Drizzle On My Head

photo: cafe aux bourgogne

Friday in the Mouffe' - sort of looking for a cheapo
keyboard to write this with.

A Drinkable Metropole

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 21. October 2002:- Drizzle on my head woke me up this morning. I have been doing some experimental sleeping with the window open, and it has taken two weeks to find out I will get drizzle on the face if it happens to be raining.

This isn't some new form of weather forecasting, but learning about my new apartment. Now that I know the worst - well, it hasn't snowed yet - I think I should go to a sporting sales outlet and get myself some diver's goggles.

I'll tell you though, drizzle on the face is really living the weather, without actually being homeless and sleeping on some cardboard on the sidewalk. On the other hand, instead of getting goggles, I could rig up some sort of fairy-like roof over my bed, as soon as I get one - to replace the moving cartons I'm sleeping on now.

All of this is a gentle introduction to the coming week's weather. The TV-weather news lady said last nightphoto: rue de rennes, saturday that it is going to be dramatic - especially on the TV-weather map - with a bottomless-pit low the size of an ultra-huge supertanker moving into France from the direction of the warmer part of the mid- Atlantic.

Parisians on Saturday - heedless of a fantasy weather forecast.

Tomorrow it will arrive from the west with a windy bang and when it gets to the centre, it will turn left and blow north, rattling windows from Orléans to my bedroom window.

This will drop more drizzle on Paris, between partly cloudy periods, and the temperatures should go up to 'higher than realistic for this time of year.' For example, I think the radio just said Biarritz - out there on the front line! - is having a high of 26 today. The surfers must be happy.

To go with this week's weather prediction, here's what you should wear - Hawaiian shirts with cotton slacks or dresses with matching umbrellas. You can substitute lighter-weight jeans, because everyone else already has.

And while we're discussing the climate, I want everybody to give a thought to the notion that the jeans plant may be an endangered species - judging by all the people you see here wearing rusty ones.

Last minute update - forget the Hawaiian shirts. The high temperatures were last night's TV-weather news fantasy. Tuesday may be a bit warmer than usual, but nothing coming afterwards will be.

A Drinkable Café Metropoleô

The long-awaited unveiling of the 'Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc' sparkling wine is mentioned in this issue because it is about to be unveiled at long last.

This is the brainchild of long-time Metropole reader, Café Metropole Club member, stroller of Paris streets and professional winemaker, Allan Pangborn.

This scheme to make Metropole drinkable as well as readable is all Allan's doing. The Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar LLC was founded by Allan and his wife Paula in 2000, with the intent of making champagne-type wines named 'Café Metropole.'

As such, it will be more serious than the magazine, which will tend to treat it lightly. But it isphoto: cafe deux magots really 'real' and a true 'first' in the Internet publishing business, marrying as it does fine wine to a 'virtual' magazine about Paris - which happens to have a 'real' club for its discerning readers.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where you could be seen too, if you ever found a free parking spot.

Besides all the fiddly details still to be worked out, the most perplexing are the ordering and delivery regulations of 50 'United' States. While only 13 of these permit Allan to ship the wine to connoisseurs today, there is a current movement in America to liberalize the situation.

As Allan points out, a part of what you pay for the wine's will come to Metropole Paris and help it to continue online with its weekly edition and its club 'reports.' The way it is going to be, you are going to be able to attend Café Metropole Club meetings, read it and drink it too. Of course, you won't be able to to do any of these where it is not permitted by law.

Café Life
Roméo and Juiliette

The bad thing about my new laundromat is I can't look out my window anymore and see if it is empty. The good thing about the new one is that it is close to the local public library and I can do two things at once by tossing my stuff in a washer and going a block further to get suitable reading material while it twirls around.

When I got back from the library I sat down to spend some quality reading time with a schlock krimi. This was beside a younger guy, who I noticed was reading 'Roméo and Juiliette,' which is a very old family-revenge type krimi written by William Shakespeare.

I hadn't read much more than the copyright page when the scholar turned to me to ask if I had ever read 'Roméo and Juiliette.' I told him I had tried to read 'Macbeth' instead, and it caused me to have mathematics as a major, because I couldn't memorize 465 lines of 'Macbeth.'

Actually, not 'memorizing 465 lines of 'Macbeth' leads to my only memory of 'dreaming of Paris' in the '50s, which was helped by Johnny Walker. Miss Adams said anybody who got into the last year of math with 51 percent wasn't going to get out of it with more than 25 percent.

So with 'Macbeth' sure to be out of the running, I had to pull math out of the hat. This was hard to do with the new-found interest in 'France,' but the government's checkers gave me exactly 50 percent for my effort, which was a 'pass' and proved Miss Adams wrong - not that I set out to do this.

With this in mind - in homage to Miss Adams who wasn't wrong, but I was lucky, I won't touch math today - when the younger scholar asked, I offered my opinion that reading 'Roméo and Juiliette' might be better for his future than worrying about getting fired from the McDonald's at Alésia.

This cheered him up so much, I think he said he was going to try and get a job with the McDonald's at Daguerre. It just goes to show what a little 'Roméo and Juiliette' can do for a person in a laundromat, halfway between Alésia and Daguerre.

The Telephone 'Joe'

Exactly a week after the loud banging on my reinforced steel-framed door full of bank-vault bolt-shafts a week ago, the telephone 'Joe' returned to install a brand-new line in my apartment.

First he checked to see if I had cleared a space for him work in. This had required the reverse of storing away the stuff I'd moved in with, and putting it in piles, and moving the furniture. In the ten days I'd had to get used to my original new setup, I had found I was the wrong way around. So it was also a good excuse to rearrange my space.

Then he went out in the hall and used his magic wand to figure out what all the cable spaghetti was, andphoto: france telecoms raymond whether it was live, hot, or just leftovers from 1929. From what he said, my new wire from somewhere in the hall into my place would be a 2002 model - but eventually it would join me to the world with the building's original 1929 lead wires.

'Should I drill the hole in the wall here?' he wanted to know, using an armor-piercing drill, running off my electricity. Yeah, sure, no measurements - just do it by rule- of-thumb dead-reckoning.

Raymond, my telephone 'Joe,' pulling wires to put me online.

Same thing from the apartment's hall to the living room, after I'd told him the hall's wall was longer than the living room's. BIZZZZZitttttt. 'Is it okay?' he yelled.

Yeah, with about two millimetres on the side of 'right' to spare. Then tacka-tacka-tacka with the stapler. Like all installers, he ran out of staples and had to go downstairs and outside to his truck to get more.

By this time 'Joe' had turned into Raymond, with a non-stop account of the sorry times of France Télécom - which is so interested in going partly 'public,' and the mobile phone business and buying other mobile operators in the UK, Germany and Transylvania, and off-loading some of its specialized staff on independent contractors - so much of all this that its fixed-line operation is like a minor sideline.

I lent Raymond a Bic pen so he could fill out the installation sheet, and let him use my phone to call somebody at France Télécom to find out my new number, because I couldn't find the paper from the first time.

In the mid-'70s when I arrived in France, the state telephone operator was just entering the 20th century, with a massive crash upgrade. The Minitel came along a couple of years later, and with it France Télécom was one of the world's leading operators for quality of equipment and service.

Now it is trapped in its own 'Dot-Com' dream of a nightmare and it is slowly killing its cash-cow - the subscription-paying, fixed-line users. Except for the few guys like Raymond left - and they are only a few - you can get anything you want from France Télécom except simple telephone service.

Raymond didn't tell me all this - he merely confirmed what I suspected. If my apartment hadn't been made out of half of a bigger one with mine ending up with an orphaned telephone line, the 'new' installation would have cost a big bundle. And there's no free extension lines anymore. Raymond offered me one, but I gave him a beer instead.

This was the least I could do. The telephone company lost so much on my new line that it sold its headquarters building. Goldman Sachs bought part of it and leased it back. Next to go will be the employees, then it can cease the lease.

The 'Mois de la Photo' Page

This was planned to be in the last issue, and it did show up on Tuesday. There's more to add to this program. It will appear one of these days.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Clink this link to the 'Five Buck Water' report, even if you are not interested in expensive water and would prefer to drink 'Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc.'

Readers who want to become truly real club members can skim the meager details concerning this freephoto: free beef, sunday, montparnasse club in fourteen seconds or less by looking at the fine-sized large-print on the 'About the Club' page, and maybe clawing the virtual membership card right off the screen.

On Sunday at Montparnasse, where there was free beef for all comers.

Joining this club - your own club after all! - is almost as easy. All you have to do is be in Paris on a Thursday. Next Thursday will be especially appropriate.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 24. October. The club's 'Saints' Day of the Week' next Thursday is Saint- Florentin. This coming meeting will also be the first in the club's 4th year of existence.

The club's over-optimistic secretary expects readers to show up to join in droves, and club members to show up in throngs. If there are neither droves nor throngs, the fête will be spolied, and make the club 'report' a lot harder to do because it will have to be fiction.

Save 'Metropole Paris' today or sooner as one of your all-time favorite bookmarks to avoid mistyping its overly-long 'URL' 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 6.43 - 22. Oct 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column, 'Hello, Goodbye - Indian Summer.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was "Put an End To the Beginning!" This issue had one feature titled 'Maybe Not the Last Day of Fall.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 25. October was called the 'A Rare 'Calm' Meeting' report because that's what it was. The week's 'Scene' column was missing. Instead there was an 'Important Clubphoto: sign, place sartre, beauvoir Alert - 'No Trick, No Treat, No Fooling.' The week's new four 'Posters of the Week' were on view again. Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, 'Euro-Alert for Robbers.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.43 - 23. Oct 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'Plans Scrubbed by Photos.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'Traffic Jam of the Week.' There was one feature, titled 'Looking for Autumn.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 26. October, was called the 'Was Ist Plop?' report. The 'Scene' column's headline was 'Family of the Future.' Four brand new 'Posters of the Week' were featured as usual and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Stuck for Weeks!'

Seriously 'Real' Count-Down

To resume the regular program of serious count-downs the number of days left to go until we get a new year, which for the purposes of this 'count-down' will be 2003, is 71.

The recent 'count-down' contest winner, John Motta, who sent in the closest guess for the number of days for the last silly count-down, is still waiting for his prize because I haven't found a free box to put it in yet. Don't give up hope, John!

photo: sign, square vermenouze In uncertain times, similar to these 'times' I have every Monday when I'm writing this, reader and club member Jim Auman nearly always sends in a timely new count-down subject to save my bacon.

Jim says he has found out that Alexandre Dumas' is to be unburied and reburied in the Panthéon on Saturday, 30. November. At first, my magic 4000-year BC-AD calendar said this was 197 days off, but now it has agreed to admit to 41.

Wherever Alexandre Dumas is now, he will be dug up and spend a Friday night at his Château de Monte-Cristo on the edge of Marly-le-Roi, before being hauled off to the Panthéon on Saturday, where many fine speeches will be pronounced in impeccable French.

This goes to show that in France it is possible to be dead and famous for a long time before getting planted in the official home of dead famous people, later rather than sooner.
signature, regards, ric

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