Truly, Finally Wired

photo: cafe terrace

A café's terrace waits for its hardy evening crowd.

With Only a Buzzer To Go

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 3. February 2003:- Since last week's unseasonable and very rare high - for January! - the situation in the weather department has returned to normal, even if it is worse than normal.

We had - was it Thursday? - an Orange warning for snow to begin in Paris at 16:00. It tried mighty hard, but it didn't really happen. Oh, out in the sticks, where the Cadillac Ranch is located, the server-lady Linda Thalman said there were a few centimetres of white stuff, but she didn't say anything about shovelling it.

It did snow around Paris, but outside it. The last real blizzard left memories of thousands of stranded of cars on impassable highways all night long - so this time all trucks possible were pulled off roads - so some of their drivers could spend all night in them, stranded by the authorities.

In general, daytime temperatures are yo-yoing between near freezing and ten degrees. Winds are comingphoto: horse butcher from the Atlantic, either from the warmer southwest or the colder northwest, and these are washing across the country like endless waves, with usually a couple per day.

My memory of tonight's TV-weather forecast for Tuesday is foggy, because it looked like a can of worms in the morning and an upsidedown can of worms in the afternoon. If you stay out all day, you'll get wet sometime, unless you are in the métro.

Somebody eats horses, but I don't know who.

The rest of the week - ah, I don't remember. The forecast only went to Thursday and it was no winner, following a loser of a Wednesday. Let me just say, what we have here is a 'real' winter, one that is worse than the 'usual' unreal winters we've had for the past several years.

For this reason I refuse to predict the usual February week of super-bright skies with lower than normal temperatures. This year, I don't think we are going to get any crystal-clear days in February. Maybe we will have a hot August instead. There hasn't been one of these for about a decade.

Despite irrational weather forecasts, I bet that next Friday will be very sunny - because I'll be inside all afternoon at the Rétromobile old car and junk show. Last year, perversely, it rained like a monsoon on this salon's opening day.

To sum up - how to dress for this season in Paris - a lot of people on the streets have their wet-suits on, and their hoods are up.

Café Life

In the Stalled Lane

After a shattered week, the week before last, I was looking forward to an interesting one with lots of Café Life. First, I missed my rendez-vous with the market last Tuesday morning but it couldn't be helped because something is wrong with my Internet connection. Spam comes down from it fast, but itty-bitty little Metropole goes up very very slowly - usually between 03:00 and 05:00.

With nothing much to eat in the larder, I went off in the rain in the afternoon to do my laundry. This included New York dirt, plus a short week's worth of Paris grit, so it was a big job. It was near dark when I finished.

My landlord called, to ask me if the building's syndic had sent me my mailbox key. I told him they are still in Panama. Then he offered to pay me a visit because he'd arranged to have somebody come by and install a door-buzzer. I asked him to knock extra loud when he came.

We had a nice visit together even though no door-buzzer guy showed up. He said I should get up extra early because the TV antenna guy was coming on Thursday - at 9:00.

Amazingly this person did come, and did turn on the building's TV antenna. It took him 15 minutes. For some mysterious reason the antenna's incoming slot is in the tiny bedroom where no TV will fit in, and the TV is in the living room where there is no antenna slot.

The antenna guy said he was only told to activate the reception. Nobody told him to connect it to the TV. We foundphoto: chicken street food some old antenna cables I inherited, strung them through the apartment like a clothesline - hey! I needed a clothesline - and the TV worked better than with no antenna.

He was gone by 9:30, leaving me alone and awake with a part of the day when I am usually asleep. This had been a one-time chance to get TV reception, so I had actually gotten up before sunrise. This was one with blue skies - not like the one a week before, after an all night flight from New York.

Meanwhile, the whole rest of the world is chicken-crazy.

I thought, 'this is another one-time chance to get rid of these leftover moving cartons.' And this I did. Then I had to remember to buy extra food on account of living this extra part of a day. It came in handy when I got around to uploading the week's club 'report' from 02:00 to 03:00 on Friday.

Friday, according to weather forecasts, was to be the week's best day, but the best I could do was get to the marché just before it closed. This is a lot better than getting to it after it closes. But either way, Friday is late in the week to start Metropole's reporting about Paris.

This didn't matter too much because I had a photo to take care of at Bastille. In the course of doing this, I found other photos and they seemed to be adding up to a theme and I was feeling pretty good about how this could turn into a feature without me thinking it up beforehand.

By the time it was getting dim I was close to the BHV department store and its hardware basement, and something just dragged me into it, to get some electrical odds and ends.

In fact, I had a list in my pocket. If you don't have a list when you go into the BHV, you are likely to come out with picnic table complete with a relaxo lounge chair. You can't come out without something, because the BHV has more than everything - and you need some of it.

But with the list handy, all I got were two TV antenna cables and an adapter for the camera battery charger I gotphoto: pig of iron in New York. Pay attention here - in order to recharge batteries in New York I needed something that could operate on lowball US electricity, but when I got the charger, I saw it had '110-220 volts' written on it. But its prongs wouldn't fit a French 220 volt power source.

Guarding a butcher shop - a pig of iron.

Ah - the attention part - the US-model charger, for AA batteries only, is made by Energizer and it cost me $40. BHV has an Energizer charger, for only 34 euros, and it'll charge AAA, AA, B1, BB, iBOP, Bee-Bop, and XYZ batteries. It was a big, weird-looking thing, and I don't know if it is smart enough to do 110-220 volts too. The plug-adapter for my US-model cost nine euros.

When I'd paid for these treasures, I started looking at the 'on sale' garden furniture and the relaxo chair. But I had my list, and it was complete. So I went home and did the day's photos most of the night, if you include all the emails I've fallen behind with, too.

Where Is Sally Ann Howe?

The food I skipped buying Saturday morning I never did get because I ran into Dimitri in the Bouquet. He was just finishing having lunch, with his pal, the playwriter.

Last week Dimitri asked me to look up 'Philippe Sommer' on the Web. He is a young and famous artist, but the Web does not seem to know this. If you try this, Dimitri is not looking for any racing driver with the same name.

Discussing this prompted the playwriter - I can almost say his name, he said, but I cannot come close to writing it because it is Irish - he asked me if I could look up 'Sally Ann Howe' who he met at the Sorbonne sometime around 1967 or 1968.

Is there something wrong with my face? Why do people keep asking me to find missing persons for them? Or sending me to restaurants that have disappeared.

I'll tell you, you wouldn't want the reputation I've seem to have acquired without seeking it. It's hard enough putting Metropole online with an eyedropper - but it seems to work in reverse when I'm doing one of these missing persons things.

Anyhow, enough whining. The Sally Ann Howe who was born in 1930 and was in 'Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang' or in the unforgettable 'Death Ship' in 1980 is not the Sally Ann Howe the playwriter is looking for.

When we finished this, it was raining and everything was closed for the afternoon, so the best thing it seemed to do, was go home and put my new TV antenna cables together, fix up something else for the FM receiver, and charge a few batteries for fun.

A Long Story Short

Between the weather, missing persons and surprise visits from my landlord, there is no feature in this week's issue - yet. A reader and Café Metropole Club member has sent a story about his visit to Paris, and I'm killing time writing this while waiting for the photos that go with it.

If this hadn't popped up this morning there would have been an 'Au Bistro' column, and I might have gotten started with the ever-increasing list sent by readers and club members about their favorite restaurants, and I could have - and - so - on.

'About' Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

I am sure that Allan Pangborn is very busy making lots more Café Metropole wine, and has been too rushed to write any more 'lore' about the brand new winery or about making champagne-types wines.

You are therefore advised to re-read last week's report from 'The Shed' so that when you are sipping Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine, you will know what you are talking about.

Besides spring being only 47 days off, there are still 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. Both coming soon, I hope.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Lightly tap this link to last week's weather related 'Not at the Rendez-Vous?' club meeting report. This was a quiet meeting, due to the promised blizzard that was no-show.

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 steady stream of responses. Although the 'list' is still not long, I need to put it together, but I think I wrote this last week already.

If you have been paying attention, you will remember this is to be sort of the Café Metropole Club's own guide, suggested exclusively by its hungrier members. You should trust fellow members taste because they trust yours.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 8. February. This secondphoto: flamingos February meeting marks the definitive end of January meetings for this year. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint-Gaston. I swear this is true.

Further on, two flamingos watch for restaurant customers.

Nearly all of the four details concerning the club - actually only the club's address is useful to know - are handily placed 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 III

Linda Thalman, sometimes known as the 'server-lady,' 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.

Linda's 'Paris In Sites Newsletter' has been plugged here for several eons now. Linda also produces a companion Web site. Every sub increases my 'café-credit' by one thimble.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 7.06 - 4. February 2002 - This issue, like some others, began with the Café Metropole column's 'Only a Day! Late.' The 'Au Bistro' column featured a 'Sketchy 'euro' Report.' There were sort of two features, titled 'The Palais de Tokyo - With Two Views of Modern Art' and 'Is It True? - Is France a Hypochondriac?' This issue also had an Emails feature posing the question, 'Is It the 'Year of the Hugo?' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 7. February was called the 'Whole 'Band of Moyers' report of the week. The issue's 'Scene' column halved its value with a re-run. The week's fourphoto: sign, rue de l'hotel saint paul new 'Posters of the Week' were shown and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, 'Ever More Interesting - Winter Sports.'

This Was Metropole Four Years Ago

Issue 4.06 - 8. February 1999 - This week's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Where the Money Is.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Firemen Take Silent Action.' There were two features, titled 'The Seine's Lonesome Quais' and 'The Secret 'Euro' Bug.' There was no Café Metropole Club update for this issue because the club didn't begin until later in the year. The 'Scene' column's headline was '1999's Big Expos Have Begun.' The four new 'Posters of the Week' were featured and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned ''Geodynamics of Picnics.'

Four Count-Downs That Are

Jim 'Exciting Count-Down'photo: sign, metro Auman has come through with yet another stupendous count-down, even though he is getting tired of his neighbors pointing him out and saying, "There goes Jim 'Exciting Count-Down' Auman! Get his autograph while he's still famous."

For readers - readers! - he has proposed the 50th anniversary of the French pocketbook. The publication date was Monday, 9. February 1953. The book was 'Koenigsmark' by Pierre Benoît, and the publisher was Henri Filipacchi. Jim says the first pocketbook's cover featured a woman wearing a German military uniform. The coming anniversary is only seven days from today.

Music lovers may be delighted to learn that Hector Berlioz will have his 200th anniversary this year, on Sunday, 11. December. Hector is headed for permanent residence in the Panthéon too, on Saturday, 21. June - coinciding with the Fête de la Musique - which is 139 days off. Otherwise, Hector's 200th birthday is 312 days from now.

Not last, and not least, the number of days left this year is 324. Jim's latest date is the centennial anniversary of the Tour de France, which will be about 100 this year.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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