"There's a Lot of Gravity Here"

photo: 1st group, karen, linda, michelle, jeff

This incomplete 'group photo' includes Karen, Linda,
Michelle and Jeff in the Café Lodi.

Who Else Thinks This Club Is 'Funny?'

Paris:- Thursday, 29. November 2001:- I would have woken up earlier today if I hadn't heard the lulling sound of rain clattering in my courtyard. On the second try, the clatter was continuing. This was entirely positive from a weather forecasting viewpoint because it was right on the money.

For a change, it was still raining when I took the waterproof and underground métro downtown to Châtelet, and it was raining on the Rue de Rivoli and over by the Pont Neuf in front of Samaritaine. The cafés along the Quai de Louvre were mostly empty.

In the Café Lodi, which has nobody on its terrace, Karen Carter is calmly waiting to become a club member when I arrive at the club's area in the café. She is sitting right in front of the hot radiator, which also is the only one.

"It's funny," she says.

I think it is 'funny' too, but since I'm the club's secretary I am not allowed to say this out loud. Then I worry - what's 'funny?' Me? The club? This café? Paris? The radiator with heat in it?

"No," she says, "This funny club."

'Aha!' I think. Just for this, I am not taking the 'Group Photo of the Week' right now. Insteadphoto: wet terrace, cafe lodi I ask Karen where she comes from, which is a safe club topic even if it has been repeated more that 112 times.

Even with an outside heater Le Café Lodi's terrace attracts no takers, because there aren't any around.

She says, 'Providence, Rhode Island,' adding, "Just south of Boston." This is good for a 'City of the Week' award even though it is only 15:05. Then she astonishes me by telling me Rhode Island is not an island at all.

Next thing, I expect some new member to turn up from Staten Island and tell me it is a state, like New Jersey - which I think is named after an island actually.

While Karen is telling me that Rhode Island's main claim to fame is its section of Route 95 - which takes up most of the state - the note I'm writing concerning the English equivalent of 'vin chaud' - for the café's management - slips off the table and settles on the floor.

"There's a lot of gravity here," Karen observes.

While I'm leaning over to pick up the paper and thinking how many of the club's members are more clever that its secretary, the server-lady Linda Thalman steps on my hand, which she wasn't expecting to be on the floor.

By the time I get my hand back and my head up to table level, she is introducing Jeff Berner, who is from Dillon Beach, California. Drats! If Providence RI wasn't already... oh well - can it be 'Co-City of the Week?' No one says 'yes.'

When I poke the club's second official Bic pen at Jeff he declines it, preferring to use his own custom-designed fountain pen to fill in his member details - while at the same time sayingphoto: orangina, wine, kodak, club drinks he isn't sure he wants to be a member of a club with 'no rules.' "Reds!" he says.

"No," I say, "Black is the color of anarchy." Looking over his shoulder I see his fountain pen is spewing 'Tory' blue ink all over the members' booklet.

On an onion soup day, members have other liquids instead.

I also see he has written, 'Favorite activity is creative loitering - TM©2001.' To me, not a polit scientist - 'Sciences-Po' in French - this looks suspiciously like anarchy in action.

Michelle Royston has also slipped in about here and parked herself nearly on top of the radiator, while I'm being edged further away from it. She and Jeff trade their Bay Area co-ordinates and then he drops the 'Question of the Week' on the gathering.

"Who was it that jumped off Notre Dame, inadvertently killing a hapless tourist? When? Why?"

As club secretary, even though there are no 'rules,' I disqualify this question because it is three of them. But since they are already in the club's notes before I can do this, here they stay. If anyone reading this has the 'Answer of the Week,' they better have three of them.

Karen comes to Paris often, she tells me, because she can't get enough of the 'Museum of Paris.' I guess it must seem this way in comparison to Rhode Island's Route 95, but I loyally point out that this is no longer the official goal of the new administration at the Hôtel de Ville.

Then she says she intends to cruise the 'puces' at Vanves. People who do things like this know where to buy Paris' 'museum pieces' at 'puce-prices' because they've already sacked the 'puces' at Saint-Ouen and Montreuil.

Ann Warren and Allan Markowitz arrive from the Manhattan borough of New York City and do not add to the meeting's confusion, but do manage to make it more complex.

While I am talking to Allan about the telephone business - actually, asking him if black phones with dials and wires will ever be reintroduced - I hear strangeness from the other side of the table where Karen and Linda are disagreeing about how much metal in a brassiere will set off an airport alarm.

This stunningly vital question somehow gets submerged by Ann and Allan's 'Travel Tip of the Year.' Get this, readers - if you want to fly to Paris on a nearly empty plane, pick Thanksgiving Day to do it. How to get back on a nearly empty plane is left up in the air.

Anne is particularly fond of Suzanne Valadon and they are planning to trip out to Sannois to see the Valadon-Utrillo treasures there. Anne says, "Utrillo fakes are France's fourth largest export item - right after cheese, wine and Airbuses."

As far as I know, by the amount of emails I get, it is possible that Utrillo fakes are a major industry in the United States too. It seems like there are never enoughphoto: ann warren, allan matlowitz to go around. We all agree that his mom was a better painter, but harder to copy.

The meeting kind of ends with the members dribbling away, leaving behind empty glasses and little green dishes full of coins.

New members Ann Warren and Allan Markowitz get their own off-group club photo.

Karen has a final tip for 'friends of Paris' who are not residents. She tells me she always buys a package of Gitanes to take back and keep in her refrigerator's freezer.

"Whenever I have a wine and cheese party, I always take out one cigarette and light it, like incense," she says, adding "To lend a proper atmosphere."

When I finally clear out of Le Café Lodi the day's forecast is still holding up, with rain all over the place, glistening on the iron surrounds of the quay's plane trees, and lying in inky puddles on the sidewalk's paving and at the edges in the gutters.

Vital Dates - Paris' Winter Sales 2002

All of Paris' 'grands magazins' will be open on the Sundays of 8, 16 and 23. in December. They are also tying to fit in one more Sunday - possibly the coming one on the 2. December - but they may be restricted to the last three Sundays already permitted, because all other stores in Paris will be open on these Sundays too.

As for the New Year's Winter Sales, these begin on Wednesday, 9. January and continue until Saturday, 16. February - when 'spring shopping' scheduled to start. Ha ha. In February!

The Club's Meeting In New York City

This Thursday, 27. December meeting in Manhattan is getting arranged, but it is slow going. Emails have been sent to two dozen members - but it only today that I've learned that the state of 'MA' is close to 'NY.' I thought it was Maine, which is close to 'NS' where the club has no known members.

This means I will have to send out aphoto: wine pot few more emails. If you haven't gotten yours yet, complain bitterly to the usual person.

Even if you won't be able to attend this meeting, all suggestions concerning its location in New York and other basic survival tips will be appreciated. Also, you are welcome to attend the meeting even if you don't get an email.

Not exactly the 'Pot of the Week' because there were more than one of them.

It is also highly possible that the Café Metropole Club's regular meeting in Paris on Thursday, 27. December will take place simultaneously - both 27. Decembers are on Thursdays - by being hosted by a long-time club member. Watch this space for a confirmation.

La Corona's Renovation

The club's 'home' café meeting location is the café La Corona, which is currently being renovated. While this goes on, the meeting place has temporarily moved to Le Café Lodi.

To-become members and signed-in club members may find La Corona re-opening for meetings - possibly as soon as Thursday, 6. December. The definitive date should appear here. If I forget and La Corona appears to be open, then that's where the club meeting will be held.

Le Café Lodi Location, Vital Dates

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club, on Thursday, 6. December, will be held in Le Café Lodi. One other club meeting may also be at the Cafe Lodi, possibly on Thursday 13. December.

Le Café Lodi is located at 24. Quai du Louvre. It is about 43 or 62 metres away from La Corona, towards the Pont Neuf, next to the second souvenir shop, next to the pet shop.

After La Corona's renovation, the first meeting to be held in the regular and by now newly renovated club's café will be on Thursday, 13 or 20. December. Tonight, it looked like re-opening will be more than a week from now.

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

You can find out some other stuff about this club if you think this will improve your appreciation of Paris - by reading 'About the Café Metropole Club' - which also explains exactly where to find the club in Paris - usually - and the day and time of the meetings.

You will also be able to find out that you can easily become a member of this online magazine's free and real club in Paris, by simply coming to a meeting. You can safely ignore all of the club's expired 'rules,' because they have been abolished because 'no rules' is the club's only 'rule' now.

Date, Time and Location of Next Meeting

The next Café Metropole Club meeting will be held on Thursday, 6. December, which happens to be a Thursday again. It is also the annual day known as Saint-Nicolas, which is not any kind of a holiday in France.

The following day will be an ordinary Friday, called Saint-Ambroise's Day. If Fridays are your favorite day, make the most of it - there will only be 4 more of them this year.

Your club's meeting time will begin at 15:00 and clump along to 17:00 in Europe'sphoto: gitanes in frigo Central European Time Zone - which is 'CET' for short and not 'TLULU' - and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm in zones without 'Euro-type' 24-hour time.

For frequent wine-and-cheese parties, keep your Gitanes handy, right next to the yogurt.

The club's secretary, sometimes known as 'Ed,' will be making some 'report' notes during the meeting. This is merely a boring club routine - not a 'rule!' - except for the secretary. This will explain why some of this week's notes are simply missing.

Be sure to have a new 'Quote of the Week' ready or come with your own 'City of the Week' if it is a new one, or even haul along any other 'Things of the Week.' New 'rules' are ineligible, so you can forget these.

Your comments, casual or calculated, will be dubiously received by the other members present, if they happen to overhear them - and by all readers of this online magazine, if they happen to read them.

The club's temporary location-café is:

Le Café Lodi
24. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Pont-Neuf or Châtelet.

A bientôt à Paris,
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
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