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'Not Any Fringe'

photo, group, edna, bob bradley

The 'Group of the Week' is Edna and Bob.

Your Mainstream Club

Paris:– Thursday, 18. August 2005:– Looking back, something I'm not supposed to do, I see that my forecast on Monday was sufficiently vague to cover today's temperature of 31 degrees. I seem to have left off a prediction for Thursday and put in a high temperature for Friday instead. Well, it came a day early.

Today's paper went out on a greased pole and forecast a high of 30 for today. There were some nice little breezes too and the humidity was low at 45 percent. It was, yet again, weather Paris never gets – so don't bother to remember it.

For tomorrow the weather will be fantastic and completely normal. A sort of storm is predicted for the morningphoto, palm, paris plage and there may be some light rain, and then it is supposed to become mixed with lots of clouds and a little bit of sun sometimes. Tonight's TV–weather news forecast a high of only 21 degrees, but Arte's number was 26, and Yahoo's was 23. One of these is probably somewhat right.

On Saturday things will be much better even if they are still normal, with clouds, maybe some showers and peeps of sunshine. All of this variety to be spiced with a high of 19 low degrees.

Typical summer flora in Paris.

But not to worry because Sunday will be a day with fine weather for April, featuring sunrays, clouds and more sunshine, but never total or all at once. For those overcome by the heat this week Sunday should be a delight with a high of 21 degrees. As today's Le Parisien says, 'plus chaud.' Rejoice.

The 'Not Any Fringe' Report of the Week

The earlier that I intend to leave for the club, to mooch around on Paris–Plage, the later it gets. Luckily the Métro was made for procrastinators, and it always arrives within two minutes at Raspail to whisk me away on its whizzy rails, rumble, bam, and charge into Odéon where I have the wagon's door opening before the train stops.

This particular station is curious because there is always a small crowd waiting to get on the train which has to be parted on the fly because they are so eager to board the train that they have no patience with anyone getting off while the train is still in motion. One of these days this is going to turn out badly.

But not today and I bound up the stairs and around the corner and up the tunnel to the escalator, which brings me upwards to the Quartier Latin. A quick scan of the boulevard shows traffic just getting the green, allowing me time to cross without running but being careful not to fall down, because that would be certain death.

Paris drivers may launch slowly from green but once rolling 'man down' has no effect on them. Heading east on the Boulevard Saint–Germain, they might not stop until getting to Champagne.

After surviving my cheap thrill of the week, I take my time the rest of the way and do not push anybody off Dauphine's narrow sidewalk. Instead it is I who walk in the gutter in order to keep myphoto, wine of the week average speed average, and before you know it – almost before I know it – walking on auto–pilot – I am on Pont Neuf for the thousandth time this year, and it is as fine as it always is, on this bright and sunny day that is very warm.

Typical club drink of any season.

The Quai du Louvre is as it always is too so I'll skip its details. Arriving at the club's café nobody greets me because Monsieur Ferrat is working the bar today, the 'grande salle' is nearly empty as usual, with windows open – hardly as usual – and there's a horrible stench of burnt cheese.

I do not mean a smell of toast. I do not mean a smell of a hot croque monsieur. I mean the stink of cheap cheese, burnt. I cannot see where it's coming from. There are smells in Paris and some are frequent and some are revolting, but burnt cheese has no place in this country and I wish whoever is doing it would stop right now.

My mood is not improved by Le Parisien's front page, which I spy as soon as I've finished the boring club business of writing down the meeting number and the date. France played its first soccer game on the way to the next World Cup – when? in 2025? – and they pulled Zidane out of retirement, and he helped them squash the Côte d'Ivoire last night, so the World Cup is as good as in the bag, already. Crikey! It's still August.

At this exact instant I am saved from premature football championships by members Edna and Bob Bradley, whophoto, empty cafe cup of the week come from Costa Mesa, California. Edna, even before she is sitting down, tells me that they are staying in the flat of other club members. Yoohoo – Edna and Bob say the key works, everything is cool. They like it a lot!

Typical empty midget café cup.

It should, because the Bradleys got hung up in that anniversary strike they pulled off at Heathrow. In case you didn't hear about it, the Brits forgot there was such as thing as strikes. They had a little one of no account at all and thought some catering folks were coal miners so they chucked them out. Other workers didn't like it much and before you knew it, the whole caboodle were out on strike. It was like the good old days. Gave 'em a taste of what we have all the time. Serve 'em right!

The Bradleys got their luggage back from Bombay in only a week. Bob says it's been some time since he's travelled so light, living out of an itty bitty carry–on bag for a week. Getting to know coin laundries and other adventures.

Hmm. Only two club members in front of me and here I see that the first 'Quote of the Week' I've noted is senseless. "You notice that we're not in London?" Bob says. Well yes, when I think it over. The Bradleys are in Paris in the Café Corona at a club meeting and so am I. In London none of us are.

Can't win all of them. Bob shows me his shoes. They round up at the front and back. Bob says, "They are the latest Swiss technology. The design is based on the feet of the Masai."

It's the kind of day that makes me think that the Swiss somehow learned that Masai living there had problems with mountains so they designed these shoes... But Bob says, "Can't take photos wearing them. Slow shutter speeds and camera recoil, blur the photos."

Makes me think, if you are going to take pictures while wearing these shoes, maybe you have to be on a mountainphoto, willy the bird of the week in Switzerland, to offset the recoil. Bob does say the shoes are very good for people who can't walk. They don't jar the spine. The bad news is, I forget to take a photo of the 'Shoes of the Week.' My recoil doesn't work.

Typical member who happens to be a hungry bird.

There are times when I quit writing notes. Club members come to the meetings, sometimes ready to talk about what's on their minds and it might not be 'politically correct.' The thing is, there is no such thing as 'PC' in Paris. Anybody can say whatever they feel like.

It might be the only place in the world for it, and the club might be the only place in Paris where somebody will listen. But it does not automatically follow that I'm going to write it all down and put it in a club report. Members who come to meetings and say what's on their minds can rest easy.

By now you are probably thinking that Edna and Bob are world–class crackpots. Nothing could be further from reality. These Californians say thoughtful things about California. Its a state so far ahead that it seems like its lunatics are not out on any fringe. They are our future.

And while we're going through subjects that seem to be somewhat loopy, I do my best to think up corresponding items in France, just so nobody thinks their homebase has some kind on monopoly on insanity. It's only equal time and fair.

Edna surprises me by mentioning problems they have had with the RER 'C' line. Their problem isn't with this line having its Paris stations closed, but with me failing to mention it in Metropole. The 'C' line closed one other summer years ago too and I think I mentioned it, but I never use it – it only goes to Versailles – so I was lazy. Why is it closed again?

Maybe to bug people. So, yeah, if I think really hard about it, there are folks who might want to use the 'C' line within Paris – such as to get from the Tour Eiffel to Austerlitz. I tend to remember the RER having different fares from the Métro so I never think of it. But these days you can ride the RER within the city just the same as the Métro, for the same fare, the same ticket, and switch between the two.

Edna's other great tip is to be saved for the next heatwave, if you happen to be in town. If your place doesn't have air conditioning, the Palais des Congrés at Porte Maillot does have it. How comfortable it is is another matter, but it's cool.

Then, just before hiking out to the terrace for the 'Group Photo of the Week,' we notice Willy the Bird flying in and hopping around in the light bowls overhead. What's that bird – a club member no less – doing up there? Bob thinks Willy is eating dead bugs.

What's going on? There are pigeons all over the place, eating in big gangs. I think these birds are from out of town because they can't fly good. They don't navigate right. Are they from the countryside? Unused to flying in the city? Why are they in bigger gangs than usual? Is Hitchcock making a new movie? Willy hops from one light bowl to the next. Maybe it's not Willy at all, but an attack sparrow.

About the Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report,' written with radio FIP playing softly, hardly clears up what this is all about. Ifphoto, terrace, la corona you can spare a minute from your busy life run an eyeball over the virtual 'About the Café Metropole Club' page with its laughable collection of botched photos, tiresome words and the scrawl of a membership card. You can join the club too, really easy, on any 'Thursday of the Week' that suits you.

When, Why Not, Where, What, How, Who?

Club meetings, as these partial afternoons are characterized, begin at 15:00, in the afternoon, always on Thursdays and continue for two hours until 17:00, always in the western European Time zone, now in its getting shorter slow summer version. Known in more exotic places as 3 pm to 5 pm, around somewhere else is hardly where meetings are conducted. Be sure to come to the café La Corona's 'grande salle.' The folks watching Willys in the back, but with their marbles, are us.

Attend a meeting – by being at one. Stay for a hour or two with new friends especially if you have the time for it. Real 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' being equivalent to 'first' even if 'real' is just as likely too, and if it is an alternate form of 'true' with any sort of connection to reality, like true fiction or invented facts.

A note of caution – you may have personal reasons for remaining unfindable via the Web. If so, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be '404 – not found' by Web search engines beforegraphic: club location map becoming 'found' in one of these club reports. Help yourself to a Google session if in doubt.

'Ex–rules' continue to be former rather than latter week after week after week, after month, after year–in year–out, forever and far beyond the present and the past. Nonetheless these former rules may still be looked–up so that you can learn that this truly ancient club of flimsy reason repeats them rarely, as we tend to say over and over.

Talking to other club members at meetings is encouraged rather than optional at no extra cost. There are usually enough empty chairs, so sit – wherever you like. Standing is acceptable too. Whatever you say will be honestly appreciated by other members present if there are any listening, and there usually are some but not always – and if it should chance to be written here.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because of today's quite amazing omission of memorable 'politically correct' notions, rants, raves and daggers.

The café's location is:

Café–Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny – or – 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre–Rivoli, Pont–Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday, from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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Waldo Bini