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The Giant Sunball

photo: cafe au vrai paris, rue didot

Last week's gloom is this week's Indian Summer.

Techno Über Alles

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 15. September 2003:- At noon one of the waiters tells the customers camped at their habitual table that he's going to open the café's windows. With only a little grumbling they make way, allowing the floor to ceiling sheets of glass to be unlocked, and folded away like an accordion into their corner.

It only takes about three minutes to transform the café's indoors to outdoors and back to summer. After a weekend - imagine, a weekend! - of perfect weather, today promises to be a continuation of bright times, predicted to last all week. At noon the temperature is 20 degrees - about 69 F - and the forecast calls for totally clear skies and a high of 26 degrees.

It will be that rare thing - temperaturesphoto: palms, orangerie, luxembourg about five degrees higher than 'normal for the time of year.' When asked, the weather pros at France-Météo say there is nothing to match this years' weather in their records.

Next to the Orangerie in the Luxembourg garden.

Tonight's TV-weather news confirms the suspicion that we are going to have summer-bis, or a real 'Indian Summer.' Gosh! The forecast for Tuesday, 16. September is one big, great sunball - for all of France. High temperature is supposed to be - get out your suntan oils - to be, 27 degrees!

The rest of the week is supposed to be pretty much the same. The interesting thing to note is the predicted low temperature of 15 - for all week - which is high considering that the skies will be clear at night.

None of this has ever happened before in mid-September. Le Parisien calls it, 'Soleilissimo!' To this, I have nothing useful to add.

Café Life

Au Vrai Paris

Last Thursday after the club meeting, I decided to do something 'extra' - but within reason - and catch the pre-vernissage of a modest show called 'Retour (de) Métropotamie' at the café Au Vrai Paris. As soon as I got out of the Métro at Alésia it began to rain.

The Rue d'Alésia, with its thickly overhanging acacias, is gloomy at the best of times. But with rain and evening traffic both on foot and on the road, I really wondered if I'd picked the wrong place and date to do 'something extra.'

Gérald, the 'webmaster' of the café's Web site, wrote a note about the café, which has had several glancing mentions in Metropole going back to 1998.

This started off with "Nothing captures the feeling of the area more than the run down café Auphoto: old morris col, popeck Vrai Paris." Gérald added to the story, "That was back in the days of the former owner Mohamed Hosni, one of those beaten down Algerian immigrants who worked from eight in the morning to midnight seven days a week and earned nothing. He went bankrupt four years ago.

There are still a few of these older 'Morris' columns around.

"His son Ali, as French as you can get, left his career at the Lycée Autogéré de Paris - the concept of which was invented by Gabriel Cohn Bendit - and took over his father's place as a rendez-vous for artists. He runs it with his sister Nadia, an ex-cashier from an Atac supermarket, Vincent and Elliot and a few others. It has become an oasis in an otherwise deserted area."

About the exhibition, Gérald wrote, "Alain 1st was indeed a Paris institution in the 1980's, just like le Professeur Choron of Hara Kiri, selling his wares in the streets of the Latin Quarter."

In the café, before the vernissage, Gérald tells me it is not going to be one with free wine and olives. The paintings - from which the postcards were made - are bright patches on the walls, made brighter by Ali on a stepladder replacing dozens of little light bulbs that hang below the ceiling in an endless string winding around the café's roomy interior.

Gérald says that Saint Sébastien de Métropotamie, one of the two artists represented, is no longer on the planet. Alain 1st is among the living, but not present. The exhibition continues until next Sunday.

i had the club report to do. Outside the rain had stopped, but it was darker than it should have been for thephoto: letter from mail-art time of day. All in all, the café Au Vrai Paris, with its modest exhibition, was the sum of what it is. This is a rare thing - in a Paris ever accelerating blindly and out of control into the 21st century - a place staying where it was in time, just as if it never passed.

An invitation to 'Mail-Art's opening arrives in the mail.

True too that nobody likes to be in a 'deserted area,' or working 16-hour days. Two days plus three hours and there's the 35-hour weekly limit. When I write it down it seems to be out of synch with reality, while Au Vrai Paris stays in synch with a Paris that was, somehow.

Techno Über Alles

I have set myself the task of treating Jean Cocteau, but the weekend sunshine dragged me away from this project. The idea was to speed-read the book and other material, and then do the photos of sites relating to Cocteau's life.

But upon seeing police blocking all traffic going towards Denfert-Rochereau reminded me - plus the ever increasing noise - that Saturday was the day that Paris decided to impact itself with the Techno Parade. So I took a few photos at Denfert, did some shopping, and tried to get into Cocteau.

This didn't last long. There was too much light outside. I had no addresses but I went out anyway. Through the cemetery, through Montparnasse, to the Luxembourg, and then over to the Boulevard Saint-Michel. All the air within the garden was full of techno sound. Paris was hostage to a moveable steel mill.

The Boul'Mich opposite the Sorbonne. Thousands of techno people following a few flatdeck trucks freighted with meagre decor and overwhelming amplification. There were many curious too, but none daring to look out of surrounding windows. They were all closed and locked.

Boom, boom, boom. Endless, mindless, booms. Dancers on the flatdecks trying to keep it up, while right behind the trucks the hardcore boom-freaks were keeping it up - hopping, hopping, hopping, with arms writhing like snakes in the air. The flatdecks were bouncing too.

The trucks - supposed to be decorated floats - halted for long periods. But not the amplification. Never. Boom-squared, boom-cubed. Nobody would work in a factory with that sound-level without earplugs, ear-covers.

Techno fans were on the tops of bus shelters. There's an extra long one at Luxembourg, and they were hopping on it on time - on its glass surface, its steel frame fixed like a sideways diving board, bending with each hop. Decaux - your bus shelter passed the ultimate stress-test! It's techno-proof.

Supposed to be a 'festival of electronic music.' Nobody has ever tried the same thing - with the same amplification - with jazz, or rock-and-roll. Of all the types of music there are, why does it have to be the least musical? Why does the least musical have to be loudest?

I quit near the end, while the beginning of the 'parade' had probably reached Bastille. It would take another three hours for the last over-amplified flatdeck to get there. Right behind the last one, a flotilla of the city's green-squad equipment was in position on the boulevard, to sweep it all up and wash it down. Make it seem like it never happened.

In the evening, TV-news showed some of the people, ones with actual costumes, from the Techno Parade. Otherphoto: apres techno, street cleaners supporters, the mayor, Bertrand Delanoë and ex-culture czar Jack Lang, were shown too. Jack was France's first techno fan - he practically brought it single-handedly from Berlin 10 years ago. TV-news did not bother to 'show' the boom-boom part. Nobody's TV set could handle it.

City crews erase all traces of the Techno-Parade only minutes after it passes.

'Techno' is like the opposite of Jean Cocteau. He could do more than one thing well. While this was suspect, he did ride into the Panthéon with it. 'Techno' can't even do one thing better than an unamplified steel mill. Louder maybe - not better.

While a rolling rave party was sanctioned to run right through the middle of Paris for an entire Saturday afternoon, licenced full-time music clubs in other parts of town were threatened with 'administrative' closure - for being too loud.

Riviera Life

The Café Metropole Club's member number one is offering a furnished three-bedroom villa on the French Riviera for rent. It has a swimming, pool wood-burning fireplace, ADSL for Internet, satellite TV, and a two-car garage. It is located in Biot, only ten minutes from shopping in Antibes, and a mere twenty minute drive from the airport at Nice. Italy is also handy. Update - Heather says the house has been rented after two mentions here, so its URL has been deleted.

Metropole's 'Partners'

Metropole's .COM area is handily gathered on the relatively new 'Partner' page. Occasionallyphoto: gaspard, the free dog this page will feature exclusive offers, only available to Metropole readers. Check out this page every week, if for no other reason than the 'Photo of the Week,' which it will only be on view for one week.

Gaspard, busilly 'at work' in the quartier.

Metropole's long-time affiliates are on this page too. The Café Metropole sparkling 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 Café Metropole Club member.

Metropole's 'mailto:' Change

The new email address for 'Ric,' 'Ed,' and the Café Metropole Club's secretary has become ericksonr@wanadoo.fr. The old email address was active from 1995 until Worldnet tossed its keys under the door in August, and quit the business.

Metropole's server-lady, Linda Thalman, has not quit the business. Metropole is still hosted by Web France International. But Linda has requested that emails concerning Metropole be sent to 'Ric,' 'Ed,' or the Café Metropole Club's secretary, and not to the server-lady unless you want to know more about Web France International.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Tap this link lightly to have a look at last week's "The Best Frozen Food" club 'report.' There was a modest turnup of members, mainly because last Thursday was the first day sort of like early fall in Paris, and it pretended to be miserable.

A few of other unimportant details concerning the club can be found cozily grouped on the 'About the Club' page, because there aren't more than a few. The virtual club membership card on this page is still available for free.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 18. September. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte-Nadège. Like last week, this saint is also unknown to my saints book. She is also unknown to my big red dictionary, which is really big. It is not any place in France either, nor, apparently, anyplace else. How did this 'saint' get on my calendar?

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 7.38 - 16. Sept 2002 - The Café Metropole column headline was, 'Techno BOOM Techno BOOM!' The 'Au Bistro' column's title was 'France Télécom Sees Red.' The feature of the week was hunting for an apartment and was titled 'With a Little Help from the Agency Ladies.' The Café Metropole Club update for this issue on 19. September had the 'The 'Flatphoto: sign, quai du louvre Stanley' Major 'First' report. There were four only-average new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon asked, "Abandoning the Bench?"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 6.38 - 17. Sept 2001 - This issue began with the Café Metropole column's 'Black Tuesday, Blacker Week.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was, 'Mourning In Paris.' The weekly feature was titled, 'School Reunion,' and done together with Dana Shaw. The update for the Café Metropole Club's meeting on 20. September was titled the 'No City of the Week' report. The 'Scene' column was headlined, 'The Rest of the Show Goes On.' There were six new autumnal 'Posters of the Week.' For this issue there was no 'Cartoon of the Week.' Instead - 'Deuil à Paris.'

The Cavalcade of Countdowns Corner

I have been able to abandon all claim to authorship of this section thanks to Jim Auman, who has a real nose for names and anniversaries - while I can hardly remember my own.

This week's new entry is Hector Berlioz, formerly well-known as the hero of France's last 50-franc note. Jimphoto: sign, kurt hamsun, lived here 1893 writes, 'Thursday, 11. December is the 200th anniversary of the birth of the composer Hector Berlioz. After not having found fame in France for his music, he died 69 years later.

'Hector remains an outstanding figure in French romantic music. He was typical of the period, particularly in his literary interests. Beginning as a medical student, he eventually entered the Paris Conservatoire. During musical slumps he earned his living as a critic and writer, which won him few friends.

'There was talk earlier this year of transferring his remains to the Panthéon, but this is a place for famous but grateful countrymen. The 'official' line for not interring him in this hallowed place is that Berlioz wasn't 'Republican' enough, but there is speculation that the real reason may be that he had the nerve to be admired by the British, who are leading a rehabilitation of Berlioz' music'

Whatever the real reason, Hector does have his fans, including Matthew Tepper. See his Hector Berlioz Page as a starting point.

The 200th anniversary of the birth of Prosper Mérimée arrives a week after the Journées du Patrimoine weekend. Until Prosper's day, only leftover Greco-Roman architecture was considered to have any value. Between 1834 and 1859 he was the Inspecteur Général des Monuments, and worked to save historical sites - from Baron Haussmann's renovations. During his tenure he became the father of 'le patrimoine français.'

Prosper Mérimée was also a French dramatist, historian, archaeologist, and short story writer. He wroteposter: journees patrimoine; 20 21 sept Carmen, which was made into an opera by Bizet in 1869. In his copious spare time he studied law, Greek, Spanish, English and Russian. Prosper was born in Paris on Wednesday, 28. September 1803. He died in Cannes on Friday, 23. September 1870 after a prosperous life. His anniversary is 14 days from now.>/P>

This is a good place to put in a reminder that next weekend is the date for the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine. 'Open doors' for all, all over Europe as well as in France and in Paris.

Besides the new 'countdown' provided by Jim Auman above, we still have his 'countdown' for Saturday, 11. October which marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Edith Piaf. The date to remember is 27 days from today.

The number of days left this year is 107. There is no more than this left of 2004! In next to no time at all we'll be standing elbow to elbow in front of department store windows decorated for Christmas, if we survive the upcoming 'Nuit Blanche' in October.
signature, regards, ric

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