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The Plain Truth

photo: group, ed and ron

'Ed' and Ron constitute the whole 'Group of the Week.'

The Quietest Meeting of the Week

Paris:– Thursday, 1. July 2004:– This week there are fresh newspapers today with fresh weather news but it's holiday time in France so most of the weather news is only for today as I guess it should be if you are on holidays and living one day at a time.

Here in Paris we are not on holiday yet, so this is a carefully researched weather forecast formulated by using all the tools available such as this morning's paper with its all–France weather and tonight's TV–weather news update.

Despite all these ultra–scientific tools, the weather doesn't look too great for Friday. In fact it starts outphoto: water bubbles lousy, but because it is holiday time in France, it gets better as the day wears on. There may be some rain in the morning, gradually shifting to being merely cloudy, to finish off being a bit sunny if it can get to this stage before sundown.

The high temperature for tomorrow is foreseen as being 20, but is expected to fall if it ever reaches this height. Even though it may have been partly sunny as Friday was ending, Saturday morning is expected to be cloudy again, perhaps getting sunnier. The temperature may rise to 22 degrees.

The moody bubble– water of the week.

No actual clouds are predicted for Sunday, but it probably won't be more than semi–sunny. The southeast of France will be very sunny and darn warm, but up here in the north we will be lucky if the temperature hits 25 degrees. This is given as a sure thing, so I really doubt it.

This doesn't hinder today's Le Parisien from putting the entire summer's weather forecast on it's front page, in honor of it being Canada Day, 1. July. The big question is, of course, do we risk having another heat wave like last summer?

In general, there will be more sunshine in July and it will be hotter in August. This observation is based on 30 years of watching the weather by France Météo, which has actually been watching it for somewhat longer.

First conclusion – the more sunshine a place has, the hotter it will be. There is a strong connection between the two, according to France Météo's philosophers. August will be hotter because of heat accumulation although the days are shorter.

Even though France Météo will rather not risk making predictions beyond seven days, they are betting on an average July that only gets comfortable near the end. This will carry over into the first two weeks of August, after which temperatures are expected to be normal for October. All the same, they expect August to be dry, and its sunshine may exceed the norms for the month. Pick any one.

A Simple 'Club Report of the Week'

On the way to the club I am trying to judge the mood of the streets. The sky is various shades of grey, there are some tricky breezes, and it is not overly warm. Are there a lot of people gawking around? I look where the Pont Neuf joins the right bank, and the answer has to be 'no.'

Even in midwinter this is a busy area, but today it seems short–changed. The traffic on the Quai du Louvre is its usual belching self of painted tin, glass, plastic and rubber, noise and gas. Butphoto: cafe, water there are no busloads of browsers checking out the quay's bouquinistes. The same can be said for all the terraces between the bridge and the Louvre itself. Nearly deserted.

However, inside the club's café there are more people than usual for a Thursday lingering over their lunches, or coffee breaks, or just sitting down after battling through the 'soldes' or standing in line across the way in the world's biggest museum in a former palace and ex–fort.

Ed's café with water–chaser of the week.

To be plainly truthful, if there were only one table with two people sitting at it,this would be a 100 percent increase over last week – but, in fact, half a dozen tables are occupied this afternoon.

While setting up the club's booklets for today's onslaught of new members, I note that the meeting on this date a year ago was graced with four members and Heather's miniature dogs, which brought the membership to six even if the dogs slept through the meeting.

After a little while of not much happening, member Ron Bristol drifts up the club's tables. Ron was at the meeting before last and he has just returned from seeing EuroFoot matches in Portugal. But before he can give a goal–by–goal summary, he says, "Austin is the closest thing to west coast in Texas."

Before I am about to be puzzled by this, Ron does give Portugal a lot of credit for handling a lot of football fans with aplomb and grace, goodwill and big 50–cent beers called 'super bock.'

About Portugal's chances to win the tournament, Ron says, "On any given day, anybody can beat anybody." Last night wasn't Holland's 'any given day,' and Portuguese fans in Paris had a fine party on the Champs–Elysées to celebrate upsetting the favored Dutch team.

Texas must have some extreme weather, because Ron returns to the subject. "The weather is okay here," he claims. Paris still hasn't got a lot of air conditioning, and doesn't need any today, but I suggest the Picard shops as cool places.

Apparently even Picard shops are odd because all their frozen food is displayed in freezers lying on the floor. Ron says shopping there is like looking at frozen coffins. In the United States, I'm told, frozen food is stored in upright freezers so shoppers don't have to bend over.

"I'm responsible for dinner," Ron says. As far as I can tell he is sitting across the table from me and doesn't look like he is doing anything to do with food.

He says that he expected to find some veal stock in a supermarket, ready to go and use. But he didn't, so he got some veal bones from a butcher and did whatever one does to them, and they are doing their thing by turning into stock while he's at the club meeting.

Then he says that French mayonnaise is quite a bit different because it tastes like mayonnaise. Since I don't knowphoto: ron bristol anything about mayonnaise, he switches to wine. After finding out I know less in this area than about mayonnaise, he muses that '2003 is not going to be a good year.' There can be too much good weather for good wine, merchants in the trade have told him.

Ron Bristol is this week's member of the week.

There are a lot of other factors that can give wine a taste, such as barrels. Ron says French barrels are cut differently – the wood grains lie some other way. Then it's dirt – French dirt is different from California dirt.

Dirt, in fact, can make all the difference. The 'terroir' gets into the wine and it can't be duplicated. I wonder if 'terroir' gets into mayonnaise too, or into the glass the jars are made of.

"What dirt France has! What sun!" he exclaims. This reminds me of the first club meeting when a new member claimed that Paris has 'ugly dirt.' Well, not much wine is made here, mainly because there isn't much sun. That's all somewhere out there in France someplace.

We get into the 'old days.' People used to do things, he says, really simple. Now everything needs to be a big production – even a winery has to have its amusement park aspect. Bigger, better, fancier, with a huge parking lot, the mandatory gift shop and roll in toilets.

He doesn't actually say exactly this but my note–keeping isn't particularly thorough today. It's in thephoto: change dish, 10 euro sense of people used to be satisfied with what was – but now everything is wrapped in razzle–dazzle accompanied with canned music and fake costumes. "People just came by and bought it," he says.

This week's payola of the week.

Ron starts getting nervous about his veal stock so we borrow a 'Waiter of the Week' and go out on the café's terrace to get the club's first 'Group Photo of the Week' that includes the club's secretary, who is myself.

This has never been done before because it is difficult to explain how to take a photo against the light with a stupid automatic camera to a civilian. So I don't explain it, and we get the photo above as a result. All I can say, as the club's photo editor, is that the club has had worse photos that were shot by the club's secretary, but not many not much worse.

Some Price Hikes

The governments of France traditionally reserve 1. July for socking residents and taxpayers with higher charges, because most people are too distracted to go on strike to protest.

As of today, the price of a carnet of ten RATP tickets rises to 10.50€ from 10€. The average price increase is 3.5 percent. The SNCF is raising prices too, for its Corail trains, kids and youngster's fares, and fares for seniors.

Good news if you live in France, because the minimum wage has been hiked by 5.8 percent by a very generous government, which of course pays nothing towards it.

Everybody except private householders can now also buy their power from any firm other than EDF. All power, no matter who sells it, is generated by EDF – so it has to be wondered why EDF can afford to wholesale electricity to private resellers but not to householders, who still own the state company.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

This 'report' about today's club's meeting is an approximation of the occasionally calm times to be had at club meetings. Thephoto: pont des arts 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has all the additional information you need to know about the club. The only way to find out more is by joining the club, when you will discover how simple it is.

The week's free expo of the week, on the Pont des Arts.

You can become a real lifetime member too of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member in a twinkle by signing–in yourself any of its meetings in Paris, for free. There are no hidden costs, real or imaginary, and there's just about nothing to buy except café cocktails and hot dogs.

The club's 'rules' were demolished by the club's members long ago. The club's sole other distinction is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that still has no newsletter to send you. The mystery about when this will happen is a mystery.

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

The weekly club meetings begin about 15:00, on 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 'July's jolly times' although they sometimes are – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are exclusively held in Paris unless the secretary gets any better offer.

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 'clever' value than 'true.' 'True' is perfectly acceptable too, especially if it's a 'first.' Today's first was a lack of one.

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 club reports.graphic: club location map

Former 'rules' remain 'former' week after flipping week and have been eliminated from the club's huge volumes of chronicles except for all the originals still online buried deep in the archives, which you can read if you can find them.

Talking to other club members at meetings is an encouraged activity. If there's an empty chair sit – entirely optional – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. If they hear, 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 sometimes.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because 'on any given day anybody can beat anybody, if they are playing soccer.'

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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Waldo Bini