Bon Anniversaire Dimitri!

photo: cafe la charrette

If you have rain the face you can step out of it by
stepping in here.

Muck Soup - True or False?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 11. November 2002:- This morning's weather has defied my most recent predictions by being nearly very nice for the 11:00 ceremony at the Etoile, sparing the Président - who never wears a hat - the need for an umbrella.

This has been a rare and pleasant intermission between waves of whole oceans-worth of stormy skies from the Atlantic. According to last night's TV-weather news - for which France-2 used a substitute weather-guy - the Atlantic's November treats will be back for the rest of the week, including next weekend.

It won't be terribly cold though, unless you are above 2000 metres in the Alps, where it might bephoto: rain denfert snowing. The highest ski stations opened a few weeks ago. I presume some Parisians went to them during the Toussaint thing - just to make sure they wouldn't need to worry about 'green-skiing' at Christmas.

One of Paris' playgrounds for ducks.

Tonight's weather forecast is not nearly as pessimistic as last night's, but doesn't extend beyond Friday so it isn't overly optimistic either. I wish they hadn't changed it - it was easier to remember that skies were solidly covered by somber clouds from Wednesday to Sunday, rather than just on Thursday.

Café Life

Fête d'Dimitri

This sprung up quite suddenly, possibly because Dimitri is in the dumps these days. Without my knowing the details, I accidently learned that Dimitri should have a birthday party for a change this year, and he should make blinis for it.

This might have been Dennis' idea because Dimitri had said he hadn't made any blinis for the past seven years. Presumably making some is something one might tend to do during a low period, but this wasn't explained clearly to me.

On a dark and stormy night - ah, it was dark and wet, but not really stormy - last Tuesday, we Daguerreotypes gathered at Dennis' near-penthouse apartment nearby, up five full floors of highly polished wooden stairs. What goes up easily - at least to the third floor - better be careful coming down.

For this fête the dinning table seemed even more overloaded than for past occasions. A lot of pure French goodies were augmented by reasonable facsimiles of Imperial Russian treats, over and above the vodka with the buffalo grass in it and the various standby vodkas.

What it all was exactly was a bit hard to say, because tradition also dictated that illumination was low - sort like a midnight dinner at the Kremlin but without the roaring fireplace, and without Uncle Joe of course.

I found Dimitri in the minuscule kitchen using a crêpes platter to make little blinis. He said he has been doing it all day, but he meant it had taken all day to make the batter with its two different kinds of flour and the whole juggle-act with the eggs, and I don't remember the rest.

It was not easy to serve ten people hot blinis in the near dark. It was not easy to put the right stuff onphoto: sparklers dimitris birthday them either because whatever it was, was hard to see, and nobody knew what it was. I remember big pickles and rollmops, but these didn't go on the blinis. I had all sorts of stuff on my blinis and I still don't know if it was kosher of not.

Hand-held, sparker-light photo of the fête.

After the first 90-minute rush of it all, the guests shoved back a bit and commenced with the birthday business. Unpracticed as he was, Dimitri handled this with reserve and admirable grace - considering how much vodka and wine was getting consumed.

Tante Line, who is our personal expert for lore of the 14th, France, and every broken-down and impoverished third world country in the world, decided to sing real two French versions of 'happy birthday.'

She did this with a strong and musical voice, in the style of 'from the barricades.' Here are the first stanzas of both:-

"Bon anniversaire,
Nos voeux les plus sincères
Que ces quelques fleurs
Vous apportent le bonheur
Que l'année entière
Vous soit douce et légère
Que l'an fini nous soyons réunis "

Chorus -
"Bon Anniversaire
Bon Anniversaire
Bon Anniversaire
Bon Anniversaire!"

And, number two -
"En ce joyeux anniversaire
Nous te disons notre amitié
Si tu n'étais sur cette terre
Le monde serait inentier
Nous te disons notre amitié"

We applauded this unexpectedly hearty performance heartily, and then several kilos of cheese was served. Some of it was so runny everybody looked for spoons, but there never are any because soup and café are never part of these fêtes.

Ambiance music was provided by a French group called something like the 'shipwrecked of the future.' They only play old acoustical instruments and their songs all sound like they might have been popular in the '20s and '30s, when ordinary folks did a lot of dancing because it was cheap fun.

At one point I turned my back and when I turned around everybody magically had a lit sparkler in hand. Some had one in each. This provided nearly enough light for the evening's only photos, so I took a chance on it.

Around midnight we all, except Dennis, got down the stairs by being slow and careful. I haven't seen Dennis since then. I wonder if he ate all the pickles and cheeses. I'm pretty sure all the rollmops got slurped up.

Note:- Besides singing and cooking, Tante Line also paints and some of her seascapes are on view from Friday, 15 November until Wednesday, 11. December at the restaurant 'Vin des Rues.' The vernissage is set for Thursday, 28. November, at 18:30. At 21. Rue Boulard, Paris 14. Métro: Denfert-Rochereau.

She writes a PS - "If you get seasick, you can also navigate by some of my paintings at the Restaurant 38, 38. Avenue de Suffren, Paris 15. 'Jusqu'au 31 décembre,'" in O-ton. Métro: Dupleix.

Odd Monday

Besides goodly blue skies, this has been an odd Monday. Most of the neighborhood shops are closed, as usual. But I when I try to have my eye-opening café at Le Bouquet, I find it closed. 'Hmm,' I wonder, worrying, 'maybe somebody died.'

Going up Daguerre to my new café number two - Le Naguère - I notice other shopsphoto: saint germain usually open on Monday, are closed too. Luckily my new paper shop is open and it has Le Parisien. Its headline says, 'Hommage aux 68 derniers poilus' - which is a reference to the remaining French survivors of WWI.

So, it is 11. November today and it is 'Remembrance Day' in France and many other places throughout the world. Obviously, if it had been raining buckets like usual, I might have remembered.

It was long ago in Saint-Germain, possibly last Thursday.

So it was also perfect weather for Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë to make his comeback in public, a week earlier than expected - after having recovered from the attack in the Hôtel de Ville during the 'Nuit Blanche.'

Café Metropoleô Survives Roadworks

The 'Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc' sparkling wine is brought up again in this issue, with the latest news about the road repairs that will allow its speedy shipments to fancy wine fanciers. Also be sure to read about how the wine survived its first serious test on Saturday night. No prizes yet, but these are early days.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Pop this link to last week's "Eeek!" She Said' report, even if you are not interested in the club's only meeting ever held exactly one week after Halloween, which I will admit, had no special effect on the meeting whatsoever.

All the necessary details concerning the club - actually 100 percent nullundvoid - are available on the 'About the Club' page. If you think you need one, you can chisel the virtual membership card right off the screen and forge the secretary's virtual signature on it.

Joining this club - your own free club after all! - is also mentioned on the same page. To save you aphoto: my window, monday short hyperlink trip to it, all you need to know is - show up at the café in Paris known worldwide as the Café La Corona on any Thursday.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 14. November. The club's 'Saints' Day of the Week' next Thursday is Saint-Sidoine. My 'saints book' actually lists names of places in France named after saints, but doesn't say who they are or how they became that way.

First-time readers of 'Metropole Paris' can save its URL as one of your 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 Notre-Dame was built, have been moved out of this space. They are still reachable via the column on the left on the contents page, and their 'blurbs' will reappear on the 'Partners' page when it becomes available not long from now, which will be in less time than it was last week.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.46 - 12. Nov 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column, 'The Buffalo Grass Rip-Off.' The 'Au Bistro' column was replaced by one feature titled 'Underground' Rises to Surface In Paris - More Freakin' Freaks.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 15. November was called the 'Beaujolais Nouveau Day of the Year' report even though it was a week off. The week's 'Scene' column wasphoto: sign, hotel sign headlined 'With the Year's Final Events Again.' The week's new four 'Posters of the Week' were on view as usual and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, "HEY MAN!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.46/7 - 13. Nov 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Ed' Does a Bunk.' Wasn't possibly true. The 'Au Bistro' column posed the eternal question, 'Where's the Beef?' There were two features, titled 'The Prince of Montparnasse' and 'Two Photo Exhibits.' There was an eMail feature with Paul Babbit writing about an election somewhere. The Café Metropole Club updates for this double issue were on 16. November, for the 'Meat of the Week' report, and on 23. November for the 'Vachement Cool' report. The 'Scene' column's headline was 'Besides Photos, Other Stuff.' The four brand new 'Posters of the Week' were featured and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had a caption asking, 'Are You Blind?'

Monte-Cristo Type 'Real' Count-Down

On Tuesday, 31. December there will be no fireworks set off at the Tour Eiffel, so this isn't what the 'count-down' is about. 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 50. Until the next New Years Eve fireworks it is about 997 years.

Since John Motta has now received his prize 'M'-cap, there is no longer any reason for this being a 'count-down' unless you see him buzzing around in his new Corvette with the top down and his new lid on.

The current 'count-down,' suggested by reader and club member Jim Auman, is still active. Jimphoto: sign, cette plaque is phoney has said he has found out that Alexandre Dumas' is to be unburied someplace and reburied in the Panthéon on Saturday, 30. November. This is 20 days off.

Wherever Alexandre Dumas is, he is commemorated by a wall plaque somewhere. It has just come to the notice of the minority UMP party in the Hôtel de Ville that there are some wise guys around who are putting up illegal signs - 'plaques sauvages' - that commemorate nothing but good humor. But doing so without permission, is not supposed to be funny.

This just goes to show that in Paris it is possible to be quite unknown and yet by honored by a commemorative plaque, like the mysterious Karima Bentiffa, a 'civil servant who lived in this house from 1984 to 1989.' This is posted on houses in both the Rue Saint-Sauveur and the Rue Perignon. Our plaque here, photographed in the Rue Boulard, can also be seen in the Rue Charlemagne.
signature, regards, ric

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