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48 Hours to Christmas

photo, group, don, sarah, judi, josef, scoop, sharon, berta, elliot, julien, bruce

Today's 'Group of the Week' here and now, once and only.

And Not a Peep to Tweet

Paris:– Thursday, 23. December 2004:– Everybody who wasn't here the last couple of days missed being really cold except for those who like being really cold but are reluctant to place their lives at risk on an Alp. Us frigid flatlanders shuffled around with nosewipes in hand, looking for shelter.

But that was then, briefly, and now is now. Just like the weather forecast for Paris is brief and if your attention wanders you'll miss it. According to the way it's done, the only important weather in France is on the Riviera, where it's sunny a lot.

For Friday we are to have a wind of 70 kph racking up the Channel. This will result in it being mostly cloudy and partly sunny, only briefly, in the morning and very gray in the afternoon, which will also be brief. The heatwave will continue with the expectation of a high of 11 degrees.

On Saturday the wind will switch around to blow at Paris from the northwest. On the coast the force of it will be 70 kph, while here it will merely be chilly, with the high pushed down to 6 degrees.

As soon as Christmas is over, on Sunday, there might not be any wind but the temperature will be reeling from the treatment of Saturday and will not climb above 2 degrees. Before you say, ho ho, I can handle it, just remember that it will be variously cloudy all day and especially cloudy in the afternoon, which will be brief but gloomy, again.

The 'Fab Ten' Pull Out the Stops Report

When I get on the Métro at Raspail there are a lot of people riding in the downtown direction. I expectphoto, scoop they are going shopping a day before the last minute on account of this year's poor planning that has placed Christmas on a weekend, spoiling all chances for one last really huge Saturday of frenzied shopping.

Scoop, relecting on Berta in the Samaritaine.

My head fills with humbug so I get off at Odéon. Even the Quartier Latin is decorated with nifty tinsel, but the narrow sidewalks are not overfull of shoppers with large bags. In fact I don't see anybody with a large bag. Even small bags are rare. Is it a humbug quarter?

Glancing at the Seine as I cross the Pont Neuf I see that the river seems high. Snow must be melting upstream. Hold on – I think TV–news has reported that alpine resorts are open even if they are using fake snow machines. What hasn't fallen yet can't be melting.

At the club's café La Corona Monsieur Ferrat tells me business is lousy. People who are shopping don't have time to sit around and pass the time eating and drinking. I wonder if Monsieur Ferrat is a Scrooge.

Patrick, last week's 'Waiter of the Week,' seems to be in a distracted mood. Maybe he's caught whatever is bothering Monsieur Ferrat.

In the café's 'grande salle' there are more people eating and drinking than I've seen the past couple of weeks. They could have snuck in the side door when Monsieur Ferrat was looking the other way.

I don't see any club members so I get out today's Le Parisien and give the returned hostage stories a glance. The news business in France is overjoyed to have a big happy story like this. The news radio has been going on non–stop about it for two days now, and television isn't far behind.

The psycho story, 'Is there a Noêl after divorce?' has caught my eye when Scoop Maginnis glides up and sits down. He says Berta is in Samaritaine giving it a workout. This morning they saw Véronèse Profane at the Luxembourg – not crowded, and they took in the Pharaoh exhibit at the Institut du Monde Arabe – packed to the rafters. A show, "Right off the boat from Egypt," according to Scoop.

Then he accuses me of not having any members at the club. Before I can tell any lies there are members all over the place. I guess they've been waiting outside for Scoop to put me on the spot.

New members are Judi Sui and Bruce Bernhard from Berkeley, California. Their friends Sharon and Elliot Medrich, from San Francisco, arrive a few minutes later. Don Smithphoto, cafe of the week and his hat wander in. Berta Maginniss, carrying a sack full of loot, arrives from a devastated Samaritaine.

Everybody introduces themselves to each other, hand–shakes all around. Patrick, today's 'Waiter of the Week' again, takes orders and delivers goods, and the party reels on.

The café 'Lake of the Week.'

Scoop fondly remembers apartments with no elevators. When you first come to Paris you get high floors, and you come down as the years go by. "It only hurts the day you arrive with all the luggage," Scoop says, adding "I don't use the elevator any more."

Berta notes that several members aren't at the meeting yet. They might not even be in France. Somebody asks about Christmas concerts and Bruce passes around a program with Notre Dame's schedule. Judi has a well–thumbed 'Pariscope,' and Berta says, "I'll remember it's on page 63."

"From our bedroom window I see the balloon go up and down again," Berta says. This is about thephoto, group two of the week tethered balloon in the Parc André Citroën, which has changed its name but is still there. Scoop says he rides it often because it's a good lookout. He finds historical buildings that are secret from it.

Alternate view of partial 'Group of the Week.'

Don says something about taking photos of it or from it. But Scoop is remembering when he used to go to Ocean City. Then they are remembering PBS TV documentaries about where to get the best hot dog or the best sandwich. Scoop says, "UPS you a sandwich," about one place.

"When you've got the guys over for poker, you want something a little different." He thinks it was a place in Soho that might have been called 'Papaya King.' He says he'll look at the video tapes to make sure the name is right. "Second Avenue at Madison."

More new members arrive, friends of Sharon and Elliot. These are Sarah Pratt and Julien Vialon. Sarah is from Eugene in Oregon and Julien hails from Clermont–Ferrand, which is perfect as a 'City of the Week.'

They met for the first time at Christmas of 1999 when Sharon and Elliot were buying or selling two chairs – they had a 'chair meet' in a park, and Sharon and Elliot were sitting on the chairs and Sarah and Julien were taking their photo – amazed that there are free chairs in France, just lying around any old where, waiting to be picked up. Frankly my notes aren't clear about any of this.

Because Josef M. Schomburg has arrived, with his hat, to keep Don's hat company. This means we are ten plus the club's secretary, and it's 'Group Photo of the Week' time, and the light is really terrible this week, again.

The meeting's notes stop just before it becomes impossible to write notes. Don says, "I never told you aboutphoto, berta and sharon when I owned a tavern, with an ugly–tie night?"

Obviously I am all ears – all ears! – to hear about ugly–tie night at Don's tavern, but after taking the 'Group Photo of the Week' I never get back to where I've left the club's reports booklet, I've lost the club pen, I'm on the cusp of implosion, whatever!

Berta and Sharon, trading Samlaritaine tips.

It's not pretty, this disintegration, only one more meeting to go this year. 'UPS me a sandwich.' Watch balloons from the bedroom window – I see the moon from mine. Being the secretary of a crazy club in Paris is hazardous. I could freaking flip out.

Shopping & Soldes d'Hiver Alert IV

Last chance Sunday shopping is over for this Christmas season except for the shops that will be open on Sunday so hungry Parisians can buy some more food. For later, 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 extra money because our prices are in hard euros.

More About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report,' without any 'Smell of the Week,' at least had a mention of apartments, that 'hook you.' The 'About the Café Metropole Club' pagephoto, joesf and don, the hats has a lot of fiddly tiny print, but you can skip it and not miss anything much. In case you do decide to skip absolutely everything, all you need to know about the club can be found out by joining it on any day so long as it's Thursday.

Les 'Chapeaux Noirs' Joes.

You can become a real member for ever of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member ultra–rapido on a Thursday blah etc etc etc., and–so–on, etc. If you skip this paragraph, you should read some other one.

The club's 'rules' evolved into heroic suburban legends, created by the club's members a heck of long time ago. The club's other distinction is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that operates with no forms to fill out, no newsletter, regardless of how many requests there are for one. To unsubscribe to or disconnect, you need do nothing, nada, zilch, zero.

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

The club's meetings begin about 15:00 on the hour, on Thursday afternoons and break off around 17:00, on the same Thursday afternoon in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'ZUKO' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are held in Paris. The club's secretary never gets any offer, but hopes.

Be fiendishly clever at a meeting – like being at one – and become somewhat famous for a few seconds if you are in any mood for it. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having approximately the same fresh toast value as 'Of the Week,' especially if balloons are concerned, again. 'True' is perfectly acceptable too, if it is an outlandish type of 'first.'

Note of Caution – you may have any one or more personal reasons for remaining unfindable 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. Google yourself if in doubt..graphic: club location map

Former 'rules' continue to be 'former' week after week after week, month after boring month, year after tedious year, and have been eliminated from the club's hyper–volumes of archives except for all the originals still online buried in the deep and dark basements of western Montmartre. Google them to verify.

Talking to other club members at meetings is warmly encouraged rather than optional if there aren't any. If there's a free chair, sit – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. Bring your own if you want. Whatever you say will be much appreciated by other members present if there are any that are listening, and there usually are some – and if it should chance to be written here, as wads of it is, relentlessly.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because this week's 'Black Hats of the Week' were worn non–stop by Don and Josef. Elliot's hat wasn't black.

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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Waldo Bini