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Brazil At the Bastille

photo, boulevard montparnasse, 16 july

The Boulevard Montparnasse, Saturday night.

Rare 'Normal' Weather

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 18. July 2005:– Last week those who dish out the weather pushed the button for excellent and delivered a perfect summer climate, especially for Wednesday and Thursday. I don't know how many times I am going to have to write this, but if you were here it was extraordinary and you should forget it ever happened because there's not much likelihood of a repeat within the next 30 years.

This week the program has changed, to give us the type of weather that is more standard, ordinary, or normal, and I can say it is pretty extraordinary too because even normal weather is an exception. Strictly speaking, rotten weather is 'normal.'

Tomorrow may be cloudy and these clouds may even rain a bit but sunny skies are going to be trying to get the upper hand. If you are up by the Channel, expect inshore breezes of about 60 kph, and for Paris the high temperature may be about 24 degrees. Tonight's TV–weather news lady said this is the 'normal' temperature – about six to eight degrees less than what we've been having.

They have predicted a sunny day for Wednesday, also with a high of 24 degrees. I won't argue with this.photo, cafe la palette Thursday will a bit more iffy with some dirty–looking clouds for northern France, with maybe lots of sunshine south of the Loire. Here the forecast is for 26 degrees, which might feel a bit humid because Isabelle said warm air was rising from Spain. Some times she's right.

At La Palette in its summer mood.

Météo Jim, from fairly far away across the deep ocean, sends a short tropical note about plants, which I have clipped simply because it's too long. Although not inappropriate, here is the remainder of Météo Jim's forecast for Pommeland weather this week:–

Les Temps des Tomates

The 'temps des tomates' is the season and weather from the middle of Messidor through Thermidor when the days are hot and humid and the nights barely cool off. Sometimes it is difficult to tell where the air stops and the humidity begins. Hurricane Dennis' remnants came to visit Pommeland with heat, wet air and occasional falling water. The temperatures from now into Tuesday are expected to be in the low 90's of anglograds, with elevated humidity and the threat of donnerboomers. These will clear away on Wednesday but for Pommelanders it's 'vraiment le temps des tomates' as they suck up atmospheric conditions.

Café Life

To the Bastille!

The Fête Nationale is day chosen for its historical connection to a popular riot that turned into a revolution, one that had a great and lasting effect on France and a major part of the world. It is not meant to be remembered as hint that to chance things, we are supposed to sack the city and attempt to depose its leaders.

But for a long time the festivities have been a local affair, mainly staged by the folks who felt like celebrating. Also it happens at a time when many have gone on holidays, although parties certainly happen in holiday locations too. The authorities were a bit worried last week when they estimated that there were 500 tons of fireworks stocked in communities near the Channel, ready to be blown sky–high.

The fête usually lasts about 28 hours because it starts on the eve, on 13. July, and continues until aboutphoto, cours de commerce st andre midnight on the 14th. Firemen open their firehalls, have drink stands and sometimes live music, while somehow remaining on the alert for rocket errors. City halls also organize some fêtes, but there are a lot of private ones.

Visitors studying dim 'cour' for possible terrace.

The Place de la Bastille is a customary location for a big party, and this year there was no mistaking that all Parisians were invited. Many would think twice about taking part – street drinking, electro or techno music, and a vast crowd of possibly careless 'fêtards.'

It is the 'Year of Brazil' in Paris so it was arranged for Lula, Brazil's president, to be in town along with his minister of culture, Gilberto Gil. For a change, the Brazilian music was advertised for the fête well in advance.

In short there was something new. When I got to Bastille before sundown last Wednesday I found that the police had channeled access somewhat, forcing arrivals away from the sides of the huge stage, with its back to the Arsenal port. This left an arc open, east, north and west – of access to the big place.

The band was already playing. The sound was good, clear, and loud without being deafening – and better yet, it was Brazilian. It looked like all of Paris' Brazilians were there, or half of Paris' residents had become South American before arriving. The band paused between pieces, but so briefly that the music was nearly continuous.

No whispers, this was Brazilian sound full bore, guitars, lots of brass, and drums of all sizes, and the arms would writhe like snakes and many were dancing on the spot and the green and yellow flags waved over our heads. On Wednesday the free music was worth far more, and the weather was Brazilian too – with a clear blue sky getting darker and the whole topless Bastille awash, warmer than room temperature.

The crowd was dense in front of the stage and seemed to fill the whole place. In it, it was possible to change position and there was a constant to and fro. Two big screens high up showed what was happening on stage, which was fairly low. Rare for this, but the picture quality was good. A video camera on a boom waved around over the heads of the crowd, and we can hope to see the result later on TV. In all we were an estimated 60,000.

At ten o'clock, as if programmed, Lula arrived on stage accompanied by Gilberto Gil and Paris' mayor Bertrand Delanoë. Señor Gil captured a microphone and introduced his boss, who then made a short speech in Portuguese. With Bertrand translating and the audience cheering it was all a bit scrambled and ended with 'viva Brasilia' and viva Françia' with the biggest cheers of all.

This was very brief and the music picked up quickly and we got to hear how a minister of culture sounds, singing and playing with a band of talented amigos. In Paris at least, a class act in perfect weather for it.

Elsewhere in the Paris suburbs, police battled with the traditional bands of youths, using tear gas and stunballs. More than 100 private cars were torched, many more garbage containers, andphoto, arc de triomphe, 13 july dozens of arrests were mde. It almost seems like there are two countries – this quiet place called Paris and some other wild west out there, called 'cités difficiles.'

Arc de Triomphe tries out its flag in 13. July.
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