Elvis Costello

photo: group, christina witsberger, susanne chaney

Small 'group of the week' allows for names. On the left, Christina Witsberger and Susanne Chaney on the right.

Is Not a Club Member, Yet

Paris:- Thursday, 19. June 2003:- I forget what the forecast was, but yesterday was a beautiful day, for summer, only four days off, here. This is the same as last week was - Wednesday was great.

Today was supposed to be great too, but too much greatness isn't good for the soul, so we have had cooler overcast this morning, which gradually has given way to general sunshine - and rising humidity.

All in all, as it is just about to end - this has been the best summer we've ever had during a spring in Paris that I can remember. Easily as good as in 1976. Well, maybe, almost. Who can remember that long ago?

Now, today, it is vital to know what the weather will be like on Saturday. Specifically, on Saturday evening, because it will be the Fête de la Musique. Gene Kelly won't be here, but there will be music in the streets all over town. We don't want any droopy weather for this - the evening with the longest shadows and the shortest night of the year.

The TV-weather news lady has let us down again, slightly. She said Friday will start off with some clouds, but these will give way to general sunshine, with a high temperature of about 26 C. After saying it will be ten degrees more in Marseille, she quickly slipped in that Saturday and Sunday will be the same, if not warmer.

For confirmation I turn to Le Parisien's weather maps from this morning. For Saturday they've written, 'Voilà, c'est l'été.' It says this is part of the lyrics from a song by Les Négresses Vertes, which I guess means we are to have pop weather, to coincide with the first official day of summer..

It doesn't matter what type of musical weather it is just so long as the sunbeams are there - here! - so we can all put on our Hawaiian shirts and rubber flip-flops and groove around all night long.

To aid this, the RATP will run métros on six lines plus RER 'A' and 'B' within the city, from 01:45 to 05:30 onphoto: citron presse Sunday morning. The other aid will be an all-night single ticket costing 2.50euro 3 sign, as sort of an unlimited 'Festif' pass. The ticket will be useable starting from 17:00 on Saturday to 07:00 on Sunday, and will be good for all suburban services too.

Today's experimental citron-pressé, turns out to be a bit sour.

Today has also been the occasion of the probable final 'Mardi Noir,' held for unknown reasons on Thursday. There have been the usual street demonstrations in Paris and elsewhere, but with less manpower than last week. Whether these actions will resume in September depends on what the government will do between now and then.

So, therefore, on today's last 'Jeudi Noir' for a while, I get a free métro ride to Châtelet. Underground, the weather is a lot muggier than on the surface when I leave Montparnasse, but just about the same when I emerge on the Rue de Rivoli.

There are few terrassians lining the edges of the Quai du Louvre, and just as few on the terrace of the club's café, La Corona. The 'grande salle' is nearly empty except for some old ladies having a loud, good time, in the club's area. By chance - by great good luck? - I get a copy of the métro's 'A Nous Paris' coming out of the Châtelet station, and it has a close-to- complete list of the musical events for Saturday.

I am reading the musical listings for east Paris when club member Christina Witsberger arrives from Washington, DC. Although she landed a few hours ago she says she is not jetlegged.

To hook my memory of her relationship to the club, she reminds me of her 'Question of the Week' from 2001. She wanted to know why, whenever she ordered a citron-pressé, she always got a full glass of squeezed, concentrated lemon juice.

I never had an answer to this question. Therefore, she orders a citron- pressé and it arrives only half-full, which is a bit more than correct, but with only one sachet of sugar.

Christina is a bit surprised by the weather. She left Washington in hopes of cooling off in Paris. "At least," she says, "The Marais is not as swampy as Washington."

On her last visit, Christina was looking forward to hearing some Chopin, but this time mentions thatphoto: food of the week, meringue she has never been to the top of the Tour Eiffel. This reminds her to ask about the difference between Elvis and Johnny Hallyday.

Merinngue is the 'Food of the Week' whether anybody likes it or not.

The difference is, I think - but my carefully thoughtful opinion is interrupted by the arrival of club member Susanne Chaney, from Fairfax, California. She is staying the Rue - which? - but says, "We're not eating in any of those places." The hotel, at least, 'has a bar.'

She and her husband have also discovered a novelty bar in the Rue Monsieur-le-Prince. "Drinks come in baby bottles with nipples on them," she says, and thoughtfully, "The DJ didn't quite make it."

She wants to know about today's front-page photo in Libération, and says, "Yesterday there were balloons flying all over Paris." She saw them from the restaurant 'George' on the top floor of the Pompidou Centre.

Next, the ladies compare maps. Christina's was published in 1988, and Susanne's is so new that it carries the name of the Seine Quai named early this week after François Mitterrand. "Forty names changed a year!" she says.

Christina says her plane was full. Susanne says her's was full of 'French people.' According to the ladies, the airlines have fewer planes in service these days, so over-booking is a serious problem again.

Waiting to check in, Christina says that people come down the line offering cash for giving up seats. Before I can fantasize about this too much, she says they are airline employees, trying to bribe passengers to take later flights - that are also possibly over-booked.

Instead of getting to Paris, you might be able to stay in a Newark airport hotel for two weeks, and cash in $400 per day.

Christina foils this by buying a ticket with a firmly-booked seat, and then going on the Web to the airline's site and switching her seat for another, better one.

Susanne then shows us her violently-red Swatch watch she got in the Place Vendôme. This is what club members do instead of wasting their money in the Ritz bar across the place.

On music, Susanne says, "I don't want to know anything about Moby Dick, I want to see Trance." She has memorized all the details about the last Fête de Musique - her last, in 2001.

On bars, Susanne says, "You know the portions are really small. Two French people sat down, orderedphoto: susanne trip book two cocktails, drank 'em and left without paying." Then without any apparent gear-change, Susanne says, "Diana Krall just got engaged to Elvis Costello."

Susanne's 'trip book,' volume 3, contains a third of the names of - everything! - she has ever seen and done in Paris.

When I ask who this might be she says, "English pop star with big horn-rimmed glasses." About the Diana Krall, I don't bother asking.

This is only a minor bucketful of what seems like a stream - nay, river - of consciousness defying accurate notes, so we arrive at the time to pay the café's note.

"What do you have? I have so much change," Susanne says. "I gotta get rid of some of it. I owe you ten, how much is it? Did you pay for yours?"

Susanne takes back the kilo of change and replaces it with paper bills, and more coins. She says, "I have lost years in Paris, and every time I come back. I find them again."

"Have you seen the three-card monte? You gotta watch out for pickpockets."

The 'Group Photo of the Week' is taken out on the café's terrace, but it is not as dynamic as the inside shots. "So where are we going to meet?" Susanne asks Christina.

An eating place is described as being near Port-Royal, and a favorite of Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, but is really in the 7th arrondissement - a newly-opened place called the 'Atelier.' Susanne says no reservations are needed - just get into the bar there, and you are almost in line.

Then she shows me her favorite bed. It looks like a sardine can. Actually, it is a picture postcard of a bed-like-a-sardine-can exhibit in the Pompidou Centre.

She asks Christina, "Do you really need to go back to your hotel?" She says she decided two nights ago what she is going to eat tonight - steak tartare and - and I don't catch the 'and.'

"Like the Buddha Bar, we went there on our anniversary, and there's a Gay disco we want to go to on -" Iphoto: cash for drinks don't catch the street name - "Gotan Project," which is subtitled, 'Quand le Tango Rencontre l'Electro.' "There's all the music in the background when you're walking around Paris."

Today's 'take' for La Corona.

Christina disappears and Susanne waits for me on the café's terrace and we walk across the Pont des Arts to the Quartier Latin. The bridge's new decking is almost finished. At the other side, Susanne knows a shortcut through the Institut de France, but I stick to going around through the right side, to the Rue de Seine.

About a block up, somebody has pasted a Fête de Musique 'reserved parking' sign to the sidewalk. Fat chance, I think. Susanne continues on to Buci, while I angle up to the Boulevard Saint-Germain to the métro station.

I hope I can get a free ride from the métro, but the barrier demands a ticket. 'Mardi Noir' is over, this Thursday.

The 'Hat Story of the Week'

This is actually not about hats, but about a real non-event in my apartment building. The only thing left to do to get cable-Internet to my computer, is to get the key to the garbage room door. The cable access is in there somewhere.

When the TV antenna was switched from the cable-TV to the house antenna, the technician went in there, and did the switch back in a jiffy. But now the door is locked and I've never gotten a key, because my landlord has never gotten the key from the building management - which I continue to think is based in Panama.

My next-door neighbor has a key but he doesn't know where it is. He thinks it may be unfindable. After getting back from the club today, there was no sign of life at any of the other five doors on my floor.

So I tried again just before thephoto: reserved parking, fete de la musique news at 20:00. A couple at the opposite end of the hallway were in, but they didn't have a key. They never had one they said. They suggested I jimmy the door.

Right after the news at 21:00, I tried the other doors again. The one to the left of the door at the opposite end of the hall opened and the gent there said he had no key, and he'd lived there for two years.

The most unlikely 'no parking' sign in Paris.

Basically, everybody survives without a key like I do. I prefer to carry my garbage downstairs and toss it into the bins on the ground floor. But this leaves a question - if nobody has a key, who locked the door?

There is a 'fixit' guy who lives on the eighth floor. He's the one with the pineapple on the roof and the tabac-sign attached to the house's TV antenna, because, he told me, he used to be a sailor. If he hasn't got the key, I'll bet he knows who does. Buying him a beer at the café may help to get it.

About the 'Café Metropole Club' About Page

Being a member of this club is pretty low-stress, compared to being its secretary. If you care to read the 'About the Café Metropole Club' page it will tell you a bit about the club and how laid-back it appears to be. Being free and having citron-pressés are its other plus-points. If lots of needless information is your goal, I suggest that you think twice about joining this club.

You can give this 'About' page a pass if its needless details are superfluous. Knowing more than the one fact that you can become a lifetime member of this online magazine's live, free and real club by being at any one or more of its meetings in Paris, yourself, is excess mental baggage.

Where, How, Who, What, Why Not, When?

Club meetings begin - contrary to the usual Paris 'exceptions' - about 15:00 on Thursdays and continue until 17:00, in Europe's only Zone of Fête Time - which is really 'CET' for short and not 'ZFT' - and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm in unmusical areas of the planet, even though club meetings are only held in the musical Paris part of it, mostly.

Bringing a 'Quote of the Week' or concocting any other 'Things of the Week' are not 'rules' to be obeyed. True 'firsts' are more than welcome too, with 'first' scoring far higher than 'true' if they are not untrue. This is a general rule rather than a club ex-'rule' or informal 'exception.'

If you prefer to be 'not found' on the Internet, or 'opted-out,' please tell the club's secretary before hegraphic: club location map makes you mildly famous. 'No rules' have ceased being an 'exception' or a 'rule' a long time ago. There are some other 'exceptions,' but really, none worth mentioning much.

Talking moderately at meetings is okay. Whatever you say will be honestly appreciated by the other members present if they are listening, which they really do sometimes - and by all readers of this online magazine, if it should happen to be written here, as some of it is, sometimes.*

*The above paragraph is unchanged since last week on account of today's lack of 'firsts,' 'Cities of the Week,' 'drinks of the week' other than citron-pressé, and because the 'Food of the Week' was meringue.

The café's location is:

Café-Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny - or - 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre-Rivoli, Pont-Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini