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'Under Construction'

photo: tabac les 2 moulins, rue lepic
The Tabac Les 2 Moulins in the Rue Lepic.

Holy Buffalo Grass!

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 24. November 2003:- Although the weather outlook for the coming few days is not rosy, if we look back we can pat ourselves in the same place - on the back - for arranging for France to have the second or third warmest weather in 2003 since weather statistics were invented in the 19th century.

This was likely made possible by France's location in the northern hemisphere. France's rugby team did not do nearly so well recently in the southern hemisphere, despite the kangaroo sightings near Rambouillet's forest. England handily squashed Australia with a slight edge of 20 to 17.

For those not planning trips to Rambouillet, here is the forecast for the next couple of days. But before givingphoto: leaves, vines, stone you details, let me add that yesterday's predicted high of 16 degrees was handily exceeded on Montmartre by 2.5 degrees, with mostly sunny skies until darkness appeared well before sunset.

An autumn wall on Montmartre.

As for tomorrow, tonight's TV- weather news has advanced this morning's Le Parisien forecast by predicting partly sunny, mostly cloudy, while finishing off with a sunny afternoon. Forget your fond memories of Sunday's 18.5 degrees and get ready's for Tuesday's predicted high of a lowly 11 degrees.

Wednesday gets even with mono-color weather that for want of a better description I'll call 'mostly cloddy,' with a shoddy 11 degrees to match. The highlight of this three-day forecast will be Thursday, which will have mostly mixed skies with maybe a smidgen of sunny, possibly during the daytime. This long-range forecast calls for a high of eight degrees on Thursday.

Café Life

Buffalo Grass Time IV or V

How can I so easily forget the traditional Buffalo Grass Vodka time of year? So it was last Tuesday that I took myself to Dennis' for an unknown occasion only to learn that a whole year had passed since the last Buffalo Grass Vodka event, also known as Dimitri's birthday.

This time Dennis had a bottle of real Buffalo Grass Vodka, imported straight from Kiev. Had I known it existed as ready-made booze I doubt I would have toured Brighton Beach in Brooklyn on Christmas Day a couple of years ago.

These little get-togethers, even if they always have nearly the same cast, are never alike. Dimitri got to cook, because his specialty is sausages. The rest of us got to eat, because we like sausages, and all the other stuff that was too dark to see.

In the course of the evening which felt like it lasted for days, new songs were sung, new bits of Whitmanphoto: pekin roast ducks were recited from memory, and Matt got to sing most of '99 Bottles On the Wall.' This was not as easy as you might think, because this was only allowed in the pauses - but Matt cleverly kept time between them.

There were very few pauses. I find them as hard to recall as the names of songs. Lyrics of songs I do not recall at all. One Daguerréotypista played a kazoo, but Jonathan never got properly started with his spoons.

Some of Chinatown's ducks, ready to go.

Dimitri cursed in Russian occasionally. Russian cursing sounds a lot like Volga Boating songs, so he might have been singing these quietly, except for random outbursts like 'playing his cheeks.' Line sang a Maori rugby song and other Broadway show tunes, and Dennis had the CD player crank out some R&B by Slim Harpo, who is no relation.

As a 'thankyou,' Matt sent Dennis an original piece of MailArt, with a suggestion that he return for Friday lunch so he could sing the 'paused' parts of '99 Bottles.' In all fairness, I will not hesitate admitting that an average 'Buffalo Grass' occasion beats the dickens out of any 'Holy Bananas!' Day.

Holy Bananas! Part II

On Wednesday at 23:45 I realized it was the eve of Beaujolais Nouveau Day, so on went the coat, the camera was picked up from its cozy nest and I was out the door to record the momentous occasion, live, in real time. Weather - overcast, but not cold. Perfect.

The Bistro 48's petit 'grand salle' was full of wine drinkers, but it was too early for the BjN. The wine restaurant L'Enchanson was closed and dark. The bar Express 14 is of no interest anytime, unless you like green. Enzo's was closed like Le Naguère, and the Belière was full of nostalgiacs, and nobody ever drinks grape at the Zango. At Tina's they do, but it was closed too.

This left the Vin des Rues in the Rue Boulard. It had a tired banner up for BjN, but nobody inside wasphoto: galeries lafayette, sunday dancing - saving it for Thursday night when there would be music. A favorite bobo hangout, La Chope, was locked up tight. Peret, a real wine place with its own next-door cave, was closing, with a waiter wheeling a bike out of its terrace.

Sunday crowd out to see the windows at Galeries Lafayette.

There was a crowd of BjN hunters outside trading jolly insults with the waiters, and one called for a round on the house. The Café Daguerre looked dark and sinister and may have been open but who can tell, and who cares?

This left - the McDo across the avenue is a non-contender - this left the standby café Rendez-Vous. One of my guys said he wouldn't be wearing the official straw BjN boater until Thursday. This was after he'd been surprised to note that it was five to midnight.

Before I could get out and be a normal citizen walking home at midnight, the crowd that was in front of Peret stormed in the door and filled up the bar. Hooray! It was midnight and the new BjN could be served. Not time for me to go just yet. One of the first tasters said, "Banane." For the BjN, this says it all.

The waiter and the barman had to wash extra glasses. Bananas or no, the BjN goes down at midnight on the third Thursday in November. One said, 'smell it.' A whiff told me little, but he put the small wine glass back on the bar, unfinished, unfinishable. Maybe the wine will age a bit more before dawn, and maybe Thursday would be a perfect Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Maybe next year.

Dennis phoned on Saturday and said the Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré was a zoo on Thursday evening. Closed to traffic, it was wall-to-wall BjN gurglers and the gutters were full of empty bottles. But outside our local Vin des Rues there was a semi-pro brass band, and a semi-dignified trial of the new wine late into the night.

Metropole Paris, Inc. - Under Construction

Last week I was a bit premature in announcing the 'total' commercialization of Metropole. I forgot that these things are not done with a wave of any magic wand. They are done with exceedingly tedious 'construction.'

The magazine's pages have lots of free space suitable for filling up with 'commercials' - oops, I mean 'sophisticated offers of goods and services.' I did some sample ones to test sizes, and they looked horrible. I shouldn't have made them to look so horrible. I shouldn't have made them so big either.

Even if too big, all of the page layouts needed changing. The code that displays the pages is fussy. When it is checked, a long list is generated saying 'error' or 'warning.' After fixes, what was okay before changes to 'error' or 'warning.'

Then, to be snazzy, a bit of code needs to be added in the places where the ads will be. This code tells another bit of code to 'include' itself. If it works correctly, the ad displays and you see it. Then, to update the ads, all that needs changing is the 'include' code - and voilà! - out with the old and in with the new.

If you think I'm really good at this, then you are mistaken. Why I want to know, did some code not work at all on Friday? And why does this very same code appear to work 'as advertised' today, on Monday?

It's better to hope for the best. It's better to be confident that the 're-construction' will not affect editorial production. When it does, it's better to do as much as possible - to avoid the dreaded blank page saying, 'Under Construction.'

During the past week I have sat in front of the screen long enough to write the four-part sequel to 'War and Peace' but do not have much to show for it - that you can see. What little you can see, is what you get now in return for 'more-better' later.

Rooms To Let - 50¢ Etc.

Within a short time expect to see a 'Rental' page as a permanent feature of the magazine. If you have an apartment here that is vacant most of the year, why not rent it to another club member when it is unoccupied?

Unlike Metropole Paris and Café Metropole Club, listing your property in Metropole is not going to be 'free.' Rates to list your apartment will be reasonable - especially considering that your announcement will be seen by many people 'just like you' - perhaps other club members who you have already met at club meetings. If you have a Web site for your apartment, your listing in Metropole will link to it.

Write today to enquire about details. The exact conditions have not been fixed yet, but they have advanced beyond zero. Your suggestions will be welcome too.

Metropole As 'Shareware'

Some weeks ago I suggested that readers and club members voluntarily pay a 'shareware fee.' This is an idea based on paying for software that is created by independent producers. The 'idea' is, if you value Metropole, then you can pay according to its worth to you, and to ensure that its publication continues.

So far, response from readers like you has been generous. I am flattered and I think all of you are wonderful. Some contributors have exceeded the 'suggested price sticker' that was once mentioned.

You are not expectedphoto: fiat 500 of the week to 'donate' anything to 'Ed.' The 'shareware fee' is not for a subscription with a secret-code access to a special part of the magazine either. Metropole remains a single-version magazine with unlimited access for all. The Café Metropole Club remains just as free as it's always been.

Yes! It's the 'Fiat 500 of the Week' again.

'Keeping Metropole flying' is simple. You can send your contributions today by hitting this link to the 'support Metropole' page.

On the page you will find a link to 'Kagi' - Metropole's 'software retailer.' Hitting this will bring up the page Kagi has created for Metropole. Then insert the amount you feel like contributing to support the 'shareware' version of Metropole.

The rest of the procedure is like buying anything else via the Internet, but with one difference. You can voluntarily contribute any amount you feel comfortable with to support Metropole. Whatever it is, you'll get 'Ed's 'thanks' in a return email.

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Use your cursor to hit this link to have a look at last week's 'Bananas! Bananas!' club 'report.' Most members tried some Beaujolais Nouveau, at least once.

Some unimportant details concerning the club can all be found on the 'About the Club' page. The virtual but tattered club membership card shown on this page is free, so long as you print it yourself. The card is valid for an unlimited time worldwide, but ultra-valid in Paris.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 27. November. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint-Séverin, who would be located between Saint-Sever-Calvados and Saint-Siège - if he were not Pope in 640, the very year he was martyred suddenly.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 7.48 - 25. Nov 2002 - The issue began with the Café Metropole column's 'Spotlight On a Bender. 'The 'Au Bistro' mentioned 'Anyone for Zero Tolerance?' A note about the death of Rudolf Augstein was translated by Chris Irwin. More 'Wine News' featured the "The Best Sparkling Wine Possible" The club's update on 28. November was dubbed as the 'Thanksgiving 'Iconsphoto: sign, rue des fr d'astier de la vigerie of the Week' Return' report. There were four new graphically interesting 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon was captioned, "Pizza? What kind?"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 6.48 - 26. Nov 2001 - The opening Café Metropole column's headline was 'The Search for High Heels.' The 'Au Bistro' column reported 'Cops On Strike.' The week's feature was titled, 'Is It True?' - Not a Jot of Difference.' The Scene column was updated with 'A Week of No 'Last Chances.' The club's update on 29. November was titled the "A Lot of Gravity Here" report. Metropole's photos were offered, with, 'The Idea of the Year,' Again?' There were four more new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon was captioned, 'Bobbi Red Boots.'

The Black Swamp of the Countdowns

To find the last known regular version of this insanely popular but sadly neglected feature, turn to the last Café page with it, andphoto: glitzer ball subtract about 35 days from all numbers except the anniversary dates. These have probably expired. Every item in this feature has probably expired. It is what comes from doing too much 'construction' work.

Many Fewer Days Left

The number of days left this year is only 37 - far, far, far fewer than last week. Very much sooner than we expect we'll be standing elbow to elbow in front of cheerily freezing department store windows gaily illuminated for Christmas. In fact, we can do this now. The only thing lacking is the 'freezing' and maybe a bit of 'cheerily.'

In another short wink of an eye we'll be able to skate on a frozen rink in front of the Hôtel de Ville, or the one in front of the Gare Montparnasse, which is so close to here that I need to wear wool socks while writing this.
signature, regards, ric

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