Don't Forget to Feed the Canary

photo: cafe le comptoir

And make sure its wine cup is full too.

Plus Tennis News

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 20. May 2002:- Last week amidst the nefarious 'Internet incidents,' TV-weather news flashed an alert that we could expect a freak storm, cooked up by the difference between land and sea temperatures near Biarritz, to arrive in Paris - and it did.

While the weatherman was excitedly pointing out the arrows of wind aimed at Paris, the arrows struck. Météo-France can be thanked for this 'on-time' type of alert, even though I usually claim that the Ile-de-France has no extreme weather and you have to go to the Alps or to the Riviera to get some.

We got much more notice of a second, bigger storm, to happen on Friday. Even though this was after 'the nicest day of the year' - until now! - on Thursday, I was willing to believe in it and took down my genuine Hamburg tugboat life-ring and dusted the rust off it.

I need not have bothered. I'm not saying I remember what the weather was like on Friday, but if there was a storm it happened while I was unconscious and this wasn't until sometime on Saturday morning.

The only reason for mentioning 'old' weather is because the weather service's warnings do work even if the weather doesn't quite match.

These warnings may not do you much good during a visit to Paris unless you watch the local TV-weatherphoto: graffiti, art markt, ed quinet news or hear bulletins on the radio. So, while you may remain unaware of dire warnings, you can be equally certain that the weather here is seldom extreme. What's a little rain after all?

A May feature of Paris - artists all over with 'open doors' or no doors at all.

Because if you are in Paris this week you might actually see some and get some puddles to paddle through. This month of May seems to be determined to give us one truly nice day, a bunch of so-so days, and this coming week, which has a very dull outlook.

After winds in the west tomorrow which will lessen on Wednesday, the rest of the week will be one long, flat, blah. After Wednesday, being in the Alps won't help. Pitiful little sunbeams might cling to the finger tips of the Riviera sticking into the Mediterranean, but if you need sun, having nights in Tunisia might do the trick.

Café Life

This Year's 'Count-down' of the Year

A masterful piece of planning coupled with a freak stroke of impeccable timing took me out to Le Bourget airfield last Wednesday, to 'do something' about this column's 'count-down' despite what seems to be a global air of total indifference surrounding it.

Readers, club members, friends! You are too complacent. I sailed across the Atlantic three times before I got up the nerve to fly across it. My shortest crossing, in the biggest boat available, took four whole days and nights.

That this crossing was done mostly in a North Atlantic November storm, with 1478 out-of-sight seasick passengers, gave me a great respect for this body of ocean. Its cold, salty water can transform itself into four or five-story waves, that can last day after day.

Day after day, as I sat alone in thephoto: theatre odeon ship's front-end veranda bar, watching the ship's bow disappear beneath apartment building-sized waves, I had plenty of time to think about what it might be like to be forced to land on the water.

The Odéon, just as all of its European flags went limp.

In the early mornings, in my narrow bunk, far below decks, one floor above steerage, I was able to hear the sound of an ocean gone mad, pounding at the steel plates of a flimsy 80,000 ton boat, for four nights in a row.

Little did I imagine that 26 years later I would have the courage to fly across the whole immense thing in a few hours in an 'airbus' without any kind of steel plates and only two motors, with in-flight movies - terrible ones! - at 10 or 11,000 metres above the clouds and the remorseless grey waves.

A little bit of imagination is called for to contemplate the idea of flying from New York to Paris, non-stop and solo, in a single-motor monoplane without a radio, with nothing to eat but hotel-made ham sandwiches, no in-flight movies, no duty-free goods - and staying awake 33 hours and 30 minutes to do it. Think about it a bit.

Skip ahead 75 years and here we have people showing up in Paris who have been in the air for 33 hours. This is what it can take to get here from New Zealand or Australia, with the necessary changes of planes or refueling. Two hundred years ago it could have taken six months in wooden-hulled ships.

What makes Charles Lindbergh's flight so extraordinary is that the prize money offered for the first to cross the ocean non-stop - not even Icelandic did this with its four-motor DC-6s - created a hot competition to be 'first.'

Well-heeled competitors had co-pilots and three engines and multiple wings, while all Lindbergh's backers could afford was one motor, one seat, one wing, two windows and no windshield or wiper for it.

The radio got left behind because its range was too short and it was too heavy. Lindbergh got to Paris first because he thought an extra ham sandwich was more important. In 1927, he was just a fairly ordinary guy, who happened to be a pilot, who became a hero.

And Now, the Tennis News

I have often wondered why the 'Stade Roland Garros' where the International tennis championship matches take place, is named after Roland Garros. I mean, you don't see any overpriced polo shirts around with little crossed tennis-racket logos, called 'Roland Garros' shirts.

So, anyway, I was quite surprised to see him in the Air and Space museum last Wednesday. Roland Garros was in the WWI section, for having been the first to try the idea of getting a machine gun to fire forward. He had deflectors attached to his plane's propeller so that bullets that didn't go between the blades wouldn't shoot the prop to pieces.

As unsuitable as this was - ricochets could hit the pilot, who was Garros of course - he shot down three enemy planes in two weeks in 1915. Then his Morane-Parasol airplane either conked out or was shot down by ground fire, andphoto: parabellum machine gun the enemy captured it and him. Garros, of course, escaped.

If you have a small plane, try putting a Parabellum on it and miss shooting your prop.

They turned his plane over to the Dutch airplane designer Anthony Fokker, who had never seen a machine gun before. He took Garros' prop and a borrowed Parabellum back to his shop, and decided synchronizing the two would be more dangerous to targets than the pilot doing the shooting.

Although Roland Garros was France's first 'Ace' this is not why he is famous. In 1913 he felt like visiting Tunisia in North Africa and he was to first to fly there non-stop.

The beginning, on the Riviera, of the 725 kilometre flight went perfectly, with a humming engine and blue skies. But one hour out over the sea, there was a metallic breaking sound and the motor began to knock, but it kept going, although with violent lurches.

Garros decided to head for land. Then a hump appeared on the engine cowling. It started to leak oil. Garros slowed the motor down and an hour later was off Ajaccio on Corsica. He decided to go as far as Sardinia.

There, he felt safe, being over land for the next two hours. He ran into headwinds and it started to get cloudy. Over Cagliari and then Sicily, he wondered again if he should land. He was an hour behind schedule and getting short of gas.

The motor was knocking no worse than before, the oil spray wasn't too bad, he had altitude - so he kept on flying, flying - for eight hours altogether. In France, Roland Garros' name is synonymous with performance in any field of endeavor - including tennis, I guess.

'Those daring young men in their flying machines' is not, was not, hyperbole.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

If you didn't bother reading last Thursday's club meeting 'report' you can catch up with club news now by hitting this link to the "Twice As Much Caffeine?" report.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 23. May. The club's 'Saint'sphoto: light, shade, luxembourg, 16 may Day of the Week' next Thursday is Saint-Didier's day. Some days have two or three saints and others have ones that I don't know anything about, like this one.

Readers who want to become real club members can scan the few minor details concerning this free club in 19 seconds by reading the large sized fine print on the 'About the Club' page and maybe clipping out the virtual membership card.

In the Luxembourg, on this year's 'best day of the year' - so far.

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

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

Metropole's Affiliates

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This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.21 - 21. May 2001 - This issue started with the week's Café Metropole column, titled, 'The Edition With 'l'Addition' and the 'Au Bistro' news column was titled, 'Speedways for Roller Folks?' This issue had one feature titled, 'An Afternoon of 'Café Life' With Dennis,' and there was an email feature titled 'Lost and How-to-Find' from Tim Stanton. This issue's update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 24. May was called the 'The 'Midget Tootsie Roll' Report. The week's 'Scene' column was titled, 'May's Holdovers Run Into June.' The week's photo page featured 'Sundayphoto: sign, modern hotel maine On Daguerre.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'For Men, Paris Fashion Tips - Not Funny.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.21 - 22. May 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Unheated Starving Artist's Garret.' The 'Au Bistro' column contained interesting news with 'French Take To Cashless Mode.' This issue had one feature, titled 'The Big Doze In Montparnasse.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 25. May, was called 'The Club's First Hat Day.' A club page proclaimed, 'Membership Category Shambles.' The 'Scene' column was gonflé again with, 'Our Beautiful Balloons.' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were viewable too and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Low Chance Charters.'

'Countdown of the Week' That Was

There are several important upcoming dates that could be suitable 'countdown' candidates - besides a whole slew of actual candidates about to pop up soon - but darned if I can remember any of them. If I put them in I will just get too confused and there's enough of this already.

As of today, there are only 225 days remaining in this year. This means the 'euro 3 signuro' currency has been around for a whole 140 days now, long enough for you to figure it out. Café Metropole Club members all agree that mental currency conversions are now much easier - especially since the euro 3 signuro has climbed up to about 91 cents, give or take a dime.

The countdown for Charles Lindbergh's solo arrival in Paris after a 33-hour flight from the United States is now over, forever. Next week you can forget that he landed without aphoto: door handle visa for France at Le Bourget, on Saturday, 21. May 1927. This was 75 years ago and the anniversary is tomorrow.

For a reason that remains a mystery to me, this event will be celebrated in Paris on Friday, 28. June, at Le Bourget. Read more about this in this week's feature, 'Lindbergh A Volé Sans Escale.'

Turn over your trusty 3-minute egg-timers, get any kind of marker to 'X'-out days on your calendars, and start your own home-made countdown. If requested to do so, another one will be placed here. Before you leave home for Paris, don't forget to feed the canary.
signature, regards, ric

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