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Days To Remember

photo, brasserie du metro

A shopping pit stop, near Rue de Rivoli.

But Not Regret, Not

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 28. November 2005:– Last week I was putting up a brave front because I truly believed that I was coping with the winter conditions here, but during the week with the temperatures mostly hanging below the 5 degree mark the last traces of residual warmth fled from the Paris area, sucked down a drain right through the middle of the planet, probably turning up as I write this, on a white sandy beach in Tahiti where a bunch of out–of–work layabouts in grass skirts are worried that it'll be too warm to watch beach movies outside tonight.

The TV–weather news guy came on and apologized for what's to come on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I almost turned the TV off on the spot. He was standing in front of the map and on the right I could see '6' for the high, and I'm thinking 'what else can it be?' The temperature is up so it must be something else horrible.

Then he stands aside and all there is is variable muck with clouds and peeps of sometime sun, no winds mentioned, golly! It's like this isn't bad at all, or at least, it's better than what we've been having. Imagine – having November weather in November! It's been years since this happened.

Why it was only yesterday I was in the Luxembourg with hundreds of other strollers and my fingers and feet didn't fall off, frozen. And tomorrow will be better. Okay, maybe not Wednesday, when therephoto, smarts on rivoli will be winds from the southwest batting around offshore, breezing along the Channel. While here we may be under a rope of cloud covering all of western France, but if we aren't then it will be not so bad – as well as being 6 degrees.

A pair of Smarts on Rivoli last Thursday.

Thursday looks like it will be pretty great too if you don't mind a pretty cloudy day, with maybe puffs of air rolling though here at around 60 kph, or 50 kph offshore, but with a forecast high of 8 cooking degrees why complain? It may be below average for November but its intentions are strictly honorable

This week our pedagogic weather essayist in and around New York City, Météo Jim, tosses in geography, parade balloons not suitable for forecasting, and racy nautical terms like 'Nor'easter.'

Winged by an Alberta Clipper

One unfortunate result of the 'Alberta' clipper on le jour du dindon was an accident during the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. The wind blew a balloon into a lamp post and the balloon's guide lines became entangled in the post. Another gust of wind blew the balloon clear but the guide lines brought down the lamps themselves injuring two spectators. Then the clipper sailed east into the Atlantic leaving cloudy and warm weather. Temperatures for the first part of the post–dindon celebration are expected to rise into the low 60's a–grad accompanied by rain. On Wednesday a cold front will arrive with the possibility of snow flurries on Friday and temperatures about 40 a–grad. On tap this week in La Grosse Pomme is the tree lighting ceremony in Rockefeller Center on Wednesday, November 30, an event that merits a detour, as a guide book would say.

*Disclaimer – by 'Ed' rather than Météo Jim – an 'Alberta Clipper,' characterized as a fast moving cold front with wind that originates in the province of Alberta, is a figment of Manhattan imaginations. Any schoolboy knows that these originate in deepest Alaska, a non–Canadian perpetually sub–polar province. On the other hand there's good news for hurricane fans. Jim reports that the Greek 'D' has been achieved, perhaps to be followed by epsilon, or 'E.'

Café Life

Failure of the Week

This week I was supposed to have had Metropole's new Scène column and the seasonal Noël column ready for you, but I have failed. That I have failed with just about everything else this week is neither here nor there, but mainly, none of it is here, except for this disgraceful note. I would say that I will whip me to get this, that, and the other things, done, but I won't whip me. I may be a bad boss but I am not cruel. Anyway, coming soon – the annual Noël column, then Scène, and then the New Years update.

Nicolas to the Rescue

A week ago Le Parisien had an exciting headline. 'The Incredible History of a Forbidden Book' spread over five columns, followed by, 'Nicolas to the Rescue of Cécilia' in 96–point bold, equally over five columns, with two very poor photos of these lovely people flanking the essential of the story.

Since we were having no riots last Friday two weeks ago, the front page scoop continued on pages 2 and 3, fillingphoto, luxembourg loo, dog fountain them with everything we needed to know about the private relations between the short minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his wife, Cécilia Sarkozy, his apparently former right–hand man.

Handy loo in Luxembourg, with drink for dogs.

According to Cécilia she spoke to the journalist, Valérie Domain, for a half hour, 'not more.' She admits that she liked the journalist's earlier book, Femmes de, filles de, which also includes a brief portrait of her.

But after the new book, 'Cécilia Sarkozy, entre le coeur et la raison, rolled off the presses to the tune of 25,000 copies and was headed to bookstores for its debut on 24. November, Cécilia freaked out.

Although apparently separated from Nicolas since a late June trip to Disneyworld, when Cécilia discovered the book's sale was imminent she phoned the ultra busy minister, told him her worries and asked him to take care of it.

Sarkozy had the editor visit him at the ministry of the interior, for, as Le Parisien puts it, a 'muscular' discussion. The following day the publisher called the author and told her the book wouldn't go on sale.

Then there was public silence for a week, except for quite a bit of talk that is imagined to have gone on within the cabinets of several lawyers.

Books don't get banned all that often in France but it happens. A book about President Mitterrand's health was stopped before finally appearing eight years later. Alain Delon banned a book about himself before it was written, but it might have come out two years later with a different publisher.

The author, Valérie Domain, former 'grand' reporter for France Soir and head of the information department at Prisma magazine's Gala, is not an amateur. She has given her lawyer a CD–ROM containing two hours and forty minutes of recorded conversations between the author and her subject.

Note of this has turned up on page six of Friday's Le Parisien, which goes on to mention thatphoto, pata sandwichs the lawyer for the author will go after the publisher, and that the publisher's lawyer will counter–sue the author for damages. Meanwhile the book was supposed to appear Thursday, and 25,000 copies of it are collecting fresh dust in some cool warehouse.

Home of Patasandwiches, just off Rivoli.

Le Monde noted on 18. November, talking to other publishers, that Sarkozy seemed to be unaware that there are legal methods for suppressing a book, which in turn raised questions about the courage of the book's publisher. Another pointed out that books used to be banned for 'state reasons,' but the level is lower now.

At this point the publisher isn't talking so it is impossible to know exactly what arguments Sarkozy used to prevent the book from going on sale. In France everybody is guilty of something so the poor guy probably expected to spend Christmas in the Santé prison if he didn't do as he was told.

This is also probably much ado about very little, except that Sarkozy is involved, maybe a bit over–excited, momentarily forgetting his presidential candidate status. According to those who might know, there can't be much in the book that the public hasn't already read – except for some juicy tidbits possibly served up by Cécilia, exclusively to the author.

About Those Strikes

The transport strikes that carried threats of being multi–day events sputtered out, leaving trains, buses, ships and aircraft operating on full schedules in their wake. No doubt strike fans will be disappointed but France's few workers are now tucked into Christmas mode – "gotta pay that dindon, gotta get that 'Xbox' – so nobody has any time for fooling around. This year's strike season is probably now officially over, and can be expected not to resume until about 20. February, when the Christmas season officially ends, along with 2006's first school holidays.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The 'Club Meeting of the Week' last Thursday was reported as the 'Not Only Heard of It, Know Where It Is' meeting report. This was an oblique reference to Europe's slow washing machines, that elicit so much wonder from photo, saint eustacheAmericans. Basically our machines are slow because our threads are fine and will not stand up well to a short but hard beating. We are tender and loving with care for our dirty duds.

On the other side of Rivoli.

The coming Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club is as much of a mystery to me as it must be to all. The 'Saint of the Week' will be Sainte–Florence. This sainte du jour is hardly remembered because there are 18 other, better–known 'saints of the day.' After much digging I turned up the legend that Florence was converted by Saint–Hilaire, possibly in 367, and she was recluse at Combes, but hardly any other true facts – like the location of Combes.

Far more exciting facts about the club are on the 'About the Club' page, if you fancy knowing any. Should they be tiresome, merely glance at the classical photos. The club's original membership card is available for all exclusively and any may use it for their own personal use, absolutely free. Guaranteed hors d'âge, the free club membership is certified to be a true truque for that is what it actually is, the nec plus ultra of club memberships.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.48 – 22. Nov. – this week's Café Metropole column started with, 'What Did He Get for Those Big Bucks?' The 'feature of the week' seemed to be something about 'Save the Cinquecento! – To Hell in a Teapot.' The update for the 11. November meeting of the Café Metropole Club was a ripoff with the 'Our 'Men In Black' meeting report. The 3 Scène columns were 3, count 'em,photo, sign, rue prevost paradol stinking repeats.There were four mediocre 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was plain silly with the caption of "You do Paris Plage?"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.48/49 – 24. Nov/1. Dec 2003 – this double jumbo issue's 1st Café Metropole column had the headline, 'The Best Baguette.' The 2nd column wasn't much better with the title of 'Under Construction.' Three strokes and out with the 3rd 'Life' column, titled 'Chinatown – the Revolt of the 'Tabacs.' There were no hot features of the week on account of the weather. The update for the 27. November meeting of the Café Metropole Club was the totally original 'Reunion(s)' meeting report. The following meeting on 4. December was flashier with the 'Patagonia and Detour Village' meeting report. There were, sadly to say, no Scène columns at all, I think. But there were six totally unwonderful 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was less kidding than the Café and Life columns with the lame caption of "Under Eternal Construction"

See the Trees

For the 37th time in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but is instead an invented 'Quote of the Week' based on a true one of no importance. Once upon a time Bill Blake almost wrote or maybe said, "A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees – that is why he is soon parted from his money." Mind you, I have often wondered where the fool got his money from in the first place.

If the Past Is Any Indication

Today does not mark the date in 1891 when Doctor James Naismith invented basketball, but the day when he died in 1939. While working as a PE instructor Naismith was asked to dream up a way for kids to kill time during gym classes in long, harsh winters. He was inspired by a game learned as a lad in Canada, called Duck–on–a–Rock,photo, metal, legion etrangere, paris which involved throwing hockey sticks at ducks too stupid to fly to Mexico. Basketball started with 13 rules, a peach basket, two teams of nine players, one duck, and he wrote the rest of the rules on 15. January 1892, a Friday.

Sharp Pataphysics

Today should be remembered for a pioneering civil invention in 1789 that was also a major first, namely the first foolproof machine for separating heads from necks. Doctor Joseph Guillotin presented his invention to an impressed Constituent Assembly with his partner, Antoine Louis, a surgeon. They claimed their machine was the 'most certain, the fastest and least barbarous,' and at first it was affectionately called Louison or Louisette. Ordinary folks politely called it 'the widow.' Not anxious to rush into anything rash, the guillotine wasn't used until 25. April 1792, a Wednesday. This French invention was last employed in France in 1977.

Crusade of the Week

It was on this date in 1095, on the last day of a meeting called the Council of Clermont, that Pope Urban II appointed Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy and Count Raymond IV of Toulouse to lead the First Crusade to the 'Holy Land.' Apparently this started out to be merely lending a hand to some Byzantine Greeks having problems with neighbors, but first the council had to deal with the excommunication of Philip I of France, on account of an adulterous remarriage to Bertrade. According to a witness, the Pope stressed the reconquest – assuming a Roman point of view, I guess – of the Holy Land rather than helping any Greeks, claiming that the Holy Land must be a Christian possession or prophecies about the world's end couldn't come true. Then a general call was made to all knights with time on their hands and the Pope made some PR trips to drum up support for the venture, which never actually succeeded.

Faits Divers IX

This date in 1955 might be worth remembering because it is the anniversary of Adem Jashari, also known as the 'Hero of Kosovo.' Oddly the date coincides with the same in 1944 when Albania was liberated by partisans from its WWII occupiers, and with the date in 1912 when Albania gained independence from the Ottoman Empire, and wouldn't you know but there is another yearphoto, plate, dish with a frown with the same date, namely 1443, when Gjergj Kastrioti, known as Skanderbeg, liberated Kruja – where he was born in 1405 – with the aid of his faithful followers, all of whom had formerly served the Ottoman Turks for many years.

Unforgettable Dates of the Week

There are only 33 days left of this year, which means this year has less than 30 Christmas shopping days left. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1956 when Roger Vadim's first film, named Et Dieu créa la femme and starring Brigitte Bardot, was first shown on cinema screens throughout France. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 332 days, the same number that 1843 had when Hawai'i was recognized as an independent Kingdom by France and Great Britain. Today is, therefore, Ka Lahui Day.
signature, regards, ric

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