Not at the Rendez-Vous

photo: group, winnie, tee-ag, heather

Winnie, Tee-ag and Heather don't feel like doing the
'Mardi Gras Group Photo of the Week.'

Where's the Storm? What's the Fuss?

Paris:- Thursday, 30. January 2003:- Last night's TV-weather news forecasted a severe blizzard for most of France, from top to bottom, from the west of centre to the eastern Alps. Practically the whole country was on Orange Alert status today.

When I looked out of the window about 20 minutes before sunrise this morning, sunlight was glinting off the higher floors of the Tour Montparnasse. So right! Bright winter sunshine before the storm slams us at 16:00, before the country is brought to its knees by General Winter.

But, ha-ha, this time we are ready! We have our Orange Alert, we had last night's TV-weather news before the Loto spin of the ping-pong balls, we are well and truly warned and we are ready.

Today's first report comes from a courageousphoto: lunch of champions advance scout - at about 11:00 the server-lady out at the Cadillac Ranch says snow is falling in deepest Essonne. She has her shovel ready, the roads are sanded, the runways are de-iced. We are more than ready.

The Club's first photo of the French national 'Sandwich of Champions.'

At 14:15 when I leave for the club meeting, something wet is falling from the sky. But it is invisible. Can it be rain? It is damp, it is cold - but is it freezing?

The métro train doesn't come. What can it mean? When one does finally come, it slides through the station without stopping. Is it to pick up passengers stranded on the quay at the Cité station by the demo there? Waiters for the train are uneasy.

Our train is nearly full when it arrives. At Montparnasse it is full. The train skips Saint-Michel which is closed for renovations, and skips the Cité station, as announced. It is not easy to get off at Châtelet for people not used to barging through unpenetratable crowds trying to get on.

On Rivoli the air is full of snow. A BMW's convertible roof is covered with it. It is wet and damp. Parisians scuttle about, huddled over, trying to be small. Will it be knee-deep by the meeting's end at 17:00?

At Pont-Neuf motorists feel the urgency too, and will hardly let pedestrians cross with the 'green man.' Sittingphoto: club statue of the week on their warm leather, listening to their rumba CDs, they will not let us civilians have our fleeting right-of-way. Curses on them all!

A snow-flecked poster announces Chinese New Year, beginning this coming weekend. 'Year of the Goat' it is. To begin with snowdrifts. Goat weather. I go straight along the Quai du Louvre without deviations to the café La Corona and enter its light and warmth.

Does a club with 'no rules' rate 'classical' décor? Why the dickens not?

The café is not full of refugees. Maybe it is one of the last days of the 'Soldes d'Hiver.' Last chance to gear up on the cheap for General Winter's worst shot.

When I calm down from the vivid experience I have just had, a lady sitting near the club's usual station asks me if I am the 'club.' Heavens! A brave member-to-be is already here. Through storm, hurricane winds, earthquakes - do Café Metropole Club members come.

Not only this, but this particular lady wrote to say she was expecting to come last week. Has she been trekking eight days? "No," Winnie Shaddox says, "The plane was a day late." This is no surprise, coming from California, bringing Winnie from Los Gatos. Planes start from there one day and arrive here on another. A day later.

She has ordered a ham sandwich - 'Lunch of Champions!' - and a double- café, like mine. She thinks I am looking down on her lunch - "I do a lot of 'brown-bagging,'" she says.

Not at all, I insist. The ham-on-baguette sandwich is the French national food, usually available everywhere 24 hours a day, even during catastrophic snowstorms. It's right up there with blue-white-red frites and snails and foie gras.

Winnie has been doing a lot of shopping she says. She and her husband are in the antique business, and she alwaysphoto: glass of the week does a lot of shopping - or selling. She says she was going to treat herself to 'high tea' on Sunday, her birthday, but bought two watercolors instead. Then he had a salad at a handy McDonald's.

This could have been the 'Drink of the Week' if the secretary had been more observant, sooner.

She has been to the fleamarket before, at Saint-Ouen. Last Sunday she was at Vanves for the first time. She says when shipping is calculated, Saint-Ouen items are often too expensive. Vanves is more reasonable.

We are discussing her new truck when a well-wrapped up Sambamurthy Thyagarajan arrives, from Albany, New York. Or maybe from Montmartre where he has an apartment.

Winnie says her husband told her to get any kind of new car she wanted, so long as it was a truck. We were discussing how big this truck is, but it seems not to be as big as ones I saw in TV commercials in New York recently.

Anyhow, by now I have done a search with no Albany, New York turning up, so we have our 'City of the Week.' Sambamurthy Thyagarajan says he should be called 'Tee-ag' and that Thyagarajan is a southern India name, not Armenian.

He says he is retired from the city planning business. So am I. He was in it 80 times longer than I was, but we never do discuss this mutual aspect.

Winnie wonders where the artists at the Place de Tertre have gone. She wanted to get a silhouette done. There has either been a crack-down on freelance artists - known here somewhat as 'intolerance' - or they have moved to famous Amélie's corner of Paris at Abbesses.

I have already explained the membership booklet like I always do by pointing out member number-one, Heather Stimmler's entry, so it is certainly an omen of some sort when herself walks in to the café. "The 15 degrees on the Riviera were getting hard to handle," she says, then shivers.

Heather tells us about the typical Parisian food she's had to eat since this morning. Mainly it was an 'applephoto: not the group photo of the week crumble' - "And a big pretzel," she adds thoughtfully. The kind of delicacy, she says, one can get from Schmid across from the Gare de l'Est.

I introduce Winnie and then try Sambamurthy Thyagarajan's name. It takes about a whole weekend to say. "The whole enchilada," he says and grins.

Winnie, Heather and Tee-ag do their best for the 'Not Photo of the Week.'

The members discuss recent new books about Paris. Mentioned are 'One Hour from Paris' and 'The Seven Ages of Paris.' I am still trying to figure out how 'enchilada' is spelled, and Tee-ag is writing it in the air across the table from me, but from where I'm sitting he's writing it backwards and I can't make it out.

To get out of trying to read it frontwards by looking at him doing it in the mirror behind me, I declare it to be 'Group Photo of the Week' time.

Nobody will go out on the terrace where winter has it under total control, so I go outside and shoot the members through the window. This is foiled by a lightening sky, so it is re-shot inside the café - but at such short range that nobody can put any 'Mardi Gras' into it.

Heather then pitches Carnavalet as one museum more than worth seeing a lot of, but mentions that reading French in it improves the experience.

Then Winnie says she is surprised Paris still has Christmas decorations in place. Tee-ag says, "But the lights aren't on." No one cares. Keeping Christmas on view until Easter is all that counts.

Winnie asks Heather for second-hand clothes locations. Not for the second-hand designer clothes - but the any-old-kind. About the fleamarket she says, "They were so sweet I just had to buy something."

"Best birthday I ever had," Winnie says.

"Today?" Heather asks.

"No, last Friday," Winnie says.

Tee-ag says of three things he doesn't care for in Paris, the third is poor musicianship in the métro trains. He wonders if it is a 'rule' that many platform performers are okay or even great, but the ones on trains aren't.

As Winnie makes her exit she says, "There was Brassy - a lovely woman of a certain age," and waves gaily on her way out through the café's grande salle.

The remaining members promise to return too. Outside, it has not been snowing for 90 minutes. Pretty much of a piffle for an 'Orange Warning.'

But on the way over to Châtelet with Heather, it is damp, damp, damp, and the drivers are stillphoto: chili and tripes menu acting like all their windows are broken and they are freezing, not giving a centimetre in the battle of the crosswalks. It is a time of day to beware.

Today's menu at the club's café, La Corona - chili and tripes.

Tonight's TV-weather news reissues the 'Orange Alert' for Friday. The picture is very clear. The reason I was up before dawn was to let the antenna man in to activate the thing. His 'fix' and ten metres of antenna cable have done the job.

Metropole's February Issues

Even though there will be no more issues appearing this month - you need not worry about the lack of Metropole Paris issues in February. Despite Chinese New Years, it is believed it will be a short month. You can expect that there will be four issues, unless 'Ed' wins the Loto and moves to Australia.

Paris' Winter Sales Start Date

I am continuing to hold off on the announcement of the date of the 'Soldes d'Hiver' for 2004. These will be, however, preceded by the 'Soldes d'Eté' this year.

Repeat Call for Your Favorite Restaurants

Be kind enough to send in the names of your favorite restaurants so that they can be put into a list that will be printed and handed out free to all attending members who remember to ask for it.

This initiative is receiving a good response, but if you haven't sent yours in yet, please do so before 2005. Something before then this list will be compiled, and your favorite should be on it.

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' Page

You can read the 'About the Café Metropole Club' page to learn how to become a member. You can learn other things from this page too, but not too a great deal.

Forget this 'About' page if you want to - even though its information is next to useless. All you should 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.

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

This club's meetings begin - sometimes promptly - 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 'BONB' - and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm in other worldwide areas, even though club meetings are usually only held in Paris.

Bring your own new 'Quote of the Week' or mention your hometown as a possible 'City of the Week' or fabricatephoto: sunset without blizzard any other 'Things of the Week.' New true 'firsts' will be exceedingly welcome too, with 'first' usually getting preference over 'true.'

'No-names' is an option you can also opt for if you prefer to be 'not found' on the Internet. 'No rules' have creased being an 'exception.' They are not a 'rule' either anymore. There are other 'exceptions' so it pays to keep on your toes, I think.

Today's blizzard looked about the same at sundown as at sunrise - all clear in the skies over the city.

For example, the club's secretary thought today's no-snow new weather might be for a city that already has had a 'Blizzard of the Week.' This week there is no doubt - this week's award goes empty-handed again. Another zilch. Nada. Another dern no 'Funky Weather of the Week' day.

What you have to say may be truly appreciated by the other members present, and there almost always are some, and if they are listening which they do sometimes - and by all readers of this online magazine, if you ever read this - if it should happen to be written here, as happens sometimes, surrealistic or not.

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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