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''Too Easy To Quit''

photo: cafe au petit suisse

Sunbeam café last Wednesday.

Juppé to Ease Out Slowly

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Tuesday, 10. February 2004:– Radio France–Info remains 'on strike,' along with all other Radio France services. This has been going on for a really long time now, but the alternate programming isn't so bad unless you – miss the 'news.'

From yesterday – 'France–TV is not on strike, so there is weather news here. There isn't really much to say about it because there is some kind of high–pressure system that in theory is supposed to give us some very bright days.'

So much for yesterday's version. Today, to the complete surprise of the forecasters, there has been a sudden invasion of clouds from the north and northwest that has overturned their bright predictions for the week.

What was haze and morning fog yesterday now has become generalized cloudy skies. For Wednesday I have noted 'clouds' for the morning and 'more clouds' for the afternoon. Temperatures which will have dipped to four degrees overnight, will rise to 10 on account of the cloud cover.

The outlook for Thursday is semi–cloudy, with a high of eight degrees. On Friday it should be – might be – less cloudy, and the temperature should be nine degrees.

The way this was written 24 hours ago there was all sorts of tricky stuff about 'hinges' in the Alps and a 'swinging door' like a windshield wiper, shifting from Brittany up to northwestern France. Alas, none of this is in the cards.

'Pretty decent weather' for February is no longer expected this week.

Café Life

From Behind:– Last week Wednesday was the day to be out in the sunshine, and all 'Café Life' happened on Saturday. By the time this was written up, it was too late to delve into the murk surrounding the following complex item. To refresh your memory, 'part 1' appears in last week's 'Café Metropole' column.

Convicted, Juppé Stays On

After saying he would quit public life if convicted on corruption charges, Alain Juppé was found guilty by a court in Nanterre on Friday, 6. February. After the verdict, the defendant told news organizations that he was going to think over his situation. He said his decision about the future would be revealed on Tuesday.

So political France had to wait four days to find out if Mr Juppé would honor his word. He chose Tuesday's TF1's national TV–news audience to reveal that he'd changed his mind.

There was a certain comedy about this, because rival France–2 TV –news decided onphoto: resto la sieste its own, and announced as 'news' in the same time –slot, that Mr Juppé would in fact resign from his political posts – as Mayor of Bordeaux, deputy in the National Assembly, and head of the majority UMP party.

Ready for sleepy food in Montparnasse?

Thus, France–2 TV–news had the disagreeable task of opening its Wednesday broadcast with an apology to newsfans for the previous evening's misinformation. This was characterized as an 'error of interpretation.' Their 'news' on Tuesday was seen and heard by five million viewers, while 13 million heard and watched the 'true' story on TF1.

On Wednesday, deputy Alain Juppé was in the Assembly National, where he took part in the debate about a new law forbidding the display of religious signs in France's public schools.

According to reports, Alain juppé changed his mind about retiring because it would be 'too easy.' In reality, he was under irresistible pressure from the Président's office in the Elysée Palace, cohorts in the UMP party and various other political supporters.

All three groups see Mr Juppé as a credible successor to Président Jacques Chirac, and one who will be willing to give Mr Chirac a pardon, if he does not run for a third term as president.

What's wrong with this, is supposing that Mr Juppé will be exonerated by a successful appeal. If he is not, then he will be barred from holding public office for 10 years – leaving Mr Chirac without a successor, and the UMP party without a favorite candidate.

A CSA poll conducted for Le Parisien on 4. and 5. February showed that the French are evenly divided over the question of whether Mr Juppé should continue his political activities while awaiting the results of his appeal. Forty–seven percent were in favor of continuing, and 46 percent were against it.

Asked if political–financial 'affairs' would influence their vote in the upcoming regionalphoto: signs, hotel des academies elections, 49 percent of those polled said they would, while 45 percent said they would not.

Finally, in the same poll, right–wing sympathizers chose Nicolas Sarkozy to succeed Alain Juppé for president of the UMP party at its congress next November. Friends of the UMP party gave Mr Sarkozy an even bigger majority, against a list of five other UMP rivals.

Ready to sleep it off here?

Partly to this end, the UMP held a party congress at Paris–Expo on Sunday. Before the conviction, Alain Juppé was programmed to leave the leadership of the UMP party when his term expires in November, but his appearance at the congress excited a lot of hysterical emotions from the 15,000 party faithful, as well as 10–minute ovations.

Mr Juppé called on the party faithful for unity, to avoid weakening the circle of support around the président. This was a reference to the well–known ambitions of the Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr Sarkozy was present at the congress, with the intention of not saying anything to disturb anyone, but found himself to be outnumbered in a sea of Juppé sympathizers.

But at the moment, even if nobody is openly saying that the UMP is going to have a difficult time finding a suitable successor as a candidate for président, this is exactly the problem facing the président's party.

The Appeal

If Alain Juppé received a harsher sentence than asked for by prosecutors, it was mostly because of his inflexible defense consisting of a wholesale denial of the charges.

This was not wise because it was 'no secret' that his closest aides in the RPR offices were on the payroll of the Ville de Paris, and they admitted as much in court.

For the appeal, which will held be in Versailles before the end of the year, his lawyers say he has two options. One is do what he's already done – deny everything. The other is to admit that the system of the 'fake' employees' existed.

If he takes the second option he runs the risk of having appeared to lie to the court during the original trial. This will not amuse a court of appeals. All the same, for the moment, Mr Juppé remains represented by the same legal counsellors, with the same two options.

The Candidate?

The present Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy may turn out to be the UMP party's sole viable choice as candidate for president of France when Jacques Chirac's second term ends in 2007. Polls say people like 'law and order.'

However, he has three major strikes against him. He has never been mayor of Paris, he is not tall, andphoto: shop, cordonnerie he is too openly ambitious for his own good.

In fact, with Alain Juppé on a short road to political oblivion, the UMP party has no truly outstanding personnage capable of filling Jacques Chirac's large shoes.

Former presidential candidate, Prime Minister and Socialist, Lionel Jospin, is still taking a break from politics – but he was never mayor of Paris either.

This leaves the present mayor, Bertrand Delanoë. Although he has not been mayor of Paris for a full term yet, he has been a Socialist party stalwart for a long time. The timing might be a bit sooner than he expected, but with a right–wing vacuum looming, Mr Delanoë is beginning to look like he might be running, instead of walking, towards the Elysée Palace.

Headline of the Week

"Où en est Le Pen?" – Le Parisien, Monday, 9. February. On the run–up to regional elections in March, pollsters give 16 percent to Le Pen's extreme–right party, slightly more than at the same time in 1998.

Worst Movie of the Year?

On Wednesday before last Le Parisien created a major new 'first' for itself by using its front page and inside pages two and three to pan a stupid but harmless new movie, named improbably, 'RRRrrrr !!!'

Libération merely said the movie wasn't the fault of the director, Alain Chabat. Early this week the box–office results for the initial week gave the movie the second best score in France with almost 850,000 tickets sold, a quarter million of them in the Ile–de–France.

Thus the silly 'RRRrrrr !!!' wildly outsold the Hollywood blockbuster, 'Le Dernier Samouraï' in their first week in the cinemas, and was second only to Disney's 'Frère des Ours' – which Le Parisien judged lame.

One French film directed by Sylvain Chaument, 'Les Triplettes de Belleville,' has been nominated for two Oscars. Results are to be known during the prize ceremony in Hollywood, on Sunday, 29. February.

The February Repeat of Regular Plugs

Metropole's Lodging page is online and in every issue. Listing your apartment or house for rent on this page will create a good chance of finding tenants for it.

Unlike Metropole Paris and the Café Metropole Club, listing your property in Metropole is not 'free.' Write today to enquire about details. Your suggestions will be welcome. To those who have already enquired, thanks.

Metropole's Only Version Is 'Shareware'

I can't overcome the financial problems of putting out a free virtual magazine, so I ask readers to consider Metropole Paris as 'shareware.' If the magazine 'works' for you, contributing a bit towards its upkeep will do wonders for keeping it online.

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

Café Metropole Club 'Reports'

Click your cursor on this link to have a look at the last meeting's the 'Poison Blow–fish 'Food of the Week' clubphoto: expo, l'express, luxembourg report. Paris was sunny again, so a good number of club members posed for the 'Group Photo of the Week' on the terrace of La Corona, without their coats.

The best photos from l'Express on show on the grille of the Luxembourg.

Some very minor details concerning the club can all be found on the 'About the Club' page. The virtual club membership card on this page is free, so long as you print it using your own ink and paper. The card is valid for your whole lifetime, worldwide, but hyper–valid in Paris.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 12. February. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint–Félix. He was the Pope for five years before suddenly ending his career in 274, possibly in Rome. The problem with this Félix is that his 'day' was 30. May, and none of the other two saints named Félix have 12. February. Neither do the two anti– Popes named Félix.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.07 – 10. Feb 2003 – The Café column's headline was 'Buzzer Dayz, Signs of Too Many.' This issue had one feature, titled 'Rétromobile – Wheels of Fire, Real and In Scale 1:6.' The Café Metropole Club update for 13. February resulted in the 'Chocolate Frogs?' report. The issue's new 'Wine News' mentioned the laborious 'Labelworks.' There were four brand new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric'sphoto: sign, place pablo picasso cartoon of the week had the caption, "Cause I Love 'Em" – for some reason. I don't feel like looking it up, but you can.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.07 – 11. Feb 2002 – The Café Metropole column's headline was, 'This Magazine Is Online!' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Jacques Is Running.' Was it news? This issue contained one small feature titled, 'It's Wheelie Time Again at Rétromobile.' The Café Metropole Club update for 14. February turned into the ''First' Valentine Meeting' report on account of it being Thanksgiving. The headline for the Scène column's was 'The Year of the Horse.' There were four somewhat ordinary 'Posters of the Week' and Ric the love–crazed editor and cartoonist decided the week's cartoon caption should be, 'Rétro Valentine.'

Countdowns – Subtract One

No new 'counting–downs' have been added this week, and Saint–Augustine has been removed because there are more than enough saints already on this page. Since this page is a day late, please subtract one day from all the numbers of days below, to get the number of days from today instead of Monday.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Frédéric–August Bartholdi,photo: statue liberty, luxembourg the designer of the Stature of Liberty. His death occurred on Tuesday, 4. October.

As you are 'counting–down' 239 days until this year's Monday, 4. October, you'll have time to learn more about Bartholdi's life and works by visiting the virtual Musée–Bartholdi, plus the real one as well if you happen to be in France.

For a major literary gent, we can also be 'counting–down' to the 150th anniversary of the birthdate of Jean– Nicolas–Arthur Rimbaud, which is on Wednesday, 20. October, 255 days from now.

An even bigger literary razzle–dazzle will be made this year for George Sand, who was born 200 years ago on Sunday, 1. July 1804. This year will officially be the 'Année George Sand' all year long. For lots more, Cécile Pichot's Web site is worth a visit as is the one run by Marc Nadaux. I almost forgot. This 'countdown' lasts 144 days, until 1. July.

The date of the Normandy landings in WWII was on Tuesday, 6. June 1944. The 60th anniversary of this fateful day for 2,846,439 allied liberators is 119 days from now, on a Sunday this year.

Another WWII event 60 years ago to note is the liberation of Paris. Its official date is Friday, 25. August 1944. This date is 199 days from now. The liberation started on Tuesday, 15. August, with a strike – by the Métro and the police – followed by more strikes until the shooting started on Saturday, 19. August. Five days later the first tanks of the 2nd French Armored Division reached the Hôtel de Ville at 20:45 on Thursday, 24. August. Général de Gaulle arrived the following day, slightly less than three hours after the German surrender.

Paris, Ville Antique

Here is a Web site tip. The Ministry of Culture's 'Paris, Ville Antique' is worth an in–depth look, firmly in the 'now–for–something–different' department. Amaze your friends and neighbors with new–found knowledge about details of daily life in Paris 2000 years ago.

2004 Is Still With Us

Although irksome, there are about 316 days left this year. But there are only 21 days left until our bonus 'Leap–Year' day extra in February, which may be a public holiday called Sunday, in some parts of the world. .

Despite last week's sunshine and warm temperatures we are still allowed to skate on semi–frozen but slushy rinks in front of the Hôtel de Ville, the one in front of the Gare Montparnasse, or maybe even the one out at La Défense – where local winds may blow your mind away.
signature, regards, ric

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