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The 1812 Overture

photo: 2nd last day paris plage

The 2nd last day on Paris Plage this year, before the rain.

Tchaikovsky Rolled Over

Paris:– Thursday, 19. August 2004:– More rain has fallen in the past 48 hours than during a whole month of August in – and it is this 'in' or 'where' that I neglected to note. Was it here or was it down south somewhere?

Yesterday afternoon around 15:00 the sky opened up like bomb–bay doors and dumped a lot of moisture on the city, and with gusty winds it swept the sidewalks and streets of Paris like the whole city was being dragged through a car wash. 'Where did you wait for it to be over?' – was a question heard more than once today.

Today's replay is mentioned below, but you'll probably be more interested here in the outlook for tomorrow. From the looks of Le Parisien's weather map and from deductions made based on the TV–weather news tonight, it looks like more of the same is expected – but without there being an explicit storm warning at this time.

Considerable winds are expected to be blowing out of the Atlantic from the southwest. These were predicted to be violent, but in Paris should be no more than 60 kph at times.

In the morning there may be some timid outbreaks of sunshine but as the day wears on these will become rare. If the pattern of the last two days holds, sometime in the afternoon the clouds will close ranks and dump more rain here. The high temperature is expected to be a cool 22 degrees.

There must be a change coming because no winds are forecast for Saturday, and it may even be mostly sunny for most of the time. The high temperature of a predicted 20 degrees may cause some sneezing though. It won't be 'about right' for the time of year.

On Sunday the southern half of France is supposed to be honestly sunny, while our part of the country will have a thin screen of clouds between the sky and the earth – maybe allowing it to be weakly sunny. Besides this bit of positive news, the temperature may also creep back up a bit, to 23 degrees.

Tempest On Paris Plage

City services were watching the weather closely yesterday so that they were able to close Paris' riverside 'beach' andphoto: corona terrace urge about 7000 beach fans to take cover elsewhere before winds with gusts of up to 100 kph hit. It took 40 minutes for the operation, which also involved dismantling everything that might have become airborne.

As well as closing the city's Seine side boardwalk, all parks and cemeteries were also closed for the duration of the level 3 alert, which lasted until midnight. 'Bois' fans were also asked to avoid the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes.

According to Météo–France this weather was the tail–end of the hurricane Bonnie. Apparently if a hurricane gets far enough north, it can get picked up by generally westerly Atlantic currents.

These are huge things and yesterday's blow battered coastal regions of Languedoc, touching the Rhône estuary and the regions of the Vaucluse and Gard. Then many other parts of France got a taste of it. Inland roofs were ripped away and some campsites were totally destroyed.

On beaches, despite the display of no–swimming red warning flags and efforts of lifeguards, many bathers attempted to play with the waves. The price was high with nine drownings and two others reported missing. Today police have been on the beaches in force to prevent new dramas.

Apparently these storms are partly caused by late summer's higher temperatures in the ocean and the Mediterranean. Overheated, the seas have excess energy which have a multiplier effect on storm fronts.

The '1812 Overture' Club Report of the Week

To take what may be a final glance at Paris Plage I leave the Métro today at the Cité station, to find myself confronted with a display of 'Libération 1944' vehicles parked outside the Préfecture de Police.

Today marks the anniversary of the day in 1944 when the bulk of Paris police showed up for work inphoto: liberation, prefecture civilian clothes, to designate that they were no longer taking orders from Vichy superiors. 'Leave your uniform at home and bring your gun,' was the word. It wasn't clear who gave it

At the préfecture today.

At 8:00 in the morning, 3000 officers took over the police headquarters, first by assembling in the courtyard and singing the Marseillaise.' When Ile–de–France FFI leader Rol–Tanguy passed by chance and saw what was going on he tried to enter the building but wasn't allowed in.

He left to get his FFI uniform and when he returned everything was okay, and the insurrection got under way under his command – although underarmed FFI units had started earlier in the morning in the 1st and 13th arrondissements.

However, I have missed today's noon ceremony marking the occasion, so I am free to inspect Paris Plage on its second–last day. While I do so the sun is shining over the city while masses of clouds lurk on the horizons. There is a fair breeze and the blue sails are snapping.

Ceremonial crowd barricades have been placed all over, so getting around is a bit of an obstacle course. Ah, yes, it's an anniversary for barricades too. Parisians erected hundreds of them from 21–25. August 1944.

The scene is calm at the club's café La Corona when I arrive and I have the entire club area to myself. The week's new 'Waiter of the Week' arrives promptly to take my order only to be asked to return later.

I see no members so I write some notes, starting with the weather. Most weeks I have hardly timephoto: glass of the week to sort out the club's official pens and booklets. They are getting low on ink and paper I see.

Member Kate Ernst arrives and says, "Where is everybody?" She's perfectly right – there's room for at least 15 other members. I guess they'll be along a bit later.

Kate, who is from Manhattan, joined the club last year in June. We've never had much chance to talk at length together, so we make up for it while we can.

Yesterday's rain was spectacular, and Kate says the sound of it reminded her of Tchaikovsky's '1812 Overture.' She also says she didn't see any Edgar Allan Poe characters from 'Murders At the Sorbonne' wearing somber capes, but half expected to.

Since there is just two of us we can talk about anything and do. I do not scribble many notes but Kate notices me write 'cape' and says she hopes I am not taking dictation. She is right, it is easier to talk about what we feel like, about any subject.

For example, when life's 'business' is more or less in the past, it is possible to take up learning again for the fun of it rather than for getting ahead or getting more pay or honors.

This leads to a half hour of conversation about the author Willa Cather and her book 'One of Ours,' which was published in 1922. it won a Pulitzer Prize and she was the fourth novelist to be honored since the inception of the prizes in 1918.

Kate says the story was panned at the time, by critics who did not appreciate a novel about WWI written by a woman, who missed the point that the story was mostly about being in Nebraska. She says the original name of the book was 'Claude.'

I have a report to write so I try to steer us a little closer to the usual subject. Kate obliges by saying, "I feel like I'm at home in Paris."

"I love being in the post office," she says. She was standing in line when a customer plopped a portable computer on the counter and asked for a shipping box for it. The post office joe put the available boxes on parade and they debated the merits of one over another.

Most likely further back in the line temperatures were rising, but Kate appreciated the fact that the goal of the 'right' box had become a personal quest for satisfaction by both parties.

Kate's own personal quest for satisfaction takes place at a language school where she's taking lessons. She isphoto: rain, moto, car learning how to pronounce the difference between 'deux' and 'Dieu.'

She says her baker is understanding enough to give her gentle corrections but, she says, "All I want is a couple of 'pain au raisin.'"

About 16:00, about 25 hours since last time, the sky turns dark, the clouds roil, the bucket opens and a waterfall crashes onto the Quai du Louvre. Those who have been out in the open quickly fill the café's 'grande salle' while others take refuge under the awnings over the terrace.

But within 20 minutes the sky has finished with its theatrics and blue sky is showing again, and the airs dry the sidewalks and soon you'd never know that the Quai du Louvre was a river for a short while this afternoon.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

This modest 'report' about today's club's meeting is a mere shadow of what happened today'. Thephoto: monsoon terrace 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has some other information, but you can skip it and miss nearly nothing. The easiest way to find out all you want to know about the club is by joining it on any week with a Thursday.

You can become a real lifetime member of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member in a couple of minutes by signing–in yourself any of its meetings in Paris on a Thursday. Getting something to drink is easily arranged, if the 'Waiter of the Week' happens to be on station.

The club's 'rules' were vaporized by the club's own members some time ago, much to their collective satisfaction. The club's other meager distinction is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that continues to have no newsletter.

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

The weekly club meetings start about 15:00, on days that are Thursday afternoons. Meetings end about 17:00, in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'tropical downpours' although they sometimes are – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are held in Paris. Even if the secretary gets any other better offer, he'll only take it if there's a pool.

Doing something 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,' especially if a liberation is involved. 'True' is perfectly acceptable too, especially if it's an honest '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 everlasting week and have been purged from the club's gigantic volumes of chronicles except for all the originals still online buried deep in the cool salt mines of the archives.

Talking to other club members at meetings is an encouraged activity rather than merely optional. If there's an empty chair sit – also optional – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café.What 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 fraction of it is, sometimes.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because Willy the Bird has attended four meetings in a row.

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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