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''No New Meat!''

photo, group, adrienne, ron, heather, rita

This week's 'Group of 4,' Adrienne, Ron, Heather and Rita.

Red Dirt Returns

Paris:– Thursday, 14. April 2005:– Visitors arriving for spring, for 'April in Paris' of all things – are acting surprised when they learn that we've had 'spring' in March and now we're having 'Easter' weather, which is quite similar to February weather, or would be if February weather was truly dreary.

In a nutshell it means that waves of wet clouds are crossing France from the Atlantic to the Alps, and fingers of Arctic air are poking at Paris, although the TV–weather news people will only say that temperatures are a 'bit below normal for the time of year.'

In fact, around Easter, temperatures are usually a 'bit below normal for the time of year' so often thatphoto, scarf of the week you'd think they are perfectly 'normal,' but it must be offensive or something to the weather experts. A 'bit below normal' for the next three days will be 14, 13 and 14 degrees, and I think it's insulting.

A fraction of the secretary's new scarf.

Beyond this it may not be too bad. For the Friday the wet wave is supposed to have passed – it's passing now as I write this – and it will lash wet upon eastern France far from the green and pleasant part right around here. In the wake of the waves, partly cloudy and partly sunny, with maybe more sunny than cloudy.

This will be ditto for Saturday and ditto again for Sunday, with maybe the next wave cruising in from Brittany late on Sunday. Ah, who knows? Maybe it'll be earlier on Sunday. Le Parisien thinks it will certainly be here on Monday, with gouttes everywhere except in lower Normandy and down on the Côte d'Azur.

The 'Stuff To Eat' Report of the Week

The sky is not very high and the clouds look like they are carrying some freight of water, but it is not raining when I leave for the club. It was the bread that got wet when I went out earlier to get some. After getting the Métro at Raspail and leaving it at Odéon I notice that there seems to be a lot of students around.

There are troops of them on the Pont Neuf and small groups of stragglers on the Quai du Louvre. The students have been demonstrating against government reforms almost daily lately, and they are shownphoto, bowl cafe of the week on TV–news in the evenings getting pushed around by the anti–riot police. If the government can wait long enough, the students will give up and go and write their exams.

The bathtub of 'Café of the Week.'

Sailors from around France were in Paris today, also demonstrating. They are trying to get the government's attention on account of high gas prices, and for another reason. Some ports are blocked while they do this. Radio France is having some sort of strike, so we aren't getting much new news concerning 19 other groups that are grumbling or demonstrating, or both.

Tonight Jacques Chirac, the Président, is on TV to launch his part of the official campaign to promote a 'yes' vote in the referendum about the European constitution. If it weren't for all the grumblers the outcome wouldn't be in such doubt. But there it is – a 'no' vote will be more a vote against the government than a vote against Europe.

The 'grande salle' of the club's café is a quarter full when I arrive but the club's area is cleared and ready for members. The club administration takes its customary 90 seconds and then I turn to today's paper. Before I can turn to page 14 to read about Bernard Tapie's fortunes – he's going to 'settle accounts' – Rita Martinson arrives.

"I've been cathedral–hopping," she says as she takes a chair across from me. She's been to see a dozen cathedrals before her Eurail Pass expires – Reims, Soissons, Royan, to name a few.

Somewhat before I can absorb another half–dozen names, she asks, "Where's thephoto, coke of the week red Café Metropole mugs?" Gazooks, I think, I need to send the designs to Berta and Scoop Maginniss! I write a note on my hand, with a 'PS' not to wash it.

After Rita says, "It's a cold day in April," she asks if she can give me a gift. It's a long time since Christmas so I welcome this sort of club activity just so long as it isn't a heavy book. In an orange plastic wrapper there is a white and black kafiya, the very item to keep a neck warm on these damp days. I will treasure it.

What's left of the 'Coke of the Week.'

We are on a wide–ranging tour of other subjects on the horizon – "Always carry a dime" – "Umbrellas are an old custom" – when Heather Stimmler–Hall arrives, looking like the wind has blown her in to the café, but there's no wind.

At first I think Heather has forgotten her make–up, but she says she's wearing her contacts. She's working, not so busily, on the update to her book, the ' Adventure Guide to Paris, Etc.' Some places mentioned in it as open, were closed when it hit the shelves, but now they're open again.

The 'Waiter of the Week,' Patrick says, "Grande crème chérie, no problem!" Rita says, "I'm not going to eat at the Plaza–Athénée." Whatever this is about, Heather says, "I just ate there."

Before I can find out what this is about, a new member in the person of Adrienne Urrutia, from San Antonio, Texas, arrives with member Ron Sellers, from the same city. San Antonio shared 'City of the Week' status with another town about two years ago – it was a 'first!' – so today seems as good as any to award it its own 'City of the Week' status. Too soon?

Because Adrienne and Ron have a lot of questions for Heather about Chantilly, which they plan to visit. How to plan a visit is mentioned in the 'Etc.' part of Heather's guide, mentioned above, and Rita has recently been there too so there are tips flying all over the place. Nobody seems to have read my own account of a recent trip to Chantilly and Senlis, and it's just as well.

Heather then tells us about visiting the tennis museum at Roland Garros. While there, and by chancephoto, heather, rita having a doggy bag in her pocket, she picked up a bit of clay. It reminds me of the first–ever club meeting, and the mention of 'beautiful red dirt' – in Minnesota or some place. Paris, in contrast, had 'ugly dirt.'

Heather and Rita, before the food talk.

Adrienne, who wants to see the horses at Chantilly, says, "You want to feel the sweat," – at Roland Garros, of all places. This, to my thought that sitting higher up would be a better place to see a tennis match.

"What do they do with used balls?" Heather wants to know. Adrienne is certain they sell them in the souvenir shop, like everything else, including the 'beautiful red dirt.' Heather then explains having the doggy bags on account of the pair of 'pocket' dogs she has.

The rain has started up outside and with the awnings lowered it is dark in the café. Nobody wants to go out to the terrace for the 'Group Photo of the Week' because nobody wants to get up. We do the shoot in the 'grande salle,' with as little movement as possible.

Heather's life has always been an adventure. Buses are being discussed – why? – and Heather says, "I got left in Miles City, North Dakota." She entered a contest on Greyhound's Web site and was the only contestant, so she won a two–week bus pass, and rode buses for two weeks.

Again, when I return from a disconnect, I find Rita saying, "I would eat horse." But Adrienne wouldn't. She says, "It would be like eating a friend." That was then, because nowgraphic, salon independants Rita says "No new meat!"

This has me completely baffled. Rita explains that she can't undo all the meat she's already eaten – beef, pork, chicken, horse! – but she's not going to add to the list, not going to eat any animal she hasn't eaten already. What can I say?

Club Member Cheers

See Laurel Avery's latest works at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants. The 116th edition of this salon celebrates the 50th anniversary of the death of Maurice Utrillo. Look for Laurel at stand C–36 and say hello. Expect to find 800 other artists, some from 26 other countries. Beginning on Friday, 22. April, until Sunday, 1. May. Open daily from 11:30 to 19:30, and until 22:00 on Thursday. At the Espace Champerret, near the Périfreak, Paris 17. Métro: Porte de Champerret. InfoTel.: 01 45 63 39 15.

About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report,' with attendance decidedly about average, has no onion soup and barely more to drink other than café, cola and wine. The fantastic 'About the Café Metropole Club' page has a few blurry photos, but you can skip them all entirely and miss nothing other than a mess of words. The short version still is that the club can be joined on any 'Thursday of the Week.'

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

Club meetings begin about 15:00 on the dot in the afternoon, on Thursday and extend to 17:00 or after on the same afternoon in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'TZsZ' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Around somewhere else is not where meetings are held so be sure you are in La Corona.

Be remarkably clever at a meeting – by being at one or more. Lounge for a hour or two with new friends especially if you have the time for it. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'first' having more added value than 'true' regardless if 'first' is perfectly believable too, and if it is an acceptable form of 'true' with any sort of vague connection to reality.

A 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 mapIf in doubt toss your name into Google.

Former 'rules' continue to be 'retired' week after week after week, month after month, year–in year–out. Nevertheless these could be studied so that you know the history of the past and will be hardly condemned to repeat it like we often do.

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. Standing up is okay too. Whatever you say will be highly appreciated by other members present if there are any that are listening, and there usually are some – and if it should happen to be written here.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because the club's membership is crying out for a nifty mascot, but Heather's 'pocket' dogs aren't it.

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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– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
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Waldo Bini