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Away for a Song

photo, observatory, paris

For the Observatory, a line with 6000 in it on Sunday.

Summer of 2OO5 Over

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 19. September 2005:– It has gotten chillier as if the stored up heat of the summer has seeped off into the dark skies, cooled by a frigid full moon these recent nights. After having a fresh wind from the north over the weekend I expected tonight's TV–weather news to forecast more – more wind, more dropping temperatures, more falling leaves, more fall.

I caught the tail–end of the weather before the news, then caught the front–end 45 minutes later. Thus I got a surprise, that I would not have had if I had looked at the forecast in Le Parisien. It has beau mais frais for Tuesday, frais mais beau for Wednesday and beau et frais for Thursday.

Specifically this means some clouds along the Channel and down in south–east France tomorrow, with a cool high temperature prediction of 20 degrees. Maybe some morning mist and maybe some jolly little white clouds, but a blue–sky afternoon.

Then with clouds still lurking about the Channel on Wednesday, the whole rest of the country is supposed to be clear and blue, with one huge sun–ball hovering over it. For the day, a high of 21 is expected.

For Thursday, maybe you can expect nearly the same, but with the north–west clouds switched to the south–east. Sunshine all day and without the morning mists – at least none were mentioned – and a high of 21 degrees again. As much as I will appreciate this sort of forecast, if it is true, it is disturbing not to have anything to whine and moan about, what with Le Parisien calling it frais.

Excuse me for using the royal 'we' here two weeks ago. This week over in Pommeland Météo Jim sends a long, somewhat off–subject bulletin, concerning:

Equality of Days and Nights

For the coming week, three things – first, the Florida Keys are being threatened by Tropical Storm – soon to be Hurricane, Rita. She is projected to hit the Keys and then turn west but not before it turns east–south–north or some other fabulous direction to confound the weather predictors.

Secondly, the weather for Pommeland is forecast to be mostly sunny with temperatures in the low 80's anglograd. As stated before, experience says to add at least 5 degrees anglograd to predicted highs. This will leave the temperatures much above normal, especially when the third item is considered.

Autumn begins this week with equal days and nights all over the world. Upon hearing this, President Jacques Chirac has gone to the European Parliament, the French National Assembly and has scheduled an election to invoke l'exception française. The idea that French days and nights will be the same world wide has sent President Chirac into a rage. French days and nights must be the same as everybody else's, only different. "If this law is not passed," droned Chirac, "This will have grave consequences for the rest of humanity."

Café Life

Some Had Two Looks

Over the weekend France had its journées du patrimoine as sort of a break in the politics that infest the rentrée. In Germany, where the fête happens too, they took Sunday off in order to vote for a new government. When the votes were counted, Germany had less government than it had before.

Meanwhile in France, Jacques Chirac was shaking patrimony–fans hands at the right–bank Elysée Palace while Nicolas Sarkozy was doing the same thing at the Place Beauvau, also on the right–bank across the street from the Elysée. Sarkozy's henchmen tried to leave nothing to chance by keeping score. The result was 11,622 handshakes for the Elysée and 11,623 for the Place Beauvau, which could lead one to think that some folks voted twice.

When it comes to patrimony I am all in favor of it. In the culture business it is the weekend of the giant freebie with 15,000 locations being open. The problem is the 12 million Frenchmen who can't pass it up. But in Paris crowds were reduced somewhat by holding a tennis tournament all weekend and a mini–marathon for ladies.

It was a tactic that didn't work. Cool sunny weather made a lot of people forsake the pleasures of Sunday television to visit the reopened Grand Palais, the Senat in the Luxembourg, or the Palais Bourbon, the home of the Assemblée Nationale. Even the Maison de la RATP received 20,298 of the curious.

Of course I leaped out of bed at 7:30 Sunday morning fully intending to gobble breakfast and scoot over to the Grand Palais to see how grand it is, but it was kind of chilly and I have a nice warm bed. By afternoon the wind was still howling past my windows, but I made it out in spite of it.

Then, wouldn't you know, I 'lost' the Maison de Santé de Marguerite de Provence, the Marguerite who was married to Saint–Louis – in, what was it? The 13th century. But today called Sainte–Anne. Paris' only psychiatric hospital.

Here's how I see this patrimony lark – if the morning is too chilly then I have to find patrimony that's handy, and maybe not too popular. I have a lot of patrimony right across the street in the cemetery, but it's open all the time. Next closest is this antique farm for the disturbed, and there I was, couldn't find it.

In principle, I remembered, it is straight south of east side of the Santé prison, so it makes a logical threesome with the Observatory. Sure enough, I saw its sturdy gate right around the corner from the Boulevard Saint–Jacques, and no line–up to get in. Sainte–Anne is a huge place like a park, like a campus, full of trees and pavilions and fine to be in on a sunny day. With a bibliothèque, a small museum, and 62 kinds of trees from Aubepine to Zelcova, a visit could take weeks even though it looked as if there was no waiting.

A couple of blocks away outside the Santé police cars were circling the area, possibly looking for the usual suspects. For this reason alone there aren't many pedestrians about as a rule. Besides the prison looks forbidding. Nobody wasted a lot of decor on its high, outer walls, and it didn't look like anybody had washed it in the last century either.

Also, its door didn't have a patrimony sign on it. So I continued on to the boulevard, and tested the Vespasian that stands there, forlornly, outside the prison walls. It is certainly patrimony. It is the only one, out of hundreds, that is left.

Then it was just a traipse up the block to the Observatory's back door, in a park, and it said 'go to the front door.' When I got there I discovered a mess of folks who had probably gotten up at 7:30, shuffling around corners up to the high, iron gate. Well, I've been in there before, to see the Eclipse some years ago.

There's some sort of Paris tap water place next to the Observatory entry, and there were three old dudes providing musical entertainment for the culture fans who decided against waiting with their kids for the Observatory, and everybody looked pretty gay drinking plastic cups of water. If it's free, Parisians will drink anything.

Coming away it seemed to me that the Saint–Vincent hospital wasn't getting a similar rush. A lot of people are up in arms about the idea to tear it down and they have marches and protest parades all the time, so I guessed they'd taken the day off.

That brought the score for my cultural tour to three or four or five, or more if I count historic street signs. Sunshine was playing in the avenue on the way back to Denfert as I passed some more historical stuff, mostly private houses, built out in the country in the 19th century. I guess, not terribly historical, and none of them open, and that was another patrimony weekend for you.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The last report about the most recent Thursday's club meeting was headlined quot;Has Anyone Seen 'D–Coils?'" This was a remark about shoes that have coil–springs and shock absorbers built–in, but did not refer to any member's shoes. As for why or why not, I am none the wiser, other than it's another catchy headline.

The coming Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on a Thursday yet again, right in the nick of time. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Maurice. This saint du jour was a Roman officer who refused to sacrifice to any one of hundreds of Roman Gods before combat. A basilica was built where he was bumped off and it has become a town called Saint–Maurice today.

Vague facts about the club can be picked from the carcass of the 'About the Club' page should your fingers happen to be in that region. The drippy design of the club membership card looks about as much like butcher paper as brown tarpaper. So true, hors d'âge, the club membership itself is vitally brilliant, while being so worthless you could hardly want to give away for a song.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.38 – 13. Sept. 2004 – this issue's Café Metropole' column headlined 'Dinner at Eight for Eight.' The week's Au Bistro column was absent. So was everything else except memories, with 'A Little Stroll on the Boulevard Saint–Michel,' 'A Place With Headroom, the Place de la Concorde,' 'Jacques Melac's Grape Harvest, all Welcome At Street Picnic,' 'Down and Out In Paris, Orwell's Fact or Fiction?' and 'School Reunion Complete With Falling Chestnuts.' The Scène column finally made it with 'More Fall Program, Repeated.' The update for the 16. Septemberphoto, sign, rue faubourg saint jacques meeting of the Café Metropole Club was cheerily antisocial with the 'Fighting Elephants' report. There were four wunderbar 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was also underground with the beginning of fall caption, "Ride the Métro!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.38 – 15. Sept 2003 – the week's Café Metropole column was outer spacy with, 'The Giant Sunball & Techno Über Alles' The Au Bistro column had exciting news with 'Hot Issues – Three Old, One New, One Forever.' Somehow there was a column by Larel Avery titled 'Eclairs and Existentialism.' There seems to have been no dismal repeat of any Scène columns. None were listed as contents. The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 18. September was reprted as the 'Wanted' Poster' report. There were four graphic classic 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was the wildest of all time with the caption "Why? Why? Why?" Can it be true?

Silent Movies

For the 27th time almost in a row with only one skipped week, this is not about some dusty old saint, but instead is a thoughtful 'Quote of the Week.' Charles Chaplin, who was bared from returning to the United States on this day in 1952, once said, "I would love to play the part of Jesus! I fit it perfectly because I am a comedian" Next week right here, as a special feature, the 'Silence of the Movies' will be in Swiss.

If the Past Is Any Indication

Today marks the date in 1900 when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid pulled off their first robbery together. In 1884 Cassidy, whose real name was Robert Leroyphoto, sign, boulevard saint jacques Parker, was a cattle rustler and legend says he gave cattle to the poor. However he turned to banks by June of 1889 and hit the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride for $20,000. He spent a couple of years locked up for stealing horses and then organized the 'Wild Bunch,' which the Sundance Kid joined. His real name was Harry Longabaugh. After a four year spree of bank and train robberies, Butch and Sundance hightailed it to New York where they shipped out for Argentina. In South America they continued their gringo–style laissez–faire capitalism, until they were riddled with bullets in San Vicente, Bolivia, in 1908 or 1909, just like in the movie. But there is doubt that their corpses really are Butch and Sundance. They might be in Uruguay or have phoney names in Idaho.

Old, Shipwrecked Patapsphysics

It was not on this date in history that the New York Times published its first edition. It was yesterday, in 1851, under the name of New–York Daily Times. The upstart company was founded by Henry Jarvis Raymond and George Jones, and the first issue had the followingphoto, badge, les pieds noirs statement of purpose; "We publish today the first issue of the New–York Daily Times, and we intend to issue it every morning – Sundays excepted – for an indefinite number of years to come." In 1896 Alred Ochs took over the paper and gave it a new and snappy slogan, "All The News That's Fit To Print." When the paper moved to a tower on 42nd Street, the area was named Times Square in 1904. The Times sold the tower in 1961, and its annex on 43rd Street is still called the annex. In 1920 the Times ridiculed the idea of space flight – what could a rocket push against? – but printed a correction after the moon landing in 1969. Many liberals believe that the Times isn't liberal enough and may even be blue–tinged, while many conservatives believe that the Times is a red–soaked Commie rag. In fact, until color photos showed up, the Times was gray.

Faits Divers

In 1356 the English beat the French, actually, squashed them, at Poitiers. It's the first big battle of the Hundred Years War. While it might still be going on, in 1440, Jeanne d'Arc's faithful companion Gilles de Rays gets arrested and charged with killing hundreds of young boys. He is called Barbe–Bleue. Another hundred years on, in 1551, Henri II and Catherine de Médicis have a third son, named Alexandre–Edouard or Henri III for short, who become King of Poland but before he can get into it is recalled to France to replace Charles IX, his brother. Henri is often criticized for having an overly complex personality and exercising misdirected affections, but is not really a Barbe–Bleue.

Hardly 'Important Dates of the Week'

There are only 103 days left of this year, which means this year has already run out of surplus sandbags. This is exactlyphoto, sign, villa saint jacques the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1783 when the Montgolfier brothers got their balloon to fly carrying a rooster, a duck and a sheep in front of Louis XVI and the whole court at Versailles. The event is remembered as the first flight of a duck without using its wings. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 262 days, the same number that 1870 had when the Prussians began the siege and bombardment of Paris. Gambetta led the Parisians who tried to break the encirclement, but they were unsuccessful during the siege that lasted five starving months in the winter cold.
signature, regards, ric

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