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For the Love of Speed

photo, buildings, rue st honore

Rue Saint–Honoré without Rue de Rivoli.

Two Storms In One Teapot

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 11. October 2004:– This morning, 'idyllic times' were supposed to have ended this morning, but my impression is that they 'ended' a few days ago. If there was sunshine on the weekend I was asleep. The weather maps looked like black sheep were grazing on them.

Tonight's TV–weather news confirms this tendency. All the weather maps were the same – all gray. But we have a slight 'first' and it is the announcement of snow in the Alps, above the 2000 metre level. I rub my hands together not with glee, but to keep them warm, although there are no Alps other than Montmartre and Montsouris in the neighborhood.

Well, anyhow. In northern France the sun may peep out once tomorrow somewhere in the vicinity of Orléans. Wind will blow offshore towards Britain at about 60 kph. Here there will be cloud cover, perhaps even thick, most likely all day long. The temperature shouldn't be higher than 15 degrees.

Some thing is forecast for Wednesday. Clouds without technicolor, no sun peeps for Orléans, and a high temperature of 15 or 16. The number was so small it was hard to be certain.

Ditto Thursday. Le Parisien thinks there will be rain everywhere, but tonight's TV–weather news didn't mention it, except for the snow in the Alps part. Again the warmth number was very small, and it might have been as low as 13 – this is what I wrote – but, golly, this doesn't seem cricket. Maybe no more than we deserve, probably no less than we'll get.

Café Life

This sort of 'Life' has been absent around here for some weeks now on account of a lack of Daguerréotypistas. They are either away or missing or are doing spring cleaning, for the year of 1999. Last week one was standing on the Avenue du Maine, portable radio playing Radio Fun, tossing empty bottles into one of the green bottle containers.

Some of the bottles were pretty dusty and I didn't get the idea they had all been emptied in the last two weeks. There wasphoto, dome, institut de france about a years' worth of slightly broken wine glasses too, and they were popped into oblivion one by one. The Daguerréotypista gave one with only a little chip out of the rim a hard stare, and then deep–sixed it.

I thought he looked like he was going to toss his watch in too, but he was just looking at it so he would remember what time the rain started. This reminded me that I had a fresh loaf of bread in my hand, so I took it home where it could get stale instead of soggy.

Then I spent the rest of the week looking up URLs for museums, trying to figure out their new names, and trying not to get their free days and late evenings mixed up. It's not a great way to pass the time while the sky is all gray, but it's better than sweeping woolmice off the floor.

For the Love of Speed

The TV–news had an odd story last week. It concerned a fellow who has one of these cars loaded with gadgets, and one of them was a speed regulator. His got stuck at 190 kph. Fifty minutes and 200 kilometres later, after calling the cops for help, he got the thing unstuck and turned off, shut down and parked.

Since the driver was the only one scared out of his wits and no one was injured, it was just one of those 'things–happen' faits divers – except that the Auto Salon was on, and a Renault spokesman said such a thing could never never happen to one of their cars.

Then Renault, not knowing when to shut up, made some sort of official complaint – one that would require an independent expert to find that such a thing could never never happen.

It also became known that the driver has had a few problems while in traffic and only fairly recently gotphoto, cour carree, louvre his license back. Then TV–news found some other drivers of similar models, who had the same thing happen to them. One managed to get through an autoroute toll gate and come to a stop by ramming a car leaving it.

Cour Carrée of the Louvre.

The way the speed regulators are supposed to work is you dial in a desired speed and the car does this up hill and down dale until the brakes are tapped or the thing is turned off. But the first driver said it just ignored him – he couldn't shift down, he couldn't turn off the ignition, and the handbrake didn't work.

Renault has tested the car at a test centre of its own choosing and says it found nothing wrong other than a defective airbag warning light. Other drivers said Renault couldn't find anything wrong with their cars either.

What the first driver can't understand is why Renault thinks he made up the story. As he put it, 'what has he to gain?'

Then, on tonight's TV–news there was some guy speaking for a newly invented lobby, called something like 'Uselessly Rapid Cars.' His group wants speed regulators on all cars, and have them set to low speeds. This group cannot understand why some people have to buy and drive 325 kph Ferraris – at no more the 130 kph, which is the top speed limit in France.

TV–news wisely pointed out that some top model German cars have such a regulator, set so they can go no faster than 250 kph. The only reason for mentioning this story is because of the doctors who have gathered here from around the world to celebrate 'World Headache Day.'

Headline of the Week

Last Saturday's Le Parisien shouted, "CA–PI–TAL!" France's national football team was supposed to beat up Ireland in the Stade de France that evening. Since the score was 0–0 it was very hard to find in today's edition, where it was buried in a story about the national team now having to beat up Cyprus in two days.

But the real 'Story of the Week' has been the incredible controversy – polémique! – surroundingphoto, ile de la cite, sq vert galant Turkey's entry into the European Union. At a meeting in Brussels the EU's leaders decided to consider Turkey's application to join Europe. If it goes well and full speed ahead, it should only take about 15 years.

But in France political leaders went bonkers. They want a debate in the Assembly National. Okay, says the president, they can have one but no vote. "No vote?" they scream. No, because Jacques Chirac has already said France is going to have a referendum on the subject. Nobody asks why France's Eurodeputies can't handle it.

Speaking from China where he's busy selling Aibuses and streetcars, Président Chirac yesterday said, "The French will have the last word." Meanwhile all political parties are splintering every which way about voting 'yes' or 'no' on the proposed European Constitution. It's like two storms in one teapot.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

You can find the latest 'Extraterrestrial Intelligence' club repor online as the season slides into falling rain. Patrick, the 'Waiter of the Week,' didn't say there wasphoto, pont des arts 'beaucoup du monde' waiting in the club's area in the 'grande salle' again. The outer space 'intelligence' thing was real, and a true 'first' worth reading about.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, 14. October. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Juste. This is another early christian who was a IVth century Bishop of Lyon, who ended up being a hermit in the Egyptian desert in repentance for having abandoned a murderer to a vindictive mob. The good news is that Saint–Juste's remains were returned to Lyon.

The 139th photo of the Pont des Arts.

Equally important facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The streamlined graphic of the virtual club membership card on this page looks several times better online than printed, but is free both ways. The club membership itself is totally free too, because it costs zilch.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.42 – 13. Oct 2003 – the Café Metropole column's title was, 'Fleeting Heat.' There was a Paris Life column headed, 'Stunned in Orsay,' by Laurel Avery. The issue's Email feature was headlined 'The Télégraphe Explained' by Jefferey T. Spaulding. The Café Metropole Club update for 16. October was called the "Einstein is Worried About Us" report. There were fourphoto, candy, kiss bonbon new 'Posters of the Week' and the caption of Ric's weekly cartoon was "Only 14 Cafés More"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.42 – 14. Oct 2002 – the head for the Café Metropole column was 'Fabulous Fictional Fall Weather.' The Au Bistro column was missing again but the Scène column was titled 'Constable and Jimi Hendrix.' As it was two years ago there was also 'Le Mois de la Photo 2002' is Coming.' The Café Metropole Club update for 17. October was a true Paris wonder with the 'Five Buck Water' report. There were four terrific Paris type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Nobel Peace Prize for Peanuts.'

Repeal of the 'Countdowns'

The countdown to the 100th anniversary of the death of Frédéric– August Bartholdi, the designer of the Stature of Liberty, is over. He died 100 years ago a week ago. The Musée des Art et Métiers will have more to say about this, according to this week's 'Scène' page.

Famous Anniversaries of the Week

We should remember today for the birth of the writer François Mauriac in 1885 in Bordeaux because he was elected to the Académie française in 1933, and then went on to be awarded with a Nobelphoto, foot, nails prize in 1952. Today also marks the death of Chico Marx, who left us in 1961.

Two years later, on the same day, Edith Piaf and Jean Cocteau died. She was 48 and he was 74. In 1963 the 11. October was a Friday and Edith Giovanna Gassion died about 7:00, and Cocteau went at 13:00. They had been friends for 20 years.

September's 'Significant Date of the Week'

From last week's, "Monday, 4. October 1582 was the day that Pope Gregory XIII put the Gregorian calendar on the map, vaporizing 10 days forever. In Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain the following day was Tuesday, 15. October. In France it was still 9 days earlier."

About which Jim Auman crisply commented, "Don't forget that it took Great Britain nearly 200 years more to adopt the Gregorian calendar. In 1751 the new calendar was officially adopted. A year later, in September 1752, ten days following September 2 were declared illegal aliens and deported. What should have been September 3 became September 14. Riots ensued and the construction of the Chunnel was irreparably delayed."

One question – who decided 10 days had to go? Could it have had anything to do with our metrical European time zones?

Today's Other 'Important Dates of the Week'

There are only 81 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1927, when Jean Mermoz and Elisée Négrin made the first non–stop flight between Toulouse and Saint–Louis–du– Sénégal. This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 285 days, the same number that 1854 would have if Oscar Wilde had been born on 11. October in Dublin instead of 16. October, 150 years ago.
signature, regards, ric

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