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It Is Midnight

photo: le rubis, wine bar

Sleeping wine bar afternoon.

Fine Weather Keeps On

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 6. September 2004:– After August's semi–tropical weather with its moderate temperatures and its daily dump of rain it seems kind of odd to be forecasting another week of skies fit for summer and short sleeves.

But it is my duty to be as true about this as I can. I don't have to understand it – just repeat the predictions of Le Parisien and tonight's TV–weather news – strangely confident that what I pass on will come to pass. I don't miss the crummy weather, but this is too good to be exciting.

They say tomorrow, Tuesday, will be bright and clear with blue skies and very tiny white puffs of cloud that will be difficult to see because of the blazing sunshine. If this wasn't bad enough, today's high temperature of 29 degrees will be repeated tomorrow.

Luckily for everybody Wednesday will notphoto: pool, fountain, tuileries be quite so bright. There are supposed to be some high thin clouds that may be too high and thin to see but you will know they are there if the sky's blue won't have the same depth as Tuesday's. The temperature is supposed to dip a bit, to 27 degrees.

For Thursday a repeat of Tuesday's sky has been forecast, except maybe with a brighter blaze of sunshine with bluer skies as a background. Locked right in there, the temperature is supposed to stay nailed to the 27 degree peg.

TV–news also showed some people practicing summer out of season on the Côte d'Azur or the Atlantic. They were gamboling in the waters and lolling around café terraces as if there were no such things as back–to–school or strikes, or taxes, or wet Augusts.

Café Life

It Is Midnight

I didn't intend to write an 'Au Bistro' column for this issue. During the week I have been practicing writing without thinking too hard about it, and about three pieces ended up as essays. I didn't have any other ideas so I rephrased them and stuck them in the 'Au Bistro' column.

As I mention in the weather paragraphs above good weather is coming, and is added to good weather we've had. The winter coats are put away again and the Hawaiian shirts are out. But it seems like the season is out of phase. The crazy drivers are back, being aggressive with each other and we pedestrians have to look out for ourselves again.

But it's pleasant to walk through the city with blue skies overhead rather than gloom. The sun is downphoto: football, tuileries a bit from its June heights and the shadows are tinged with yellow instead of blue–black. The leaves aren't so green, but they started looking burnt at the end of July. They haven't changed much since then.

While it's nice to be out and travelling slowly though the streets and parks, it's also agreeable to be standing in a café with all the windows open, sunlight splashed on the floor, with breezes ruffling the leaves of potted plants, with other unhurried customers having their cool drinks while they fill out their Loto tickets.

Inside is like outside with the difference being that there's a bar inside to lean on, and free newspapers to read if there's enough room to spread them out. One story was about the vast differences in income in Paris, with one lady saying her rent is over 2000€ in Passy and a middle–aged man reporting his salary as being 944€.

All day long in the café people come in and play the Loto, or buy lucky scratch–tickets, or study the racing papers so they can bet on the horses. Also there's some simple loto game on a TV that can be played every five minutes all day long.

I see a lot of the same people all the time, and some of them are playing every game going. I know some study the racing papers all morning before coming to the café, and I also know some of them don't bet on every race. But a lot of the others take every chance on offer.

I guess I'm sharing a café with the idle rich. I can see that betting, especially on the horses, can be work with all the research needed. But all the other games are simple and if you want, the machine will pick the numbers. A lot of cash money passes over the top of it – I guess it's like being in an airy gambling casino that has beer on tap, Kir, sandwiches, and whole meals if you want one.

Maybe what keeps it all going is the post office next door. Even when it's closed its two ATM machines are there to hand out money day and night. Easy come, easy go, headed for one in the morning.

Extraordinary Open House

Each year around this time France stages an 'open house' weekend to show off its treasures, some of which are not normally open to the public. This year the weekend falls on 18–19. September. But the mostly free event is popular, lines can be long, and some locations require reservations. For a list of all the 'open doors' try the Journées du Patrimoine Web site. Find details on the right side of the screen. Beginning on Monday, 13. September, reservations can also be made at the Kiosque d'Information located in the garden of the Palais&ndash,Royal. For just one example, the Métro's operator, the RATP, has a program involving about two dozen events or sites, including rides on the 'Sprague' Métro trains.

Headline of the Week

"ASPHYXIÉ" was on Le Parisien's front page today. This is supposed to be what's happening to the prime minister Jean–Pierre Raffarin after Nicolas Sarkozy seemed to have emerged as the 'strongman of the right.' In fact, the first order of business may be to find a successor for Mr. Perpetual Motion.

However, the truly big news is that Le Parisien has given its logo a face–lift. This is also calledgraphic: logo parisien a 'relook' in French. The paper says it is more elegant, more modern, richer in information, while presenting an attractive summary of news that isn't always smiling.

In reality the new logo is narrower in width in proportion to height, making it more adaptable for reduction – for Web display, and for all those lines of little marching logos located on the bottoms of posters and other graphics in your face.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Even though September has just begun you can find the latest "It Is What It Is" reportphoto: sculpture, louvre still online. No members turned up for a quiet afternoon in the club's café which gave the club's secretary ample time to read some interesting comments by members, found in the members' booklet.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 9. September. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte–Inès. I have just found out why I can't find some of these saints. Inès, for example. Her day is 10. September! My calendar is offside. The real saint next Thursday is Saint–Corbinien, who may have been a Celt. He became a bishop in Munich and died on 8 or 9. September 725, and was moved to Freising in 768. In 1711 the priest of the Saint–Germain de Châtres parish asked for the relics of Saint–Corbinien to be returned to Arpajon.

More much 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 a hundred times better online than printed, but is free. The club membership itself is valuable, even if it's free too.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.37 – 8. Sept 2003 – this issue's Café Metropole column was titled 'Salvador Allende's Week.' This issue's feature was titled, 'The Nowhere Tour – For It, Perfect Weather.' Laurel Avery's 'Paris Life' was headlined 'From Zen to Dreams.' The new Scène column's title was 'Some, Few Highlights for Autumn 2003.' The Café Metropole Club update for 11. September was called, "Thephoto: sign, rue danielle casanova Best Frozen Food" report. There were six 'Posters of the Week' and the caption of Ric's cartoon of the week was "We're not late after all."

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.37 – 9. Sept 2002 – The headline for the Café Metropole column was 'Any Peniches for Rent?' The shocking headline for the 'Au Bistro' column was 'The Paperless.' The Scène column's lame title was 'Try and Take a Pick for September, October.' The Café Metropole Club update for 12. September plowed on with the headline of, "He Eats French Dog Food" report. There were six great–to–be–back type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, "No Kids, No Dogs!"

A Countdown Minus 3 Days

Three days from today will be the occasion of the 500th birthday of the erection of Michelangelo's colossal 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. In just a few days there will be a big birthday party, from Friday, 10. to Tuesday,14. September, to celebrate the statue's survival. Florentines are looking forward to seeing the latest results of the umpteenth restoration, because they've changed their minds about it.

Today's 'Birthday of the Week'

Today does not seem to have been a great day in history for births or deaths so I include no shopping list this week. Todayphoto: boulevard madeleine marks the birthday of Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, 247 years ago, in 1757. At the tender age of 20 he took 'French–leave' from France, to arrive in Philadelphia, where Congress appointed him as a Major–General.

He became a friend of George Washington, was wounded, and spent a winter at Valley Forge. Lafayette returned to France to scare up some aid and went back to help with Yorktown. Back in France again he got into politics, and ended up as the commander of the militia on 15. July 1789. Then he made a mistake and became unpopular, but recovered in 1792 and went off to fight the Austrians. He was captured and then liberated by Napoléon, andphoto: sign, rue honore chevalier joined the Liberal party. He managed to survive this and returned to visit the United States in 1824. He also designed the present French flag.

This also marks the anniversary of the return of Fernão de Magalhães' fleet to San Lucar, in 1522. He started out to see the world in 1519 with five ships and 265 sailors, and returned with one leaking hulk and 18 men. Magellan did not actually witness the end of the voyage because he died in 1521, but is generally credited with being the first to circumnavigate the world, 482 years ago.

More Witless Nonsense?

There are only 116 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1748 minus seven, when Jacques–Louis David was born somewhere in France, I think. This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 250 days, the same number that 1122 had when Saint–Bertrand finished a very busy life. It is, however, possibly not his 'Saint's Day' today.
signature, regards, ric

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