Dennis' Toy Show

photo: quai du louvre, winter In winter Paris has the blues, and bits of gold.

And Swing Club

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 12. December 2002:– The weather has been so rottenly crummy lately that I take great pleasure in announcing that it will be slightly less rotten and slightly less crummy in the near future.

First off, the temperatures are going to be a lot warmer, leaping up to giddy highs of ten before settling back to eight by the weekend. This high will be three times higher than last weekend, which I calculate is a 300 percent improvement.

On the front front, there will be some uncertainty due to the chaotic nature of these with Saturday's northern brightness giving way to confusion from west followed by a revenge of deeper depression from the northwest. Sunday looks like it might be a good day to spend all of it at the movies.

Be aware that France's winter–sports holidays begin in ten days. I have never witnessed these first–hand myself, but news reports about them are not reassuring. First the media pumps up the joys of high altitude mountains and then warns everybody that they can be dangerous.

Long-term weather watchers always like to say it is 'about average,' but it seems to me that these 'averages' have been getting stretched to their extreme limits, especially since about October.

This has meant lots of snow in the mountains, but in lower areas it has also meant lots of localized flooding. A repeat of Paris' 1910 'flood of the century' is also predicted, sometimephoto: package from terri blazek between today and 2010. Both Montmartre and Montparnasse are expected to be spared the rigors of this coming trial, so don't put off any visits planned for the next several years.

Today's surprise 'traction' 'Package of the Week.'

For the first time, morning fog has disappeared the Tour Montparnasse from view. Normally it is only about 500 metres away from Metropole's office and weather look–out, but until leaving for the club meeting it is not there. I have a photo of 'nothing there' to prove it too.

When I emerge from the métro on Rivoli most of the rest of Paris seems to be in place as usual. Except that the 'art squat' on Rivoli is exceptionally closed today.

On arriving at the club's café La Corona I am greeted from its tabac section by its dealer lady, who has a huge package for me – the secretary – the club, but not in this order. The club's name is first. Underneath its total wrapping of cello-something, it appears to be a shoebox, with the word 'Traction' on it.

Could it contain a whole Citroën automobile? The famous gangster–wagon? The package is from member Terri Blazek, who joined the club on 17. January of this year.

After blowtorching away its protective wrapper, I find it full of gifts for the server–lady Linda Thalman, for Patrick, today's 'Waiter of the Week,' and several for 'Ric.'

There is nothing for the club's secretary. Oh wow! I will have to add a red hat to go with the secretary'sphoto: farris smith red scarf and distribute all of this, by sliding down some twisty Paris chimneys on Tuesday, 24. December. I'll get the club's secretary to do it. Thank you, member 327!

As chance has it, the club's one and only member number one, Heather Stimmler–Hall, is waiting for the secretary in the café's 'grande salle.' Heather is drinking a soup–bowl of café.

San Francisco jazzman Farris Smith takes off his coat and joins the club.

She asks 'Ric' about how his moving in to his new apartment is going. This has been progressing for two whole months now – as in, 'little teeny steps for mankind.' Heather says house fires are wonderful for reducing the time it takes to move into new places.

'Ric' sees this two ways. For each bit of sentimental trash needing to be thrown out, a new bit of sentimental trash has to be acquired. This week's trophies – two light bulbs and a soap dish. At this rate the club secretary's boss will be 'moved in' sometime around 2007.

Heather is in town doing research for her Paris guide book. She has been at the Ile–de–France place in the Carrousel du Louvre, trying to find out where their 'best Christmas marchés' are. Heather is in a snit because they won't say which are best. She isn't in the mood to drive 570 kilometres to see all of them to find out. A guide–writer's life is not easy.

Heather has also found out her family originated in Alsace – in Wilwisheim. I note this name in case it needs to be the 'City of the Week.'

Farris Smith joins the club. Farris is natty because he is a San Francisco jazz musician – a member of union local number six – who knows a lot of jazz musicians in Paris.

By 'natty' I mean that Farris is not only wearing a tie, but it matches. Other club members wear tiesphoto: heather, farris and dennis sometimes too, and one of them is even from near San Francisco. The club's secretary has four ties, but he knows that none of them are 'natty.' He lost the suits they once matched.

Heather hears jazz and toy stories at same time.

Dennis of the Moyer–Moyer clan which is not actually related, shows up for his semi–annual 'traditional shopping' visit. This is the one where he shows off all the toys he's gotten for his 24–year–old nieces, because he likes to play with them.

A good look around Paris will reveal new toys most people thought disappeared in 1939. What Dennis finds are not antiques or replicas, they are the real thing – and brand-new. Farris and the secretary haven't seen anything like these since – maybe 1949 – but Heather is lucky because she sees them for the first time.

Dennis and Farris both know some of the same San Francisco musicians. Farris has been sitting in on some sessions in Paris, that he organized beforehad through the French Web site Jazz Valley. This site has everything about jazz in Paris on it. "If you dig deep enough," Farris says.

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