Amok and Out of Time

photo: bistro 48, rue daguerre

Around where I live, when people 'go out for a minute,'
this is where you find them.

Typical Best Laid Plans

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 4. November 2002:- There I was last week, facing rotten weather that the camera couldn't make into any kind of silk purse - but still, things weren't too bad. I was full of pep and ideas for this issue.

A surprise score got me more about the 'Mois de la Photo' and a chance remark even put quite a bit of year-end program into my hands. For 'Au Bistro' there were even some stories that were crazy enough for it, and you.

However - I have no idea how - Halloween wrecked everything. The club report got done, mostly during Halloween - even with an aprés-club sortie to see Frank Watson's exhibit of photos. The 'report' went online about 02:00 on Friday, and then the roof fell in.

When I dialed up for my email, the mail-server said, 'empty.' Checking around on the Web only showed me that the company that had taken over Worldnet, had in turn been swallowed by another, bigger company. Anyway, it was Friday and the Toussaint holiday in France - so nobody was answering the phone.

It has happened before. If a server is going to drop dead or go spinning off its rails, it is going to do it early on a four-day weekend when nobody is minding the shop.

I looked at the good side of this. I need not expect to look at 50 or 60 emails - some of which wouldphoto: rue roger trap me into replies. I could quietly and calmly concentrate of doing a proper issue with all the trimmings plus bells and whistles.

The look of the Rue Roger before Thursday's overcast arrived.

Having the mail server wake up this morning - HA! at least 150 emails vaporized - you can send your serious ones again - has only resulted in a mess, on account of all the work-arounds that were invented during the weekend.

Photos from Allan Pangborn's Moonlight Sparkling Wine Cellar got routed by way of the server-lady Linda Thalman, and ended up here blown up to 4.3 megabytes - of pure machine code instead of colorful photos.

Scratch the 'Noël 2002' program column, put Xs through the 'Au Bistro' column's strange stories of life in France. Meanwhile, the email server is working - but it is tossing back a lot of emails, saying it'll 'keep on trying' for the next 48 years.

In cases like this there is only one thing to do. Go out and drink another café, and then try and get the weather forecast right.

Rain, Café and Lots of Soup

This week's vital weather update has a title so that you will not be at a loss if there are several rainy days in Paris, and you have decided to skip reading this because you are in the mood for skipping things. To put it succinctly, if the rain here bothers you, step into the nearest café for a café.

Before giving you the actual weather details, I think I can safely say, after four days of experience with this November of 2002 - that we are going to have a traditional November in Paris for a change.

This has not happened for several years now, so I expect all who have gotten a false impression of this season in Paris, to get ready to enjoy a month of gloom, chill, rain, soggy shoes, broken umbrellas and a record consumption of life-saving onion soup.

As usual I have two sets of the 'official word.' However this week they agree that France will be washedphoto: flags, arc de triomphe by waves of wet weather pretty continuously. Snapshots taken of Paris show it in a dry area between waves, but this only means the 'photos' were taken at times to fool me and you.

Add 30 minutes either way, and it's the deluge. So much for the humidity part. High temperatures will range from 14 to 12 and back to 14 while low temperatures will cruise in the six to nine range - all adding up to a typical November.

See France's Président here next Monday at 11:00.

We've all escaped this for several years, so because it is in fact really normal, we should pour into the streets, to gesture defiantly at the skies and shout, 'Yay November! We know you from the old days.'

On the bright side, if you really want to have the Louvre to yourself, just get to it at opening time on a really rotten Sunday when most other people have looked outside and decided to spend the whole day having breakfast.

Café Life

Fête des Morts

According to the witchdoctor I occasionally consult about these things, the 'Posters of the Week' are a favorite feature of the magazine, and the 'Morris column Poster of the Week' is a favorite of mine.

These might be found anywhere in Paris, but sometimes it isn't until Sunday that I will fill the week's quota of photos - and sometimes, only just barely. For this reason I like to have them 'in the bag' before Sunday.

I also like a even, flat light to do it with. Posters are where they are 'found,' and they don't always have an ideal angle, lightwise. Sometimes the reflections blot out the image, or there is too little or too much contrast.

Last Wednesday's light changed from being a bright autumn day to being a 'poster photo' day. I decided to do a little tour to get this wrapped up early.

Very close by, by the Avenue du Maine, there is an ideally situated Morris column - if it has the 'right' poster, it has room enough to shoot it, and it faces the light. From it I go down the avenue a bit, because there are usually other poster opportunities.

After checking the news kiosk's posters opposite Gaité, I cross over and go down this street of legitimate theatres, 'sex shops' and 'peep' shows. I might get a couple of 'Scene' posters here.

There's another kiosk at Edgar Quinet, but its light is never good. Going towards Raspail on Edgar Quinet there's nothing except maybe the marché and the cemetery entrance. Last Wednesday, there were a bunch of flower stalls outside the cemetery. I never noticed them before.

So I asked a young lady working one of the stalls why they were there. She said the 'Fête des Morts' had begunphoto: flowers, montparnasse cemetery the Saturday before. It lasts ten days, until after Toussaint. She said Parisians don't visit the dead often enough, but feel a bit more obliged because there is a 'fête' for it.

Flower sales outside the wall of the Montparnasse cemetery.

Regular flower shops also feel obliged to set up temporary stalls outside the cemeteries, because Parisians can be a bit absent- minded. I mean, even if you don't personally know anybody in the Montparnasse cemetery, if you are going to visit, for example, Serge Gainsbourg, it is only polite to toss a couple of posies on his marble slab.

The young lady could not talk for long because a steady trickle of fans of the dead were showing up to select flowers for their favorite departed. She did say she thought the idea had been borrowed from Halloween, but I thought it might be an idea imported from Mexico.

At Raspail, I found a poster hidden behind a bush, for the 'Mois de la Photo.' It had no information whatsoever on it. Further up Raspail there is a photo-supply shop specializing in underwater cameras and equipment, and I asked its keeper if he had a program for this major event.

He said, "Ha ha ha, non. Désolé!" I trolled further up Raspail to Denfert, but then switched west and had a café in a sad, forgotten café. Forgotten, it looked like, since the early '50s.

If I hadn't found enough poster photos after this tour, there remained the Place Denfert tour and the Alésia tour - between all of them I usually get the quota.

But some new posters will probably go up on Friday, and there are other posters that will only be seen on the Champs-Elysées. And all of the posters plastered all over the métro network are out of bounds. There are some good ones down there too.

While I write this, I hear the constant tweet of the 17:45 whistles of the minders in the cemetery, to chase out the fans of the dead before closing time.

Slightly less than 24 hours earlier, I was talking to the server lady on the phone when a marvelous sky full of a circus of action clouds suddenly cleared, leaving a huge rainbow rising up out of the far side of the cemetery and looping high above to arch over to the 13th.

I asked Madame Thalman to 'hold the phone' while I grabbed the camera, opened my windows and popped off three shots of it without the faintest idea of how to photograph a live rainbow. When I picked up the phone again, irritated steam was coming out of it.

An Abbreviated 'Au Bistro'

France's oldest rock star, Johnny Hallyday, was on TV-news the other night to promote his new album, which consists of two CDs with 23 new songs, composed by dozens of top songwriters. So far as I can tell Radio-FIP has managed to play none of them - but the station doesn't say what it's playing anyway.

Although Johnny is the 'oldest,' he is only 59. We have to wait until next spring when he will make a triumphal tour of Paris and the provinces to celebrate his 60th birthday, and his 62 years in the 'oldest French rock-and-roller' business.

On TV, Johnny did not look a lot older than 49 but he said he does some sports to keep in shape when he was asked about how he maintains his voice in singing condition.

This is important of course because Johnny only performs in big places, which require big voices. It is obviously an advance for mankind and Johnny's hundreds of thousands of faithful fans that amplifiers were invented in time to support his voice, which sounded a little bit garbly on my TV. This could have been due to it still be tuned to the Saint-Germain-en-Laye relay instead of the closer Tour Eiffel.

Café Metropoleô Survives a Cold Snap

The long-awaited 'Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc' sparkling wine is brought up again in this issue, following its official unveiling here two weeks ago. The wine went on sale 12 hours early, on Halloween, instead of waiting for its official date of Friday, 1. November. Stupendous sales figures are not yet available.

In order to keep abreast of this major 'first' for an Internet magazine - it's the only 'drinkable' one - be sure the read all about it in this issue, in the last issue, two issues ago, and tell all of your friends about it, if they happen to be drinkable Internet magazine fans.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Lightly hit this link to last week's 'A New 'Food of the Week' First' report, even if you are not interested in the club's only meeting ever held on Halloween, which I will admit, had no special effect on the meeting except for some peanut butter chocolates.

All the necessary details concerning the club - practically 100 percent zilch - 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 savephoto: tuileries you a short hyperlink trip to it, all you need to know is - show up at the clubhouse known worldwide as the Café La Corona on a Thursday.

More 'atmosphere' in the Tuileries before the rains came.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 7. November. The club's 'Saints' Day of the Week' next Thursday is Sainte-Carine. The equivalent meeting a year from now will also be the first in the club's existence, to be held on a Thursday in November 2003.

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

Anticipating the creation of a new page for 'Partners' of Metropole Paris, the 'affiliates' that have been listed here since before the Romans occupied Paris, have been chopped from this space. They are still reachable via the column on the left of the contents page, and their 'blurbs' will reappear on the 'Partners' page when it becomes available not long from now.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.45 - 5. Nov 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column, 'Crocodile Nigel's Biannual Visit.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'Who's Afraid of the Institut Pasteur?' This issue had no features. The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 8. November was called the 'Church of the Week' report on account of some event at the meeting. The week's 'Scene' column was headlined 'Malraux et la Modernité.' Thephoto: sign, avenue champs elysees week's new four 'Posters of the Week' were on show again and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, "Bonjour Manhattan."

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.45 - 6. Nov 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column headlined 'The 'Week of the Photo.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'France's Flying No Smoking Zone.' There was one feature, titled 'Jim Morrison Isn't Here.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 9. November, was called the 'Election of the Week' report. The 'Scene' column's headline was 'Holding Pattern' but to make up for it there was the additional 'Month of the Photo' Program.' The four brand new 'Posters of the Week' were viewable and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of 'Family Portrait.'

Seriously 'Real' Count-Down III

To return the regular program of semi-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 57.

As suggested here last week - having a count-down until John Motta receives his prize for having the best guess for the previous semi-serious count-down - well, this is overphoto: sign, napoleon 1810 too because he should have it by now. The exact status of this is unknown due to the long-weekend email strike. We could have a count-down for this too, but I say to hell with it.

The current 'count-down' has been suggested by reader and club member Jim Auman, who almost always sends in a timely new count-down subject when I run out of one, which is all the time, like this week.

Jim has said he has found out that Alexandre Dumas' is to be unburied someplace and reburied in the Panthéon on Saturday, 30. November. My magic 2018-year BC-AD calendar says this is 27 days off.

Wherever Alexandre Dumas is now, he will be ceremoniously dug up and spend a ceremonial 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 in ceremony for eternity - at long last!

This just goes to show that in France it is possible to be quite famous here for a very long time before getting planted in the place reserved for people everybody agrees is quite famous. Put another way, there is no 'overnight' fame in France. Johnny Hallyday's 'overnight fame' is in its 42nd or 43rd year now.
signature, regards, ric

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