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''Mushy On the Inside''

photo, group, 6x heather's eyes

One member provides six eyes for the 'Group of the Week.'

Special Easter Meeting

Paris:– Thursday, 24. March 2005:– To find out if it's raining I look out the window and down into the street to see if the windshield wipers are wiping. Some drivers are shifty and they are driving around with rain in their faces without wiping it off, as I find out as soon as I step out of my door and big drops fall squarely, coldly down my neck.

You could see it raining here today and you could see on tonight's TV–news too. What we did not see on TV was any explanation for why the 25 ambulances were jamming the Quai Voltaire, with sirens howling and blue lights twirling, tonight. Are we on strike again? Other than the SNCF at Gare du Nord, who knows?

One thing certain is that the weather is not the crown jewel that it was last week. I caught the moon againphoto, rainbow, montparnasse last night – over Val du Grace – but all there was in the sky this morning was water. Tomorrow is supposed to be semi–sunny in the morning and somewhat more in the afternoon, maybe with a high of 16 degrees.

Then the weather will become confused. From Brittany to the Alps there will be glop on Saturday. North of some diagonal line it will be semi–sunny, and if this includes Paris it will be with a high of 17 degrees. If you are around the Channel there will be a wind blowing towards Ireland.

Today, not Easter.

This year, for a change, it does not seem as if we will have snow at Easter, on Sunday. The TV–weather lady seemed to think this day would be especially confused, and her animated map showed hundreds of little black clouds superimposed on top of little sunbeams, with the whole lot drifting to the east. High for the Easter egg day is expected to be a fresh 15 degrees.

Should you put off celebrating Easter until Monday, this day is expected to be unstable as well as confused, and colder.

The Member Number One Report of the Week

In spite of the rain I leave for the club meeting without a hat, even though I gave one of my fedoras a good brush–off last week. It needed it after sitting in a hatbox for 12 years. It's a hat that was popular in the east Texas oilfields around 1947, long before everybody went Hollywood.

Actually, I forgot it. Before I get to the club I remember a couple of other things I forgot too – like a memory card for the camera. Luckily I always carry a spare in case I run into a freak forest fire or a whale beached in the Seine – I could make a fortune off a lucky news photo.

As far as Paris is concerned there isn't much new to report. The usual crowds of Easter pilgrims seem to bephoto, frites of the week in town. These are the ones who are 'doing Rome' on the cheap. If they can stand up on Sunday, they go to Notre Dame and stand around there waiting for miracles. It's been a few years since the last one, but there's always hope.

The Corona's 'Frites of Champions.'

Sitting in the café's 'grande salle' I see some of them riding past on the upper decks of the sightseeing buses, seemingly oblivious of the rain. I hope they are happy it isn't nearly snowing. In the café, some more of them are polishing off bowls of onion soup, before traipsing off with soggy umbrellas.

There is a new 'Waiter of the Week.' He is busy cleaning up the messes the pilgrims have left behind so I don't bother not ordering anything. I pull out my copy of Le Parisien and read about how I can pay my income taxes without paying 'un euro de trop.'

Inside the paper the lead story is actually about how the French are living to great old age. The average life expectancy has now climbed over 80 years, putting France in second place after Japan. The paper says there are 15,000 residents over 100, but none of them are club members.

I am in the midst of political news, on page six, when Heather Stimmler–Hall interrupts. I put away the paper immediately for the club's number one member because she asks me where the other members are. I wonder too, now glad that there are two of us to wonder together.

Heather tells me about her new apartment. Actually, she doesn't say anything about it, but she does complain about the clock that dings on the Mairie at the Place d'Italie. "It's inconsistent, it doesn't ring on the hour," she says.

She was moving in a couple of weeks ago and happened to see the big all–union march that started there. "They didn't go anywhere for three hours – they just kept arriving!"

Heather mentions the mess left behind one of these huge events – all the handbills and tracts, the foodphoto, cafe of the week trash from the portable barbeques, the empty water bottles and pop cans, and confetti of course. I think, all we need is to know somebody living near Bastille and République, and then we'll have all the major demo places covered.

Your Ed's 'Café of the Week.'

For the moment, with no other members present, we can discuss shop talk. A reader wants to know how hotels get three stars, and Heather is currently the club's hotel expert. "Three stars – can be a dump," she thinks, out loud. This is like – 'three stars' – compared to what?

Compared not to other Paris hotels and certainly not to American hotels, but rated according to some minimum standards that they must meet. Some three star hotels greatly exceed the standards, and so do some two star hotels, according to Heather.

The other side of the coin are the hotels that barely make the standards, perhaps having a minimum three–star lobby and rooms the size of big shoe boxes. The light switches that go off automatically do not count. Jacques Chirac has to put up with these in the Elysée Palace, thanks to some penny–pinching predecessor.

Heather is famished so she orders a plate of frites. They are big and golden and hand–cut, and the waiter plops down the condiment tray with the salt, pepper, vinegar and mustard. I hope she will ask for colorful ketchup, but she passes. The frites come with an automatic side–order of water.

Although she denies being any sort of food expert, she allows that the frites are, "The right combination of crispy on the outside and mushy on the inside."

Then she leans over to correct my spelling of 'mushy.' I was thinking she was referring to peas, and absentmindedly wrote 'mussy.' An ambulance outside bleats and she corrects my correction of 'mushie.' I eat one of the frites and think it could be even mushier with vinegar on it.

For this 'report,' for obvious reasons, there is no 'City of the Week' and no 'Quote of the Week,' unless you think 'mushyphoto, corona menu, 15 euros on the inside' is good enough. I guess that frites are the 'Food of the Week' and either Heather's glass of water or my café are the 'Drink of the Week.'

From outside the café – La Corona's nifty menu.

Some Joe wanders in carrying a poster and gets up on a chair and takes down a horrible poster pasted on the café's window right over out heads. Then he stands on another chair and puts up another horrible poster on a window a bit further along. It is about as exciting as watching the bar cat sleep in Le Select.

As wonderful as this meeting is, there is no late arrival for Tomoko Yokomitsu or any of the other members who usually wander in at all times of the day and night, and on days other than Thursday. In fact, by the end of the meeting even the café's other customers have buzzed off because the rain has stopped and the sun is making a brave effort to pierce the clouds.

Heather is happy because with the new apartment all she needs to do is walk up to Samaritaine to the Métro there, and ride it without making changes up to demo central. It's not like the old days, last month, when she had to race to Montparnasse and get a train to the boondoggle of outer Clamart–sur–Bog. She's a city slicker now.

After crossing the Seine I get my Métro and then have another good laugh at the faces of passengers who expected to get off at Placide, but the train doesn't stop there. Not until about 21. May. At any other stop on line 4 the wait between trains in two minutes.

Strike of the Week Note

"Despite many requests for a replay of last week's colorful street demonstrations, therephoto, leftover frites are few 'Strikes of the Week' programmed for this week or next."

Ha–ha, I'm wrong again. Without getting my permission some train– driving dudes up at the Gare du Nord held a strike of some kind yesterday, that they intended to replay again today. While this movement is not expected to hinder Easter traffic, potential passengers should know that the train drivers are objecting to a management plan to base promotions on merit instead of length of time on the job. It's an idea the train drivers thought was buried after the strikes of 1986–87.

About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report,' with extremely modest attendance somewhat below average, lacked not for anything edible and just about as little to drink. The thrilling 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has no sexy photos, so you can skip them all entirely and miss nothing other than a pile of words. The club can be joined any 'Thursday of the Week' is the short version

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

Club meetings start about 15:00 in the afternoon, on Thursday and quit about 17:00 or after on the same afternoon in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'TsZZ' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Around somewhere else is not where meetings are held, so come to the Corona instead.

Be devilishly clever at a meeting – by being at one or more – and relax for a hour or two especially if you have the time for it. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having more added value than 'first' regardless if 'first' is perfectly believable too, and if it is an acceptable form of 'fact' but especially on Thursdays.

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.graphic: club location map Toss your name into Google if in doubt.

Former 'rules' continue to be 'former' week after week after week, month after month, year after everlasting year. Nevertheless these could be studied so that you know the gaffs of the past and are not condemned to repeat them as we have.

Talking to other club members at meetings is encouraged rather than optional if there aren't any. There are usually free chairs, so sit – wherever you like, or stand up. Whatever you say will be greatly 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.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because the club's membership is growing steadily most weeks other than this one. It must be Easter.

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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Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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