horz line

Spiderman's Summer

photo: roller stop, cafe atlantique

The roller watering–hole before the tour.

Double Weather for Nothing

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 9. August 2004:– This is not the place to look for a tip–top weather forecast. The day started off poorly when I went to get a Parisien and they were sold out. You may think I got up too late, but it happened to two other people too. So I bought a Libération and for the first time in my life discovered that it only has today's weather.

This, I predicted, rightly or wrongly, last Thursday. It's too late to make any corrections. I resolved to be extra diligent with the TV–weather news tonight. To back this up, I made little weather maps by hand, from a well–thumbed Parisien I found in a café.

The TV guy comes on, first, to talk about the storm warning tonight. This is east of here, and it will be over by the time you read this. He must work on the flat–rate 'x'–minute system because he gave a normal forecast for tomorrow, said the saint's name – Saint–Amour! – and then he said 'au revoir.'

Of course what he did say about tomorrow was completely at odds with the Parisien's map from thisphoto: rain, pont au change morning. It looks like it will be very variable, with maybe more clouds than blue sky, and maybe rain, and maybe a high of 24 degrees.

I've just paid my TV–licence so I flipped over to TF1 and watched 13 shoddy commercials. Waiting paid off though and their weather guy came on. He looks like a guy disguised as a nerd. His version for Tuesday was lots of rain–type times followed in the afternoon by less rain.

Real rain, really last Thursday.

Then while I was trying to figure out exactly how to discribe Wednesday's complicated weather map, he stood in front of it and rattled off some nonsense about Thursday, and then said, 'au revoir,' as if he were pulling down a windowshade.

What can I do? I don't have any tea leaves. Libération, a borrowed Parisien, two sets of sketches made from two incomplete weather shows – all of this tells me to tell you that Thursday will be mostly cloudy, partly sunny, and the high will be about 25 degrees. If I'm wrong, sue somebody.

Café Life

You Didn't Ask for Sunday's Weather

It's getting later in the year. I guess this is why it feels cool in the apartment in the mornings, even up until noon. It doesn't seem to matter how hot it was the day before. I think I should take three hours for breakfast and then have a siesta until it's time for breakfast again.

I have to think about where to get bread. My end of Daguerre only has two boulangeries, and further east there must be a half–dozen. They arrange among themselves who closes in July and who closes in August, and the open ones change their regular closed days of the week too, so it's always a guessing game.

My number one boulangerie closed in July so it's open today in theory, but if I don't hurry it may be out of bread.

On Saturday I found the newspaper shop closed. This was after I left the avenue where I could have gotten a paper. I had to tie a string on my memory to remember to get a paper at the first open place I could find. This was at Edgar Quinet, which was a long way around when I could have just returned to the avenue.

The streets in the quartier were closed again on Sunday. Somebody forgot about it two weeks ago. In front of my building, in the shade, the temperature felt 'above normal for the time of year.' At the corner, the sun was baking the dozing Rue Fermat. There was still shade on the east sides on the north–south streets. It didn't make much difference.

Normally, Sunday morning is a market day, up until about 14:00. People are out buying food where they can find it because it's a habit, but it felt more closed than a regular Monday because many of the shops are closed for August. Today feels even more closed.

In the café Rendez–Vous the regular Sunday customers were out of town or hadn't come in yet. The bar's TV was showing episode 149 of the endless tennis tournament. The café got a new wide–screen TV recently. It makes the tennis players look like short, dumpy people with elephant legs. Nobody cares what tennis looks like anymore.

On the way back the pharmacy sign showed 31 degrees. This was slightly short of 90 F. If it got up to 35 degrees, then we'll be having another August heatwave. It felt like it was going to make it but the afternoon topped out at 33. It felt the same at midnight.

The weather forecast for Sunday predicted that it would be hot and that it could crumble in the afternoon from fine to stormy. For this reason I went out on Saturday night, instead of expecting to go up to the Kiosque à Musique at La Villette Sunday afternoon.

I seem to be going out a lot at night now, starting with last Wednesday. Instead of 'news,' the Au Bistro column has three 'August Nights' pieces this week.

Not a Wasted Minute

Ideas sneak up on you. First they invent a bus, and then people ride on it to get where they're going if the bus goes anywhere near there. Then, a really long time later, the bus company thinks waiting passengers might be happier when the bus finally shows up, if there's a shelter from the elements.

The next idea is to plaster the bus shelter with advertising, to pay for the shelter, help passengers passphoto: ratp infobus the time while waiting under cover for a bus, and make some money off the shelter.

After a span of time, about 100 years, the bus shelter itself has evolved from being a crude shack into a steel and glass sidewalk palace, plastered with ads and transit information, and maybe a telephone has been added.

And now one of the RATP's line 38 bus shelters on Leclerc has had a 'InfoBus' unit installed, in a little booth at one end. These have been around for some time, but I noticed last week that this one has become operational.

So, if you tire of reading the ads, the transit infomation, or watching the traffic go someplce while you are cooling your heels, you can now log onto the Internet. You might, in fact, want to find out when the next bus is supposed to appear.

Or you might want to find out what the weather is up to, beyond the bus shelter. Or again, if you are tired of reading the ads, you might want to download via WiFi a 'Palm OS' version of the day's edition of Le Monde. Or, you might want to look at a map of the bus route and then send an email to the Café du Coin to reserve a table because you are pretty sure your are going to be late.

Or, you might be worried about your health after waiting so long for a bus. You can access information about this too, and maybe send an email to your doctor to ask for an urgent appointment. These 'InfoBus' units could be pretty helpful.

For example, their little booth area is a lot snugger that the rest of the bus shelter. If the wind isn't in the wrong direction, you'll be cozy. I couldn't figure out if the thing has a touch screen, so you have to learn how to move the heavy – steel! – rollerball, and which of the two buttons does what.

Even with my fumbling most of it seemed to work. I didn't try the email – the rollerball moves the cursor over a virtual keyboard, then you push a button to tap a key. The bus will come before you've finished finding the @ for the address.

But still, there they are. Like the bus shelter itself, apparently free. Waiting for a bus is one of life's rare opportunities for total detachment – but now you can waste it by doing something.

Home Sweet August

Before going on holidays you can ask the police to keep an eye on your house or apartment. The police willphoto: rollers wait for rando make a note and send patrols around to check on the doors and windows periodically to make sure they are safe and sound. It is a free service and I have done it in the past. At the end of the holiday the police make a report, saying how many times they've checked and when.

Roller folks at Gare Montparnasse.

Tonight, on the TV–news there was a short feature about it. They said 100,000 homeowners had used the service last year, and only about 300 of them had been burgled while on holidays.

Do You Know Your Local Paper?

I am cooking up a weekly column about Paris, which I hope to offer to your local 'community newspaper.' The columns will be about Paris, France, Europe, and the life here. Many trends affecting the French affect you too, and by reporting from here I hope to show that we are all getting bopped by the same, foul, balls.

Clues tell me that you live in areas where there may be others with similar interests – meaning – your local paper may want my columns. If you can, I will appreciate your sending me names of your 'community newspapers,' along with contact details, and the names of the editor, or managing editor. With your aid, with these in hand, I can make a pitch to the right address.

Although I will be seeking names of titles on the Web, your information could be vital. You know what your local paper is like. It will help my enterprise to know as much as possible. It will help Metropole too, because this is not to be 'instead of' but 'in addition to.' Write today, and thanks!

Summer Hits In France

According to Le Parisien that I borrowed today, this summer the French are going to cinemas to see Spiderman, they are listening to a guy named Peter Cincotti tickle piano keys, and reading Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code.' The paper claimed that it is a summer for American culture, and added that 'Harry Potter' has a lot of fans.

Headline of the Week

"DVD: C'est la Folie" was completely incomprehensible on Le Parisien's front page lastphoto: tango, quai st bernard Wednesday, but it's August. All the same let's give credit where it's due and note the paper's new word, which is 'DVDphiles.' If you ask me, I think they've spelled it wrong.

Did we ever have 'recordophiles?' Did we ever have 'CD–Audiophiles?' Well, if we didn't and maybe we should have, shouldn't the new crazies be called 'DVDophiles?' Last week the same paper was taking readers to task for getting ripped off by all the garbage they put on DVDs. The beauty of CDs was that they didn't hold excess garbage. Um, what's my point here?

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Even though it's August you can still catch up with the newest "She had shoes on" report. This is what member Barbara Cooley saw while Ed Hurwitz was carefully driving through tricky traffic in Pigalle, not seeing anything other than a lot of wild taxis.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 12. August. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte–Clarisse. As a saint, this one is almost another mystery. But, aha! the calendar name seems to be wrong and it should be Sainte–Claire. She founded an order in the 13th century with Saint–François as the patron, and it is they who were 'Clarisses,' so–called.

Other truly minor facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The graphic of a virtual club membership card on this page is still tatty when printed, but is original even if it's free. Actually the club membership itself is worthwhile, even if it's free too.

This Was Metropole Four Years Ago

Issue 5.33 – 14. Aug 2000 – this issue began with Café Metropole column's 'Summer Arrives In Paris!' The 'Au Bistro' column's was titled, 'The Night of the Stars.' The feature in this issue was headlined 'Mid–August, Mid–Nothing – 'Dayclubbing.' The 'Scène' column was titled 'Some Paris 'Nightclubbing.' The Café Metropole Club update for 17. August was titled, the "I Didn't Come Here to Not Have a Good Time!" report. There were four 'Posters ofphoto: sign, bus m 6 the Week' and Ric's cartoon of the week was captioned, 'Leaving Already?'

This Was Metropole Five Years Ago

Issue 4.33 – 16. Aug. 1999 – The Café Metropole column was headlined, 'Two Cafés Less.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled 'Boffo Turnout for Eclipse.' The issue's three features were 'The Eclipse In Paris,' 'Sunshine On Montmartre' and 'Art Marché at Edgar Quinet.' The Scène column's headline was 'The Rentrée and 'Paris 2000.' There were four summer–type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned,'The Eclipse Is Over.'

Something Completely Different

For those of you who are interested in antiques, you can find the last version of the fabled countdowns here. Although I have promised something 'completely different' here for several issues, this page has grown too long this week to add anything more. In fact I am suspending 'Other Fond Memories' too even though it is a relatively new addition to 'countdowns.'

The fact is this space merely needs enough words to hold the graphic in place. If I hadn't already done it, I could just leave it out. So, without any more ados, let us remember that today is the 165th anniversary of the birth of Bruno Paulin Gaston Paris who was born in Avenay in 1839.

Gaston, as he was called, made important contributions to the French language by comparing its versification possibilities to Latin. For his doctorate he wrote a thesis about the geopolitical aspectsphoto: sign, fish bone rue daguerre of Charlemagne. 'La Poesie du Moyen Age,' 'Poèmes et Legendes du Moyen Age' and 'Legendes du Moyen Age' were all some of his more popular works.

This son of Alexis Paulin Paris, also a scholar of medieval French literature, died in 1903. Some of the information here about Gaston Paris comes from the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, which is no longer in print but might be available someday on eBay.

Nearly Yearless, Next to Nothing

There are only 144 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left' as at this time in August of 1848, when delegates of the Free Soil–Party nominated Martin Van Buren for president at their convention in Buffalo, New York. This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has 222 days remaining, just like in 1902 had when England's new king became Edward VII.
signature, regards, ric

horz line
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini