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"How Do People Find the Club?"

photo: group of 11 photo of the week

Today's 'Group of 11 Photo of the Week.'

For Starters, It's Not Lost

Paris:– Thursday, 15. January 2004:– Since the last weather 'prediction' on Tuesday, it has been raining buckets of frogs, right up until sometime early this morning, when a half-moon starting blazing in the night sky over Paris.

This was followed by total sunshine this morning. I looked at where I thought there would be clouds piled on top of clouds, and thought, 'just you wait!' Instead of beginning to pour buckets of frogs, it merely got cloudier as the day shifted from light into sundown about 17:19.

We have been having some pretty breezy winds, so the clouds have been whipping past overhead like fluffy rockets. One minute it's a black one, then a bit of blue shows, to be quickly followed by seriously wet ones.

Apparently this frantic activity is to relent a bit. For the next two days there will be breezes from the Atlantic, but tomorrow afternoon should have fewer clouds and maybe some sign of sunlight. The temperate is predicted to be 9 degrees.

Windy Saturday should even be somewhere between partly to mostly sunny, but at a cost of two degrees. Sunday, with no wind–arrows, should be even bright, but even colder, with a forecast high of 4 degrees. All temperature mentions are in 'C' for Continental, of course.

Curious readers have asked me why Paris, which lies so much further north – on a line about even with Gander in Newfoundland – than the New York region, has such a mild climate.

Tomorrow's forecast for the New York area calls for a low of 11 degrees and a high of 14 degrees. Both of these figures are for 'F' degrees, and correspond to –12 and –8 on the 'C' scale. My best guess is that Cuba has shifted the Gulf Stream to favor Paris, because Paris has lots of Cuban music.

Today's 219th Club Meeting 'Report'

This starts out with the usual Métro ride to Châtelet and the usual stroll along the Rue de Rivoli, and the usual inspection of the Pont Neuf area. 'Nothing to report' is the result, except for the sidewalk being torn apart, so I arrive at the club's café La Corona somewhat earlier than usual.

The bar area of the café has more café staff than clients, the little side room has two clientsphoto: dimitri, alvin and the 'grande salle' has three clients, so there is a huge lot of room for today's members – but I've neglected to bring Le Parisien to read if there aren't any.

Dimitri watches Alvin pretending not to fall asleep.

Turns out, it doesn't matter. Barry Wright shows up before 15:00 and shows me the 'suitably–sized' café mug he's treating himself to. This is to save him trips to the café across the street from where he lives. He says there is even a local café with bar stools, which makes passing the time with a café more comfortable and cheaper than sitting at a table.

He's right. The major wrong thing with bar stools is that they get in the way of serious café people who tend to stand near enough to the bar so they can handle their café thimbles handily. Sitting on a bar stool tends to take up twice as much space at the bar as standing solo. Add the sitters playing the ponies all day long, and you might as well find another café.

Today's first new member to arrive is Lisa Faibish from Manhattan. Lisa has been checking out the Musée de la Mode et du Textile in the Rue de Rivoli. She says it has more–better than – where? Lisa works at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, so she probably knows.

Barry says Santa Fe has its own opera. Barry and Lisa talk about the best places to ski. "It's safer in Colorado," Barry says. He also says he knows because he has kept lots of aprés–ski bar stools warm while others were risking lives and limbs.

Judy Peterson is the next new member to arrive. Judy lives in rain– drenched Redmond, Washington, after leavingphoto: cafe with chaser the Canadian winter horrors of New Rochelle, up the river a stretch from New York. Judy has been tipped to the Café Metropole Club's existence by members Eva Lee and Marilee McClintock.

According to recent club rumors, member Marilee McClintock is no longer in Agadir or Paris because she has returned to the Peace Corps to oversee its operations in Micronesia, which several members say is a big, mostly watery, place.

Small café – big chaser.

And this marks the end of the sensible nature of today's club report. Dennis Moyer arrives and says he being plagued by the nickname 'Daddy Warbucks,' and wants to return to his old nickname of 'Uncle Den Den.' Dennis has brought new member Alvin Stilman, from San Francisco.

Alvin is famous in the music world for his delicatessen in Detroit, which turned into 'Alvin's Twilight Bar' in the '80s. The place is still a Detroit musical landmark, but Alvin's most recent venture was the Cafe Barbar in San Francisco's Guerrero Street.

But before I learn this the missing member Eva Lee arrives, followed by Diana Rushing and Lewis Rosenthal, Laurel Avery and Dimitri Shipounoff.

Alvin's first official club question is, "Is Herb Finch a member?"

As club secretary I am supposed to answer, 'yes, Herb Finch, the club's only official explorer of Mongolia, has been a member since the meeting held on 16. October 2003.' But my brain does not have the search power of some software back at the office, so I don't know.

And members Barry Wright, Laurel Avery and Laurel Robinson – the double–Laurels – were at this particular meeting, but pretend not to hear Alvin's question. Wow! That 15–member club meeting number 207 was a tozzy!

Oops, I have neglected to note the arrival of Laurel Robinson. Dennis says, "I came here to change my name." Alvinphoto: diana, lewis, dennis wants to know how anybody manages to turn up at meetings. The 'Waiter of the Week' makes a signal that he is ready to bring the secretary's double–espresso if the secretary wishes. A nod gets it, but it gets cold before it is noticed on the table.

Diana, Lewis and Dennis focusing on club talk.

Some members periodically disappear into the grander part of the café's 'grande salle' to form a sub–club of smokers. When they look like they are staying there wrapped comfortably in fumes, the secretary urges them to return.

For the rest of the meeting the members play the musical chairs routine, forming neat talking–packs. The secretary abandons attempts to keep any notes about this. Even if he had multiple microphones, the night wouldn't be long enough to transcribe the tapes.

The solution? Call for the club's 'Group Photo of the Week.' This is arranged more easily than usual. Eva Lee holds up the sixth consecutive 'Bonjour Sally!' sign. I wonder if Chicago is as cold as New York these days. No word from Chicago probably means, yes.

Laurel returns from the café's downstairs waterworks with two civilians who are easily convinced that they should become members of a club they never heard of before five minutes ago.

The club has no rules against signing up members who don't know what they are signing up for, other than it's freephoto: susan, alan mattingly and for life. I read the 'rights' to Susan and Alan Mattingly, who currently live in Paris because the New York Times sent Susan to the International Herald Tribune to edit some words for this historic and famous Paris daily.

For Alan and Susan, on a day–off in Paris, strange things happen.

Today they are having a rare day–off, and just happened to find themselves outside La Corona at the same time as they happened to be thirsty. They are not the first club members to join the club by being shanghaied by club members who believe the club can't have too many members.

Even if the club's secretary sometimes wishes he could sit and read La Parisien for a quiet two hours on winterly Thursday afternoons, those café days seem to be over.

In fact, it is like 'old times.' Gaining two new members after 17:00 has been done before, and like before, the new members are not included, by chance, in the 'Group Photo of the Week.' Susan more than makes up for the sheer random chance of joining by providing this club meeting with a true 'City of the Week.'

It is Davenport, Iowa. It has taken the combined efforts 219 club meetings to award the distinction bestowed on it today. I hope the wait has been worth it, for both the club and an unwitting Davenport.

The 'Soldes d'Hiver' Continue

This year's Soldes d'Hiver in Paris continue. As of today, there are still some bargains available for sharp–eyed shoppers who realize what '–50' means. The final day of this annual shopping fête will be Saturday, 7. February.

About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's 'report' about this club meeting is actually more garbled than others, but you might not have read somephoto: formidable demi 0.5l of the other utter wingnut 'reports.' The 'About the Café Metropole Club' page may clear up some mystery in this area if you are curious to know what this is about, but the 'About' page was written by the club's secretary too.

This half–litre of beer is a 'formidable' and not a 'demi.' It is semi–full.

One vital remains fact – whatever you may think, there are not many others. 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 might not even require the effort of reading a club 'report' first.

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

The club meetings start about 15:00 sharp, always on a Thursday, and sort of continue until about 17:00, in the European Time of Paris Winter – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'les horribles temps d'hiver' although perfectly true – and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm. All of these meetings happen is Paris, except for rare ones in New York.

Doing anything at a meeting – like arriving – is encouraged. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'first' having a slight edge in 'report' value over 'true.' Don't get the wrong idea – 'true' is fine too. This may be a French-type 'exception,' because France is proud to have the world's greatest number of exceptions to ignored laws.

If you prefer to be 'not found' on the Internet, begraphic: club location map sure let the club's secretary know – before you forget. If necessary you can even be at a meeting and not be at it, 'report–wise.' Former 'rules' have ceased and have been removed from the club's chronicles except for the ones still online. All 'exceptions' to any other 'rules' have been temporarily suspended forever.

Talking in foreign languages like Scottish 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. All of it is never written here sometimes.*

*The above paragraphs are unchanged since eons because last week's koalas turned out to be pandas. 'Leave, shoot, eat.'

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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