horz line

Frenzied Voting

photo: group, barry, tomoko, heather, david

The group of the week minus Stan, with Barry, Tomoko,
Heather and David.

Picks Winners!

Paris:– Thursday, 29. April 2004:– The bark of today's weather forecast has had a lot less bite in it than we were led to expect. The weather map in yesterday's paper showed red bolts of lightning, squadrons of evil black clouds passing overhead and some pretty low temperatures.

Instead it has been merely cool and gray, with a few spits of drizzle. For a forecast high of 16, I did not even bother putting on a sweater. Most years I wear one year–round.

Tomorrow's forecast is pretty frightening too. It's not in color so I can't tell if the lightning bolts are red, or really as black as they seem. From tonight's TV–weatherphoto: generic bumper sticker news I have noted, 'drizzle, cloudy, some sun and rain.' The high temperature isn't supposed to be too low either – with 18 degrees forecast.

The latest forecast for Saturday, 1. May is not as grim as this morning's paper suggests. European workers' day should be mostly cloudy, with some sunny periods. The temperature should stay nailed to 18 degrees.

On Sunday the sun may shine more in Orléans than in Paris, which might be mostly cloudy. But again the high temperature is supposed to be 18 degrees. All things being equal – the actual weather may be better than the forecast. It has been happening a lot here lately.

The 'Club Report of the Week'

I was merrily twiddling my thumbs early this afternoon when I chanced to check my email, and found that Heather Stimmler–Hall had advanced today's meeting by 30 minutes – so we would have time to get 'organized' for the judging of 143 slogans entered in the fantastic 'I–Like–France' Bumper– Sticker Slogan contest.

After an uneventful – in other words, speedy – Métro ride to Châtelet, I find myself arrivingphoto: heather, secretary, ric at the club's café La Corona, only seven minutes late – but 23 minutes before the official begin of today's historic meeting.

So–called 'organizers' waiting for voters.

While I try to sort out all the print–outs I've made for today's judging – and Heather has made some too – Heather tells me about the party for the extras she went to – for Claude Berri's film, 'Galerie d'Art.' I hear her say something like, "We had Champagne glasses filled with Canada Dry, for two hours."

With four stints as an 'extra' behind her, Heather says she only needs to do 46 more in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, as an 'intermittent du spectacle,' or part–time performer. These are the ones that had their unemployment conditions changed for the worse last summer, which forced them to strike many summer festivals.

We get all our papers in the best order we can, and then nothing happens. I decide to take a group photo of the bumper–sticker contest organizers – which, I think, may turn out to be the 'Group Photo of the Week.'

We are saved by Tomoko Yokomitsu's arrival. Well, Heather is, because they discuss the 'tricks of the trade' – which is mostly about how to get 46 more 'extra' jobs without having to drink any more Canada Dry.

This is interrupted by the reappearance of Barry Wright to a club meeting. Barry got a job for Thursdays, so he hasn't been to many club meetings lately. He agrees with Heather's professional assessment, "If you are going to bephoto: red wine an actor, you should be able to lie." Barry tells us about his short film career in Morocco, again.

After some more chit–chat, I hear, "Two nuclear bombs can give you a buzz." I'm afraid this is the punch–line to something about 'one nuclear bomb.'

Then – who says this? "Throw spaghetti against a refrigerator door and see if it sticks."

"Then what?" is my line.

The answer – "Then it's done!"

Heather then switches the subject by mentioning the book by Alan Carr, 'The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.' Perhaps it is because Tomoko says she has been chewing anti–nicotine gum for four years. She says, "It works for some people."

Barry then startles us by saying, "I'm the only one here with a good job, so I'm paying for everybody." Then he pulls out a cigarette and leaves for another part of the café, saying, "If Patrick comes by, order another Kir for me."

On his way out he passes David Henry on the way in. David lived in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, until he was four or seven, so we have a good and legitimate 'City of the Week.' Club member Lauren Camera–Murray also comes from Pittsfield, but she didn't manage to be at the right club meeting to get it this award.

David is at today's meeting on account of Heather. He has done the photos to go with articles she has written, but this is their first encounter in person. David is at the meeting for about a quarter hour before Heather realizes he is here in person.

At this point there are two important things to do. We need the 'Group Photo of the Week' and we need to judge the 143 bumper–sticker slogan entries. Outside on the café's terrace some scrappy photography happens and then we return to the 'grande salle.'

This is when member Stan Fleener arrives. He comes directly from the Forum des Images where he's just seen the film, 'Les Daguerréotypes' by Agnés Varda.

Everybody gets a slogans 'ballot.' Each one is four pages long, and all are without the contestants' names. Everybody is loaned a different colored pencil. All are asked to chose as many slogans as they like, especially if they like some. The four members and the two contest organizers all busily do this.

Then, one–by–one, everybody calls out the numbers of the slogans they have chosen. The club's secretary losesphoto: group, voting track, but Heather has a shorter printed list, and keeps up with it. In the first round, the most any single slogan gets is three votes. Many get two, and dozens get one vote.

Some of today's hagglers, discussing qualities of 'red.'

Then we all vote again for the slogans that have three votes, to establish their order – for first, second and third place. After this, it is the turn of all the slogans with two initial votes. The haggling seems endless, but finally we arrive at the seven runner–up slogans.

By now the club meeting is in overtime. Nobody realizes that one contestant, James MacNeil, has two winning slogans. There are ballots all over the club's tables, and the secretary double–checks with Heather to make sure we both have identical lists with the appropriate winners.

We collapse a bit before picking ourselves up to leave. Tomoko says, "I enjoyed the confusion – and I still like number 57!"

Barry says, "If you make a bumper–sticker, don't make it red. It fades too fast. It goes pink." I wonder how we can do a bumper–sticker for France without using red.

To drive the point home Barry says, "It took 10 years to get the red back into M&Ms."

When I get to Châtelet to catch the Métro back, there are a lot of people waiting on the platform. Just as I arrive, the empty train sitting there backs out of the station. This clears the way to see the train that is supposed to be going north, switch gears and back out of the station, to go south. This is not a good sign at all.

I plunge further into the depths of Châtelet and find the RER's platform. There are so many people waiting for the train that some can't get on. The following one comes five minutes later and we pack into like sardines.

The Bumper–Sticker Slogan Contest
Continued on page 2...
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