A Bungle of a 'First'

photo: gaspard looking at commuters from cafe bouquet

In the Café Bouquet, it is the time of day for watching
passing commuters.

But a 'First' All the Same

Paris:- Thursday, 11. July 2002:- Today's weather hasn't started out well, but it gets better - better than its prediction - which is about how it always seems to turn out here.

The TV-news weather animations look very grim, and then the following day actually turns out better than expected. This seems to be happening every day and I think it is giving people here a lift unless they don't watch pessimistic weather forecasts.

You might be in this category, so tonight's TV-weather is forecasting 23 degrees tomorrow for Paris, and this is a couple of points more than Biarritz is supposed to get.

The real interest is for the upcoming Fête de la Bastille weekend. For this the TV-weatherposter: hugo illumine paris, 14 juillet forecast is grim. For Saturday the expected high is only 19 degrees, and the outlook for the heavens is total gloom.

Sunday's morning parade on the Champs-Elysées might have an extra degree and come off dry, but later it is supposed to get worse than Saturday, in time for the fireworks at the Tour Eiffel, scheduled for 22:30. Victor Hugo is supposed to attend in the form of light and sound - so let's all hope the weather forecast is worse than the reality - as it often is.

Why does Victor look so glum about it?

This morning my day starts off by my turning up two days too late to seriously bid for an apartment I looked at on Monday - it has been good and rented to some poor souls who are going to have to get used to never getting any sunlight in their windows. Other than this, it was a fine place.

The rest of the morning seems to go normally until I arrive at my summer-substitute boulangerie to find it closed. How am I supposed to remember it is closed on Thursdays? Why is it closed on Thursdays?

Despite all of this I get off for the club okay and the métro is running normally so I leave it at Odéon so that I can pick up another, fresh source of ads for apartments to rent. There are many, for weeks, or short months, but few for years - and none that are unfurnished.

It is a quick walk through the Quartier Latin to the Seine, and then the sky is mostly bluephoto: albert, bud, mcdaniel and all over, above the Pont Neuf when I cross it. There seems to be a lot of camera-toting people around, but it is the centre of Paris and not the suburbs of Montrouge.

At the club's café La Corona there is a scattering of humanity on the terrace and more in the café's bar area but the 'grande salle' is almost empty. It is nice enough outside to have eaten lunch early and have gone off to see the afternoon's sights.

'Bud' McDaniel is today's new club member, and Dennis' uncle.

First things first involve getting the club's booklets into order for today's meeting, which is number 143. I make some minor notes about the day, and then decide to just get one photo of those folks who seem so comfortably installed on the café's terrace.

The club secretary's official reporter-type black bag is empty. There is no camera in it. I zip it closed and then zip it open again. There is still no Café Metropole Club camera in the bag. Its resting spot is not supporting anything except empty space.

Here it is, only 15:05, and we have a true club 'first' with no members present to witness it. I heft the bag. Does it feel like it holds a camera? I look inside it again. There is no place it could be hiding.

This then, no matter what else happens, is the first club 'report' with no photos of the meeting in the club's café. It is not, I think, a great 'first.'

Thereafter I spin off 35 minutes trying to read the very small print of the classified 'apartments for rent' ads. One stands out for four reasons. It is unfurnished, it is 55 square metres, its rent is less than 1000 euros, and it is located in my arrondissement. Another possible 'first!'

As I blearily finish reading the last ad, club member Dennis Moyer arrives with his uncle, Albert 'Bud' McDaniel. They have just come from having an unobstructed 360-degree looksee from the tippy-top Samaritaine observation platform.

Dennis' news is that there is a teenager up there, collecting two-euro pieces from anybody who wants to go up the little extra bit from the café terrace to the lookout. This toll-taker, according to Dennis, is making the view unobstructed by Paris-gazers - which it was when he and Bud were up there.

Bud is from San Pablo, California, and is on his first visit to Paris. But the reason San Pablo becomes the 'City of the Week' is because it is another 'first.'

He tells me that if you take Route 80 north from Berkeley, you will see an 'Entering San Pablo' signphoto: dennis moyer and two blocks later you will see a 'Come Again Sometime' sign.

Bud tells me some things about some other, longer trips he used to take as a flight engineer on a B-29, number Z11, doing round non-stop flights to Japan and back.

Dennis thinks the most amazing aspect of these flights were that B-29s didn't have any gas gauges - possibly as a wartime economy measure.

Club member Dennis is also Bud's nephew, and guide to Paris.

The flights also didn't have stewardesses to tell the passengers to do up their safety belts, so some passengers would fall out sometimes if something made their turrets pop off.

Bud says one guy was a bit worried about this so he had a rope tied to his parachute harness, and when his turret popped off the rest of the crew got together and hauled him back inside the plane before he froze to death.

When the war was over, Bud left his air-conditioned B-29 parked somewhere in the Pacific - as an economy measure? - and got back to San Francisco very slowly on some tired out troopship. He said the plane was in good condition and didn't have many bullet holes in it.

As I understand it, Bud hasn't been flying a lot lately, except for the 10-hour non-stop flight with United to Paris. For his first trip to Europe he has come on a one-way ticket. Next week, he and Dennis are going out to Normandy to look at some D-Day beaches and museums.

Meanwhile, when I ask, he says the Corona's decaf café with milk in it was pretty much what he wanted, except that it was a bit strong. This reminds me I haven't had the club secretary's 'Club Café of the Week' yet, but when I look at the time I see there isn't any left for it.

We leave together and cross the Pont Neuf, paying special attention to the renovation of its stonework. It is either very good or it is new stone. Then we pass through the Place Dauphine and cross over to Saint-Michel, and ride the bus 38 up past the Luxembourg to Denfert.

They intend to pass the evening at the Vin des Rues in the Rue Boulard. They agree to be ready to have their club member 'Photos of the Week' taken at this restaurant, if it turns out the club still owns a camera.

Back in the editorial office, I call the ad's telephone number for the amazing apartment for rent. The fellow who is in charge of this turns out to live in my street a few doors away, and we meet to walk down to Alésia together to take a look at it.

After climbing thousands of stairs and looking at a great lot of sky from a high floor and somephoto: cafe in bouquet discussions of a technical nature, on the way back I find the missing items from the morning's closed boulangerie. Then there is no time left to do the club's not done photos - but - aha! - there is a camera to take them with.

The club scretary's 'Café of the Week' - taken in the Bouquet.

But first I have to have a café and I do this in the Bouquet. With this vital necessity taken care of, over at the Vin des Rues I find today's club members, with some neighborhood folks who may become club members, and a lot of other diners in large groups trying to fit into a small restaurant that will feature live music tonight.

This is as good a place to end today's unusual club meeting report as any, so I will do so - somewhat later than I expected to, but with its unusual photos of the week.

The Coming Meeting

The next weekly meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 18. July, following the Bastille Day weekend when the weather in Paris usually improves. This will be a perfectly normal 29th Thursday in the year 2002 - named for the occasion, for Saint-Frédéric, like it is every year.

The location details for this meeting are below, followed or preceded by the multiple métro-stop names and all the date and time details, all of which have been identical for years, like this paragraph, which has not changed by even a dot this week.

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

To find out how to become a member you can read the page called 'About the Café Metropole Club.' This page explains nearly everything you should know about this club - which is next to nothing - and its meetings - only a bit more than 'not much.'

'Club rules,' and there used to be some real ones for a couple of weeks, suggest that if you feel like giving this 'About' page a pass - do so. All you really need to know is that you can become a member of this online magazine's live, free and real club in an eyeblink by simply being at a meeting when you are at one.

The 'Coming Meeting' Standard Details

Meetings of this club in Paris begin no sooner than 15:00 on Thursday and continue until 17:00, still on Thursday, in Europe's Central European Time Zone - which is 'CET' for short and not 'SCR' - and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm in worldwide zones without 'Euro Metricotime,' which is now in its nominal summer version.

The club's secretary will be listening to you at the same time as he may be concocting some 'report' notesphoto: vin des rues during the meeting. Please note your name, hometown, and your own email address in the members' booklet. If the secretary can forget to bring the club's camera to a meeting, he will probably forget to ask you to do it.

The beginning of the club's 'after' - in the Vin des Rues.

Come with a new 'Quote of the Week' or propose your hometown as 'City of the Week' - the secretary can't do this - or dream up any other 'Things of the Week.' 'No-names' is an option you can opt for too if you prefer to be 'not found.' Otherwise and in general, the only exception is 'no rules.'

Anything you say may be treated with great respect and will be truly appreciated by the other members present, if there are any and they are listening - and by all readers of this online magazine, if they read them - if they turn out to be written here.

The café's location is:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny - or - 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli, Pont-Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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