Not Short, Not Snappy

photo: cafe le naguere

This café closes at 20:00 sharp, like a ship suddenly torpedoed.

'Café Life' Is Like a Long River

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 18. November 2002:- My regular TV-weather news took a drastic turn for the worse tonight when France-2 TV failed to broadcast any news, and substituted their regular program of political bushwah, catastrophe, war, famine, shipwreck - there have been a lot of these lately - and tributes to Johnny Hallyday, with a dubbed US-made police special task force TV-episode of a hostage per week situation.

So I had to watch the guy on the other channel, and watch the other channel's weather at the end of the news, which had its share of shipwrecks too.

Short and snappy, just like on TV, here it is. Tomorrow will be grey, overcast and a bit chilly in Paris. Same thing for Wednesday, with rain threatening, but a couple of degrees warmer. Ditto Thursday, with the announced rain. We are having the mother of Novembers.

'Au Bistro' Blues

I had five photos ready to go and two major stories. They are, fortunately, now written and 'Au Bistro' is online at long last. Evenphoto: cemetery montparnasse, vavin I was beginning to miss this news column - partly because things are getting wacky in France again - so I did it on my 'day off' and you'll find it in its usual place, right after this column.

My new view, with a moment of afternoon contrasts.

You will also have to be content with re-runs of the 'Scene,' 'Noël 2002' and 'Mois de la Photo' columns. Hey! Did I do all these? What makes me think I can update them all every week? Wretched excess, only wretched excess.

Not exactly as always, my excuses. Or as the French say, 'Pardon!'

Café Life

My 'Exceptional' Landlord

When Wednesday started out, all I had on my mind was emptying boxes. I am playing a long game of musical boxes and I'm not sure I'm winning.

In order to get all the boxes out of the bedroom so the new bed would fit in it on Thursday, I had to empty boxes in the living room so I could put the bedroom's boxes in there, so when the delivery bedmen came they would have some place to put the bed.

After its installation, then I could put stuff I'd taken out of boxes under it. Plus, there's some other stuff that won't fit anyplace else. For example, I have a life-ring from Hamburg that doesn't fit into anything. I cleaned it up and left it in the bathtub - where it kind of looks okay. It wouldn't be much help hidden under the bed.

I also found a mirror and I put it in the bathroom too after cleaning it for 30 minutes. It's not quite high up enough. I can see from my belt buckle to my knees in it.

I was so busy doing this I almost didn't hear my landlord knock on the door. When I finally got to it and opened it, he was looking a bit worried. He didn't know the door buzzer in my last apartment didn't work either. On the way in I pointed out that the buzzer isn't attached to anything that buzzes or rings.

He said that I am supposed to have a key for a mailbox downstairs. The building's management - some offshore company in Panama - has said getting me a key might require changing the mailbox's lock, and this, um, is pretty tricky to do without having at least one committee meeting.

The real reason is if I get a new key - meaning new lock - then all the other tenants without one will want one too. The other missing key fits some mystery door that allows an entry for bicycles into the courtyard, where there is a shelter for them.

I went through the garbage room to park my bike out there. As far as I am concerned, the mystery door is a myth. I have looked for it on the street around the corner and I haven't seen anything that even faintly looked like a door belonging to my building.

My landlord said he will try and get me a key because pushing a bike through the garbage room isphoto: samaritaine window yukky. I agreed with him. It is even yukky to go in there and put garbage in the bins. On Wednesday I had already put 48 kilos of paper into the one for papers, cardboard and empty orange juice bricks.

All Paris department stores have their windows decorated, but I haven't photos of them all.

Next on the agenda was the TV antenna. Up above what must be the eighth or ninth floor, there is a beautifully high antenna - with a 'tabac' sign attached - to catch hertzian TV and FM radio transmitted from the Tour Eiffel. I should get 101 percent reception.

I checked it on the map. From my front window, the Tour Eiffel is just to the left of the Tour Montparnasse. It must be on an eyesight line. I wonder why I can't see it. Maybe it has shrunk. When the fog lifts in February I will try to see it with binoculars, even though they do not get radio reception.

About the antenna that's built in - France Télécom came along and put in their cable. My landlord, in a fit of enthusiasm for 'Noos,' switched the apartment's hertzian antenna off and wired up to the cable - with the result that my reception is less than 50 percent perfect.

While the landlord was showing me the antenna or cable box in the garbage chute room that he 'fixed,' the next door neighbor left his apartment, and they had a big, friendly reunion.

When asked, my neighbor said he gets worse TV reception than me. He gets none at all. He was annoyed. Nobody took me seriously when I suggested getting a little 'balcony' antenna. This ought to work because our front windows are in-line-of-sight with the Tour Eiffel.

But the landlord said he will try and get the building's management company in Panama to allow us access to the building's rooftop antenna. He says they aren't very responsive though. This was all very friendly - I'd already told him I don't mind squatting in an unattributed mailbox without a key.

Like not having a door buzzer, I didn't use my last apartment's mailbox key either. Who would steal my mail? For what? The France Télécom bills? This reminded me to put a sign on the door for the coming bedmen - 'Frappez fort, SVP.'

I showed the landlord how I am going to install a bar in the wardrobe so I can hang clothes in it. He said he took out the one that was in it, just like he dismantled the bookshelves in the living room, that covered the whole back wall, floor to ceiling.

He stood in the living room and admired the view of the sky and the cemetery. He said the view is the same as when he lived here for 20 years. I believe it. Nobody moves cemeteries in Paris anymore and the sky is almost always moving.

He made a list of all the things to fix. Some will get fixed and some will remain good intentions. I've talked to other people and none of them have ever heardphoto: fiat 500 of the week of a landlord who would even make a list.

Then he remembered that he had one spare invitation to Wednesday evening's vernissage of the 'Paris Photo' salon and offered it to me. He gave me name of the guy who handles press stuff for the MEP too.

Say you missed the 'Fiat 500 of the Week.' Say this one isn't the best one around.

After he left for his next rendez-vous, I emptied another dozen boxes, threw big and small books and software boxes on shelves, and cleaned all the hifi speakers and the big TV that is not even plugged in, and found yet another box full of big books. I was getting there - I could see the floor in spots.

I taped about 20 flattened moving boxes tidily together and put them out on the sidewalk. When I left to go to the vernissage they were gone. Somebody else is moving.

In Case You Were Wondering

Thursday was the day of the bedmen and I got up very early for it and phoned to find out when they were expected to come. This narrowed the five-hour delivery 'window' down to a two-hour slot of time.

Having nothing better to do, I continued the musical boxes routine of the day before. I have oversized containers full of drawings and graphics, and these had to be moved out of the way. The floor in the living room disappeared again.

The last thing I did was wash the bedroom floor. It had just dried when the bedmen knocked on the door, loudly. They brought the bed parts in, stripped off the packing material, plunked the bed in place on its supports, gathered up their junk and my old and wrecked narrow mattresses and disappeared - all within about five minutes.

Then I could see that the plan I had made for this was correct. The bed does fit in. With some difficulty I slid the oversized containers full of drawings and graphics under it.

But the bureau with drawers is too big. I'll have to move it to where there's a little more space. Doing this won't make much. I see that I have a real 'bedroom.' There isn't much else in it - it is more like a 'roombed.' You know - a bit like having a tiny garage crammed full with a big Citroën.

Everything except the bed is too big, except the room which is kind of small. I don't care. It's a huge improvement over sleeping on two narrow worn-out mattresses lying on the floor. It puts the ceiling closer and it is easier to see the sky through the window, lying on my back, looking straight up.

I did this for four minutes, wondering how curtains could be attached. 'If' there should be any.

Café Metropoleô Vocabulary

The 'Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc' sparkling wine is brought up again in this issue, with the latest news, which is not much, but with a champagne vocabulary supplied by winemaker Allan Pangborn.

To drink this magazine it is not necessary to learn the vocabulary. But if you want to impress your friends and annoy your enemies, you will be able to tell them what words like 'riddling' mean.

It is a small vocabulary. If your friends are uninterested - forget your enemies! - your parrot might be able to learn all of it in a half hour. Even your enemies would be confounded with your wine-knowledgeable parrot, especially if it got on a TV-talk show.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Follow this link to last week's "Best Crêpe Stand in France" club meeting report, even if you are not interested in Parisian street eats. Or as 'Nova' might put it - 'Sidewalk Fooding.'

All the necessary details concerning the club - actually completely unnecessary - are available for inspection on the 'About the Club' page. If you think you need one, you can hacksaw the virtual membership card right off the screen and imitate the secretary's virtual signature on it. You'll find a sample of this at the bottom of the page.

Joining this club - your own free club after all! - is also mentioned on the same page. To save you a shortphoto: tour montparnasse hyperlink trip to it, all you need to know is - be 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, 21. November. The official 'Saints' Day of the Week' next Thursday is Présentation de Marie. It is called this because it is really Beaujolais Nouveau day worldwide, in all time zones.

Here it is - an ultra-rare view of the Tour Montparnasse. Ultra-rare for Metropole.

New readers of 'Metropole Paris' can save its URL as one of your favorite bookmarks to avoid mistyping its overly-long 'URL' name of www.metropoleparis.com every time you have an urge to read a club report, or a regular edition like this one.

Metropole's Affiliates

Still 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 of the contents page, and their 'blurbs' will reappear on the 'Partners' page when it becomes available not long from now, I think.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.47 - 19. Nov 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column, 'It's Crummy Weather Season.' The 'Au Bistro' column missed the rendez-vous for this issue. This issue had one feature titled, 'More 'Café Life,' Part 89 - The Buffalo Grass Birthday Party.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 22. November was called the 'The 'Two Astonishing 'Firsts' report because they were astonishing. The week's 'Scene' column was headlined 'Circus! Circus! Tango!photo: sign, rue roger Horses! Seawater!' The week's four brand-new 'Posters of the Week' were on view as usual. Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, "You Drive Like..."

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago - Again

Issue 5.46/7 - 13-20. Nov 2000 - This week's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Ed' Does a Bunk.' It was possibly true. The 'Au Bistro' column posed the eternal question, 'Where's the Beef?' without an answer. 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 not in Europe. 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. Two 'beefs' in other words. 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 again, 'Are You Blind?'

Monte-Cristo Type 'Real' Count-Down

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 only a measely 43. There will be no fireworks set off at the Tour Eiffel this year. Until the next time this happens, you will have to wait about 997 years.

The current 'count-down,' suggested by reader and club member Jim Auman, is still active. Jim has said he has foundphoto: sign, glitzer boule out that Alexandre Dumas' is to be unburied someplace and reburied with pomp in the Panthéon on Saturday, 30. November. This is 12 days from now.

Wherever Alexandre Dumas is or will be, he is commemorated by a wall plaque somewhere. The 'mysterious' fake plaques story mentioned here last week, as having been newly discovered by an UMP member of the opposition in Paris Hôtel de Ville council, was picked up later in the week by the AP to be passed on to the world, with all the same mistakes as the original story in Le Parisien.

This just goes to show that 'urban legends' can originate in Paris without any assistance from me, and any attempts I make to smother them are doomed to failure. It also means that Paris is probably more magical than its own reality, and this is the way everybody wants it.
signature, regards, ric

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