Ric's Cartoon of the Week, which had the silly caption of 'Are the Summer Sales Soon?'

The 'Count-Down' - Euro-day Minus Eight Weeks

There are 56 days remaining in this year. This means there is less and less time remaining until the 'euro' currency introduction day on Tuesday, 1. January 2002 at 00:01. TV-news has reportedphoto: sign, cgt us metaux that counterfeiters are now working overtime as much as the legitimate mints.

A money expert said the counterfeiters' job was easier because they didn't have to make their fake money as good as the real stuff.

But in France, and in the rest of Europe too, for the remainder of this year you can safely use whatever good money you have, after it has been changed into francs, which may be real ones.

Next year, if it seems that all Europeans have not resorted to the script system, it will be safe to use whatever you have for money, after it has been changed into real euros. What could be more simple?

Until then, if you have some curious wish to learn more about the new European-style money, take a look at the French government's 'Euro' Web site for whatever it has to say about the arrival of the euro slightly less than only two months from now.
signature, regards, ric

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