No 'Good Old Days' for Paris

photo: extra old cafe, rue fgb st anyoine

At the Extra Old Café you can wait forever for a parade.

French Cinco de Mayo

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 6. May 2002:- Now that the election for the Président of France is out of the way for the next five years, the weather can return to being more normal than it has been in the recent past.

Last time Jacques was elected, in 1995, it was very warm in Paris and he took a windows-down victory ride through the yellow-lit streets of the city, accompanied by a fleet of photographers and journalists on motorcycles and scooters.

Attempting the same thing last night was out of the question due to it being very cool, damp and rainy. He was wearing a coat suitable for a 'windows-down' victory tour, but Madame Chirac was not.

Now that France has returned to what passes for 'normal,' the weather is expected to do the same thing, even if it is never quite as 'normal' as residents and visitors would hope.

From today's threatening skies, there is supposed to be a slight improvement to partly cloudyphoto: cafe chairs, champs elysees for Tuesday, less than partly cloudy for Wednesday, and back to partly cloudy until Friday. This applies for most of France, except for the Côte d'Azur, which will be all cloudy.

But the really good news is the expectation that temperatures will rise from their current high of 15, to a blistering heatwave of 22 on Wednesday, with only a slight fall-off towards next weekend.

This agrees with the season, which calls for a lot of arty 'open doors' and long weekends coming up in May. On account of all the election stuff in this issue, the update for this week's 'Scene' column isn't possible, but many of these 'open doors' opportunities will be plugged into next week's version.

Having more of Paris 'outside' won't hurt anybody. We just need a lot more cooperation from the weather than usual.

Café Life

What 'They' Were Saying

Once in a while there is a subject here called 'Is It True?' - which considers comments about Paris that are usually about 30 years off the mark or simply fictional. 'Is It True?' is only occasional because it isn't a full-time industry.

But when some antediluvian type like Jean-Marie Le Pen leaps out of the past's curtains on to the centre stage to stir things up - and how! - then all of the professional France-watchers get busily to work, to explain the situation here to everybody who doesn't think much about it from one decade to the next.

Secretly, I think France enjoys the attention. For a 'former' super-star on the world's stage, even rotten PR is better than being ignored.

The odd thing about a lot of these commentaries is that they start out with 'Shame On France' and then they drift off to the situations in the countries where their writer's reside, and usually conclude that what they have is worse.

Everybody seems to agree that everyphoto: seat 600d of the week country has its hard core 20 percent of more-or-less fanatics who want to return to the 'good old days,' when the rich where amply protected and rewarded, and the poor weren't worth worrying about unless they happened to be dangerously 'red.'

This magazine's first 'Seat 600D of the Week' is at least 42 years old.

All that Mr. Le Pen's stab at France's presidency seems to have raised is the possibility that France will catch up with its more 'modern' neighbors in the funky western world.

No doubt, 'right-thinkers' have been hoping that France would somehow remain immune, so that they could pay visits here when their situations at home become tiresome.

The good news is that Jacques Chirac won his bid for re-election yesterday, partly on a promise of more 'law and order' here. He even intends to create a 'super-minister' of security.

Before you leap to think that human rights in France will be facing dire straits in the near future, consider that the job of this new 'super- minister' will be to try and mesh the security forces that France already has into some sort of unit that works together, instead of on their own little turfs.

Doing this will be a huge administrative job. It will require putting together security units belonging to different ministries, it will require stepping on toes, and it will require a lot of change.

Eighty percent of French voters have just rejected Jean-Marie Le Pen's proposals to undo a lot of changes that have taken place over the past 200 years, so it is just as unlikely that there are going to be any sudden or massive reforms - changes - of France's public security forces.

Philosophically, the French are all for reforms. Everybody talks about them all the time. There are evenphoto: cafe deauville, champs elysees cafés that specialize in discussions about them, and you can have lively conversations in almost any café about 'what's wrong with France,' without talking to non-residents.

On the Champs-Elysées it is as good as being at Deauville.

Now, suppose that the 87-odd ultra-urgent 'reforms' that are on the top of everybody's minds actually happened. France would not merely be is as it is now, but it would be perfect - (I pull a random country name from my hat) - somewhat like Switzerland.

No cows would be 'mad,' banks would keep their 'secrets,' trains would run on time, pickpockets would be banished to poor Albania, all laws would be automatically obeyed, all cheese would be free, and everybody would be in bed by 21:00.

Is this really the France the French and the 70 million annual visitors to France, want?

But the most startling idea I received during the week was the proposal that France should 'come back to the fold,' and embrace Elizabeth II as Queen of France, and dump the République as an anarchical system that is incapable of functioning as smoothly as a constitutional monarchy.

As a recent first-time visitor from Britain noted in the Guardian newspaper, Paris seemed refreshing because it is indifferent to how it seems, including its many warts - it pursues its days and nights without regard to its postcards and is not a bit self-conscious about its egocentricities.

I admit I've had to reconstruct this from memory because the piece it came from has gone along with everything else that disappeared in a on-going clean-up here.

For some reason, the emails about the monarchy remain. There are about six of them and one includes the long history of the founding of the American Bar Association.

One 'Scene' Item of the Week

This column is being held over a week, until I get the strength to add all of its new 'fresh-air' stuff. However one item appears here, because of this week's Morris column on the contents page:-

Ubu, Opéra - Alfred Jarry is back, just in time, in this opera version of - what? Direction and music by Vincent Bouchot. Dates are 7, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18 . and 19. May. At the Opéra Comique, Place Boïeldieu, Paris 2. Métro: Richelieu-Drouot. InfoTel.: 08 25 00 00 58.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

If you neglected last Thursday's club meeting 'report,' catch up with club news by hitting this link to the "Why I'm In a Good Mood" report.

photo: la coronaThe coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 9. May. The club's 'Saint's Day of the Week' next Thursday is Saint-Ascension's day, which may not be the name of an actual saint. Some days have two or three and others have none.

The club's own café La Corona.

Readers with a desire to become real club members can scan the few minor details about this free club in 18 seconds by reading the large-sized fine-print on the 'About the Club' page.

Joining is really easy. Do it by simply being here! Being here on a Thursday called Ascension is even better and every year has at least one of these. Keeping up with club 'news' is even easier, because the reports about it go online right after the meetings and you can read them in this magazine, which is also online.

Record 'Metropole Paris' as one of your favorite bookmarks to save yourself typing out its overly-long name every time you feel like reading a club report, or a regular edition like this one.

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.

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'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 any vacant lot covered with suitable dirt.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.19 - 7. May 2001 - This issue began with the week's Café Metropole column, titled, 'The May Day Issue' and the 'Au Bistro' news column was titled, 'Président 'Superforme.' This issue had one feature titled 'A Four-Wheeled Bike With an Umbrella?' This issue's update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 10. May was called the 'The 'Chili' of the Week' Report. The week's 'Scene' column was titled 'Some Changes, Musée de la Vie Romantique' and was followed by the photo page titled, 'Re-Runs.' There were four new 'Posters ofphoto: sign, 2 roues the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, "The Way to Antony?"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.19 - 8. May 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Another Darn Long-Weekend.' The 'Au Bistro' column was not serious with, 'France's Dubious Record.' This issue had three features, titled 'A Pair of Nude Twenty Years In Montparnasse,' 'Sitting Around Paris, a Bit' and 'Euro Road Tips' by Badger. The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 11. May, was called 'What Is a Paris Monsoon?' The club's promo page announced, 'An Authentic 'First' - the first of many less authentic ones. The 'Scene' column was titled, 'In the Place Vendôme...' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were viewable too and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Pardon! Gaston'

'Picks Sags' Was Incorrect Last Week

Something got in my eye while doing last week's headline for this popular 'Count-Down' feature, making it nonsensical. Luckily nobody noticed. To continue -

As of today, there are only 239 days remaining in this year. This means the 'euro 3 signuro' currency has been around for a whole 126 days now, long enough to be counterfeited using ordinary kitchen utensils, if you keep high-end laser printers in your kitchen.

A count-down for Charles Lindbergh's solo arrival in Paris after a 33-hour flight from the United States is currently underway. He landed without a parachute or a visa forphoto: sign, in front of petit palais France at Le Bourget, on Saturday, 21. May 1927. This was 75 years ago and this anniversary is 16 days from today.

Erik Lindbergh got tired of waiting for this date to come around and landed in Paris at Le Bourget last Thursday morning at 11:24, following his grandfather by slightly less than 75 years.

Erik took off from Long Island in the New Spirit of St. Louis monoplane 17 hours before landing here after the non-stop flight, cutting his grandfather's flight time nearly in half. For this reason, he only consumed half as many ham sandwiches during the trip.

Without adequate warning of the junior Lindbergh's arrival, no 'Count-Down' had been prepared for it. His flight has been a welcome reminder that the current 'Count-Down' is not entirely frivolous.

Wind your clocks right up tight, turn over your egg-timers, get any kind of marker to 'X'-out days on your calendars, and start counting-down. Especially if it is until the time you arrive in Paris, non-stop or not.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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