Men with Naked Ties

photo: cafe vieux chatelet

The café Au Vieux Châtelet is not actually very 'vieux.'

'Mardi Noir' Returns

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 26. May 2003:- The weather news can be mercifully brief this week. Tomorrow is expected to be more mostly sunny than partly cloudy, with a forecast high of 22 degrees.

You may think it is foolhardy to repeat an optimistic forecast, but last week's weather turned out not so dire as predicted. Oh, it rained, it was cool, but not anywhere near the deeply gloomy dismals we were led to expect.

Both Le Parisien and the TV-weather news agree that starting Wednesday, sunshine will largely outnumber any clouds, and temperatures will climb to a more than 'decent-for-this-time-of-year' level of 25 or 26 degrees.

Sunday night's TV-weather news even forecast this situation to last through next Sunday, but this can be nothing other than irresponsible speculation.

Café Life

'She Prefers Men with Naked Ties'

Last week's weather was rainy and cool but it felt irresistibly like spring and Daguerrotypistas were in their favorite cafés to spend their evenings feeling, well, irresistibly springlike.

The visiting Nigel from Oz was back from wherever he went somewhere obscure near Dijon, asking for more pots of rouge in the Bouquet, and he wasn't alone.

As usual - as has become usual - these rounds of pots went on until our table was the only one without chairsphoto: fountain, place chatelet stacked upsidedown on it. Le Bouquet may not have fancy cocktails, but it has a patient tolerance for the emptiers of wine pots before closing time.

Often these sessions begin with constructive criticism of the previous night's rounds of pots. This is how I heard that a new frontier had been crossed on Monday night when - facing having final rounds in the Bistro 48 - Dimitri swerved into the Zango.

A fountain at Châtelet belching water, is about what it looks like.

There are a lot of watering holes on the Rue Daguerre, but I have not been in all of them. This is unlike the old days, when it would have been hard for me to name the ones I hadn't been ejected from.

But old days are in the last millennium. The Zango is in this one and although I may pass it several times a day, I have managed not to swerve into it. From outside it looks like the kind of place that serves fruit drinks with parasols to people failing to pass for a day over 29.

Dimitri didn't swerve in there alone. The leftovers from Tina's were going up that way. When they arrived at the Gassendi crossroad, in front of the Zango, the prospect of having a final pot in the somewhat dismal Bistro 48, forced them into the fruit place.

Dennis' report about the Zango wasn't detailed. "Yeah," he said, "We were in the Zango. It was dark. We made everybody feel younger than they already are."

They could have gone in the viper-green bar with the portholes, but I think only Dimitri has ever done this and it may have been only once. It is a place with a 'happy hour' but it is also the kind of place that never has to honor it because no one knows anybody who has been it more than once.

There is nothing wrong with the Bistro 48 except that it is the last stop. For some, very few, it is a first stop, and they get no further. My guess is that it could be as good as Dieter's place in Barmbek because it is open on Sundays, but Dieter's didn't have good café either.

Just before the Bistro 48 there is another place, a restaurant really, that is sleek and modern and had sleek and modern customers. It is called something like the Penguins and I have had a last café in it with Dimitri, which wasn't bad - but it is not really a café or a bar.

There are other places on Daguerre I have been in only a few times. They are popular with the kind of people who normally wear suits, and can afford them. The first place in the street, the Café Daguerre, I don't care for much because it has been decorated as a faux-warehouse or something. It is somehow claustrophobic.

Years ago, when the Bouquet was getting itself redone, I used to go into Tina's. This one lady runs the bar and the café-machine and does the lunchtime meals and serves them, and the customers are ordinary people from the village. It is a pretty simple place with a few eccentric details.

A short while ago Tina had her small café's walls painted white, which lightened up the place a lot. Dimitri suspected her of trying to draw the overflow crowds of fat-purse suit-people.

As far as I can tell, if this was the aim, it hasn't worked out. Instead, when all the chairs are on all the tablesphoto: zango bar, rue daguerre on the Bouquet, the next pot of rouge gets poured in Tina's. I think the word has gotten around. All of the village's people who need an extra pot are finding themselves in the new, better, Tina's.

Where Dimitri chose Zango instead of Bistro 48.

Except for the places designed for suit-people, most places in the quartier close before 21:00, so instead of doing any needless rounds, you can meet everybody you know in one place, in a good mood, for the final hour before Tina calls it a night too. Even I can stand up the extra hour.

Now that Dimitri has swerved into the Zango, I am curious about it. I can only drink so much café, but in the interests of research I think I should try the Zango too, one of these spring nights after Tina has closed her Village Daguerre.

It might be better than standing in the street in front of the Penguins, deciding not to go into the Bistro 48 across the street, for 45 minutes - before giving up and slipping off in different directions, past no more last cafés.

A Village in the City

I was coming back from an agreeable dinner on the other side of the Avenue du Maine that began as a disaster of smoke mixed with hunger and ended as a sort of garage party without a roof - I mean it was on the roof of a garage - not long before midnight last week.

With only a few cars gliding quietly around a ripple of uninhibited laughter coming out a restaurant's open door struckphoto: wine bar me as being civilized, totally right, at home and welcome, in this big city. Somebody is having a honest good time.

To be more exact, this was in a village in the city of Paris. There used to be a Paris magazine named '100 Villages.' I don't know why it disappeared because the villages haven't. While Paris is certainly a city in every way, it has its varieties of scale.

A 'village' wine bar near the centre of Paris.

It has its pompous parts, classified by UNESCO, and it has its 'grand' parts, and these are all over. But even more all over there are the residential parts. A lot of these are near ghost-town-like after dark because they are middle-class, and this class is never spontaneous enough to needmore than a few restaurants around.

Continued on page 2...
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