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Cult, Pope, Golf

photo, rue de buci

Other quiet days on the Left Bank.

Morning, Noon, Night

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 9. May 2005:– Some weeks it seems amazing to me that it's Monday again already and time for the weather news even though it goes on all the time non–stop and there isn't anything I can do about it, regardless of whether the forecast here is right or wrong. With no prediction the weather will happen anyhow.

But countless readers have said they care. I don't understand this fascination with weather news in Paris. There's nothing much special about it. Even if it's cloudy and raining sunrise will still be 06:19 and it will set 14 hours and 57 minutes later, at 21:16, rain or shine.

But in fact it is not likely to be raining tomorrow because it will be partly or mostly semi–sunny, with a considerable amount of thin clouds that may turn out to be quite transparent. The high temperature won't be much more than 15 degrees, which New York should beat handily.

On Wednesday with the temperature locked on 15, it is supposed to be a mostly sunny day, with some wind up north blowing offshore at about 60 kph. In New York it may feel humid with 21 degrees, and there might be some thunder in the afternoon with maybe showers too.

Just about all of southern France will be cloudy on Thursday and if it doesn't push too far north it will remain mainly sunny here, with that sneaky little wind again up north, and the temperature will begin its climb out of the cellar, maybe reaching 19 degrees. While there may be more showers, New York should have 4 degrees more again.

Now suppose all of this is completely wrong, which means everything opposite happens. Suppose the nightphoto, palm, luxembourg happens during the day, the moon comes out instead of the sun, the wind blows the other way, and the temperatures are different. You are right! Not a fat lot of difference, is there?

When the palms return to Luxembourg can summer be far off?

Over on the left side of the Atlantic, Jim Auman provides a contemporary and concise meteoro– logical report from some point in New Jersey concerning all of the continent that can be seen from around Hoboken, from Tuesday through Thursday, almost like here.

Frimaire Still Boss

Frimaire returned to La Grosse Pommeland on Thursday night and tried to give one last embrace to Pommeland before heading north to the lands beyond the Saint–Lawrence River. Still, he has been with us during the days as the temperatures reached only the low to mid 60's anglograd – about 15 eurograd. Temperatures should be about 68 anglograd – 20 eurograd – but Frimaire is still bossing the thermometer about. Les grandes chaleurs will come soon enough to Pommeland.

Café Life

Monday Afternoon

In the café a horseplayer barks at a customer who is standing too close to his betting tickets. Anotherphoto, ile de la cite, pont neuf customer decides to slot himself in between me and a lady on a stool, and I feel like the horseplayer. He hands in his tickets and they come to 127€ so he takes them back and tosses out some of the longer odds. The sun shining on the terrace seeps into the café, adding a still air of Monday afternoon drowse.

Doesn't anybody ever work in this town?

Two American ladies, one about 35 and the other maybe 60, are dragging their big cases on rollers up the Rue Daguerre, past the bicycles, trash bins and parked scooters. Two Joes in conversation, in relaxed stances, their hands in their pockets, roll down the slight decline on skateboards followed by a car in no hurry. If the road surface were dirt, there would be boules players.

Too bad the accordion shop is closed. There is no music in the air and it doesn't smell, not even of baguettes going past the boulangerie. The two American ladies get past the dim Bistro 48 and sight their hotel. One, out of breath, says "Hey!"

A door beyond it, under a parasol in front of the Baghdad café, a young lady is waving around the pipe stem of a tall, leaning hookah sitting on the sidewalk. A painted a scene of the languid Bosphorus on the wall of the employment bureau for managers across the street wouldn't be out of place.

Cult Car

In case you were thinking our culture is still based in the 5th century, or the 18th or 19th – after all the world got a new Pope a couple of weeks ago and they are having a new monkey trial in Kansas – well, Bud, forget it! We are squarely in the 21st century and all those who want to set their clocks back to some never–was 'reality' time are not going to wind up with anything except sore wrists.photo, sailboat, luxembourg pool

The day after the new Pope, Benoît XVI, gave his first blessing to the faithful in Saint–Peter's a young man aged 21 by the name of Benjamin Halbe decided to sell his car. He contacted eBay Germany and offered the car, a 1999 Golf IV, for an opening bid of 9999 euros. At the end of the first day of bidding the offer stood at 62,500 euros, after 3.8 million visitors had clicked on to the Web site.

Part of a citizens' regatta in the Luxembourg.

Mr. Halbe had not had the car long. He bought it in January for 10,000€ second–hand from the Volkswagen dealer in Olpe, just east of Cologne, which had sold it to the original owner. It had 75,000 kilometres on the original motor, the 85 hp version, four doors, standard transmission, and all the options including an anti–theft system.

When Mr. Halbe bought the Golf the dealer, Kurt Schneider, told him that the car ran with 'divine benediction.' Only afterwards did Mr. Halbe learn that the first owner was none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected Pope on Tuesday, 19. April. Address on the original sales slip, '00120 Citta del Vaticano.'

The Golf showed up on eBay Germany on Monday, 25 April, with the headline, 'PAPST GOLF !!! KULTAUTO !!!' In addition to a very detailed description of the object – 'still with original seats!' – there was an image of the original sales slip and a mention of authenticity. Spoofers were warned against joking too.

In the 24 hours before the deadline on Thursday, Daphne Rauch of eBay Germany told Reuters that the bids had doubled. By the time the dust settled eBay had 227 firm bids, and the car went to the highest, which was 188,938.88 euros. Thursday was Ascension Day, the date was 05.05.05, a date that only happens only once in a thousand years, and the week's fifth day – only happens once in 7000 years, according to Jim Auman.

According to eBay's page for the sale, the buyer was a certain 'Golden Palace Casino' located somewherephoto montage, not the popewagon in the Internet. Ms Rauch said the buyer was known to eBay for bidding on strange items, but they have to come and pick up the car.

It is not known if the Pope ever drove the car when he was Cardinal. He has lived at the Vatican for 20 years before his elevation and wasn't known to drive.

Not the Pope's Golf.

Reports said Mr. Halbe followed the bidding on a portable from a hospital where he was being treated for an upset stomach. He told reporters that the first thing he was going to do was buy another car and then go on holidays. As of Saturday, eBay's 'kultauto' page had received 9.4 million visitors. Not bad for a car that might not have ever been driven on Sundays.

Fake Contest

A TV–news report about the Pope's Golf showed a gent washing a dark blue car, so I went out and snapped one. Only later did I discover that it should have been silver or metallic grey. So, the photo is not of the Pope's Golf, and I cleaned the bird droppings off it. To add a German touch I placed the false Golf in front of a real Turkish grocery shop, shot in Berlin Kreuzberg, about 1974. There is something fundamentally wrong with the above fake photo montage. What is it? The first right answer will get a real but modest prize.

Uncle Den–Den Rents

The Daguerrèotypistas' favorite Uncle Den–Den is going to an important graduation party, leaving his apartment behind. In Montparnasse at the top of five flights of walk–up stairs, it's a one–bedroom affair with kitchen and bath, without TV. Free for three weeks from 2. June until 21. June. Write to 'Ed' who will forward. Uncle Den–Den will reply with a snazzy info–photo.

Headline of the Week

There were few striking headlines of the week in Le Parisien and none more confused than today's 'Qui va faire quoi.' This is about next Monday's disappeared holiday of Pentecôte, the day of solidarity with France's old folks.

Everybody is supposed to work on this national 'day off' and the tax revenue from it is supposed to go into a big fund to buy air conditioners before the next killer heatwave. Instead, some of the French feel that the government has no business decreeing when they have to give up a statutory holiday and work for nothing. The Germans have been doing it for ten years but this just doesn't impress the French.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last Thursday's club meeting came out as 'A Smell of Frites' in the report. The smell was faint and out on the street while inside the café a gang of us lounged around whiling away an afternoon, spinning out a meeting with the windows open, until it was time to go on to other things, elsewhere in the evening of Paris.

The next Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on a Thursday, around the same time as every week. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Achille. This 'Saint of the Week' – Greek for 'nice lips' – was a Homeric character, but also the bishop of Thessaloniki who helped out with the Council of Nicaea in 325, and ended up in Bulgaria.

More, somewhat different but vague facts about the club are on view on the 'About the Club' page. The ragged design of the club membership card on this page looks as much like a membership card as any other expired Orange card, but it isn't. Entirely free, the club membership itself is virtually real, except when you join in person on any Thursday.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.19 – 3. May 2004 – this issue's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'The Kazoo Race – Too Big To Understand.' The week's 'Feature of the Week' concerned, 'May Day 2004 – Four Parades Instead of One.' The other 'Feature of the Week,' about the terrific slogan contest, was titled 'And Now for the Winners! – of the Bumper–Sticker Slogan Contest.' There was a repeat Scène column with the title, 'Par Amour de l'Art, and Thread Trips.' The update for the 6. May meeting of the Caféphoto, sign, avenue du general lemonnier Metropole Club heralded the "That's Only a Truck–stop!" report. There were four full–zen 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was a breath of air about 'Air, Spring Air!'

This Was Metropole Three Years Ago

Issue 7.19 – 6. May 2002 – in this issue the Café Metropole column was about 'No 'Good Old Days' for Paris.' The week's Au Bistro column screamed 'Election – France Wins!' The single feature's headline was, 'Parisians Vote for May Day 2002, Massively.' The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 9. May was handled as the 'Best Friends' Plus One, Minus One' report. There were four average zen–cool 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week lit up the page with, "Emigrate to Canada?"

A Little Cryptohistory

For the tenth time almost in a row, this is not about some dusty old saint, but instead is a true myth. Thisphoto, sign, wooden board, non date in 1905 is not the anniversary of the first Mother's Day, but of the original mother, Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis. She promoted pacifism and social activism, but it was her daughter Anna Marie Jarvis who got Mother's Day put on the calendar in 1914. However the fun wore off and she campaigned against the commercialization of the day, blew her inheritance on it, and died broke and bitter, because lazy folks sent their moms printed cards instead of handwritten notes.

The World Goes To Pot

Today marks the founding of the city of Reno, Nevada, 137 very long years ago. Not to be outdone, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show opened in London a mere 19 years later. Jeanne d'Arc also led a gang that defeated the British who were besieging Orléans, but that was in a different century, in 1429. In the 20th century Johnny Logan won the fabled Eurovision Song Contest held in Brussels in 1987 with the smash hit, 'Hold Me Now.' Not to be trumped, Linda Martin singing in Malmö in 1992, won the same contest with the totally unforgettable, 'Why Me.' If Friedrich Schiller had been a songwriter, he would have turned over in his grave in 1805.

Remembering 9. May

In 1950 when Europe was still completely wrecked and still smoking, Robert Schuman made his modest proposal, which has more or less led over time to what we have now, the European Union and the cash, called the '€uro' for short. Schuman's declaration is generally knownphoto, sign, detail, luxembourg grille, 1867 as the 'Schuman declaration' today, but nobody is required to memorize or salute it.

Some Other 'Notable Dates of the Week'

There are only 236 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1502 when Cristoforo Colombo sailed away from Cadiz on his fourth and last trip to America or anywhere. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 129 days, the same number that 1754 had when the first political cartoon appeared in Benjamin Franklin's 'Pennsylvania Gazette.' It showed a sorry snake hacked in pieces, with the caption, "Join or Die."
signature, regards, ric

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