horz line

Primo de Mayo

photo, relais paris opera

Terrace oasis when it's too warm for shopping.

Clochard of the Quartier Latin

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 2. May 2005:– Yesterday was a very pleasant one for 1. May. There were a lot of high clouds but the sun ignored them and shone fairly brightly on all who happened to be out in the city taking advantage of the various parades trooping around. Best of all, it was about 28 degrees, or about 82 'anglograd.'

Today has strewn about the same amount of brightness over the landscape and it has been nicely warm. This will end at exactly noon tomorrow when a bright morning will give way to somewhat more shrouded skies, sending the temperature down to 21 degrees.

The slide continues, according to tonight's TV–weather news forecast. This morning's prediction in Le Parisien was even worse, with all sorts of confused muck, and near unanimity for the temperature – 17 or 16 degrees. All the same I noted 'semi–sunny' on their map for Wednesday.

By Thursday the paper's weather map is worthless with scribbles all over it. TV's maps were pretty similar, but the weather Joe said something to make me think it might be partly sunny for part of the day. In the temperature department things probably won't get much above 16 degrees. Of course, if everything is off by four hours or 500 kilometres, then we may have 18 degrees, but don't count on it.

Meanwhile on the left side of the Atlantic, Jim Auman provides a timely and concise meteorologicalphoto, pont royal report from a high point in New Jersey concerning all of the continent that can be seen from Far Rockaway, from Tuesday through Thursday, almost like here.

Tendeuses à Gaz

Sitting at the spot on top of the first ridge of the Watchung Mountains where George Washington observed the British navy in New York harbor during the Revolutionary War, the weather of La Grosse Pommeland, including the distant and exotic stretch known as Far Rockaway which is reached by the fabulous and legendary 'A' train is easily observed. Pluviôse returned on Wednesday as well as this weekend. Temperatures on Wednesday were around 55 anglograd – 13 eurograd – and did not rise much more on Thursday and Friday where the sun played hide and seek with the clouds and Ventôse wrestled with Germinal. Because of the rain, it is also le temps des tendeuses à gazon, a concept which is very English, especially for 'les gentlemen anglaises.' Whether it is translatable into French is another question.

Translation note:– Obviously the Internet has scrambled a crucial word between here and New Jersey, and 'tendeuses' might be more correct if rendered as 'tondeuses,' and 'gazon' is of course, grass, which needs cutting on account of the ample rains provided by Pluviôse.

Café Life

May Day

Yesterday, Sunday, 1 May, the weather was very co–operative. It was only half–sunny but the temperature was supposed to be 28 degrees and this is what it felt like. But on the Métro ride to the CGT's parade launch at the Place de la République it didn't seem as if many working folks as usual were aiming for it.

There were four parades give or take one or two. The fascists are always in the streets in the morning on Mayday, but they keep to the Rue de Rivoli and go along to dishonor Jeanne d'Arc's statue before holding their usual harangue at the Opéra. The FN's leader predicted 20,000 faithful, but there were no more than 3500 in front of the Opéra.

The CFTC held their parade in the morning too, starting at Montparnasse, and I think the FO had their parade in thephoto, statue jeanne d'arc morning, starting at Bastille. The CFDT chose to wait until 17:00 before setting out from Place Blanche with République as their destination. Therefore it was easily possible to take part in multiple parades, for the extra energetic. In all there were 130 parades throughout France yesterday.

Statue of Jeanne d'Arc facing the Rue de Rivoli.

Very shortly after launch time at 14:30 the biggest parade was slowly winding down the Boulevard Voltaire. Leading it were a group protesting against the 116th day of captivity in Iraq for Libération journalist Florence Aubenas and her guide, Hussein Hanoun al–Saadi.

The point was followed by the CGT's leaders, including the union's national secretary, Bernard Thibault, plus a representative from Germany's DGB, and other notables, with the usual union gorillas to clear the way who brushed me off a centre–street lamp post.

From my spot on the kilometre pavement between Oberkampf and Boulets it was impossible to tell how many were taking part in the parade. The police presence was slight and no RATP agents were in sight. Estimates in today's papers suggested there were 9–15,000, many less than in past years.

Many of the posters stuck up, illegally, along the route urged a 'non' vote for the European Constitution. This was the message of the day even if all unions are not officially against the new Constitution.

As is common there were many working people taking part in the parade, often with signs identifying their employers. Other signs denounced the attacks on the 35–hour work week, the situation in the Middle East, and various other ongoing conflicts. There were posters for a group on an advanced hunger strike, demanding residence papers. These were mentioned on the radio news Sunday morning.

Despite the small turnout the ambiance was festive. There were the usual wildcat snack stands with burning sausages, and the usual audio equipment with the powerful amplifiers. If asked, I would say many of the sloganeering singers were better this year.

The Monday national holiday of Pentecôte on 16. May has been abolished by the Prime Minister. This is supposed to be for solidarity with old folks, but many here think it is a government–inspired rip–off, costing everybody a free day. Many intend to avoid work or strike on this day. Others intend to go to the long–scheduled bullfights in Nîmes which always has its Feria on this long weekend.

Meanwhile, opinion polling goes on feverishly in an attempt to decipher the mood of the country about the vote for or against the adoption of the European Constitution. The latest polls have hinted that the intention to vote 'non' is losing ground and the 'yes' vote is progressing. Both are hovering around 50 percent, with the 'non' losing its slight edge. This vote will take place on Sunday, 29. May.

Fait du Cinéma

While I am thinking of finishing this issue I am putting it off by watching a little television, because this film is showing a clochard in a park picking fleas out of his pet poodle. The dog goes off and then the clochard starts looking for it. Then a blonde shows up and asks a policeman if he's seen her dog, a red–haired Chihuahua. As I'm wondering what's going to happen when the clochard mistakes his big black poodle for a Chihuahua, the scene switches to the interior of a bookshop.

Near the head of the May Day parade in the Boulevard Voltaire.
Continued on page 2...
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