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"I Will Bring You a Blow–Fish"

photo: steve, berta, scoop, tomoko, diana, lewis, sharon, elliott

From left to right, Steve, Berta, Scoop, Tomoko, Diana,
Lewis, Sharon and Elliott.

Appropriate for the Year's Last Meeting

Paris:– Thursday, 18. December 2003:– Today's column is being written on Friday because I finally did what so many club members and readers have already done – spent most of a Thursday evening at the Vin des Rues restaurant musical night – after living four years around the corner from the place.

If you ever want to try this out – having a sing-along to accordion music, in a Paris bistro - with a little basic food and some not–so–basic wine, be sure to arrive about 21:00 because the place is not big. Do not turn away if it looks full – there may be a free table in the rear.

If you can be heard over the music and singing, tell owners Niky and Didier Gaillard that Metropole sent you. Even if they can hear you, 'Metropole' won't mean much, and you'll get to pay as much as everybody else. But it'll be something to put in your Paris memories scrapbook.

Au Vin des Rues, 21. Rue Boulard, Paris 14. Métro: Denfert–Rochereau. IntoTel.: 01 43 11 19 78. Lunches from Monday to Saturday, and dinners, except Thursday, from Tuesday to Saturday.

And Now, the Weather

Thursday was beautifully bright and cool in Paris. The future will just be cool. Thursday evening's TV–weatherphoto: caille fourree au foie gras de canard news called for cloudy days to come, with a impossible high of ten degrees forecast for today, Friday. Two degrees more were forseen for Saturday, with Sunday tumbling back to six degrees. Not bad for the year's shortest day.

Edible souvenirs in the café's gift shop, next door.

Friday's Le Parisien has about the same forecast for Saturday, except that it looks cloudier – and breezier – but with an extra degree of temperature, up to 13 it is. A nasty front is supposed to push into France from the Channel on Sunday, also with some winds from two directions, and a high forecast to be five.

It must be a low–pressure wheelie moving in from the Atlantic, because it looks like it gets blown eastwards on Monday when some sunshine is predicted. The high for the day might be only three, but with little or no wind foreseen.

Next Tuesday is supposed to be partly sunny, but it looks like another bit of something else will be pushing down from the Channel. Temperatures are indicated as remaining the same – or, average for 'this time of year.'

A Club 'Regulars' Meeting 'Report'

Here I switch back to Thursday, with its winter sun low in bright blue sky - either plunging north facing walls into dense, blue shadow or splashing warm yellow all over exposed southern surfaces. There is no wind, but the air is fresh – perfect for the walk from the Métro at Châtelet to the café La Corona on the Quai du Louvre.

There are – yes! – sun worshippers on La Corona's terrace today, taking the full blast of the sun's rays. Everything across the Seine on the Left Bank is in deep shadow, with the dome of the Institut de France being perfectly silhouetted above the low horizon.

Before I can get in the café, Patrick the waiter says I should see something new in the café's souvenir shop next door. In addition to the postcards, keychains and t-shirts, there isphoto: cafe of the week a fair–sized display of tinned goodies – such as 'Caille Fourrée au Foie Gras de Canard,' as well as other delicacies from La Manior Alexandre in Espalion, which in the Aveyron, and a little northeast of Rodez.

One of the 'Cafés of the Week.'

One small tin of the cailles is supposed to be enough for two. For hungrier folks there are bigger tins of stout cassoulet which are probably enough for four. It just goes to show that your club is associated with a full–service café, one that has extraordinary 'souvenirs.'

When I take my place in the club's area in the 'grande salle' of the café, a brand–new 'Waiter of the Week' is quickly there to ask what I want. When I say I'll have it at 16:00, the waiter looks at his watch and says, 'oh no, you can't sit here a hour without ordering something.'

Sitting in the club's area that is glowing with the light from the low sun across the river, I fill in today's meeting particulars. This is just done when members Sharon and Elliott Medrich from Oakland, California, arrive.

Almost the first thing Elliott says is that they live two miles from Kagi in Berkeley. Kagi is the software reseller that accepts the 'Support Metropole' contributions. It is, Elliott is certain, really real.

Sharon and Elliott are closely followed by members Berta and Scoop Maginnis. Scoop says that they attended an 'unofficial' meeting last year on 26. December, but provides no 'unofficial' club notes about it. Then he says, "We have to go to the track." He says he thinks there is holiday racing at Deauville.

Concerning the poor relationship of the dollar to the euro, Elliott says, "We've been here with the franc at 3.50 to the dollar, and at 9.50 to the dollar." I guess this means that it all evens out if, like Sharon and Elliott, you've had an apartment in Paris since 1981.

Berta and Scoop acquired an apartment a couple of years ago. Elliott wants to know exactly where the border in the 16th arrondissement is, where the 'lower' part starts. Before there is any clear answer to this, the notes say, "The 100th anniversary of the World's Fair in St. Louis is next summer – marking the date of the invention of the cone part of an ice cream cone."

Berta says they are leaving Paris 'the day before the sales start.' Scoop says to Elliott, "I hope you didn't rent a flooded house," which is a reference to the trip to the south of France planned by Sharon and Elliott.

Then they both say that museums in Paris 'are empty,' compared to this time last year. If I can't writephoto: wine of the week better notes for the 'report' than this then I don't know why I'm the club's secretary. Then the present members want to know all about Laurel Avery, who writes about 'how Paris seems,' and should be here today to answer questions.

Thinking of Laurel reminds everybody of their own 'plumber no-show' story. Luckily, Tomoko Yokomitsu arrives, and gets all the questions she deserves as the club's most famous movie star.

Tomoko politely suggests that she isn't quite a 'movie star,' but agrees that she is the only one the club has. Then she says fish restaurants can be better in Paris than in Japan. To prove it, she promises to bring a deadly poisonous blow–fish back with her from her visit to Japan – which will not be deadly poisonous because of the time of year.

Scoop is asked about betting on the ponies through the PMUs, and we learn there are different kinds – some only for local races. Elliott says, "Everything I know about horse racing I learned from seeing 'Seabiscuit.'"

Berta remembers getting lost going to the races at Deauville and only realizing it when they figured out they were in a line of cars waiting to board a cross–channel ferry.

While Berta explains how they got out of that one, Scoop goes out to the terrace to see if it's suitable for the 'Group Photo of the Week.' It is 16:00 and the 'Waiter of the Week' turns up with my double–espresso.

And this is when Steve Camera–Murray arrives. He agreeably divulges his 'why' and 'wherefores,' adding that he works only for dollars. Everybody remembers the sorry state of them again. Steve's job has been so delocalized that Berta comments, "Steve is the last guy standing."

Scoop asks for an explanation about the 'shareware' aspect of 'keeping Metropole flying.' Berta listens carefully and then proposes that the club's secretary should also be its treasurer. "Of a free club?" I wonder.

Then Scoop shortcuts the whole elaborate 'shareware' scheme by making a cash contribution. Sharon and Elliott have already done their part the traditional way, because they live only two miles from Kagi in Berkeley. I am overwhelmed to be so honored.

Diana Rushing and Lewis Rosenthalphoto: italian hat of the week arrive. They used to arrive from Austin, Texas, but today they are coming from the Rue Cler. This couple has been in Paris since August, but they've been going to the Alliance Française for French lessons on Thursdays. Lewis adds some class to the club by wearing his 'Hat of the Week' to it. It is a snappy Italian job.

The 'Italian Hat of the Week' with Lewis underneath.

Berta complains mildly about their apartment's cave. It is already full she says. Pretty soon they'll have to sell everything in it, so they can buy more things at the auctions at Drouot to put in it.

We join Scoop on La Corona's terrace just as the sun is about to sink below the silhouette of the Institut de France. Of the three 'Group Photos of the Week,' less and less of Scoop is seen in each one. I do not notice this on account of peering sharply, to make sure all eyeballs are open.

The last to arrive today in Lauren Camera–Murray, who is coming from the class where she teaches English. With her she has brought the remains of a huge box of chocolates that her students gave her. There are enough for all club members, and a couple of spares extra for Steve.

No Meeting on Christmas Day

Next Thursday is Christmas Day and the club's café La Corona will be closed. For this reason therephoto: pile of cash of the week will be no club meeting next week. The following Thursday, on 1. January 2004, is New Years Day. The café La Corona will be open and the first meeting of the new year will be held in it. Don't miss this once–only true 'first' if you can help it.

The collection for the 'Waiter of the Week.'

Today's meeting, number 216, has therefore been the last one in 2003. On behalf of the entire Café Metropole Club's staff – Ric, 'Ed' and the secretary, I wish all readers and club members a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If at all possible, try to be 'standing' for the club's next meeting.

The 'Soldes d'Hiver' Alert

The official version about the dates for the Soldes d'Hiver in Paris is now official. The starting date has been decreed to be Wednesday, 7. January, and the final day will be Saturday, 7. February 2004.

Club Members and Readers Like You

Making voluntary contributions of support for Metropole will ensure that the magazine and the Café Metropole Club continue forever. Take a look at the new 'Keep Metropole Flying' page and do what you can today if you can.

The free club membership is free, as is its free membership card. The Café Metropole Club's ex–rules and various disallowed 'exceptions' forbid actual membership 'dues,' without actually being a 'rule.' Consider both the magazine and the Café Metropole Club to be forms of computer software that can continue to develop thanks to your support.

The 'About the Café Metropole Club' About Page

This 'report' about today's club meeting may seem to be somewhat more incoherent than others, but you might not have read some of the other, stranger, 'reports.' The 'About the Café Metropole Club' page might explain more if you are curious to learn what this is supposed to be about, but maybe it won't.

One other vital fact – whatever you may think, there are few - is worth remembering. You can become a lifetime member of this online magazine's free, live, and real club by simply becoming a member during any of its meetings in Paris, for free. This is a lot of value for 'free' because it doesn't cost much.

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

The weekly club meetings start about 15:00 sharp, on most Thursdays, and run on until about 17:00, in the European Time of Paris Zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'les vrais temps d'hiver' – LVTd'H – and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm. The only part of the world where these meetings happen is Paris.

Doing anything at a meeting - like arriving - is tolerated, if not actually encouraged. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'first' having a greater 'report' value than 'true.' Don't get the wrong idea – 'true' is fine too. This is French-type 'exception,' because it's a 'rule' with an exception.

If you prefer to be 'not found' ongraphic: club location map the Internet, be sure let the club's secretary know – before it's too late. If necessary you can even be at a meeting and not be at it, officially. 'Rules' have ceased being and are still 'ex–rules.' All 'exceptions' to any other 'rules' have been temporarily suspended forever.

The 'Map of the Week' is identical to last week's.

Talking in foreign languages at meetings is fine. If there's a free chair sit wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. Whatever you say may be truly appreciated by the other members present, if they are listening, which they actually do sometimes – and by all readers of this online magazine, if it happens to be written here, as some of it is sometimes.*

*The above paragraphs are unchanged since last week because this week's nearly instant club 'report' is almost a day late.

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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