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Only Eight Once

photo: cafe le comptoir saints peres

A café with a sunny face in the Quartier Latin.

The Paris Kazoo Club

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 23. February 2004:– We have been treated to some very pleasant forecasts and weather predictions lately. They all had one fault in common – they were all wrong.

All my indications of sunny or partly sunny skies turned out to be exceedingly brief periods of cold sunshine, nearly too short to capture with a camera. Gray skies for this time of year wouldn't have been unusual, but the really bad part has been some persistent and gusty winds which made everything feel colder than it was.

Measurable temperature was invented in the 18th century, and the 'wind chill factor' was added to it in the 20th century. Although this 'factor' isn't a common notion in Europe, with the dawn of the 21st century it is on the verge of being replaced by proprietary method of determining 'RealFeel' temperatures.

What the weather really feels like is a lot more complex than the feeble information provided by TV–weather news. For example, TV's forecast for Tuesday predicted a high of five degrees, with semi–sunny skies.

It neglected to mention that the average wind will be from the west–south– west at 19 kph, and according to 'AccuWeather' the high will only be two degrees. When the whole caboodle is added up, divided, and run through the 'RealFeel' mixer, it gives a temperaturephoto: passage, 3rd arr that feels like –6 degrees. Of course, the TV–weather forgot to mention that the wind may gust up to 32 kph. TV forgot to mention any wind.

You will not appreciate this if you have been fooled into believing that a few rays of sunshine will last long enough for you to trek through the Tuileries garden. Don't forget to wear your thermal underwear! If you haven't brought any, find the nearest Damart 'what, me freezing?' store.

One of the few 'passages' in the 3rd arrondissement

Back to tonight's TV–weather forecast. According to the animated weather map Paris will be blanketed with a band of gray clouds, perhaps dropping snowflakes, with sunshine on either side, so far away you'll never see it. The high should be a notional three degrees.

Thursday is set to be worse, also with possible snow.

There is another element beyond the scope of 'RealFeel' weather forecasts, and this is earthquakes. One centred about 40 kilometres from Bresançon jiggled the countryside from Strasbourg to Lyon today about 18:30, scoring five on the Richter scale.

There was no reported damage or injuries. A fireman on the TV–news wouldn't make a scientific comment about it other than saying that there was a similar earthquake in the same region about a year ago. Bresançon is not anywhere near Paris.

Café Life

An Unusual Issue

This issue is an unusual one – not for its lack of exciting features, absent new Scène column, no email feature, or for any other of the rash promises I made in Metropole's initial issue – dated Friday, 23. February 1996.

No, this issue is unusual because this magazine is eight years old today, right on the button. Metropole Paris has got off the 'seven–year–old pot' it had been sitting on, and moved forward by a year. The next issue will be the first in the magazine's ninth – in figures, 9th – year of publication, which will be a true 'first.'

I am wondering if it hasn't all been a big mistake. When I do 'Metropole One Year Ago,' etc., I get to see that most past anniversary issues celebrated the birthday – because there wasn't much else happening at this time of year in Paris.

Maybe Metropole started on the wrongphoto: concorde date. How could I have picked the week when a lot of Parisians are off gamboling in the Alps, on their annual mid–winter holidays? Maybe the whole thing is a huge mistake, doomed from the beginning.

Last Friday at the Place de la Concorde.

After all I didn't get any Feng Shui expert to cast the bones and chicken feathers, to tell me to play it like it lays, set up the right geographical angles ensuring health, happiness and prosperity, with a lucky mascot like a cute monkey thrown in case all other considerations turned out to be a pipe–dream.

Anyway, there I was a couple of days ago, wondering what was going to be in this issue. For once in a very long time, the posters and the Morris column graphics were already done – which made it too late to just call this number off and go to a movie. Instead we have:–

The Paris Kazoo Club

Last fall a visitor to the city accompanied me to a soirée at Uncle Den–Den's buffalo–grass vodka club, and, having read a bit of Metropole, came along equipped with a green plastic genuine kazoo in case of any choice musical opportunities.

I recall the particular evening only hazily, but the visitor has a better memory and has returned, armed not with kazoos for all the Daguerréotypistas – but with a dozen combs and regulation tissue paper. These items, according to theory, if combined in the correct manner, can be made to sound like a kazoo.

So it was, on Saturday evening when we were invited to Dimitri's original garret on the ground floor, that we went equipped with the kazoo–like materials, to play if necessary, for our supper.

To eat we had some sort of true Frenchphoto: paris expo concoction that was supposed to be like potatoes that had been rendered to have a taffy–like effect, but didn't quite, and another dish very much in vogue these days – which was a sort of stew. It was all very good even if the potatoes failed by a hair to be extremely elastic.

Afterwards the combs and the tissue paper were distributed. We were given a lesson on how to fold the tissue paper correctly over the teeth of the combs, and how to sort of blow on the edge, sort of with the whole thing just on the edge of the mouth.

A bit of néo–néo déco at Paris–Expo.

This is harder to do than it sounds. In fact it is impossible to do without pretending to do it, and pretending to do it is as good as the real thing, whatever it is.

I, for example, tone–deaf, and incapable of remembering anything musical – especially not lyrics – was able to pretend to render the very tune that got me thrown out of music class forever. Oh, I thought, if that mean music teacher could hear me now!

Dimitri, who is a fine singer, and has many other genuine talents too, failed to believe in the comb–and–paper kazoo, so for him it did not work at all. He sat there looking at us, puzzled.

Of course he could hear what we were doing and we could not. I mean, try it, and you'll see what I mean. But I think we will look around a bit and see if we can find some genuine kazoos in this town somewhere.

I mean it – if it looks like a kazoo it might be easier to make it sound like a kazoo, and then there'll be no stopping the formation of the 'Paris Kazoo Club.' If we get one for Jonathan, he might let us come along to play backup with René's Wedding Band, sometime when they are set up on the Pont Saint–Louis on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Headline of the Week

'The Revenge of the Train' is Le Parisien's front–page headline on Saturday, and it refers to the exceptional number of travellers to the Alps who chose the comfort of a TGV to take them where there is plenty of ice and snow and high fees for sliding around in it.

Another February Repeat of Regular Plugs

photo: louvreMetropole'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 good tenants for it.

A part of the Louvre facing the Pont du Carrousel.

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'

Putting out a free virtual magazine entails some financial outlay, 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'

Pop this link to have a look at the last meeting's 'Real Conversations Lost In Translation' club report. The partial 'Group Photo of the Week' was taken in the café's 'grande salle' again, and nobody could tell we weren't the whole group.

Infinitly minor details about the club can all be found on the 'About the Club' page. The virtual club membership card on this page is free and valid for your whole lifetime, worldwide.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 26. February. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint–Nestor. He is another one not in the Saint's book and the only Nestor in the names part is Greek, I guess. He was the legendary King of Pylos and the oldest Prince in the gang that besieged Troy. Somehow I don't think it's the same Nestor.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.09 – 24. Feb 2003 – The Café column opened the issue with, 'Turns 7 Again.' This anniversary issue offered a selection of features from past issues, starting with, '1996 – Dreaming in Montparnasse.' The other articles were '1997 – In the Other Versailles,' '1998 – East of Bastille, Work and Play,' '1999 – On the 'Route des Impressionists,' '2000 – Café Metropolephoto: wine barrel, sympa Club Report' and '2001 – Beautiful Cow Week. 'The Café Metropole Club update for 27. February was presented as the "HEY! The 11th is OKAY!" report. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon of the week had the caption, '1 Bougie for 7 Years.' Again!

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.09/10 – 25. Feb 2002 – The Café Metropole column began with, 'Surprise – We Are Seven!' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Chunnel Rocky Horror Hungry Trip' – probably from the very first issue 1.01. This issue had two Café Metropole Club updates, with the one for 28. February featuring the 'No Sausage of the Week' report. The following week's 7. March report was a 'first' with the 'Club Mutiny' report. The Scène column's title was 'Much, Much, Way Much More.' There were six better than average 'Posters of the Week' over two weeks, and Ric's cartoon caption of the week was, '7 Bougies At Last.'

Countdowns – Unplugged

One new countdown have been added this week. Since this page will be a day late again if I don't wrap it up soon, please turn to the latest of the countdowns, and subtract 13 days from all dates.

For those who must have their countdown no matter what, it was exactly 81 years ago last week – subtractphoto: sign, libre seven days – that the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen's lost but found and freshly unearthed tomb was unsealed in Egypt, where it had been buried for a really long time. Those finder folks got a snoot full of 'mummy dust' I bet.

Paris Commune fans may wish to change their travel plans because Les Amis de la Commune of 1871 will be presenting an exhibition about the Commune from Thursday, 18. March until Thursday, 8. April. This will be in the Hôtel de Ville, except on Sundays, and the free entry is by the front door.

Olympic Fans will be happy to learn that the Olympic flame will be hustled through Paris by a series of torch–bearers on Friday, 25 June – as part of its journey back to Athens for the summer Olympics – which are called 'JO' here. This is 124 days from today.

This year the Olympic flame is travelling to five continents, to 26 countries and through 33 cities – carried in the hands of 15–20,000 flame–carriers.

2004 Is Going Away, Ever So Slowly

Although more than four–score, there are still about 312 days left this year. This week there are fewer days–left than last week, which puts right a foolish goof that could have happened to anybody.

Despite last week's nasty breezes and slightly chilly temperatures I am not sure we can still skate on semi–frozen rinks in front of the Hôtel de Ville, the one in front of the Gare Montparnasse, because they might have been removed by now. In any case, most Parisians went to the mountains to do this sort of stuff.
signature, regards, ric

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