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No Street Dogs

photo, cafe, resto le progress

Far from Montparnasse, a Montmartre hangout.

Songs Are In the Air

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 10. January 2005:– The weather has been doing its usual thing. One day is dry and sunny and another day is damp and cloudy, day in and day out, and the temperature is higher than normal 'for the time of year,' so we are all in lousy moods because it is the time for hibernation but who can resist going out?

But our problems are not yours, so here's the forecast. Tomorrow there will be 70 kph winds scooting up the Channel and clots of rain hanging over the tip of Brittany. Inland there will be a weird belt of crummy weather, sagging below Paris, which might leave a space here for dry skies, or at least, not totally cloudy up in the air. Hats and gloves will not be strictly necessary because the high is supposed to be 12 degrees.

On Wednesday the 70 kph Channel wind is supposed to hang a right and blow towards us from the west, and this will knock the temperature down to a high of 9 degrees. It might be day of veiled sunshine, with the dreck along the Channel and in a southwest band across the country – but with Paris high and dry.

Thursday's outlook, according to tonight's TV–weather news, is a bit like sense–fiction. We are supposed to believe that it might be sunny pretty much all over, pretty much all day. No winds are forecast and there's not much temperature either. The high is supposed to be a mere 6 degrees, which I think may be exactly 'normal for the time of year' and whatever songs are in the air.

Café Life

Fiasco of the Week

After last week's fiasco of doing a tour and then falling asleep while writing it, I decided to avoid the problem this week by not doing anything. But it was bright and sunny so I couldn't help myself from going out.

Instead of having a goal, I was just out. My sidewalk is not Paris' most scenic or lively so I went across thephoto, door, moulin street and into the cemetery, which is scenic but hardly lively except when the guardians are blowing their whistles to clear the fans out. I think I heard them doing this the other night about midnight, but it may have been Roller Rando going past.

The 'Door of the Week.'

I looked at the old moulin. It is pretty sturdy, exactly the right kind of building a cemetery needs. But what is it for? It used to be for parties, Sunday picnics, but not these days. While looking at it I got the idea that I shouldn't look at, or look for, anything fancy, like the moulin in the cemetery for starters.

If I was going to see anything, I thought, it should be completely normal, stock, stink, banal. I should shift my senses into 'ordinary' mode, and see what turned up. The first thing to do was get out of the cemetery because it's full of strange, too interesting, stuff.

At Edgar Quinet I tried to decide the way of the most boring possibilities. I started one way, stopped, and took another way past a big apartment complex, that would look like a slum if it were in the Bronx. Well, a would–be slum in Montparnasse then – a sort of failure. But what a lot of bricks!

The Rue Delambre is good for nothing when it is closed and there's nobody in it. The trouble with the Rue Delambre is that you can almost remember a lot that went on here, and probably still does. But when its shades are down the street dogs are king. But there are no street dogs.

Vavin is bad because its so historic. Every time I pass I look at the coupole across the intersection that's in the photos taken by Jean Cocteau of Picasso and friends one Sunday when they were fooling around posing for Cocteau. As near as I can make out, the boulevard was narrower back then, when was it, 1912?

Now it looks like a small airfield. You could probably park a 747 in the middle and its wings wouldn't even touch the Dôme. Maybe the buildings are shrinking back from the roadway. The roadway itself has shrunk from being one wide boulevard into being two skinny ones with a two–way bus lane in the centre, with barricades designed for Parnassians to trip over.

In the tabac the barman from the Select is giving directions to an American visitor. He's wearing a motorcycle helmet and leathers, and I'm pretty sure it's him, so I hail him a 'Bonne Année.' He doesn't look as if he recognizes me either. If I still drank all night long my memory might be better.

The east end of the boulevardphoto, metro entry, vavin is pretty boring and I don't see much on it that's surprising, which is fine. It takes longer than I think it should to get to where I will turn left, which might be about where the Jockey was. Modi cadged meals around here.

The 'Hole in the Ground of the Week.'

He would starve to death these days. None of the bars and cafés are open, just one little grocery store. Of course it's full of tinned goods and booze, but cash only I bet. Great if you live upstairs and need a sudden tomato or some escargots.

The street, which has the sun blazing straight down on it, is far too interesting for my slender purposes. There's the sign that says Atget lived here, and further along the Hotel Istria and then Man Ray's place, with all of its shiny tiles. There's the view into the passage to hell too. At Raspail one of Picasso's places is across the street.

But Raspail itself, mostly in shadow, has next to no features. The sun hits it from a street across the way and lights up the entry to the Cartier glass cube, showing a big colored flower pot with a huge cedar extending out of it, going up five stories. Far too interesting!

I cross into the sun's beams and go up the street with the cemetery wall on the right side, past Picasso's other local place. Somebody put a whole art déco building in here, like a tulip amid weeds. It's too good of course. Obviously I am having a hard time staying on subject.

But I am having no trouble forgetting that I am secretly seeking the classic, abandoned Christmasphoto, shuttered window tree. When you don't want to, you see them here and there, lost and forlorn, wrapped in plastic garbage bags. There was a note in Le Parisien about one somebody left in the Métro, travelling by itself on line 13, with a lifestory note pinned on it. Something about being kidnapped and covered with bangles before molting and being tossed out into the cruel world.

This is just a shuttered window.

My own street, with its northwest angle, is blue–black except for the sunlight slotting out of the cross streets. There is one small tree in a bag outside the plastic apartment building but it doesn't look sad enough. This should mean it is exactly right, but in the dim light, it would look like what?

I shouldn't worry about it. I should remember what I'm doing and remember this is supposed to be minimal. Like, I guess, it is.

Shopping & Soldes d'Hiver Alert VII

There are almost no days left to get ready for the Soldes d'Hiver because they begin on Wednesday, 12. January and continue for a bit more than five weeks until Tuesday, 22. February. Use your best judgement.

Headline of the Week

Last Thursday's Le Parisien scores a stunning win again with its "GAZ!" headline. The rest of the headline, over five columns, is far too long to reproduce here. Let it merely be known that after a week of hints that France Télécom was going to lift its rates, that France Télécom decided to lift its rates and say it was lowering them.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The last club meeting's 'More Hats' club report continuesphoto, roast chicken to be gay and carefree as a bird. There were more than enough civilians in the club's area for the traditional 'Group of the Week' photo, but none of them even owned hats.

Being the last one, it has to be the 'Chicken of the Week.'

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, which is on a Thursday exactly as usual. Other than this there's nothing special about this Thursday. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Hilaire de Poitiers despite my calendar telling me it is Yvette's day. Hilaire was an antiquities fan, in 350, and was made bishop at 35, of Poitiers, although married and with children. But Hilaire was exiled to Phrygie because he got on the wrong side of Constance 1st, and of Constantine 1st, and while away wrote an important book, came back and was made a doctor of the church in 1851.

Other, mainly true facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The edgy design of the virtual club membership card on this page looks as cutting–edge online as printed, and your relatives will be highly impressed. The club membership itself is totally free too, even if you think it is too good to be true.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.02 – 5. Jan 2004 – the Café Metropole column began with, 'At the Stroke of Midnight.' A new Scène column appeared with the title of 'L'Année de la Chine.' The Café Metropole Club update for 8. January featuredphoto, tiles, flower the 'Wisconsin–sized Dinner Plates' report. Laurel Avery urged 'Bag That Dog!' – in Paris Life No 32. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and the caption for Ric's weekly cartoon was, "Cold in the café? Jamais!"

This Was Metropole Four Years Ago

Issue 6.02 – 8. Jan 2001 – the Café Metropole column started the issue with 'Workout At Muscle School.' The 'Au Bistro' column was titled, 'Silliness, Folly, Strikes, Floods.' The Scène column's short title was 'Wide Choices.' The Café Metropole Club update for 11. January was titled the "They Gave Each of Us a Franc!" report. There were four January–type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was improbably captioned, 'SOS Green Man.'

'Countdowns' Beyond Jupiter

The antique feature 'Quote of the Week' would be back again for the eleventh time in recent history, but the source failed to have a useable quote and it may therefore be high time that this popular feature be put back on the shelf it crawled out of not so long ago..

The Unique, Real, Only, 'Countdown'

Jules Verne's major anniversary is now as few as 74 days from now. The great idea to stage an reenactment of '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' in the Seine has never received the official support it deserves, partly because the Hôtel de Ville was hoping that it would freeze over so that Paris could finally have a skating rink bigger than Paris Plage, but it's far too warm.

More than Enough Anniversaries

As Albania's only National Day recedes into distant but fond memory, it is with great pleasure that I announce thephoto, sign, port du casque birthday of Michel Ney, in 1769. Today also marks the date of the first publication of 'Tintin.' Georges Rémi, known as Hergé, was only 21 when Tintin and Milou began their career which eventually turned into sales of 200 million copies, published in over 40 languages. Another comic artist, Heinrich Zille, was born on this day in 1858, and is still fondly remembered in Berlin.

Today's Other 'Outstanding Dates of the Week'

There are only 355 days left of this year. Thisphoto, sign, 31 bis is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1776 when Thomas Paine published his pamphlet titled 'Common Sense,' which went on to sell 100,000 copies. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 10 days, the same number that 49 BC had when Julius Caesar led his 10th Legion across the Rubicon and changed the history of the world too.
signature, regards, ric

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