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 tor - between all of them I usually get the quota.


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