horz line

Banana Plate

photo, cafe tabac

Does the glitter disturb the horse–players?

General Winter Visits

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 20. December 2004:– Eagle–eyed readers will quickly note that autumn is over because winter starts tomorrow. It's the same every year at this time. But this year is a bit special because Météo–France has delivered temperatures that are below freezing at night and not much above it during the day.

Le Parisien is beside itself with joy because now it can use the phrase 'General Winter' with wild abandon. And just so you know that France has a sincerely soft spot for it, tomorrow's 'Saint of the Day' is named Hiver.

Well now, what do we have? Tomorrow looks like a continuation of winter, with the country split in two between somber clouds to the west and some bright periods to the east. Paris will most likely be under the western skies with an overnight low low of -2 degrees, with an afternoon low high of +2 degrees.

Despite some westerly breezes the situation will likely remain the same on Wednesday, perhaps with one degree more in the afternoon. On Thursday we are supposed to expect a sort of early winter heatwave, with temperatures rising to 9 whole degrees. The split personality will be over, with nearly all of France being covered by miserable, gray, possibly weeping, clouds.

Café Life

Plate of Bananas

The first time I've seen my next door neighbor in a long time, he was standing outside my door in his bare feet,photo, skate, hoel de ville incoherently shouting that his kitchen was flooding. I hastily locked up and followed him to the next apartment. Water was indeed gushing out from beneath his sink and a big plastic garbage bucket he had there was almost full. Before I could do more than see there was an electric outlet under the sink he turned off the light.

At the Hôtel de Ville.

"Don't touch the electric thing!" he screamed, in French. I was just about to go and get a tool – I have three – when I stumbled on something in the dark. I stopped still.

He came back from turning off the electricity, lit a match, burned his fingers, swore, lit another match, reached under the sink and turned off the water somehow. I stayed where I was until he put the juice back on. I was standing in the middle of a herd of empty water bottles.

With the emergency over he explained that his girlfriend was in Africa. She is the one who normally takes care of these things with somewhat less drama. I guessed that she took all the tools with her. He further explained that his apartment is going through a period of falling apart.

This is why I decided to buy some sugar lumps at the Monoprix instead of borrowing any. I should have written a note though. While trying to remember sugar lumps I ran into Matt Rose, who was looking for wine. There was some rosé that looked like weak tea, so he passed on it. Miraculously I remembered sugar lumps, and remembered where they are.

They were in another aisle of course. The Monoprix has a rats–maze policy of aisle layouts and it seemed like a lot of shoppers had the idea it was Christmas Eve, so it was a proper zoo. In the whole store there is only one wide aisle. Shoppers bulk themselves up to take more space in it, or they all stand sideways, staggered just enough to be as thick as deaf posts like they are in the narrower aisles.

I caught up to Matt at the check–out. He had two bottles of Italian plonk and a big can of cassoulet. I complimented him on his choice. He said it would be better when he added 'stuff' to it. He said it had too many beans in it. The Monoprix also has cans of plain beans, as in 'cassoulet–sans–stuff,' just beans. But there's no cassoulet 'sans beans.' The only other option is sauerkraut in a can.

Matt said he needed to get tape. He said he had already bought all the tape Monoprix had on Saturday and was hoping that there would be some new stock today. After checking out – Matt got three plastic sacks for three items – we crossed to Peret but some lout was standing in our spot at the bar so we went to the Café Daguerre, because I said it would be okay if it wasn't noisy.

In the racket of its bar the guy from tabac next to the McDonald's said he didn't drink. I bet he changes his tunephoto, champs elysees in that hole–in–the–wall tabac when it's 38 degrees. It's like a sauna in there – sorta nice in winter though. Matt took five minutes putting out coins for the cafés, mostly tens and fives and a bunch of ones and two cent pieces. The barman scooped them up and returned seven cents.

For those who can't get enough of the... Champs–Elysées.

Matt said be knew of a bazar that might have tape. We went down the avenue a couple of blocks to one of those places where everything is made in China, or whatever country substitutes for China when China is too pricey. It was a place with smaller aisles than the Monoprix. Matt showed me an alarm clock he bought for two euros. "It still works," he said.

They had four different kinds of tape. They had had five kinds, but Matt bought all of their fifth kind last week. None of what was left was suitable. Matt asked the guy when they' expected to get some more of the fifth kind, and the guy said they'd never had it.

"I have a diploma!" Matt insisted. The guy wasn't impressed. We went to another bazar. Its aisles were identically narrow and its prices were higher than in the first bazar. Matt found some tape, too wide, but said he could cut it down. "It only costs a fifth of Monoprix's price," he maintained.

All the same he wanted to go down Brezin to 'Ed.' "They might have hardware." Ed has low prices and wide aisles. Matt said it reminded him of shoppingphoto, fruit, hediard in Russia. There's not much in the store except space. Monoprix could make a real mess of it.

I got waylaid by a woman near the yogurt. She asked if I could remember why she was there. She said she worked in brain surgery up near the Gare du Nord. You can go a long time before you meet anybody half as interesting in the Monoprix. Matt found some liquid soap instead of tape. He declined another plastic sack and we left. I thought he made a mistake about the sack – he could have had four or five.

Whatever it is, Hediard has it.

Going down Boulard he popped into the smoky tabac. Most smokers avoid the place because it's so smoky. Even the Loto in the place smells smoky. I waited outside to admire the street's decorated lights. Matt was out so fast I doubt he had time to get stinky. Then, halfway down the block a guy stopped him for a light. Matt gave him a match he got from the café Daguerre where we saw the other tabac guy.

After all this excitement Matt said he was going home to weep into his cassoulet. I didn't know. I think those things are pretty salty as it is. I suggested he get another can and come over to my place at Christmas, because I've got a big can of it too, left over from flush times last year. We could have cassoulet together, like having a party.

He acted like he didn't hear my offer. I think he didn't bother telling me that he's going to see one of his old girlfriends. She's going over to his place and he's going to show her his new tapes. Or his collection of new designer plastic sacks from Monoprix and Ed. I bet she's bringing chocolates.

Maybe I'll invite my next door neighbor, if his girlfriend hasn't come back from Africa. He isn't a big guy. We could split my can of cassoulet, and finish the fête off with a couple of plates of bananas. I think I'll write a note to myself about it.

What's That Smell?

photo, santa tabacIn an absolutely scientific study, experts at Cranfield University in Britain have established that 13 of the world's 15 stinkiest cheeses, are French. Vieux Boulogne from Boulogne–sur–Mer was declared to be the world's champion sti!nky cheese. Pont l'Evêque from Normandy captured 2nd place, beating out Camembert, also from Normandy.

The ultimate Xmas décor in Paris.

Obviously British noses were not in service here. The testing was done with an electronic nose which analyzed cheeses chosen by 19 'tasters,' who were nameless. Oddly, the Alsatian Munster only reached fourth place. The runner–up Italian parmesan was unable to do better than 11th place, with Britain's own cheddar managing to get 14th, just ahead of France's Crottin de Chavignol.

Hey! Christmas!

Yes readers, it is once again the Christmas time of year. This is also issue 9.52, which means it is the last issue of 2004. Like last year there is a fair bit of a week – the 53rd – left to go before the end of the year. I am not in the habit of planning ahead so I do not know if I will tack a bit of a semi–issue on to this one and call it '10.01' – or wait until week '1' of 2005.

Since it is the Christmas time of year, here's wishing everybody a grand fête and safe home, and I hope you enjoy all the old movies. They'll be shown here too. I'll be thinking of you all as I watch 'Le Père Noël est un Ordure' for about the eighth time. I'm serious. It's either that or 'Boeing Boeing' or 'La Boum.' Happy New Year!

Museum List Online

As a service feature, there is now a list of most Paris museums and monuments in Metropole, featuring many fresh links to the various sites. The link to it is at the bottom of many pages.

Yoo Hoo! Books Online

It has taken 438 years, and never might be better than late, but now there is a book page in Metropole called 'La Librairie.' If you know of titles that you think would interest other readers, pass them on and I'll add them to the page.

Lost Something?

Take a minute and try out the new search and site map page when you get through with this issue. The link to it can be accessed from the navigation line at the top and bottom of some pages.

Headline of the Week

Monday's Le Parisien wins one more time with "Coup de Froid" It goes on to say '-3° C, voire pire.' Unless you are living outside this isn't too cold, but living outside is on the paper's mind and the authorities have stepped in with a declaration of the 'Plan Grand Froid.' The paper gives hints about how to tell if someone is freezing to death before calling the emergency services.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The recent club meeting's "Smello–Paris" club reportphoto, cafe rendez vous is still fresh and perky. There weren't enough members present for the traditional 'Group of the Week' photo, but Don and I tricked the camera into making a photo of the club's secretary and the lone member.

Matt and I skipped the 'Café of the Week.'

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, which is on a Thursday just like any normal Thursday the day before Christmas Eve. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Armand. This Bavarian saint, whose name was Hartmann, was a monk who became the bishop of Bolzano in the 12th century.

Other, straightforward facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The edgy graphic of the virtual club membership card on this page looks as crummy printed as online, but your friends will never notice. The club membership itself is absolutely free too, even if walking to meetings takes longer than sailing.

This Was Metropole Three Years Ago

Issue 6.51/52 – 17/24. Dec 2001 – for this double issue the Café Metropole column began with, 'The Weather, Coluche and the Euro.' The Au Bistro column had the informative headline of 'More Than You Wanted To Know About You Know What.' This issue had one Scène column titled 'Christmas – and New Year's 2002.' The Café Metropole Club update for 20. December was titled 'The Big 'Oops' of the Week'photo, vendome boule report. The following club update on 27. December was treated as the 'Stereo New York–Paris' report. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and the caption for Ric's weekly cartoon was, 'Seasonal Greetings, Sincerely.'

This Was Metropole Four Years Ago

Issue 5.52 – 25. Dec 2000 – this tidy issue's Café Metropole column led off with 'Minuscule Holiday Issue.' The Café Metropole Club update for 28. December was titled the "Look for Our Photos!" report. The issue had two Scène columns titled 'Better Late Than Nothing' and 'New Years 2001.' There were four holiday Paris type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was aptly captioned, 'Metropole's Greeting Card'

'Countdowns' Out of Sight

The antique feature 'Quote of the Week' is back again for the eighth time in recent history. Here's another treat – "The function of the imagination is not to make strange things settled, so much as to make settled things strange." This is attributed to G. K. Chesterton, and he is certainly no relation.

The Sole Urgent, Real, Actual, 'Countdown'

Six or seven weeks ago, approximately, writing from then snow–bound New Jersey Jim Auman wrote, "The local weekly French newspaper announced the upcoming 100th anniversary of the death of Jules Verne. A trip to the Encyclopedia Britannica revealed that Monsieur Verne died on March 24, 1905 – not exactly a close, upcoming event."

Possibly not for New Jersey, no longer snowbound, but for Paris this major anniversary is now as few as 95 days from now.

Any Anniversary Today Is More than Enough

On this day, only months after Albania's only National Day, it is with great pleasure that I announce the anniversary of the capture of Richard Cœur de Lion in 1192, while on his return from the IIIrd crusade.. His prolonged absence, thanks to Leopold, allowed his followers to turn their support to hisphoto, rudy the red nosed bunny brother Black John, aka 'Jean sans Terre,' for at least three years, or until the movie.

More Extra 'Important Dates of the Week'

There are only 11 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 69 when the Emperor Vitellius had his throat slit by malcontents in downtown Rome. This allowed the ascension of Vespasien, who is famed for having street toilets in Paris named after him. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 355 days, the same number that 1522 had when the soldiers of Soliman Le Magnifique (II) finally captured the fortress of Rhodes after a five month siege. The knights of the Hospitaliers de Saint–Jean de Jerusalem had to find a new home after a 200–year residence.
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