'Red Dirt' Arrives In Paris!

photo: group, tod, gary, tee-ag, waiter of the week, justin, susan

From left, Tod, Gary, Tee-Ag, the Waiter of the Week,
Justin and Susan.

No Nada Nunca 'City of the Week'

Paris:- Thursday, 27. March 2003:- On account of the overly- optimistic weather prediction here last week, last Friday turned turtle and defied its forecast blueness. It threw a depressing blanket of damp-feeling gray over a city and a club secretary expecting sunbeams.

Luckily this unfortunate incident only lasted one day, and Parisians have been basking since Saturday. Temperatures have shot up from 'average' to a sizzling 20 or 21 - "Three or four degrees above normal for this time of year," said tonight's TV-weatherman, omitting to say that 'normal' for this time of year is three or four degrees 'below normal.'

It remains a mystery why the TV-weather person even bothers to claim that there is 'normal' weather here in March. But to be frank, I am not sure about last year because I was in New York, experiencing 'below normal' temperatures there.

But enough of the dim, distant past. I must revise the forecast I gave this afternoon to today's club members - from good to gloomy - and upgrade it to 'average-to-average.' This means the all blue skies will not be withphoto: beautiful minnesota red dirt us on Saturday or Sunday - I forget which - but temperatures will not take the plunge to 'average' as I said - they will remain at about what it was at 18:30 this afternoon - about 21 degrees, or about 70 F.

Real beautiful 'Red Dirt' from northern Minnesota.

I'm saying this is the forecast for next Sunday, the next-to-last day of March. Equally frankly, I'll believe this if I see it. Golly! Forecasting 21 degrees for the last day of March is sheer daredevilism.

Before going to the club this afternoon I switched my pockets' contents to my trusty light-weight jacket in a fit of optimism that wasn't misplaced. I intended to walk in the sunshine from Montparnasse to the La Corona clubhouse too, but mislaid the time for it.

Taking the métro made up the time, but I did not squander it by taking utility photos - except for one of the café La Corona's terrace, which was not yet occupied by many baskers. Monsieur Ferrat said he expected them to arrive at any moment.

In the club's area inside the café, I find Gary Martin waiting for the club's secretary, before 15:00. Breaking the 'rules' that aren't, I switch into secretary mode and go about the business of trying to remember the meeting's number, the day of the week and the date.

Gary comes from Park Rapids, Minnesota. He came to the club's first meeting in October 1999 and his member number is two. That meeting, 177 meetings ago, set the tone of the club forever when his sister, Marion Mann, made the unforgettable 'quote of the week,' "Paris has ugly dirt."

Since then Gary has attended several meetings, but he must think this one is special because he has brought an authentic sample of Minnesota's 'beautiful' red dirt. This is the dirt that makes Paris' dirt look ugly. Marion gave it to Gary to bring to the club, to lend truth to her long-ago quote.

Gary pours it out of an Advil capsule into a baggie so we can get a good look at it. It is red alright.

What with Minnesota not having much real iron ore anymore, this red dirt is being collected and made into Taconite pellets, which are turned into some low-grade steel that undercuts the price of high-grade imported steel, but isn't good for much else. It sure is nice looking dirt though.

Before we can fully discuss the utility of having enough steel to keep the United States under construction, Tod Sandersphoto: books, on the road, j kerouac, tropic of cancer, h miller arrives from Annency and Sevilla. He has been on a long trip from Rochester, New York, and it looks as if Spain's true sun has agreed with him.

All the same he says he is going to move to Florida. Doing this will reduce the club's active Rochester members to one - but add to the sizeable Florida contingent.

Evidence of one of the club's first true lit-meets.

However Rochester remains important as the home of Eastman Kodak. Tod muses, "I wonder if the digital camera is going to affect the Japanese real estate market. Before digital everybody had to have an extra room to keep their holiday photos, negatives and slides in - now they can get along with smaller apartments."

I begin wonder if French builders anticipated this by building smaller apartments in the first place, but am interrupted by the arrival of today's new member, Justin McFarr.

Casting about frantically for a 'City of the Week' I ask Justin for the name of his 'home town,' because he's written Los Angeles in the members' booklet. He confesses to Sherman Oaks, California.

Right here - interrupting this 'report' - i appeal to any member who has a spare Macintosh G3 Powerbook to offer for a fair but low price. Without having one at meetings I can't possibly remember 'Cities of the Week' we've already had - like Sherman Oaks - and trying to remember members' names above member number ten is getting increasingly difficult.

Any kind of G3 Powerbook will do just so long as it has lots of memory - lots! - a 14" screen, 40 Mo harddisk and a CD-ROM-writer, and a Fréñch- àçcènted AZERTY keyböârd.

Back to the meeting - the true 'first' of this meeting is not having a 'City of the Week.' If I had known Sherman Oaks might have got it during meeting number seven, I could have asked Susan Ellis for one of her 'home towns,' because she has a about five to spare.

But first, Justin has brought two good books for the club. They are Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road' and 'Tropic of Cancer' by Henry Miller, who is better known as Anaïs Nin's boyfriend - or was that Nelson Algren?

One of the two books has a Book Crossing ID number. I do not hear Justin's explanation about this because I notice he is putting his name in the full members' booklet number one instead of booklet number three. Whatever it is, give it a try. 'Book Crossing' I mean.

Yes, I've forgotten to mention Susanphoto: book, wine and war Ellis' arrival, from the Montsouris area of the 14th arrondissement. Considering the nature of events the world has been experiencing recently, her poetry weekend had a good enough turnout.

Tod is telling us about taking three days to get to Paris from Annency by train - "There willbe a spontaneous strike between 13:00 and 14:00 next Friday," he jokes. He says he liked Annency, even for two extra days.

Nobody had time to speed-read Tod's new book about Paris.
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