Bring Your Own Tapas

photo: saving willy the tugboat

A tricky boating manúuvre in the Tuileries.

'Mardi Noir' Tuesday

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 12. May 2003:- The weather is faithless. It doesn't deserve all the attention I give it and it isn't worth yours either. After all, it is this phantasmagorical scheme of chaos over our heads and trying to stuff it into a describable container is plain hopeless.

This week's coming chaos looks like cool confusion, somewhere in the range of 14 to 18 degrees, with winds from all over, clouds, and little sustained sunshine. If the slice of visible moon rises, you will be unlikely to see it even if it is nighttime.

Tomorrow's skies will be confused and Wednesday's will be more so, but Thursday might be sedated enough to allow some rays of sun before Friday plunges back into near-uniform overcast. You can put it all on a postcard and dump it into a letterbox without a stamp.

As usual, Le Parisien is much more poetic about it all than I am. It starts out with 'good for the grass' followed by good cheer for the Riviera, then on Thursday it is 'good, bad and ugly' with Friday closing it out with 'half and half' - which actually means the southern 'half' of France gets the good stuff and the northern 'half' gets no cookie.

Café Life

Choo-Choo Champs-Elysées

The first episode, I heard on radio France-Info. It said a planned two-hour trip through nighttime Paris turned into a seven-hour convoluted nightmare, and it wasn't until just before sunrise that the convoy transporting a TGV locomotive reached its destination on the Champs-Elysées.

Then here, about 22:30 on the avenue, I was surprised to see a huge transporter hauling some sortphoto: champs elysees 7 may of SNCF suburban passenger car, going in the direction of the city centre from the Porte d'Orléans. Nigel, visiting from Australia, did not appear to be dumbstruck, but he's been in Paris before.

On the Champs-Elysées, for some reason.

On Wednesday we went over to the Champs-Elysées for my monthly visit to the Tourist Office and after it we wandered down the avenue - slogan: 'wide sidewalks and circuses' - to see the sights.

These included some freshly-laid rails with some of the SNCF's latest rolling creations sitting on them. As an exhibition that doesn't officially begin until Saturday, 17. May, the finishing touches are absent. Putting choo-choos on the Champs-Elysées isn't done in one overnight.

Take a look at this week's 'Scene' page for more details, because there is also an artistic exhibition called 'Paris et ses Chemins de Fer' already running, and continuing until 18. July.

Bring Your Own Tapas

Dennis likes to share a pot of red wine in the evenings at the café Le Bouquet, but the kitchen quits in the afternoon after the lunch rush is over - leaving pistachios as the only food and Dennis gets hungry.

There must be something to the mild spring air that draws in the Daguerrotypistas to share these pots, so Dennis arranges to bring some pâté and a baguette, and maybe a plastic sack full of loose olives, and Dimitri lends his all-purpose knife as the lone culinary tool.

No plates are bothered with, so it looks more like a picnic than anything else. Some of the Daguerrotypistas have their glasses of wine and do-it- yourself tapas and leave, and the rest of us stay until we are at the only table without chairs stacked on it.

If it has been successful, then there is only a short block to go before getting to the Village Daguerre café, which has a small but useable terrace, and more liberal open hours.

Dennis thinks Tina had the café's interior repainted in lighter colors in order to attract custom from the snootier cafés in the street, but so far it seems as if it have only become the 'after-hours' mecca of the Daguerrotypistas.

These being the clients of three cafés, there are many happy reunions during these comfortable evenings. There are a half-dozen budget hotels in the area, so some clients from these may drop in too - and maybe wonder if the party is an occasion or not.

Last Wednesday evening, a lone Texan was doing Origami tricks with Eastern Airlines cocktail napkins, for the entertainment of all the Daguerrotypistas present. He might never forget it.

Frog Cooks On Strike

Read this carefully because it is a true 'first' - probably an item destined for the history books. Without anybody informing me, there seems to be a mini-chain of restaurants named 'Frog,' and its cooks have been on strike since Wednesday, 16. April.

Last Saturday about 50 'Frog' employees, supported by CNT union reps, invaded the 'Frog' unit at Bercyphoto: first melons Village, to try and convince the management to conduct negotiations. For the most part, the chain's cooks are Sri Lankans and they don't speak French particularly well.

Maybe not the first melons of the year, but what do I know?

Two cooks were arrested by the police following the invasion of the restaurant - possibly because of an incident concerning tear-gas. The report says the hotel-restaurant union reps have an anarchist inclination, which also posed problems for conducting talks.

According to the Bercy 'Frog' management, the negotiations degenerated. Although the report doesn't say so, I assume the labor stoppage continues 'chez Frog.'

1984 Revisited

George Orwell has a serious fan in Russia named Dag, who wrote to me to ask if he could re-publish some of Metropole's Orwellian musings - I think these amount to one - on his Web site devoted to everything about the 20th century writer who figured out a long time ago what our present 21st century has in store for us.

Dag got into this line in 1997 when he put a text by Orwell online. This caused some problems, which promptedphoto: pizza fat 500 of the week him to look around the Web. He wasn't happy with what he found, so he launched and has been steadily adding to it - so that, six years later it is possibly the Web site to hit if you are seeking exhaustive source material about Eric Blair, who wrote under the name of George Orwell.

You guessed it! Metropole's first 'Frozen Pizza Fiat 500 of the Year.'
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