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The 2nd Greatest

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A little park named after Henri IV.

Frenchman of All Time

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 11. April 2005:– Last Thursday's weather forecast here is still online so if you want to see egg on my face give it another read. Yes, the temperature went down to 2 degrees one morning and yes, my heat went off the same morning, but nothing was as bad as the 'gresil,' 'giboulées' and plain 'gouttes' in buckets, predicted.

In fact, while all this chaos was supposed to be going on the sun has been shining pretty merrily today and Sunday. Yes, it's a bit breezy, but the sky is blue. It's not as bad as I think, but it hardly ever is.

For example, tonight's TV–weather news guy predicted a mostly sunny day for tomorrow, with maybe just a tiny smidgen of rain up along the Channel coast. A high of 17 degrees will be nothing to sneeze at, compared to 10 degrees predicted for New York tomorrow.

Elements of the sky begin going downhill qualitywise on Wednesday when glop from the west invades Brittany, but should be nothing at all to worry about here and with 15 degrees it won't be too cold because it'll be a whole degree warmer than New York.

Then on Thursday, while a band of wet rain sloshes across France and the temperature dumps to 12 degrees – to be followed by some sunshine along the Channel – it will be mostly sunny in New York, but the same temperature.

Starting this week I have moved astute reader and budding meteorologist Jim Auman up from lower on the page because he is carefully watching the skies over New York City from a vantage pointgraphic,weather maps in New Jersey. Famous for measuring the depth of snow in his backyard in all seasons, here is Jim's report for today:

Pluviôse Continues Rampage

Having given up on venting its spleen on Pommeland – the promised deluge did not take place, it is now concentrating on the South, specifically Atlanta, Georgia where the Masters Golf Tournament – renamed 'Torment' – is trying to take place. In addition, the panhandle area of southwestern Florida has received 13 inches – 33 euro middle metres – of spleen in the past few days. None of the people evacuated expressed any opinion about being a test case for a scene from Jules Verne or whether knowing that Jean–Paul Sartre's upcoming 100th birthday added any existential zest to their lives.

Café Life


I must have missed a vital bit of information. I thought that the French knock–off of the 'Great Brits' TV–show, or popularity contest, was going to run over eight weeks. Instead, France–2's 'Le plus grand Français de tous les temps' seems to have occupied only two or three Monday evening prime–time slots.

Monday is when I pretend to bolt a weekly issue of Metropole together so I didn't consider watching it even if biographies of the ten top contestants could have been interesting. Apparently they were just little clip shows.

It is possible that the Pope dying scrambled the program schedule. A couple of times the evening news justphoto, institut francais, blossums went on and on forever and even the weather got spiked. Whole years can go by without the church being mentioned on the news, so it's easy to forget it exists. No churches here have neon signs either.

France–2 TV showed the winner on Monday night, and I didn't watch it. To find out who won I had to dig around Web-news a bit on Tuesday, and there it was buried under the obscure 'media' news.

Clubhouse of famous living Frenchmen.

I don't imagine that the 'Great Brits' popularity contest caused much excitement with the bookies because the winner was Winston Churchill. Here everybody guessed Charles de Gaulle would come out tops, so it couldn't have been a TV show full of high drama.

According to the report, the general's son, Admiral Philippe de Gaulle appeared on the show. He said all of the candidates were 'notorious,' 'of great value,' but in specific areas. The general won because he was 'more universal.'

Then, for padding, the report contained two biographical paragraphs. With the Brits picking Churchill, it remains for the Americans to vote for Roosevelt as the 'greatest American of all time,' and then it will be the Russian's turn to do the same for Stalin. The Germans, of course, should have voted for Willy Brandt, but chose Konrad Adenauer instead. The choices of Canada and Finland are eagerly awaited.

Whatever was originally planned, the 'greatest Frenchman' contest only yielded two TV broadcasts. A poll in September of 2004 selected the '100 greatest Frenchmen of all time,' and after the first broadcast 10 remained in the running. With no suspense for the top spot in France, the vote's real interest fell on the nine runner–ups.

The scientist Louis Pasteur was chosen as the number two 'greatest Frenchman of all time.' Pasteur developedphoto, two shops, gaite pasteurization, vaccines, and invented the science of microbiology. Hardly a random choice, because Marie Curie landed in the fourth spot. Born in Warsaw, she discovered radium and won Nobel prizes in 1903 and 1911.

Unfamaous but colorful, real shops.

Between the two, a very old but living Abbé Pierre was chosen for the third spot. Since the end of World War II he has been saying that some people are poorly housed in France. He is a popular and longstanding moral force even if people are still poorly housed.

It's was surprise to see the dead comedian Coluche edge out Victor Hugo, but not such a surprise to find the writer in the sixth place. But the consistency holds with another comedian, Bourvil, in seventh spot, followed by Molière the playwright, who died during the fourth performance of 'Le Malade Imaginaire,' in 1673.

In ninth place it's back to science again with the selection of the undersea's Jacques–Yves Cousteau. In the tenth place, the list is completed with name of another entertainer, Edith Piaf.

This adds up to one statesman, three scientists, a moral leader, two comedians and a singer, one writer and one playwright – that the French have chosen to be the 'greatest Frenchmen of all time.' If they were all attending a party, it would probably be an interesting evening, French style.

France–2 TV invited viewers to vote on their Web for their fvorites, but Metropole readers who tried were unable to find out how to sign up on the Web site. Myself, I glanced at it and gave up too.

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