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Only On Thursday

photo: kate, elizabeth, laurel, bryen, erin, marion, danica, sandar, kathy, joe, barry

The 'Group of the Week,' with Kate, Elizabeth, Laurel, Bryen,
Erin, Marion, Danica, Sandar, Kathy, Joe, and half of Barry.

Late Spring In Winnipeg

Paris:– Thursday, 15. July 2004:– It's official – we have summer weather. Le Parisien announced this on its front page on Tuesday. It was a bit sunny in the early part of the day and then it got cloudy. The same thing happened yesterday – it was sunny for people early enough to see the parade on the Champs–Elysées in the morning, and it was cloudy for the fireworks fans at the Tour Eiffel.

Even if the sun rays aren't at the rendez–vous, it has been warmer at last. Today may have reached its forecast high of 28 degrees, but I doubt it. It might have struggled up to 25 before darkness fell on the city of light.

The forecasts for the next three days are just as sloppy. Each day has a central sun ball in a not too–bright sky, with clouds in the northeast or threatening from the west. If the timing isphoto: beer of the week off by a couple of hours it will probably be very sunny at night.

Since it hasn't been turning out as good as it might have according to the past forecasts, it might turn out better than the future ones – as in, our glasses are half–full, aren't they?

Anyway, you may be able to leave your sweaters at home. For the next three days we have forecast highs of 27 degrees for tomorrow, 27 again for Saturday, and 25 of course for Sunday, when you may be feeling like having a musical picnic out at the Parc de Vincennes.

This good news this week comes from the TV–weather news which has decided to venture out on a limb and actually make a prediction for Sunday. I am just doing my job by pointing out that their forecast may be overly sunny. My trust is slight.

A Small 'Club Report of the Week'

To get to today's meeting I walked over from Saint–Germain. This part of the Quartier Latin seemed like it had been left to a few visitors poking around, looking for grass growing bravely between the cobblestones. Madame le Patron was standing outside La Palette looking up the Rue de Seine in vain for custom. If the Quartier Latin allowed 'free' dogs they could have been sleeping in the streets.

Crossing the Pont de Arts some people passing on a boat who waved must have thought I was a grouch for not waving back. I did think it was pretty wonderful that people taking boat rides think it's fine to wave at people crossing bridges in Paris. If I'm ever in their town I'll wave at people on shore too.

My impression of the Pont des Arts was that pedestrians were using it to cross the river. Hardly anybody was using it as a photo studio or an art gallery. A few people were having lunch, but none of them looked like total picnics.

The Quai du Louvre side has a sign for Paris Plage. The city's own riverside spa opens next Wednesday, 21. July. It will be more, better, like it has been every year, but it won't guarantee good weather. But with its palm trees, what can go wrong?

The traffic on the Quai de Louvre doesn't appear as dense as usual. The club's café, La Corona, seems deserted from a distance, but when I am close to it I see that its terrace on the quay side is pretty full. Some people have huge plates full of food.

The café's 'grande salle' is no fuller than usual. It is 95 percent empty in other words. It just seems fuller because of all of the people sitting on the terrace outside the windows.

In the club's 'reports' booklet I write, 'windy, rainey, cool.' Oops. I wrote this last week. This week I write, 'warm,photo: frites of the week 24 degrees, but overcast, no wind.' Some people outside get up to go, leaving half their hamburgers behind. I didn't know La Corona did hamburgers. There's half a big Coke left too. People can slim anywhere.

The 'Frites of the Week' with ketchup.

I am lazily thinking of writing some short sonnets when Joe Fitzgerald arrives. I haven't seen Joe since Tuesday, when I ran into him in the Rue Daguerre. If I was walking along Broadway in Hong Kong I wouldn't be surprised to bump into Joe.

I am surprised to see him at a club meeting because he said he was going to come. He tells me again how St. Louis isn't so bad. It is one of a dozen places where Joe lived, and the place he ended up in. He has Paris as a fallback.

When Elizabeth Flansburg arrives the first thing she does is explain why she's wearing a shirt with Maastricht University written on it. She doesn't really have to tell us she got it for warmth, but does. Everybody knows Maastricht is colder than Rotterdam.

Before we can find out much about Elizabeth's hometown of Wheaton, Illinois, Laurel Avery and Barry Wright arrive with Sandy Brent, who comes from Santa Fe like they do. Since I am considering Wheaton for 'City of the Week,' Sandy wants to know why Santa Fe is ineligible.

Rather than explain about the 'rules' that are no longer, I cross my fingers and throw the mental dice for an as–yet unnamed 'City of the Week.' Then Kathy Bahri arrives with Marion Ryan, who comes from West Caldwell, New Jersey. See? It could be Wheaton or West Caldwell.

Kathy, who was recently at a club meeting – this is why I'm leaving out her hometown – says they took a boat ride last night and by purest chance happened to be near the Pont d'Iéna at 22:30, and the boat managed to loiter there right between the Tour Eiffel and Trocadéro,photo: group 2 of the week allowing them to see the fireworks from the most unobstructed seats in town. Wow! On the Champ de Mars it was standing room only for 350,000.

The 'Group of the Week,' à table.

I can't quite get this noted because Bryen Lebar arrives with Erin Lebar and her friend Danica Plummer. They are from Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is in the far eastern part of western Canada. Winnipeg becomes the 'City of the Week.' My dice were hot.

There are now so many members that they get up and swirl around the club's tables introducing themselves to each other because doing this is beyond the club's secretary, who is writing at full speed. Joe says, "My neighborhood went downhill after the tornado."

Bryen says he has been reading Metropole for years and coming to Paris for years, but never on Thursdays. He says there are flights from Winnipeg to London allowing Thursdays in Paris, but not often.

Asked if anything exciting has happened in Canada recently, all he can think of is Paul Martin becoming Prime Minister after the Liberals nearly got a majority about a month ago. No other members claim to be aware of this, and nobody bothers asking 'Paul who?'

Member Kate Ernst arrives as if she attends a meeting a month, but it has been 13 months since she joined the club. Back then Kate was from Manhattan.

After explaining that there is no 'drinking age' in Europe except in some obscure decrees, another question about where to buy fabrics is answered fairly successfully. For some reason Marion tells us her daughter used to live in Hoboken, oh, a long time ago.

But she recently returned and found that it has become an 'in' place for people in the New York area who are unable to fit into the meat packing district on party nights. Also, of course, either Marion or her daughter has an uncle who went to school with Frank Sinatra. Otherwise Hoboken keeps up an old New Jersey custom – "It hasn't changed much," Marion says.

We are quite a bit of time into the meeting before a 'Waiter of the Week' is mobilized into spreading a bit of drink around. Giant beers sprout on tables along with great plates of chicken and frites and rainbowed varieties of other drink.

Once I stand up to take some utility photos of the 11 members at the line of tables I decide to stay up and try an parlay the members into the 'Group Photo of the Week,' which they agree to with hardly any grousing. This gets carried off, as never, never routinely. Well, Barry can't quite see the camera, nor it him, but this is routine.

More news from Winnipeg. "Not yet," Bryen says when asked whether it's summer there yet. The other burning question – 'Do Canadians still do all their shopping in the United Statesphoto: kate, elizabeth, telephone so they can smuggle stuff across the border?' – gets a financial basics reply. It depends on the yo–yo situation of the dollar. At the moment, I think, it's not worth it.

Elizabeth makes the new phone go 'glak.'

With the members being so many and spread over a fair length of tables, there are parties going on at either end and the secretary is in the middle not getting much in the way of quotable notes. 'Laughing,' I write. More questions. Is there a bike rental at Giverny?

Which places are best for one–day excursions? Joe says six – Versailles, Fontainebleau, Provins, Chartres, and I can't keep up. Mont Saint–Michel is everybody's favorite.

The 'Waiter of the Week' arrives with some strange bills. All the food is on one and all the drinks are on another, but there are about six of them. Members haul out cash and sprinkle it in the plastic saucer, and some use it to upgrade from too–small coins to paper.

Kate tells us about some wonderful fellow she met at a portable telephone boutique. She says she threw her portable away about ten years ago, and now that she wants to use one again, they work different. The guy was really good explaining her new one she says.

After some fiddling, Elizabeth gets it to ring. Glak glak glak. It's default ring sounds like a duck with pneumonia. Elizabeth pushes its buttons and finally says, "You have two messages. One is from Orange." This is the name of the phone company, a name you are not supposed to think is linked to France Télécom.

Kathy gives me one of the bills. I've forgotten to have my café, so I look at it knowing it's not for me. It says, 'supplement direct,' and 50 cents. Value–added tax is included. No one will admit to eating or drinking a 'supplement direct.'

Nor should anybody.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

This 'report' about today's club's meeting is a slim approximation of what happened at today's meeting. Thephoto: tour eiffel, 14 july 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has some other information, but you can skip it. The easiest way to find out more about the club is by joining it, like the army.

Fireworks from the Champ de Mars last night.

You can become a real lifetime member too of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member in a second by signing–in yourself any of its meetings in Paris, for free. There are no hidden costs, real or imaginary, and getting anything to drink is totally optional if you are not thirsty.

The club's 'rules' were eradicated 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. When this will happen is a mystery nobody wants cleared up.

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

The weekly club meetings begin about 15:00, on all 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 mi–mi times' although they sometimes are – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are held in Paris unless the secretary gets some other 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.'

Only one note of caution – you may have any one or two 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 endless week and have been purged 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 rather than optional. If there's an empty chair sit – still optional – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café.Whatever you say may be honestly appreciated by other members present if they are listening, and there usually are some – and if it should chance to be written here, as a quarter of it sometimes is.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because few members other than the club's secretary have even seen Hoboken in person.

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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