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Fighting Elephants

photo, group, barry wright, jerry stopher

From left, today's group of two – Barry and Jerry.

''Le Monde est Fou Fou Fou!''

Paris:– Thursday, 16. September 2004:– The theme of today's weather was being pretty cool this morning, as if it were late September, and then it struggled to get warm even though the sun was shining most of the time. To help it along the wind stayed idle.

Alas, i don't think it went much above 20 degrees although it felt warmer in the afternoon. For early tomorrow the low has been forecast by tonight's TV–weather news as being 9 degrees, with the high being up about 22 degrees.

Northwestern France will be veiled by high, thin clouds that should not quite reach the Paris region, more or less. All the sky to the east of the slightly cloudy northwest should be very blue which means it should be very sunny.

According to the TV–weather map there is a high off to the northwest and a low way off in the southeast, and we are between them in a green and pleasant place. It might even be true.

For Saturday expect the same cloudy skies in the northwest, along with some winds scooting up the Channel. All the rest of France should be sunny, and around here, with a high of 22 degrees.

Sunday is not foreseen as being so clement, with a wide band of cloudy times stretching from the southwest to the northeast, covering the Ile–de–France. For all this, the temperature is supposed to hold steady at 22, as if the thermometre will be stuck.

This Week's Club Report of the Week

Even though there is an announcement of some foreign object on the Métro tracks up around Barbés the line 4 train arrives promptly at the Raspail station and blasts out of the station to hurtle towards Vavin with nary a hesitation.

There is a brief pause at Saint–Placide and then the train races through the tunnel to Saint–Sulpice, Saint–Germain and I leave it at Odéon. I've gotten bored with riding it all the way to Châtelet, and I'm giving it a rest.

After Buci the Rue Dauphine's sidewalks are as narrow as they always are. There's hardly room for twophoto, jerry stopher people to walk abreast, and walking against oncoming pedestrians is a dodge'em business. If anybody stops to gaze in a window, then everybody else has to step into the street to get by.

All this ends at the Pont Neuf's wide sidewalks, with the half–circle stone bays for lounging. The bridge's sidewalks are paved with old stone blocks and as I cross I imagine that I am adding my bit to make them smoother.

For his first club meeting, Jerry Stopher becomes a member at last.

The green man lights up and I cross in front of four lanes full of cars, trucks, buses, taxis and scooters and turn left on the other side, giving the posters a scan and a pass. The cafés along the Quai du Louvre are fairly occupied like the club's café La Corona and there are nine civilians in two sets in the club's area of the 'grande salle' when I arrive.

After a couple of minutes, Barry Wright walks up, sits down and orders a beer. The 'Waiter of the Week' brings it rapidly, it as if Barry might change his mind. It is a great big beer too. It must be warmer out than I think.

Barry wonders if we should recruit the civilians into the club. They look like they might all be speaking Japanese and Tomoko isn't here yet. Barry drinks some of his beer instead.

Jerry Stopher wanders in and finds us, because we don't look like civilians. This is Jerry's first time at the club, althoughphoto, cafe of the week he contributed a letter to Metropole in the 20. December 1999 issue, and comes to France often. Like other would–be members, 'but not often on Thursdays,' he says.

Jerry's bowl of five–buck café.

Jerry lives in Beaumont, Texas, but he says he wants to put down his birthplace, Thibodaux, Louisiana, too. This is great – it's only 15:10 and we have a wonderful 'City of the Week.' One with a rich and colorful history associated with the 'grand derangement,' caused by Louis Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm de Saint–Véran, who lost his life and Québec to General Wolfe in 1759.

As Jerry puts it, he grew up on Goode Street between the school and the bayou. It must have been something to remember because Jerry has very little to say about Beaumont, and he's been there since he was seven.

When Jerry shows us his digital camera, to explain the batteries he got for it on the Champs–Elysées, Barry shows us a gift he's gotten for another club member he knows really well. It is some new kind of Walkman, and it looks really slick.

"You don't want a digital camera, do you?" Jerry asks.

He says the older memory cards are getting difficult to find. After a moment's reflection he says, "I can't help making a reference to 5¢ coffee."

This is in a reference to all the café that nearly costs $5 around here. Barry says, "You're paying to rent the seat."

Jerry served in the US Air Forcephoto, barry wright and was stationed in France in the early '60s in Evreux. He's going back for a weekend for 'Les Ailes d'Evreux.' This year this event marks the 60th anniversary of the landings in Normandy and the 70th birthday of the French Air Force.

When Barry isn't at club meetings he reads old history.

The 'yesterday' part of the show will retrace the history of aviation at Evreux since 1910 at the Base Aérienne 105. The free event takes place on the weekends of 18–19 and 25–26. September.

Also, as he always does when he's in France, Jerry will be making a pilgrimage to the military cemetery at Epinal in eastern France, to visit his father's grave.

On this visit he is seeing Paris for almost the first time, and he's been to the Holocaust Memorial at the rear of Notre Dame, which is called the Mémorial de la Déportation.

Other way–stations on this trip are a visit to Liechtenstein – 'to buy some stamps' – to Lübeck in the north, and to Oberstdorf east of Lake Constance in the south. There may be time to take in the Zeppelin factory as well.

You may think this is a pretty serious meeting, but it isn't quite. For example Barry tells us about the endless energy that we could find in hydrogen or in swimming pools in Iceland, and Jerry says, "Oil puts beans on the tables of Texas."

Barry then says a famous French philosopher has summed up our brave new world with, "Le monde est fou fou fou!" I accept this as the 'Quote of the Week.'

Jerry votes for Jimmy Carter as the most recent US president who was a ethical human being. Barry says, "It's a DOS planet, and it hasn't evolved to Windows." Bothphoto, leffe of the week Jerry and Barry say they can't find the '@' on French PC keyboards. It's at top–left on French Mac keyboards, and the Mac was never DOS.

Willy the Bird flies in and gathers crumbs and old frites from under Jerry's chair. Jerry says, "When elephants fight, it's the grass that gets trampled."

Barry tells us that Starbucks has poor coffee. "They over–roast it," he insists. But then adds that they have plush seats, take–out, and cold 'frappicino.'

Barry's choice today instead of 'frappicino.'

Jerry appreciates that glasses of Perrier are routinely served with ice these days in Paris. "It didn't even used to be cold," he adds.

The secretary thinks the world is 'fou' too. If you don't want ice what are you supposed to do with it? Put it in your pocket? Usually, the waiter isn't going to be around to take it back.

Barry goes off sometime after five and Jerry and I sit around for a while longer, discussing how he can get a job in Paris so he can put off going back to live in Beaumont, Texas.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report' has fewer actual quotes than were actually said, which was several chapters. Thephoto, empty leffe of the week 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has some other details, but you can skip it and not miss much. An easier way to find out all you want to know about the club is by joining it during any week with a Thursday.

The 'after' version of Barry's choice today.

You can become a real lifetime member of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member nearly instantly on a Thursday by signing–in yourself any of its meetings in Paris if you are here. Getting something to drink is easily arranged, especially if you are thirsty and have lots of money.

The club's 'rules' were turned into wisps of vapor by the club's own members some time ago, much to their mutual satisfaction. The club's other meager distinction is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that still has no newsletter.

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

The weekly club meetings start about 15:00, on Thursday afternoons. Meetings end about 17:00, also on Thursday afternoons in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'ePOT' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are held in Paris. If the secretary gets no other better offers, club meetings will continue to be held here.

Doing something clever at a meeting – like being present for one – is considered the opposite of being on the Champs–Elysées instead. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having somewhat the same ethical value as 'first,' especially if Zeppelins are involved. 'True' is perfectly acceptable too, especially if it's honestly 'first.'

There's just 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, week after everlasting week, and have been purged from the club's gigantic volumes of archives except for all the originals still online buried in the cool and deep salt mines of the chronicles.

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 bit of it is, sometimes.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because there were no fighting elephants at the meeting.

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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