horz line

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 20 million 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.

And except for me, everybody has read Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code.' I found a copy in my library the other day and borrowed it. Nobody bothered to mention that it is so poorly written that it is an agony to read. I have heard that it's a page–turner. I'm going to turn from page 20 to page 588, and then I'm going to skip the epilogue, the movie when it comes, and its sequel too.

Sunday, 5. June

There is to be some sort of 'grande fête sportive' on the Champs–Elysées on this day, to have something to do with Paris' bid for the summer Olympics in 2012. Yesterday morning they were filming a cast of thousands in costumes capering around the Arc de Triomphe, possibly as a preview of a Parisian reaction to getting the games – but more likely as a sort of commercial for the city's bid.

Soldes d'Ete

As is becoming usual the summer sales announced to begin Friday, 24. June and continue until about Saturday, 23. July don't suit everybody. It just goes to show that if it takes more than four weeks to find a tiny bikini there must be more to it than meets the eye.

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

One of the Le Parisien's snappier headlines of the week is today's 'Ils ne parlent que de ça.' We, the Daguerréotypistas, them, everybody is talking about the referendumphoto, line mckie for the European Constitution, which is to take place six days from now. Polls still show the 'nons' with a slight majority but the undecided are an unknown factor.

Sold boxes of painted oyster shells on Sunday for 'Open Doors' in the 14th arrondissement, Line McKie.

Big guns come out this week when the man Newsweek International in its 23. May edition calls 'Europe's Weakest Link' will appear on TV to try and convince the French that we are not suffering from 'delusions of grandeur.' The vote isn't about Jacques Chirac. It's about Europe and the future. It doesn't matter if it's incomprehensible because we're going there anyway.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last Thursday's club meeting report was partly based on new member Rob Blasdel's 'Quote of the Week,' "Hey, That's My Bike!" He said this is something to yell in Amsterdam if you want to see a bunch of bike riders leap off their bikes and hide from the local bike dicks.

The coming Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on a Thursday once again. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' is expected to be Saint–Béranger. This 'Saint of the Week' was a monk in the Benedictine abbey of Saint–Papoul, near Carcassonne. When he died in 1093 he was famous as a 'thaumaturge,' which concerns miracles.

Other, really vague and confused facts about the club can be consulted on the 'About the Club' page. The sketchy design of the club membership card on this page looks as unlike a membership card as any other treasure map of Cristobel, and it isn't. Basically free, the club membership itself is virtually valuable, without actually being hereditary.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.21 – 17. May – the week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'May Bursts Out, Freaks, Montparnos, Sunlight.' The Au Bistro column's headline was, 'Difficult Partners,' a New Campus in Town.' The 'Feature of the Week' was headlined 'Here's the Winner! – of the Bumper–Sticker Slogan Contest.' There was a double–repeat Scène column with the title, 'Par Amour de l'Art, and Thread Trips,' yet again. The update for the 20. May meeting of the Café Metropole Club was called the 'Geopolitical Meeting' report. There werephoto, sign, flagstone, la pomme de pin four routine 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was straight from the cartoon graveyard with a caption like, 'You Call this a Caption?'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.21 – 19. May 2003 – this week's issue the Café Metropole column was topical with, 'Revenge Weather.' The Au Bistro column wasted no more words than the week before with 'In 6 words: 'Don't Miss 'Dimanche Noir' on 25. May.' The sole feature's headline was, 'Rail Days – Wheels of Steel.' The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 22. May was titled as, "I Need Help from an Expert" report. There were four average 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was 'social' again with, "42 Years? Let's Strike!"

A Bit of Rude History

For the 12th time almost in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but instead is a truephoto, sign, stone, ecce mater tua historical story. On today's date in 1430 Jeanne d'Arc, who had helped liberate Orléans, was herself captured on her way to Compiègne by a weasel of a Burgundian named Jean de Luxembourg who sold her to Les Anglais for 10,000 lousy livres. Jeanne was tried by the Inquisition at Rouen without a defense attorney and found guilty of heresy, and burned at the stake until dead in 1431. Luckily she was exonerated 25 years later.

If the Past Is Any Indication

Today marks the birth, in 1052, of the firstly–named King of France, Philippe 1st. His Russian mom gave him this Greek name, because people were so well–educated at the time. Philippe became king at 7, but his mom ruled until he was 14. This king, named 'lover of horses,' married Bertha but fell in love with Bertrade de Montfort, Count Fulk IV of Anjou's wife. When he married Bertrade in 1092 he was excommunicated by the bishop of Lyon, Hugh. Philippe ignored this and Pope Urban II excommunicated him again. Several times when Philippe said he would abandon Bertrade, the excommunication was lifted. In 1104 the Pope gave up. Philippe did not support the first crusade in 1095 because of his tiff with Urban, but his brother Hugh de Vermandois went.photo, sculpture, madonna When Philippe died in 1108 he was not buried in Saint–Denis.

Venus de Milo

Another birthday today for explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville who would be 215 years old had he not died prematurely in 1842. Jules is mainly famous for spying a valuable statue while exploring some Greek islands in 1820. He immediately saw that it had been made around 130 BC so he 'arranged' for the French government to acquire it for the Louvre. For his other exploits Jules is not quite so famous.

Other, Less 'Notable Dates of the Week'

There are only 222 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1795 when Benjamin Franklin invented bifocal glasses. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 143 days, the same number that 1949 had when the Federal Republic of Germany was established. Or the same number that 2003 had when the euro began to annoy everybody by exceeding the dollar in worth.
signature, regards, ric

horz line
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini