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Is Paris What?

photo, miramar cinema, montparnasse

Bright lights in Montparnasse.

Burning It's Not

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 14. November 2005:– It looks like November weather in Paris is settling down to be November weather in Paris. This means that the temperature bounces around but does not bound over 10 degrees and in case you are still too warm, there is a neat wind from the northwest or northeast, to shiver your timbers. It may even rain, but at best it will be puny.

So, you stand here and look at the map. At the top it has one of these single Citroën windshieldwipers, and it sweeps back and forth, dragging mucky clouds from the northwest, Britain, the Channel, in a big sweep across France, to batter themselves senseless against the Alps.

In their wake, on Tuesday, there will be a pause for partly sunny here, with clouds and blue sky between, and that famous temperature of 10 degrees. Then without skipping a beat, on Wednesday, that windshieldwiper blade will be way down south where it won't concern us.

While we think about lolling in the radiant sunshine, if that's what it is, we will hardly be tempted because the high is not supposed to exceed 8 flipping degrees.

Then on Thursday, the windshieldwiper folds up and lies along France's northern border, while here in the centre of the world very close to the Vavin carrefour, it may be quite sunny. Do not,photo, breakfast at monoprix however, by fooled by imitations, for the temperature is not expected to greatly exceed 7 tiny little freaking degrees. Possibly ditto for Friday.

For your tasty wake–bowls and something to put in them.

Metropole's exclusive weather scribbler, Météo Jim, presents us this week with a pre–forecast, many days in advance of the gigantic Christmas tree move to Rockefeller Center. No, I have this wrong. It is here! And now!

Rocking Appleballs!

First thing, cut, cut, cut out last week's leafy story. Start with A sign of the approaching Christmas season is the arrival of the yearly Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. This and its decoration has gone from a 30–second spot on the news to a 2–hour nationally broadcast spectacle. No matter what, le sapin de Noël de la Grosse Pomme is, as a famous red–covered guide book would put it, worth a detour. Another feature of the Christmas season is the very Big Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall. This year, the orchestra has added a bit of French flair to the show. It has gone on strike. Canned elevator music has replaced the stupid musicians. As for Pommeland's weather, whether or not anyone will like it, this weekend is and will be warm and sunny with temperatures in the low 60s a–grad – still too warm. The warmth will continue until Tuesday when a cold front with showers will arrive. Temperatures will drop into the upper 40s to low 50s. As for hurricanes, it is less and less likely that Hurricanes Zeta and Omega will arrive by the end of the hurricane season *

*Disclaimer – this week, of the 5 disclaimers on offer, all are unofficially declined.

Café Life

Paris Is Not Burning

Some of you may have seen alarming TV reports about urban violence taking place in Paris so the first priority is to mention that there has been no urban violence here, not in the city of Paris.

TV news units from around the world have converged on Paris and immediately jumped in taxis and rental buses and have driven out of town to selected suburbs – usually ones featured in local news three days or a week earlier – and have commenced reporting about our troubles.

Through the narrow eye of a TV camera all it takes is one Molotov Cocktail and a few blurry figures in thephoto, daguerre meats dark to give the impression of civil war. Visions of red and yellow flares against a black background are flashed around the world and I get emails asking, "Is Paris burning?"

'Meat by Night' to match other tasty moods.

The answer is 'no.' There were a couple of isolated incidents near République about 10 days ago but since then, nothing. The police, after intercepting some dubious SMS messages and seeing some alarming Web sites, stocked Paris with 3000 extra police on the weekend – but they had little to do.

If you ask, "Are the suburbs burning?" then I will have to say, 'they were.' But in the area around Paris, for the past several days, the unrest has settled back to its customary level. According to reports of police comments, in 'normal' times about 80 vehicles are burned daily.

Perhaps this is why interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy went out to Argenteuil on Tuesday, 25. October, when he was greeted with boos, catcalls and some rocks and beer cans. In return he said what he thought of the reception. Then two kids running away from the police were electrocuted in Clichy–sous–Bois two days later, and Sarkozy persisted with his remarks.

I have heard that non–French news has been treating the Paris suburbs as if they are the world's latest disaster zone, the week's hurricane or the current scene of religious lunacy.

As far as is known here the urban unrest is none of these.

Public housing estates located in the Paris suburbs, or in the suburbs of all French cities, are where poor people live. In most cases the buildings are well kept–up, modern, in landscaped surroundings. Their problem often is that they were built and designed in the '50s, '60s and '70s, in tall buildings or in 'bars,' vast walls of apartments.

They were built on cheap, available land – out in suburbs. Also often, they were built without much concern for what makes a community beyond bedrooms – few shops, restaurants, cinemas, or other essential items of urban tissue.

Then with low rents, lower than in Paris certainly, the towers and 'bars' filled up with those who couldn't afford better. And this is often only with the help of considerable aid, usually supplied locally from the nearest city hall. The result is high concentrations of the poor, often the working poor.

Or not working. At times France moans about the lack – for example, of building workers, the very people who build these housing estates. Thus immigration is tolerated, rather than energetic recruitment of the youth on hand – whose parents may have built the public housing. Mainly, in the estates, the unemployment for youth is far too high, twice as high as the too high rate for all of France.

Decent housing has been a goal in France since the end of WWII and high unemployment hasphoto, crepe stand, montparnasse bedeviled the country since the 1970s. Government after government has addressed these fundamental problems with more or less sincerity. Where we are today is the result.

A stand offering six courses, all standing up.

From experience I can say that you probably would not care to live in a public housing tower in Sevran or Noisy–le–Sec. The centrally–heated apartment rooms would be correct without being overly large, the elevator could be modern, the estate could be green with ample free parking.

But decent shopping might not be within walking distance as it is in Paris, nor the Métro or RER or buses. There would be no 3000 cafés and restaurants within a short ride, no hundreds of cinemas, clubs, museums, libraries, no incredible variety of services and things to do – even if only walking for the pleasure. Ten years of strolling around a housing estate has few surprises for an 18 year–old full of energy.

Well then, if Paris is not burning, what comes next? So far it seems as if the government is acting as usual, which means that it is not acting at all only reacting. Police arrest those they can catch and courts send them to jail, and firemen put out the fires, while ambulances cart off an unknown number of injured.

Sunday night marked the 18th consecutive night of suburban violence in France. Later today president Jacques Chirac will be on television to tell the French about his vision of the events and what the government intends to do to restore calm. See this week's Au Bistro column.

For the past week Metropole has posted a daily news capsule, called simplyNews. Until calm returns 'News' will continue, with a link at the top of the contents list, plus a link to last week's 'News.'

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The last Thursday 'Club Meeting of the Week' was reported as the 'Secretary Twiddles, While Waiter Burns' meetingphoto, tables, cour de commerce st andre report. Due to a total lack of members, readers, the bird Eva, civilians and odd objects, the headline for the 'report' summed up the meeting far better than attending it, alone, with only the club's solo secretary.

The coming Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be quite a bit different because it is not any old Thursday either because it will be the annual Beaujolais Nouveau day. The 'Saint of the Week' will be Saint–Elizabeth. This sainte du jour is fondly remembered for being a Hungarian princess who married the Duke of Thuringa when only a blushing 14 because it was love at first sight. However the good Duke was bumped off during a Crusade in 1227, and the tender Elizabeth spent the rest of her life taking care of les malades.

Some other fairly true facts about the club are on the 'About the Club' page if you fancy reading it. Should this be tiresome, just peep at the fabulous photos. The club's membership card can be virtually printed right off the screen page and you can use it for your own personal use, absolutely free. Equally absolutely, even hors d'âge, the free club membership is guaranteed to be an amazing truque for what it actually is, ever so modestly.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.46/47 – 8/15. Nov. 2004 – this double issue's Café Metropole column began with, 'Bees In the Opéra, Ditto Weather Forecast' Instead of a hot feature of the week, the 2nd Café Metro column had 'No Mucho Ado Headline Even Worse.' The update for the 11. November meeting of the Café Metropole Club was dealt as the 'Sorrow for Geese' meeting report. A week later on 18. November we had the 'Beaujolais Nouveau Day' report. The Scène column had 'More Who Napoléon?'Then there was Photo Scène with 'Month of the Photo' followedphoto, sign, rue vieille du temple by Scène Noël with its 'Sneak Preview.' There were eight outstandling 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was tragic with the morose caption of, "Salut victory 2008!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.46 – 10. Nov 2003 – this issue's Café Metropole column had the headline, 'Nothing Happened – Holy Cola!' There was no hot feature of the week. The update for the 13. November meeting of the Café Metropole Club was concocted as the "12 Extra for Getting Wet!" meeting report. One Scène column had 'Noël in Paris 2003' but it was out of date and the other column was a rerun. There were four totally delightful but wonderful 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was no kidding with the dumb caption of, "Vous Américains!" And this is, a re–run, of a blasted re–run run run.

Dias, Horas, Minutos

For the 35th time in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but is instead a lamebrained 'Quote of the Week.' "Seventy–two days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds after her Hoboken departure," begins the story of Nellie Bly's record–breaking round–the–world trophy dash, intended to beatphoto, sign, rue des archivesJules Verne's fictional time of 80 days. The record stood from this day in 1889 until 1929 when a Zeppelin did it, quicker.

If the Past Is Any Indication

Today marks the date in 1913 when part one of Marcel Proust'sA la Recherche du Temps Perdu was published. This was a very long – the longest in French – novel in seven parts that was written, not all that slowly, over 17 years. Part one was called Du Côté de Chez Swann. Life is far too short for me to have looked up the names of the other six parts, and besides, they weren't published on this date anyway.

Surrealistic Pataphysics

It was on this date in 1925, that the Galerie Loeb inaugurated the first collective exhibition of the Surrealists. They included Paul Klee, Man Ray, Juan Miro, Max Ernst and Pablo Picasso. All of this was inspired by inspirational troquets in Montparnasse and the dual mentors, Robert Desnos and André Bréton. The opening party lasted until late in 1929.

Faits Divers VII

Just in time to create a vaccine to save us from the Asian bird thing, we should remember that the Institut Pasteur has a birthday today, based on being founded in 1888, a couple of blocks from here. Another famous book first appeared on this date and we should all remember its name of Moby Dick if not the date, 1851, or the author, Herman Melville. One death is worth remembering, and it is of Louise Renée de Penancoët de Keroual in 1734. She was the Duchess of Portsmouth and the girlfriend of Britain's Charles II, but she was secretly a spy in the pay of Louis XIV. This was not well–seen by our friends across the Channel, especially Nell Gwyn, anotherphoto, poster, paris 1730, archives nationales of Charles' girlfriends. One day, the story goes, Nell was riding through London when some foul louts mistook her for the Duchess of Portsmouth. Nell is reported to have said, "You are mistaken; I am the Protestant whore." Nell died of apoplexy, at 37, but not on this date.

Humble Famous Dates of the Week

There are only 47 days left of this year, which means this year has less than 45 Christmas shopping days left. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1719 when Leopold Mozart was born, long before he realized that he would become the father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 318 days, the same number that this year has today when Prince Charles turns 57.
signature, regards, ric

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