Illegal Parking Is Back

photo: group, marlilyn, tom burke

Marilyn and Tom Burke are today's 'Group of the Week,' without fancy dance steps.

While Garbage Becomes Illegal

Paris:- Thursday, 5. September 2002:- The avenue in the 14th looks like it is somewhere out-of-town on a slow day. The people are so few that I can see the sidewalk and a few tired leaves lying on it. The weather is neither hot nor cold, neither bright nor cloudy. It seems to be tired.

Too tired to live up to the prediction for today being the best of the week. That was probably yesterday, a day early. Tomorrow doesn't have a bright outlook either. Last Monday, there was supposed to be a week of 'chaos' in the sky. So far it seems as if 'blah' is as bad as it is going to get.

Nearly the only things that are looking lively are the new posters. Besides the ones showingphoto: glass beer new fashions for ladies, the city is running a series showing colorful garbage and mentioning the fines for throwing it around. I think somebody has already been quoted in Le Parisien as saying that 138 euros is too much.

The métro train on the ride down to Châtelet is a lot less than full. There are not many passengers carrying sacks about the size of small trees. Almost everybody looks like they are going to an appointment at the dentist. The posters in the stations are not thrilling.

Half of the 'Drinks of the Week' were beer. The other half were wine and café.

One, for Internet access, says 19 euros for 'unlimited.' It doesn't say 'unlimited' what. Probably an 'unlimited' offer for 30 days, and after that, the sky's unlimitless.

On the shopper's paradise of the Rue de Rivoli, I see more sidewalk. Where is everybody? Have all the people that were here the last few weeks gone home to Cahors, Prague, Chicago, or to the dentists?

Rounding a corner, I have it. The 'Fiat 500 of the Week' is illegally parked outside Le Fumoir café again. Everybody must be in Le Fumoir reading the free newspapers and magazines to while away the time. Whew! Paris is normal again.

In the club's café, the 'grande salle' is mostly full of empty air. I have a feeling the weather may be just good enough to have attracted everybody with time on their hands to the Luxembourg, to play chess outdoors.

I do the administrative necessities to the club's members' booklet and the booklet for today's 'report.' It is the 150th meeting of the club today. I forgot to bring a candle.

I did remember to bring a month-old copy of the New Yorker magazine. The cover shows somephoto: marilyn burke lost Manhattanite coming out of a subway exit to find he has arrived at a peopleless jungle. Maybe it is really the Jardin des Plantes.

Marilyn doesn't believe a word of the 'focus-puller' explanation.

With the magazine I get no further than 'Galleries Out of Town' before Marilyn and Tom Burke arrive. The last club meeting they were at was in Manhattan. It was last December and I was there too. It just goes to show that reading the New Yorker isn't a complete waste of time.

Marilyn and Tom are both club members. Marilyn, who is from Cliffside Park, New Jersey like Tom, joined the club at the meeting on 26. October 2000. Tom was working long hours, so he joined later, on 24. May 2001.

The first thing Marilyn says is, "Italy is finished!" After living in Paris for six years, they returned to the United States, but with a determination to buy a piece of Europe.

At first they were thinking of Spain's Costa Brava and then their attention switched to Italy. Now it has settled on Menton, which is about as far east as you can get on the Riviera without being in Italy. Menton is further east than Monte Carlo and is big enough to have a sandy beach.

According to my memory of TV-weather news and newspaper maps, Menton probably had the best summer weather in France this year. Marilyn says the waters were really warm there, while everywhere else in town was hot. Imagine! Hot in France!

Marilyn and Tom have a big family in New Jersey. About two dozen of them are club members. In addition to this, Marilyn knows about half of the other club members from New Jersey, or maybe she knows half of everybody in that state.

She says two of the club members got married recently. Even better, they got married to each other. This is truly another club 'first' - club members marrying each other. I am astonished. This eventuality wasn't covered in the club's 'rules' - the ones that were abolished a long time ago.

I forget to ask Marilyn what their new club family-name might be. All I can tell you is member 175photo: tom burke married member 180, and as near as I can tell, neither of them were at a meeting together at the same time because member 180 set out for Paris with an expired passport. If there were any 'rules' active, I don't know how they have would handled this.

Neither does Tom.

Marilyn and Tom are also jetlagged. After many trans-Atlantic crossings, their 'beat-the-crowds' trick is to take the late flight from New York, the one leaving about 22:00. Tom says this one isn't affected by airborne commuter traffic and that the east coast's thunderstorms are usually over.

He also says the flight usually takes 12-13 hours. I have a hard time figuring this out. Um - if you leave New York at 22:00 at night and you get to Paris about 10:00 the next morning - why yes, that is 12 hours! It seems long for a six or seven-hour flight. It seemed like 24 hours the last time I did it though.

Now that the Burkes no longer live in Paris, they are taking French lessons in New Jersey. They admit that many people who live in Menton seem to speak Italian, and they don't say how many people in New Jersey speak real Italian Italian, so I guess finding a French teacher has been a lucky break for them.

They chose Menton as a second home because of its marina. Tom does a lot of sailing, and he tells me about a charter he had once - to take two British passengers to Tangier from Marbella, in October.

He says he wasn't sure aboutphoto: empties how to clear the customs formalities at Tangier. Luckily there was an early storm and after two days of terminal seasickness the passengers decided they didn't really want to see Tangier all that urgently.

But the drinks were real enough.

At exactly 17:10 Tom says that jetlag has 'kicked in.' Before they leave to walk back to their hotel in the 7th, Marilyn makes me promise to hold another club meeting in New York, on its Jersey side.

She says she will bring everybody in New Jersey this time. How can I refuse? Even though I know she has about five kilos of franc coins she wants me to carry back, and trade in for dollars at the Banque de France. Or is it six kilos of Italian 1000-lira coins?

The Next Club Meeting

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 12. September. This will be a nearly normal 37th Thursday in the year 2002 - with the day being named Saint-Apollinaire. My 'saints' book says this is a small town in the Côte-d'Or, somewhere near Dijon. Then it says, 'électronique.' I look this up to find out it has something to do with 'électrons libres' - which by co-incidence, is one of the names of the art-squat on Rivoli.

The changeless paragraph which used to be here, is... [...not being here anymore...] - affects the changelessness of this paragraph, doesn't it?

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

Find out how to become a member by taking a gander at the page called 'About the Café Metropole Club.' However, if you are reading this 'report' of today's club meeting, 'how-to-become-a-member' should be perfectly clear.

'Club rules' have been debolished - but if they weren't - they would suggest that if you feel skipping this 'About' page - do it. All you need to know is that you can become a member of this online magazine's live, free and real club in a nanosecond by simply being at a meeting. This is all there is to it, really.

Special Dubious Note

This week's unposed 'Group Photo of the Week' has been achieved for the occasion by the smallest group possible, which is of course, another true 'first.'

What, Where, When, Who, How, Why?

Club meetings begin in Paris 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 'GBST' - and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm in worldwide areas with 24-hour-time.

The club's secretary will be listening to members' every word at the same time as he may be trying to concoct some 'report' notes, which might be completely different from anything membersphoto: ceiling, petite salle say at a meeting. Please note your name, hometown, and your own email address in the members' booklet. The club's secretary often forgets to remember to ask members to do it.

The ceiling of the 'petite salle' in the club's café is more zoomy than in the 'grande salle,' where the meetings are held.

Come prepared with a new 'Quote of the Week' or propose your hometown as 'City of the Week' 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' on the Internet. Otherwise and in general, the only exception is 'no rules.'

What you say may be appreciated by the other members present, if there are any, and if they are listening - and by all readers of this online magazine, if read - 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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