Buzzer Dayz

photo: cafe de l'arbalete, paris 5

Seista time for the café near Mouffetard.

Signs of Too Many

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 10. February 2003:- Last week's forecast here for last Friday didn't work. I tried a hoodoo thing on it and it rained anyway. This wasn't actually predicted as I recall, so if last Friday's rain ruined your day you know who to blame instead of Le Parisien, France-2 TV- weather news or France Métèo.

I tried hard to get interested in tonight's TV-weather news forecast but the coming weather is not really very interesting and I have forgotten its forgettable details already. Highs will be six until club day, when it will be only three.

On checking today's Le Parisien, I do find news. It says the weather has been 'persecuting' us for several days, but it is going to take a pause with these 'tortures.' But this isn't the news.

The news is that today's Le Parisien has completely forgotten tomorrow and Wednesday. See? What did I tell you?

The paper picks up the weather again on Thursday, when it says it will be ugly and grey. Friday, the paper says, will not be very original or inspired. Then, next weekend, it is supposed to become worse. But Saturday will not be worse than Sunday, which will be the pits.

Since next Sunday will only be the 16th, there will still be time in February for the really cold week with really clear skies. This is as optimistic as I can get and I'm trying hard.

Café Life

Veins of Fire

One early morning last week, I was up before sunrise and I happened to look out my big window overlookingphoto: rue des orfevres the cemetery in darkness. Some of the buildings on the other side were lined with gold and there was a flash of it running up the Tour Montparnasse.

But right in front of my window, the black bare branches of the street trees were outlined with incredibly fine veins of glittering magenta-red-gold, like hot wires, set off from the near blue-black of the still nighttime cemetery.

Rare winter evening glow in Paris' centre.

I ignored my instinct to open the window and take a photograph. These outlines of fire were much too fine for a crude-resolution digital camera. And what would I do with the photo anyway? But here it is, in words, from my memory. Once I decided 'no photo,' I looked harder.

My New Ding-a-Ling

I am pretty sure this wasn't the morning the guy with the new door buzzer phoned really early, to ask if it would be okay if he showed up in 30 minutes to install it. I said 'sure.' I told him to knock loudly because the buzzer didn't work.

At this somewhat unusual time of the day for me I found a bit to do for 90 minutes before he came, like have breakfast, but not do the other things I usually do, because the buzzer didn't work.

He said he had gotten halfway to my place before finding out the buzzer he was bringing didn't work either, so he took it back and got another one. It came in two parts. One he taped to the door jamb just above the outside buzzer button that doesn't work, and the other he handed to me.

He said I could put it anywhere I wanted to. I toyed with the idea of putting it in the fridge even though he said there was a bracket for hanging it on a wall. He said he didn't bring any tools to attach the bracket.

Together we figured out how to turn the volume of the thing down. He said its batteries would last five years, or was he referring to the battery in the buzzer button part?

Anyhow, the thing has no wires. It means, if you come and push my door buzzer, that you are setting off an invisible electronic signal which will wander around my small apartment, perhaps passing through my head, to find its receptor ding-a-ling thing and set it off.

Later on Dennis came over to look out my window. My new door buzzer didn't impress him at all. We'd beenphoto: fiat 500 of the week having a Pho soup around the corner and when we got to my door I pushed the button and heard the ding-a-ling go off inside. Dennis said, "So what?"

This week's first 'Fiat 500 of the Week' in Saint-Germain.

The ding-a-ling thing jangled again yesterday. I immediately remembered what it was and went and opened the door. There was a lady standing out in the hall, looking for somebody I never heard of. I tried to tell her she had won the honor of being the first person to ring my doorbuzzer, but she wasn't interested.

You try it. Pull the plug on your doorbell and then forget you've done it. Hardly anybody knows how to knock on a door with their knuckles anymore.

After a while you will notice that nobody comes to visit, but you will have forgotten why because if nobody comes, how will you remember that your doorbell doesn't work or you've turned it off?

Too Many Signs or the Wrong Ones?

According to a town ordinance in Kennebunk, Maine, Metropole may have too many 'signs' in its pages and may be liable for penalties ranging from $100 to $2500 per day for each infraction.

The issue reared up last summer at the seaside resort across the river from Kennebunkport, which is known as a summer residence of the nominally-based in Texas Bush family, and as the place across the river from Kennebunk.

A town official, Paul Demers, told Brian Bartley, the manager and a co-owner of Bartley's Dockside restaurant that he would have to remove outdoor table parasols advertising 'Hebrew National' all-beef frankfurters. The town has a limit of three brand-name signs per establishment, and the restaurant was over the limit.

But how the official decided that the offender was 'Hebrew National' is unclear. He could have chosen parasols carrying names like Budweiser, Poland Spring, La Corona or Coca-Cola instead. Mr. Demers is quoted as saying, "There are things you do not say in this world, and this is one of them" - apparently after he told Mr. Bartley that 'Hebrew National' was the offender.

Actually, Mr. Bartley's restaurant had parasols advertising at least four brands of beer, and town officialsphoto: surrealist car horn claimed that the restaurant's parasols had 'in excess' of ten brand names featured. Mr. Bartley got some spray paint and over-painted the 'Hebrew National' brand-name to try and calm things down a bit.

If you don't hear it in time, it will bite before it hits you.

Despite this voluntary defacement, the town of Kennebunk sued the restaurant in October, seeking thousands of dollars in fines. The ordinance claims to regulate the town's 'visual environment' and ensure traffic safety. Mr. Bartley's lawyer has asked a judge to tell the town to get lost. The attorney says the town's position borders on 'Alice in Wonderland silliness.'

Inadvertently, Metropole is also in grave danger from Kennebunk's visual purity and traffic safety ordinance because it has a parasol within its Café Metropole Club logo - repeated more than 150 times - and also contains a photograph of 'Hebrew National All-beef Knockwurst,' included in the club meeting 'report,' put online on Saturday, 17. January.

This magazine's attorney in the United States has been alerted to prepare a suitable defense against any attempts by Kennebunk town officials to reduce the number of 'signs' in Metropole, and specifically the photograph of 'Hebrew National' - which when transformed into hot dogs, I must say, were pretty tasty.

A Bigger Issue Shorter

The photos for the 'Au Bistro' column are already twirling around on the server. I have been having trouble uploading files to Metropole's Web server so I decided to do it earlier rather than sit around for a couple of hours in the zero hours of Tuesday morning here, watching not much happening pretty slowly.

Several correspondents who I do not think read Metropole have been busy writing to me about France's lousy reputation in the war business of society, as if I can or should do something about it.

I have been replying to the emails, usually starting off with, 'Why me?' From what I can understand, the lunatic fringe has become into the mainstream, and a lot of people are shooting off their mouths like a bunch of over-tired 12 year-olds who should have been put to bed three hours ago.

It seems to me that the least I can do is present what people here seem to be thinking. I am pretty sure what is really happening here isn't being reported with any great accuracy by usually reliable press sources in the United States itself - they seem to have gone off the rails, trying to out-Hearst the Hearst of 1898.

So then, if the war that the letter writers seem to so desperately want hasn't already started tomorrow, I will attempt to treat this subject with the attention it deserves, in this issue's 'Au Bistro' column.

'About' Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

Allan Pangborn has been fixing up the machine shop part of the winery and while doing so has had time to muse about the Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc label and why it is like it is.

You are therefore invited to read these thoughts from 'The Shed' so that when you are sipping Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine, you will know why you may start thinking about Paris.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Be sure to hit this link to last week's 'First Major Spa Honored' club meeting report, which featured a place so obscure that it is mostly inhabited by illegal aliens.

The 'Call for Beano 'List' - asking readers and club members for their favorite Paris restaurants - if they are willingphoto: citroen, mercier, champagne truck 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 and the week before already.

Hint for Allan - this was Mercier's truck for delivering Champagne. Note its hooter.

If you have been paying attention - and the senders of lists have been - you will remember this is to be sort of the Café Metropole Club's own guide, suggested exclusively by its hungrier members. You might trust fellow members taste if you trust your own.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 13. February. This third February meeting marks the definitive end of second February meetings for this year. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte-Béatrice.

Nearly all of the dozens of 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 plastic cards.

Extra-Super Forever-Time Offer IV

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, worth more than a dollar here.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 7.07 - 11. Feb 2002 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column's 'This Magazine Is Online!' After nearly six years lingering doubt was dispelled. The 'Au Bistro' column featured the news that 'Jacques Is Running,' as an opening shot for last year's elections here. There was sort of one feature, titled 'It's Wheelie Time Again at Rétromobile.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 14. February was called the 'First' Valentine Meeting' report of the week. It might have been the 'last' one too. The issue's 'Scene' column doubled its value with fresh 'Year of the Horse' items. Thephoto: sign, peugeot, les amis du lion week's four new 'Posters of the Week' were on their usual pages and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, 'Rétro Valentine.'

This Was Metropole Five Years Ago

Issue 3.07 - 16. February 1998 - The week's Café Metropole column was about weather, with 'Fake Spring Surprises Paris.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Weather and Lucky Valentines.' Weather, weather! There were two features, titled 'The 'Grands Boulevards,' Part 23' and 'On the Ile Saint-Louis - Island in the Sun.' There was no Café Metropole Club update for this issue because the club didn't begin until late the following year. The 'Scene' column was missing but there was an Email feature, with Nicki Ryker's 'Trip of a Lifetime.' The four new 'Posters of the Week' were featured and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Late but Sunny Valentine.' Valentine! Valentine!

Three Count-Downs That Are

Jim 'Exciting Count-Down' Aumanphoto: badge, shelby gt 500 is getting tired of his neighbors pointing him out and saying, "There goes Jim 'Exciting Count-Down' Auman! Why does he do count-downs for that guy in Paris when there's plenty to do here?" But they don't say 'what' there is to do there.

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 132 days off. Otherwise, Hector's 200th birthday is 305 days from now.

The number of days left this year is 317. Jim's latest count-down date is the centennial anniversary of the Tour de France, which will be about 100 this year, sometime.

This makes three count-downs without any new ones being added, plus one anniversary, without a date. I came across a couple of other count-downs for this year - quite important ones - but I've forgotten what I've done with them.
signature, regards, ric

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