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Not Only Heard of It

photo, david, jerry, sue, maureen, terry, priscilla, jeremy

The only 'Group of Seven of the Week' on this Thursday.

Know Where It Is

Paris:– Thursday, 24. November 2005:– A good part of today's club meeting consisted of the secretary claiming that it never snows in Paris, unless the weather is doing something very exceptional. It snows in the Alps, he said, and the Alps are not in and around here someplace.

So tonight I am sitting in front of my TV set and here comes the weather and they start off with an 'Orange Alert,' beep beep beep, '14 departments, from two to 15 centimetres of snow, starting tonight.' It just goes to show that if the secretary says 'never' then you better make sure your snowshoes are oiled and ready for use.

I was so startled that I watched the TV–weather news forecast twice – partly to make sure the 'Orange Alert' hadn't expanded to include the Ile–de–France too. There I was squinting at the tube, and dang if I don't think I see the animation for rain, or snow, most likely sleet – falling in and around downtown Paris. Gazooks!

Okay, let's be calm here. After we get over an overnight low of 1 degree, the high may creep up to 3 degrees. Thenphoto, coke of the week there will be a northwest wind, hitting the Channel coast at about 50 kph, and here it will be cloudy with rain, sleet, snow, all three, yuk! horrible, terrible. But, hand on heart, no 'Orange Alert.'

Near the Alps as I write this an army is loading up with sand and salt, renting big trucks, testing the blades they put on other ones this afternoon, and the traffic control centres are wiping off their camera lenses, and the blue twirl–lights are rolling. France is going to war against snow.

A classic 'Cocktail of the Week.'

I think the TV–weather ran out of animations for their Saturday and Sunday forecasts. The high for both days was given as 4 degrees, there was no difference in the total cloud cover – so even if there is no sleet, freezing rain or snow, it will be as rotten as November ever gets. Just remember – it never snows in the Métro. Never before now, this is.

The 'We've Been There Too' Report of the Week

Since I have been amiss putting together the seasonal version of Metropole's events listing, I forsake my usual easy waltz through the Quartier Latin on the way to the clubhouse and ride the underground train all the way to good old Châtelet, which I haven't done for a long time.

The idea is to take a glance at the Rue de Rivoli and see if it has its holiday feathers on. Did I say it was a gray day today, about 5 flipping degrees? Well, this is what it was on the Rue de Rivoli, afterphoto, cafe, tab of the week I haven't seen it for so long. Making not the slightest effort to be fashionable or cosmopolitan, just flat gray, with red flags down by the Hôtel de Ville in the foggy distance.

A classic empty 'Café of the Week,' plus tab.

There are big stores and they have little people in the windows dressing them up, but the big brick of Samaritaine is locked up, dark, lonely, and even litter stays away from it. It looks like a big pile of elegant depression.

And the kiosk lady who is supposed to have my Thursday copy of Le Parisien, why, she sold it to somebody else. I take a couple of poster shots in a hurry and scoot along the Quai du Louvre to the club's café where 85 empty chairs are staring at the passing cars, scooters, buses and usual convoys of police going to arrest the Ile de la Cité.

In the café's 'grande salle' there are a few huddled folks, gathering their fists around jars of hot wine, plates of frites, and other hot whatnots. It is an oasis of yellow décor and fake leather red banquettes, with a plaster virgin surrounded by fake green fronds. The bizarre clubhouse of the Café Metropole Club, in a word.

Since I have no paper to read club members Sue and Jerry Marterer from Jacksonville, Florida, show up right away. I remember them but I don't, so Jerry says, "I explained this to you before."

What he means is the location of Jacksonville, which I always forget. Jerry knows this so he tells me something I can remember, to wit – "Jacksonville is the most western coastal city on the east coast of the United States."

This is something I have no desire to forget. To pin it down I ask Jerry if it might be on the same latitudephoto, mascots of the week as the Canaries, or maybe Mauritania? Oops. Jerry isn't sure whether north Florida wants to be compared to Africa. It almost puts Miami on a level with Timbuktu.

Two 'Mascots of the Week' for the price of one.

Then member David Pitt arrives, and I of course think he lives in Port Marly, but he looks confused because he lives near Porte Mayo and doesn't even know where Port Marly is. I'm sure there's one club member living in Port Marly, or is it Le Pecq? I could look it up.

But the conversation is chugging merrily along, with the explanation that rice balls for breakfast are common in Hong Kong. This is what I learned after I took a wild guess about noodles for breakfast, and everybody agrees it was chilly last night.

Sue notes that there 'aren't many folks around.' The Marterers went to see the Willy Ronis exhibition at the Hôtel de Ville and the line wasn't long – like it was the last time I was by there. David says he saw some sculpture, but I neglected to write the note.

About here members Maureen and Terry Cooper show up from San Francisco, or more accurately, from the Atlas PMU in the Rue de Buci. Yeah, the Atlas – it's like a casino of a place to play the Loto, upstairs in a crowd of horse players in a cloud of smoke.

And then everybody introduces themselves, and David says he always says he's from Yosemite because, "Nobody knows where Oakhurst is."

But Maureen and Terry do know because it's where some B&B is, a famous one I neglect to note – becausephoto, untidy table of theweek Maureen has hauled out the club's old friends Baby and Bongo, ten years on the go, each wearing about two kilos of jewelry and souvenirs, but otherwise in the pink of health.

I wouldn't make something like this up. If I remember correctly, which is hardly certain, Maureen has another Bongo – who recently had an exhibition at the Museum of the Living Image in Queens. Or was that Pokey?

The 'Untidy Table of the Week,' perhaps the month.

While my attention is diverted to sifting through the untidy attic of my memory, Priscilla and Jeremy Epstein arrive from San Francisco, apparently known to Maureen and Terry. My notes do not spell Priscilla's name right, so I lend her Jeremy's.

For a change I do not have to explain the club because Jeremy says he has made a print–out of its 'About' page, but that it's too heavy to carry around. To be absolutely certain I read the two new members their 'rights,' two of which they immediate waive.

Then we have fun taking the Group Photo of the Week, with all the members squished into a corner and the secretary having more room than in the grand ballroom of the Queen Mary, but is the light bad? Is the light terrible? It's a nightmare, and it could only be worse if it was dead winter, on 21. December. I take 13 shots to make sure. If necessary I can make a collage, a French thing of cut and paste.

David is on the verge of leaving so he leaves. Sue keeps on her coat that she put on for a Group Photo of the Week out on the terrace but it is Siberia out there, and kitsch carnival time inside.

The talk circles around France Télécom's DSL service and how to get it activated by renting a trained geek by the hour, while my only problem is finding out my own password. That is, if they assigned me a new one because they thought I would think it would be plug–and–play, and how else to get me to call their hotline for 34 cents a minute?

When the talk turns to Europe's incredibly slow washing machines I drift over to Priscilla and Jeremy's corner of the Untidy Table of the Week, to find out that Jeremy is one of these geeks – he makes user in–your–faces. He has sketches of scroll bars and option buttons.

photo, fiat 500But honest, he works for honest folks, who do industrial stuff. This is the kind of thing – while we are squirrling around with DSL – that goes on quietly in the background, keeping General Motors' wheels turning, the railroads of China on time and ensures a chicken in every pot in France.

At long last, a return of the 'Fiat 500 of the Week,' thanks to Terry.

By now it is dark outside and has been for a half hour so it must be five in the pm, so we gather up our bars of chocolate and mascots, find our hats and gloves or wish we had both, pay off the 'Waiter of the Week' and skedaddle on out of La Corona, and wouldn't you know it but it's raining. Not hard, but nearly steady and it feels like noodles of ice.

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

This club meeting 'report,' hammered out with four nimble fingers and one waving arm askew, probably leaves you mystified. To find out the facts lurking behind the mystery have a peek at the 'About the Café Metropole Club' page with its old photos, weird words and moldy membership card. You can join the club too in any year containing at least one last 'Thursday of the Week' in November. Unlike the one coming next week which will be the first in the year's last month.

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

Club meetings start at 15:00, in the afternoon, on every Thursday, and continue until 17:00, in the western Euro Time zone, now into winter even if it is still fall. Recognized in distant lands as 3 pm to 5 pm, around somewhere else is seldom where meetings are held. Come to the café La Corona. Bring a friend or two. The loud folks in the rear of the big room, full of hot café, are us.

Attend a meeting – by coming to one. Pass a hour or two or a whole meeting with other club members somewhat like yourself. Real 'firsts' are welcome, with 'real' being equivalent to 'true' even if 'first' is less likely, and if it is an alternate form of reality with any sort of anchor to fiction,graphic: club location map like history. Attending multiple club meetings is not discouraged.

Caution – you may have a personal reason 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 before becoming 'found' in one of these club reports.

The 'ex–rules' that the club once had continue to be former. These discontinued rules may still be read if you can find them. You can, in theory, learn that this honestly real club of harmless fun seldom institutes new rules because nobody cared for the old ones, which were obscure.

Talking to other club members at meetings is okay rather than optional. There are always dozens of empty chairs, so sit – wherever you like. Leaning is okay too. Whatever you say will be truly appreciated by the other members present if there are any listening, and sometimes there are but not always – and if it should chance to be written here.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because during today's meeting I learned that it had all been explained to me before, three times.

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