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The 2OOth Meeting!

photo: group photo of the week

Never have so many been so happy with so little cake!

''Where's the Dern Cake?''

Paris:- Thursday, 28. August 2003:- Last week, and even yesterday, we left the weather in its slipping-out-of-summer-into-fall mode, which was pretty good. The sun was shining most of the time, it was warm, there were little breezes, and it was really comfortable. There were no grounds for complaint, except possibly, to whine about how short this period was likely to be.

The whining can stop now. Today has been bright with high overcast-type clouds, causing a raised humidity - most notably in the Métro - and this is nowhere as nice as it has been and it can mean only one thing.

A storm warning has been posted for eastern France, from east of the Ile-de-France to the bridge over the Rhine at Kehl, and from Luxembourg to the Mediterranean. If you are in this area tonight and tomorrow, hold on to your hat and be sure to take it indoors. Everything else no one likes about weather is on the menu.

According to tonight's TV-weather news, this storm will not affect the Ile-de-France region that surrounds Paris. However, we all know that the typical forecast's margin for error is 500 kilometres, so maybe ships at sea will need to batten their hatches too tonight.

This warning is to be taken seriously because tomorrow's local forecast calls for rain-laden clouds to cross overhead in rapid passage from west to east. Summer ends unofficially on Sunday, but a sub-20 high of 19 degrees is predicted for here tomorrow, three days early.

Note! - Torrential downpour starts at 00:17 Friday morning in Paris. First bolt of lightning at 00:19:23 and second at 00:19:47.

Another reason for taking this seriously is the lack of any TV-weather news forecast for Saturday and Sunday. This could mean the weather will be more unspeakable than on Friday, or it might mean that TV-commercials bumped the weather off the air, because the dire-weather warning took too much air-time.

Take heart! This morning's Le Parisien predicted partly cloudy-sunny for Sunday, with rain bombarding the Luxembourg area of Europe, but with a high of 20 C here. Who knows? It may turn out to be true. Partly figs, partly grapes, as the French would say.

Today's Club Meeting

For people here who miss warm and humid weather the Métro is conserving it as long as possible.photo: two cafes This is not especially noticeable between Denfert and Montparnasse, but at the Montparnasse station a huge bunch of backpackers get on the train, raising the temperature in my wagon by several degrees.

Club members get royally sloshed on giant cafés.

What I don't understand are backpackers who are toting sacks on their backs about the size of portable coffins, plus they are carrying wheelie suitcases big enough to haul a year's supply of socks to the Arctic Circle. Where do they come from, where are they going?

Luckily Châtelet arrives before I can think of more than three possibilities, and then I am confounded by finding its tunnels full of backpackers too. They are standing around in groups of a dozen, arguing about which way to go. Getting past them is not pretty or polite.

Once out in the open air I decide to pass up the dubious delights of dodging indecisive shoppers on the Rue de Rivoli. In normal times Parisians are adroit sidewalk travellers with everybody using their radars to beetle through crowds without head-on collisions. I noticed in New York that pedestrians there had no such radar, and walking was never in zooms, but all in zags and zigs.

Even though I am early, I am the first to arrive at the café La Corona for today's club meeting. In fact, the totally empty 'Grande Salle' has no one in it, as Monsieur Ferrat outside on the terrace laments. Mistake. The 'Grande Salle' contains Patrick, the 'Waiter of the Week,' who is half standing, half asleep.

The club's tables are clean and tidy, lined up as if for inspection. There is not one pomme frite or grain of salt in sight. And so it should be, for this is the Café Metropole Club's 200th meeting.

Since I am not carrying a cake I have obviously forgotten this vital fact. Whack on the crack of 15:00 Ednaphoto: ajata mona moy and Bob Bradley arrive from Costa Mesa in California and say, "We are going to Italy." The reason for doing this has nothing to do with their cat-sitter not showing up. They have had to leave their loved one in a plush hotel for cats.

Ajata, the club's first known dentist-at-liberty, fills in some of the club's questionaire.

Laurel Avery and Barry Wright arrive, from someplace where it is possible to buy large containers for transporting small dogs. As often happens at club meetings when members meet each other for the first time, Barry tells the Bradleys he has lived in Orange Country too, and can find funny things to say about 'South Coast Plaza' - which, if I understand it correctly, started out as a modest orange grove and now includes 97 percent of Costa Mesa and part of northern Mexico.

As if on cue, just as we are hearing about wonderful highway 405, Scoop Maginniss arrives from a racetrack near Aldie, Virginia. Barry, who is meeting Scoop for the first time, asks, "Have you seen Seabiscuit yet?"

"We saw it the first day," Scoop says. Laurel asks, "Isn't this meeting the 200th?" - which proves some members read these reports even if it isn't the secretary, who writes them.

"Are we going to have a club pin?" Edna asks, the wrong person - the club's secretary, whophoto: angelika only writes these notes - and Barry says that there are directories somewhere with little ads offering free club pins as come-ons for ordering millions of the things.

Edna is showing us Fodor's neat pin, which was available for all-comers, once, for about five minutes. Scoop says the club's secretary should get Philippe Starck to design one for the club, so they could be sold to members for more than peanuts.

All members benefit from Angelika's explanation of 'Slab-of-beer.'

The club's secretary doesn't quite see how a free club can do this. But if Barry wants to give it a try, the secretary may be able to get 'Ed' to design one, for free - since he already has the logo handy.

Edna wants to know about the fireworks out at La Défense. Before the club's secretary can say they are probably at the Quai Saint-Bernard - in Paris, not in Switzerland - Scoop enthusiastically praises the fireworks, lights and water show at Versailles. He says tickets are available at lots of ticket places.

At this point today's first new member arrives. This is Ajata-Mona Moy from San Francisco, who has come to Paris to learn French instead of practising dentistry. Ajata did an apartment trade with club member Dennis Moyer, who went to San Francisco today to look for gold in the seven hills.

Ajata is followed by club member number one, Heather Stimmler-Hall, who finishes today's 'Food of the Week' just as she takes a chair. Since it is gone when the club secretary looks up, she explains it was some ice cream she picked up in another part of the café and has yet to pay for it.

Next in are Angelika, from New Zealand, andphoto: kirstin Kirstin Jansen from Aachen in Germany, which is known as Aix-la-Chapelle in France so nobody here will know where it is. Even though Kirsten has never heard of 'Metropole Paris' or the Café Metropole Club before she came here with Angelika, Aachen becomes the 'City of the Week.' Both Angelika and Kirstin are studying French.

Kirstin, in Paris to study French, joins club but doesn't know why, yet.

The server-lady, Linda Thalman, arrives next. She coerced Angelika into filling out a club questionaire at the Thursday, 14. August meeting, when the club's secretary was in New York assisting with a blackout there. Angelika is famed for having introduced the 'slab-of-beer' notion to the northern hemisphere.

Linda says the 'rentrée' must be happening early this year because she was stuck in two traffic jams in Paris on the way to the club, and had to park on minus-six near the Bourse, and on minus-four next door to the club's café. Linda thinks she's been to five meetings in a row - four of them traffic jamless.

Scoop, who has only been in town for a couple of days, says, "...." and then says, "...." before I actually hear him say the Marlene Dietrich exhibition is worth a look. Oh, and he also says the Dutch painters' show - in 22 rooms! - in the Louvre is a great show, and, "There are no waiting lines;"

"The Louvre has finally gotten user-friendly," he says. This would be the 'Quote of the Week' if it weren't so long. Each of today's ten members present say at least one 'Quote of the Week' but I am such a slow writer that very few of them get noted because Scoop's is the longest.

He checks the club meeting notes to make sure he has been quoted correctly. Either before this orphoto: book, genes, peoples, language after this, all eleven of us go out on the Corona's Quai du Louvre terrace, to pose for and shoot the 'Group Photo of the Week.'

The light is not wonderful and there are too many civilians trying to get past, and the secretary can't see if everybody is in the frame, but the camera magically works right by chance. Since ten names are too many for the caption above, here they are in order, from left to right - Ajata, Scoop, Kirstin, Edna, Angelika, Bob, Barry, Laurel, Linda and Heather and her hat.

Today's club 'Book of the Week,' highly recommended by Ajata.

Although it is not in the club 'rules' because there aren't any anymore, there is no 'rule' that says a member cannot leave a meeting early, or even five minutes after one begins. So there is no reason for Linda to say "I'm leaving early," at 16:55, while adding, "To beat the five o'clock traffic jams." The rest of us follow her ten minutes later, on foot, to 'beat the traffic jams.'

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' About Page

Being a member of this club is more fun than reading a club report might lead you to believe, even if you believe it. If you are mellow enough, you can read the 'About the Café Metropole Club' page too. It will tell you only a little bit more about the club, including how free it is. But if this information seems redundant in advance, reading the rest of this issue will do no harm.

There is only one other fact worth noting. Actually, not 'other' because it is the only 'fact.' You can become a lifetime member of this online magazine's live, free and real club by being at any one of its meetings in Paris. I admit this is a longish 'fact,' but it really is only one.

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

Club meetings start about 15:00 sharp on Thursdays and continue until 17:00, in the European Zone of Paris Time - which is really 'CET' for short and not 'EZoPT' - and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm in rare two-times-12-hour areas of our planet. Club meetings are only held in the nearly-left-bank right-bank Paris part of it.

Doing nothing special during a meeting is tolerated. True 'firsts' are more than welcome though,graphic: club location map with 'first' having a higher 'report' value than 'true.' This is a general-purpose rule rather than a club ex-'rule' or informal 'exception.'

If you prefer to be 'not found' on the Internet, please let the club's secretary know before he makes you mildly famous. 'No rules' have ceased being an 'exception' or an 'ex-rule.' There were some other 'exceptions,' but most of them are recorded history now, and timelessly invalid.

Talking in multiple languages at meetings is okay. Dancing may be permitted too. The server-lady has done it, twice. Whatever you say will be honestly appreciated by the other members present, if they are listening, which they do sometimes - and by all readers of this online magazine, if it should happen to be written here, as some of it is, sometimes, but not always.*

*The above paragraphs are unchanged since last week on account of this week's club meeting 'report' lacking any visible 'Food of the Week' blotches, or anniversary cake.

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

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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Waldo Bini