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Unseasonable Waterbombing

photo: cafe le rendez vous

The café Rendez–Vous on a warm night in May.

Irresponsible Wanderlust

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 24. May 2004:– Last Friday the wind began to blow a bit from the north which brought some clouds and temperatures much lower than we've almost gotten used to. I didn't go quite so far as to put my winter sweater back on, but I thought about it more than once.

Today has been rather sunny but it was still breezy. The temperature has tried to climb above 20 degrees, but I'm pretty sure it has fallen a bit short even if it has been a couple of degrees more than it was over the weekend.

More of the same is expected for the rest of the week, but with temperatures predicted to climb above 20 degrees, to 22. According to the TV–weather news guy tonight what we have is an anticyclone and it is going to hover above our heads for a few days.

This should result in pretty blue skies, maybe until Friday. The heavens won't be true blue because there will be some high, thin clouds around to take the edge off. 'Nearly sunny' for Paris is better than half–bad, and continues the new weather policy here of being like what non–residents think it is like all the time, but seldom is.

Café Life

Waterbombed

I didn't bother trying to do any touring in the city last week. Instead I walked around a bit being confused, but keeping an eye peeled for posters likely enough to be featured on the poster pages. Afterphoto: water bomb attack location the barrage of movie posters on view to coincide with the Cannes Film Festival, last week's crop was a bit feeble.

The bomb site on Sunday.

Sometimes new posters show up late in the week, but I didn't find much yesterday. A water splotch on a sidewalk beside a local park caught my attention – my exciting life! – and I was puzzling about it as I walked by. Then splat! right behind me. I turned around quickly enough to see another colored balloon full of water arcing out of the park, to plop on the sidewalk.

I could hear giggles. I pulled out the camera and waited until some small heads appeared. They saw the camera and bolted. This was my week's only surprise so I stayed. Sure enough the four or five boys returned. After some hesitation they agreed to toss a balloon full of water at my signal.

I stood in the street with the camera ready. But the balloon, a small one, came too fast to capture in mid–air. Splat! This is it, this is my exciting Paris story of the week. The only thing I found better than movies on TV. Over on the Avenue du Maine, it was lined up with the wind blowing from the north, drifting the fallen but green fried leaves into piles.

Wanderlust

I went to the café to have one of the cafés I'm addicted to this afternoon. Not much wasphoto: conciergerie, ile cite happening. Mondays in some parts of Paris can be quieter than Sundays, but cafés are open, for something to lean on. There has been a city works sign on the Rue Roger, saying that taxpayer's money is going to be spent on making the sidewalks snazzy.

I thought the sign was lost. The Rue Roger is one block long and has two ordinary sidewalks, made out of the usual stone and asphalt. What could be wrong with them I wondered?

One of Paris' older castles.

Last week a crew moved in, put up the gray and green barricades at the end where Rue Roger runs into Daguerre, and began demolishing the stone curbs and ripping up the stone cobbles of the road surface. Elsewhere in the quartier, city crews have been replacing the stone blocks in curbs where there are drains. I guess stone wears out after a century.

These drains are usually only at corners, so we have been tripping over a number of mini construction sites for several weeks now. But the Rue Roger is the only street around that is getting a full treatment. The barricades at the Daguerre end funnel pedestrians past the café. In fact, it looks like it is barricaded, and you have to go through a sharp–edged maze to enter.

It is the Rue Daguerre that needs new sidewalks. They are terrible with their no–parking poles and parked bikes and scooters. A lot of people find it easier to walk in the road. There isn't much traffic as a rule, and it only comes one way, as a rule.

Add the construction maze to the street and sidewalk in front of the café. This afternoon a lady carrying twophoto: peniche, seine shopping bags from the Monoprix was avoiding the maze by walking in the street. The driver of a car coming down stopped where the road narrows. He leaned out his window and said, "I'd drive on the sidewalk but there isn't enough room."

Paris' only river, the Seine, and some bridges.

Isn't that drivers for you? Guy's got tunnel–vision, he can't see that it isn't possible to walk on the sidewalk. The lady acted like she didn't notice, or hear, anything and walked past the car without comment.

I leaned on the bar for a bit longer, but there were no dogs around likely to bark let alone fight. I think the horse racing must take a break on Mondays because none of the players were in the café. All the windows in the café were open and it was still.

Photo Fun

Europe's biggest photo fair – the Foire de Photo à Bièvres – is a god bet for finding both used and antique equipment and for photo prints. This year it is on Sunday, 6. June and it is suggested that you take an umbrella just in case, and the same thing goes for cash, cards or cheques.

If you want to know which photo equipment has been chosen as best by photo magazines, check out the Tipa Web site. The selection for this year's candidates has closed, and the results will be published in September. Meanwhile, last year's Tipa picks are still online.

Headline of the Week

"Les Pièges d'Internet" was the Le Parisien's big headline on Saturday. The paper is schizoidphoto: bicylist dodges car because on Fridays it has a regular report about all of the Internet's nifty aspects, and often promotes commercial Web sites that it has decided to condemn in Saturday's issue for being likely to rip users off.

Cyclist escapes getting squashed.

According to the paper, on an obviously slow Saturday, we have to beware of hackers, pirates, viruses, sex maniacs, and commercial Web sites. All doom, all gloom, and they forget to say most of it is tedious and boring.

Laurel Avery Quits Being Missing

Laurel returns this week with a new episode of her Paris Journal, which is published in this issue as number 46. Because of preparing for an upcoming gallery exhibition, Laurel's journals probably won't be a weekly feature for a while. In addition, Laurel may have a bit of paperwork to do for the government.

Last Week's Café Metropole Club 'Report'

If your periods of doing useful stuff are still intermittent you may have enough spare time to take a look at the latest version of the 'Geopolitical' Meeting' report. The meeting had few highlights other than fulfilling the life–long dream of Lodi, New Jersey's Karen Scott. As advertised, she became a club member in a trice.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 27. May. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint–Augustin de C. 'De C' stands for Canterbury, which he founded in England before dying sometime around 605 of unknown causes.

A few minor and unimportant details about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The virtual club membership card on this page is still free as air and continues to be worth as much, no matter where you are.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.22 – 26. May 2003 – the issue began with the Café Metropole headline, 'Men with Naked Ties.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was, 'In 6 Words, Tour Eiffel Lights Up Again in June.' The issue's feature was titled, 'The Key to Cable–Access is the Garbage Room Door.' The repeat Scène column was stilled titled, 'Choo–Choo Champs–Elysées.' The Café Metropole Club update for 29. May was titled the "I have a Thing for Macaroons" report. There were another four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoonphoto: sign, quai de l'horloge of the week was captioned, 'It's Roland "Swivel-Neck" Garros Time Again.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.22 – 27. May 2002 – this week's Café Metropole column was kind to pals, with 'George Visits Jacques.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline asked, 'Europe Needs Immigrants?' The Café Metropole Club update on 30. May was headlined as the "Where Are All the Flower Stalls?" report. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' again, and Ric's cartoon Caption of the Week has the caption, "Eddie, Wake Up!"

'Countdowns' – Suspension Continues

If nostalgia grabs you, you can find the 'countdowns' in a recent issue by clicking here. Do not, I remind you again, forget to subtract 14 days from all count–down dates.

One Major Birthday

It was a mere 121 years ago today that the Brooklyn Bridge was formally opened, thus creating the possibility for one of the new world's first major public works to be offered for sale for $5. Thursday, 24. May 1883 was a bright sunny day perfectly suited for a New York party with a cast of tens of thousands, and many many more spectators.

Special trains were put in service to bring the curious from Philadelphia and New Jersey, while many more camephoto: sign, arago meridian marker by boat from Long Island Sound and Staten Island. But most people walked from Manhattan, and many more from Brooklyn, of course. Some businesses in the city closed at noon to enable their employees to get caught up in the military parade, or see the sight of a greater part of the US Navy waiting to salute the bridge with salvos of cannon fire.

The 7th Regiment escorted the President, the Governor, the Mayor and 'other more or less distinguished guests' riding in 24 carriages down Broadway to the approach of the bridge, where 50 big policemen had replaced the construction barricade that had been in place for many years.

President Arthur and Mayor Edson were in the first carriage. The whereabouts of the Governor is not known, and the passengers of the other 23 carriages are not lost, but forgotten. That the President was cheered and received applause, is all we need to know. When there was almost a runaway horse, it looked like the mayor was going to jump ship but he regained his wits in time.

By 13:30 the procession managed to reach City Hall. The luminaries descended from their carriages, and it is here that Governor Cleveland was not cheered because nobody noticed him. Finally the band struck up a lively march and the regiment moved towards the bridge at 13:50.

The President and the Mayor, walking arm–in–arm, almost walked over a black fellow who was carryingphoto: brooklyn bridge, nyc a yellow water bucket and a rack of glasses. He did not take offense, thinking the crowd was cheering for him. The procession reached the bridge, followed by undistinguished guests who had tickets. The real ones were free, and the police turned back those with unreal $2 ones.

The Brooklyn Bridge, when it was only 118 years old.

The US Navy ships lined up across the mouth of the East River were the Tennessee, close to the Wall Street ferry, the Kearsarge, Yantic, Vandalia, Minnesota, and the Saratoga, close to Governor's Island. The band played 'Hail To the Chief.' Shortly after 14:00, the Tennessee fired the first cannon, followed by 20 others.

The procession passed the centre of the bridge and reached the Brooklyn side, where it was joined by Mayor Low who locked arms with Mayor Edson. After this a very good time was had by all except those undistinguished guests from Manhattan who could not get through the mass of people in Brooklyn, overjoyed to be joined to the continent at last.

2004 is Barely Worth Mentioning

As of today there are 214 days left this year. This is more or less the same number of 'days left' as at this time last year but 14 less than were in this spot the last time the 'countdowns' were here. Time just keeps ticking itself away, although with all the background noise around everywhere you have to keep time yourself to keep track of it. This is a sort of double– time.
signature, regards, ric

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