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Sans Culottes

photo, cafe d'orleans

Something new – cafés blast spray over the terrace.

Wild Water Music

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 20. June 2005:– The weather hint for this week is as follows – I have down–shifted from sans manches to the extreme condition of sans culottes. Mind you, this is in the privacy of the Metropole suite of offices. You won't see me on the street like this. Put quite simply, on the day before summer, it is hot hot hot.

Early this afternoon the official blinking green–cross pharmacy sign registered 33 degrees and the air was like warm toast. I went out, bought some liquid, came back and took my pants off and turned on the fan. My humble quarters in Montparnasse are as air conditioned as they are able to get.

About tomorrow, according to tonight's TV–weather news, it is supposed to be a high we're under, but it will start with thin cloud cover but which will give way to blue skies and blazing sun. The high temperature is only expected to be 27 degrees, but this is above normal.

Oops – correction. I have just re–done last Monday's weather by looking at the wrong weather maps in a week–old paper, instead of today's where I scribbled the new score. I thought something seemed familiar.

Tuesday will start out cloudy but it will get more sunny as the day goes on – no, it will be cloudy here, with sunny skies out west and to the east. I think it is going to be humid and the high will be 29 degrees.

On Wednesday the outlook is pretty simple with one big sunball over the whole country except for two clouds hovering over Alsace. The forecast temperature is expected to be 30 degrees. The same holds for Thursday, but with the clouds lying to the west and hanging over the Channel coast, and sunshine everywhere else. The thermometre takes another little popdown blip, down to 28 degrees.

Hmm, I could have left as it was. But the weather must be about to change because the scribbles have completely defaced Le Parisien's maps.

From the other side of the Atlantic Météo Jim sends an meltdown versionphoto, hot, drink, water of baked apples in the guise of a forecast. Caught without oven mitts here in weather central, here is Jim's report with the forecast this week:–

Midsummer's Day

The weather in Pommeland for the beginning of last week was in the loo. Thermidor arrived, bringing with it the first canicule of the season. Temperatures were in the mid to upper 90's anglograd – 35+ eurograd. The weather began to cool off on Wednesday with the arrival of Vendémiaire temperatures. Sunday, la Fête des Pères, was cloudy with un–Messidor temperatures of 70 anglograd – 21 eurograd. The rest of the week, including Midsummer's Day, will be partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid 80's anglograd – 26 eurograd.

Café Life

Wild Water Music

This didn't start out to be much of an issue, and it is turning out to be even less than I thought it would be this morning. I have let the Scène columns slide by a week or two and when I came to do them I was surprised to find that there are a lot of new items. This is in addition to all the standard summer items that come along every year at this time. Anyhow, these are two columns that I worked on but haven't finished yet.

And, as I mention above, it is warm here. So long as it doesn't go above 40 degrees I am not going to say it's hot. But it does nothing to keep me from feeling like I've been sitting in a puddle all day long, with my glasses slipping down my nose.

Yeah, well, it isn't much of a nose and the glasses are old and loose. I should get a rubber band and rig up some sort of support. But I should really lie down and maybe they'll stay where they are.

On Saturday it was a couple of degrees less and I went over to the Parc Andre Citroën in the 15th arrondissement to see how the kids were making out in the water jets there. In my kid days there were lawn sprinklers and on hot days we used to go nuts running around on the grass and through the water spraying from the sprinklers. It was good cheap fun.

When they landscaped the Citroën park they put up two very big greenhouses and on a concrete platform between them water jets were installed, along with signs saying 'don't mess with the jets.'

Don't do this, don't do that, don't walk on the grass, keep out of the fountain, are all little pea–brained European no–nos. When I first came here everybody used to read these signs and do what they were told. We were allowed to look at the grass but not to touch.

But these days there just doesn't seem to be the manpower or the determination to enforce all the 'interdictions.' Whenphoto, car, cafe daguerre the sun comes out and the temperature gets above freezing a couple of thousand folks and their kids, their grannies and their babies, all bop over to the site of the old Citroën factory and lie on the grass, and leap around like lunatics in the water jets.

All the terraces are full night and day.

Oh, it must be fun. The water jets upwards with varying force, according to some program that runs the pumps. At times there is no water and sometimes it just bubbles up, and then it shoots up in three–metre high gobs, drops back to a spray of one metre, gushing in random spurts.

Surrounding there is lots of terrace where moms can watch their offspring caper about, water flies everywhere, and there doesn't seem to be any management around. There isn't a pool around without its water police, but here it looks like total anarchy. Best of all, it's open all the time and it's free.

That's it. This goes online and I go to nodland, maybe to get back here and get those Scène columns online. One item – when you read this, if it's tomorrow, it's the Fête de la Musique all day. Because it's the first day of summer. At last.

Soldes d'Ete Soon

Usual or not, the summer sales announced to begin next Friday, 24. June and continue until about Saturday, 23. July, are still scheduled. It just goes to show that if you can't afford the full price for a tiny bikini there must be less to it for more than meets the eye.

Rio de Bastille II

Wednesday, 13 July, is the eve of 'Bastille Day' and the star guest at big fête at the Bastille will be Gilberto Gil, Brazil's musical ambassador and current Minister of Culture.

Headline of the Week

The most optimistic of Le Parisien's headlines of the week was last Monday's 'Le grand bonheur.'photo, water jets, parc andre citroen This refers to the great news about the release of Libération journalist Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi guide, Hussein Hanoun, after being held captive for 157 days.

Wet paradise for kids in the 15th.

There might have been a small mixup when Hussein was left behind in Baghdad – not a safe place – but by last week he was in Paris, and yesterday the two ex–captives were at Le Bourget looking at the A380. Actually, Hussein, an ex–Mirage pilot, was very interested in the latest French fighter, the Rafale.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last Thursday's club meeting report was based solidly on the declaration, "France Is Out of Order!." As much as Président Chirac may think so these days, this really refers to the daily adventures one can have with things that don't work and things that do work when you don't expect them to. It's a random design for living, nothing personal against Europe.

The Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on next Thursday once again, like unusual inphoto, cafe rendez vous France. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Sainte–Audrey. This 'Saint of the Week' was the daughter of the King of East Anglia in the 7th century. Audrey is famous for practicing chastity after marrying a Scottish prince. On being widowed she became an abbess in order to avoid getting married again.

Confused facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page should you care to look. The awful design of the club membership card on the page looks as much like a membership card as any other laundry ticket, but it isn't. Absolutely free, the club membership itself is virtual, virtually priceless, all without actually being worth anything much.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.25 – 16. June 2003 – this week's Café Metropole column had the headline, 'Bloomsday In the 14th.' The Au Bistro column's title was, in only 4 words, 'France Wins NBA Championship.' The 'Feature of the Week' was titled, 'Sacré Job! – Seeing Marguerite at the Agri–Village.' Then readers could hop, or skip to the Scène column with the title, 'Highlights for Rest of June, All July.' The update for the 19. June meeting of the Café Metropole Club was called the 'Elvis Costello is Not a Club Member, Yet' report. There were four ratherphoto, sign, rue de la montagne de la fage simple 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was direct from tomorrow with a sing–a–long caption like, 'Fêtards de la Musique.'

This Was Metropole Three Years Ago

Issue 7.25 – 17. June 2002 – this issue's Café Metropole column was bang–on topical with, 'Grilling Like Sardines.' The 'Feature of the Week' was titled 'Anything for a Photo – The Non–Feature of the Week.' The 'Hotel VW' was the title of an email from Jim Auman, Metropole's Pommeland weather merchant. The Scène column was headlined 'Huge Hugo Marathon. The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 20. June was hailed by the secretary as the 'Forgotten Tab' report. There were four mostly wonderful 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was extra 'scientific' with 'Chute de Météorites.'

Light as a Soufflé

For the 16th time almost in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but instead is a true 'Quote of the Week' again. Blaise Pascal, possibly speaking in French, said, "True eloquence makes light of eloquence, true morality makes light of morality... To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher." Especially if they are well–fed too.

If the Past Is Any Indication

According to 'Météo' Jim, Saturday was an anniversary of note. He wrote, "[It] marked the 190th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, which was famous for its equal opportunity of giving new phrases to the French and English languages.photo, sign, bibliotheque gutenberg For the French, it marked the start of 'le mot de Cambronne.' As the battle wound down on the evening of June 18, a final detachment of French troops held out against the English. The English poured volley after volley into the French ranks which could only respond with a few musket shots. Finally, the English commander yelled out, 'Braves Francais, rendez vous!' To which the French commander, General Cambronne thundered back, 'Merde!' There was one last roar of English cannon and the last remnant of Napoleon's army was finished. But not quite. There was one French survivor of that engagement – General Cambronne, whose bravery – stupidity – gave the French language another stirring and immortal phrase."

For true history fans it should not go unnoted that a contemporary battle will be commemorated beginning on Tuesday, 28. June, in Portsmouth in the south of Britain. Being remembered is the Battle of Trafalger, 200 years ago on 21. October, which was masterminded by Nelson, and bungled by the French and Spanish fleets. Lacking the original cast, scenes of the battle will be restaged without being reenacted. Expected are 110 ships from various navies, 30 big sailing ships, and 30,000 lesser craft – more than enough to replay Dunkirk. The French navy intends to send at least one submarine.

More Pantless

Today marks the anniversary of the sans culottes marching to the Palais des Tuileries in 1792, led by a brewer named Santerre from the Faubourg Saint–Antoine. The Parisians wanted the king to veto some things they didn't like, but wearing a revolutionary bonnet and drinking to the health of the nation, citizen Bourbon refused. The Parisians mulled it over for a month and then returned to attack the palace.

Can't Get Enough Tennis

On this date in 1789 King Louisphoto, duck family annoyed the deputies of the Third Estate of the Estates–General by locking them out of their meeting hall, the 'Menus Plaisirs.' On account of rain they met instead in a nearby indoor tennis court, where 577 of them took a solemn oath to continue their meeting until a constitution was written. One deputy, perhaps hungry, refused. It was the oath itself – the 'Tennis Court Oath' – that was considered a revolutionary act. It was the beginning of the end of the absolute monarchy.

Other, Slightly 'Dubious Dates of the Week'

There are only 194 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1791 when King Louis XVI attempted to leave France for good, but didn't make it. The date of 20. June couldn't have been one of his favorites. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 171 days, the same number that 451 had when Attila was defeated at, possibly, Châlons–en–Champagne. Not one to dither, he then attacked Italy the following year.
signature, regards, ric

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