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Raving Europeanism

photo, cafe oasis, ils st louis

In the shade on Sunday, on the Ile Saint–Louis.

No Excuse for It

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 18. April 2005:– Don't bother looking at last Thursday's forecast to find out how wrong I was again. The weather is so unremarkable that it hardly matters. It is not warm and it is not sunny and it is not very cold and it is not raining much, and if you aren't in eastern France it isn't snowing much either. It is none of the above.

So, while EDF restores power to all who had their lines fall down under the weight of extra–heavy snow, here in the Paris region we have not been bothering to shovel away the rain because it's been such a pitiful amount, no more than a couple of drops. That's right – two drops.

Instead, tomorrow, after an initially bright start with maybe even some brief peeps of sunshine, the afternoon might become memorable because of some possible 'gresil.' I'm not sure what this is exactly but by the sound of it you don't want it falling on your head without having a hat on it. And the high for the day might be 13 degrees, and I forgot to listen if this is 'normal' but as far as I am concerned, to hell with it.

The times won't be wonderful on Wednesday but there's none of this 'gresil' junk to worry about. It will be variable and may even be partly sunny in the afternoon, although the temperature won't be much higher than 13 degrees again.

Thursday has all the aspects of being a regular heat wave with a high forecast of 15 degrees. If you don't believe this is high enough for a 'heat wave' then you will probably be doubtful about its other characteristics which are pretty lousy. Crummy weather will be arriving from the west with rotten weather in the east, and we're to be in the middle. If the timing is off by half a day or 500 kilometres, whichever is less, then we'll be right in the middle of the soup, possibly duck.

Find astute reader and budding meteorologist Jim Auman below again because he is carefully watching the skies over New York City from a blind corner of New Jersey. Famous for measuring the depth of snow in his backyard in all seasons, Jim's forecast for today follows. If in doubt, consult your dictionary.

Germinal To Dominate Thermidor

Pluviôse has given up venting his spleen on La Grosse Pommeland and the rest of the United States. He has departed, leaving Pommeland under the care of Germinal with the possible final appearance last night of Frimaire. Slowly but surely, Frimaire is being forced off the stage as Thermidor will make a brief appearance this week and then replaced by Germinal again.

Café Life

The Whole History of the European Union

For the umpteenth time in the last 30 years, the European Union is having a major muddle. The EU has a minorphoto, 1-man band, notre dame muddle about once a week and these tend to accumulate fluff and build up to major status about once every 2.3 years, and then, now, 450 million Europeans, start nibbling their fingers.

A one–man band in front of Notre Dame.

If the darn thing would just quit expanding. There is a muddle and everybody is saying 'woe' and before you know it our population has gone up by 100 million souls practically overnight. This is happening so fast only kids going school can remember the names of the new country–members. Then, just when we get used to the new 'woe' something, the famous 'they,' fixes something in Brussels and the EU is running fine again and we can, in France, go back to grumbling about the government and laughing at Nicolas Sarkozy's antics.

But the EU is on a big roll. Except for the western European countries who don't want to be in – but do want 'most favored trading status' – all of local Europe is in this conglomo, all the way to the border of Russia. Yes, there are a couple of skipped–over patches in the Balkans, but their time is coming. Some ex–Soviet republics are banging on the door too.

There are elements in Europe that are saying that this EU thing should stay exclusively 'European.' These are generally the same people who say that Brussels should keep its nose out of France unless it's willing to sneeze money all over the place. These people don't think big enough.

They forget that Europe got powerful in the first place by thinking it was too small and getting on little wooden boats and hauling all over the seven seas looking for plunder and loot. It turned out that some foreign places were too big to loot, so trade was substituted. This is what we have today – an interior market of 450 million consumers that wants to buy and sell lots of stuff.

Europe has had a lot of wars in the past, so it is not especially interested in looting other folks. Tradingphoto, church watchers, notre dame without wrecking stuff makes more sense than blowing up infrastructure because you don't like the other guy. Why steal oil when you can pay for it and avoid the risks involved with smash and grab? Hey – if you pay for it maybe the guys who are selling it will buy stuff from you. It's a tempting thought.

Tireless cathedral watchers, watching.

So while we are going along with this, expanding, the people who think Europe should confine itself to some specific place on the map, are thinking small. What's stopping Europe from crossing the Mediterranean and getting the countries in North Africa to join?

And as long as Europe is thinking of turning the Mediterranean into a European lake, then there's Turkey that wants to join. Turkey wants to join Europe because Europe is on a roll and Turkey sees it as the fastest way to prosperity. So Turkey comes in the front door – without war, 500 years late – why not? France is already full of mosques, a few more won't matter.

This is the difference between the United States and Europe. Europe knows that it is a place where there are all kinds of people speaking different languages, having different cultures and different religions, all supported and guaranteed by Brussels – so there isn't any question of us all becoming some polyglot stew. Being different is guaranteed by the Constitution.

But with all these differences, trying to get everybody to decide on one Constitution is no easy matter. The pastphoto, 4-man band, pont has shown that Europe is capable of compromise – even when it seems most unlikely, one of those 'back–room' deals gets cooked up and the dudes in Brussels come out and say, "Look at the hat because we're pulling a rabbit out of it."

Away from the cathedral, a four– man band.

And there's the fake rabbit, the tatty one that used last time and the time before, and we all pretend to think it's a new rabbit and applaud quickly – because there's a football game to watch, or something new to buy or something fine to eat.

But the whole thing sure takes a long time. It isn't tidy, it's hardly foreseeable, and nobody knows what the end will look like. Like the Airbus A380 it's the biggest thing around, and it's ours.

Rare 'Fiat 500 of the Week,' Again

Metropole reader and Café Metropole Club member Bruce Poole, living in Fredericton, New Brunswick, captured a mint blue metallic Fiat 500 in London a couple of weeks ago and again sent the photo to me for Metropole's collection of Fiat 500s 'of the week.'photo, fiat 500, photo bruce poole

This time I did not lose it. If you doubt this is Bruce's true photo because it appears as if everybody is parked on the wrong sides of the street, all I can say is, this is how they do it in the UK these days.

This is really, truly it.

I swear that the blue one here is nearly the same color as last week's and you can hardly tell that the steering wheel is on the right instead of on the left like it would be if it was a Continental model. Another big tip of the cap to Bruce Poole!

Headline of the Week

There were some bold headlines of the week in Le Parisien but one of the biggest was, Chirac rame.' This appeared on Friday's front page, and was about Président Chirac's lackluster effort on Thursday evening to convince 83 young TV studio guests that voting 'yes' in the French referendum for the European Constitution would be a brilliant move.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last Thursday's club meeting' "No New Meat!" report is hardly apt, because no members had anything to eat of any kind. Other things happened and other things were said, but it is doubtful that anybody present remembers. Luckily there is a boring report to refer to.

The next Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on a Thursday, more or less as usual. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Anselme. This 'Saint of the Week' came from Aoste in northern Italy and became an abbot at Bec in Normandy, before moving on to Canterbury where he worked to reform the church in the 11th century. Royalty fans should be pleased to learn that Thursday is the Queen's birthday too.

Other actual true facts about the club are on view on the 'About the Club' page. The sketchy design of the somewhat edgy club membership card on this page looks as much like a membership card as any Mets baseball card, but they aren't. Sufficient to be free while the club membership itself is virtual, available and romantic too, all of which can be tested in Paris.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.16/17 – 12/19. April – this double issue's Café Life column was headlined, 'A Fixer–Upper Week – Metropole's 'Tours' Lists.' The Café Metropole column's head was, 'Easter Sparkles, Drizzle Becomes Cloudless.' The slogan 'Contest' became exciting with 'Balloons Away!' Grand Prize – for the Bumper–Sticker Slogan Contest.' The 'feature of the week' was titled 'Easter In Paris – "I'm Wearing this Coat to Brussels!" A email from Linda Thalman was headlined 'Paris Is a Jungle.' The update for the 15. April meeting of the Café Metropole Club was titled as the 'Members 'On Location' report. The update for the 22. April meeting of the club has become known as the 'Hoboken of Germany' report. The Scène column was a repeat jumbo with, 'Dante et Virgile aux Enfers – with Francis Bacon, Elsa Schiaparelli,' againphoto, sign, passage joanes already. There were ten hyper–edgy 'Posters of the Week' and the caption for Ric's weekly cartoon was about a thrilling 'Art Déco Toilet Seat.' On account of Easter the second weekly cartoon was captioned "April Showers – What's Not to Like?"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.16 – 14. April 2003 – this issue's Café Metropole column began with 'How Much of This is True?' The Au Bistro feature was brief, with 'In Only 2 Words – France Wins!' The lone feature dealt with 'Désolation des Filles de Joie' and other crimes. The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 17. April was headlined as the 'Mark Kritz' First 'First'' report. There were four merely ordinary 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was off–the–mark with, 'Passive Hustling.'

Irish Rarebit

For the seventh time almost in a row, this is not about some old saint, but is instead a true story. On this day in 1949 Irelandphoto, sign, villa mallebay proclaimed itself a republic and severed its ties with Britain and the Commonwealth. This left the northern counties of Ulster under the British crown. Since 1969 this division has required the government in London to keep troops in Ulster to protect the civilian population from each other.

Today is also the anniversary of the placing of the first stone of the Vatican's Saint–Peter basilica in Rome. This was done by Pope Julius II, of the Medici family, in 1506. Raphael and Michelangelo worked on the huge building, and Bernin wrapped it up in 1666 with a healthy touch of the baroque and 284 columns. Not that it's related, but today is also the birthday of Lucrezia Borgia, in 1480.

World War II was winding down on this day in 1945 when a thousand bomber British raid on the tiny German island of Helgoland blew everything up and killed 128 people who were mostly anti–aircraft crews, and a bunch of seagulls. After the raid the civilianphoto, sign, boulangerie fertillet population was evacuated, but the British Navy attempted to blow up the entire island two years later. This failed and the island was used as a bombing range until 1952, when the Germans took it over again and cleaned up the unexploded bombs. Today Helgoland is again selling tax–free cigarettes and booze to day–trippers. Both Helgolanders and the seagulls speak a version of North Frisian unique to the island.

All the same we'll take today's 'Quote of the Week' from James Branch Cabell. He wrote, "The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true." Branch, possibly writing in English, but by no means certain, may not be correctly quoted here because this quote belongs to 14. April.

Today's Other 'Notable Dates of the Week'

There are only 257 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1955 when Albert 'Smilely' Einstein died at 76 in Princeton, New Jersey. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 108 days, the same number that 1915 had when aviator Roland Garros was shot down and glided to a landing behind German lines in WWI. Roland was also a tennis a ace, and the stadium in Paris is named after him.
signature, regards, ric

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