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The 'Geopolitical' Meeting

photo: group, tomoko, heather, doug, karen, ike, kathy, jo verne

The 'Group of the Week,' from left – Tomoko, Heather, Doug,
Karen, Ike, Kathy and Jo Verne.

Memory On Holiday

Paris:– Thursday, 20. May 2004:– The prediction for the high to be replaced by a low today hasn't worked out. Instead the weather is like it was yesterday, very very sunny and warm – especially for May, and most other months too.

Some people are mildly complaining about the warm temperatures. These people are crazy. They don't know a good thing when they see it, or they are working in boulangeries right beside the oven. Well, it's just too bad if they don't like Paris to have a California climate.

Of course, they need to remember that this kind of weather doesn't happen often in Paris even in the right season. I asked my peanut and olive guy on the marché what he thought about the weather so far this year, and he said he thought it had been exceptionally cold.

I guess eating olives isn't any good for improving memory. He cracked his leg just before Christmas, leaving his wife to handle the outdoor stand through the worst of the winter while he stayed home eating olives and watching Mediterranean–type video movies.

By the time he got back to the job there was rare January heat wave. Then we got a taste of spring weather while it was still winter, and then we had several bouts of spring weather during spring, which almost never happens here.

Now we are having very respectable weather for July. Rack my memory with a nail file, but I don't remember summerphoto: joker water weather here in spring before. Mind you, if you aren't here to enjoy it don't think you can simply show up here a year from now and hope you are going to get the same treatment. Hah! What a hope! We can't expect it either.

Enough crowing. A thuggish and depressing low was predicted for today, and it's still predicted for tomorrow. I half–doubted today's forecasted weather on Monday, so I'll tell you what they're saying, with only a quarter of my heart in it.

It might stay sunny for the morning, but this may turn into partly sunny in the afternoon. The big change will be a temperature dump from today's 26 or more, to 18 degrees. There may also be a 50 kph wind from the north.

This muck is supposed to clear away for Saturday, when it should be partly sunny, but kind of cool with a high of only 16 degrees. Nearly the same thing for Sunday, but with more sun and one degree more celsius. The ultra long–range forecast for next Monday sees it being mostly sunny and a couple of degrees warmer.

A Sunny 'Club Report of the Week'

When I did the coming 'saints' thing on Monday, I forgot to mention that today is the holiday of Ascension. This kind of holiday is totally harmless unless you've got an appointment at a bank to ask for a mortgage. Banks are closed today.

Everything else is open, except for some small shops whose owners have taken the day off. In fact, many employees have taken the day off because they can make it into this May's only four–day weekend. In most years, May is usually good for a couple of four–day weekends and a couple of long ones but this year has been miserly on account of the crucial days falling on useless Saturdays.

Anyhow, with it being a day–off for everybody except your club's secretary, there are a lot of Parisians around not going anywhere very fast – including on the Seine–sidephoto: doug, karen, ike, kathy, jo verne speedways. It is like a day in summer, except for 95 percent of the tourists being Parisians. I never knew so many of them spoke Russian or German though.

Bonus photo of members – Doug, Karen, Ike, Kathy and Jo Verne.

In honor of the day, I go to the club using a new route. I take the Métro to the Cité stop and take a peek at the justice headquarters before taking the Quai de l'Horloge west beside the Seine. The Conciergerie looks like it is great shape, with very shiny new–looking stuff on its spires.

The clear sky does its part in making everything look clean and new even though just about everything is several centuries old. Tidy stone underfoot, the Pont Neuf being tidied up – a multi–year job – and the sand in the Place Dauphine looks cleaner than the floor of most birdcages.

On the Quai du Louvre most of the café terraces are fully stocked with folks hanging out on café terraces. The club's café, La Corona, has even extended its terrace and army of parasols to in front of the next–door souvenir shop.

All of the café's doors and windows are open. After the brightness outside, the red and yellow interior is dim but seems warm on account of the colors and the plants. The 'grande salle' is pretty empty, so I have no trouble at all to take over the secretary's place at the rear of it.

The only speck on this clean sheet is the traffic outside the café. Instead of being below on the speedway, it isphoto: sunglasses, coke stalled right in front of the café's terrace. Sun flashes off windshields, and blitzes the café's interior like a battery of electronic flashes.

I put my head down to enter in the date and meeting number – 238 – and get everything squared away so I can read the Métro's newspaper. I get half of the writing done before new member Karen Scott joins the club.

One of the member's cocktails today.

Karen says she has come from the 'Metropolitan part of New Jersey.' I think this is a new one, even if it isn't 'City of the Week.' But wait, there's more. This 'Metropolitan' part includes Lodi, in Bergen County.

What a co–incidence! Readers and members with acute memories will recall that the club had several meetings in the Café Lodi in late 2001 while La Corona was getting renovated. Which reminds me – the banquette fabric never did get changed, from it's deathly red to soothing buffalo beige. The Café Lodi, is, moreover, no longer. La Corona is forever.

Never no matter – Lodi in New Jersey can be this meeting's 'City of the Week' even if it is 'Metropolitan.' Karen also says she works in Manhattan, and was born in the Bronx, and she lived in Kingston, which was once New York State's first capital.

Of course I have to say I have not spent much time in the Bronx and have never been to Staten Island, but I like Coney Island a lot. Karen reminds me that there is a beach in the Bronx too, on some peninsula. I intended to visit it once, but have forgotten its name. It's not anywhere near Sheepshead Bay.

Then Doug Fuss arrives from Savannah, where it is probably steamy. He tells us about waiting in the ticketphoto: tomoko, heather line at Roland Garros. After hours, he says, you could hear people in front at the ticket window yakking on the phone to all their friends, asking them how many tickets to get. Doug says one of these took 20 minutes to get the order straight.

Bonus photo 2 of members – Tomoko and Heather.

Ike Payne sweeps in with Jo Verne Moss, from Houston in Texas. Ike is a former Air Force test pilot member from Albuquerque in New Mexico who joined the club a couple of years ago. This is Jo Verne's first visit to Paris and she's been here two whole days out of the week they will spend in the city.

Another new member to pop in is Kathy Garrison who comes from Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. Kathy becomes an immediate life–long friend by saying she's read a lot of Metropole and printed out half of it to use as a guide. Well, maybe it's some other Web site, but it's a lot of print–out.

At about this point my note–taking becomes very slack. I have asked Doug a question that gets the conversation out to the 'Silk Route' in central Asia, and this evolves into a geopolitical discussion that winds up with an examination of the steel problem, which is, of course, connected to Pittsburgh – where no steel is made anymore.

And this is the problem. As Doug says, steel is made in boutique quantities these days – which means Mao was right to urge all of the Chinese to make steel in their backyards. This is fine for the Chinese, but what does it mean for a country like the United States? Will they have to ask to Chinese for help in making tanks?

Ike says something to the effect that it's lucky planes need to be light, so they can be made out of plastic. But nobody thinks to ask if plastic is made in the United States anymore. Doug claims that all the steel made in America is recycled from washing machines and old Fords.

Karen and Heather – oops, I've forgotten to mention Heather Stimmler– Hall's arrival, and a bit later, Tomoko Yokomitsu arrives to be with us too.

Anyway, we get from steel into the thornier area of armies, and the fact that if you can get by with getting your steel from backyard plants in China, hiring mercenaries for the army is as good as convincing loyal and patriotic civilians to do it.

Well, this is a club with 'no rules' so anybody can talk about anything, and this is what members – and the club's secretary – do. No matter that it doesn't suit a 'club report' – exceptphoto: glasses, juice for the problem that the secretary will have later to turn it into a bonafide 'report.' Maybe the secretary can ignore the 'rules' too.

But Kathy does have a legitimate question. She wants to know where one can find the Salvation Army's thrift store. I tell her about the shop in Passy that has the used Chanel suits. This is, she says, not what she wants. So I tell her about the African fabrics at Château–Rouge. This isn't it either.

Bonus photo of member's cocktails.

Too bad, because this is where the official notes end. And there are no 'unofficial' ones. But up the notes page, up five scrawled lines, I see where Ike says, "It's time to go and test–pilot some music places."

Yes. While members do this, in the fine and soft Paris night, the club's secretary will drift across the Pont des Arts and through part of the Quartier Latin to Montparnasse, watch a bit of weather on the TV, and test–pilot this old keyboard without 'notes,' until the dawn's early light. Forgive me.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

This 'report' about today's club's meeting should give you a rough notion of the cool times to be had at most club meetings. The 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has all the additional information you need to know about the club. It's not a great amount.

You can become a real lifetime member of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member in seconds by presenting yourself any of its meetings in Paris, for free. There are no hidden costs, real or imaginary. The 'rules' were kaboshed by the club's members long ago. The club's other claim to fame is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that doesn't bother to send you a newsletter. This is it.

How, Where, Who, What, When, Why Not?

The weekly club meetings normally start about 15:00, on days that have Thursday afternoons. Meetings continue until about 17:00, in the western European Time of Paris' – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'les temps secos du mai' although they sometimes are – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Many club meetings are only held in Paris.

Doing anything clever at a meeting – like being at one – is considered the opposite of not being at one. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'first' having a much greater 'report' value than 'true.' 'True' is perfectly acceptable too, even if it's sort of implausible.

Only one note of caution – you may have any one of a hundred personal reasons for not wanting to be traceable via the Web. If so, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be '404 – not found' by Web search engines before becoming 'found' in one of these club reports.graphic: club location map

Former 'rules' remain 'former' week after week and have been eliminated from the club's volumes of chronicles except for all the original rules still online buried deep in the archives, which you can read if you can find them. All 'exceptions' to any other 'rules' have been suspended forever, quite a bit like all the 'rules.'

Talking to other club members at meetings is an honorable activity. If there's an empty chair sit – optional – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. If they are listening, whatever you say may be honestly appreciated by other members present, and there usually are some – and if it should chance to be written here, as some of it is, sometimes.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because the club secretary keeps forgetting to mention Willy the Bird's club attendance, which is nearly weekly most weeks.

The café's location is:

Café–Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny – or – 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre–Rivoli, Pont–Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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