'Flat Stanley' Major 'First'

photo: michael, sue, rob, anna, laurent, dinny, patricia

Another 'first,' again - this week's 'Partial Group
Photo of the Week.'

One of Many, Many, More

Paris:- Thursday, 19. September 2002:- You know, I do remember Monday's weather forecast. It was an odd one, with a description of a funnel effect - with the small end poking in the Bay of Biscay and the large end stretching from Alsace down to the Alps.

'Good' weather was in the funnel part and 'bad' weather was north and south of it. It was an interesting concept as far as weather notions go, but it was pure fiction. If anything it has been the reverse - except from inside the 'funnel' it is impossible to see what's happening on either side of it. Who cares, anyway?

Except for a bit of welcome sunshine yesterday afternoon in the 11th arrondissement near Voltaire, 'morning fog' has persisted through the matinée, the afternoon, the evening, sundown and other parts of the day usually called 'nighttime.'

For what it's worth, for the next few days, Saturday might be the brightest. None of them will be 'warmest.' The coming weekend of France's 'open doors' will best be spent inside.

When I arrive at the café Le Corona, Monsieur Ferrat is standing out on the Quai du Louvrephoto: streetwise, falk, paris maps terrace glumly looking at the sky above the Institut de France on the other side of the Seine. "Oui," he says when I ask him if the morning mists are still with us.

The two maps, including an exclusive photo of Ami's hands.

Inside the café, in the club's area of the 'grande salle,' some refugees from the terrace are huddling in secluded corners. Before now I haven't been aware of these corners because I've never seen anybody in them. If they want to be left alone, this is what I will do. Maybe they have their own 'clubs.'

On the way in, I also see that Patrick is back. After a long absence, he is ready to return to 'Waiter of the Week' service, but this won't be for today's meeting.

I am now really in the habit of bringing something to read in case no members are present for the meetings. This ensures that nothing gets read because members invariably turn up - as does Anna Eicher, to become a new member, and make Vienna in Austria the 'City of the Week.'

After I tell Anna about the 'rules exception' - there are none - she reads the questionnaire that requires no answers, and says that Paris should have parking places reserved for lady drivers.

"I love cars, even driving them in Paris," she says. Parking them is another matter though. I tell her about the photos that will be taken and she says, "Not me, not today."

Anna helps newcomers to Paris find out about the city and finds them suitable places to live. With her connections, she cuts through the tangles of local barbed-wire that could hinder substantial, but foreign people from finding lodgings.

Before I can spill my endless story of my endless search for an itsy-bitsy cut-rate apartment, newphoto: loo coin container member Ami Wright arrives, from the famous city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is somewhere close to Boston.

The club's 'first' loo-coin container 'of the week.'

After we have figured out that flying into Boston's airport is a bit like flying into Tempelhof in Berlin - when plane drivers can see it, they drop the flaps, cut the gas and put on the airbrakes, and plop onto it with the engines going furiously backwards and the wheel-brakes on full. This big difference is, Berlin isn't as close to the Atlantic Ocean as Boston.

For Boston, Ami suggests landing at night and having a window seat on the left side of the plane - if you like landings with good views of the middle of cities full of people driving home or watching TV.

Ami also says she is a 'tech writer,' so I ask her if she knows anything about Boston's Route 128. For the first time I learn that all roadsigns say this is Interstate 95, but everybody in the hightech business calls it 'Route 128.'

I do not find out why this is, because three new members arrive at 16:15. In true club fashion, Rob Hansen says they were aiming at 16:30, so they are actually somewhat early.

Rob and Sue Santa are from San Francisco, or Greenbrae, and Rob's mom Patricia lives in San Diego County, in Ramona - which was named after the famous pop group of the late '50s.

Patricia tells me they have just come from the 'four-mile-long' park on top of the viaduct near the Gare de Lyon. I protest that there is nothing 'four miles long' here because we have only kilometres in Europe - so the maps come out to look this up.

Rob, Sue and Patricia have a ketchup-proof 'Streetwise' model, and Ami has a German-made 'Falk-Plan.' The 'Streetwise' maps are very handy if outer arrondissements are to remain mysteries - just like my own 'Streetwise' subway map of Manhattan that treats Brooklyn and Queens as foreign countries, or as parking places for Manhattan's legends.

The quirky 'Falk-Plan' requires a fourth sensephoto: rob takes photo of dexterity to navigate its folds that usually takes several years of practice, but is worth the wait unless you tear the thing to pieces in frustration.

While the map face-off is going on, I hear Anna say that Angelina in the Rue de Rivoli has the best chocolates. 'Best' in Paris means pretty darn good. I think another club member has already said this, but it is my left ear's first time hearing it - so here it is.

Rob takes his own 'Photo of the Week.'

Then Patricia is saying to Anna that she is staying in an apartment owned by a German lady who normally doesn't rent it to Americans - when Dinny and Laurent arrive with their spaceage motorcycle helmets.

All club members should remember Laurent's first appearance last December when the meetings were temporarily being held at the Café Lodi, on account of the Corona's complete renovation - which has never been completed.

Anyhow, Laurent showed us how a motorcycle helmet could be worn backwards, but the light in the café wasn't too bright so the photograph may not have shown clearly what was backwards exactly.

Long-awaited Michael Hansen finally arrives - without his bicycle and four backpacks - indirectly from where he's been living in Milan for the past couple of years. In fact, having the three others of the group present, is a trick to get the four backpacks and the bicycle back to California without hiring space on a cargo ship.

While you may think all these arrivals are the sole purpose of the meeting - oops, a 'no rules' club has no purpose either - unless there are exceptions! - philosophical Anna manages to say that '10 rules are all we have,' and all the rest of them are merely lawyerly embroidery.

This prompts everybody to think up unnecessary laws. Michael tops them all with the news that a Milan law requires dog owners to carry two plastic bags - as a perfect example of Italian lawyerly logic.

This also brings up a book title along the lines of, 'It is Illegal to Tie Your Alligator to City Fire Hydrants.' You would think nothing can top this, but this is your club in Paris, so Sue hauls out her 'Flat Stanley.'

Another true 'first!' Of course, readers with wonderful memories will recall that this is not 'Flat Stanley's' first appearance in this magazine, but it certainly is a club 'first.'

"This 'Flat Stanley' was madephoto: flat stanley, sue by first graders in a school in Severna Park, Maryland," Sue says, adding, "And when he got a bit bent, he was laminated in a Kinko's in Chicago."

Don't ask me why - I don't know why, the notes I have say nothing - but then garden gnomes become a subject leading to film heroine Amélie and her fantastical café - and I tell Rob more or less where it is in the Rue Lepic.

Sue's totally Kinkoed 'Flat Stanley' is a major club 'first.'

During the 12 times I saw parts of the first 30 minutes of this cult film, there were no gnomes in it. But there have been other club members present at meetings ready and more than willing to join the 'Gnome Liberation Front.'

As long as readers join the Café Metropole Club first, the secretary's official position is that they are free to join any other club's that will have them. But or course, this club has no 'official position.' Doesn't it?

The Next Club Meeting

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 26. September. This will be a perfectly normal 39th Thursday in the year 2002 - with the day being named for the double saints, Côme and Damien.

These, I am not looking up in my 'saints' book. Most of them aren't in it anyway - being the names of towns instead - but double saints are out. They get a free mention and that's it. Fête them if it's your birthday, but you don't have to tell me.

The changeless paragraph which used to be here, is... [...not being here anymore...] - the less said about it...

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

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

The motorcycle-gang section of club members, wearing right-way helmets.

'Club rules' are so near zero that they don't even have 'exceptions' - but if they weren't, and did - they would hint that if you feel ignoring this 'About' page - do so. All you need to know is that you can be a member of this online magazine's live, free and real club in a twinkle by simply being at a meeting. If you think this to too easy, why not join the 'Gnome Liberation Front' instead? Or both.

Special Dubious Note

This week's unposed partial 'Group Photo of the Week' has been achieved for today's unique occasion by failing to have all present members present when they were, in fact, declining successfully to be in it.

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 'BOPT' - and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm in worldwide areas with 24-hour-time.

The club's secretary will be paying attention to members' every word at the same time as he may be cooking up some 'report' notes, which might be completely differentphoto: glasses from anything any members 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.

This year's first, possibly last, 'arty photo of the week.'

Come prepared with a new 'Quote of the Week' or propose your hometown as 'City of the Week' or invent any other 'Things of the Week.' True 'firsts' are neat too. 'No-names' is an option you can also opt for 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 and are listening - and by all readers of this online magazine, if they read it - if it turns 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.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
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Waldo Bini