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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 the 'Dot-Com' frenzy has been cleared out of the air.

As I understand it, 'Havalook's basic plot is making the Web sites for the artists, engravers, print-makers and photographers. It does the nuts and bolts part and either turns over the finished files to the artists' hosting ISP, or hosts them on 'Havalook's servers.

I guess the difference four years has made, is the artists are ready for the Web now and they were very wary about it back then.

As for me, I'm still not sure why I was invited to 'Havalook's open-house today. I didn't get any of the buffet, but I got to see 'Havalook's original dungeon - and all of the young ladies who are focused on their big monitors.

When I've had my look and I come out I am in Montorgueil again and a clock tells me it is about the time Dennis usually stops into the café up the street, so I go up there.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Readers and club members can catch up with the most recent club affairs by reading about last week's meeting. See this report which includes the club's most amazing 'first' - the club's only triple-Moyer meeting of the week.

If anybody takes this as being extremely unlikely, the club's secretary was there in person and reported the event - no matter how unlikely it may seem.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday,14. February. Itphoto: morris column with toilet will not only be a Thursday again - because every week has one of these - but it will also be Saint-Valentin's day.

Other than this it will be another ordinary Thursday-type day, which we might not have had before on Saint-Valentin's day even though it is never any kind of holiday in France like the first of May. The day after will be an ordinary-type Friday again.

Yes folks - Paris not only has Morris columns with telephones, some even have toilets in them.

Metropole readers and those wishing to become real club members can get most of the details about this free club by committing to memory the large-sized fine-print on the 'About the Club' page, which badly needs an update of its own.

It explains how to join - simply by being here! - its meeting time and so on, and other true facts such as being free. This page also contains an out-of-date location map for the club's café La Corona. The map is still good though because the café hasn't moved anywhere.

Metropole's Affiliates

The following product or service providers have chosen Metropole because their offers may be of value to you and I agree with them.

'Bookings' has extended their reservation service for a wide selection of Paris hotels. Check out their wider offers and make your choice long before your arrival in France. Try this one. Other Metropole readers have.

'HighwayToHealth' provides a 'city health profile' for Paris as well as travel insurance. If you have signed up for these services before you need them suddenly, you will benefit from them. I hope won't be the case, but 'Things Happen.'

'Petanque America' exports quality Obut boules from France and will ship them to you anywhere in the Americas - which will save you the effort of carrying them all the way from Paris. Be the first on your block to introduce the game of pétanque - or boules. Everybody can play this game, nearly anywhere - such as on the vacant lot I saw between the subway exit and the boardwalk at Coney Island.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.07 - 12. Feb 2001 - This issue began with the week's Café Metropole column, titled, 'No 'Café Life' This Week' and the 'Au Bistro' news column was titled, ''Gotcha' of the Week Arrives.' This issue had two features titled 'Being In Paris Mediaeval' and 'The True Meaning of 'Rétro.' This issue's update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 15. February was called the 'Exciting New 'Tip of the Week' Report' Thephoto: sign, panhard & levassor week's 'Scene' column was titled 'Stars of Stage, Screen and Even TV.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, "Forget Two Motors!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.07 - 14. February 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Wheels, Wheels and More Wheels.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Love At First Sight In the Métro.' This issue had two features, titled 'Champs-Elysées - 'Most Beautiful Avenue In the World?' and 'World's Oldest Car Seen At Rétromobile.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 17. February, was called 'Airport to Apartment to Club.' A club page proclaimed, 'Real Estate Is Not a Club Topic,' but this is not a 'rule.' The 'Scene' column was even more unexciting again with, 'Where's the Program?' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were on view too and Ric's Cartoon of the Week proposed a '80 Percent Off Valentine.'

This Year's 'Count-Down' Heats Up

There are only 323 days remaining in this year. This means the 'euro 3 signuro' currency has been around for a whole 42 days and Chicken Little hasn't cried 'wolf' yet.

Two week's ago reader John McCulloch proposed some new count-down topics. His proposalphoto: observatoire time of Victor Hugo's 200th birthdate should be retained even if it is a mere 16 days from now, on Tuesday, 26. February. Otherwise, I would probably forget it.

Club members have finally written to protest about this duo or trio of count-downs or whatever the darn things are.

Jim Auman has tuned in with the suggestion to hold a count-down until the Tour Eiffel is repainted - counting while paint dries - and Alena Bohmova has written from Prague to suggest holding a count-up for 1001 nights - so long as I tell a story for each of them.

Next week we will look at these intensely interesting proposals more closely. I need a bit of time to figure out how to weasel out of them.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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