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Ne Ratez Pas Mars!

photo: sunday, sunny, cafe, daguerre

Real Sunday with real dubious sunshine that lasts
only 30 minutes more.

And a Little Slumming

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 1. September 2003:- The rains couldn't wait. Only three days left in the month, in the summer, in August, and the rains couldn't wait. They never can I guess. For what sunshine we get we are supposed to feel lucky. The more we get, the worse the rains are when they come back.

To make sure we remember, when the rains came back they didn't come with any hesitant drizzles - they came full, like a waterfall. No letting us make any mistakes, no getting false hopes, no trying a little mist and slipping some sun back in so we could finish the month in beauty.

Well, it was all forecast, but predictions are often wrong. Last Thursday's weren't. Tough luck. The summer of 2003 ended forever on Thursday, 28. August.

Now we have the rest of the year. Autumn has already started. Leaves as crisp as chips are lying around the dry trunks of trees. The rain was heavy but it didn't last long each time it fell, so I guess the trees are still dry. At any rate they are too far gone already.

I was really counting on one, grand, sunny, last day, yesterday. It was how it started out in the morning. Then it got tired and quit between 12:30 and one. It tried a couple of more times and then gave up. Then it did the same thing this morning, and the same thing this afternoon.

It's just as well. If it hadn't stopped being summer we would still be thinking it is still going on. Now there is no doubt that it isn't. Whatever fine weather happens now will be a chance bonus. An occasional present from the sky.

I think we may be getting some of this as early as this week. Both Le Parisien and tonight's TV-weatherphoto: fiat 500 of the week news predict mostly cloudy, partly sunny for tomorrow. The temperature won't be dazzling. If it gets up to 20 C it will be a wonder.

After a long absense, the Fiat 500 of the Week is back!

But Wednesday should be mostly sunny, with a high of 22. If two days can be a trend, then Thursday should be sunnier and warmer - 25 - just like it should have been on the weekend past. According to the paper, it should continue into Friday, with maybe an extra degree of warmth.

Three days should make a trend, even if it seems unlikely to be true because trends here seldom last three whole days.

Café Life

Ne Ratez Pas Mars!

This was a headline in Le Parisien last Wednesday. It was about the planet Mars being closer to the Earth than any time in the next 60,000-odd years, or since 60,000-odd years, give or take a millenium or two.

I first heard about this when I was in New York from a guy named Randy who has a reflector telescope, and Long Island skies for clear views. He said, even a couple of weeks before Mars was closest, that he could clearly see details on it. He said it was really red too.

There are a lot of people, although none living in Paris because there is too much ambiant light, who regularly see Venus. I an envious. I have never seen another planet except the moon, and it is not supposed to be a planet even though it is not big and is very far away.

On Wednesday Dennis was celebrating going off to San Francisco to look for gold. He does not have celebrations for returning from places, like Naples, Ireland, or even San Francisco. As far as this goes, neither do I. Originally this going-away fëte was supposed to be on Tuesday. But one more guest signed on, so he switched to Wednesday. If he hadn't, I'd still be doing last week's issue.

Because of Mars, I took my Russian binoculars as well as the camera. In case Mars turned out the bephoto: non photo mars, 27 august really small, I didn't want to miss anything. This was a lot extra to carry up six flights of stairs, but I toughed it out all the way. After the fourth flight, oxygen was thin.

True photo of Mars which is, unfortunately, invisible.

Dennis promised nothing fancy to eat, but of course he had the usual dozen plus six different dishes. When 'nothing is fancy' chez Dennis, it means there is no half cow as a pot roast, or osterich done up as a turkey. As usual though he did heat something in his minature oven, and this came as as burnt Russian things, somewhat like huge corn chips.

Present where most of the usual Daguerreotypistas, including Line who had just got back from Florida where she had been studying owls that live underground like moles. This farfetched tale was a bit different from the Marx Brothers' plots one usually hears.

Some other guests were passing through, also from Europe to California, or from France to Britain so they could go to California. The worst off was one of us, Matt Rose, who was leaving for Omaha, Nebraska in the morning. I think Matt was pretty excited about it. The next time Dennis goes someplace and has a party, Matt can tell us about Omaha instead of Dennis telling us another Marx Brothers' plot.

At some point, there was singing. There never is a 'why' to the singing - there always is some though. Line sang some English sea chanty, quite clearly and strongly. After three stanzas - are they called stanzas? - and the chorus between each, we applauded. Line hesitated not a note, and sang the other four stanzas, with the choruses.

There were other singers too. Dimitri sang something wonderful in Russian. Singing makes singers thirsty. There is never a shortage of drink at Dennis' going-away parties. Dennis brought out his old Armangac, made by some French geezer who doesn't believe in taxes. Some guests tried it and looked like they lacked oxygen.

Line said she had to go early about 23:30, saying that if she didn't her bike would be too tipsy to roll home. I think she may have put too much into the singing. When I looked next, it was 23:55, so I said I had to go see Mars. None of Dennis' windows faced the right direction.

On Long Island, Randy had said that Mars' direction was south. I went over to the south side of the Gare Montparnasse, where I could see the Tour Eiffel sparkling like orange tinsel. Between two buildings I peeked through a steel mesh overlooking the dozen sets of rails going to the south.

Aside from the lights on the station platforms and the receeding red lights of a TGV train pulling out, there was absolutely nothing to see in the midnight sky. Was I too early, or too late? Was Mars further away than it was supposed to be? Was the sky so dark I couldn't see it was cloudy?

Did Thursday's Le Parisien say what a wonderful sight Mars had been? Did Thursday evening's TV-news show ultra-clear videos of Mars? No. No. No. Nothing, just like Mars on Wednesday night. April fool in August. 'Ne Ratez Pas Mars!'

Slum Crawling with Dimitri

Yesterday, August's last day, and one predicted to be mostly sunny, I set out medium early to photograph Paris. My aim was the 'last day' of summer, with some elements of Henri IV's parts of the city. In fact, except for the weekly posters, I had to get all of the issue's photos.

The situation looked darn good until I ran into Dimitri, who invited me to have a café. I had just hadphoto: dimitri at the gate one, but I figured watching him drink an espresso couldn't do any harm. But by the time he had downed his thimble-sized cup, the situation no longer looked rosy in the heavens.

Dimitri, locked out from a closer inspection, studies possible slum.

So we went over to the Rue Sivel and looked through an iron grill gate at what we could see of some garages that he thought were hiding his new apartment and atelier. Dimitri is in the same position as I was last summer. But he has to find two places to replace what he has, and one has to be a place where he can do serious work, like gilding 18th century picture frames.

He has all of the Rue Daguerre helping him with the search. The main problem is that the bourgeoisie are all looking for 'chic' ateliers in courtyards so they can pretend to be plain working folks, and walk around the quartier sockless. The other main problem is that only this same bourgeoisie can afford the sky-high rents landlords in the know are charging.

Dimitri is therefore, looking for a wreck, a slum. The places he now has look like they've been lifted right out of some museum of the 1920s. He wants a place in a shape so bad no bourgeoise could imagine living in it.

These are not so easy to find. Yet all around here, there are little villages hidden behind the imposing facades on the streets. But all the doors are locked with codes, and gardiens or concierges are more and more rare - if you can even get close to them.

Also it was Sunday, and if he did spot something, maybe hear a tip, we were only looking. We went over to the Rue Boulard to look at one corner house that has three street signs on it. We also noticed that one of the fake plaques had been removed - 'Nothing Happened Here On 17 septembre 1953.'

Dimitri was hungry but I talked him into walking down the Avenue du Maine to look for this week's Morris column. Although only a few blocks, this took 45 minutes or a hour because even where we live, there are new things to see all the time.

In the end, hunger and a lack of sunlight brought the excursion to an end at the Rue Cels. After three hours there was nothing left to drag out. Dimitri turned west and I went north, back to Henri IV and the 16th century.

Metropole's 'Partners'

Metropole now has some commercial offers for you, all handily gathered on the relatively new 'Partner' page. Occasionally this page will feature exclusive offers, only available to Metropole readers. Check out this page every week, because I often park the 'Photo of the Week' on it, and it will only be on view for one week.

Metropole's long-time affiliates are on this page too. The Café Metropole wine is also on it, with a link to its own permanent About Wine page. Both pages can be accessed from the blurbs on the left, and sometimes right-hand columns, on many pages.

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

Metropole's 'mailto:' Change

If you haven't already, 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.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Click this link slightly lightly to have a look at last week's '200th Meeting!' club 'report.' Therephoto: bouquiniste painter was a good turnout, mainly because last Thursday was the last day sort of like summer in Paris, and it was the club's 200th meeting.

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

Bouquiniste prepares to paint his box full of books.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 4. September. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte-Rosalie. This saint was born in the 12th century in Santo Stefano Quisquina in Sicily, and is the patron saint of Palermo. In contrast, the Rue du Quatre-Septembre in Paris was originally named 'Dix-Decembre' until 1870, when it was re-named after the date of the proclamation of the 3rd République, which was in 1848.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 7.36 - 2. Sept 2002 - This issue's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Resigned From Weather.' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'Amélie's Café Changes Hands.' The feature of the week was absent for several unexplained reasons. The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 5. September had the 'Illegal Parking Is Back' report. Sincephoto: sign, decor doorway it was September, the Scene column merely repeated, with 'Issue 7.34's 'Coming Ultra Soon.' There were four brand new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon wondered, "Still Here!?!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 6.36 - 3. Sept 2001 - This issue started with the Café Metropole column's 'My Holiday Postcard.' The 'Au Bistro' column title was, 'Paris Buses Get Own Way.' Then the weekly feature was titled, 'Looking for Clichy, Imagining Batignolles.' The 'Scene' column was titled, 'Are You Ready For the Rentrée?' The update for the Café Metropole Club's meeting on 6. September was called the 'Firsts Overload' report. There were four terrific new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's 'Cartoon of the Week' was captioned, 'Postcard from Dimitri.'

Only for Serious Countdown Fans

This week's date to remember was exactly 64 years ago today. But it is not really worth rememberingphoto: sign, rue liancourt because it merely heralded in the third horrible act of a tradegy set in motion by the insane and unbridled nationalism of the 19th century.

We still have the 'count-down' provided by Jim Auman, who noted that Saturday, 11. October marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Edith Piaf. The date to remember is 41 days from today.

The number of days left this year is 121. This all there are until 2004! In no time at all we'll be standing up to our elbows in snow on the Champ de Mars, with the mistaken desire for a New Years' Eve fireworks show. Fat chance! There never are any fireworks on New Years' Eve at the Tour Eiffel. Besides, Brussels says France can't afford them this year.
signature, regards, ric

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