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photo: terrace cafe, champs elysees

Thousands were pretending it was summer on the Champs-Elysées on Saturday.

'Complex' Weather In Sight

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 3. June 2002:- The weather this week comes in two sorts of news - bad news and good news. In general, when I go out to take photos around Paris the weather turns into 'good news' and there seems to be lots of sunshine in the images. This is not made up at all.

On other days, no matter what the forecast has predicted, if I'm not going out to take any photos, the weather is still good. This is 'bad news' because I'm not outside basking in it.

To try and overcome this, the TV-weather news keeps on predicting all kinds of horrible weather. Take tonight for example.

The TV-weather news lady looks like she's wearing what someone lends you after you've fallen out of a rowboat, off a bridge, or accidently walked under a chance waterfall in the Rue Bonaparte.

She says the coming week's weather will be 'complex' and beyond Thursday the great unknown looms. Details turn outphoto: apartments to be approaching 'chaos' for Tuesday with a high of 24 degrees - not too shabby for early June - but 'horrible' follows 'chaos' on Wednesday when France will turn from color to black and white, and temperatures will plunge to an Arctic-like 17 degrees.

Is Metropole's new office in this building?

Relief is in sight on Thursday when the grey will begin to color a bit and the thermometre will struggle up to a dizzy high of 18 degrees.

Uncertainly after Thursday is echoed by today's Le Parisien, which has rendered its usual four-color weather maps in shades of grey, with the temperatures shown in frosty blue half ovals. Friday's map gives another point to the temperature, but nothing more.

On behalf of this magazine's readers I intend to go out without a hat or raincoat on Wednesday, Thursday - for the club meeting - and either Friday or Saturday, to take some photos. Pick these days to wear your sunglasses.

Rooms To Let, 50¢

Here it is only three years after the last time and I am searching for new lodgings again. On Friday - in beautiful weather! - I toured 12 of the nearest agencies likely to offer flats for rent, and somewhat to my surprise, none of them had any to offer, of any size, or at any price.

One pleasant lady said they stopped existing last summer. Property owners are not renewing leases and are withdrawing their apartments from the market. If anybody knows why, they didn't tell me.

A quick glance at the situation on the Avenue Leclerc has shown that there is still lots of free room on the sidewalks for squatting, but I'm not considering this, not yet.

In practical terms, my apartment search will be gaining priority over putting out chock-full issues ofphoto: filming movie, le bouquet this magazine. If some of the coming issues seem a bit empty-roomed it will be because I will be anxiously biting my nails - rather than writing about anxiously biting my nails.

Movie crew blocks café entry last week, causing café addicts to cringe.

If, by chance, anybody reading this happens to have an available apartment for rent, I am looking for a cozy place with at least one bedroom and one living room and one of everything else, with wooden floors and high ceilings, plus a darn good view from a low floor with big windows with a sunny exposure, in a building with an elevator, central heating and free parking. I'm not fussy about cable-TV.

Handy would have it located no more than fifty metres from where I live now - which means it should be within 300 metres of the marché, my barber, my number one and number two cafés, métro lines four and six, RER line 'B' - plus all the various hospitals, oyster palaces, La Santé, the Montparnasse cemetery, the library and the cinemas, the shoe-repair shop, and so on.

For this I will be gladly willing to pay 50¢ a month, plus the extra for the electricity and gas, if I have to have it, and of course my phone bill will be my own business.

If you think I should pay something like 1000euro 3 sign instead, let's sit down like reasonable people and work something out. I'm sure we can reach a fair compromise and live with it happily ever after.

On account of this, I hope you will understand that the half-finished 'Au Bistro' column may stay this way this week. I have a date to get up to see an agent about a non-existant flat tomorrow real early. Plus the water-metre reader who I thought came last week, is coming this week.

Café Life


One day last week when I was particularly bleary because I believed the forecast for rotten weather and had stayed up all night playing solitaire - actually I was 'not-fixing' this production centre's computer system - the same as playing solitaire, and losing heavily. I arrived at my café to find its entry blocked by a film scene being shot, just as I desperately needed a strong jolt of café.

All these neighbor shoppers of mine going about their serious business of getting the goods for lunch, and these no-nonsense types yelling in amplified bullhorns, "Don't look at the camera! Be quiet! Get out of the way."

During one of these shoots last summer a crewman told me they did interiors in some studiosphoto: gaspard, the free dog located way out in the countryside where the malls are, and nobody cares what they do. But when they want a little colorful streetlife background, they come to Paris to get it because it's everywhere and its fairly cheap. No sets need to be built.

And here's Gaspard, the 14th arrondissement's only 'free' dog.

The crew were tougher and meaner than the cops they'd hired to control us civilians. The cops were being paid whether they were there or not, but the crew were being paid to get film footage into the can.

While they were reloading film, I slipped into the café. Half the people inside, and it was lunchtime-full, were looking anxious about being able to leave. Right outside, the simple scene was shot and re-shot, with quite long pauses between each 'take.' It was easy to get out again.

Half a day later, in the evening, the whole film crew were inside the café, having their own 'shout night' to celebrate getting a 90-second scene wrapped up. I had my back-up jolt of café quickly and left to watch the TV-news and World Cup hype.

The name of the movie being filmed is 'There's Nothing But Happiness.'

Gaspard, the Free Dog

According to Dimitri, Gaspard is the only dog around who has a license to wander around the neighborhood by himself. Gaspard does this all day long and every day. Wherever you go here, you will see Gaspard making his rounds of the cafés in the quartier, or hanging out in them. If you see him, wave. Gaspard seldom has time to wave back, because he's got a lot of cafés to visit.

More Than Obscura

For three years I have been passing the photo gallery named Camera Obscura in my street. It has exhibitions on a regular basis and the last one showed an interesting black and white photo of an odd bicycle that seems to be placed in rural Siberia. Most of the photos the gallery exhibits are in black and white.

But about a week ago when I went past, I saw the window showing some very strange things - in color. Intrigued, I went inside to find out what this could mean.

Thus I met a neighbor, Didier Brousse, who has had the gallery for about 10 years. The photos were done by Laurent Miller, and this current exhibit of them, called La Méthode,photo: la methode, ©laurent millet, galerie camera obscura was also on view earlier in the year at the Robert Mann Gallery, in New York.

La Méthode, ©Laurent Millet

Yes, Didier Brousse assured me, the photos are photos. They are of constructions of cardboard and wire - not of Photoshop image making. With La Méthode, Laurent Miller has given his whimsical constructions background landscapes, which make them even more unlikely to be photographs.

But they are. Knowing that they are photos, you have to look at them very, very carefully. Some reward by slowly giving up their secrets and some remain mysteries. Worth a long look in other words.

Until Saturday, 29. June. Open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 14:00 to 19:00. Galerie Camera Obscura, 12. Rue Ernest Cresson, Paris 14. Métro: Denfert-Rochereau or Mouton-Duvernet. InfoTel.: 01 45 45 67 08.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

If you were too distracted to read last Thursday's club meeting 'report' you can top-up now with club news by hitting this link to the "Where Are All the Flower Stalls?" report. This 'Quote of the Week' was a definite 'first' because nobody has ever noticed the missing flower stalls before - not even me.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 6. June. The club's 'Saint's Day of the Week' next Thursday is Saint-Norbert's day. I'm sure every year has one of these but it is new for me.

Readers who want to become real club members can scan the few minor details concerning this free club in 26 seconds by reading the large sized fine print on the 'About the Club' page and maybe clipping out the virtual membership card.

Joining is really easy. Do it by simply being here! Being here on a Thursday named after a saint or 'sainte' is even better and every day in a year has at least one of these. Keeping up with club 'news' is a snap too, because the reports about it go online right after the meetings, after 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 avoid mistyping 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.

'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 any vacant lot covered with suitable dirt.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.23 - 4. June 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column, titled the 'Free Lunch Is Over.' The 'Au Bistro' column became unserious with 'The Big Fish Story.' This issue had two features, titled 'Half the Free Sights' and 'Anyone for Etchings?' This issue's update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 7. June was called the 'Lost and Found' Report. The week's 'Scene' column was headlined 'The 'Future' Gets Longer.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoonphoto: sign, passage de la petite boucherie of the Week was captioned, "I've Seen Your Engravings" The issue concluded with a photo page titled 'Champs-Elysées.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.23 - 5. June 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled 'Non-fiction Splinters.' The 'Au Bistro' column turned serious with 'The 'Fake Voters,' Part II.' This issue had two features, titled 'To Paris Plage! - At the Palais-Royal' and 'The Hunt for Harrison's Clocks' was by Linda Thalman. The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 8. June, was called the 'Unmentionable of the Week' report. A club page began with the 'Big Yawn of the Week' and went nowhere from there. The 'Scene' column pre-announced the Fête de la Musique - again - with 'Music Still Tops Calendar.' The usual four 'Posters of the Week' were on view too and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Tennis Needs the Right Driver!'

Countdown To Friday, 21. June

Despite the several important upcoming dates that could be suitable 'countdown' candidates - only two of them are here this week, for cultural reasons.

As of today, there are only 211 days remaining in this year. This means the 'euro 3 signuro' currency has been around for a whole 154 days now - five whole months! - long enough for everybody to figure it out.

This week's first countdown is to Thursday, 13. June, which I'll admit is only ten days off. This isphoto: sign, in tiles, babylonia cafe the day when hundreds of thousands of students in France will begin their philosophy exams, which start out the annual round of BAC tests. Wish them luck.

The second countdown runs slightly longer, until Friday, 21 June, which is 18 days off. Besides being official 'Eté' day - of the same saint's name by the way - it is also the day when the 'Front de Liberation des Nains de Jardin' has threatened to carry out massive garden gnome 'liberations,' kidnappings, and perhaps even assisted suicides.

This recalls the daring gnome snatch in 2000 from the exhibition of gnomes at the Bagatelle. While worrying about this, try and sooth yourself with the idea that Friday, 21 June is also the date of the Fête de la Musique in Paris and in France.

If you forgot to feed your canary before leaving home last week, try to remember to phone home to alert a neighbor with some birdseed.
signature, regards, ric

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