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Lobsters' Short Lives

photo: atlantic coast, maine

The part of Maine with everything except palm trees.

In New England

by Ric Erickson

New York:- Monday, 4. August 2003:- Linda Thalman wrote this morning - early this afternoon in Paris time, when I read it - to say it will be 40 degrees in Bordeaux today. She said, "Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle." She didn't say what the humidity will be because it dosen't exist in Europe.

On this side of the Atlantic inflated temperatures are common on account of the 212 equals 100 thermometres. Without it seeming to be hot yesterday it was 86 in Brooklyn - but with a humidity level yo-yoing somewhere between 85 and 95 percent. Being a sensible person, I passed out for the whole afternoon.

Then I walked the usual 'few blocks' from Kings Highway to the Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst to see a local pizza spa with terrace in action. It was a fine experience, and the 'few blocks' walkback to the 'U' line subway didn't raise too much sweat.

New York's subway wagons are air conditioned. They are freezing cold. The 'U' train trundledphoto: 1938 buick around Brooklyn for a half hour before giving up at one of New York's several 59th Streets, one still in Brooklyn. This then required a change to the 'Q' line. Luckily the wait on the superheated underground platform was less than the eternity it seemed to be.

Not the same Buick we rented for the northern excursion.

Today's weather has been interesting. Fresh, but stinking and hot, asphalt was laid on the street outside and I got away from it by walking the usual 'few blocks' to my favorite Cuban sandwich place. In the midst of my well-earned 'café grande' a monsoon swept across New York, even turning the street underneath the elevated subway into a raging torrent.

Luckily Paris' late July weather prepared me for most of this, except for the extreme contrast in climates between subway platforms and subway wagons. New Yorkers are more worried about which subways are running where and when, but this doesn't seem to have caused me many problems so far. Nearly everything is only a 'few blocks' away.

Café Life

I finished off the club report on Friday, 25. July about 02:00 and got up about 05:00 to go to Roissy to fly to New York, where I landed about 10:30 on the same Friday morning. It was a normal, almost routine, 36-hour trans-Atlantic day.

Early the next morning I was at another airport with my lawyer who rented a Buick from some nice Avis guys and we drove most of the day north on autoroutes ridden by hatless motorcylistasphoto: low tide beach day and surrounded by trees, until arriving in Gloucester, Massachusettes, where we found a diner - the Catfish Inn! - that gave us food for a price and let us use a washroom to change into go-to-wedding duds for free.

Beach life on rare day in Maine, or maybe, New Hampshire.

The wedding was a small affair for one couple and about 80 onlookers, facing the Atlantic Ocean and, I guess, Portugal. Lobster was served and I chanced to sit beside the only other guest who chose not to get ikky fingers. After the gala meal, a discoman from Beantown charmed all with many wrong pieces of music, all played at very high volume.

Before the evening had worn itself out, we followed other guests even further north to Portsmouth, in the lovely state of New Hampshire - motto - a free lobster in every pot. This motto only applies to its coastal areas - the rest of the state calls for free bears in every pot.

After visiting the site of another, earlier, wedding at an adandoned fort by the seaside - also opposite Portugal - we crossed an antique bridge into the state of Maine. This state is well-known for its 'moose in every pot' motto. For most of a day we hardly ventured further, other than to see a classic '38 Buick parked on a lawn behind a church, and to swim in a salt-water pool with a 'black hole' in it.

How it happened that I was the only one to brave this 'black hole' I have not figured out. I have never done anything like it before. Having done it, I will never do it again. I do 'learn' from experience!

If any readers are planning on visiting these parts I feel it worthwhile to warn you here that mosquito country starts just north of the Bronx, and there seems to be no anti-bug machines that are familiar to Europeans. If you get as far north as southern Maine, these flying brutes are truly vicious and give no quarter.

Following an overnight return to Portsmouth, we - my lawyer is a road addict - we plunged even further north into Maine, with the fabled Maine Diner as a goal. After havingphoto: black hole pool my first grilled cheese sandwich in over 30 years - verdict, I should have waited 40 years - and observing that the average native in residence or transit, of any age and sex, universally wear baggy short pants and baseball caps, I received a phone call.

The only pool with a 'black hole' that I have ever dived into. And come out of.

By chance my lawyer had a phone, and I removed myself to the rear of the Maine Diner to be able to hear what it had to say. Aha! The caller was none other than Metropole reader and Café Metropole Club member Dana Shaw, just co-incidently calling from nearby. No. not true. Returning a call, but one we wouldn't have heard if I'd still been eating a so-so grilled cheese sandwich in the Maine Diner.

The route directions to cover less than 2.78 miles were slightly less complicated than MTA's subway map of Brooklyn, with the main item to remember being, 'don't try the speed-bumps at high speed.' On the way back we forgot the first one, so I can vouch for this advice.

Anyway, as far as Maine goes, Jan and Dana Shaw have a much better place than where they stay in Paris, and the view towards Portugal surpasses many views of this splendid country that you can get in Paris too. The Shaws have fish and seagulls for their frontyard neighbors.

Did I say it was a clear day and very warm? All days until then were, even if warm exceeded itself sometimes. Sitting on the Shaw's front lawn was very relaxing, but shortlived, because we had a date in Portsmouth for fish and chips.

Let me explain something. When I ordered the grilled cheese sandwich 'with chips,' I did notphoto: maine diner get 'frites.' I got what are called 'potato crisps' in the UK or Ireland. But if you are in the United States and you see 'fish and chips' on a menu, you will likely get 'frites' instead of 'chips.' Conversely if you are in the UK or Ireland and you see 'fish and chips' on a menu, you will likely get 'fish and chips' if you order some. 'Crisps' you have to ask for special.

Next time I'll try the Maine Diner's fish-and-chips.

Anyway, the fish and chips were better than so-so but not quite as good as they might have been. Maybe fish are out of season. Paper plates, plastic cutlery and huge garbage cans kind of took the toney edge off the evening, which was otherwise spent in a cafe on a wharf in a little harbor with the sun sinking gracefully in the west, signalling the night-time attacks by squadrons of bugs.

All in all, my impression of the little bit of New England coast I saw during my 72-hour fact-finding tour, is that it is no worse than the Costa de Sol or the tour-package part of Palma de Majorca, with a couple of important differences.

The first thing I noticed in New England is that there is, in general, no parking available. There are autoroute rest-stops on I-93-North where free parking spots can be found, which is unlike Majorca where there is no place to park anywhere, and is the reason for small cars.

Unlike the Bronx or Majorca, Spanish is not a language commonly used in New England. Asking for a 'tostada de queso' will get you nothing, not even curious stares. Also, there is no espresso café and I am even having difficulty finding any granizada in Queens.

Monsoon-like rain is another matter. Tonight's forecast batch was called off on account of baseball.

Yes. The production of this report has overshot Monday's notional deadline by - more than a whole day now. The reasons for this are not important - but I apologise all the same.

All the folks in New England who were kind enough to share their time to enhance my fact-finding mission are thanked from the bottom of my heart even if their names are being spared on account of my not being able to face copying the facts out of the brochures I picked up along the byways of lobsterland.

One final, upbeat note - we did find and park in the only free parking spot available since 1993 in the center of downtown Perkins Cove, Maine. Right on the waterfront, beside the pedestrian drawbridge. A 'souvenir' better than any postcard!

Metropole's 'Other Stuff'

This is kind of an 'off' couple of weeks because 'Ed' is off in America, battling with an antique PC, one freighted with a surly 'attitude.' For the rest of the 'other stuff' you should scoot back to the contents page, to gaze yet again on the 'other stuff' listed on it, for the past two whole weeks. Just hit the this issue link above or below.

Metropole's 'mailto:' Change

Please read the following, with great care, again. The new email address for 'Ric,' 'Ed,' and the Café Metropole Club's secretary has been changed from what it was for the past eight years - to ericksonr@wanadoo.fr. Mail sent to the old address is even more unlikely to be read.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club in Paris will be on Thursday, 7. August. Thephoto: sign, do not tip this coming Saint's Day of the Week is just as much a mystery to me as ever.

For the meetings on Thursday, 7. August and 14. August, I am honored that both the server-lady, Linda Thalman, and club member number one, Heather Stimmler-Hall, intend to conduct the meetings on these dates, either together, or solo, or both.

If you plan 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 or More Years Ago

photo: sign, living creatures with no heart This popular feature is missing this week, by popular demand and on account of the fact that I neglected to bring the necessary files with me. I could download them from Metropole, but - ahhh - why bother when you can see the relevant items for yourself by looking at all past issues for sometime about this date, one or more years ago.

For the Ever-Relentless Countdown Fans

With absolutely no fanfare, the number of days left this year is - oops! Those files are missing too.
signature, regards, ric

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