Spotlight On a Bender

photo: cafe le fontaine

Though a bit chilly, many café terraces are heated.

Was Sunday's Sunlight

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 25. November 2002:- After a few rapid blasts of bright sunlight during last Thursday's club meeting, the sky returned to normal which has been a sort of flat grey, lying damply on top of Paris like a soggy blanket.

Watching weather forecasts closely, I was not prepared mentally or logistically for yesterday's complete change-up - to an all blue November sky with a low sun slashing through it like a movie première spotlight on a bender.

This turned out to be a surprise 'bonus' day, because the program has returned to normal this morning. Grey, grey, flat grey, without relief or contrast. Periodically, the visible top of the Tour Montparnasse is 20 floors lower than normal.

The news and weather folks at France-2 TV have settled their strike, without bothering to mention what it was about, why they started it or why they've returned to work. The companionphoto: hotel, sunday state station, France-3, is still on strike.

The settlement of whatever it was came in time for a series of days with weather warnings - mostly for the lower Rhône valley area. People living there were flooded twice within eight days.

Sunday had bonus sunlight for grey-fatiqued Parisians.

Tonight, France-2's Isabelle said November's rain has been three times more than normal - the worst in 50 years. I don't know if she meant for France as a whole, or just the southeast.

But the situation is 'normal' in the sense that France is getting its normal November storms from the west, and from the south at the same time. Where the two fronts bang into each other - between Lyon and Marseille - the collisions have been more violent than usual.

A helper's helper of Metropole has supplied the URL for Info Climat, a source of current and historical weather info. This is useful for finding out what 'normal' is supposed to be, but I didn't have the time to study it in depth.

Paris' weather history is based on the reports from the France-Météo weather station on the modest heights of Montsouris, about 1.5 kilometres from Metropole's editorial office.

For a 'normal' month of November we can expect 2.5 days of fog - do low clouds count? - storms on a third of a day, sleet on 0.2 of a day, and 1.4 days with snow. Of snow?

Normally there should by less than one millimetre of rain on 10.1 days, and between five and ten millimetres on 1.4 days. Average for the month is 57 millimetres. But get this - maximum rain recorded on one day was 38.7 millimetres, and this was on 20. November 1965.

The average temperature for the month is 7.7 degrees, and the record high was set on 8. November 1982 with 20.3 degrees. The record low happened on 15. November 1983, with 4.2 degrees below zero recorded.

Now that I have found all this out, I can say with confidence that the predicted weather for the next few days will be boringly normal, with highs ranging from nine to maybe 11 degrees. The lows are not drastic. It should be partly nice on Wednesday and maybe Thursday. Its not much to complain about - for November.

Changed Blues

Changing addresses has let press releases reach me only after they get re-routed from my old post office half a kilometre from my new post office, which is a five-minute walk from here.

So material for new events is arriving. Some of these are already listed in the 'Scene' column as 'coming events,' and others are complete surprises. I have about ten of these to add to the events column, but for this week 'Au Bistro' gets attention because of the strikes.

Café Life

Fast Lane Falldown

While doing the 'Metropole Two Years Ago' thing below, I couldn't help but notice that 30. November is the second anniversary of my taking an unscheduled flop on the hard surface of the Quai du Louvre, while on the way to that Thursday's Café Metropole Club meeting.

Doing this caused my right knee to become fractured. This led it its being encased in plaster for a month and trying out a three-iron as a walking stick, and in early 2001 the knee was treated to three months of re-education.

The only reason for remembering this, is sometimes when I am springing up stairs like an agile gazelle inphoto: cafe, rue lappe the métro it occurs to me to wonder when the trip-flop happened. For a long time after the incident, I felt the knee saying 'ouch' - but this has worn off so much that it has affected my memory.

This place had Beaujolais Nouveau but seemed to be nameless.

I am pretty sure I am the only reader of 'Metropole Two Years Ago.' I only read it because it - and 'Metropole One Year Ago' - the two of them have to be updated every week. Some people probably think my days are full of wine and roses, but the reality is having to re-live the past.

Well, there were some wine and roses in the old days too, and doing the two 'years agos' brings some of these back. But if I could, I would be doing 'Metropole Two Years From Now' too - just to save myself replying to your emails asking when the fireworks will be going off at the Tour Eiffel on New Years Eve.

Actually, nobody is asking me this question. People tend to ask the server-lady, Linda Thalman, and then she asks me. Readers ask me where they can have Christmas dinner in Paris or where to go on New Years Eve - since they aren't going to the Tour Eiffel - unless it is to one of its restaurants.

And this brings me back to 'Metropole One Year Ago' - or two, or three - because looking back at previous issues at a particular time of the year can give you an approximate idea about what will be going on in Paris this year.

There are no fireworks planned for New Years Eve at the Tour Eiffel this year, and there might not be any until the last hours of Tuesday, 31. December 2999.

But festive dinners are definitely planned by a wide variety of restaurants for Tuesday evening, 24. December, Wednesday lunch on the 25th, and for dinner on Tuesday, 31. December 2002.

In Case You Were Wondering

Last week was a poor one for Paris poster fans. There are weeks when the art directors of weekly magazines are off their feed, or my searches for likely candidates are not timed to coincide with the month's new issues of zippy and trendy magazines.

The city is turning out more posters for local affairs too. If these had respectable artistic qualities I would feature them - but less effort is made with these than the ones for cultural events.

This leaves the purely commercial posters. Except for rare exceptions, like last week's poster for 'Espress Yourself' by Lavazza, most purely advertising posters have the visual excitement of potatoes boiling. Not worth a glance let alone a second one.

As far as posters go, you can forget last week. If you didn't see them you didn't miss much.

Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Wine drinkers, even if they are fussy, usually have at least one little glass of this young wine, once. My problemphoto: grocery, tabac last Thursday on Beaujolais Nouveau day was not noticing anybody drinking it at the club - some members ordered the big pots - and emptied them without comment. I should have figured out there was a reason for the outbreak of dancing.

Many ordinary cafés and bars have their barrels on the bar, and in the café Rendez-vous, the bar crew was dressed for the occasion with straw boaters and black aprons, mostly with multicolored ribbons around their collars attached to various Beaujolais Nouveau accessories.

In a general way, the fête for this wine is a fête for all wine. As such it is a welcome reminder that there is an alternative to beer in cafés - which has its rare fêtes too.

It needs them. As far as I can tell, French beer is drunk much more than wine, but its quality is going downhill. The premium brand these days seems to be Leffe, and it seems to be the only one there is in most places - if they even have it. I am not sure standard beers are even French anymore.

While it is possible to get into discussions about wines, nobody is passionate about the beer they swill. Understand though, I am not referring to any of the many places specializing in beers - or in wines.

'About' Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

Allan Pangborn has been thinking for a good many years about how he would make his own champagne-type sparkling wine while making it for his employers' big wineries.

Without divulging any of his trade secrets, he explains how he goes about making Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc in this issue's installment of 'How To Get Rich On the Internet' by being able to drink an online magazine about Paris.

Basically, what he does, he does himself and does it by mostly hand. This is not really a way to get rich quick, but we don't care just so long as our wine is much better than all the other drinkable online magazines.

Café Metropole Club 'Updates'

Follow this link to last week's "Something Must Be Wrong!" club meeting report, even if you are not interested in helpful Parisians helping you to find yourself when you are unable to read a Paris map.

All the unnecessary details concerning the club - actually completely redundant - are available for youphoto: fiat 500 of the week on the 'About the Club' page. If you think you need the virtual membership card, you can attempt to hacksaw it right off the screen and imitate the secretary's virtual signature on it.

This week's Fiat 500 of the Week, comfortably parked in a loading zone.

Joining your own free club is also mentioned on the same page. To save you a short hyperlink trip to it, all you need to know is - be up at the café on the Quai du Louvre in Paris known worldwide as the Café La Corona on any Thursday.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 28. November. The official 'Saints' Day of the Week' next Thursday is Jacques de la Marché. It is called this because it is a week after Beaujolais Nouveau day, and is a perfectly normal Thursday for a change.

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

Anticipating the snail-like creation of a new page for 'Partners' of Metropole Paris, the 'affiliates' that have been listed here since before Paris' last 'Great Flood,' 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, I hope.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 6.48 - 26. Nov 2001 - This issue kicked off with the Café Metropole column's 'Search for High Heels.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'Cops On Strike.' Not this year though. This issue had one feature titled 'Is It True?' - Not a Jot of Difference.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 29. November was called the "A Lot of Gravity Here" report. The week's 'Scene' column changed its tune with 'A Week of No 'Last Chances.' The week's fourphoto: sign, livres, maunscrits, door decor new 'Posters of the Week' were on view once more and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, 'Bobbi Red Boots.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 5.48 - 27. Nov 2000 - Before this week's Café Metropole column mentioned 'Ed' Discovers 'Real Life,' there was a 'Newsflash' titled, 'Ed' Falls On Knee.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'Tourist Zone - Saint-Germain.' There were two features, titled 'A Paris Winter Picnic' and 'Photo Exhibit - Paris' Other 1900.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 30. November, was appropriately titled the 'Pratfall of the Week' report. The 'Scene' column's headline was 'A Smidgen of Christmas.' The four new 'Posters of the Week' were featured and Ric's Cartoon of the Week had the caption of "No Games!"

Will the 'Real' Count-Down Stand Up?

The number of days left to go until we get a new year, which will probably be 2003, is only 36. The nextphoto: sign, le 21 novembre, no banane fireworks are set off at the Tour Eiffel on New Years Eve will be about 997 years from now, so it is too soon to start the 'count-down' for it this week.

The actual 'count-down,' rashly suggested by reader and club member Jim Auman, is still active. Alexandre Dumas' is to be unburied someplace and reburied with pomp in the Panthéon on Saturday, 30. November. This is, luckily, only five days from now.

Wherever Alexandre Dumas was, is, or will be, he is commemorated by a wall plaque somewhere. The 'mysterious' fake plaques story mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, are still being newly 'discovered' by all sorts of other publications. Although first spotted some years ago, their 'new discovery' by a city council member of the UMP party, has not actually cleared up the 'mystery' of UMP's origins.

This just goes to show that not all 'urban legends' have their planned effect. The plaques were supposed to remind you that RPR+UDF+DL=UMP, with 'P' standing for 'Populaire.' I decline to blame anyone if for failing to remember this.
signature, regards, ric

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