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Poison Blow–fish

photo: group, barry, eva, doug, diana, laurel, lewis, ana, tomoko, david, james, joe

This Week's new 'Group of 11 Photo of the Week.'

'Food of the Week'

Paris:– Thursday, 5. February 2004:– There were no loud booms last night heralding any blizzard today. The morning view from my window overlooking the Montparnasse cemetery was full of weak sunshine, about to become stronger.

We have been having Paris' 'beautiful February week' for about a week now – since last week's club meeting This freak weather happens every other year, more or less. The difference this time around is that it is not only sunny but warm too. Usually it is as cold as frozen brass and the sky looks like blue steel.

But it is okay as it is. Folks are sunbathing at the seaside – especially if they are near Biarritz – and all the café terraces with good views in Paris are full. The ones without good views, or in the shade, are not so full.

But 'beautiful February week' doesn't last forever. According to tonight's TV-weather news there will be some clouds ranged along the Channel, being pushed northeast by 70 kph breezes. Still, Paris should be mostly sunny tomorrow, and the temperature will be right up there, about 16 degrees.

The sky might stay about the same on Saturday, but the heat is going to leave us cold, with a dump to a high of ten degrees. The light wind from the north will shift on Sunday to a 60 kph breeze from the northwest, and this will give us partly cloudy skies while knocking the temperature down to 'about right for the time of year,' to six lousy degrees.

Today's Le Parisien says next Monday may be sunny, but the temperature will 'stabilize' – to stay locked on six. Consider this a long–range prediction. It won't hurt to believe in it, but it won't do any good either. It may be an appropriate time to 'sortez les muffles!'

The 222nd Meeting 'Report of the Week'

Instead of trying out a new route to the club's café – such as, by way of Bastille – I do the same old thing again and walk over to Raspail and get on the Métro there and ride on it down to Châtelet where I get off as usual, glance at the Rue de Rivoli, and saunter over to the Pont Neuf.

Workmen who tore up the sidewalk along the Quai du Louvre a couple of weeks ago, have called in a special crew to putphoto: frozen japanese blow fish the paving stones neatly back in place like they're supposed to be. The bumpy hack–work they left behind is getting leveled out. I wonder how many high–heeled red shoes have been wrecked along here recently.

Frozen poison Blow–fish, straight from Osaka.

But I don't brood over this. I go into La Corona and shake hands with the acting boss, Mr Naudan, fils. There isn't anybody else around. The café's 'grande salle' has more people in it than nobody, but not by much. I get to the club's area before I see Ana Escomel, sitting off to the side by the 'no smoking' sign.

Ana wants to know if I want to hold the meeting there, out of the bright sunlight. But, for the meeting's beginning, the secretary should be visible, even if blinded by sunlight – and anyway, it is not all that bright today.

I think, 'aha!' – I am going to get to talk to Ana today, and find out all about Lima. I no sooner open my mouth to ask the first question when Tomoko Yokomitsu arrives. She begins showing me the frozen Blow–fish she's brought all the way from Japan – yesterday – when member Jim Donatelli arrives. He reminds me that he is a game warden from Wilmington, based in Mercer, Pennsylvania.

I no sooner ask him how to spell 'Wilmington' when Laurel Avery arrives – no, sorry – Barry Wright comes first, then Laurel, almost together with Eva Lee. My mouth is still open to ask Ana a question – but I am writing the members' names down as fast as I can – when Lewis Rosenthal arrives.

By this time Tomoko, who is severely jetlagged, is asking the 'Waiter of the Week' for a knife so she can open the Japanese cakes she's brought. Then I am eating a cinammon one and others are trying the tea cake ones – and I'm telling Tomoko we'll park her over by the 'no smoking' sign if she passes out.

My cake looks like a brown wonton. For some reason Tomoko tells us the location of all the major Chinatowns in Japan. There's one in Kobé, for example. New member David Pitt arrives in the midst of this, but without appearing to be confused because he's read a lot of the club's 'reports,' he says he is from Yosemite. I am surprised to learn that it is in California.

I don't know why I thought Yosemite is in Arizona, no, New Mexico, and all the members say, 'no no,' it really is in California. It is also the meeting's 'City of the Week,' so California is a winner today, not Arizona and not New Mexico.

But to listen to several of the club members, it is all about in the same place, right up there at 9000 feet elevation, orphoto: club wines even higher in nearby Lima, Peru. Laurel says, "I've never been in Yosemite." Neither has the club's secretary – not Arizona, not New Mexico, not California, not Lima, Peru, and not old Mexico – which is where I was going when I arrived in Europe.

A forest of glass full of wine is a club fixture.

Well, well. David Pitt, the club's new member, ran a bookshop in Yosemite for about 25 years. What with the Internet and all, even though he kept his regular customers who really like books, it fizzled out. Lately he been working on a board game, that he started about 30 years ago and has returned to it again.

Before he can divulge secrets about it Joe Fitzgerald arrives. He says, "I don't think I've ever seen 11 members at a club meeting before." I assure him, writing as fast as I can, that it is getting pretty common, and then return to counting the traffic and playing catch–up with the names. There are 12.

Either before or after Susan and Doug Fuss arrive, Diana Rushing is here too. Is James Donatelli in here? – because he was here before – oh, before lots of others.

While David is saying something about bringing native American art to Europe, he is also engaged with Barry about the art scene in Santa Fe, which sounds like Renaissance Florence compared to, for example, New York City. Is it number two or number three? I don't hear what Barry says.

I do hear Barry say that Raymond Chandler writes like a 'slumming angel.' This may be a leftover quote from last week, but this week Barry has the book with him.

Being a government law enforcement person, James is saying something about his wildlife conservation office being up the spout because its 30 year–old printer doesn't work because nobody can locate any fanfold paper for it. Or, if they can, it is government policy to have no twophoto: tomoko opens cake forms the same size – so what's really required are these dot–matrix printers of different carriage– widths – that have disappeared from the face of the earth.

Tomoko, carefully hacking open cake, with borrowed knife.

To really annoy him, several of us tell him about the European invention of A–4 sized paper, which is half the size of A–3, which in turn is half the size of A–2, and so on and so forth up to A–zero. While used dot– matrix printers may still be found – maybe right here in Paris – the appropriate fanfold paper is probably no longer with us.

James says even if it worked, the government wouldn't want it. Then somebody tells him Eva is a public defender. He asks, "Do you have more fun on the other side of the courtroom?" While Eva is saying yes, even though a lot of people who end up in court shouldn't be allowed out on public streets without minders, Ana is remembering her childhood in Lima.

"We had a TV set but there was nothing on it until I was four," she says, adding, "We bought it and waited and waited..." – for a couple of years, it turned out.

Eva, I think, seems to be saying that New Jersey needs a drive–in court, as a convenience for drunk drivers. Others, the US southwest gang, have a lot of stories about bombed drivers in New Mexico or Arizona who do not slow down for towns because there are so few of them. You'd think they would appreciate their novelty.

In the midst of all this, a couple of members have said they are leaving before the meeting is over because they have already thought up something different to do, so everything is stopped in order to put the 'Group Photo of the Week' into its can.

Out on the Corona's terrace I look through the viewfinder and am amazed that everybody fits within its boundaries. Oops. Barry is off to the left, so I re–shoot. I back up until I am nearly sitting in the street. Some second–sense urges me to look over the camera's top plate – ohmygosh! there's Joe way over to the right, nowhere near being in the frame.

Officially, this has been a 12–member meeting. Joe had the number wrong. You are also right if you countphoto: messy club table only 11 heads in the photo at the top of the page. I'll say, 'close enough for Metropole work' if I am called on this.

Typical club table covered with a shambles.

When we are back inside the café, everybody who is left is discussing various violent winds that blow in different parts of France. Somewhere, pretty much all the time, there are serious winds. If you happen to see cows in the trees, be sure to fill your pockets with heavy rocks.

As the remaining club members decide to 'carry on,' Tomoko reminds me to not forget to take the gift of the somewhat thawed–out frozen poison Blow–fish with me.

James has not brought his citation book – so he doesn't give me a ticket for having a prohibited foreign fish in my possession. Lucky me.

Last Chances for the 'Soldes d'Hiver'

The final day of this annual shopping fête will be Saturday, 7. February. If you miss out now do not givephoto: cake package up all hope – the 'Soldes 'd'Ete begin in about five months.

About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's 'report' about your club's meeting is far more garbled than other recent ones, but how can you tell unless you are at a meeting? The 'About the Café Metropole Club' page will not clear up any of the mysteries in this area, but does contains vital facts about the club.

The cake box from Japan.

The sole vital fact you need know is – there aren't any others. You can become a real lifetime member of this online magazine's free and live club by simply becoming a member by attending any of its meetings in Paris, for free. More for 'free' you can't get.

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

The weekly Thursday club meetings start about 15:00 sharp, always on a Thursday, and continue until about 17:00, in the European Time of Paris' semi–annual 'Fake Spring' – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'le vrai beau temps de février' although perfectly true – and elsewhere known as 3 pm to 5 pm. All of these meetings happen is Paris, except for one time once in New York City.

Doing something at a meeting – like coming to one – is a good idea. 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, especially if everybody believes it.

If you prefer to be 'not found' on the Internet, be sure to inform the club's secretary – before you get found by Google.graphic: club location map If desired you can even be at a meeting and not be at it, 'report–wise.' Former 'rules' are 'former' and have been removed from the club's chronicles except for the latter ones still online. All 'exceptions' to any other 'rules' have been temporarily suspended forever.

Talking in local languages like Swiss at meetings is fine. If there's a free chair sit wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. 'Sitting' is still optional. If they are listening, whatever you say may be truly appreciated by the other members present, and there usually is some sometimes – and if it happens to be written here, it could be read by all the readers of this online magazine, as some of them do part of the time, because all of a 'report' is never written here sometimes.*

*The above paragraphs are unchanged since last week because some club members are were still 'carrying on' today when I last saw them.

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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Waldo Bini