On the Terraces

photo: terrace, le rallye peret

From the Rallye Peret terrace in the Rue Daguerre.

More Better 'Mardi Noir'

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 2. June 2003:- Last week's weather was a bit more extreme than the mild prediction for quietly sunny skies and reasonable temperatures. The sun was on the button, but the temperatures escaped upwards.

If it hadn't been for the stinking humidity the 28 to 30 degree highs and the 18 degree lows would have been comfortable, but when the breezes fell to zero, then it felt a bit like warm days and nights in Seville.

Therefore, both residents and visitors were grumbling about the weather. Myself, I like Seville-type weather in the spring or in the fall and know what it can be like if it is 38 degrees and humid.

On Saturday evening Montmartre cooked, tossing hot air into cold clouds, and the result was a lightening show just before sundown. Invisible from my third-floor penthouse was the hail that fell for 45 minutes, along with the lightening.

In some places it piled up depths of 30 centimetres. Some streets, like the Rue du Mont-Cenis, were transformed into a cascade of water, swamping the cross streets. A day later it hadn't all melted. The outlook for Montmartre's vineyard is not rosy.

Then, as if nothing unusual had happened, copious sunshine was on hand again on Sunday. Today started with overcast and cool temperatures and stayed this way without the predicted outburst of afternoon sun.

Although tonight's TV-weather news lady said the weather is 'éléctrique,' she went on to forecast three days of partly sunny, mostly cloudy and partly sunny weather, with uniform highs of 23 degrees. I won't second- guess this.

Café Life

Mouse-Man Day

The signs pasted on windows and doors said the mouse-man was coming on Wednesday to rid my building of unwanted tenants, and that parents shouldn't let babies play in the garbage room.

The sign also mentioned the city ordonnance that forbids keeping mice and rats on the premises, no matter how folkloric they may be. So I wasn't too surprised when the mouse-man rang my buzzer - still stuck to the door frame - and asked me if I was keeping illegal rats.

We were warned that the rodent round-up would last from 9:00 until noon, so I also decided it would be intelligent to use the waiting time until 11:53 to turn on my new-but-used computer box. With some coughing, wheezing, and one or two back-fires, it started.

The mouse-man looked under my sink, which is all white - and clean as a toilet - and who keeps food under a sink? Even mice are smarter. Then he gave me a token mouse-trap to put in another place where there is no food, no crumbs even, and was gone.

This left two hours and 23 minutes to get the new-but-used hard disks scrubbed down to zeros and setphoto: fiat 500, air france bus up to run trouble-free for years to come. One took about 45 minutes, including installing a raw system on it.

Mouse-man type Fiat 500 shown in true perspective for the first time this week.

The other one, by 16:45, had refused all my efforts to force it to admit that it was a hard disk. Since I also discovered that it claimed to be only half the size I thought I bought, mathematically my success score was 63.3 percent, instead of only 50 percent if it had been the advertised size.

This means another trip will be necessary to the geek-junk shop. I wanted to go back anyway to find out if it has some sort of junkyard cat that sheds hair on the machines lying around the floor.

On the Terraces

Friday was a clear and very warm day here. At Inno in Montparnasse I discovered that their blue and white striped tablecloths, to match the dishcloths I am successfully using as curtains, would not be big enough to cover the bed. I should have gotten one first, and then a bed to fit.

After a stop in the green and leafy alley where the Musée du Montparnasse is located - with photos of Che Guevara on exhibit - I washed up on the shady terrace of the café Le Chien Qui Fume. Even without a monumental view, I had 'la vie est belle' for a while. An altogether good café.

Then I wandered down the sunny Rue du Cherche Midi for a long time before turning left towards the Bonphoto: opening bottle Marché department store. I went in it for the first time and admired its ample spaces, but did not find any blue and white textiles big enough to cover my bed.

Somehow I got talking to a fellow who was there taking care of a section full of Daum glass and crystal. I saw some amazing pieces, but nothing that would suit my minimalist idea of a Marseille bedroom.

Getting ready for another dose of drink on a terrace.

One interesting fact emerged from the conversation though. Although some of Daum's pieces on show at their Park Avenue shop in Manhattan are unique to that shop, others that are here too can be had for a price that could include round-trip airfare and maybe a couple of apéritifs on a café terrace.

Exploring further, I found what seemed to be most of the store's shoppers on the highest floor, past the luggage, in a section full of buttons and beads and other doodads.

Did you know that some buttons can be had in eight sizes and eight different colors? Anybody more clever than me could make a whole jacket out of buttons. No trouble getting a replacement if one fell off either.

I left the Bon Marché with a lot left of it to see some other time and found another café terrace in the Rue Saint-Placide, also without a monumental view. I forget its name, but I pass it a couple times a year and its terrace always has wayfarers resting between sessions of shopping.

There is a dessert of cafés going up the Rue de Rennes. If you can make it to the boulevard, it is best to keep on going up the Rue d'Odessa to Edgar Quinet, where there is a selection of café terraces, with a choice of awnings or leaves for shade.

Later on, about sundown I went down the Avenue Leclerc just to be outside without a coat some more, on a wide sidewalk under the plane trees, not yet lit by streetlights but with the neons making their tubular lights.

The big café Zeyer at Alésia was like a yellow lighthouse lying on its side. It doesn't have a proper terrace, but like many cafés all of its windows were open and there were free tables just inside them. I never drink Perrier, but I had my third one of the day.

Sunset is late in Paris. So you can appreciate it more, streetlights are not turned on until about a half hour afterphoto: rue daguerre, night it does down. For a while it is fairly dark, except for headlights and neons. It feels good to be taking it slowly in the semi-darkness, drawing ever closer to the lights of the next café.

The Rue Daguerre just after sundown.

When the streetlights do go on, they give off a soft yellowish light. Sometimes their heads are in the leaves of trees, and the soft light is mostly on green - and since it was only the end of May, it was a fresh green.

At one restaurant I passed I saw the tops of familiar heads. Just behind them the terrace window was open, so I stuck in my head and said 'bonsoir' to a tableful of Daguerrotypistas. Terrace days are about 16 hours long these days.

Café Life continues on its own extra page.

Anti-Spam War Kills Legit Emails

If your emails to this magazine have been batted back to you with a label of 'spam' attached, do not be offended. You haven't sent me any 'spam' and I haven't batted it back.

Somewhere in the Internet system, somebody is fighting against 'spam' and while doing so they are preventing a lot of legitimate messages from getting to their proper destinations.

Six weeks ago 'spam' reached some sort of pinnacle of garbage. Out of hundreds of messages - with dozens of attachments - received daily, only about 10 percent were bona-fide messages.

For about the past ten days, the total volume seems to have been cut by about 60 or 70 percent - with legitimate messages suffering unjustly from the same percentage of cuts.

Even if you haven't been writing to Metropole, you may have noticed that you aren't getting some email newsletters that you've subscribed to. It seems like everybody is in the same boat, and nobody seems to know who is at the helm.

On a related note, May has been a particularly chaotic month here at Metropole's editorial niche. Changingphoto: cafe la corona Internet access, upgrading equipment, dislodging furniture, strikes, multiple visitors and long weekends have all played a part in my slowness to respond to some the emails that have been getting through the 'spam' barriers.

Another terrace - one familiar to many club members.

The calendar says there is only one long weekend in June - next week - so I expect a gradual return to operations as normal as they ever get. By writing it out, I have probably axed any chance of this, but let's be optimistic.

'About' Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

The most recent news about Metropole's wine was the report by Allan Pangborn about taking the wine to the 'Taste Washington' exhibition in Seattle, where visitors to the Moonlight booth had to stand in line to get a taste or two. Use this link to take you to this news about Metropole's sparkling wine, with vague links to all the previous 'news' about it.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Click this link lightly to get last week's "I have a thing for macaroons" club meeting report, the one featuring a monster 'City of the Week' that was not Chicago.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 5. June. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint-Igor. This is another one on the calendar but with nothing in my saints-book. I am getting a great desire to create histories for these orphans, or even make substitutions such as Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, which is near Bayonne and has old houses and ramparts.

Only a few of the minor details concerning the club can be found handily grouped on the all-purpose 'About the Club' page, because there aren't more than a few. The virtual membership card on this page may also be useful, but not for getting discounts. It is free though.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago:

Issue 7.23/24 - 3/10. June 2002 - This double issue began with the Café Metropole column, 'Home Sweet Home' followed by an update of 'Café Life' titled 'Flat Hunting, Part 44.' This issue had two 'Au Bistro' columns, with 'No News In a Very Tiny Nutshell' and 'All Together Now, Turn Right!' There were two updates for the Café Metropole Club meetings on 6. June and 13. June, with the "Something Pulled Us Here" report followed by the 'Nothing of the Week' report. The Scene column's title was 'Roller Days Are Back.' Again. There were six new 'Postersphoto: sign, rue pierre au lard of the Week' and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' appeared twice, with one captioned, "Great Flyer!" and the other, 'Let's Wake Her Up.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 6.23 - 4. June 2001 - This issue's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Free Lunch Is Over.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'The Big Fish Story.' It wasn't the first one either. The features of the week were titled 'Half the Free Sights' and 'Anyone for Etchings?' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 7. June had a kind of instructional 'Lost and Found' report. The 'Scene' column's title was the 'Future' Gets Longer.' There were the four sparkling 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon announced, "I've Seen Your Engravings." The on-again off-again Photo Page had, simply, 'Champs-Elysées.'

'Mardi Noir' Part Five

The government, after a meeting today, is reported as having said Maybe! to demands that the proposed decentralization measures be shelved, but only until fall. Students and teachers will be able to do their exams now, and resume the strikes during the 'rentrée.' The government hopes the teachers will not remember to do this

TV-news suggested that the government's strategy of giving a bit of leeway on the decentralizationphoto: sunglasses issue would permit them to remain hardnosed about their 'reform' plans for retirement issues. However, the retirement plans will affect teachers too, so it doesn't seem like much of a 'strategy.'

Meanwhile, a splendid 'Mardi Noir' is planned for tomorrow, and as far as public transport goes, it will have begun tonight. There is some confusion about who is involved - maybe fewer than on 13. May - but tonight's TV-news gave this forecast:

- Métro - 50 percent operational
- Buses - two out of three
- RER - two out of three
- TGV - one out of three
- Eurostar - normal schedule
- Air France - one flight out of three, with long-distance flights 'normal.' For 'normal' see this week's Email from Grace and Colin Lim.
- Air controllers - expected to be on strike until Thursday
- Truckers - all sizes, everywhere
- Autoroutes - south of France, free passage
- Public transport - throughout France, varying degrees
- Expect post offices to be closed, as well as some banks. Other public sectors affected will be tax collectors, France Télécom and EDF services

Labor organizations have also hinted that tomorrow's 'Mardi Noir' may last for more than 24 hours.

Recent experience with 'Mardis Noirs' has led to an upsurge in hotel bookings, which are supposed to have increased by 50 percent suddenly. All scooters have already been rented. Presumably rental bikes have been scooped up too, because bicycle sales are reported to be a high level.

For Diehard Hardcore Countdown Fans

With minimum fanfare, the number of days left this year is 212. This may not seem like an overly long time until 2004, but who can tell?. Otherwise it is nearly no time at all until summer, which is 'officially' only 20 short days from today.
signature, regards, ric

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