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Let There Be Light

photo: bistro 48

Some lumière on Daguerre.

Unknown Time Slot

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 14. June 2004:– My weather forecasting will not be of its usual high caliber this week on account of football madness. There is some sort of tournament going on in Portugal called 'Euro Foot' and it has bumped the weather into an unknown time slot.

No chance of TV ever announcing something like, 'tonight's weather forecast will be shown 60 minutes in advance, right in the middle of 32 commercials for hamburgers, cut–rate credit, life insurance, peas in cans, cheapo holiday cars, extreme lipsticks,' and a ton of other junk and nonsense. No! It's better to have weather where nobody will find it, will never think to look for it.

To really tangle the affair, there are ads for the football long before there's any football, then there are plain ads because of the football, and I have to change channels in the hope of finding the faintest rumors for weather.

So what I find on another channel, comesphoto: rain with more 'ifs,' 'ands' and 'but's than usual. 'They' claim it will be sunny tomorrow, and it will be warm with a high of 27 degrees. This is about what this morning's Le Parisien says, but in shades of grey – the paper having used all of its color – for football!

Wednesday's Le Parisien weather map is also short on color and short on other information. The clouds that hover over Paris were not on TV's forecast. I drew a sunball in the correct place instead. Then I wrote in a temperature of 26 instead of 23.

Both the colorless paper and the alternative TV seem to have the same outlook for Thursday and it's not good. The newspaper's gray is probably appropriate for a day expected to between cloudy and very cloudy. There might be rain all over northern France too, and the temperature is supposed to be a chilly 20 degrees.

Café Life

Something Fishy

How can people take so much excitement? Last week we had, along with other events, the 60th anniversary of D–Day. This was a big show in Normandy, but Paris had its own share of it. With this important date out of the way, the 'Liberation' of Paris is taking its place – with about two months of run–up to go.

Perfect then, before the big rotation starts, to drop in a weekend of deep–sea fishing boats. This is to remind everybody that somebody goes out on the high seas and brings back the goods. Or maybe it is to remind a handful of fishing boat crews that they are doing it, risking their necks, for a reason – so Parisians can have fresh fish whenever they feel like it without the inconvenience of getting cold and wet.

Sure, one or the other. It's called 'Paris, Port de Pêche,' and there are a half–dozen deepphoto: fishing boat, quai bernard sea fishing boats from various coasts along with some stands for selling fish – by auction – or by the piece, from food stands. There isn't any fish–and–chips because this is unknown in France.

There are folkloric entertainers from far off Finistère as well as sardines, oysters and crab soup. Parisians will go to any and every event where there's the slightest possibility of food. It also seemed like the fishing boats take Parisians out for cruises on the Seine, when they make their simulated trip downstream to bring more fish back to the stone quay of Saint–Bernard.

The size of the crowd by the Seine on overcast Saturday was more than I expected, but less than I would expect for Sunday. This was the third year for this particular event, but still rare enough to be 'something fishy but different.'

Out in Port–Marly folks were lining up on Saturday for an evening of entertainment at Alexendre Dumas' Château de Monte–Cristo or planning to look over some red fruit at Louis' royal truck garden in Versailles. This is if they decided against seeing the roses at the royal abbey at Chaalis or the street entertainers in the Jardin de Reuilly.

Maybe they took to the small wheels on the 'Rando Paris–Val–d'Oise that began at Argenteuil, or went shopping for pre–sales 'soldes' out at Vallée Outlet Shopping. The Emmaüs people had their annual sale of used everything at Paris Expo, and there was a 'Nuit de Guinée Conkary' with African Divas at the Guinguette–Pirate. Whatever it was, it was mostly outside this past weekend.

Let There Be Light

Somewhere I saw a little wildcat poster saying that movies would be shown in the Rue Daguerre opposite the Café Daguerre on Saturday night. There are a lot of neighborhood activities at this time of year – block picnics, bicycle exchanges, artists' open doors, and there's the Fête de la Musique coming next week on Monday, 21. June.

On Saturday the weather was good enough to be outside after ten at night. In the Rue Daguerre the sunset was practicing for its great show on 21. June when, if all goes well, it will slot itself into line with the street, and blaze down it as it sets.

The entire terrace of the Café Daguerre was full of movie fans waiting for entertainment for the price of a terrace drink. Some who were forgoing the drink part were just standing around. Two kids, one on rollers and the other with a skateboard, were ramping onto the metal terrace of the boucherie next door, making a decent racket.

A screen was set up opposite the terrace, with the red Monoprix neon glowing through it. Matt the postcard artist called me over to the crowd on the terrace but had no free seat where he was. The café's awning was too low to see the top of the screen anyway.

Just after ten when it was near dark but before the streetlights came on, the show started. For the two minutes I watched, itphoto: parvis, tour eiffel looked like an out–take from an unsuccessful home movie. The audio part seemed to be recorded from a sick turntable, with needle screeches. For the price of a drink, worth it I guess. Before I left a fair crowd willing to be puzzled had gathered.

The sky was still dark blue rather than black and all the other cafés had full terraces too, open to the air. It reminded me of evenings in Spain, and floods of white or rosé.

The fastfood and suschi places were open but quiet. The same for the Zango and the viper–green 'happy hours' bar with the portholes. By the Penguins there was a small white van with some young guys on the roof, running three projectors throwing images on the opposite buildings.

A couple of young ladies were putting something together by the windows on the Rue Fermat side of the Bistro 48. I went over to look and saw Pierre Labrot come out of the bar and run his video camera over them.

He explained that the activity in the street was called 'Faites de la Lumière,' or 'Make Some Light.' He said it wasn't advertised too well. We went inside the Bistro 48 where his film, 'L'Homme Qui Vivait dans les Bois ou Promenade au Mont Gargan' was showing itself to the bar's 'petite salle.'

We were talking about not much when some Joe out in the street started hollering. I went out and looked but couldn't see any reason for a riot, and went back in to my orange juice.

Then the Joe came in the bar, yelling, and in came his wife, yelling too. They were very upset because they thought they'd been photographed. They wanted their images back. Pierre looked like he was making himself absent. What was going on?

Millie's guy had a video camera too, and the two of them had been looking at its small screen. After a bit of the yelling Millie's guy moved behind the bar. The Joe demanded the camera. "I want that film!" he yelled. His wife screamed that nobody had any right to photograph their kid. They said they were going to the prefecture – 150 metres away – and bringing back the cops. Millie's guy invited them to do it, but said they were not getting his camera. Millie wanted these people out of her bar pronto.

Nobody bothered telling them that Millie's guy had been shooting the image projections on the buildings, on the wall of the Bistro 48. The civilians probably weren't even on the tape. They finally left, still hot, disgusted, still yelling out in the street.

A neighborhood lady came in. She said it has been the worst 'Faites de la Lumière' of allphoto: batobus time. She had her four decorated windows showing at ten on the dot, and wanted to know what all the yelling was about. Pierre introduced everybody and I declined having another orange juice.

When I left the bar the young ladies had their 'Lumière' thing nearly right and the wall projections were still doddling on. All the doors and windows were open and there were few people strolling in the midnight streets. There was a fair breeze scooting through Rue Fermat from the cemetery, but it was warm enough to think it's summer. Music and laughter floated out of lighted, open windows.

Soldes d'Eté

The official dates of the summer sales are not decided by merchants but by local police prefectures, and these do not fix the dates all together. About half the departments in France know their dates already, but Paris doesn't. It is possible that the starting date will be earlier again this year – on Wednesday, 23. June. The 'soldes' continue for at least a month, until Saturday, 24. July, or trudge wearily on for six weeks until Saturday, 7. August.

Headline of the Week

"INCROYABLE!" was the Le Parisien's super big headline in this morning's edition. We had a successful European–wide election involving 25 countries and 350 million potential voters on Sunday, and the news is that France's football team beat England in the last three minutes of a game in Portugal.

There's no 'Incroyable!' for us having the continent–wide voting results faster than the names of the Eurovision Song Contest winners – actually before the football game was over. In fact we had to wait until the match was over to get the real score. So, right, 'Incroyable!' If we could send football players to Strasbourg we might know what's going on.

Last Week's Café Metropole Club 'Report'

If you ever have a spare moment take a gander at the updated version of the 'Co–Incidence of the Week' report. Member, reader and Utrillo expert Shirley Lindsay's Winston– Salem, North Carolina would have been 'City of the Week' if it hadn't already been at the meeting held exactly one year before.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 17. June. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint–Hervé. This is a 'lost' saint whose name may be spelled wrong because it's not in the Saint's book. However on my calendar there is a Saint–Hervé and his day is next Thursday, for what it's worth. Last week's anniversary mention for the Vatican has not helped at all with this saint business.

Some 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 sea air and continues to be worth as much, no matter how little it may cost.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.25 – 16. June 2003 – the Café Metropole column started off with, 'Bloomsday In the 14th.' The entire 'Au Bistro' column was in these four words, 'France Wins NBA Championship!' Instead of fish, Ed had 'Sacré Job! – Seeing Marguerite at the Agri–Village.' There was a Scène Eté column, titled 'Highlights for Rest of June, All July.' The Café Metropole Club update for 19. June was titled, the 'Elvis Costello is Not a Club Member, Yet' report.photo: sign, paris badge, gare d'austerlitz There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon of the week was captioned as 'Fêtards de la Musique.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.25 – 17. June 2002 – this issue's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Grilling Like Sardines.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was 'In Paris, Pinks Beat Blues' and that was it. The issue's non–feature was titled 'Anything for a Photo – The Non–Feature of the Week.' There was one Email feature, titled 'The Hotel VW,' from Jim Auman. The Café Metropole Club update on 20. June was headlined as the 'Forgotten Tab' report. The Scène Eté column's title was 'Huge Hugo Marathon.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned 'Chute de Météorites.'

Another Popular Request Returns the 'Countdowns'

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Frédéric– August Bartholdi, the designer of the Stature of Liberty. His death occurred on Tuesday, 4. October, when he was 70. This anniversary is 113 days from now.

For a major literary dude, we can also be 'counting–down' to the 150th anniversary of the birthdate of Jean–Nicolas–Arthur Rimbaud, which is on Wednesday, 20. October, 129 days from now.

An even bigger literary hoopla will be made this year for George Sand, who was born 200 years ago on Sunday, 1. July 1804. This week will officially be the 'Année George Sand' all year long. The anniversary is only 18 days from today.

The Liberation of Paris has the official date of Friday, 25. August 1944, which will bephoto: sign, bureau de vote no 3 celebrated 73 days from today. The 'Liberation' started on Tuesday, 15. August, with a strike – by the Métro and the police. Some sporadic strikes still continue, but are rare in August.

After getting hired flunkies to vote in favor of inventing the title of 'Emperor' for Napoleon on 3. May 1804, the Senat passed the measure as a personal favor. A plebiscite was held and 2569 reckless souls in all of France voted against it. The coronation took place on Sunday, 2. December. The 200th anniversary of this dubious event is 172 days from now.

This Year Is Getting Better As It Gets Less

As of today there are still 200 days left of this year. This is more or less the same number of 'days left' as at this time last year, and the year before. These might be the best 200 days left of any year ever. Or last year's may have been, or next year's will be. You have a choice of three.
signature, regards, ric

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