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Noise On Holiday

photo, cafe tours notre dame

A short stone's throw from Notre Dame.

In Honor of Nothing

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 4. July 2005:– Thank you for inviting me back into your homes for the weather forecast from Paris which is again more normal that it was last week. The temperature finally got around to making its dive, after many hesitations, and at noon today by the hyper accurate pharmacy sign, it was 19 degrees.

The temperature staggered many times during the week but had great difficulty to get below 20 degrees. It just goes to show that if enough people complain that it is too hot and humid here, something really happens in its own sweet time.

Or, maybe because it's July. Whatever the reason I can now say the coming weather, for the next three days, will be super normal. For tomorrow there will be a lot of clouds and maybe some – maybe quite a lot of, of sunshine. This you can probably ignore because the temperature will probably not be more than 20 degrees;

Wednesday will be at least half–cloudy, for possibly the whole day, or very cloudy for part of the day. Tonight's TV–weather news map was a bit too confusing to sum up here in 25 words or less so I won't. Suffice to note that the temperature isn't supposed to exceed 19 degrees.

The day after, Thursday, should be pretty much the same except that it might be two–thirds cloudy, most likely for most of the day. Again the maps were confusing, but with the prediction of a new low high, of 18 degrees. This might not be the weather you were hoping for, and we certainly weren't petitioning for it, and I won't even guarantee lack of vapeurs. photo, moma, revolutionary spikes, foto j auman

A revolutionary vision at MoMA in New York. Photo: Jim Auman

From across the Atlantic Météo Jim sends a long version of steamed apples in the guise of a recipe for tall tomatoes, er, weather. Although not inappropriate, here is Jim's capsule history as a substitute this week:–

Les Vapeurs de Pommeland

Pommeland during the Revolution was occupied by the Redcoats from Angloland à la vapeur for almost the entire war – from August 1776 until November of 1783. Pommeland was put under martial law, run successively by Generals Howe, Clinton and Sir Carleton. General Howe's motto "Toujours de la gaieté" made the English generals, rich Tories and escaped slaves happy but it did nothing for the British soldiers and the poor Tories. Inadvertently, his motto helped the American rebels. Howe was too engrossed in his immediate pleasures to come to the aid, as he agreed, of General Burgoyne coming from Montreal in his attempt to split New England from the rest of the colonies. This resulted in Burgoyne's loss at the Battle of Saratoga and the subsequent entry by the French into the American Revolution. It resulted in France's bankruptcy which in turn led to the convening of the Third Estate and the storming of the near–empty Bastille, for which the fête is ten days from now.

Café Life

Noise On Holiday

When I first woke up on Saturday I thought it was the middle of the night because it was so quiet. When I becamephoto, photo expo, luxembourg conscious again around noon it was still quiet. Maybe, I thought, everybody has gone to the Gare Montparnasse and the police, fire and ambulance sirens have gone with them.

The Senat's photo show with Reporters Sans Frontieres.

I am not making this up. Sirens are nearly permanent threads in the tapestry of sound that passes for background ambiance here. The police are the worst, especially the dicks zooming around in civilian cars, racing to catch bandits with all their bells and whistles blaring. Everybody knows they've seen it on TV and they just showing off.

There they are in their big ugly commissariat around the corner and out they pile into their marked and unmarked cop cars and pop the blue bubbles on the roofs and hit the bells, charge across Maine's traffic and illegally park in front of the boulangerie while an armed flic pops in for a baguette to nibble on during the high–speed chase.

I mean, they could do this. There's a half–dozen hospitals around so their ambulances have to race between one and the other. Then there's the Santé prison over beyond the RER station and they need to turn on their sirens when they bring a prisoner in from a suburb or they are transferring one downtown to the Palais de Justice. When the courts close for the day they do it all in reverse.

Then when some hapless statesman visits and arrives second–class at Orly and if he or she is temporarilyphoto, hotel de ville important to France they get the limo treatment with the motorcycles, lights, and sirens. If you don't watch the evening news you'll never know who these people are because they're never going slow enough to sign autographs.

Paris' Hôtel de Ville, in its Olympic colors

As I say, all of this stopped sometime Friday night. Now the loudest noise is when they close the cemetery across the street. That must be some job! Imagine the highlight of your day being able to tweet your whistle, to herd the living out of the boneyard.

In Honor of Nothing

I was minding my own business on Sunday, listening to the quiet with the radio off, when a hellish noise nearly knocked my off my chair. I quickly recovered and picked up the phone and found myself listening to Uncle Den–Den invite me to a dinner in a hour. That would be 15:00 and kind of an odd time for dinner but like I said it was quiet, so I gathered all the books I'd borrowed and went over there.

Outside, the streets in the quartier have been closed so Sunday strollers can walk wide and in comfort. They must have done it already and gone home to have lunch and sleep it off because there was nobody stirring. Or maybe they went where the sirens went, in which case some streets were enjoying nobody walking on them.

At the top of five flights of polished stairs Dennis opened the door and I went in and found a small gathering of other Sunday refugees – live people! It was quickly pointed out to me that my shirt wasn't buttoned up evenly. I knew it started out like that but I thought I'd fixed it.

After the salad Dennis served carbonara number six. This is a thing with tubby pasta, no, pasta in tubes, with a couple of kilos of ground up Italian–style sausages, peas, and other Italian stuff in it. And it is inside these pasta tubes, and like three of them is a meal. But like Chinese stuff, everybody needed two helpings and some went for thirds. I think we were going at it for the taste.

If my memory serves this carbonara six was just as good as carbonara five and four before it. There's no use in fallingphoto, cheese plate in love with any of these carbonaras because the next one, seven, won't be exactly like the first six. And, according to Dennis, no use looking for it at the local pizzeria unless it is in Naples, and maybe not even every place there.

My Sunday cheese plate.

Then we sat around eating fruit and cheese and talking literature and theatre, and even a bit of movies, and the Marx Brothers of course, but not much. All the windows were open and the plants in pots by the windows kept on growing making hardly a sound and the music machine played some singer everybody knew but nobody could pin a name to.

Soldes d'Ete Now – The summer sales will continue until about Saturday, 23. July or maybe longer. Rio de Bastille IV – on 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 news Parisians were all waiting for showed up as a Le Parisien headline of the week last Friday. 'Vacances – Spécial départs' is probably identical to last year's on the same date, but the paper persisted with advice about how to wait for a train at a station, or a plane at an airport, or wait until somebody packs the car and finds a map showing the way to the first tollbooth on the autoroute.

And, assuming that there is a certain distraction in the air because of these grand departures, the paper also chose the same edition for telling its readers all about the traditional July price hikes. Okay! So you were in the car and you missed them, but the paper also has the schedule of the summer roadworks around Paris, and maybe you are now stuck in one of these roadblocks. Bon voyage!

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last Thursday's club meeting report headline was based entirely on the order, 'Buy this Fishing Rod!.' As this was the catch–phrase of a European–style joke, it had nothing to do with fishing, but there was aphoto, ric, schnapps, foto d carlson fishing rod and it still exists, far from Europe.

The weekly Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be this coming Thursday again, as regular as a calendar. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Sainte–Amandine. This 'Saint of the Week' was born in Belgium, became a Franciscan nun and was very happy as a missionary in China until becoming a martyr.

What did I think? I thought it was a hard baguette of course! Photo: Doug Carlson

Somewhat more inane notions about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page should you happen to glance that way. The slick design of the club membership card on the page looks as edgy as a membership card as any laundry ticket, but it isn't. Absolutely gratis, the club membership itself is pretty virtual, virtually cheap, all without actually being anything expensive.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.28 – 5. July 2004 – the issue had Café Metropole' to open, featuring the incredible, 'the Washing of Montmartre.' The Au Bistro column's headline was 'Then I Left Early, Rock Turns 50.' The Scène columns were two repeats. Laurel Avery was on hand with 'Paris Life No 47 – 'In a Dead Faint.' The update for the 8. July meeting of the Café Metropole Club was called the 'Talk of the Tour' report. Therephoto, sign, pont neuf were four mildly normal 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was direct from the recycle world with the caption, "It's the same!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.28 – 7. July 2003 – this week's Café Metropole column was ultra cool with, 'More Better Paris Plage.' The Au Bistro column shorted crime news in favor of 'Yet Another Six–Word 'News' Report.' The 'Feature of the Week' was titled 'Gone To the Dogs, for Lovers Only.' There were new Scène columns rather than cheap repeats. The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 10. July was headlined by the note–taker as the 'Osaka 'City of the Week' report. There were four hardly super 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was more folksie than a week earlier, with "Not Going to Norway!"

Coming Comedy Hour

For the 18th time almost in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but instead is a fake 'Quote of the Week.' Sir Humphrey, reciting a TV script from Yes, Minister, said, "We tried to break it up from the outside, but that wouldn't work. Now that we're inside we can make a complete pig's breakfast of the whole thing – set the Germans against the French, the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch. The Foreign Office is terribly pleased, it's just like old times."

If the Present Is Any Indication

Sitting around in the sunshine in Kaliningrad the other day Jacques Chirac was sharing a couplephoto, sign, soldes, summer sales of nips with Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schröder. Gerhard suggested the Russians and French get together and put on the Olympics together. "Sure wa can do it," Jacques said, "If Moscow wins." "That's how the French are," Gerhard said, "Always ready to compromise with my money." "I'll take the money," Jacques said, "Wherever I find it."

A Big Birthday

Today is the anniversary of the declaration of independence in the United States. In a meetingphoto, sign, flag, united states the Second Continental Congress resolved that Britain had declared war on its colonies. After creating a 'Continental Army' the congress sent an 'Olive Branch' petition to the crown, but George III refused to read it. In defiance American ports were reopened. Then on this date the congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. A little over six years later Britain recognized the declaration and the event is celebrated today with grilled beef and firecrackers, where legal, but not in Britain.

Advanced Patapsphysics

It was on this date in 1883 that little Rube Goldberg was born and destined to grow up as a cartoonist famous for designing wonderful but complex machines that do something simple in a very indirect and complex way, closely akin to anticipatory patapsphysics, which means with suspense. Lest you think Rube was wacky, please remember that he received a Pulitzer Prize for political cartooning in 1948.

Other, 'Interesting Dates of the Week'

There are only 180 days left of this year, which means this year is half over almost before you know it. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1807 when Giuseppe Garibaldi was born in Nice. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 185 days, the same number that 1826 had when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both former presidents, died, with two different ages.
signature, regards, ric

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