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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 man 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.


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