horz line

Men In Black

photo, group, tomoko, scoop, berta, rita, joe, don

Today's jolly group, from left, Tomoko, Scoop, Berta,
Rita, Joe and Don.

'City of the Week' Ouagadougou

Paris:– Thursday, 25. November 2004:– I was out in the air yesterday, and I wasn't in to see the TV–weather news about what the weather would be like today, on account of having Thanksgiving, without the turkey, without the cranberries, without the relatives and without the funny hats.

So the sun shining today kind of caught me by surprise. It was a bit cool too. I see now that Le Parisien was predicting 7 degrees. That's why my fingers were constantly tightening my scarf.

The first thing the TV–weather news lady said tonight is the weather isn't going to be the same. The high we had has gone east and the low will be here in the morning. It will deck the northwestern corner of France with clouds and will gradually spread east. The high should be 11 degrees tomorrow.

More of the same is predicted for Saturday but it will be a worse sort of 'the same,' and cooler with a high of only 10 degrees. Even if the sun peeps out occasionally, you won't be about to expect the same for Sunday when all of northern France will be lying under solid clouds, and the thermometre will only struggle up to 9 degrees.

Le Parisien suggests that you might want to go out to sniff the wet dirt, which will certainly smell like ordinary wet dirt and not like warm baguettes, even if it is France. Avoid dirt and go to any boulangerie to smell the warm baguettes, while they last.

An Ordinary Club Report of the Week

This starts in Montparnasse with a typical 're–bof' on account of it being Thursday again. Radio France–Info said the rail folks are demonstrating in Paris today, starting from Bastille.

Before you all groan, be informed that the rail people are not on strike today. Nossir! All thephoto, big cafe of the week trains in France are running normally except for the ones affected by local strikes. Today's demo is a national affair, manned entirely by workers and retirees who have the day off for some reason.

The swimming pool of 'Café of the Week.'

But I resist the urge to spend a day in the long and low sunshine assisting the railroad demonstrators, and ride the nearly empty Métro from Raspail to Odéon, to the Quartier Latin where sunlight is streaming down some streets out of a haze in the not so far distance.

Over the river on the Pont Neuf there is a lot of blue sky, with the renovated statue of Henri IV outlined against it. Boats are turning in the Seine and colorful flags are fluttering in the easterly breeze, and the Quai du Louvre is empty between traffic light changes.

Uncle Den–Den said he came by the club's café on Tuesday or Wednesday and it was closed. If it is closed today it will be perfect weather for waiting outside it for members who are coming to today's meeting.

On arrival, La Corona is not closed at all. When I ask, Monsieur Naudan says the café was closed on Tuesday for the replacement of a few tiles. "But never on Thursday," he says, in French. This worries me. There's all these exceptions all the time in this exceptional land.

Behind the bar in the café's 'grande salle' I find Berta and Scoop Maginnis eating sandwiches. Berta offers me her sandwich because she is allergic to bread. "I should have ordered a salad," she says. I think, I shouldn't have had breakfast so late.

Scoop wants to know why I have breakfast so late. I don't feel like explaining how a late breakfast can enable getting away with only two meals a day, even if both of them are breakfast.

I leave the members to their lunch or whatever it is, to get the club's meeting underway. In passing I ask the civilians who are sitting at the club's tables and chairs if they are club members. They deny it. How little they know.

Don Smith is sitting down before I get a chance to write 'meeting number 265' in a club booklet. Apropos of foie gras in the Gers, Don says, "If I ate another duck I would have exploded."

I knew that would happen but he had to go off down there and find out for himself. Some club members lead risky lives. Berta and Scoop finish their sandwiches before they can become 'Food of the Week,' leave their sun–drenched window table, and install themselves at the club's spare tables.

"Scoop has arrived with his 'meal ticket," Berta says, as Scoop lays his copy of 'Paris Turf' on the table. Himself, Scoop says he didn't have breakfast early enough to study the paper and get to the PMU in time to make any wagers on the nags.

Back from a trip to Africa, Rita Martinson – on leave from West Hollywood, California – arrives, and meets everybody. Rita is still staying here 'for the next ten months.' "The dollar!" she says, "It becomes less every month."

Rita continues, "I have a pioneer approach – I go out to search for food every morning." Don, who isn't thinking of eating anything, says "Pretty soon it'll be time to pick out a cemetery."

My eyes are blasted by sunlight. Scoop offers to change chairs to block the sun streaming in the windows, but he is too short. In his new spot I can't see him at all. We give up the experiment.

Berta has been talking to Rita and Don who have both spent a lot of time in Paris. "Between us we've got a million years of Paris," she says. I don't have to say anything.photo, paper paris turf, hand

Then everybody tells a story about snow here. Rita says it definitely snowed 35 years ago. In more modern times most remember the blizzard one Saturday morning in January, of 2002. It was a bonus blizzard and not the annual one which doesn't happen most years.

Don is telling Scoop about his Web site, Visit Paris. Scoop says, "If I were an average guy living in America – I'd see what?"

The 'Paper of the Week' – 'Paris Turf.'

"How many different 'Drinks of the Week' have you?" Berta ask me. Some members like the club's statistics, like how many members are dogs or babies, but she suspects that the secretary may not be competently keeping track of members.

In fact Berta and Scoop are members 25 and 26. I remember it like it was yesterday even though I need to look it up. If I had this information at my fingertips members would be asking all sorts of questions, so I always claim I don't remember.

Rita suggests that 'urban decay' is something that we can talk about. "It could," she says, "Be the 'Subject of the Week.'" Everybody thinks about 'urban decay' for about 30 seconds. I saw some on Wednesday but it wasn't impressive.

Scoop says, "I still have the umbrella I found in the trash." When I look blank, he adds, "Youphoto, tomoko's tea put it in the club news three years ago."

This of course makes it official club history, of which there is quite a lot by now. I have to pretend to remember.

Tomoko's 'Tea of the Week,' while it's still blistering hot.

Looking at me doing this becomes boring long before I remember any umbrellas, so Berta and Rita interrogate Don. With them coming at him from both sides Don's reserve crumbles and he spills all the secrets he's been holding back since becoming member 103 on Thursday, 28. September 2000 at meeting number 52.

This is so amazing that I forget to take notes. Four years' worth of Don's secrets and they are still secret. It just goes to show that some things that get said at meetings, even though they are really 'true firsts,' get lost in translation.

Berta's portable phone starts playing a tune and as it goes on it gets louder until it sound like 'Yankee Doodle Dandy.' Having a phone ring like this, and with this tune, is two more true 'firsts.' Everybody becomes quiet so we can eavesdrop.

But Berta turns away so all we hear is mumble mumble and Rita decides to tell us about the hospitality at Harry's New York Bar. She was there for some innocent refreshment one day and they insisted on filling up a water glass with Jameson's, and then some dude came in and offered her a drink.

It took a taxi to get her outphoto, murder in belleville, cara black, book of the week of that one. Also it turned her off from drinking whisky in bars because other bars just wet the bottom of a glass, and it turned her off Irish whisky for good.

Then there is a guy in the club's area wearing a familiar face but who isn't a club member. Who was asking last week about the tunnels and catacombs? What about that familiar manhole cover I saw yesterday in the Rue Halle?

Rita's 'Book of the Week' is a 'policier,' set in Belleville.

Yes! It is Joe Schomburg, of Petite Ceinture and open manhole cover fame. "I was in the area," Joe starts to say, and the rest gets lost in introductions, handshakes, backslaps and comments about his hat – and Don's hat, because these two units form the club's first 'Men in Black' set.

Oh, all the memories! Berta remembers the cats at Trocadéro, Scoop remembers that I said 'cheap umbrellas are the best' – did I say that? And Rita wants to know how much it costs to send a Christmas card to West Hollywood.

It is so exciting that I've barely noticed that the sun is dipping into night, but just in time the members rise – including Tomoko Yokomitsu, who abandons a fresh pot of tea – and we traipse out to the Corona's terrace and the members arrange themselves with spirit, and the club's camera does its business without fuss, for a change.

Afterward, Don leaves to 'capture the light,' which has gotten soft–edged, like velvet. Like a light to roll in. Blue–mauve. Or is it exhaust gas from the traffic stalled on the Quai du Louvre?

Rita, watching Joe, decides to do the club's non–compulsory questionnaire, but first she needs to ask Berta 47 questions – about Christmas decorations. I hear, 'oranges stuffed with olives.'

On her African trip Rita visited Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso, and the capital city there, Ouagadougouphoto, men in black, don, joe – as it chances to be, exactly where France's president is today. "In Africa everybody said they were Canadians," Rita says. Obviously she didn't see Jacques Chirac there.

The 'Men in Black' again, in case you didn't notice.

Using a club rule loophole – a 'no rules' loophole – I think I can safely declare Ouagadougou to be the 'City of the Week' because a member was there in person. Luckily Don hasn't proposed one of his duck capitals;

Then, I swear, Rita begins to discuss the details of the meeting when we had the voting for the best bumper–sticker slogans. She knows who was sitting where even though she wasn't here. Even more amazing, Tomoko hauls out her notebook, where she has noted the slogans that impressed her most. Rita and Tomoko compare memories as if it were yesterday.

Soldes d'Hiver Alert

The official word is that the coming Soldes d'Hiver will begin on Wednesday, 12. January and continue for a bit more than five weeks until Tuesday, 22. February. Bring money.

About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report,' lacking an actual 'Food of the Week,' had at least a mention of olives. The 'About the Café Metropole Club' pagephoto, quai du louvre has a lot of fiddly fine print, but you can skip it and not miss any thrills. An easier way to find out all you need to know about the club is by joining in person it any Thursday if you are in the area.

Today's atmosphere, across the street from the club.

You can become a real member for ever of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member hyper–rapido on a Thursday by signing–in yourself during a meeting in Paris so long you are here, in the café's 'grande salle.' Getting to Paris is your beer.

The club's 'rules' were turned into legendary urban tales by the club's members a month of Sundays ago. The club's other fault is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that operates with no newsletter, regardless of how many requests there are. To unsubscribe to or disconnect, do nothing.

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

The weekly club meetings start about 15:00, on Thursday afternoons and end around 17:00, on the same Thursday afternoon in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'UZZO' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are held in Paris. When the secretary gets a better offer, club meetings will continue to be held here.

Be fiendishly clever at a meeting – like being at one – and become somewhat notorious momentarily if you are having a good mood. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having approximately the same putt value as 'first,' especially if oranges are concerned. 'True' is perfectly acceptable too, 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 findable 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' continue to be 'former' week after week after week, month after everlasting month, year after dern endless year, and have been eliminated from the club's hyper–volumes of archives except for all the originals still online buried in the cool and deep seaside caves of western Brittany.

Talking to other club members at meetings is an encouraged activity rather than seasonally optional in fall. If there's a free chair, sit – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. What you say might 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 shreds of it are, occasionally.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because this week's 'City of the Week' was spelled letter–by–letter by Rita.

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

horz line
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