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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 i 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.


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