Later Than Usual

photo: cafe delmas, pl contrescarpe

Sunshine at a popular crime novel scene - in the
Place Contrescarpe.

How Much of This is True?

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Tuesday, 15. April 2003:- Last week's weather here isn't worth remembering, even if it wasn't so bad. Wasn't 'so bad' even with the persistent northeast wind that cut to the bone, making it necessary to find streets without it. Or, maybe, that was the week before.

Maybe it wasn't as sunny as predicted. Whatever it was or wasn't, it was last week. This week we have brand-new weather, with a return to spring. This mainly applies to the Paris part of France - other parts have mucky- weather alerts.

The crummiest weather day this week is today. High clouds made the sky look white until about 14:00 when it turned blue. As an accessory, the sun is shining too. Finally, the treat in our box of Crackerjack is the temperature, which has levered itself up to 21 degrees.

For tomorrow, Le Parisien's curved lines disappear from the map of France, leaving all skies clear withphoto: fiat 500 of the week occasional clouds everywhere except Normandy. For Paris the temperature is predicted to be 24 whopping degrees - five to eight degrees above 'normal.'

Back by popular demand - the 'Fiat 500 of the Week.'

Erase the clouds for Thursday, bump the degrees up a point, and we may have the best-weather day of the year. Friday and Saturday are promised to be the same, but with temperatures backsliding down to 21 and then 19, but with sunny skies. Nothing perfect lasts forever, does it?

How much of this is true? Repeating wrong weather forecasts has happened so often that I tend to be skeptical of everything except mis-forecasts.

Another hint is the fact that next weekend will be Easter. It is pretty late this year. When it is earlier it usually tries to snow. It is not snowing now even though some folks are still skiing in the Alps and the Pyrenees. It might be bumpy skiing, but it is still skiing.

All in all, I do not think it will snow next Easter weekend in Paris. Italian visitors can leave their fancy winter outerwear at home.

Café Life

On My Day Off

Unlike today, Tuesday is usually my 'day off.' Last week I was better organized and I got to the marché early and I got the place cleaned up after the shambles left over from doing an issue.

Then Dennis phoned and asked me if it was my 'café time' yet, and being either carefree or couldn't-care-lessphoto: notre dame de travail de plaisance I met him and we exchanged 'tours of the horizon' as the big-time diplomats say when they don't want to say exactly what it was they really did say.

I wouldn't say this. I don't want to say I forget the reason for the meeting either. But it led to walking around. I think Dennis had a 'find' he wanted to show me, but we didn't find it.

The metal and wood interior of Notre-Dame du Travail.

On the way to nowhere, over in the west, he asked me if I'd ever seen the 'iron' church. I hadn't so we turned off the Rue Guilleminot and entered the Notre-Dame du Travail du Plaisance church and gave it some close examination.

Apparently the church has lost some of its original frescos representing Saint-Eloi, patron saint of the metallos, and Saint-Joseph, for the woodworkers. In the absence of either, Dennis represented the metallos with his expired railroad union card, and I with my expired woodworkers union membership.

Both the church's woodwork and metalworks met high union standards. Our inspection complete, we left and crossed under the Montparnasse railroad tracks to the 15th arrondissement and wandered around for a while without finding the 'find.'

What we neglected to do was look for the cheap printer ink place. This we did on Friday, with me leading the way. Finally, a kid in a café with tapas said it was around the corner. He was right, but they didn't have a replacement for Dennis' ink cartridge. They said they might be able to refill the original, but when Dennis went back a day later, there was some technical hitch.

None of this is the reason for Dennis' trip to Rome and Naples this week. He wants to find a home away from home in Italy, possibly in Rome. He knows a neighborhood there like ours in Paris.

Okapi Knives, Continued

In 1998 Metropole carried a modest discussion about ideal knives for picnics in Paris. This led to reply in an email feature from John McCulloch, who praised the 'Okapi' knife that he'd found to be widely used in Jamaica.

He wrote, "This style was in use by many of the Jamaican workers as it was easy to use and quite versatile. The Jamaicans could open it with one hand by hooking a finger in the ring attached to the hinging area of the knife as the ring was part of the locking rachet. I never mastered that particular trick but I used it for everything from cutting light rope to slicing tarps and plastic."

And then he added, "It wasn't until I was cleaning it up for the photos to send, that I 'discovered' its brand name 'Okapi' and that it was from Germany. Why a German product, named for a relative of the African giraffe, was popular in Jamaica - I'll leave for someone else to explain."

'Ed' responded with, 'I don't know why 'Okapi' knives are - or were - a favorite in Jamaica. A Web-search on knives turned up dealers, including some in Germany and Austria who deal in special tools for the police, armed forces and firemen. But I found no 'Okapi' knives.'

Last Sunday, 13. April, I received a new email. "We would like to introduce ourselves as thephoto: shop, bazar des ecoles manufacturer of the Okapi knives that were previously manufactured in Germany from 1902. Since 1987 the knives have been manufactured in South Africa to the same specifications and quality standard.

Increasingly rare bag, pot, mop, everything, shop.

"The reason why we are contacting you is that during an Internet search last year we came across an email that had been sent to you by John McCulloch regarding the Okapi knives in Jamaica

"We are pleased to inform you that the Okapi knife is as popular as ever in Jamaica with us exporting container lots to Jamaica on a regular basis.

"We are furthermore pleased to inform you that we do have a website and that we invite you to visit it to obtain information about our company and view all the products we manufacture."

After being in suspense for five years I quickly turned to the 'Okapi' Web site, and saw what appears to be the very knife described by John McCulloch in 1998. Thanks for this are due to Okapi's export manager, Mrs. Renate Voss, and to the WorldWideWeb without which few of these truly amazing true stories would be possible.

'About' Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

In this issue Allan Pangborn reports about taking Metropole's wine to the 'Taste Washington' exhibition in Seattle last week, where visitors to the Moonlight booth had to stand in line to get a taste. Use this link to take you to the latest news about Metropole's sparkling wine, with vague links to all the previous 'news' about it.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Tiptap this link to last week's 'The Return of Bongo' clubphoto: shop, gepetto et velos meeting report. A fine meeting was had by all members who attended and the club's secretary. Bongo declined to comment.

Not so rare bike shop - on account of the city's bike lanes for pedal crazies.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 17. April. The saint's day of the week will be Saint-Anicet. This saint is not listed under saint's names, but is found as Pope Anicet, who actually had a longish run from 155 to 166, before being martyred during the time of Marcus Aurelius, who was a part-time Stoic.

Nearly all of the many details concerning the club - not much more than the club's address is useful to know - are handily placed on the one-stop 'About the Club' page. The virtual membership card on this page may be useful, but only one member has ever said so.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 7.16 - 15. April 2002 - This skimpy issue began with the Café Metropole column's 'The Weather News Is All There Is.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was, 'Before You Know It the Elections Will Be Over.' The update for the Café Metropole Club meetings on 18. April featured the 'New 'First Extinct Volcano' report. This issue's 'Scene' columnphoto: sign, rue basse des carmes had 'Maybe Just a Skim, Not Skimpy.' There were four sparkling new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' had the caption, 'Out of Gas?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 6.16 - 16. April 2001 - The week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'The Issue of Fashion.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'Neighborhood Bomb Site.' The feature of the week was titled 'In the Ex-Rue des Rats - Looking for Romans.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 19. April had a "It Was Like Coming On a Stagecoach!" report. The 'Scene' column headline was, 'This Is Paris After All.' There were the usual four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon was captioned, 'The Annual Fashion Tip,' which have proved not to be annual. This issue's Photo Page featured 'Boules in the Arènes de Lutèce.'

Birthday for Georges Simenon

Of all the writers I know next to nothing about, I probably know the least about Georges Simenon. I regard this lack as a black hole in my personal 'lit history' but after watching his works translated to television, I was never able to force myself to read more than 10 pages of one of his books. And I tried twice.

Since this year is the 100th anniversary ofphoto: sign, scuplture, 4th arr the birth of Georges Simenon there is no reason for a count-down, mainly because I don't know the exact date, and I forgot to look it up.

But since this is Metropole's first - and possibly last 'crime' issue - I have been in crime locales, museums and libraries, and a flyer announcing an exciting contest has gotten fastened to me. First prize is a week in New York for two. If this isn't appealing, then there are other prizes.

This has been organized by the publisher Omnibus and the contest can be found on their Web site. All you have to do is answer 15 easy - maybe for you! - questions on a handy Web-form and pop it back. Click on the moving text band to pull up the Web-form frame with the questions.

For crime-stressed count-down fans, the number of days left this year is 260. This may seem like a long time until 2004, and it still seems to be a long time until summer, which is 'officially' only 69 ever-longer days from yesterday. Unofficially, we will be having a preview of summer tomorrow here.
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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