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What's In a Civet?

photo, group, bob, kate, heather, claire, priscilla

Partial 'Group of the Week' – from left, Bob, Kate,
Heather, Claire and Priscilla.

The 'Book of the Week' Club

Paris:– Thursday, 28. October 2004:– All the crummy weather we were supposed to get wasn't so crummy. The weather maps make out all this horror stuff, the winds blow a bit and then the sun shines and it's not so bad. Even the low temperatures are upstaged.

This isn't the reason I forgot to get Le Parisien today. I flat forgot after reminding myself not to. For this weather forecast I've used the maps in last Friday's edition, and liberally scribbled all over them.

In fact I did tomorrow twice. Now I can't figure out the scribbles on top of scribbles. It looks messy, which I guess is tomorrow's forecast. The low is twirling around over Dublin and touching Brittany, and there's the foregoing mess over in eastern France.

In the middle there's supposed to be some blue, some clouds and sometimes sunny periods. On Saturday the muck is still hanging over Brittany, there are sun balls peeping out of clouds to the north and south, and one cloud is over Paris, apparently raining. Still, it might be semi–sunny.

Kind of the same thing is foreseen for Sunday. My notes say 'semi–sunny, cloudy.' The high temperature for all three days was forecast tonight as being 15 degrees, which is exactly normal for this time of year, and so often isn't.

The 'Famous People' Club Report of the Week

After a dim morning the sun is mostly shining merrily this afternoon when I leave my humble garretphoto, jif peanut butter and set off for the Métro station at Raspail. The road that cuts through the cemetery has been completely ruined with no–parking posts placed along its sidewalks, and parking is now allowed on one side.

It used to be like a quiet road out in the country, lined with great plane trees, which are dropping yellow leaves like petals of gold. They are still doing this, and the line of tin and chrome on one side reduces the bucolic aspect to nothing.

One member's 'Peanut Butter of the Week.' Creamy. Yum!

Leaving the Métro at Saint–Germain–de–Prés allows me to stroll through the arty Quartier Latin, which I do a bit faster than usual because I'm behind time. The Pont des Arts is its usual landing spot for birds to be idle in the middle of the city in the middle of the river – a sort of year–round Paris Plage.

In the café La Corona's 'grande salle' there are two ladies who aren't together, sitting in the club's area. One, I am surprised to learn, is Claire Waddington, club member number nine. Claire has been to a few meetings since joining in 1999, but not for a long time.

Claire is waiting for Heather Stimmler–Hall. So is the other lady, who is Robin Watson. Robin, for obscure reasons, is not really here today, except to meet Heather – who hasn't explained how anybody coming within five metres of a club meeting might get dragged into it.

Nevertheless I duly note a home town of Upper Brookville, Long Island. Claire's home town is Wellington, New Zealand. Isn't it a small world? Both ladies live in Paris though – a still small world.

New member Kate Irwin arrives carrying a medium–sized sack. Kate is in Paris for the school year, to write her dissertation in Francophone literature. Although Kate is doing this for the University of California at Irvine, she gives the home town of Missoula, Montana, which becomes the club's 'City of the Week.'

Then the stray Heather does arrive, also with a sack. She says the management of Planet Hollywood was dubious about her being there on election night next week. "Do they think I'm too young to vote, or too young to be a young Democrat?" she wonders.

The events magazine Zurban has written about the 'straw vote' at Harry's New York Bar. Heather explains what this is to Claire. I don't hear about the 'straw' part and I'm sorry I missed it.

Heather is pretty high because she received four copies of her book in the mail today. She is high partlyphoto, glasses, drinks from extracting them from her little mailbox slot. The brand new 'Adventure Guide to Paris and the Ile de France' is like a 450–page brick, almost as thick as the Paris Yellow Pages.

Several members' 'Glasses and Bottles of the Week.'

And so it has to be because the first 30 pages are all introduction. If you get Heather's book you can forget going to the Alliance Française for the historio–culturo–philo stuff. It won't fit in a pocket, but you'll only need one book. But it's too much to read now, so back to the meeting.

Well maybe not. There is a political discussion going on. At one point Claire is saying something about having come across some 'Republicans for Kerry.'

I'm not against political discussions, but I can't keep my mind on this one. I daydream about having a café instead. I take photos of the drinks and of the ladies. Robin says she isn't at the meeting because she hates photos. I take a good photo of her. She will love it after it is fixed up a bit.

I take a photo of the drinks but it gets lost. I think the camera doesn't remember some of the photos it takes. Maybe it was a photo last week.

I know it seems as if we've just started, but Claire says she has to leave. This makes it 'Group Photo of the Week' time. Robin offers to take the photo to avoid being in it. The tricky shutter release is explained – it takes years to get used to.

The 'Group Photo of the Week' contains Kate, Heather and Claire. Two of these are in the box – and one escapes! – and then there are two more members present. Bob Symonds scoots in at one end and Priscilla Pointer inserts herself at the other end.

This produces another terrific club 'first' – two almost identical 'Group Photos of the Week,' ones lacking one member and another member who is 'not here.' photo, podometre

Bob and Priscilla have a 'first' of their own. Last week the city of Paris began a campaign to promote cafés and restaurants that are entirely no smoking. The city has worked up a little sticker for cafés to display outside.

This was reported on TV–news last week. Described as 'American tourists,' Bob and Priscilla were seen – even by the club's secretary – on France–3 TV–news, having something to eat in a ultra clean restaurant. They just walked in because they were hungry, and then I saw them while making my own dinner.

The, er, pocket 'Podotmetre of the Week.'

But I had completely forgotten about it. I wasn't sure it was them, Café Metropole Club members. Anyhow, the movement is somewhat welcome – something like 30 places have declared themselves to be no–smoking zones.

Then Bob hands me a tattered scrap of photocopy paper. It has the details of exactly what a civet is. Golly – do you remember a couple of meetings ago I said a civet was some kind of rabbit?

Well, I was wrong. It is really a cat–like animal, a bit like a striped skunk. In French they are called 'civette.' The dish named 'civet' is something else entirely. It is a ragoût, possibly containing rabbit, with onions, cooked in wine with spices.

Quite often while writing these club reports I have to consult heavy dictionaries or atlases to get the facts right about odd geographical questions or other strange subjects – like civets. Quite often this is like lifting heavy weights, in case you thought I never exercise.

Kate, who has been bicycling all over town, is trying to refold a couple of maps. Heather shows her one of the red–cover pocket ones, that fit in a pocket and don't need to be folded because the map is on pages.

"The bike routes are printed on the map in lines so thick that you can"t see the street names," Kate complains. Heather loves her new book, but the publisher thought the Métro map was too complicated, so many of the station names were left off it.photo, book, adventure guide, paris

Although it's a bit negative, it's another good reason to buy Heather's Paris guide. Its Métro map is the strangest one in the world. What are the names of the stations between Concorde and Sèvres–Babylone? It looks like silly Christmas lights in July.

While something else is going on Tomoko Yokomitsu arrives. She sits at the actors end of the tables and meets Priscilla and Bob, and they swap stories of stage and screen.

Heather's brand new 'Book of the Week.'

At the opposite end of the tables there are mostly writer types. Heather remembers becoming member number one. "It was a good career move," she says, adding "I was unemployed, I got a job, I moved away, moved back, now here's my book."

We agree. The book is, "Not too big to carry around – it's huge, not large – it's..." And then we walk across the Pont des Arts and up to Saint–Germain where Heather decides to take the bus to Montparnasse because the tunnel connection from the Métro to the train station is so dreary, as is Outer Clamart where she's going.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report' lacked some 'Food of the Week' for the fifth time in a row. Few meetings are coherentphoto, tomoko or perfect. The 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has some other details, but you can skip them and not miss any vital ones. An easier way to find out all you need to know about the club is by joining it any Thursday.

You can become a real lifetime member of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member really easily on a Thursday by signing–in yourself during one of the meetings in Paris so long you are here. Getting something to eat like the 'Food of the Week' is easily arranged if you are hungry.

The one, the only, 'Tomoko of the Week.'

The club's 'rules' were turned into idle urban legends by the club's members some time ago, much to their everlasting enlightenment. The club's other major distinction is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that carries on with no newsletter, regardless of how many dots there are. There's nothing to unsubscribe to.

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

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 'ZOND' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are always in Paris. If the secretary gets no other better offers, club meetings will continue to be held here.

Do anything clever at a meeting – like being at one – and become mildly famous momentarily if you are really in the mood. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having approximately the same pingpong game value as 'first,' especially if big books 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 more 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 week after week, year after endless year, and have been eliminated from the club's mega–volumes of archives except for all the originals still online buried in the cool and deep pepper mines of Inner Angola.

Talking to other club members at meetings is an encouraged activity rather than seasonally optional. If there's a free chair, sit – also optional – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. What you say is entirely likely to be much appreciated by other members present if they are listening, and there usually are some – and if it should chance to be written here, as fragments of it are, occasionally.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because today's new 'Book of the Week' was written by the club's only member number one.

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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Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini