Sunball Days

photo: terrace la corona

No flash-in-a-pan, this was La Corona's terrace last Thursday.

Tracking Down a Demo

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 17. March 2003:- Last week's flop of a sunny weather forecast is now in history's trashcan. It has been replaced by true and real 'indestructible sunshine,' which is evident to the unaided naked eyeball from about seven in the morning until sundown around 19:00 in the afternoon.

From my experience of looking at the sky, I rate its clearness at about 96 percent - which is as good as it can get without becoming completely 100 percent glassy. This is quite rare for Paris, although it happens sometimes for a week in February. For mid-March, it is nothing less than miraculous.

Today's forecast is a very simple one. Sunshine is predicted every day until Friday, for all of France. Highs in Paris are not expected to exceed 15 degrees. If you want more, Biarritz will be the place to be.

This is due, according to TV-weather news, to the Azores 'high' being here for a change instead of in the location of the Azores. It finally found its way.

What is the believability quotient of this forecast? Without reference to either today's newspaper weather or this evening's TV-weather news, I rate the forecast at 95 percent until Wednesday, and 65 percent thereafter.

Only exceptional weather ever brings us a solid week of sunshine. I cannot recall a recent occurrence - not unless I think back to the extraordinary year of 1976. Of course, my memory is not as reliable as it used to be either.

Café Life

Lonesome Prairie, Continued

My last five crabby days at the Cadillac Ranch went pretty quickly, broken as they were by a day off for the Café Metropole Club's secretary to attend a club meeting and put its notes online.

This, and the Monday in Paris to put last week's edition online, made Tiger the cat all the more friendly whenphoto: dafodils, spring, 10 c, chipmunks I returned to the ranch. Tiger especially appreciated my remembering to bring a lot of tuna in little tins - favorite brand, 'Petit Navaire.'

My reward was waking up with Tiger purring in my ear on account of us sharing one smallish pillow. Another reward was getting a surprise wash for my dirty face with Tiger's sandpaper-like tongue. On Saturday I woke up bow-legged, with Tiger in the middle of the 'bow,' which prevented me from turning on either side.

Here it is - 10 degrees in the shade of a 'Chipmunk Crossing.'

In other areas Tiger showed little interest in documentaries on Arte-TV, and none in the one DVD I watched. I forgot where to find the satellite channels on any of the three remote controls, so Tiger did not get to see any CNN or BBC Prime news. The cat was so content with this that it happily chewed my sweater - or maybe it was finding tidbits I'd dribbled on it.

I cannot be certain, but I think Tiger slept about 23 hours a day. At least she wasn't around much as I trashed about 400 emails a day - about 300 for WFI and 175 for Metropole.

I mention this because your email might have been one of them. I was getting Metropole's through 'Web2Mail' which works pretty good - it disappears all attachments - but sometimes it vaporizes perfectly legitimate emails. If you are waiting for a reply from me, maybe you should resend.

Finally, back from the wide open prairie on Saturday, it was good to be in Paris, and good to go to a street demonstration just to get back into the true mood of the place.

70,000 'Lost' Demonstrators

Reading Le Parisien to find out what is going to happen is a guessing game. The 'Demo of the Day' is announced in the day's edition as a traffic incident, as in 'stay away from the Place de la Nation' at 14:00 on Saturday.

In fact there were three demos on Saturday. One at République at 14:00, another at an unknown timephoto: rue lappe, 11th between Sèvres-Babylon and the Avenue de Ségur, and the anti-war one, mentioned merely as, 'De la Nation à la République à 15h.'

For some demonstrations, use the Rue Lappe shortcut.

Nation to République is a common route, but it can run straight down the Boulevard Voltaire, or it can take the longer Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine to Bastille, and then turn up the Boulevard Beaumarchais towards République.

I couldn't 'see' the last demo that started from Denfert-Rochereau because I couldn't get to the front of it. So on Saturday I decided to 'find' the head of the demo by walking towards it. I started at métro Richard Lenoir in the hope that I could cover both possible routes.

No cops is a signal of no demo, so I switched slightly right at the Place Léon Blum, to head down the Avenue Ledru Rollin towards the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Cops blocking traffic at Rue de Charonne showed this was right, but I could see marchers already passing west along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

So I took the Rue de Charonne west, but after it turned, I could see the marchers again. Then I took the Rue de Lappe to get to Bastille quickly. Along the way a TV crew asked me how I liked the Quartier, and I said it was a fine shortcut to Bastille.

The head of the demo was beyond Bastille when I arrived and the middle of it was passing through the big place. This at least told me the demo was not a quarter-million strong.

Sunday's Le Parisien put the number at 60-80,000. Anti-war political leaders were at the front, followed by American residents of Paris. I saw Turks, Kurds, and Palestinians, somewhere in the middle. According to the paper, Socialist supporters mingled with the anarchists, Communists and Trotskyist LO party, at the rear.

In Paris, it was a perfect day for it. Smaller rallies took place in the Paris region, and throughoutphoto: bastille France. Really big numbers were out - in contrast - with 600,000 reported to be in the streets of the capital of Yemen, 100,000 in Berlin, 400,000 in Milan and 300,000 in Barcelona, and a lot in Madrid. TV-news showed demonstrators in Washington, DC too.

For all the stand-ups at Bastille, there were hundreds sitting on café terraces.

But the problem remains - of how to join a demo in Paris if you can't be at its launch site on time. Only experience helps, plus watching out for where the police are controlling traffic. Having good hearing also helps to pinpoint a noisy parade of protesters.

Oddly, every Friday Le Parisien publishes a fairly detailed route of the evening's Friday Night Roller Rando. Drivers of course never read this, because they are always complaining of being held up by it if they run into its path. They might have to wait for 20 minutes.

But 60-80,000 demonstraors can bring a quarter of Paris to a standstill for an entire Saturday afternoon.


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