The Big Apple of the Week Report

photo: new york club group

Today's 'Café of the Week' required a photo-blitz to
produce any image of the whole 'Group of the Week.'

New York/Paris:- Thursday, 27. December 2001:- Getting to today's club meeting is a bit more complicated than usual because I have to start out with the 'E' train from downtown Queens to get to the Lexington Avenue subway in Manhattan to go down to uptown's 77th Street - which I may explain later.

But first, regular readers and club members will want to know about today's weather in New York. All I feel like saying is it is colder than yesterday's, but is probably warmer than tomorrow's will be. It is much colder on avenues than streets, because of uptown, downtown and the east and west of Fifth Avenue situation.

The sky is blue and squirrels are at play on the dry streets with sidewalks like aslant-slabbed junior ice floes. If it were not for the windy avenues it could be paradise, if very yellow egg-yolk colored taxis are your favorite color..

Anyway, I can't tell you about the Rue de Rivoli situation in Paris today but I can say taking one of the colorful taxis from the east 80's down the island and across to the west 15's could have been done some faster way, with probably only a half-dozen subway transfers.

As most people have known for weeks, today's Café Metropole Club meeting is taking place photo: sign, rue des crepes in the Rue des Crêpes, which is somewhere in the Chelsea area quite near Greenwich Village - and it turns out to be a pretty real café, where I arrive early in order to take its photo while there is still light enough to do it.

Inside, just beyond an antique Paris busstop sign, I find club members Linda and Jim Auman - who told me how close this is to New Jersey because it is opposite the 8th Avenue side of the Port Authority bus terminal, which I last used as a shortcut in 1964.

Within a very short time many more members arrive - somewhat before the meeting's begin-time, which causes some complications with the arrangements for the world premiere launch of the Café Metropole sparkling wine, which arrived here yesterday. I only got the labels glued on just before the meeting, and I have been warned it might be a bit 'lively.'

Paul Kelley, from Bristol Connecticut has come here - "Just stopped by to see if the club really exists," he says, while also saying he is not the musician Paul Kelly. Sheila Archer from Brooklyn really does believe in the club, but has comephoto: marilyn burke by for a preview before showing up at a meeting in Paris later next year - which is pretty soon now.

Almost on top of these new members, George Broadhead arrives to get his membership card signed by the club's secretary - in person! - but he's forgotten to bring it. As a consolation he shows me his mint-condition 1940 Countess Mara tie. I show him my 2001-model New York yellow taxi tie and we're square.

No club meeting is complete without Marilyn Burke and the 'Gang from Jersey.'

As more club members arrive, the café's interior layout gets reorganized. It has legit marble-topped café tables and proper terrace chairs - and it has crêpes too. Greg Holt tells me he is really going to Prague and Paul Susi tells me how to spell his name again, while Paul Babbit tells me Arkansas is not quite as interesting as New Jersey - or is it the other way around?

Without warning Jerry Schlemowitz from Brooklyn is also present, saying he can't come to meetings in Paris because of all the treasures he has been finding in Bavaria.

Jerry - even Jerry! - is overwhelmed by an influx of Burkes from Menton, Nice, New Jersey and other points of the globe - many named 'Tom' - all led by Marilyn herself - who used to be in almost weekly attendance at the Paris meetings. Oops! I see now one of these Burkes is really Bob DeAngelis from 'New York.'

This makes it a tossup whether the 'Name of the Week' should be Tom, Paul or Bob. Since this problem can't be solved at the keyboard of this deadly PC - at 03:30 EST in the AM - so I propose Paul's Bristol as the 'City of the Week' because I can spell it. Everybody else wants to vote for Manhattan, but it is club tradition not to hold meetings in the 'City of the Week.'

While most of the members are eating crêpes and drinking imported house plonk, Mike, who is the boss of Rue des Crêpes gently opens one of the sample bottles of the Café Metropole sparkling wine before its label falls off. Nearly photo: cafe metropole sparkling wine everybody has a sip of this even though it won't be available for some months - sort of as a sneak preview.

The idea of Metropole having its own wine is a simple one. Instead of paying a subscription fee to read Metropole, you can drink it instead. But it is too soon to say much about this now. The stuff has to age a bit and the labels have to get off the drawing board and out of a real printer.

The Café Metropole sparkling wine caused a sensation - for its label.

What a stupendous meeting! It started almost an hour ahead of time and rolled along into overtime so far I will probably get into trouble for exceeding France's 35-hour workweek while well and truly offshore.

But I can always say 50 percent of this was caused by using a PC. Only five percent can be attributed to the mid-town gidlock, and on this I got the bonus of seeing Central Park South on the way.

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