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Django, Johann, and Edith

photo: cafe oasis, ile st louis

An oasis in the afternoon's heat on the Ile Saint-Louis.

Creaking Floors

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 21. July 2003:- Nothing was the first thing I noticed this morning. I couldn't hear any helicopters, any police or ambulance sirens. I couldn't really hear any traffic. With the windows all open all the time, the incessant sound was finally gone, along with the Parisians who make it.

I said 'hello Paris' out loud to make sure I hadn't become deaf overnight and then I listened to next to nothing for 15 or 20 minutes before getting up and doing the usual routine. One of these is to turn on radio France-Info, but I left it turned off and listened to the parquet floor creak instead.

For this reason I didn't mind looking at the big window. From the looks of it, it was sunny. The sky wasn't good and blue, it was kind of blasy, like it is when it is going to get less sunny and more humid. The prediction for today was partly cloudy and mostly sunny, with 29 degrees.

This is about like what yesterday was and tomorrow is supposed to be, with maybe a degree less temperature. Still tropical. This is the prediction for the next two days, with Thursdayphoto: hot afternoon going down a whole step to 25 degrees. By the time it rolls around, it'll probably still be 28 or 29.

All of the above is the TV-weather news. This morning's Le Parisien shows partly cloudy, mostly sunny, with temperatures about 28 or 29 until Thursday.

The kind of an afternoon when little moves much.

It's been consistently hotter in the south of France. Since it has been very dry too, there are some serious forest fires - burning right to the edge of the Mediterranean near Saint-Aygulf last week - and the water bombers are in heavy rotation as long as there's enough visibility to fly. Firemen have been sent from the north to the south to help out, and there's big fire on Corsica they are having trouble with.

Café Life

With the weather and with Metropole's recent additions and changes, I was rung out last week on my Tuesday 'day off.' With air like warm soup, I joined the Daguerréotypistas in the Bouquet where they were trying out the French refreshment of choice, pastis. I think they do this more for the free side-order of water than for the taste of licorice.

I stopped my automatic order of a double-espress café in time to get a citron pressé, which also comes with a side-order of water, and tastes more or less like lemons, which are also native to the Mediterranean.

If it hadn't been my day off I would have made some notes. Dennis, of course, had to mention the new Marx Brothers movie he hasn't seen - that was on his program for the week. Dennis believes everything strange about the world's situation has already been explained by the Marx Brothers. They saw it all coming.

Or it was happening in their day too. A study of history certainly does show that nobody remembers anything and we are condemned to live through the same things repeatedly. Why is it, sitting in the café Bouquet, if we can figure out that everything has happened before - but we can't take the easy extra step to figure out the correct way to get out of the mess?

For one thing, this isn't our job. For another, we were tired of the airless Bouquet so we left it. Instead of standing around in front in extended indecision, we went to the Comédia a few blocks away. Dennis felt like having some calamares.

Even though the sidewalk in front of the Comédia is narrow, Jean has a modest line of tables and chairs out front. This is on the quiet Rue Boulard, facing the outdoor marché, with all of the trees for people who like green and don't mind the tin cars parked all along the sidewalk.

The tiny terrace was almost full, but we got a table in front of the place next door. The wines and the citron pressé came, and then the big plate of fat calamares. We got mayonnaise with it, but Dimitri asked for ketchup.

He defended this on the shaky ground of having worked in a smashed tomato factory in the summers. 'Shaky,' because he couldn't eat canned tomatos for decades afterwards.

A lot of times, if you order something that goes with ketchup in Paris, you will be asked if you wantphoto: wedding band sets up some. This made us think that Dimitri, with all of his tomato experience, should concoct a 'gourmet' ketchup better than the usual stuff, which is made for kids' tastes.

René's Wedding Band sets up on the Pont Saint-Louis, with the Hôtel de Ville across the Seine.

Then rain began falling, slowly, in big, fat drops. Jean came out and tried to lower the awning, but we were not under it. There were a couple of flashes of lightning too. Blobs from the sky were spattering our calamares, sinking without a trace in the mayonnaise and plunking in our drinks.

We picked everything up and went inside the small café. Jean has a multi-CD set of Django Reinhardt recordings and these were playing on the mini-sound system, loudly. The rain didn't amount to much and those outside under the awning mostly stayed there.

I ate the last calamare just before more wine was ordered. Jean tripped over a customer's bag placed in the doorway and almost lost four plates. The trees, not a leaf moving, above the marché opposite looked like jungle from inside the café.

Dimitri and Dennis seemed to be settling in for prolonged philosophy, with wines, so I left. Walking back, I made a list of all the subjects in my head with the intention of writing them all down. But it was warm and humid, and when I faced the monitor's everlasting screen, I couldn't stand it and turned it off.

This is why the world is like it is. After figuring out what the problem is, there's no energy left to think of the solutions - even though they have been thought of before. It might not do much harm if the management would read a bit of history occasionally.

'Paris Life - No 12'

Laurel Avery writes about the fireworks on 14. July at Trocadéro in this issue. Two days afterwards she sent 'Tiny Points of Light' from Santa Fe. Cafe Metropole Club member Barry Wright took some photos, sent them to Laurel, and she sent them to me.

When I wrote to Barry to ask if he had others, or the same ones unblemished by round-trips to Santa Fe, he sent new copies of the same photos. I think fireworks are best seen live, but all I've got are the fireworks photos. Well, a reader asked for all the photos of Laurel I have. If I put in a new one, Barry should get equal time.

Metropole's 'Partners'

Metropole has finally become completely commerce-crazy with the introduction of its 'Partner' page. A good old boy from the 14th arrondissement namedphoto: notre dame, friday Cyril Toullier is taking care of this in New York, by bringing publications about Paris and France together with advertisers, who may have interesting messages for you.

My part of the idea is to put them all on their own page, instead of scattered throughout Metropole. The links to the 'Partner' page are scattered about a bit so you won't have to hunt for them.

Notre Dame receives this summer's share of visitors.

Occasionally Cyril will be sending special offers, exclusively for Metropole, for you. The 'Partners' page is where you'll find them. For example, right now I have 19 Avis rental car upgrade coupons. With one of these, instead of getting a Twingo you can rent a one-size bigger Clio, for the same price as the Twingo. See the page for details.

Metropole's long-time affiliates are also on this page. The Café Metropole wine is also on it too, with a link to its own permanent About Wine page.

Even if you are not in the market for anything, look at the 'Partner' page anyway. Every week I get one slightly good photo that doesn't logically 'fit' in elsewhere. From now on, it goes on the 'Partners' page, as the 'Photo of the Week.' Unlike everything else in Metropole, this photo will only be on view one week before being replaced by the a new 'Photo of the Week.'

Once I get wine-type photos, this page will be getting the same treatment. This may happen sooner than I think because the hot weather has moved this grape harvest in France ahead on the calendar.

Metropole's Page Layout Change

When it comes to changing things here, I don't like to get too far ahead of the 15th century's Johann Gutenberg. But a reader said things looked a bit squished after I put in the extra column with the links to the 'Partner' and 'About' pages. When I saw what the Explorer browser, set to 'default' did, I decided to put in some elbow-room to air it all out a bit.

My copy of Explorer was set to 'x-font' and 16 points by default. I changed its preferences to 'Arial' and 12-point, and this got it pretty much under control. Metropole's pages specify standard PC or Mac sans-serif fonts, and the basic type size is 12, with 10-point for unimportant boilerplate stuff.

Explorer displays all type slightly larger than Netscape. The extra space in the layout should stop the 'orphans.' You get these when there isn't enough space for a word, so it drops to the line below. Gutenberg hated 'orphans.'

Metropole's 'mailto:' Change

Please read the following, again, with great care. The new email address for 'Ric,' 'Ed,' and the Café Metropole Club's secretary is henceforth ericksonr@wanadoo.fr. It may not be snappy, but most of the time all you need to do is click it wherever you see my name, and a ready-to-go email form pops up.

To be on the safe side, even if you never intend to write, make a note of it and maybe put it in your address book. For doing this, I promise that if you never do write, I will not reply.

If case you have not read this important note carefully, do not worry. I will repeat it one way or another 3497 times. I know this is unnecessary because, except for the Nigerian business-lady formerly married to the nation's top swindler, nobody else has used the new address, because you are all on holidays.

'About' Café Metropoleô Blanc de Blanc

The Café Metropole Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine can now be ordered online through the Moonlight Web site. This is thanks to Allan Pangborn, its maker, Metropole reader and Cafe Metropole Club member.

Now that online ordering is possible, you will also be able to read the ongoing story of the wine on the Moonlight site. On this end I've added a permanent 'About Metropole's Wine' page that will tell the entire history of the wine, plus it has the same link as the URL above so that you can place orders easily - which I hope you will do.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Click this link lightly to get a look at last week's 'Coincidental Meeting' club 'report.' The swelteringphoto: chicken of the week weather helped produce calm meeting, with many members and a respectable number of new members.

A mere couple of other details concerning the club can be found tidily grouped on the self-contained 'About the Club' page, because there aren't more than a couple. The virtual membership card on this page continues to be free though.

Another true 'first' - Metropole's 'Chicken of the Week.'

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 24. July. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte-Christine. But I ignore my somewhat unreliable saints-book, to bring you an important message instead.

Café Metropole Club - Coming Meetings

After the meeting on Thursday, 24. July, the club's regular secretary - as a result of a continental shift - will be 'Not Found' for the meetings of 31. July, 7. August and 14. August. I am pleased to announce that both the server-lady, Linda Thalman, and club member number one, Heather Stimmler-Hall, will be conducting the meetings on these dates, either together, or solo, or both.

If you intend to attend these meetings, please treat these two club members as if they were the club's secretary, which they are, temporarily. Linda may be a bit hard-nosed about filling out the new-member questionnaire, so humor her. Heather may forget it entirely, so be sure to remind her that someone should at least note your name, hometown and email address - and read you your 'rights' rather than the suspended 'rules.'

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 7.30 - 22. July 2002 - The issue's Café Metropole column was titled, 'There Was 'Happy' Weather.' The 'Au Bistro' column appeared, with 'The Postman Rings Again.' The feature of the week was headlined 'Todo El Mundo - Vamos a la Playa!' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 25. July had the 'Two Real Members Really' report. Since it was summer, there was no Scene column for this issue. To make up for it there was an eMail message of some kind called 'Dimitri's Postcard - Goes and Comes.' Therephoto: sign, quai henri iv were four new 'Posters of the Week' like clockwork and Ric's Cartoon was auto-motively captioned, "You Said, You Promised..."

This Was Metropole Three Years Ago

Issue 5.30 - 24. July 2000 - This issue started off with the horrible 'FlashNews' of Tuesday, 25. July:- 'Concorde Crashes.' The Café Metropole column's title was 'Two Tours In One Day.' The 'Au Bistro' column was headlined 'Friday Roller Rando Banned.' This was only temporary. Instead of a weekly feature, there was a 'Scene' column titled, 'Paris In Deep Drowse.' The update for the Café Metropole Club's meeting on 27. July, was called the 'No Doctors, No Lawyers!' report. Otherwise, in another club feature, there was 'Non-Member Says 'Club News' Not Boring.' There were four super new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' was captioned, 'You Promised!' I suspect this was the same cartoon as in 2002.

No Summer Recess for 'Mardi Noir'

The disappointing news to all those intending to visit France for its vast selection of summer festivals is that casts and crews have been on strike, over unemployment issues,photo: sign, bikes, to theright recently modified by France's employers' federation.

The paragraph above hasn't changed from last week. Major festivals have been cancelled, but some are going ahead as planned. Be sure to call ahead to find out about the status of any festivals you've booked.

Some events in Paris are getting closed-down too, on a piecemeal basis. The fate of the outdoor movies out at La Villette is unknown, although a decision was supposed to be announced this evening. The 'Paris - Quartier d'Eté' program has been completely cancelled. Be sure to use the 'InfoTel' numbers if in doubt.

For Relentless Countdown Fans

This week's exciting 'count-down' has been provided by Jim 'Count-Down' Auman, who is otherwise spending the summer holding up his bedroom ceiling. Saturday, 11. October marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Edith Piaf, who has not recorded any new songs lately even though some new ones have been released. The sad date to remember is 83 days from today.

With absolutely no fanfare, the number of days left this year is 163. This may not seem like a long time until 2004, but my magic calendar - now found! - knows. This neat bit of software is by Ruben Fernandez, and it can do tricks from the year 'One' to 10,000 AD, including 'days until' and 'days since' between any two dates you chose. Doing 'BC' dates with it, as an aid, is not impossible either.

Oh. I've just noticed that one of the two bugs on my monitor is the cursor. I thought it was a Concorde-shaped mouche.
signature, regards, ric

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