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 featuring fine boxed sets of new héliogravures of photos by Willy Ronis.

These come in sets of ten, or in sets of 12 for the first prints pulled. Only 130 sets have been printed, and the 'tirages de tête' series are limited to two series of ten boxed sets each.

These héliogravures are the artisanal type, made from copper plates, hand-printed one-by-one, on two sorts of high-class paper. Each set contains commentaries written by Willy Ronis, in both French and English, and the sets are hand-signed by Ronis. After the 130 sets are printed, the plates are destroyed.

Alain Dhouailly knows Martin, of course, and also knows the Caméra Obscura photo gallery in my own street. He is in the business to know both, but it is still a small world. I'm sorry to have forgotten to ask him what he was reading while he was patiently waiting for serious customers.

About the nearby 'Café Show,' he said he had given café up, with difficulty. Being so far underground, with too much to see, I thought I needed another one.

Café Life's Café Life

The line to get into the 'Café Show' had diminished to nearly nothing when I got to it. After a drab entry area, there was a medium-sized hall behind it. Inside there were nine stands turned into cafés, all with huge lines. Also scattered about were café-drinking areas, with hundreds of empty plastic cups.

The 'Jungle Café' was opposite the entry. It was not actually a café, but a bit of jungle with a helpful young man there to explain it. He said its jungle floor was hard on the feet. After about two minutes I had to agree with him.

When you live in a town with 3000 cafés, it certainly seemed strange to be in a expo place with nothing but café, and places like the Garage Café, the Lounge Café, the Spa Café, the Nectar d'Abyssinie and, of course, the jungle.

Plus this, two lavishly printed brochures containing much more than anybody would ever want to know about café - except that I will keep mine in case I'm ever called upon to be an expert.

I stopped at the info stand as an afterthoughtphoto: empties at salon cafe on my way out. This 'Café Show' has been the first of its kind in Paris, and the young lady told me it had been a huge success - especially on Sunday - and the whole thing was dreamed up by Kraft Foods.

One of the lounge areas at the 'Café Show' after some Parisians have had their café 'tastes.'

If the logos on the big brochure's back page refer to Kraft products, then Kraft is responsible for five brands of coffee sold in France. This was news to me since I've never heard of Kraft here before. None of the coffees, so far as I know, are usually available in cafés in Paris.

I left the 'Café Show' satisfied with it anyway. Not until I got to the métro at Palais-Royal did I remember that I'd forgotten to stand in line for a café. I had another at the Rendez-Vous instead.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

To acquaint yourself with last Thursday's club meeting, read the club's far from first Drowsy Day report.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 28. February. This will not only be the same as last Thursday because every week is brand-new, with this one having a Saint-Romain's day.

Metropole readers with a desire to become real club members can get all of the details about this free club by memorizing the large-sized fine-print on the 'About the Club' page. This page still needs an update even if it isn't terribly out-of-date.

How to join? Simply by being here! You'll find the meeting time and so on, and other true facts such as it 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 is in the same place.

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 6.09 - 26. Feb 2001 - This issue began, as usual, with the week's Café Metropole column, titled, 'Over-Plastered Under-Postered' and the 'Au Bistro' news column was titled, 'Mr. Nobody Discovered In Paris.' This issue had two features titled 'Paris Blondes d'Aquitaine Have More Fun' and 'Looking At Hector Guimard's Places,' done with Linda Thalman. This issue's update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 1. March was called the 'The Antwerp 'City of the Week' Report.' The week's 'Scene' column was substituted withphoto: salon cafe ticket 6e an email feature titled, 'Members Cite Multiple Bungles.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, "Véritable Basque Béret?"

This Was Metropole Seven (7!) Years Ago

Issue 1.01 - 26. February 1996 - This week's 'Metropole Diary' column was titled, 'The Weather, and the SNCF and RATP Response to Client Relations,' which were unrelated subjects. The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Chunnel Rocky Horror Trip,' and was by Tony Brock. This first-ever issue had several features, including 'Dracula Sings; Blood Curdles,' 'Dreaming in Montparnasse,' 'Poste Restant Goes Digital,' 'Internet is a Universal Human Right,' 'CopyRIGHT - Or Else' and 'Online Omlette Makers.' There were no 'Scene' columns or 'Club Reports' in 1996. The first four 'Posters of the Week' were on view and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was merely called, 'Ric's Cartoon of the Week.'

This Month's 'Count-Down' Hits 'Bingo'

There are only 309 days remaining in this year. This means the 'euro 3 signuro' currency has been around for a whole 56 days and as of last week, it is France's only currency.

Three week's ago reader John McCulloch proposed some new count-down topics. His suggestion of Victor Hugo's 200th birthdate need no longer be kept in mind because it is on Tuesday, 26. February - which is, by pure fluke, Metropole's birthday too, as well as tomorrow. No more days to go.

Last week there was a 59-second long time-related date tipped to Metropole by Jay Barrios, that has happened once before but will never happen again. Where were you at 2002 2002 2002 last week?

After giving Wednesday, at 20:02, on 20. Februaryphoto: screenshot, metro 101 2002 such a big build-up, I managed to be on a métro line six train as it left the station at Sèvres-Lecourbe, travelled 470 metres to the next station at Cambronne, and my watch ticked over to 20:03 just as the train came to a halt.

The first Metropole Paris contents page from seven years ago.

This was not where I intended to be. I was probably the only person in my wagon or on the whole train who had any notion of what a momentous event in time took place, mostly between two métro stations.

The time, day, month and year of 3003 3003 3003 will never happen because our non-digital time-scheme clocks out at 23:59:59. Wherever you were last Wednesday at 20:02 - I hope you made more of this 'once-and- only' event than I did - while it lasted.
signature, regards, ric

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