George Visits Jacques

photo: cafe des arts, place contrescarpe

The Café des Arts - one of three terraces in the Place Contrescarpe.

The Count-down Ended Last Week

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 27. May 2002:- It is Groucho weather, it is duck soup. It is soup to nuts. The rain is so thick it is like soup. The nuts are the hailstones in it. If they were green, you could think it is green-pea duck soup.

It has sound effects too. Earlier I heard one and it sounded like a steel-sided warehouse being dropped from 5000 metres in the air. It is sort of operatic weather. Any minute now the short lady with the big lungs will bellow and the cows will fall out of the trees.

If it wasn't nighttime and if the heat wasn't radiating a bit too well, it would be something to see. I looked out before the TV-weather news came on, and slush was sliding down car windshields, and the white peas were bouncing off the road.

Ducks are probably taking lots of photos of it to put in their souvenir albums. They write, 'Stopped in Paris on the way to the Arctic Circle. Wasn't fit for ducks. Took this photo, and flew on.'

In TV studios where they do the weather news, they are either in underground bunkers or they arephoto: expo photo, himalaya, luxembourg in 'safe' rooms with thick walls, without windows. Last night the weather-lady gave the coming Saturday one great big all-France sunball, and said its probability was 80 percent. Actually she said, '4/5th positive, or chance, or likelihood.'

Another free photo show at the Luxembourg - the 'Himalayas.'

Tonight the other weather-lady didn't say anything like this. I guess the two of them don't know each other well. It is not very warm outside for March either. This is the first place I ever lived in Europe where the furnace reacts to situations like this.

Maybe Groucho is down there making duck soup. They are tough old ducks, so there's gotta be a lot of heat, to soften them up. Nobody likes tough duck. Maybe that's what the weather is - 'tough duck weather.'

Once the ducks move on, I'm sure things will get better. If not, if not - well the French are handy with ducks.

Café Life

George Visits Jacques

In the middle of last week, about the time George Bush began his European visit by paying a visit with his wife Laura and 600 bodyguards to Gerhard in Berlin, the city began stacking up metal barrier fences on the sidewalks along Avenue Leclerc.

In Berlin they said, "Du bist kein Berliner!" With the Israeli Embassy in Paris burningphoto: here comes george down early Friday morning and an attack with military weapons on an armored car on Thursday, Le Parisien didn't think George's visit to Vladimir in Moscow was worth mentioning in its Friday edition.

Here comes....

But on Saturday, even with the French football team on the front page and in Japan, George and Vladimir managed to make it onto page six. Meanwhile, the sidewalk barriers were tidied up in Paris while the two presidents were touring St. Petersburg, Vladimir's hometown.

George and Vladimir are great pals because they are both close friends of the oil business. Vladimir has some for sale and George has a real big market for it.

So George's visit to Paris - his first official one - isn't about oil, because France doesn't have any. In order to cut down consumption, all traffic was stopped yesterday between the airport at Orly and the US Embassy in the Place de la Concorde, so George and Laura could whiz through Paris in a timely fashion in an over-weight limo.

Thus he did not arrive in time to see France's World Cup team beat South Korea, by three to two. There were more than the usual Sunday regulars in the café Rendez-Vous who did see it.

Slightly less than two hours later it was raining heavily in the Avenue Leclerc, and fans of very big bullet-proof American cars were standing under all available cover, including being inside handy phone booths.

The police had already swept away all parked cars and the garbage trucks had been by to replace the third-full transparent garbage bags with clean new ones, and then there were only the police to patrol the avenue and man the barriers. A red helicopter passed overhead and then went to look at the Boulevard Raspail.

The downpour drizzled away to light rain just before the cavalcade arrived so the fans of famous tourists could move up to the barriers for a good - if brief - look.

The huge black 2.5-ton limos were not moving as fast as some of the normal traffic does sometimes, but since they had green lights all the way, they took only about a minute to reach Denfert from Alésia before hanging a left after the Lion and disappearing down Raspail, followed by limos full of decoys and vanloads full of Secret Service agents.

In the Rendez-Vous some other sports event was on TV, but most of the customers - mostly dry - at the bar seemed to be paying more attention to their drinks and plates of hot frites.

Protesters numbering 4500 staged a rally at République in a downpour and another one was put on at Caen in Calvados, also in a downpour, in honor of George's visit.

Jacques said they were 'marginal.' George, relaxed defender of the whole free world, said that 'protesters were a natural feature of democracies.'

Then, when George forgot the beginning of an overly long question posed by an American journalist, he said he was jetlagged and added, 'This is what happens when you're over 55.' Jacques, who is 69, was not amused.

Today he went to Normandy to visit the WWII landing beaches and Sainte-Mère-Eglise where the paratroopers landed behind the enemy lines, and the military cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.

Secret Service agents have been snooping about the small town of 1600 inhabitants for weeks, not saying much, but looking everything over very carefully.

On Saturday, they got seriousphoto: there goes george about it. For today's visit to the church and the stadium, security forces will not quite outnumber local residents, plus both French and American veterans who have decided to be on hand.

There goes... George, to see Jacques.
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