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Trival Grumble

photo, brasserie en l'isle

The tired, the hungry, the plain lazy, last Friday.

A Month of It Left

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 23. May 2005:– I've been away from my window on the weather world, away from my TV screen. On account of the leaves on the trees outside the real window all I can only see is a green hell, a jungle with some birds flitting around, and I have to bend down a bit and look up to see if there's any sky. But it's not until I go out that I can tell what's really happening. Outside says, we have surprising weather for you today.

And sure enough, it's almost warm and there are breezes blowing around, and the sun peeps out and when it doesn't it's still almost warm except around midnight – and I guess, early in the morning. It's not as warm as it was for a while back there in March, but it's warmer than an average spring and there's still a month of it left.

Tonight's TV–weather news started off with a disappointing forecast for Tuesday. Veiled skies in the morning did not give away for a sunny afternoon, but to more veiled skies. Down south they'll have a very clear, blue day. Here our high temperature will be 19 degrees, and a 60 kph wind will be hauling up the Channel.

Showtime happened to Wednesday's weather map. They showed one big sunball shining in an all blue sky for just about all of France. Small white clouds will be rare and the temperature prediction is for a high of 25 degrees.

Except for a few clouds in the northwest up along the Channel, this forecast holds for Thursday. The temperature is supposed to be up around 27 degrees too. But don't go away. Forphoto, times square, popcorn Friday, Le Parisien's weather map continues the good news with nearly as much sunshine forecast, and a high temperature of 29 'eurograds' – or 82 'anglograds.'

Popcorn in Times Square. Photo: Jim Auman.

From the left side of the Atlantic Jim Auman sends an eyewitness view of weather in Times Square with a closeup detail showing what Manhattanites use to ward off tropical amounts of Pluviôse, namely buckets–full of 'le maize qui saute.' Without mentioning that it may not be sunny in New York until Thursday, here is Jim's report:–

Pluviôse Re–Run

Times Square bathed in warm May light a few hours before the rains came and played hide and seek to crown La Grosse Pomme with a magnificent rainbow. Pluviôse has returned with temperatures in the upper 50's anglograd – 13–14 degrees eurograd – for most of next week. But in keeping with the mood set by Baudelaire, it is not a rainy, spleen– filled rain, rather, it is a spitful on–and–off week best described by France's neighbor to the east as, es spritzt.

Café Life

Trivial Grumble

There are French parents who try to totally insulate their kids from insane commercialization, mindless TV, trash music and books. Their kids even wear different clothes – like ordinary shirts and pants. One can wonder where the hell they find them.

As an adult with limited TV access – just the basic five channels – and less patience with the programming, it is perfectly easy to overlook commercial hoopla along the lines of last week'sphoto, rue cloche perce Paris launch of 'Star Wars III.' One night's TV–news showed a costume party at the Rex cinema and I wondered what the occasion was. Halloween in May? Then George Lucas got the Cannes treatment and it was all clear. But it is not at all clear because my memory of 'Star Wars I' is dim, compared to, say, 'American Graffiti.'

The short and old Rue Cloche Perce.

Concurrently Arte–TV has been showing, and shows during Saturday night prime–time, science documentaries. They had a six–week series about evolution recently. Listen! I am not a science fan or in love with documentaries, but this is high–class interesting stuff compared to the so–called 'entertainment' on the other channels. Halfwits applauding other halfwits.

I used to think the French parents who tried to shield their kids from 'funky western civilization' were doing them a disservice. Trivia is important, I think, because it fills up obscure corners of the brain with useless fluff. Can you imagine what a brain might be like without any of this? What's the kid going to talk about in the poolhall? This goes on all through life.

It does not fail to amaze me that I meet people now – yes, even in Paris! – who read the same comic books as I did. The amazing part is that back then I didn't know anyone else who read the same comic books. In fact, they didn't read anything. If they hadn't been EC Comics, I would say now that I must have been a nerd. Almost needless to say, I have no ideaphoto, passage st paul where those people are now, but imagine that their memories are impoverished.

The French have no hope of stopping the tidal wave of commercial junk Those that can want to get in on the bonanza, get French stuff right up there and rake in the moola. Who can blame them?

The obscure Passage Saint–Paul.

But there's so much being produced, and there's all the stuff – a lot of it very good – that is less than blockbuster material. Go to any bookshop and look at the flood of titles. One in a hundred or one in five hundred may become a best–seller, gain a cult following, become a worldwide conglomo. The other 499 have their modest sales, and end up as discount wares.

A new trend, not just here but everywhere, is the personification of nothing. Do you have a portable phone? If so you need a personalized ding–a–ling for it, a bit of soft porn for its mini–screen and maybe an add–on tranquilizer dispenser. Almost better yet, get a subscription to an online game and don't forget to sign up for the SMS service. If you don't get many actual phone calls, you can pay for lots of other stuff.

In a way, in comparison, the online game parlors are honest graft. You pay for what you get and when you pass these places they are full of game players, like the dim poolhalls of the past. In the old days, 'they' were up to no good in there. But now? They probably don't even get tips about how to steal bikes.

Back to Arte's evolution series. There was one about whales. Some scientists have a hunch that whales used to be birds. They left the sky because the water was safer. I forget what they said happened to make the dinosaurs disappear, but it was many millions of years ago. Maybe the dinosaurs became birds, and then gradually changed into whales.

Compared to a new ding–a–ling for my portable phone, the story of evolution is trulyphoto, les boites a rues, jean lin lartigue interesting. According to triumphant statistics here there are only about 20million in France without portable phones. Subtract babies, folks in jail, hospitals or the armed forces, and everybody above 65, and all the rest have phones. Except me.

Detail from 'Les Boîtes à Rues,' by Jean–Lin Lartigue.
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