Brief Heaven for Ducks

photo: resto chez max

Chez Max in the 8th, a block from the Rue Tronchet.

Wine Again and New Features

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 28. October 2002:- On account of writing too much about last Friday's 'duck weather,' today's prediction is short. According to this morning's Le Parisien, today's weather is nice.

I confirm this by looking out the window to my left. There is a bright blue sky with a few fluffy, white clouds in it. This may become a bit dim tomorrow, outright dank on Wednesday, lighter again on Thursday, and semi-wretched next weekend. High temperatures will be about 13.

Tonight's TV-weather news forecast is completely different, because it is from 24 hours later. However it is completely unclear because my TV-reception isn't too good.

Café Life

Weather for Ducks

Normal in Paris is drizzle that can't quite make it to the quality of light rain. On rare occasions there are short but waterfall-like deluges, usually related to rapidly-passing storms. It's black, it's wet, lightening flashes, thunder rumbles, and the sun pops out again and everything is dry in a half hour.

Last Friday was different. It wasn't drizzle, it wasn't the flash-flood of a storm - it was steady and serious rain, coming down non-stop, gushing off overhangs and roofs, with dammed-up gutters, creating lakes around the garbage stacked in the streets because of the strike.

The outdoor marché on Friday was dripville despite the awnings. Awnings that don't quite reach, don't cover all, leaving plenty of holes for the rain to get through. My peanut man said it wasn't good for business, and he had been there since dawn.

When I was a civilian I was an umbrella guy. I had one of those big black jobs with a wooden handle - the kind you see in old newsreels of street meetings in Europe in the '30s. I don't know what happened to the last one I had, which I'd had for a long time.

It only took a couple in months in Paris to realize there is no serious rain here. But when there is, a café usuallyphoto: hediard grocery takes care of it. But I got caught out once and bought one of those flimsy fold-up ones. They are only on sale when it is raining, so they cost an arm and half a yard. I don't know where it went.

Since becoming the Internet reporter for Paris I've needed to have two hands free, so I switched to hats. Paris is a hat-zone so you can wear them everywhere, and keep them on because there are few places to hang them up besides on your own head.

A 'grocery' photo to illustrate the grocery feature that didn't get written.

It's not just kids who wear the baseball-style - or tractor-driver - caps, but all sorts of people, so I guess this is a reinforcement of Paris' status as a hat-zone.

But I tell you, Friday did not have normal rain. The over-sized tweed '20s-'30s style cap I wore kept my head dry, but it doesn't have much overhang. My jacket's pockets filled up with rain. After the turn around the marché and the tour of the shops, I felt like wet turf left out to dry out in an Irish yard.

Friday had the kind of rain that required hanging everything up to dry after the first tour, and putting on another dry set of outer clothes before going out again. It made me feel like one of those fancy gents who change their costume several times a day.

About sundown the sky separated into clouds and sky, and an hour later a nearly-full moon like a milky cookie rose up in the northeast from just to the right of the dome of the Panthéon, and kept going higher in a loop southwards. I felt like an astronomer sighting a 'found' planet for the first time.

Gizmo Heaven

Dimitri paid me a visit the other day. After I opened the door he was outside looking quizzically at my door buzzer that is not wired to anything. At the other apartment it was wired, but stopped working sometime in 2001. They both work the same - they do not 'buzz' or go ding-a-ling.

After admiring my big window's view of the trees and the cemetery beyond them, we stumbled around in the shambles of the bedroom so he could look at the wardrobe that is going to be partly transformed into a closet.

Dimitri said a broom-handle would do the trick. All I would need are a couple of gizmos to support it. Since I use my broom handles as broom handles, I figured I would need some kind of bar too.

After making this difficult rocket-science decision we went out for a café, stopping along the way in a tabac to get cigarettes. Before getting to Le Bouquet, we spied Dennis on the other side of the street striding purposefully along.

When he finally recognized his name he came over, and complained bitterly about waiting a half-hour for a lunchtime no-show. This got us into quite a long pow-wow about life's imperfections in front of a jewelry store. Dimitri fingered some imperfections in its outer woodwork.

With the chat business completed we were ready to continue the trek to the end of the block to the café, but the lady who runs the jewelry store came out to ask Dimitri what was wrong with it. Some nails or screws hadn't been counter-sunk properly. Good old Dimitri - he didn't offer to fix them on the spot.

Because he had a lunch date with the playwriter - whose play I haven't read, because Dimitri has toldphoto: garbage strike me it has had two more revisions since I got my copy. We had a long discussion about 'what to wear' in Moscow in December before I remembered that I should seek out the gizmos.

As soon as I took the 'garbage' photo, the good fellows called off their strike.

I wondered if maybe I could get these at a fairly near hardware shop, but in the end decided that I only wanted to look for them once - so I took the métro downtown to go to the BHV's basement hardware department.

If this is online when you read this, it is because I found some bar supports almost immediately, and near them I found a variety of metal rods, both solid and hollow. But I figured wood would be easier to cut to size, and I had to look around a bit to find poles or rods.

Luckily this did not take all day either. There are people who have gone to the BHV to buy a nail and search-and-rescue has been required to find them again.

The standard-diameter metre-long bar I found turned out not to have the same diameter as standard gizmos, but I figured it only has to support some shirts, so it doesn't have to be as solid as a Tour Eiffel girder.

I couldn't have been in the place more than 38 minutes, but it tired me out - yes, I did look at some other things I have never seen before in my life and don't know what they are for - so I forgot to bother going up to the first floor to buy a pencil.

If you are a 'tool' person if must be very difficult to stay focused in the BHV's hardware department. The place has everything, including a lot of non-household items. I was very tempted to buy a self-gluing yellow triangle sign for my bathroom door, with a warning something like 'danger high tension,' or 'no parking, sortie, day and night.'

But I didn't. I have one from New York here someplace that says, 'employees must wash their hands.' I had one from a hardware shop in Spain, saying 'Muy Peligroso!'

So I forgot the pencil. This issue doesn't need a cartoon. So I forgot to look for towel racks. I can keep using the broom handles for this for a while.

But on Sunday, because of the time being set back an hour, I got up earlier than usual and washed all the bookshelves in the bedroom and moved them into the hall, thus creating not only room in the bedroom, but places to put the books filling all the boxes that fill up the bedroom now.

This also creates room enough for Dimitri to screw the gizmos into the wardrobe, and then I can put the shirts in it and maybe have enough space to wash the rest of it before filling it with stuff I don't want to see again. I wonder if Dimitri wanted me to get the screws too.

Cocktails and Accordions

It was my innocent intention to have a café to break during a long Sunday afternoon of writing, when I ran into Dimitri in the Rendez-Vous. Looking irritated, because he was listening to a painter I have never talked to because somebody told me he's always complaining.

On my left were three jolly fellows. Two of them had their glasses refilled with Sallers, and Dimitri asked what it was like. The burley one invited him to have a taste and he said it was bitter - as anything made of the yellow-flowered Gentian, with the bitter roots, would be.

The drink identified them as possible Auvergnats, so Dimitri asked them if they knew the accordion museum inphoto: quais, bikes, rain Tulle. Part of this has the original shop transplanted from the Rue Saint-Martin, the 'Maison Cayla,' in it - which Dimitri knows because he has a big collection of 78 rpm Martin Cayla recordings.

But photos alone didn't stop the rain on Friday. It stopped when the garbage strike ended.

Two of the jolly fellows knew some of the words off by heart and let the whole café know it. Martin Cayla is a legend in the Auvergne and along the border of the Corrèze, even through he died in 1951.

When Dimitri mentioned the accordion maker Maugein, all three of the jolly fellows knew of it, and of some very strange stringed instrument with a crank, popular in Brittany. Later I tried finding all of this on the Web, but while Martin Cayla was 'findable' he doesn't seem to have quite the fan club that Dimitri seems to be.

When I left the café I got no further than the next restaurant, called 'Aux 7 Trésors,' because it had an oriental band playing in its front salon - playing some very strange instruments on an early Sunday evening.

Café Metropoleô Makes a Splash

The breathlessly awaited 'Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc' sparkling wine is mentioned again in this issue, following its unveiling here in last week's issue.

In order to keep abreast of this major 'first' for an Internet magazine, be sure the read all about it in this issue, in the last issue, and tell your friends all about it. It may be the only 'good news' around these days.

A Note From 'Ed'

Several usual features are missing from this issue. They have been sporadically missing from recent issues too, and they may continue to be absent.

There are multiple culprits for this situation. One is my new apartment and its unfinished state - everything in it is unfindable - and it needs all sorts of common but vital accessories other than broom handles.

The Café Metropole wine launch is not a culprit, but is an important new feature of the magazine. Doing reports about it as it begins life requires collaboration with the winemaker, Allan Pangborn, and he has his hands full too. I keep harassing him to send photos while he's busily sticking labels on bottles.

In the wings a new service called 'Metropole Partners' is waiting to be thrust upon you. This is another money-making scheme, orchestrated by a young fellow named Cyril Toullier, who is Metropole's advertising agent in New York.

This has been a long time in getting started, but when it is operational Metropole readers are going to be offered some nice deals relating to Paris. Cyril fits right into Metropole's notion of things because his father owns an electricity supply shop one block away, in the Rue Daguerre.

So brave Cyril has to live in some out-of-the-way 'burb in the outer depths of Long Island and commute to Park Avenue in order to talk to French companies like Air France, while I get to live 'Café Life' where Cyril grew up. Somebody has to do it.

The Café Metropole wine will appear as a sponsor and the commercial 'Partners' page will be accompanied by a new and useful 'Friends of Metropole' Links page as a feature highlighting 'friends' Web sites.

These will be followed by a half-dozen new pages, that will be indexes to all of Metropole's past tours around Paris - making them easy to find in one place. Doing these is reader Gary Jackson's idea, and he has done a couple of years' worth already.

But it is up to me to pull all of these elements together, so they fit neatly on an issue's contents' page, without making it overly complicated - so it remains 'Metropole,' and remains simple to access.

With all of this, the 'About Metropole' page will have to be updated - at last - and 'About' pages for some of the new items will have to be created. All of this adds up to so much 'extra' work that I am thinking of taking a holiday first rather than after. The thinking has worn me out.

But before I go, expect to find Metropole's traditional 'Christmas In Paris' program here. One of these days real soon. This is when I'm promising this week's 'Au Bistro' column. Why not read this Café Metropole column twice?

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Tap this link to last week's "A Complex Philosophical Question" report, even if you are not interested in the club's recent third birthday and would prefer to drink 'Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc' instead.

All the necessary details concerning the club - practically none - are available on the 'About the Club' page. If you think you need one, you can hack the virtual membership card right off the screen and forge the secretary's signature on it.

Joining this club - your own free club after all! - is also mentioned on the same page. To save you a short hyperlink trip to it, all you need to know is - show up on a Thursday.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 31. October. The club's 'Saints' Dayphoto: halloween 10 euros of the Week' next Thursday is Saint-Quentin. This equivalent meeting a year from now will also be the first in the club's 4th year of existence, according to members who think the secretary's counting is nuts.

Next club day is on the eve of Toussaint.

Club members are invited to club member Frank Watson's photo exhibition 'Elisabeth och Christine' after next Thursday's club meeting. The 'varnishing' for this starts at 17:00 and the place is the Café des Lettres, at 53. Rue de Verneuil, Paris 7. Métro: closest is Rue du Bac.

Save 'Metropole Paris' today or earlier 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 6.44 - 29. Oct 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column, 'Indian Summer' Is Still Here.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline asked 'Are You Ready for Canned Pastis?' This issue had one feature titled 'A Perfect Season for a Long Tour.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 1. November was, A 'Change of Scene' Meeting Report. The week's 'Scene' column was headlined 'Two Big 19th C Exhibitions.' The week's newphoto: sign, menu 959; moules frites 790 four 'Posters of the Week' were on view again and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, "It's Trick or Treat Time!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.44 - 30. Oct 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column headlined 'The Longest Weekend.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'The Life of Plants.' There were two features, titled 'Modern Sculpture and Medals' and 'The Orphaned Europe Quartier.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 2. November, was called the 'Word-of-Mouth' report. The 'Scene' column's headline was 'Month of the Photo Begins.' The four brand new 'Posters of the Week' were featured and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Hurry Up!' It might have been about the previous week's chicken.

Seriously 'Real' Count-Down II

To return 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 64.

John Motta, the recent 'count-down' contest winner, who sent in the closest guess for the number of days for the last count-down, continues to wait for his prize because I haven't found a free box to ship it in yet. Maybe this should be the subject of a new 'count-down.'

The current 'count-down' has been suggested by reader and club member Jim Auman, who nearly always sends in a timely new count-down subject when I run out of one.

Jim says he has found out that Alexandrephoto: mini manhole stuffed with bunny Dumas' is to be unburied and reburied in the Panthéon on Saturday, 30. November. My magic 4000-year BC-AD calendar says this is 34 days off.

Take a mini-manhole without a lid, put a stuffed bunny in it - and you have?

Wherever Alexandre Dumas is now, he will be dug up and spend a Friday night at his 'folie' - the Château de Monte-Cristo, on the edge of Marly-le-Roi, before being hauled off to the Panthéon on Saturday, where he may remain forever - at last!

This just goes to show that in France it is possible to be very famous here for a very long time before getting planted in the place reserved for people everybody agrees is truly famous. To put it another way, there is no 'overnight' fame in France.
signature, regards, ric

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