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We Get Blitzed

photo, don, digital nikon

Today's 'Group of the Week' is Don, his camera and his hat.

No Sports News

Paris:– Thursday, 9. December 2004:– I've been snookered again. So–called 'stainless' blue skies have not been seen here since, oh, not for a really long time. This week's predicted ones didn't make the rendez–vous.

The official reason is a high–pressure layer that has trapped cloud close to the ground, creating a self–perpetuating bowl of gray moss over our heads. Plus, even with a little breeze, it is cold – 2 degrees today – and damp and bleakly miserable. It calls, loudly, insistently, for pots of hot rum.

The forecast for the next few days featured quite a number of partly– shrouded sunballs. Extrapolating yesterday and today on to Friday, I am going to guess that sunballs tomorrow are about as likely as Australian surfers on the Seine wearing boaters.

Tonight's low is supposed to be zero, if it is not already below it. Friday's high has been forecast to be 5 degrees, and Saturday's too, with an uptick for Sunday to six.

The sun may creep out and shine on you if you are lounging on the shores of the Mediterranean, but there's no hope for anything of the kind on the fair shores of Paris Plage. The palms have been sent to Morocco for the winter and the deck chairs are on holiday in Rio, waiting for the big kick–out at Carnival.

Did I forget Sunday? Officially the northeast will be littered with the hiding sunballs, and if we are extraordinarily optimistic we will believe in some timid sunshine here. Hah! I've been burned and I expect nothing of the kind. Put in the rum and light the fire under the kettle.

The 'Fab Two' Club Report of the Week

After the uneventful ride on the Métro to Châtelet I am wondering what is wrong with the Rue de Rivoli until I notice that there are industrial–sized concrete pots full of sand on the sidewalks, supporting green telephone poles that are in turn holding up decor over the street. In daylight, as weak as it is, it gives the street a frontier look – maybe like a oil–boom town in the Amazon.

It is possible that when it's totally dark the hanging tubes will look like colorful exclamation marksphoto, club mural, non fumeur suspended above the busy street. Very Christmasy in other words. Meanwhile, the surface of the sidewalks has been reduced by a third in places, so that rubbing elbows with Parisians is a distinct possibility.

Tastefull kitsch in the club's area of the café.

Since I am not thinking of awarding myself any cheap but modish clothing for Christmas, I leave the Rue du Rivoli to its own devices, and scan all of Samaritaine's windows. These are low–key indeed, but so is Samaritaine these days.

It is gloomy and damp out. Few other pedestrians are underway. I buy a Parisien and scoot along to the club's café, La Corona. The bar's team are thinking about polishing it, but they've done it twice today already.

A few travellers are in the café's 'grande salle' ending their lunches. A couple of minutes after I take my spot in the club's area a couple take the club's end table. They do not appear to be aspiring members, or the club looks too uninspiring to join. They order, among other things, fat frites. Two plates full.

The paper's big headline is 'L'ANGOISSE.' This is followed by no funny news whatsoever. Luckily member Don Smith arrives and installs himself on the other side of the club's table.

Don looks around and sees no other members. I do the same and I don't see any either. Don leans forward and says, "Good." I lean toward him and say, "What?"

"I might have an idea for your problem," Don says. I think, which problem? I have so many. Solutions, I have too few. It might be my lucky day, so I listen. Carefully.

Don tells me he has an extra blitz for his camera. He tells me he does not have an extra battery for his camera, despite all the salesman's efforts to get him to buy another. But he got the extra blitz–light for some reason.

The speed–light is joined to the camera by radar. There's no cable. If he turns on the camera's mini–flash, the two blitzes flash too. He wonders if my old camera can make the blitzes flash.

After telling me his battery is a powerful explosive, we decide to try it. He sets the two blitzes on the table, one pointing at the ceiling, the other pointing somewhere else.

Ready, aim, fire. The Nikon's mini–light flashes once or twice and the two blitzes go off. It's like 14. July. He does it again, aiming at my café. He does it again, aiming at my nose. I try mine, and the blitzes don't react. But he does it again and I do it too. Flash, flash, flash, flash.

If there were many people in the café they might think something odd is going on. A joe in a black hat is pointing this black cannon across the table and this other joe across the table is pointing a silver derringer at him, and these blitz–lights are going off, flash, flash, flash. It is the 'Group Blitzorama of the Week.'

When we catch our combined breaths,photo, reverso window hardly any spots in the eyes, Don asks if I've seen the Christmas decor on Rivoli. Since I have, I ask him for a 'City of the Week.'

Don comes from some place on the Pacific west coast where it rains 300 days a year and on every Sunday, so he doesn't want to tell me the name. But every club meeting needs a 'City of the Week' so I harass him until he gives up Ghrost.

Inside, outside, mirrors, menus, the blues.

Ghrost, somewhere near Bremerton, is a crossroads gas station with maybe a grocery store in it. Don insists it's the kind of place that is doomed to never disappear, thus making it a legitimate 'City of the Week.' The rest of what Don remembers about it is forgettable. In any case he doesn't think he's going back there.

With the meeting about half over and there still not being any members other than Don, we decide we can talk about whatever we want. Actually this can be done at any club meeting, but we take liberties.

I tell Don the story in the New York Times today, about the guy who built a camra that can take pictures of mushrooms on the moon, from earth. The only problem is that the print is the size of a football field, and it has to be printed by hand.


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