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Grizzly November

photo, cafe bar le brezin

An all–day haven of warmth and good cheer.

Two New Strikes of the Week

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 21. November 2005:– My radiators, all two of them, are cooking merrily away to keep the cold at a distance despite the gaps around the edges of the window frames, despite the great window in my living room, facing bravely north. I am not in discomfort sitting here for hours, day in and day out, tap tapping away but my feet feel chilly without my super–thick wool winter socks.

As usual, forgetting to wear these socks is not my fault so the TV–weather news gets the blame. I feel sorry for them in their hot TV studio, having to wear Norwegian sweaters so viewers will think it is as cold in there as in the cardboard shacks of the homeless, who were featured on the TV–news being shown their new overnight lodgings in the shelters.

Our concern with the weather is not nearly so acute, I hope. Tuesday, if the sun ever comes up, might be cloudy at first and if the morning fog burns off then it may be merely not so cloudy, with little peeps of feeble sunshine. But our TV guy was very careful to explain about the wind,photo, sky over quartier latin which he said will not be overly forceful, but it will certainly be here, at about 50 kph from the north. Almost an afterthought, the day's expected high of 5 degrees.

The sky over the Quartier Latin last Thursday.

Elsewhere, in the vicinity of the Alps, it may be snowing above 800 metres. But on Wednesday, excepting a bunch of clouds up along the Channel, it might be mostly sunny here, if you are out of the 50 kph wind. This will be another 5 degree day.

On Thursday that Channel cloud or whatever it is, will take up more territory, leaving it mostly cloudy here. Keep your backs to the northwest and its 50 kph wind, or try to find a barrier that you can stand behind and enjoy the day's high of 7 degrees. For Friday Le Parisien says 'worse than rotten,' but that's still a few days off.

Our social–weather scribbler in New York, Météo Jim, forecasts turkey, football and snow on the parade, so be sure to dress appropriately wherever you are lucky to be.

Grizzly November

The weekend promises to warm things up to the low and mid 50s a–grad and will stay this way until Wednesday. Thursday, le jour d'action de grâce aka Thanksgiving, will see Pommelanders of all kinds – grosse, petite, grande, maigre – gathered around the table singing the old and beloved song, "Il est cuit, le devin dindon," accompanied by howls and cheers of the football crowds on TV, lubricated by gallons of Beaujolais Nouveau.*

Dindon Day

Thursday morning the annual ritual takes place in La Grosse Pomme where Pommeistas become defileistas carrying giant balloons of different cartoon characters and animals joined by singers and dancers as they march down Broadway to 34th Street and stop in front of Macy's department store. The final personage in this parade is Saint–Nick in his sleigh, with eight pre–shrunk reindeer. When Santa arrives at Macy's, Pommeland's Christmas season has officially begun. This year, though, Santa will need his polar transportation. Snow is predicted with temperatures around 40 a–grad.

*Disclaimer – all 3 disclaimers this week, excepting 'Have a Happy Thanksgiving,' were consumed in Paris already.

Café Life

Not Burning, Hardly Awake

I am having an odd reaction to the cooler weather. When the TV–lady forecasts a high of 7 for Paris it only gets up to this for about 23 minutes and only if it is windless and the sun isphoto, st germain, thursday shining. Between morning fog, high clouds and early darkness there isn't much time for sunbathing. And each day more of summer's heat seeps away. The TV–lady even says the temperatures are lower than average.

Time for café and cocktails in Saint–Germain.

We had a long mild fall here and I fell into believing that it would last until spring, but I'm pretty sure it is over now. I have been going out to get acclimatized but each time I do it drops a notch or a peg. Gloves helped a lot today. If it weren't already lower than 'average' I would consider gloves on the gloves tomorrow.

So, for the past week I have huddled here, within the radiated heat from my monitor. It must feel the same because it squinched into the middle, and hard pops on its roof didn't spring it back to wide–screen viewing. I went to a Mac place, probably one of only four in the city, and learned that they don't have tube monitors any more. I guess that's why there's all these dead ones lying around the sidewalks.

Then I went to PC heaven at Darty, wrote down the lowest prices and the model numbers and captured a Joe working there. He said the monitor we were standing beside was the best for me, a flat Philips, to replace the dying tube Philips. Life is short so he let me pay for it and I pushed all the wrong buttons. "Hey! Don't do that!" he said. Then I stood in a long line of electronics fans waiting at the takeout for wide–screen TVs, me thinking about going to shopping school.

Saved from Auction

My other cool deal of the week was to go to the municipal pawn shop and get one of my cameras back. I went there last week to renew the pawn, but they said they didn't keep old stuff like mine for more than a year, so I was back there on Tuesday, the deadline day.

I was hoping to see lots of ladies from the 16th and the 7th recuperating their hocked furs, but most folks seemed to be furless, from Asia or Africa. The pawn shop is actually called Crédit Municipal. It is based on an Italian idea, imported to France by Théophraste Renaudot in 1637, with the intention of providing loans at fair rates. Of coursephoto, nikon f professional money– lenders didn't like the idea, so they got rid of Renaudot, but the idea came back in 1777 and here it is today, lending me 50€ for a year.

Up at the takeout window, after an Indian lady has heard my number called and given me a nudge, the pawn Joe dusts off the camera case and cuts the ropes tying it together. He says this kind of steel and glass is pretty worthless these days, ah, but, if I want to pawn it again, right away, I'll probably get more for it he claims, being the expert for cameras. If I hadn't made the deadline on Tuesday the whole kit would have gone to auction.

Auctions are the other half of the pawn business, and a glance at the Crédit Municipal Web site gives the dates of the coming ones. They call themselves 'a bank not like the others.' Imagine trying to pawn your favorite litho by Picasso at the local banque poplulaire.


There are good reasons for keeping the eyes peeled when coming out of the Monoprix but at first I didn't think seeing a huge motorcycle with Transport de Personnes written on a flank was one of them. Actually Didier could have had Spiritmoto painted on, but if he had, I might not have asked him if he was a taxi driver.

"Yes," he said when I asked. Didier also told me he is not the only Mototaxi in Paris, butphoto, didier, taxi, moto, spiritmoto one of the newest. "It's the Rolls of motos," he said about his Honda. In my mind I saw Easy Rider Eyes of Lucy Jordan, tooling up the Champs–Elysées or batting up the hills in Montmartre, maybe waving to Amélie.

Didier and his very clean MotoTaxi.

Listen, if you have to get to Roissy during the SNCF strike on Tuesday, Didier will get you there, "not too fast, not too slow," for 70€, which will not seem like too much if you are on time for your flight to New York. Plus his card says there is room for baggage and he supplies the helmet, gloves, and the radio is for free. If moto is your thing call Didier anytime at 06 76 86 99 43 on mobile.

About that Strike

The SNCF's unions, afraid of seeing their jobs shifted to outside suppliers, and after lots of talks about it, have gone on strike tonight to get a head start for Tuesday, for a day of strike that may be prolonged.

At one time we used to get minimal warnings about these things but so many folks have moved out to the suburbs in the last 10 years that they think they deserve better – so both the SNCF and the unions bombard us with TV–news and schedules in the papers, and gosh, it isn't as much fun as when we were in the dark.

Grosso modo there will be one train out of three. For the RER 'B' from Roissy to Gare du Nord expect only one train out of four. Other RER routes will have much reduced service as well all long distance lines, except for the Eurostar and Thalys trains.

About that other Strike II

On Wednesday Paris' Métro service will be afflicted by a strike by personnel, also affecting city bus service and RATP–operated RER lines. The RATP is counting on a 'minimum service' to be operating so it won't be totally quiet underground. However there will some kind of choke point at Gare du Nord which will make a connection with the RER 'B' difficult. Another reason, if you are making a voyage to or from Roissy, to think of Didier in the item above.

For the past while Metropole has posted a news capsule, called simplyNews. This 'News' will continue off and on, 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 "Tea or Chocolate?"photo, winter street meeting report. Tomoko came to the meeting because her dentist gave her the afternoon off, and instead of a cool red drink, she decided to have a photogenic hot drink, and I hoped tea would have more color than chocolate.

A winter street in my corner of Paris.

The coming Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club might be less exciting because Tomoko will be seeing her dentist and his drills made by Lego. The 'Saint of the Week' will be Sainte–Flora. This sainte du jour is remembered for being a secret Christian, in Cordoba, during Moorish times. Her brother snitched on her, and she met Mary, also on the run, but the two were captured and beheaded in a brothel, in 856.

Some other fairly humdrum facts about the club are on the 'About the Club' page, should you fancy knowing them. If it turns out tiresome, just glance at the color photos. The club's membership card is available for all and you can use it for your own personal use, absolutely free. Certifiably hors d'âge, the free club membership is warranted to be a true truque for that is what it actually is, the broken Swiss Army knife of club memberships.

Free Belief

For the 36th time in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but is instead a inspirational 'Quote of the Week.' Once upon a time Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote or maybe said, "We must believe in free will – we have no choice." I have read this over and over, from several angles, and it still says what it says.

If the Past Is Any Indication

photo, fish market, daguerreToday marks the date in 1694 when François–Marie Arouet was born. For most of his long life he was known as Voltaire. In 1778 upon returning to Paris after several exiles, he arrived just as his play 'Irene' was being produced. He became so excited that he died, aged 83, but he still had trouble with the church, so he had to go to Champagne for burial. In 1791 he was moved to the Panthéon and in 1814 he was expelled, and his poor old bones were mislaid, but his heart is supposed to be at the Comédie Française.

High Pataphysics

Today should be remembered for a pioneering aviation feat in 1783 that was also a major first, namely the first manned flight in history. This was accomplished by Jean–François Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes who flew a Montgolfier from the Château of La Muette for 25 minutes, reaching an altitude of 1000 metres, to the Butte aux Cailles 12 kilometres distant. Two years later De Rozier set another first when his balloon exploded over the Channel, killing him and his co–pilot Pierre Romain, in history's first crash of an airship. Flying craft of the time were always equipped with wet sponges for putting out fires.

Revolt of the Week

It was on this date in 1831 that silk workers in Lyon, called Canuts, followed Parisians in revolt against Charles X, written about by Victor Hugo in Les Misérables. But in December the Duc d'Orléans arrived in Lyon with 20,000 soldiers. There were 600 workers and civilians killed and 10,000 were forced to leave the city. In 1834 the Canuts gave it another try, protesting against the minimum wage. Again 600photo, vin natural, aux papilles were killed and a mass trial for 10,000 was held in Paris, that resulted in prison of deportation. The Canuts staged a third revolt in 1848. Then, on this date in 1852, those who could vote cast ballots in a majority for the restoration of the monarchy, while two million voters abstained. Louis–Napoléon Bonaparte was thus elected the one and only king of the Second Empire.

Faits Divers VIII

This date in 1990 is not worth remembering because it is the anniversary of Maggie Thatcher giving up her job as prime minister, in her sorry but historical record of a third term. She attempted to impose a new tax, which is a no–no for conservatives, and left the hapless John Major to carry humbly on, until the smiling Tony showed up. Maggie set some records, one of which was for rule, for 11 very long years of it. Meanwhile on this side of the Channel, Jean de Luxembourg, a Bourguignon, handed Jeanne d'Arc over to les Anglais, for 10,000 livres, after capturing her at Compiègne. Meanwhile, in the same country but in 1629, Richelieu went to work for Louis XIV and the rest is history.

Famous Humble Dates of the Week

There are only 40 days left of this year, which means this year has less than 41 Christmas shopping days left. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1791 when Colonel Napoléon Bonaparte was promoted to general, to become C–in–C of the armies of the French République. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 325 days, the same number that 1945 had when the magazine Elle was published for the first time.
signature, regards, ric

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