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The Kazoo Race

photo: la rotonde, montparnasse

Awning, terrace and shadows, on May Day.

Too Big To Understand

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 3. May 2004:– The weather has been pretty good to us lately. Both Le Parisien and the TV–weather news have been having some pretty exciting prediction maps, but the weather itself has been behaving itself by not being extreme. Well, actually, temperatures above 'normal' are a bit extreme, but we can take them.

Today I've looked at the maps in the paper. Today's map says 'shipwreck' but outside my window it was just a bit overcast. Tomorrow's map is labeled 'depressing.' Tonight's TV–weather news said tomorrow will be windy and rainy and not sunny at all.

There is supposed to be a wind from the southwest that will clip by here at 60 kph. I drew five wind–arrows on Le Parisien's map for Tuesday because it doesn't have any. Three from the southwest and two from the northwest.

The overnight low may be 10 degrees and tomorrow's high might be 16. Last week Paris scored on several days with the highest temperature in France. According to the long–range three–day prediction, this is not supposed to happen this week.

After tomorrow's exciting but depressing weather, things should settle down to being plain cloudy, with maybe a little rain. The high temperature, forecast to be 13, will not set any records, except for boring. Thursday's outlook is for a day a tiny bit better than Wednesday, but not by much. No temperature change is forecast.

Café Life

The Kazoo Race

Times were pretty quiet around Daguerre so I was glad to run into Uncle Den–Den in a localphoto: pelouse au repos, pl vosges café – until he asked me to guess what he just received in the mail. He told me he got a property tax bill so I didn't guess that. I wondered if I could afford to buy him a café because those bills can be steep.

He got impatient with me not guessing anything serious. "I got three kazoos from Prague," he almost shouted in triumph, pulling two plastic ones and a yellow tin one out of his pocket.

The the Place des Vosges, the grass continues its 'resting.'

Metropole reader and Café Metropole Club member Alena Bohmova had found them and sent them to Uncle Den–Den. I was a bit hurt. How is anybody supposed to guess that people in a café might have three kazoos in their pocket?

The good news is that between us we now have five kazoos, enough for a quintet. We just have to wait until Dimitri returns, so we can give a fully– manned concert. Actually, we also have to wait until somebody finds us a copy of the 'Top Ten Kazoo Hits of 1947,' containing lyrics and musical scores.

Once we have all of this, then all we need to do is learn how to play them with straight faces. Oh yes, we need a rehearsal hall too. I don't think they'll let us play in cafés around here until we're solid. Maybe not even then. How many days is it until the Fête de la Musique?

Way Out West In Oz

Even readers with long memories may not recall almost exactly four years ago when I spent part of a weekend wandering around looking for an old–style Morris column – where are they when you want one? – and the Vespasienne outside the wall of the Santé prison.

Reader Kim Murray had asked for photos of both, to use for a historical fête being celebrated in the town of Augusta in Western Australia.

For it was there that the shipwreck or marooning or drowning or imprisonment happened in 1801, of Timothee Vasse, who was part of the French exploration expedition that found Geographe Bay for the first time. Anyway, I sent off the photos and heard no more about it.

photo: morris column, augusta australiaNow this year, not so long ago, Nigel White wrote to say he was about to traverse Australia to visit the west. Remembering the column and the pissoir, I suggested he swing 200 kilometres out of his way, to the wine– growing and shark–infested area around Margaret River – to see if there were any sign of Paris replicas.

This little Morris in Oz...

He has recently returned from his explorations, and you can see the photo here to prove it. This modified Morris column stands outside the post office in Augusta. Nigel guessed that the pissoir was skipped, because right around the corner there stands a perfectly good, and sizeable, Australian one with a corrugated iron roof.

Instead of mentioning the shark–infested ocean, he noted that the dolphins in it are pretty tame and you can swim with them. But you are not allowed to fondle them because it upsets the volunteers from the local non–profit dolphin centre.

Nigel continues, "Overall I liked the South West a lot – it's a different part of Oz, laid back, more temperate Mediterranean–type climate – not tropical, not desert – with spectacular beaches and magnificent trees up to 90 metres tall in remnants of forests which were all cut down for ships masts in the 19th century and shipped back to Europe. Another good argument for supporting Greenpeace."

For those interested in a warm quiet place with dolphins and classic Oz pubs a long way from almost everywhere, check out Margaret River Online. Nigel also sent a photo of one of the original big trees, but it's too big to fit on this page.

The 'Bridges' of May

Last year we had three long–weekends in May, but this year there are only two, and perhaps only one. We've just had May Day onphoto: old morris column, cgt posters a Saturday, and the coming public holiday for VE Day is on a Saturday too. Next Saturday in fact.

...was modeled after an old Morris column like this one.

The big one will be Ascension, which begins on Thursday, 20. May. If folks take the 'pont' they'll be gone Friday, to have a four–day weekend. The Monday holiday for Pentecôte on 31. May is in doubt – there's a movement to suppress it and have everybody work for the government on this day.

Laurel Avery Missing Again

The popular 'Paris Journal' columns by Laurel will continue to be interrupted for several more issues while the author is out of town again. Laurel was sighted briefly between 'out–of–towns' last week, and she said she would be back, maybe, "In a couple of weeks."

The Web Site of the Week – Club France

For your coming trip to France, take advantage of the special VIP welcome reserved for Club France membersgraphic: CarteAdherent, club france at many fine hotels and restaurants, where you may get year–round discounts of up to 50 percent.

Add on access to special promotional offers, bonuses and upgrades, and you will receive favored treatment from museums, tour companies, rail carriers, car rental agencies, and sporting facilities – as well as exceptional offers from over 1500 French tourism professionals. The Club France card is valid for you and up to five family members traveling together. With the Club France card you will go a lot further in France this year for less.

Past, Present and Future

The American Club of Paris has roots going back to Benjamin Franklin's time in Paris. Historically, this year it is celebrating its centennial, and doing it with a day–long symposium featuring acknowledged experts who will be talking about political, historical, cultural and economic aspects of Franco–American relations.

The symposium is divided into morning and afternoon sessions, and will be followed by a black–tie gala dinner, at which Dr. Bernard Kouchner, former UN administrator for Kosovo and former French Minister of Health, will be the keynote speaker.

The event will take place on Friday, 14. May, under the joint patronage of the Hon. Howard Leach, US Ambassador to France, and the Hon. Jean–David Levitte, Ambassador of France to the United States.

To be held in the auditorium of the Maison du Barreau, opposite the Place Dauphine, 2–4. Rue Harlay, Paris 1. Métro; Saint–Michel, Cité or Pont–Neuf. More information and reservations for this event can be found on the Web site of the American Club or telephone either 01 42 38 00 89 or 01 49 10 06 22.
Headline of the Week

"Le Virus Qui Fait Peur" is at the top of Le Parisien's front page today, but was only about halfway into the TV–news tonight. So far it seems as if nobody has been able to find out how private Internet users are faring. From this post all I can say is that spam has increased about 100 percent today.

Winners Picked Last Thursday

The balloting to select the winning entries for the great bumper–sticker slogan contest was on Thursday, 29. April. The winners who won during Thursday's Café Metropole Club meeting are listed on this week's updated contest page. My thanks are due to all who participated, and to all readers who thought hard about it but didn't actually get around to sending in any entries.

The Most Recent Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Between periods of doing useful stuff, you may as well take a look at the last meeting's version of the 'Frenzied Voting Picks Winners!' report. I doubt ifphoto: sign, jakt pagar, moose crossing the bumper–sticker slogan contest ballot process was actually 'frenzied,' but it seemed like it was to the club's secretary.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club is on Thursday, 6. May. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte–Prudence. This one is a true mystery as far as my look–up books are concerned. Therefore I will be prudent and not substitute any nonsense for it.

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 Paris air and valid for your whole lifetime, everywhere in the world.

Shameless Plugs are Back

The usual plugs encouraging 'support for this magazine' and its popular 'Lodging' page are quietly waiting for you to visit them. The commercial page for Metropole's 'Partners' needs more than an occasional re–read too.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.19 – 6. May 2002 – this issue started off with Café Metropole's 'No 'Good Old Days' for Paris.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'Election – 'France Wins!' The lone feature was titled 'Parisians Vote for May Day 2002, Massively.' The Scène column was titled, 'Held Over for a Week.' The Café Metropole Club update for 9. May was titled the 'Best Friends' Plusphoto: sign, rue deslesdiguieres One, Minus One' report. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon of the week was captioned, "Emigrate to Canada?"

This Was Metropole Three Years Ago

Issue 6.19 – 7. May 2001 – this week's Café Metropole column was not so exciting so it had 'The May Day Issue' for a change. The 'Au Bistro' column was headlined 'Président 'Superforme.' The Café Metropole Club update on 10. May was titled, 'Chili' of the Week' report. The Scène column's headline was 'Some Changes, Musée de la Vie Romantique.' There were four fairly good 'Posters of the Week,' and Ric's cartoon Caption of the Week asked, "The Way to Antony?" This issue also had re–runs of a feature called the 'Photo Page.'

Endless, Mindless, Repeat of the Countdowns

This popular feature, never commented upon by readers, is not with us this week. Should you miss it, it can be found in last week's spot, on its usual Café page. Remember to subtract seven from all dates.

Europe Gets Lots Bigger Suddenly

On Saturday, while many people were marching around Paris for various reasons and many other people were stuffed into the super–gigantic Foire de Paris ogling all the new consumer stuff that the day's marchers can't afford, ten new countries joined the European Union in a quiet but not so small ceremony at some château inside Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Overcome with joy, Jacques hugged his old friend, Gerhard, who was standing one stair higher. Tony, who does not manage to not look worried anymore, looked on while 22 other chiefs of state wondered about their countries' futures now that Europe has become one big place, except for a few minor hold–outs like Norway.

To hear the media tell it, it seems as if we poor bungling Europeans have just surpassed Texas for bigness and most–ofs.

Yes it is true that Europe now has more kings than the United States. Yes it is true that Europe is flatter than the United States because Switzerland won't join it. Yes it is true that Europe has more Mediterranean climate than the United States, and Australia, put together. Yes it is true that Europe has way more different cheeses than Wisconsin, but this is a fragile lead.

It is also true that many Europeans cannot understand each other because we speak so many different languages, about 20 in all. We are also much thicker together, with a population density a little less than four times as much as the United States. It's a good thing we have fewer cars, because we have fewer malls to park them in. We make less garbage because we havephoto: luxembourg 1 may less space to bury it. We have lots more doctors because we're nervous. Only putting 12 stars on the blue flag – it's because the metric system doesn't have 25.

Forget foires and parades – these people never tire of this.

I wish I could explain it all in greater detail for you, but it's my bedtime. If you think you need to know more, get yourself online and find the lowest airfare around. Come to a Café Metropole Club meeting and ask all the questions you want. Ask about anything except Europe. Like California, it's gotten too big to understand.

2004 is Barely Worth Mentioning

Historians may not like it, but a forgettable year is easier on everybody else. Why not hope that it is? As of today there are 242 more days left in it. 'Ric's Day Off' last week was bungled. I'll give it another shot tomorrow.
signature, regards, ric

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