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Annual Frango Time

photo: group, audrey, bruce poole

The whole 'Group of the Week,' from left to right – Bruce
and Audrey, without Tomoko.

'Province of the Week?'

Paris:– Thursday, 27. May 2004:– So much for big, high, wide anticyclones bringing lots of bright weather. What we've had instead is a small, low, narrow, weak fake of an 'anticyclone' that has produced weather less fine – almost worse than last week.

But not quite. The temperatures have managed to climb above 20 degrees and would have gone higher if not for the breezes. Bright mornings with warm blue skies have given way to mushy afternoons of no distinction. Carp, carp, carp.

Today's weather map looks like the original plan for the invasion of Normandy. Swoopy lines here, wiggly lines there, with little sun balls pasted on top of gray clouds. Wrong way around! The clouds should be pasted on top of the little sun balls.

Toss out the optimistic weather maps. Rain is supposed to push inland from the west and the best we can hope for is a line of sun balls from the northern border down through the centre of France to the Mediterranean. The temperature prediction remains at 22 degrees.

Same thing for Saturday, followed by rain replacing the line of sun balls through the centre of the country on Sunday. Then, hah,photo: corona, traffic back to Saturday's outlook on Monday, but with the nasties leaning on France from the Channel. Result – mostly cloudy, but maybe a tad better than Sunday's mostly rainy. Mind you, this is the optimistic forecast, and I do not give it much credit.

Today's traffic situation.

If you think I'm am taking this a bit too personally, you are right. We've had a pretty good winter and a good spring to remember, and I don't know why it can't keep on being good. Nobody minds a few cool and overcast days, but if nobody demands that the weather returns to fine and good, it won't. Do your part.

The 'Club Report of the Week'

Before going to the club I do something dumb. There is another meeting after it, so I write down the names of the people involved so I will appear really cool and on top of things. I forget that I outsmarted myself two weeks ago by 'making sure' I had the bumper–sticker contest winner's prize, when I had no such thing.

But I don't remember that fiasco, and set off for the club feeling that everything is under control. Then on the Métro, I begin to dither about where to leave it. At Cité? No, I did that last week. At Odéon? Time might be a bit short for it. Ah, I'll get off at Saint–Germain. Even if I see nothing, it's a quiet walk from there.

So, outside the Saint–Germain Métro exit there are ten thousand disgruntled electricity and gas workers walking west from Odéon, and another ten thousand swinging left into the Rue de Rennes. They don't want the minister of finance to sell the state power monopoly to the blood–sucking capitalists. He says – this is Sarkozy of course – that Brussels is forcing him to do it.

On the other hand, the prices of electricity and gas are supposed to be going up soon. The French aren't shy about overcharging their captive customers as long as they have a monopoly.

The back streets of the Quartier Latinphoto: cafe of the week are as quiet as I've imagined they'd be. More quiet in fact, on account of no car or truck traffic getting through. I am on the alert for crazed scooter jockeys though. These guys get into serious anarchy when they get held up for 30 seconds.

Today's jumbo café situation.

All is fine until I get to a tremendous traffic jam on the right bank side of the Pont des Arts. The green man comes on and cars, trucks and buses keep creeping into the crosswalk. Motorcycle lunatics are taking to the sidewalks.

In front of the club's café La Corona it is hellish. After I snake through the tin and glass to the other side, I see a police bus parked sideways across the Quai du Louvre, forcing all traffic into the Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny. Why, I wonder.

The interior of the 'grande salle' is nearly empty. I tidy up the order of the club's tables, write the meeting particulars into the reports booklet, and then notice the police bus disengage itself and speed off before anybody can see that it's been doing nothing except scrambling traffic.

The new 'Waiter of the Week' comes by and accepts my news that I won't be wanting anything until 16:00 with aplomb.

Since I am without any members present, I write some other notes. I really get deep into this and am getting caught up in schemes for Metropole improvements when my concentration is shattered by a big "Hello!" I jump 30 centimetres, or a 'foot,' whichever is more.

I have, the club has, Audrey and Bruce Poole, here to join the club. The couple come from Fredericton, New Brunswick, which becomes the 'City of the Week.' New Brunswick could even be the 'Province of the Week,' except for having been mentioned before in connection with Moosehead Beer, which is not available at club meetings like La Corona is.

Bruce tells me that he knows all about the club, and he assures Audrey that it is on the up–and–up. Bruce says he has read a lot of Metropole in the last couple of months. I feel flattered and wonder what's in it.

This is Audrey's first time in Paris. So naturally I want to know all about New Brunswick. There is not much air conditioning in Paris I tell Audrey when she asks. There isn't muchphoto: canada button in New Brunswick either she says. There aren't even many people there, except in fall when they show up as 'busloads of tree peepers.'

Apparently the colored leaf show in New Brunswick doesn't take a back seat to anyplace – it's just a bit further to go, and when you get there, there's no place else to go except back.

Today's modest button situation.

Bruce tells me New Brunswick and everything in it is owned by two families, the Irvings and the McCains. The latter are famous for 'frites,' that can even be bought in France if you shop in frozen food joints. Bruce says, "It all started with a two–pump gas station in Florenceville." Or maybe it was the Irving family.

Bruce wants to know where all the famous members are – people like Tomoko and the Server–Lady. The true fact is that club meetings aren't like late–night TV talk–shows, with regular 'buddies' and sponsors, and a crazed producer, and commercials every five minutes. No, club meetings are like that without all that stuff.

Audrey and Bruce have a neat place to stay in Paris. It is an apartment with an extra penthouse – actually it is a sizeable apartment with a roof terrace up a spiral stairway. The same rental firm also has a whole town for rent somewhere in France Bruce tells me.

Willy the Bird flies in to amuse the new members. This reminds me that time is flying too, so out we go to the terrace for the 'Group Photo of the Week.' Various versions of this include waiters, some 'of the Week,' and the café's patron Monsieur Naudan gets caught in one, then he remembers there is a package named 'Frango' that has been left for me by a club member.

Sally Dilgart, wherever you are – boxes of chocolates from Chicago are not a proper substitute for attendance at club meetings! I'm going to eat it quick! I'll need another one pretty soon!

I notice that Bruce has what appears to be a new Swiss Army watch. He is about to tell me its story when I interrupt to photograph it. But the light isn't right, so we put it off for later, and then Tomoko Yokomitsu arrives.

Since Tomoko is the only French movie star who is coming to meetings regularly, she has to mention being in 'A Midsummer's Night Dream,' and she may get some lines to speak, or sing, soon – and Bruce sings a few verses from Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Mikado.'

He remembers these from having done it in a high school production. This is amazing because we decide to add up how many years Bruce went to school. The total comes to 22, for Bruce is now a physiatrist. High school was quite some time ago. He also remembers the episode about my knee's sudden acquaintance with the concrete divider in the middle of the Quai du Louvre, almost better than I do.

Audrey thinks Paris may not have enough cybercafés. This is probably true, but it may have more to do with being in the right parts of town. There are a fair number where students gather – like in the Quartier Latin – because students may not have their own access where they live.

Tomoko says she went on two picnics last week. They were 'very good' if one chooses to forget the temperatures under 20 degrees, which Tomoko remembers.photo: frango, chicago

She says that there is a picnic tonight, starting at 20:00, on the Pont des Arts. She says it happens every Thursday night. "You bring your own picnic," she says. There was a club member involved with this some years ago, I remember.

Two hours has been whipped away by time, and I have my other meeting to attend, so this club meeting comes to an end just after the official time times–out.

I catch the Métro at Rivoli and ride it over to Hôtel de Ville and get to the cantina, which turns out to be as empty as La Corona's 'grande salle' was when I arrived. Yes, the bartender muses, the meeting is to be there – starting at 19:00.

While walking over the Ile Saint–Louis and past Notre Dame I have plenty of time to tell myself to quit preparing for events in advance. In my place I would ignore the following:–

Holiday reminder – next Monday, 31. May, is the holiday of Pentecôte in France. It constitutes the only other long weekend in May this year, but other than this I don't know what it means except that banks may take a day's pause from ripping us off.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

This 'report' about today's club's meeting should give you a rough notion of the forgetful times to be had at mostphoto: tomoko club meetings. The 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has all the additional information you need to know about the club. It'll fit in a thimble if you have a small one.

Today's movie star situation, according to Tomoko.

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 quashed 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. That would be work.

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

The weekly club meetings always begin about 15:00, on many days that are 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 morasses du mai' although they sometimes are – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are only held in Paris unless stated otherwise.

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 a second–class 'first.'

There's only one note of caution – you may have any one or two 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 goofy 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 originals 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 remember that preparing in advance for stuff may be harmful to one's metal health.

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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