Amsterdam, Oh, Amsterdam!

photo: group, joe fitzgerald, petrie abberman, don smith

Joe, Petrie and Don find winter sun on the Corona's terrace..

'City of the Week' & 'First'

Paris:- Thursday, 19. December 2002:- The sky over the city has interrupted its about-to-be endless gloom with a surprise day of bonus sunshine and clear air all the way up to where it turns blue, to where the blackness of outer space is prevented from being daylight by our own sun's force which has randomly chosen blue for daylight's color. Thank your stars it wasn't green.

This means that heat is escaping - the breeze is a reminder that winter's official start is only 48 hours off - but it is a 'bonus' day and best not frittered away.

Because, the regular program - the ugly one that has been playing for about a week - returns tomorrow right after the moon finishes being full.

But not before tonight's full moon projects a blue-hued Euclidean skewed parallelogram that evolves into a trapezoid and back into a skewed parallelogram across my bed tonight between 00:34 and 02:18. It will be better than TV, but with very silent music direct from outer space.

After this, the moon will keep up its antics, but to see them you'll have to be flying above the clouds over Paris at about 10,000 metres - and, at the right time, sitting on the left side of the plane, of course.

After this, endless waves of clouds from the west, with maybe a bit of rain - but temperatures a 'bit warmer for the time of year' as the weather people are so fond of saying, without coming right out with how much 'better.'

So, therefore, and-so-on, I walk to the club's meeting today, almost along Paris' meridian line, straight north - past the Closerie des Lilas, into the top finger of the Luxembourg and through the garden itself, past the Senat's palace and under the arcade of the Odéonphoto: luxembourg garden theatre and down the rue after it and across the Boulevard Saint-Germain, and twist into the Rue Mazarine and follow it to the Institut and through the arch and come out in the sunshine again on the Pont des Arts.

The route through the Luxembourg to today's club meeting.

And none of this do I do so fast as to become breathless. Not a solitary soul is sitting out on the café La Corona's sunlit terraces. Not many unsolitary souls are inside either. I find last week's 'Waiter of the Week,' Patrick, and pass on Terri Blazek's Christmas gift to him.

Terri sent a 'care-for-the-club' package to the café last week so I could play Santa this week with its contents. It is not easy to astonish a Paris waiter as experienced as Patrick, but his gift does the trick.

The sun outside is very low in the sky, so it is beaming the dickens out of the café's 'grande salle' and the club's place within it. But it is rare, so it is welcome.

After putting in the meeting's name, rank and serial number - this club has 'serial' meetings in case you haven't noticed - today's edition of Le Parisien takes up my attention.

The Minister of the Interior, 'Speedy' Nicolas Sarkozy, is promising a miserable future for all excessive speeders and red-light runners. This is, if his trusty deputies can nail the evildoers, but the paper doesn't say this.

Before I can see if this is buried in the body text somewhere, Petrie Abberman from Amsterdam arrives. She would rather have sun on her face because Amsterdam is even gloomier than Paris, so she chooses to sit on the secretary's side of the club's table.

I explain the member's booklet to Petrie, and she immediately writes, "Quitter un pays morose pour Paris! Paris joli!" She adds that this is from Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky, who was called Apollinaire for short rather than Willy.

Petrie tells me she is a 'philosophy teacher' who is seriously thinking of switching to singing philosophic songs. This will, I think, put a serious dent in the wordless techno music business.

She also tells me about Amsterdam and its few fine seasons and I believe every word of it because I have been there in at least three of its not so fine seasons - including the disastrous New Years Eve thickly coated with black ice.

Just as Joe Fitzgerald and Don Smith arrive, Petrie tells me the Dutch solution for terminal fall-downitis on black ice - and this is to wear socks outside the shoes. I want to know if Amsterdamers are in the habit of carrying spare sets of oversize socks around in the winter.

Petrie says, "No." 'So much for the clever Dutch,' I think, 'they have to take off the socks they're wearing and put them over their shoes.'

Joe wonders if anybody makes socks big enough to put over car tires. In case anybody readingphoto: ms malou this thinks this subject is silly - in Europe back ice can strike at any time and it can be very tricky if not impossible to walk on - unless you are walking around Sicily.

Today's new, associate, member 'Malou.'

Petrie supplies a remedy for this horrible possibility - not the 'walking around Sicily' part - but by predicting warmer weather for Paris. Yes. Well. Hmm. Black ice seldom happens when it is ten whole degrees above zero.

Just so we 'get it,' she adds that, "Amsterdam may be damp in February, but Venice is worse." Joe agrees with this, but adds that it is difficult to get lost in Venice.

"I get lost there all the time," Petrie says. Then she draws a map of Holland in the reports' booklet, showing the relative locations of Amsterdam, Apeldoorn - no, Amersfoort - and the Waddenzee off the coast of Freisland.

Which leads, of course, to a discussion of how the Dutch handle Mardi Gras. Basically, they don't, but Petrie offers the interesting tidbit that Mardi Gras is an outgrowth of the 'donkey party.'

Don tells us his mission in life while he is in Paris is combining travel photos with food photos by, for example, taking a photo of a chocolate dessert before eating it. He says he 'finds' a lot of stuff like this. 'Finds' it on his plate.

Then, about 16:00, a new member joins the club. This one invokes the 'no-names' clause of the rules that no longer exist except for this clause, and becomes no-name member number 437, while the accompanying dog - Malou - becomes an associate member.

After telling us about her desire to become the 'first singing philosopher,' Petrie explains how to attend a Sunday philosophy meeting at the Café Phare at Bastille. She says all philosophic keywords are Greek or Latin, so except for the French words in between, anybody can easily understand philosophy in public in Paris, especially after a couple of pastis cocktails for eye-openers.

This calls for the club's first snap poll, which is this week's first true 'first.' While everybody is feeling philosophic or lost in Venice or has socks over their shoes, the secretary wants to know which newspapers are read by the members present. For philosophical content there are:-

Petrie - Libération
Joe - Le Monde
Don - Google News
No-name member no. 437 - online New York Times, online International Herald Tribune, and the real IHT

Exclusive Café Metropole Club poll results © Metropole Paris

Then this very same bona-fide member begins looking for a watch on a wrist a very long way fromphoto: cafe, glass, perrier the top of a glove reaching somewhat past an elbow. Just when I am beginning to think it may be on the other arm, it is found, and our new member declares that it is 'time to go to work.'

The meeting drifts on for a while after the departure of the new member with no-name, with Don telling us where to find Paris' 'best baguette,' and Joe telling us where to find his 'best Paris baguette.'

Today's 'Drinks of the Week' were few and unexceptionally boring.

Outside, on the Quai du Louvre the time of the evening's 'crépuscule' has passed, and the curb-to-curb street full of cars, fire trucks, trucks, buses, motorcycles, ambulances and taxis sound like their drivers are pretty annoyed about it.

The Coming Club Meetings

To put this into perfectly clear English - the next two meetings are on days following holidays - Thursday 26. December and Thursday, 2. January - and the club's secretary would prefer that these be holidays for himself.

But if there is anybody who has no other chance to attend a club meeting in Paris, let the club's secretary know and he will host either or both of the meetings as usual, while choosing a likely date in 2007 for having his own holiday at last.

As a matter of general interest, the Saint's Day next Thursday is Etienne. The following Thursday's Saint's Day is Basile, and will coincide with 'only 363 days left' in 2003.

Metropole's Holiday Issues

It more than likely that the issues 7.51 and 7.52 will be combined next Monday, 23. December. The following issue 8.01 straddles 2002 and 2003, but for unrelated reasons it may simply appear as an update to the double issue 7.51/7.52, thus making it Metropole's first three-issues-in-one in history.

The first 'complete' issue of 2003 will be number 8.02 and it will appear on Monday, 6. January. This will probably be a multiple-week issue too, including terrifically exciting reports and features from New York City in January.

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 have 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 if you will - 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 one of its meetings in Paris. Not even club members know what could be more simple than this.

Endless Christmas Season Note Repeat

Many Paris stores stay open on Sundays until 22. December, which is probably a Sunday. The Soldes d'Hiver start shortly after New Year, so they will be on in January 2003, which everybody knows follows this year.

When, Where, Why Not, How, What, 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 'XTNT' - and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm in other worldwide areas, even though club meetings are only held in Paris.

Come with your own new 'Quote of the Week' or propose your hometown as 'City of the Week' or invent anyphoto: corona terrace 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.'

Today probably has the last 'terrace weather' of the year.

For example, the club's secretary thought Amsterdam was a dead-certain for 'City of the Week,' but a consultation of the club members' 'A' list reveals that Jan Major of Amsterdam is a long-time member. However a careful examination of the club's dusty archives of 'reports' reveals that Vancouver, Washington was that particular meeting's 'City of the Week.' Amsterdam is awarded, therefore, this week's honor.

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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