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A Fixer–Upper Week

photo: cafe relais odeon

Sun beaming on the Boulevard Saint–Germain.

Metropole's 'Tours' Lists

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 19. April 2004:– I made a mistake a week ago by writing that our weather – truly spring–like – was great enough for be mistaken for February weather. This caused last Thursday's bright skies and temperature of 19 degrees to collapse.

Easter must have been early this year because its weather was uncharacteristically fine. Now we are getting 'real' Easter weather, and I suppose this is all anybody will remember. 'I was in Paris a week after Easter, and the weather was as bad as in March,' people who weren't here in March will say.

If you think this is leading up to predictions of bright skies and warm temperatures, then you will be off the mark a bit. Now that 'normal' Easter weather has us firmly in its grip, the outlook is gloomy, damp and cool.

This is 'gloomy' in the sense of being more or less constantly cloudy, with all winds being cool, to match temperatures that are not warm to begin with. Total cloud is forecast for tomorrow, with a nominal high temperature of a lousy 14 degrees. Winds from the southwest will make it seem cooler.

Wednesday will be more cloudy than not. There may be some outpeeps of sunshine but they probably won't last for more than minutes at a time. Winds from the southwest will be hitting the coast – admittedly, far from Paris – at 70 kph. A forecast temperature high of 18 seems a bit implausible.

On Thursday the skies should lighten up a bit as Wednesday's low front passes towards the east, where it belongs. In exchange, the high for the day may drop to 16, which may be realistic. A long–range guess for Friday indicates a semi–sunny day, but with a front of some sort descending from the northwest. No good fronts ever come from the northwest.

Café Life

A Fixer–Upper Week

In mid–week the weather was spotty, with short sunny periods alternating with short periods of rain and long stretches of cloudy skies. During a brief lull on Wednesday I captured some of the week's posters, even though I was uncertain about doing a complete issue.

As it turned out the only day worth being outside for extended periods was the club meeting day on Thursday, when I was mostly inside. What else I actually did on Wednesday and Friday escapes me now, but from somewhere an old idea emerged and I decided to do it 'while the sun didn't shine.'

About four years ago Metropole reader Gary Jackson was at loose ends and wrote to suggest that the tours around Parisphoto: red white 2cv that appear in Metropole be given their own indexes so that readers can more easily find them. It seemed like a lot of work to me, but Gary offered to give it a shot and put together lists for 2000 and 2001.

And that's where the idea stayed. Until this week's rainy skies. On Friday I looked at the lists Gary had sent and saw they were far from complete. Instead of digging to get the article URLs and dates, I decided to start at the beginning with the issues done in 1996.

Metropole's files for the first year are a terrible mess. I didn't do the coding at the time so all I have are the texts as I wrote them. For the first 23 issues I didn't even have the contents pages, although the URLs for these are in the past issues' page for 1996.

The short of it is it took a lot more time than I thought to just do a 'tours' list with links to the articles, and put them into chronological order – in the reverse order of the past issues' pages. It didn't take hours, it took days.

After I finished the 1996 list, corrected it and re–corrected it, I decided to tackle 2003 – with the idea of gradually doing them from either end – as in, the nextphoto: cafe labroderie, smart two to do are 1997 and 2002.

It is only when you do stuff like this that you find out that handfuls of whole issues aren't even in the past issues' lists. Oh surprise! How exciting! But, excepting 1996, all of the archives for other years are fairly complete and it's only a question of wading through them, one–by–one to extract the URLs.

It was boring to do it and it is boring to write about it. But it is the reason that this issue is doubled with the last one, instead of having its own feature and the usual sorry excuse for not doing the 'Au Bistro' column. I am up to my nose with copy–and–paste.

I am really looking forward to 'Ric's Day Off.' All I'm going to do is try to forget that there are another six of them to do.

Last Call For Entries

The deadline for the great bumper–sticker slogan contest is this coming Thursday, 22. April. All you need to do is think up a short and catchy slogan that sums up why Paris or France is your favorite holiday destination, and email it to me as quick as you can.

Laurel Avery Is Unavailable

The popular 'Paris Journal' columns by Laurel will be interrupted for several issues while the author is out of town. Before she left she asked for details about how to connect to the Internet from temporary locations, but she didn't say this meant that her 'Journals' will be coming from any of these.

Non–link to the Web Site of the Week

On Saturday coming back from the Inno supermarket with some hot sauce I bumped into Matt Rose on his way to a barbeque and we went a long way out of both our ways to have a café because the café we were closest to isn't so good. When Matt isn't being a 'mail–artist' he is apt to give advice about marketing – which is something I wish I understood.

One theory going around is that a Web site likephoto: rue jacob Metropole can become more famous if it has lots of links. Offers to 'exchangelinks' arrive all the time – often with Matt's reasoning – but you don't see them here because they are for hotel Web sites in Saint Petersburg or Malaysia.

Then Matt asked me if I had a link to the Web site he contributes Paris articles to. I looked at it some time ago and didn't notice any Matt Rose on it, so I didn't put it in. On Saturday he said he was in the left column of the contents page. So, naturally, I've waited until a minute ago to check it out.

As far as I can tell, the Web site where Matt's work is, is being attacked by Internet hooligans tonight. For this reason I am not putting in a 'live' link. The Web site where you can find Matt's article is called 'art-themagazine' If you are willing to risk it, you can add 'http://www.' to the beginning and '.com' to the end – or simply look it up with Google – which might be safer.

We talked for about a hour on Saturday, which made Matt late for his date. He was supposed to be somewhere beyond the Gare Saint–Lazare by 16:00. We walked back to Gaîté together just as it was starting to rain. With his guitar in hand and a firm belief in barbeques, he dived into the Métro entry.

Headline of the Week

'L'explosion du cannabis' – is last Wednesday's headline on Le Parisien's front page, followed by 'Rambo s'amuse.' According to the paper more and more kids 'fument des joints' than ever, but is a bit unclear about 'since when.' The diagrams show the beginning age as 12 and the end of the scale is 18. I guess this is when they switch to wine.

On Le Parisien's pages two and three, 'le shit' is explained in detail, so all parents and their kids will be able to know more than they did before – which might have been nothing. There seems to be a flat–rate price of 15€ for enough hashish for four or five joints, or for five grams of 'l'herbe,' which is more rare.

The paper also says you need to be deaf not to have heard of it. The law says and has said for 34 years that smoking a joint in France carries the same penalty as injecting heroin – a possible year in jail and a fine up to 40,000€. According to the report, only big dealers really face this risk, with a possible two to ten years of lockup and a fine of up to eight million euros.

The Most Recent Café Metropole Club 'Report'

If you have a moment to spare take a look at the last meeting's version of the 'The Truth About the 15th Arrondissement' report.photo: 3d ric Most of the 'report' was about subjects other than the 15th arrondissement, but this is the title it got for lack of a 'Thing of the Week.'

The latest photo of 'Ed' – trying to read this with 3–D shades.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club is on Thursday, 22. April. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint–Alexandre. This week there are two Saint–Alexandres, one plain and the other a '1st.' I'm guessing our saint is the latter, because his day is 2. May, and the calendar has changed a bit since 115 AD when Alexandre 1st quit being the Pope on account of his sudden death.

Some minor but important details about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The virtual club membership card on this page is as free as standard air and valid for your whole lifetime, everywhere in the world.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.17 – 21. April 2003 – the Café Metropole column's headline was 'Summertime Issue – Extra Early Special.' This was followed by the short 'Au Bistro' column's in only 9 words, 'Over–crowded Brits Urged to Move to Calais Region.' The week's features were titled 'Hawaiian Shirt Days – Capturing the Rapture' and 'Hawaiian Shirt Days, Bis – Third Summer Shirt Day in April.' The Scène column was online but unmentioned. The Café Metropole Club update for 24. April was titled asphoto: sign, place de l'odeon the 'Trendy 'Food of the Week' report. There were six new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon of the week was captioned 'Hi–Lo Weather.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.17 – 22. April 2002 – this week's Café Metropole column's was extra exciting with the 'Shocko Horror Election Show.' The 'Au Bistro' column was headlined 'Stupefication! Le Pen Beats Jospin.' The Café Metropole Club update on 25. April was titled the "I Just Want Some Red Shoes!" report. There were four really swell 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon Caption of the Week was, 'Non Vote.'

The Repeat of the 'Countdowns – Are Back!'

These are in this double–issue's Café column. Please remember to subtract seven from all 'days until' for the count–downs.

This Week's 'Countdown of the Week'

This is another timely contribution from Jim 'Countdown' Auman. He writes, "March 31 or April 1 marked the 800th anniversary of the death of Aliénor d'Aquitaine – Eleanor of Aquitaine – in 1204. The dates are a bit uncertain because they had to be translated from Early Medieval Sundial or Late Dark Ages Sand Clock – sundials were notoriously unreliable in the Dark Ages. She was buried in the abbey of Fontevrault – now Fontevraud – next to her husband Henry II. The abbey will host various cultural events this year concerning Aliénor and her times."

On account of the sundial problem, we can assume that today, 19. April, is close enough to 800 years later. Happy anniversary Aliénor d'Aquitaine!

Eleanor's first husband was Louis VII, to whom she was married at 15. She was from the cultivated court at Poitiers, and a bit pushy. She wasn't fond of the church so she got Louis to meddle in its affairs. Thenphoto: sign, jeu de longue paume she went off with him on the 2nd Crusade in 1147, and he failed to capture Damascus, while Eleanor was rumored to have dallied with a 'handsome' Saracen. Worse, he was a slave.

In truth, Eleanor had provided Louis with only two daughters, so Louis bought a local divorce from some tame bishops in 1152 – he the pious one! – and remarried twice, until the future Phillippe Augustus was produced.

Meanwhile Eleanor, over the hill at 30, managed to snag young Henri Plantagenêt. This united Eleanor's Aquitaine and Gascony to Henri's Anjou, Maine and Normandy, and on top of it Henri became Henry II, King of England in 1154.

If you look at a map of France at the end of the 12th century, most of it – much of the centre and all of the west – was under British control. Eleanor was born in 1137 and was 67 when she died. France did not get control of Aquitaine until 1453.

2004 Has Nearly Had It

If this year will be worth remembering is still open to question. The most we can do is hope it isn't. As of today there are only about 256 days left in this year. For over 2052 years – which amounts to, very roughly, about 749,021 days, Paris has not been getting any younger very slowly.

'Ric's Day Off' last week was so completely unremarkable that it isn't worth any remarks a week later.
signature, regards, ric

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