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D–Day In Paris

photo: cafe st michel, st andre des arts

Sunday café in the Quartier Latin.

Red Carpets and the Marseillaise

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 7. June 2004:– Sometimes the real weather doesn't turn out like the forecast, even if it looks like it's foolproof. There was a recent prediction here for fine weather and it flat refused. It was like a day of no weather at all. Everybody quit living until it was over.

It took the skies a few days to recover from it. This wasn't right either because there was supposed to be a series of fine days, but all we had was this weather that was recovering, as if it had a bad cold.

When you get burned like that and another good forecast comes along, it's hard to know what to do with it. If I pass this on, will it cause the weather to sneeze?

Okay, you've got a right to know. On one hand we are supposed to think that the weather will be very warm and very sunny. On the other hand the TV–weather news maps show a big sunball smack in the middle of a blue sky getting squeezed by semi–cloudy weather forcing its way into France from the west.

The fine area is trapped between fronts on the west and in the northeast tomorrow. On Wednesday the whole thing wheels a bit clockwise, pushing the clear area to the southeast. On Thursday the whole barn door lies across France from the western Pyrenees to Saarbrücken, with the sunny area hemmed in by another front along the Côte d'Azur.

If that doesn't sound promising, then high temperatures of 31 degrees tomorrow for Paris, may be fantasy. But the forecast thinks the high will be 29 on Wednesday and 27 on Thursday. This supposes that the low front from the west won't spread further east quickly. This is tricky. If I don't believe the forecast, what am I to suppose?

Café Life

On the March Again

On Saturday the problem was that there were two other major demos. All three were in eastern Paris, and all started orphoto: manif paraders ended at Bastille or Réplublique. Result – many people went to wrong demo at the wrong time and place. Yes, it is true – Paris can host the President of the United States and hold three major demos without anarchy breaking out.

'Not in Normandy' on Saturday.

The anti–war demonstration began at Bastille at 17:00, and set off to march the fairly short distance to République. When I arrived at Bastille shortly after five the place was far from full. It almost looked like a very minor demo. The marchers were loitering in place at the edge of Bastille, in the Boulevard Beaumarchais. When I walked into it, it got started, but it went very slowly. There were a lot of people coming and going in all directions.

This erratic start allowed many lost Parisian demonstrators to 'find' it. Thousands streamed towards Bastille from République, often making the march seem as if it was milling around in a clot. Many more joined the tail end at Bastille. When I walked north I passed a small demo, but when I walked back later I passed one that had grown considerably in a hour.

The police estimate on TV–news for all of France – there were demos in many other French cities too – was 50,000. But organizers estimated the marchers as 200,000. Also, because of today's timing, it would have been possible to have taken part in all three demos in Paris.

Union presence was strong, especially CGT, FO, LO, LCR and Sud, plus there were human rights groups, There was a 'hands off Cuba' group, and pro–Palestinian demonstrators. Human rights in Palestine are linked to human rights in Iraq. The tail end of the march contained many new–looking red flags, carried by the Communist party PCF, and the ultra-leftist LO and LCR parties, the Trotskyists. These last two are fielding common candidates for the European elections next Sunday. They might score better than the PCF.

The mood seemed to be – as it often is – fairly festive. What better way to spend a clement Saturday afternoon than to march a bit to denounce the 'hyper–puissance,' the United States? Many of the marchers have real problems with their own government – the two other demos today – so the opportunity to march for the world's general well–being was refreshing to many.

An older lady I talked to complained about the start location and time mix–up. She had been at République and got into the march to protest against the 'reform' of the Sécurité Sociale – the Sécu – by mistake. She said her pension was fair enough and she wasn't worried about the government wrecking it. She perked up a lot when I guessed that a lot more people were joining the end of the parade. This turned out to be true too.

Near the end of the parade there were many more red flags. It looked like the PCF has got itself some new ones. They were very red. One said '100% Rouge.' Newphoto: parvis human rights were the Cuban protestors. They seemed to have new flags too. The whole thing was followed by punkers with techno music vans. They didn't have any flags. They were beamed out on the noise they had – they were probably unaware of the United States, Iraq or Palestine.

The 'Human Rights' platform at Trocadéro.

The police presence was discrete. Three or four officers from the police prefecture were managing the parade, and that was about it. Radio news and TV–news covered it, with pretty reduced crews. It was featured on the evening's main news show, along with video from Marseille and a couple of other cities.

Jacques and George had a news conference late in the afternoon. Jacques is a professional talker, so he can make things seem to be okay – yatta yatta – wave the hands around, he's animated. This weekend has been the non–stop 'Jacques Show' – he must have given a half–dozen major performances on Sunday alone.

During the news conference on Saturday George sat there looking like he wished he was home on the ranch in Crawford. The 'official' word about it was confused, so I guess even the diplomatic French had some problem putting a neat spin on it. I expected they would have been very fake–jolly; but I guess George couldn't, wouldn't, play along. Maybe the Pope said he was misbehaving.

Out in Normandy, in beautiful weather, the vets and everybody else did seem to be having a good time. There was all kinds of shows going on – including France–2 TV with its 'longest night' on Saturday, that began at midnight and went non–stop until the dawn of 6. June.

Red Carpets

Some 30 of Paris' best hotels rolled out their red carpets on Friday to welcome invited American veterans ofphoto: etoile the 1944 landings, and the entire staff of the George–V lined the carpet to applaud their share who arrived by bus from Roissy. In the evening the vets were treated to a warm reception, with a live band playing Glenn Miller tunes.

Coming up to the Arc de Triomphe.

Irony has it that the George–V, which opened in 1929, hosted a conference the same year that sought to fix reparations by Germany for WWI. The schedule that was established by the conference would have seen Germany making payments until 1988.

At the end of August 1944, the repayments plan was in the ashcan and General Eisenhower moved into the hotel and made it his headquarters, so this weekend's reception of some of his soldiers has brought history full–circle.

Why a Secret Until Now?

According to John Negroponte, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Ronald Reagan could speak no foreign languages but knew the words to the 'Marseillaise,' and he sang the entire song for amazed guests assembled for a dinner party given in Mexico. Reagan said that he'd learned it in high school.

Headline of the Week

"Le week–end le plus long" was the Le Parisien's big headline on Saturday, printed over a black and white background photo of a landing craft with soldiers in the water headed for a beach in France. In the lower right corner in color, President Bush is shown making an 'important point.'

Inside its 'special 60th anniversary' issue the paper devotes 10 pages to the historical event, with two pages with features about veterans and survivors. There is a French paratrooper, a member of the Resistance, a French commando leader, a Canadian soldier, an American soldier, a German soldier and a resident of Tilly–sur–Seulles.

Last Week's Café Metropole Club 'Report'

When you have a spare moment take a look at the updated version of the 'Orange 'City of the Week' – D–Day II & Bis' report. The meeting's highlight was learning the Orange is a city in California as well as a state of mind, or county.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 10. June. This will be the second ofphoto: expo d day, luxembourg only four meetings in June this year. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint–Landry. This is a 'found' saint even though spelled wrong. Saint–Landri was the 8th archbishop of Paris until 656, and was supposed to have founded the original Hôtel–Dieu.

The D–Day expo at Luxembourg.

Hardly any very minor and unimportant details about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The virtual club membership card on this page remains as free as air and continues to be worth as much, no matter how much you think it's worth.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.24 – 9. June 2003 – the Café Metropole column began with, ' A See–Art Week.' 'Au Bistro' was was absent, but the issue's feature was titled, 'The Real Daguerréotypes – Henri Cartier–Bresson's First Show.' There were two Scène columns, with 'The 'Classic' Version' and 'The Summer Version.' The Café Metropole Club update for 12. June was titled, 'The 'Secretary in Coma, Losesphoto: sign, rue buenos ayres Marbles' report. There were another four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon of the week was captioned as 'Plate of French Fries'.'

This Was Metropole Three Years Ago

Issue 6.24 – 11. June 2001 – this issue's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Free Champagne & Street Eats.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was, 'Take the TGV–Med.' The issue's feature was about a 'Fête In Les Frigos – Art On Ice.' There were two Email features, 'The Flying Rhino' from Charles Fremont and from Al Riley there was 'The Politics of Orangina.' The Café Metropole Club update on 14. June was headlined as the "Something Pulled Us Here" report and the report for the 13. June meeting was titled as the 'When In Paris' report. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' again and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was simply about, 'Mole Art.'

'Countdowns' – the Suspension Lasts Forever

If you are really missing them, you can find the 'countdowns' in a recent issue by clicking here. Do not, I remind you yet again, forget to subtract about 25 days from all count–down dates. I know this many be confusing, but you can thank your lucky stars that the countdowns are not in your face again this week.

A Non–Countdown To Remember

On this day in 1929 the Vatican became an independent state when the Lateran treaty came into effect at 11:00. A few minutes later the 12 Swiss guards took up their new posts on the Vatican's outdoor frontiers for the first time, allowing pilgrims to photograph them with their fixed bayonets.

Once the treaty ratification were complete, Pope Pius XI inaugurated the Vatican's telegraph office by sending a telegram to the King of Italy. Before the message's transmission the text was read by Cardinal Gasparri for the Italian delegation, headed by the Premier, Signor Mussolini. The government officials then handed over a cheque for 750,000,000 lira, payable to Cardinal Gasparri. It wasn't bad pay for reading a telegram even if it was 75 years ago.

D–Day Bis

The really big show ended on Normandy's beaches yesterday, but the fête continues. See the big photos hung from the golden–tipped fence at the Luxembourg gardens along the Rue de Médicis near the Place Edmond Rostand until the end of August. Open 24 hours a day. The photos are lit at night.

For the Forgetful

photo: sign, crue janvier 1910On the first Wednesday of every month there is an unholy racket throughout France when all air–raid sirens are tested exactly at noon. The howling goes on for about a minute before peace is restored. You can tell it is a test because about five minutes later the sirens give out another wail, as a sort of all–clear signal.

One, Long, Chance Only

Tomorrow morning at 7:10 in Paris, the planet Venus will pass in front of the Sun for the first time since 1882. The celestial event, lasting about six hours, should be visible to three–fourths of the world's population that isn't asleep or watching TV. However, the last time it was visible in France was 1639. For some reason, the line–up of the two planets and the Sun will be happening again in 2012, 2117 and 2125. Solar fans are warned that viewing the event should only be done while wearing protective glasses.

This Year Is Still Barely Worth Mentioning

As of today there are still 207 days left of this year. This is more or less the same number of 'days left' as at this time last year but 25 to 28 less than were in this spot the last time the 'countdowns' were here.

I think I should quit badmouthing this year, both past and future. After all, what has it done to me? If I keep knocking it, it would seem like I've got years to burn, a surplus of them. This probably isn't the case at all. This might be the best year of my life – of your life too. Don't put off living it today.
signature, regards, ric

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