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Bees In the Opéra

photo, cafe d'horizon, rue de rennes

Sunday café in the Rue de Rennes.

Ditto Weather Forecast

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 15. November 2004:– After some strange weather with temperatures lower than normal for strange weather, the climate is expected to ease up a notch and present us with weather that is absolutely normal for November, regardless of whether you agree with it.

The 'strange' part was having a fairly bright day followed by an exceedingly gray day followed by a bright day again. What was common for all days was temperatures at ten or below, due to wind from the northwest.

Today, for example, was gray, but with no wind. Tomorrow will be another day in this series, but should be somewhat bright in the afternoon. Wind from the north will keep us cool, with a high predicted of no more than 11 degrees.

Then on Wednesday there will be a bigphoto, cafe la palette change when the wind switches to blowing from the west. While the temperature is forecast to be a scorching 12 degrees – bang–on 'normal for the time of year' – the heaven will be full of gray clouds.

November café in the Quartier Latin.

The same dern outlook faces us for Thursday. Wind ditto, cloud cover ditto, temperature ditto. If you happen to be flying to Paris on Thursday you will be able to tell those left behind that you are expecting splendidly ditto weather in France. Friday may even be ditto–bis, but I hope not.

Café Life

Bees In My Bonnet

As far as I know the newspaper of record, Le Parisien, has not gotten to grips with the important news story about all the bees living in the Opéra. It's almost understandable because Thursday was a holiday reserved for remembering WWI and a certain number of pages were devoted to recounting the exploits of some of the 15 living survivors, who were about 106 and 110 years old. Before he passed on, also on Thursday, Yassir Arafat was 75 years old in Paris too, requiring yet more newsprint.

Oddly, the fact of living through WWI, les années folles, the depression, Communism, WWII, a bunch of other wars, the wall, the dawn of TV and rock'n'roll, the pill, the Twingo, the wall falling, Gulf Wars I and II, as well as about 30 Eurovision Song Conests, and still being alive in 2004 was not, in itself, newsworthy. That one or two of them weren't gaga, was newsworthy, because it was good for a couple of interesting sound–bites.

Bees, even ones that live in opera houses, are not much good for sound– bites. Imagine, there you are in your 180€photo, arches, odeon seat watching 'La Belle au Bois Dormant' – nothing to do with turkeys – or listening to 'Il Trovatore' – by G. Verdi – not a turkey either – and suddenly the view is darkened by a swarm of 250,000 crazed bees, or your hearing is interrupted by furious buzzing – eh? – not too flipping cool!

Dayight secret places in Paris.

Do you seriously think that opera fanatics give a fried fig for the needs of plants on balconies in the romantic 9th arrond– issement? And if they sell the honey from them in the opera Garnier's museum shop, why did it take me three days of research to verify that there is indeed a museum shop in the Palais Garnier? What the dickens is so secret about it? No doubt it is one of Heather's 'Secrets of Paris' and she's got world rights for it.

On the other hand it must be fairly well–known that the city is seriously in the honey business, and the Senat too. Everybody knows where the hives are in the Luxembourg and the bees at Montsouris have the choicest location. You can see their little chalets in parks all over Paris. I wouldn't be alarmed to hear that the Minister of Culture has his own set in the Tuileries somewhere, somewhat closer to the sales area at Fauchon than the Opéra.

What I don't understand is why the AFP story wasn't about PSG beating Olympic Marseille on Wednesday. It's gotta be right up there on the scale of rare events, although the paper says PSG has done it eight times in a row, going back to 2002. For those not paying attention, the Paris club Paris–Saint–Germain has had a very bumpy season start and I would be surprised to learn that they have even won eight games this year. They almost got demoted into the bush leagues a couple of weeks ago.

Then there's the Côte d'Ivoire story. The French refugees arriving in Paris are complaining to police about rape and pillage. It sounds like the old days, which were also recently celebrated, with Arte–TV showing the 'Battle of Algiers' last week. Nobody, as far as I know, is calling the new ones 'pieds noirs' yet.

Finally, the word of the day – Thursday actually – was 'poilus.' This is the French word for ordinary WWI soldiers. It means guys who sat around in waterlogged trenches, freezing cold and starving, for four years while being bombed and gassed, without shaving. Covered in hair. The hairy ones. And a couple of them were on TV Thursday night – not complaining about any strange syndromes.

The strangest syndrome has to be the fact that most people here eat what they want all the time, including cakes and foie gras, and nobody other than the eight percent who are the usual losers, gets fat.

Actually this is a dirty little secret nobody except foreigners ever mentions. The French and Parisians go around blithely unaware that they are eating what they want without gaining excessive weight.

Hmm. What the foreigners don't notice are all the ladies in the hairdressers reading the fashion magazines full of ads for slimming pills, slimming creams, slimming tonics, slimming spas, slimming mud, slimming parlors – the annual turnover of the slimming industry dwarfs diesel locomotive production.

Right! Everyone goes out and eats all they want and the next day they haul off to running errands, sprinting up and down Métro stairs to the hairdressers with the slimming ads, popping up two flights of stairs to see Maire–Céline, prancing through Saint–Lazare's tunnelsphoto, rue gassendi and cruising through Lafayette's seven floors, picking up the kids and herding them to school or home before zipping off to a supermarket for two six–packs of water, racing home and squeezing into a size eight dress and on with the face.

Autumn in the sunny 14th arrondissement.

And then they, half–starved, go out to eat foie gras and cakes, bread and butter, and drink red wine, in places where foreigners see them looking so carefree and weightless. It's not fair, is it? The slimming pills don't work. It's all attitude.

Headline of the Week

Last Thursday's Le Parisien featured an enormous–type headline, with "Enorme !" splashed across three of its four–column front page. This was to reflect the size of PSG's win over Olympic Marseille in their Stade–Vélodrome on Wednesday, even if the score was only 3–2.

I'm sure there aren't many PSG fans out there, so I should have chosen today's "La bataille" instead, except that it's a big headline for a little scrap between two Socialist politicians – more likely more obscure than a slight football score. Although meaningless, these are two headlines for the price of one. Rejoice.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last week's 'Sorrow for Geese' club report is still online, throughphoto, four on bench, luxembourg editorial inertia. The club's secretary was less than exhaustive with note– taking but there were several digital photos of digital photos, perhaps proving that mice play while there's idle fingers.

Better autumn in Marie's park.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, which is 18. November this year. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Aude. If folks could remember, Aude would be remembered for being a pious companion of Sainte– Geneviève, the lady who 'saved' Paris from Attila the Hun in 451. She did this by convincing Parisians to fast for three whole days, and by praying a lot. Geneviève lived to be 89 and died in 512, and is buried next to close friends, King Clovis and Queen Clotilde.

Other, more mundane, facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The artistic graphic of the virtual club membership card on this page looks several dozen times better online than printed, but is free either way. The club membership itself is totally free too, even though the club's secretary made a mistake.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.47 – 17. Nov 2003 – the headline for this issue's Café Metropole column was, 'Beaujolais Nouveau Week.' Laurel Avery's 'Paris Life' column followed with 'Light Levity Un–French.' The week's Scène columns were repeats titled 'Noël in Paris 2003,' and 'Two Picassos for the Price of Two' was a double–repeat. The Café Metropole Club update for 20. November was inappropriatelyphoto, sign, rue saint beuve named the 'Bananas! Bananas!' report. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and the caption of Ric's weekly cartoon was 'New Form of McJob.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.47 – 18. Nov 2002 – the Café Metropole column started with, 'Café Life' Is Like a Long River.' The 'Au Bistro' column headline was 'UMPs Decide UMP Is Best.' Metropole's 'Wine News' continued with a 'Small Champagne Vocabulary.' There was one feature about the 'Salon 'Paris Photo' and Three Daguerréotypistas.' The Café Metropole Club update for 21. November resulted in the "Something Must Be Wrong!" report. There were four nifty Paris type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Read the User Manual!'

The 'Countdowns' are Still in Arizona

The new feature 'Quote of the Week' is back again for the third time in modern history. Groucho Marx once said, apropos of I don't know what, "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." This sounds like the 'countdowns' themselves.

One Real, Urgent 'Countdown'

From snow–bound New Jersey Jim Auman writes, "The local weekly French newspaper announced thephoto, sign, vanne, police, mazout upcoming 100th anniversary of the death of Jules Verne. But, in what is becoming more typical French non–reporting, the exact date was not announced. So, a trip to the Encyclopedia Britannica revealed that Monsieur Verne died on March 24, 1905 – not exactly a close, upcoming event."

Maybe not for New Jersey, but for Paris this major anniversary is a mere 130 days from now.

More Famous Anniversaries of the Day

Only 211 years ago today the Convention decreed that there be only one kind of bread in France, and it was to be called 'Le Pain Egaltié.' Bakers could be thrown in prison for making finer bread for 'les riches.' During the reign of Napoléon III, only 63 years later, an additional decree stated that bread had to be 40 centimetres long and weigh about 300 grams. After WWII thephoto, antique clock, baguette became common, with a length of 80 centimetres and a weight of 250 grams. Longer but less.

On Tuesday, 15. November 1796 Bonaparte almost lost the battle of Arcole in Piemonte after three days of indecisive combat. Little Napoléon charged across a bridge and fell into a swamp, yelling, "Forward troops – to save your general!" The grenadiers charged until the Austrians gave up. This happened on Jéröme Bonaparte's own 12th birthday. On the same day in 1927 the revolutionary Léon Bronstein was expelled from the Communist Party, 44 years before the birth of the revolutionary Intel microprocessor, invented by Frederico Faggin.

Today's Other Additional 'Significant Dates of the Week'

There are only 45 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1887 when the painter Georgia O'Keeffe was born. This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 320 days, the same number that 1956 had when Elvis Presley's first film, 'Love Me Tender,' had its premiere, coinciding with the Roman holiday of Feronia, who was the multi–goddess of fertility, travel, fire and lastly, of water.
signature, regards, ric

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