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The Gay Parade

photo: express cafe

No express at all on Sundays.

Cheap In Paris

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 28. June 2004:– I remember few weeks with such feeble forecasts as the last one had. Between the Eurofoot in Portugal pushing the weather completely off the screen and 'no show' for predicted blue skies, we've had seven days of broken promises. The tempering factor is today's unpredicted sunshine in blue skies with mellow temperatures. For a surprise it hasn't been too bad.

Tonight's forecast, without promising a true and deep blue sky, calls for sunshine tomorrow. The sun might be above some high clouds but it shouldn't feel like a washed out and colorless blanket. Should, should not – who knows? So many forecast sunny days turn out to be blotted by clouds. At least, it is June, so the temperature may be reliable at 24 degrees.

Tonight's TV–news weather forecast for Wednesday has predicted a sunnier day than Tuesday. If to be, then probably to be the sunniest day of the week, with a high staying pegged to 24.

Thursday looks like it will see the end of the blue when clouds begin to take over the north of the country. Unclear is whether these will completely blot out sunbeams. Certain is that they will force the high temperature down to 22, which is probably below 'normal' for the time of the year.

The TV –weather news showed the clouds drifting ever further south and this may continue on Friday, accompanied with another drop in temperature. If you are in France this week and you want truly summer–type weather, you'll have to go the Côte d'Azur to find it. In Paris, it will not be great for camping, jumping in fountains or sunbathing.

Café Life

Gay Pride, Part 2004

My memory has a leak. When I pump it full of facts they leak away so fast I am not sure I know anything anymore. Sometimes it feels like I am forgetting more than I knew, almost faster than I knew it. It is probably time I took a holiday but I don't have one on the horizon.

On Saturday morning the radio said it was the day of 'La Gay Pride' parade. This surprised me even thoughphoto: gay pride mention of it is in last week's 'Scène' column, which I only finished compiling last Monday. Maybe it was a long week shorter than I thought.

Folks on their way to join the parade on Saturday.

The actual name is something not even other people can remember, so, like them, I'll call it 'Gay Pride' too. Technically it is supposed to be a march against homophobia, but in a wider sense it is supposed to be against all forms of discrimination. This means it is the parade for everybody who isn't a pea–brained crypto– fascist, which is just about nobody.

In France, nominally a land of tolerance, a parade like this can attract a lot of good thinking people. However I decided to go and see it mainly because it was starting at neighboring Denfert–Rochereau – plus, if I hadn't turned on the radio, I would have forgotten all about it.

I guess this classes me as wishy–washy in the anti–discrimination department. I go to a lot of demonstrations but I don't take part in them. I never joined the army either. Nor boy scouts. Maybe I'm like a 'white diner.' I eat but I don't give.

But somebody has to keep score. The cops had sealed off all the streets within 500 metres of Denfert, including all of the Avenue Leclerc down to Alésia. The usual hordes of teenagers were pouring out of the Métro exit and streaming towards the Lion.

Also as usual, there were a few tourists clustered around the entry to the Catacombs. I wondered what they thought. Here they were, coming from around the world to see piles of old bones, and right in the same place it looked like there is going to be some sort of riot.

Well, not riot exactly. The usual hot sausage stands were smoking, the drinks wagons were in place, the balloons with slogans were swaying above heads, and the bloody techno–noise was bashing away. And there were a couple thousand people under 30 standing aimlessly around in a big place watching a crew of singers all dressed the same on a canvas–topped flatdeck truck.

Come to see the bones and get this as a bonus. Well, we've got three other major things to see today and a demo isn't one of them. Let's just get down there and snuggle with the bones.

Meanwhile the place was filling up, especially on the half that faces the Avenue Denfert Rochereau. Looking east,photo: bibliotheque nationale the entire Boulevard Saint– Jacques seemed full of people and trucks. I couldn't see far, and the overhanging trees made it seem pretty dark – an unknown number of people were down there.

The very grand bibliothèque at sundown on Friday.

Except for more people arriving all the time – the RER station is close by too – nothing happened for a long time. One lady near me put on green makeup for 45 minutes. She was still doing it after things began to lurch forward.

The truck with the singers finally got in gear and moved slowly off. In 20 minutes it got to the other side of the place and was lined up with the avenue. Following trucks, towing flat decks loaded with loudspeakers and amateur dancers, were followed by street dancers. You know – the kids in their techno–trances, deafened by trash sounds.

There were some paraders who had dressed for Halloween, and these were in the narrow paths between trucks, proceeded by hordes of amateur photographers. Yes, Halloween on an overcast afternoon in June is a lot more interesting than on a dark night in October.

The crews on the flat decks of other trucks tossed packages of condoms at the spectators. Some of these trucks were tied to balloons painted with the initials of school teachers' unions. It was all pretty stirring. The people around me tried to catch all the condoms they could. Souvenirs?

There were several educational union trucks, some with educational slogans. But we need to face facts here – as laudable as this 'Gay Pride' parade may be, it's a sorry substitute for carnival. A few individuals take care to dress up – some undressed up – but the vast majority are in ordinary clothes both on the trucks and on the pavement. And ordinary clothes these days are next to rags.

The worst part of these things is the techno–noise. There isn't any reason why anybody should have to hear this crap. It's like anti–music and I can't think of a suitable time for it anywhere, anyplace. Music for morons isn't good enough. Get music good enough for carnival and there'll be no stopping dancing in the streets.

It's all Jack Lang's fault. He went to 'Gay Pride' in Berlin a decade ago and brought street techno back. Then, as Minister of Culture, he didn't kill it. Anybody who thinks they like it should have to work in a steel mill for five years. Get to grow old deaf.

There. I've had my semi–annual rant. Once you've seen one flat–deck littered with amateur dancers and techno sounds, tossing out condoms to all, you've pretty much seen them all. Bam, bam, bam. Dull thrills.

Of course, the evening's TV–news saw much more. The famous people and politicians got slotted into the parade at a suitable video slot, for the evening's TV–clips and sound bites. It's not like they had to line up at Denfert for hours and walk at a crawl all the way to Bastille.

The way TV showed it, you'd think it was carnival. I don't know how they cut the noise out of the reports, but they did. They took a parade that lasted five or six hours and drew a half million or 700,000 Parisians and slashed the trash sound out of it, and made it into a tidy three minute feature between the bombs in Iraq and the UMPs having a confab in Essonne.

They didn't say anything about the racket of the thing being audible kilometres away all afternoon. But they did say the sister parade in Berlin only drew 200,000 on Saturday. This is good news. Four years from now, maybe the Paris edition will turn into carnival.

Paris – Cheap at the Price

Can you imagine your home town Parisphoto: batofar paper telling you life isn't expensive here – if you are a foreigner? You could have the bad luck to live in New York where a basket of 200 standard items costs 5.3 percent more than in Paris.

Where not to dance at the Batofar.

Or, even worse, you could live in London which is second only to Tokyo for the highest cost of living. London costs 24.3 percent more, and Tokyo is a blistering 36 percent more than Paris. Moscow it right up there in third place too.

Paris, in 17th place worldwide, is sandwiched between Istanbul and Shanghai. Without knowing the exact rankings, both Madrid and Berlin are much lower down the list, below Helsinki in 23rd place. For café, go to Madrid where it is 33 cents a cup less, service included.

But how about Buenos Aires, way down at the 141st level? In BA, what costs a euro in New York, only will set you back about 48 cents, 47 cents less than in Paris. Montevideo costs even less.

Soldes d'Eté

The only official date for the summer sales – 'les soldes d'été' – that concerns us now is the final day of discount shopping on Saturday, 24. July. If there's anything left you'll need to get it by this day or settle for the 'soldes d'hiver.'

Headline of the Week

"FINIS" was how Saturday's Le Parisien summed up the French team's final score at the EuroFootphoto: roller rando, sunday tournament on Friday night in Portugal. The photo shows Greeks hugging Greeks and dancing with joy, and three French players in various stages of acute depression.

Roller folks on Sunday.

Today's headline 'Le choc' is about the weekend National Council meeting of the UMP party held in deepest Essonne. The shock was between Prime Minister Jean–Pierre Raffarin and his Minister of Finance, Nicolas Sarkozy. During the proceeding week, Président Jacques Chirac let it be known that Monsieur Sarkozy can't be party secretary and keep his ministerial post. Until his next meeting with Jacques, Nicolas intends to stay 'zen.' It's this summer's thriller.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

If you ever have a spare moment, be sure to take a peek at the latest 'Open–Pit of the Week' report. Three members who were present for the whole meeting came from Germany. Two–thirds were in Paris for shopping and one–third for jazz. The fourth member present brought his usual hat.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 1. July. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Saint–Thierry. This is a obscure saint overshadowed by several kings. For example, Thierry III, a son of Clovis II, was dethroned by Childéric II in 673 but climbed back to power in 675, only to be defeated at Tertry in 687, and die in 690, about. All this happened back in the darkest times, before the less Dark Ages.

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 clean fresh air and continues to be easily worth as much. Do not expect any 50 percent–off sale price.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.27 – 30. June 2003 – the Café Metropole column's headline was, 'A Blogged Week with a Change of Email.' The 'Au Bistro' column's headline was, 'Another Six-Word 'News' Report.' The feature in this issue was titled 'The Fête de la Musique was Full of Sparkles.' There were hotlinks to both Scène columns. The Café Metropole Club update for 3. July was titled, the 'Cityless of the Week' report. There were another fourphoto: sign, avenue de la republique new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon of the week was captioned as, "Just Like Last Year!"

This Was Metropole Three Years Ago

Issue 6.27 – 2. July 2001– this issue's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Saved! The Bélière.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'Triple Jeopardy.' The issue's single feature was titled 'Villa Paris – Out In the Country In the City.' The Café Metropole Club update on 5. July was headlined as the ''Surprise' of the Week' report. The Scène Eté column's title was 'Paris Open 24/24, All Summer.' There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Back To Normal.'

'Countdowns' – Suspension Continues

You can find the exciting 'countdowns,' if you really miss them, in a recent issue by clicking here. Do not, I remind you yet again, forget to subtract 14 days from all count–down dates. Do not forget to ignore all other 'countdowns' that have expired. Unlike the 'countdowns' themselves, this is not a lot to remember.

A New Non–Countdown

Ever–alert, Jim Auman somehow found out that the oldest settlement in North America turned 400 on Saturday. Thisphoto: paris insurge, paris libere exceeds the age of the Jamestown colony by three years and is 16 years older than the Pilgrims' settlement in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

One of the posts put up for this summer's 60th anniversary of the liberation.

The names here are Pierre Dugua and Samuel Champlain, and 77 other Frenchmen, who arrived at a tiny island in the St. Croix River, which separates Maine from New Brunswick. However, snow came early 400 years ago and food ran out and 35 of the party died of scurvy before a relief ship arrived the following June. Those who were left then moved to Port Royal in Nova Scotia, which may have its 400th birthday in 2005, as the second oldest settlement in North America. This is a year from now.

Years Ago

It was 80 years ago today, but in the last century, that the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife, Sofia, were assassinated in Sarajevo. This was also the day in 1919 that the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending the troubles begun by the assassination. On a happier note, we should remember that on 28. June, 167 years ago, George III's grand–daughter Victoria Alexandrina was crowned as Queen Victoria in Westminster Abbey.

This Year Becomes Better, Much Shorter

As of today there are still 186 days left of this year. This is more or less the same number of 'days left' as at this time in 1986. We might have had the best 180 days of any year in our lives so far. Or last year's may have been, or next year's will be. Whichever year you are in, make sure its 28. June has weather as good as it's been here.
signature, regards, ric

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