horz line

A Packed Café

photo, group carol, scoop, berta, rita

Today's 'Group of the Week,' with Carol, Scoop, Berta and Rita.

It's Paris' Charm

Paris:– Thursday, 30. December 2004:– Remember this from Monday? "Oh, willikers! Hold your hats, scarves, gloves and run for the hills. No! Not the hills. Run somewhere else. Ding–dong! Alert Orange! Alert Orange! From tomorrow morning until 16:37 in the afternoon. Right here, in downtown Paris."

By the time I saw Tuesday's dawn I knew that I'd be writing this. In this town there was no snow on Tuesday, not in the morning and not in the afternoon. In fact the sun was shining most of the time here. So brightly that sunglasses were strongly recommended.

What happened? Tuesday evening's TV–weather news kept up the fiction of the Alert Orange, but said it was further east, where there were bales of snow. Then it showed bales of snow and all sorts of idiotic and whining motorists who didn't watch Monday evening's warning.

Meanwhile in Paris, people who did see the warning were standing around, looking equally idiotic holding great sets of tire chains. If there had been any snow we could have gone and thrown snowballs at France Météo.

After that fiasco, here we go again. The last day of the year, tomorrow, is expected to be cloudy in the morningphoto, food of the week and worse than cloudy in the afternoon. A 60 kph wind will blow up the Channel in the morning, and in the afternoon, it will blow at us. The temperature will start off at 6 degrees, and climb to 11 degrees in the afternoon.

The first 'Food of the Week' in many weeks.

Saturday, the first day of 2005, will have the wind in the Channel and the clouds here. Equally cloudy all day long. For Sunday there may be a few timid sunny periods in the afternoon. If there aren't any, then it will be completely cloudy all day long, with a high temperature of 8 degrees.

The 'Fab Two' Eat–and–Drink Report

When I leave for the club meeting it is damp but not too windy and not cold, since I am wearing my sweater, scarf, and gloves, all of which I wear in bed too. There are not many other people walking in the same direction, but there seldom is.

The Métro at Raspail is another story. There seem to be 25 heavy dudes in my Métro wagon. Who are they? Where are they going? Who are these tough ladies with them? They don't get out at Montparnasse to go someplace else, and more get on. What is this?

More and more pile in at Placide, Sulpice, Saint–Germain and Odéon. Am I wrong again? Or is everybodyphoto, drink of the week going to the BHV to buy a towel or a sheet? I get too nervous to ride all the way the Châtelet and bail out at Cité. The streets are mysteriously packed with crowds. Who are these people?

They are all over. I have to keep hopping off the sidewalk into the gutter to maintain proper Paris cruising speed. After several days of Christmas TV programming, the whole world must have gotten its snout full and here they are – out for a sniff of air and blocking my way.

One of two classy 'Drinks of the Week.'

All the way to the club's café La Corona it is like a broken–field 150–metre rugby dash. I can already imagine Monsieur Ferrat rubbing his hands with glee – 'pleine salle, pleine salle!'

And so it is. The place is jammed to the rafters. The bar is full, the little alcove off the bar is full and there is standing room left for none in the café's 'grande salle.' There are men, women, grannies, teenagers, little kids, babies, orphans, refugees, shoe shine boys, waiters, busboys, Monsieur Ferrat and the 'Waiter of the Week.'

There are also club members, huddling in a niche. My goodness, what have they done to Berta and Scoop Maginniss? Berta says they tried to sit at the club's tables but the waiter said he needed them for 'a group.'

We are 'the group.' When I sit the waiter says he may need the tables 'for a group.' I tell him I am the group. Berta and Scoop move over to their rightful places as club members, so we outnumber the waiter. A little misunderstanding, but I forgive him. Nobody in management ever tells the new 'Waiter of the Week' anything.

But it is touch and go. Sometimes all the tables around are full, and sometimes not so. Then they fill up again. The racket is horrendous. Babies are screaming, plates are clattering, people are yelling. Bedlam. If this is not enough, the Quai du Louvre is full of police vans with sirens howling, and we see one cop dismount with a machine gun. What is this?

Scoop thinks we'll find out about it on tonight's TV–news. I think it is merely the police being nervous because a quarter million people decided to come to Paris today and they neglected to warn the police prefecture. You know how unpredictable the French can be.

Berta orders the 'Food of the Week' and when it arrives she is dismayed to find that it is half bread that she cannot eat. Scoop, who has ordered nothing, eats the bread. This reminds me of the carrots à la marmalada that Berta served last night. If you think plain carrots are boring, try them with marmalade. Delicious!

But in the move from one table to the club's tables Scoop has mislaid their drinks ticket. "It was the first thing I moved," he says. We gaze at the floor under the tables. It is not pretty.

"Twelve years and we've lost our first ticket," Berta observes offhandedly. Scoop isphoto, berta, scoop so worried about it that he drifts off the sleep, despite the noise and the continual excitement. When Berta accuses him of sleeping at a club meeting he says, "I slept through 2004."

The first of two 'Group Photos of the Week.'

There are no guys wearing black hats today, Berta notices. This is good because I forgot to wear my hat. If Don and Josef had shown up, we would not have been able to pull off the triple hat trick.

Instead we do the 'Group Photo of the Week.' I ask Berta to stretch her legs out, propped up on a chair, to make it look like there's more of her – and then I forget to frame it right. Scoop pretends to be awake for the photo.

Club talk gradually winds down to the point where Berta is getting restless, to go shopping. The lure of Samaritaine is a strong magnet. Then there is a tap tap on the window and we see member Rita Martinson outside.

Rita finds the door and enters the 'grande salle,' together with her friend Carol Thompson, who Rita says comes from West Hollywood too. The two of them have been walking around. Carol writes in the members' booklet that, "Paris is the best place to get lost."

This doesn't mean that coming to the club is a way of 'getting lost.' Many new members come on purpose. How many have not been able to find La Corona is, of course, unknown, because they've never shown up to sign the members' booklet.

Carol concentrates on the task, studies the non–obligatory questionnaire, and writes. Berta says, "Carolphoto, wine of the week is taking the test." Rita says they skipped the club last week, so they could visit the Loire. The secretary sulks. Scoop nods.

"Reading any good books lately?" Rita wants to know.

"We haven't had time," Berta says. Scoop's nod is deeper.

Monsieur Naudan the younger comes over to the club's table and hands the secretary an envelope, saying "La poste!" Scoop wakes up. Berta's x–ray eyes singe the envelope.

The second the none 'Drink of the Week.'

Inside the envelope, postmarked Suburban, Illinois, there is a card from member Terri Blazek. It has a lion on it, like Denfert–Rochereau. She sends greetings to the club from Chicago, saying that the secretary is a 'rock.' Hardhead I guess she means. Thanks, Terri!

Bang, bang. Crash, crash. Monsieur Naudan is outside on the terrace, poking at an upper window. Three waiters have materialized, to watch Monsieur Ferrat hauling on some window–opening device. There is push, there is pull, but the window doesn't budge. I don't expect it to – it's been closed for the past 270 meetings.

Without warning, window opening is over. It is still shut. Scoop quit smoking last August, so he doesn't care. The window open last August, would have been nice. Being open next August, I rather doubt. Some things never change. It's Paris' charm.

At one point, Berta has compared herself to Napoléon, as far as height goes. She explains how vanillaphoto, envelope, terri blazek ice cream turned into strawberry at the Monoprix. She couldn't reach where they had put the ice cream, so she asked a Monoprix dude for his step–thing.

The club's 'Envelope of the Week,' possibly 'Of the Year.'

After the usual refusal because 'customers are crazy,' Berta convinced him to relent, with her x–ray eyes. She hopped up but it was still too high. She thought it was vanilla, but when she got it down it was strawberry. It made a perfect compliment to the carrots à la marmalada.

'Grande Nuit' Tomorrow

Once again the same folks who brought you New Years Eve 1999, thinking it was the end of a millennium, will be back with a replay of the 'Grande Nuit' program, set to commence at 17:00 tomorrow. At this time public transport in Paris becomes free. FREE! And it stays free until you get home if it's before noon – 12:00 – on Saturday, 1. January 2005.

Free public transport would be worthless on New Years Eve if the transport stopped at the regular time of 01:00. Part two of the 'Grande Nuit' program consists of operating Métro lines 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 14 between 01:15 and 05:35. RER lines 'A' and 'B' back up the Métro, with RER 'C' running everywhere except in the centre of the city, between Invalides and Gare d'Austerlitz.

Finally, to close any gaps, there will be three times as many night buses in operation. These will be departing every 20 minutes from Porte Maillot, Saint–Lazare, Gare de l'Est, Vincennes, Gare de Lyon, Place d'Italie, Porte d'Orléans and Montparnasse – to go out to the boonies.

Kaboom! Fireworks!

This year, for the first time since New Years Eve 1999, the city plans to exceptionally pulverizephoto, outside of the week a ton of explosives tomorrow night. The launch pad will be the Tuileries, near Concorde, which will light up the big ferris wheel twirling around there – which is news to me.

Today's 'Outside of the Week.'

If you go to see the eight–minute show you are supposed to remember that Paris is a candidate to host the Olympics in 2012. The actual purpose of the rare display is to get a video of Paris' fireworks broadcast by world media on New Years Eve, to compete with rocket shows from Sydney, London and Berlin. But, hey! if this is what it takes – Parisians love to have their taxes blown up for a good cause.

Shopping & Soldes d'Hiver Alert VI

2005's first day of Sunday shopping may be on the first Sunday of the year, due to food shops being closed on the first day of the year, Saturday. Besides Monoprix, 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. Credit terms will be easy.

More About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report,' without any 'City of the Week,' at least had a mention of marmalade, that go with carrots. The 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has a lot of readable tiny print, but you can skip it and not miss anything much. If you do decide to skip absolutely everything, you need no more than to know that the club can be joined any day so long as it's a Thursday.

You can become a forever member for ever of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member super–rapido on a Thursday blah blah etc etc etc., and–so–on, and–so–forth etc. If you've skipped this paragraph, no harm done.

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

When, What, Why Not, How, 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 'OUKZ' 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, so far, vainly.

Be fiendishly clever at a meeting – like being at one – and become somewhat famous for a few seconds if it is your fondest desire. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having approximately the same orange juice value as 'Something of the Week,' especially if bread is concerned. 'True' is perfectly acceptable too, if it is an otherworldish 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 month, year after endless year, and have been eliminated from the club's hyper–texts of archives except for all the original texts still online buried in the deep and dark cellars of eastern Armenia. 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 scads of it is, profusely.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because this week's meeting was the last in 2004, and who wanted it to end?

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