Surprise - We Are Seven!

photo: cafe au cadran

Outside, cool and damp - inside the Cadran, warm and cozy.

Sloppy, Wet Weather

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 25. February 2002:- The weather has been a bit rainy lately and the forecasts only see more rain coming, still in waves. Since this is all they see, there's no need here for any fancy analysis.

But when I write raining, this is only in relationship to 'no rain.' It has actually been raining quite seriously at times, but the thing to remember is that all of these 'times' are short. These days, 'short' also means frequently.

There is something deceptive about this because the Seine is high and rising, and people living up on the Somme are very worried about having a replay of the floods that they are just getting over with.

The rain brought great gobs of snow to the mountains which overjoyed holiday makers who like being cold and wet. But temperatures are fairly high too, and the avalanche threat is supposed to be equally high.

Surprise - We Are Seven!

On Sunday morning I woke up some time after the radio-alarm had quit its hour-long blaring broadcast of radio France-Info's catalogue of news and disaster, and I suddenly understood why I have been having so much trouble with this issue.

My 'Aha!' said that I had forgotten Metropole's 7th birthday on Saturday, 23. February. Who wouldn't want to sleep until noon on the day after such an important anniversary? Even a forgotten one.

So then, yesterday, with this brilliant forgotten-event in mind, I set out the catch up - withoutphoto: arabic cafe at salon promising myself to write the scheduled-but- delayed part two of the Rue Saint-Jacques story - because if I had tried doing this, this anniversary issue probably wouldn't get online until Wednesday, if ever.

Imagine my surprise late Sunday afternoon, while doing 'Metropole One Year Ago' and then turning to 'Metropole Seven (really 7!) Years Ago,' when I found that the actual date of this magazine's anniversary is on Tuesday, 26. February.

Mysterious Arabian atmosphere at the weekend's 'Café Show.' See below.

If I recall correctly, I make the same mistake every year at Metropole's birthday time. For some unknown reason, 23. February is indelibly burned into my rapidly dispersing memory.

All last week I thought the 'Beautiful Cow Show' started on Friday - not Saturday. All last week I fully intended to finish writing about Saint- Jacques' street in Paris. I intended to do many other things too, and ended up doing mostly none of them.

Not many, but some weeks are like this. I should fire me for being sloppy sometimes. Or, if I had a gram of moral courage, I should hand in my resignation.

Gram of Moral Courage

Something is obviously not working right when this magazine keeps taking later and later to get online on time. Articles fully photographed and part-researched only get a third written. Important salons and other events are planned for coverage, then simply dumped.

While I sometimes poke fun at my fellow residents for taking a lot of 'between-holidays,' it is starting to seem that maybe I should be taking one of these too.

I am sort of full of Paris up to my eyebrows. Above my eyebrows there is nothing but a formerly colorful collection of bits of old string that have been washed too many times and lost much of their colors.

Instead of endlessly procrastinating, taking a week off seems to be a better idea. So this is what I am going to do. This issue becomes number 7.09/10 and the next official and hopefully full issue, number 7.11, will appear on Monday, 11. March.

But before then, the two coming Thursday meetings of the Café Metropole Club in Paris will take place as usual and their 'reports' will appear here, equally as usual.

This 'as usual' means that 'taking a week off' isn't exactly the same as having a holiday. For all I know right now, new articles may show up in this double-issue - there's a two-day sandwich salon at Porte Maillot on Wednesday and Thursday - should I see how the French sandwich industry is doing?

Without a deadline, I can also go to the 'Beautiful Cow Show' in peace. Now that all 20 candidates for president have been there to kiss babies, drink and eat stuff, it must be pretty quiet except for the sounds of cows, sheep, chickens and geese, chewing their cuds.

What saves this issue from a total lack of content has been having a little bit of 'Café Life.'

'Café Life'

Dimitri's Lunch of Champions

It was raining last Wednesday and I had gotten enough photos of glistening streets to convince thephoto: dimitris lunch of champions average reader that it is raining here. I stopped in the Bouquet café for a spot of café and found Dimitri in it, trying to decide whether to have another balloon of Côtes-du-Rhône.

Once this decision was made he found he was hungry too. When it is raining and you have a glass of red wine and the café's kitchen is about to shut down for the day, there isn't much choice and what there is has to be decided upon quickly.

A late plate of frites for Dimitri is worth saluting.

Dimitri asked if it was still possible to get a plate of frites. It was and these turned up pretty quickly. "These are the best frites in Paris," he said.

They looked like the day's leftover frites from the bottom of the barrel. They were all short frites. But when it is raining and it is four in the afternoon and you have a glass of rouge in a quiet café, even a plate of so-so frites can seem like a lunch of champions.

Martin and Four Co-Incidences

Sunday didn't look like it was holding up to its forecast for some peek-a-boo sunshine around noon when I went into the café Rendez-Vous for my 'get-real' café.

I forget what Martin was having there. He said he was in a hurry because he intended to visit a translator friend in a nearby hospital. Talking of translations led to finding out that his friend had translated Anaïs Nin into French.

This led improbably enough to 'Pataphysics' and my mention of thinking I have a biography of Alfred Jarry by a lady who played guitar with Frank Zappa once upon a time, and she wrote about that too.

Martin, who used to be a rock-and-roll guitar player, told me he is also a member of the London chapter of the 'Pataphysics' club and it is going to join the Paris branch for a joint meeting later this year.

This in turn led Martin, who is a rare book dealer these days, to offer me an entry ticket to the 'Salon de la Bibliophilie' being held at the Carrousel du Louvre. He didn't have the ticket with him so we went to his place, and he showed me his storeroom of books-in-transit.

I forget a couple of the other co-incidences that popped up while we were talking. One obvious one was that the first Salon du Café was going on in the same place as the old book show. Two reasons to go there.

The 'Salon de la Bibliophilie'

The Carrousel du Louvre has an entry on the Rue de Rivoli a bit to the right of the driveway through to the Carrousel, and there was a fair crowd milling around it when I arrived.

The entire area under the Louvre and the Carrousel has been transformed into boutiques and conference rooms, as well as giant parking lots for both private cars and tour buses. Sunday's rain had convinced a lot of people it was better to be inside than standing outside waiting to get into the Louvre.

The line-up for the 'Café Show' was very long - sure!photo: dhouailly, livres anciens, willy ronis heliogravures Parisians have nothing better to do on Sundays than go to exhibitions of café - so I checked into the old book show, which had no line-up at all.

Old books. Besides these, there were many stands with 'old' - lithos, engravings, prints, maps, drawings, cartoons - anything that could be printed, and some of it bound in expensive leather covers.

Alain Dhouailly, with the Willy Ronis héliogravures in the background.

To me, bewildering. Too much to see and too little time to see much of it. I settled on Alain Dhouailly's stand, where he was featurin fine boxed sets of new héliogravures of photos by Willy Ronis.

Continued on page 2...
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