Buffalo Grass Returns

photo: manhattan, from ferry to ellis island

To be honest, earmuffs are handy to have in New York
in the winter.

Earless In New York

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 27. January 2003:- The mayor ought to spread some sand around and roll out the palm trees. Radio-FIP interrupted its non-stop music program to declare Paris' temperature to be 14 huge degrees above freezing, and the sky is so clear that it is almost possible to see Amsterdam from my lofty fourth-floor penthouse.

Winter sunshine might not be exactly suitable for grilling like sardines on the Seine's banks - but it looks as bright as New York's sky often was. Now, if my neighboring Tour Montparnasse could only be replaced by the Chrysler Building, I would run right out and have a big hot dog instead of reading Le Parisien's forecast for today.

It starts off with - hey now! - it starts off with new designs for its maps of France and the Ile-de-France. Then it says, "Un ciel encore triste..." How about 100 percent wrong?

The predicted high for today is on the money, but I see no 'triste' anywhere on my visible horizon, with or without the silly '...' - the dribble-dot - which is what writers are increasingly using when they've forgotten the utility of using the single 'dot' for a period.

After the declaration that the high was a near-record 16 today at Orly, tonight's TV-weather news is not reassuring. Isabelle smiles nicely while she says coming highs are only going to drop by five degrees - per day.

This means nine or ten for Tuesday, rotten and five for Wednesday and a high of one and terrible for Thursday. She didn't bother frightening us with Friday, but Le Parisien indicates it will be worse than terrible.

Since things are happening in New York, TV-news showed blue skies there, but with winds tearing at the UN's flags. I remember that wind. There may be some of it here tomorrow too. My gloves, scarf and hat are still handy.

Café Life

Buffalo Grass Time

Totally dazed last Wednesday on arriving back from New York, I happened on Dimitri and Dennis who were in the café Le Bouquet, plotting a replay of last years' Buffalo Grass-Vodka drink-fest, which coincides with Dennis' 59th birthday.

Now that I think of it, I had returned from New York then too - after failing to turn up any Buffalo Grass inphoto: italian bakery sign Brooklyn's Little Odessa on Christmas Day. Since then, since Oleg has been on the job, the Daguerrotypistas have secured a steady supply from an ancient market lady who operates from a stall in Kiev.

But this is not to forget all the readers who suggested where it might be found - in one club member's backyard in Chicago - or on various plains-like places from Texas to northern Alberta. Anyplace where buffalo may roam, is where you can find Buffalo Grass. Even if there are no buffalo in sight.

If you have had a chance to sniff the commercial Polish version that comes with it already in a bottle, then looking for the real thing is worthwhile if you think you might like really fragrant vodka. What's good for buffalo may be good for you too - Dennis continues to claim last years' batch saved him from a bout of pneumonia.

To add to this year's festivities, Dimitri arranged to find a part missing from Dennis' fireplace, lying on a sidewalk. He picked it up and when he showed it to the fireplace, it fit perfectly. With a couple of bricks substituting for the one remaining missing piece, the little fireplace chugs away, putting out a lot of heat with very small fires.

This inspired Dennis to rearrange his living room, to focus two modest sofa chairs as close to the fireplace as possible. This allowed a lengthwise dining table situation, which in turn offered more places for guests last night.

These turned out to be the same as last year's small gathering, plus about six more. Dennis borrowed some big pots and using a traditional Tuscan recipe - with modifications - he turned out an amazing dinner for a dozen or 14.

More guests meant more gifts, and it was kind of magical the way Dennis opened them with glee and each seemed to be more extravagant than the proceeding, although all were modest. Paris is a good place for finding rare and offbeat items for the Marx Brothers' biggest 59 year-old fan.

The only hiccups during the affair were Jonathan's forgetting the sparklers, but the fireplace was a good stand-in. Guests who arrived ill left healthy, which is not exactly a 'hiccup' - and nobody actually had any of these.

The evening had several high points without having any low ones. One nobody will forget soon was Dimitri coollyphoto: cash register, il mare chiaro bar opening a bottle of Champagne, with a vicious-looking hatchet, surgically and neatly by whacking its top off - using a little-known Cossack manoeuvre usually performed with a saber.

This was done observing all required safety precautions - like having a basin on the floor - and clearing a line-of-fire for the cork and the bottle's top. It did not put a big dent in the wall by the fireplace.

The cash register in Dennis' favorite New York bar.

It now seems pretty certain that Dennis' 59th birthday is going to turn into an annual affair. If the number of guests keeps increasing by 50 percent per year, he will have to find a suitable banquet site - one that is pretty liberal as far as behavior in public is concerned.

While On the Subject

Dennis claims his favorite bar in New York is the Il Mare Chiaro, at 176 1/2 Mulberry Street. This claim is based on several factors. On the last day of his last visit - a Sunday - he met two friendly Polish ladies in the place.

The bar's other claims to fame are somewhat less exotic. No less than parts of 11 movies and one TV-series have been filmed in the place - from 'Contract on Cherry Street' with Frank Sinatra to 'Godfather III' to 'The Sopranos.' This original 'Little Italy' bar is one that requires no set decoration for 'wiseguy' movies.

When movies aren't being filmed on location in it, there is the jukebox, which is full of rare '50s hits such as 'The Flying-Saucer People.' The bar also boasts a real payphone - for customers only! The same goes for the bar's toilet.

The National cash register was installed in 1908, and second-generation Tony Tenneriello carries on the family tradition of 'no credit, no checks and no plastic' while his father gazes mildly over all from a large painted portrait facing the door, beside the stuffed owl perched on a Moose's antlers above the bar's original clock.

Earless In New York

This is an episode I would like to forget even before it is over. Several readers have written with understandingphoto: f line subway to brooklyn, trompet player and helpful suggestions, but I did not have a head full of wax. Anyway, being slightly deaf in New York cannot be all bad.

Entertainment is provided on the long subway ride from Queens to Brooklyn.

But having a bandage hanging out like a nun's flying wing, off an infected earlobe - full of antibiotics - well, it's not so bad in New York either because nearly everybody is foreign - and besides, I couldn't see it.

I'll let you know next week whether I can talk my French health coverage into paying for it. I forgot to ask for their permission to have an infected earlobe before I left.

'About' Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

Allan Pangborn tops up 'wine news' this week with no new news but tells us that winemakers are pretty busy doing all sorts of technical things to the grapes they acquired last fall while some of the rest of the world sleeps off the excesses of 'Superbowl XXXIII.'

You are advised to read this carefully so that when you are sipping Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine you can enthrall your company with all sorts of facts about winemaking, that are hardly ever mentioned by the world's greatest wine tasters.

Besides spring being only 54 days off, there are two important issues that may be resolved soon. One is the ability to order and pay for Metropole's wine online, and the other is the impending possibility that residents of New York State will be able to do it too. Not this week - but coming soon.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Lightly tap this link to last week's calm "I learned to read and write"" club meeting report. This was a quiet meeting, made possible by the attendance of not more than three club members.

For sending the photos he took during the 9. January meeting while I was in New York goofing off in medical waiting rooms, my thanks herewith to 'Dallas Dude.' Not being quite sure about authorizations, only the photo of the sliderule was featured - and I have still to check this to see if a PC handled it okay.

The 'Call for Beano 'List' - asking readers and club members for the favorite Paris restaurants - if they are willing to share their secrets - is getting a good response. Although the 'list' is not long, I need to put it together, and add credit to it where due.

If you have not been paying attention, this is to be sort of the Café Metropole Club's own guide, suggested exclusively by its hungrier members. If you trust fellow members, then this is 'our' list. It can be used in reverse too, if you are faithless.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 30. January. After this there will be no other meetings in January of this year. The Saint's Day of thephoto: 42nd street Week will be Sainte-Martine. The server-lady has been nominated for sainthood for her recent hosting of club meetings, but she has said she is too busy fooling around with her new digital camera, and has declined the honor.

Yeah! 42nd Street! New York City! Glitzerville!

Nearly all of the 6.7 details concerning the club - actually only the club's address is useful to know - are handily available on the 'About the Club' page. If you think the virtual membership card may be useful, you can try to peel it right off your monitor and keep it right next to your snazzy visiting cards.

Extra-Super Forever-Time Offer II

Linda Thalman's 'Paris In Sites Newsletter' has been plugged here for several eons now. While I was at the Cadillac Ranch for 10 minutes not long ago, I noticed that new subscriptions were coming about as regularly as spam, nicely boosting the status of my 'café-credits.'

As you should know, Linda also produces a companion Web site. Hit the first hyperlink to subscribe and the second to see the fuller Web version.

Linda chattily comments about language, tourism news, events and stories from and about Paris, France and some very foreign places. The newsletter is sent by email every month. Many Café Metropole Club members recommend it too.

Finally - the Usual Excuses

While Dennis gets to remain 59, 'Ed' gets older. Maybe this doesn't matter, but this week also included a transatlantic flight. At first, taking one of these does not seem strenuous, but fixing over 100 photos afterwards, does. Therefore, in case you haven't noticed yet, there is no 'Au Bistro' column this week even though France was 'open,' and no Scene column either. Look for this next week when it may have items from now until summer.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 7.05 - 28. Jan 2002 - This issue, like most, began with the Café Metropole column's 'A Fine Time With Real Buffalo Grass.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'The 'Big Wheel' Deal.' This issue had one feature titled 'An Oasis In the 7th - Stone Palaces and a Park.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 31. January was called the ''Victor Hugo Is Not a Club Member' report. The issue's 'Scene' column sported the headline of 'The Year of the Horse.' The week'sphoto: ticket, mta metrocard four new 'Posters of the Week' were on hand and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, 'The Big Wheel Deal'- again.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 6.05 - 29. Jan 2001 - This week's Café Metropole column was headlined 'Birthday Vodka Chez Dennis.' This vodka stuff must be a Millennium Thing. The 'Au Bistro' column headline was 'Retirement - Are You Ready?' There was one feature, titled 'Paris 'Business' Slum - La Défense.' Some readers really disagreed with this one. The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 1. February, was oddly titled, the "Smoke In Dreams" report. The 'Scene' column's headline was 'Opening With a Bumble.' The four new 'Posters of the Week' were featured and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned "No Beef! Just Caviar and Vodka!"

Two Count-Downs For the Price of One

Jim 'Count-down' Auman has come through with two totally new and exciting count-down subjects between his sessions of cleaning ashes out of his wood stove, going out in the bitter cold to collect more wood to burn in it, and getting the stove set up for its cozy evening flame show.

For impatient readers he has proposed the 50th anniversary of the French pocketbook. The publication date was Monday, 9. February 1953. The book was 'Koenigsmark' by Pierrephoto: pay phone Benoît, and the publisher was Henri Filipacchi. A Web search did not turn up any more about this - the Web is not responding today - but Jim says the first pocketbook's cover featured a woman wearing a German military uniform. The coming anniversary is 14 days from today.

Music lovers may be pleased to learn that Hector Berlioz has his 200th anniversary this year, on Sunday, 11. December. Hector is headed for permanent residence in the Panthéon too, but the date of his installation is unknown at this time, although Jim reports that it will be 'soon.' Otherwise, Hector's 200th birthday is 319 days from now.

Last, and just about least, the number of days left this year is 338, which should leave of us ample time to thoroughly enjoy 2003 - presuming it turns out better than last year. I do so 'presume.'
signature, regards, ric

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