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 beforehand through the French Web site Jazz Valley. This site has everything about jazz in Paris on it. "If you dig deep enough," Farris says.

Farris says he doesn't care for playing in smoky cellars – not anymore anyway – and his dream is to open up a smoke–free jazz club in Paris. Heather and the club's secretary fall over.

"I'm not saying 'no smoking' – just don't smoke for a couple of hours," Farris says. To pick up Heather's morale, I suggest there be a street–stand crêperie right outside the place – so the smokers will have something to do besides smoke while they're outside.

Farris likes everything about Paris except that he hasn't found out where to get eggnog yet. The club's secretary doesn't even know what it is.

Twenty minutes before 'time out,' Karla Adam arrives with Todd Montgomery. Although they have worked together 'for years,' it has been via email, and we are witnesses to almost their first 'face–to–face' meeting.

Karla has just come through the chunnel from London to this meeting. She is originally from Calgary in Alberta. Aha! It is the club's 'City of the Week.' Even if she moved from there to Vancouver and now lives in London, the UK, not Ontario.


Todd's hometown is Montréal and he has been to Paris several times in the past decade. We do not actually get around to discussing French as it is spoken in Montréal. Karla says French is a foreign language in Calgary.

As is usual at a club meeting, the secretary interrupts taking notes of what 'everybody' is saying because members are talking in pairs and it is impossible to follow three conversations at once – and a ray of sunshine is poking out from beneath the clouds to the left of the dome of the Institut de France across the Seine.

This has, at times, filled the café with wonderful winter light, and towards 17:00 the airphoto: dennis moyer outside is blue. Inside, there is no real 'Group Photo of the Week,' but many in the group exchange phone numbers and addresses.

At the end I find Patrick to hand him the money he left on the table and to say goodbye, without knowing yet that I will be bringing him a gift from a club member next week.

Dennis shows agog members how a tricky non-electronic toy operates without batteries.

Then I catch up with Heather, who needs to catch up with another club member she's staying with – so we take a looping roundabout route to an Irish pub instead of a crêperie, named The Cruiscin Lan – where the sad news about last week's 'iced' Guinness story is confirmed, although this place in Paris will not pour it.

On the way home, I go the extra métro bit to another Monoprix, to get some gloves I saw a couple of days ago, for 12 euros. I can't find them, so I settle for the nine–euro ones I do find that fit. Outside, I'm not sure it's cold enough to wear them.

The Coming Club Meetings

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 19. December, a week from today. The following two meetings are on days following holidays – Thursday 26. December and Thursday, 2. January.

If nobody intends to attend these meetings, please let the club's secretary know so he can arrange to not be present in 'good faith.'

The Saint's Day next Thursday is Urbain. This saint has no towns worth mentioning in France named after him. He was martyred early on, in 230. Urbain II was born at Châtillon–sur–Marne, and invented the first crusade. This second Urbain's fête is on 29. July, which it is called Sainte–Marthe on the calendar.

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

You can read the 'About the Café Metropole Club' page to learn how to become a member. If you read this 'report' about today's club meeting instead, all you need to know about how to become a member is to be here.

Ignore this 'About' page at your own risk – even though its information is next to nil. All you need know is that you can become a member of this online magazine's live, free and real club by simply being at a meeting. If this seems repetitious, reading it twice or more is harmless.

Endless Christmas Season Note Repeat

Major Paris department stores stay open on Sundays until 22. December, which is a Sunday. The Soldes d'Hiver start shortly after New Year, so they will be on in January 2003, and January 2004, and so on.

How, What, When, Where, Why Not, Who?

This club's meetings begin in Paris at 15:00 on Thursdays and continue until 17:00, in Europe's Central European Time Zone – which is 'CET' for short and not 'MITE' – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm in other worldwide areas, even though club meetings are only in Paris.

Come with your own new 'Quote of the Week' or propose your hometown as 'City of the Week' or invent any other 'Things of the Week.' New true 'firsts' will be welcome too, with 'first' being more necessary than 'true.' 'No–names' is an option you can also opt for if you prefer to be 'not found' on the Internet. 'No rules' is no longer an 'exception' and would not even be an exceptional 'rule' even if these had not ceased, which is what they've done.

What you have to say may be truly appreciated by the other members present, and there usually are some, and if they are listening which they do sometimes - and by all readers of this online magazine, if they read this – if it should happen to be written here, as some of it is occasionally.

The café's location is:

Café–Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny – or – 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre–Rivoli, Pont–Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday, from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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