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Summer Movies

photo: rue de nevers, highlander pub

A very quiet pub in the Quartier Latin.

Here and at the Hôtel de Ville

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 23. August 2004:– Last week's prediction here of no heat waves this August proved correct but not much else. There were instead several torrential downpours which soaked a lot of innocent people. These were loosely attributed to the tail–end of the devastating hurricane 'Bonnie,' which crossed the Atlantic from Florida.

No such meteorological excitementphoto: public housing for pigeons is expected this week. In contrast, we seem to be looking at some blah days to come, starting tomorrow when it will be cloudy in the morning and maybe a tiny bit sunny in the afternoon.

There will also be modest breezes so the sky may be a bit more chaotic than outlined here. Tonight's TV–weather news expects that the high temperature will be something like 23 degrees.

Public housing for pigeons.

There may be sunny periods on Wednesday when the breezes continue but the element to watch for will be a low high of 19 degrees. The same type of weather has been forecast for Thursday, with another slight fall–off in temperature, to 18 degrees.

This is not normal for August but I can remember it happening before often enough to have my sweaters not packed away too deeply. 'People say' that we can expect better weather in September, but I am never sure that 'people' can remember anything from one year to another.

Café Life

"Moi Jane! Toi Tarzan?"

On Sunday evening the French–German cultural channel Arte showed a double–feature many would give up their popcorn for. It started off right after the TV–news with 'Tarzan, l'Homme–Singe,' and I couldn't stop viewing until after Johnny Weissmuller murdered some kind of African doe for breakfast and then had to swing through the trees to escape the lion that was aiming to rip the booty away.

It must have been a different world when the movie was made in 1932. There were the white hunters in Africa searching for the hidden ivory cache, their harassed bearers and the old adventurer's plucky daughter, who turned up with six steamer trunks.

To show what a good shot she was, she blew away a flunky's hat – at a range of about four metres – andphoto: place furstemberg then the frightened bearers stepped out of the bushes, obviously thankful to be alive. But this was only a sort of prologue to set the stage for the deep jungle. Sample campsite dialogue:–

"Chinka tchinko? Quando?" followed by, "Ce sont les Ubangas!"

As you may have guessed, Jane is the heroine's name and she promptly falls off a cliff. But she's tied by rope to one of the white hunters, unlike a hapless bearer who plunges 650 feet to the valley floor. A minute later they are on top of the plateau, and hear "AW eii AH Awwwww" for the first time.

Next the party has to cross a lake and it's full of man–eating hippos. They build rafts and the hippos attack, and they lose another bearer to random crocodiles. On the other side, as they are walking along in the jungle there's a sudden sprinkle of zebras. The next shot shows a gaggle of monkeys gamboling around up in the tree tops.

At this very moment a man up in a tree is spied, but the ivory hunters are attacked by locals and one is shot while one of the bearers gets an arrow through his neck. In the confusion Jane is snatched away and whisked up to the tree tops by this white muscleman. She comes face to face with a frisky monkey. Then a cheetah begins an attack on the tree and muscles wrestles with it until he plunges his bowieknife into it. I am not making this up.

Zip, zap, zoom, and muscles is back up on his penthouse perch, where he drags Jane into his tree cabin made of bamboo. She screams. He is kind of rough with her, but after pawing her a bit, he goes outside and falls asleep on a branch.

Next morning the actual 'me Jane, you Tarzan' dialogue goes like this:–

"Jane," pointing to herself. "Et vous?" pointing at the muscle guy. It goes back and forth about eight times. "Jane. Et vous?" Muscles doesn't 'get it' at first. "Jane. Et vous?" Finally the bulb lights up and we have "Jane." "Tarzan." "Jane." "Tarzan." "Jane." "Tarzan," and so on until Tarzan points to his stomach and asks, "Una?" It's Jane's turn not to 'get it' and Tarzan repeats "Una?" several times while pointing at his open mouth.

Then the ivory hunters show up and shoot Tarzan's best friend, who is an actor dressed like an ape. Jane keeps Tarzan from being blown away and he grieves for his late pal, assisted by his number one monkey. They are pretty sad.

If I was a movie reviewer I would have watched the whole thing, and seen the second film, made in 1939, which also starred Maureen O'Sullivan and Johnny Weissmuller. It might have been called something like 'Son of Tarzan' but the French title was 'Tarzan Trouve un Fils.'

This theme evening was in aid of Paris' bid for the Olympics in 2012, and not because there is too little about the Olympics on TV these days. Johnny Weissmuller's tie–in goes back to the 1924 Olympics which were held in Paris. He won three gold medals here, but none for acting. photo: pont neuf

Paris Libération August 1944 – sixty years ago, after the landings in Normandy, it was Paris' turn to 'liberate' itself. Sixty years later, this anniversary explodes with a variety of serious homages, parades, and on Wednesday, 25. August at 21:00 see the 'bal populaire' at the Bastille. This really big show named 'Liberté–Liberty' has a cast of thousands, who have been taking dance lessons in the Hôtel de Ville.

In addition, there are several exhibitions, including 60 columns scattered all around the city to mark significant locations. Although not the final act, the film 'Is Paris Burning?' will be shown on the parvis of the Hôtel de Ville, at 21:30 on Thursday, 26. August. For more details, see the items on the last 'Scène Eté' page.

Headline of the Week

"Après cet été morose, vive la rentrée!" was on Le Parisien's front page today. The paper complains about the weather here in the north, and high prices in vacation spots in the south. We will not regret that summer is over, the paper thinks.

But the paper is happy that we will be able the phone our friends and loved ones while on Métro lines 2, 7, 9 and 13 as we now can on lines 1, 4, 11 and 13. This actually means in the stations on these lines and not necessarily in the tunnels between them. The RER lines 'A' and 'B' within Paris are also wired. Then, as in all things French, there are exceptions but you should not worry about these because the missing stations will be added soon. The Métro's operator, the RATP, expects to have its whole rail network hooked up for blah–blah by 2007.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Even though it is still August you can find the latest 'Tchaikovsky Rolled Over' report still online.photo: last day, friday, paris plage The meeting's sole member present, Kate, said the previous night's thunder reminded her of the '1812 Overture.' If I had heard it, it would have reminded me of the same thing.

On Paris Plage Friday – the final day for 2004.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 26. August. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte–Natacha. All of the secretary's horses cannot find this one at all, so as an exception this week we have Jean–Baptiste de la Curne de Sainte–Palaye who was not a saint at all, but the author of a 'Dictionnaire Historique de l'Ancien Langage Française,' which he wrote sometime before expiring in 1781.

Some other minor facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The graphic of the virtual club membership card on this page looks better online than printed, but is free and I made it myself. The club membership itself is worthwhile, even if it's informal too.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.35 – 25. Aug 2003 – this post holiday issue wasn't fat but had the Café Metropole column's 'Greetings From Coney Island.' The 'Au Bistro' column was headlined 'Killer Heatwave! & Blackout!' The Scène column's title was 'Summer Events Carry Over to September.' The Café Metropole Clubphoto: sign, rue de nevers update for 28. August was jokingly called 'The 200th Meeting!' report. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon of the week asked, "What's the rush?"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.35 – 26. Aug 2002 – The title for the Café Metropole column was 'KultTour' Arrives In Paris.' The headline for the 'Au Bistro' column was 'Some Non–News of the Week.' The Scène column's lame title was 'Issue 7.34's Repeats.' The Café Metropole Club update for 29. August came out as the "Don't Forget Napoléon!" report. There were four August–type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, "Staying Long?"

A Countdown Not So Completely Different

Exactly 17 days from today it will be the occasion of the 500th birthday of the erection of Michelangelo's big statue of the biblical David in the Piazza Signoria, in the centre of Florence.

On that Thursday, 8. September in long–ago 1504 all was not rosy because Florentines took a violent exception to the monumental work, and threw rocks at it. Then lightning struck the stature's pedestal eight years later. In just over two weeks there will be a big birthday party, from Friday, 10. to Tuesday,14. September, to celebrate the statue's survival. Florentines are expected to see the latest results of its umpteenth restoration, but no rock throwing is anticipated.

Today's 'Birthday of the Week'

Pittsburgh was the birthplace of Eugene Curran Kelly on Friday, 23. August 1912, 92 years ago. He interrupted his studies during the Depression but went on later to major in economics, earningphoto: sign, pont notre dame a degree from the University of Pittsburgh. While not in school he took dancing lessons.

After serving in the Navy during WWII, he appeared in the movie 'An American in Paris' in 1951. It won eight academy awards. He appeared in other films such as 'Du Barry Was a Lady' in 1943, 'The Three Musketeers' in 1948 and 'Les Girls' in 1957. In 1960 he was invited to write and choreograph 'Pas de Dieux' for the Paris Opéra Ballet, which was set to Gershwin's 'Concerto In F.' After the premiere performance there were 23 curtain calls for Gene Kelly.

Nearly Useless, Next to Nothing

There are only 130 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left' as at this time in August of 1754, when Louis XVI was born at his grandfather's stately home in Versailles, where he resided until October of 1789. This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 236 days, the same number that 1926 had when Rudolph Valentino ended a promising career by dying in New York City.
signature, regards, ric

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