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In winter Parisians do this in Paris if there's no
snow on the mountains.

Having a Look at 'Havalook'

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 11. February 2002:- Last week I was very far behind with the deadline and didn't manage to finish this column and the 'Au Bistro' column until Tuesday - which everybody probably knows by now is my weekend-long day.

What I didn't know at the time was that the server or some Internet thing decided to start playing 'vanishing' tricks with these late pages. They were reloaded more than once and they disappeared more than once. The Café Metropole's Club's update on Thursday did the same thing.

Nobody here knows the reason for this. The important thing for you to know is that it wasn't the fault of your ISP or your computer, so don't try to adjust your set, kick it or fiddle with its aerial.

The 'Au Bistro' column has the same situation as last week - not so much because I'm so far behind, but because I haven't read the papers yet. Usually this means the same thing as 'being far behind,' but Président Jacques Chirac announced tonight, "Oui, je suis candidate!"

This is a good reason for waiting to see what the morning papers have to say - about Lionel Jospin, who has managed to put himself in last place in the competition for France's presidency, because he is still only a 'virtual' candidate.

Another Silly Weather Report

Your online magazine about Paris continues to amaze its friends and confound all those who are totally indifferent by proposing a so-called 'weather report' here every week.

This week I had hoped as late as yesterday to have good news for you. I was going to pass on the TV-weatherphoto: fiat 500 abarth news forecast that the grey skies and the rain will go away, and we will trade our high temperatures - only for the season! - for lower temperatures and brighter skies by next weekend.

Where? At Rétromobile. What? Only the hopped-up version of the 'Fiat 500 of the Week!

But TV-weather news is nothing if not fickle. Temperatures are certainly going down - from tomorrow's high of about 15 degrees, to weekend highs in the low nines, with overnight lows in the sevens.

But all the classy blue skies predicted only a short time ago, have turned out to have possibilities in the dubious range of probability. I am as sorry about this as you may be and I intend to stage a boycott of TV-weather news until it returns to its senses.

'Café Life'

Invited to Havalook

I regularly get invitations to exhibition openings. Most of these are pretty straightforward. I know who they are from and I usually know what they are for - a new exhibition requires people like me to come by and plunder its buffet, see the show without paying, and pay for it by writing about it here.

But the card I got from 'Havalook' was different. For one thing, there's its name. 'Havalook.' Come by and 'Havalook.' What could be plainer - but why?

To answer this question - why? - I went down into the métro last Wednesday when the weather was being nicer than its forecast, and rode across to the right bank to Etienne Marcel to walk over to the Rue Montorgeuil, to near where it runs into Les Halles.

The front of number 15 was plainly sober - the old kind of sober that has had me look it up. It says, 'Hôtel of the Count of Crillon, 18th century, classified facade, balconies in forged iron, bas-reliefs, door.'

Inside the well-kept, sturdy and recently painted door, there was a short hallway opening up into a small courtyard that probably never sees much sunlight. The buffet was here and it was over, except for some crumbs. The parasols were hardly necessary.

Beyond was a glass door and inside it there was a large room filled on one side with a bank of computer workstations, and on the other with what appeared to be the working spaces of an engraving shop.

There didn't seem to be any particular 'greeter' so I just walked around to see if I could figure out what was supposed to be going on. After I'd done this for a while I went back out into the courtyard and followed an arrow pointing down some stone stairs.

At the bottom there was a vaulted space, with more workstations on one side, and behind some stone pillars on the other side there seemed to be a large number of mysterious-looking machines that I guessed were Web severs because they were well-protected behind glass panels and seemed to have some air-conditioning attachments.

A couple of guys were talking to other guys in this quiet, dim and cool place and nobody paid any attention to me. After enough sightseeing I went back up the stairs with the rough stone walls and back into what seemed somewhat more like an office - where I'd been before.

Finally I asked an attractive young lady a question. As soon as I did this she said I should talk to Etienne Caveyrac. This turned out to be a man I had already seen here - and in May of 1998, but I didn't remember this.

Back then I'd met a Brazilian artist named Marcos Marin at the Foire de Paris and he suggested I take aphoto: dungeon havalook look at an edition of the Marché d'Art Comtemporain, being held in a tent city at the Bastille.

A modern Internet industry - located in a 18th century dungeon.

I did this and wrote about it for Metropole and then Marcos arranged a meeting for me with Etienne Caveyrac, who was publishing an annual guide to French artists. It was a long time ago. We may have talked about getting all the artists online - he already knew who they were, and it could do them no harm.

Then nearly four years go by and I get this invitation to come around to have a look at 'Havalook.' Etienne Caveyrac has remembered Metropole, he tells me. He says Marcos is alive and well in Sao Paulo.

He also says 'Havalook' has signed up 1200 artists and photographers to do their Web sites, and 200 new artistic Web sites are being done each month.

Well, yes. It was a good idea in 1998 and it is still a good idea in 2002. It might even be better now - now that all te 'Dot-Com' frenzy has been cleared out of the air.

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