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Light Shows

photo, bon marche

The Left Bank's Bon Marché glowing with cheer.

And Cheese Things

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 12. December 2005:– Today's weather in Le Parisien is not on a color page so it kind of matches the sky above the Tour Montparnasse, or it would if it weren't totally black out there on account of being night. Excuse me while I yawn, but I feel kind of sleepy.

Tonight's weather lady started off by saying we shouldn't pay any attention to the huge anticyclone over Europe because it would be above the clouds. Her TV animation showed this gigantic cloud–free area from Ireland to Minsk, from the North Cape to Timbuktu. There were some clouds up north of Iceland, but that was nearly off the screen.

Down here on earth where we have our noses close to reality, there is supposed to actually be a diagonal gulch of cloud–freedom, which will gradually turn to being lightly veiled in the afternoon, as if the sky is going to slip into something flimsy. Further to the northwest it will be cloudier, with occasional sunbeams, but to the southeast there will be very thick clouds. If all goes well and it is by no means certain, the temperature may get up to 6 degrees.

On Wednesday, while 60 kph breezes slide down the Channel, it will probably be more semi–cloudy than semi–sunny. I forget what the otherphoto, sign, joyeuses fetes lines I've drawn on the map mean, except that it will be sunny on the Riviera with a cold wind blowing on everybody's neck.

There are, for Thursday, three lines on the map. Above the line parallel to the northwest expect total cloud cover. Between that line and another line slanting across the southeast, there may be cloud cover with very few blue holes in it. The southeast corner will be why people pay so much to live down there, while around here the temperature is supposed to get up to 8 degrees – which is, grosso modo, nearly average 'for the time of year' – if you believe in fanciful tales.

This week the 50 percent disclaimed weather scribbler in and around New York City, Météo Jim, sends true news of true £ and € times, inclining all to hope:–

Pre–Sales Optimism and Flurries

After Friday's snow which left upphoto, meteo jim snowmetre to 16 £inches in parts of New England, the weather for the coming week in Pommela nd will start off chilly – high temperature about 29 £grad – –2 €grad – and then warm up to the upper 30s – low 40s £grad – 4 – 5 €grad. Skies will be sunny to partly cloudy. A French twist may be added to Pommeland's transportation holiday schedule. The transit workers are threatening to authorize a labor 'action' so if the strike takes place, visitors are advised to bring plenty of shoe leather and cab fare. Photo – Jim Auman.

*Bonus – last Friday Je rêve d'un Noël enneigé, Pommeland has its second snowfall, with about 8.5 £inches – 21 €minis – and temperature about 36 £grad – 2 €grad.

Café Life

Bon Marché

I may be failing to get the Christmas events columns online in a timely way but I am getting around to see the lights, like last Wednesday when I decided to go 'out to play' by going to the Bon Marché. Part of the way there, checking out the ice skating at Montparnasse, I remembered that the past two years of going to the Bon Marché got me exactly nothing, because I went too early. The Bon Marché doesn't put its lights up the day after Halloween.

For the next several blocks I tried to remember exactly when I'd gone last year and then I gave up. One thing for certain was that it was warmer last week than last year, so I kept going. It was getting dark so fast I wished I'd started earlier, but by the department store the street is wider, and it was glowing like a big cake.

Well, not so big. The Bon Marché is an seemingly older department store, of a smaller scale thanphoto, window, bon marche the giganticos on Haussmann and Rivoli, and the Rue de Sèvres that it sits on is a bit rural. So it is human–sized outside and not gaudy with some columns of light and the river of gold under the awning over the animated display windows, with the platforms for kids.

Window of wonders at the Bon Marché.

The short way back to Montparnasse is by way of the Rue Saint–Placide to the Rue de Rennes. Placide has dozens of clothing outlets, mostly smaller shops, and there's always a lot of pedestrians, but the sidewalks are wide. They are wide in Rennes too but the scale of the shops is bigger, and the type of shops draw many more young people, and it's always a kind of zoo. Almost like Haussmann.

Tata's Vernissage

Tata Line is not my aunt nor Dimitri's or Uncle Den–Den's, but that she is somebody's aunt is pretty certain. If you go to her place there is usually some people there and some of them might be nieces and nephews, and aunts, uncles, cousins, sons, daughters, friends, casuals, so if she is having an 'opening' for her paintings, there is going to be a crowd there and we know what we're getting into.

But on Friday it wasn't at her place but at some bar in Montparnasse, which we knew how to find because Nigel got lost looking for it a couple of weeks ago. Uncle Den–Den said we should go there because it is a place that once had a rollmops party, and maybe some were still left.

When we got there, in the Rue Vaugirard, the place was lit but closed for renovations. Uncle Den–Den looked at the door and cursed softly. Then we started, I thought, lookingphoto, line's vernissage for any place that was open, and half a block away we found a bar, absolutely jammed with Friday night cocktail fanciers, which happened to miraculously have Tata Line's vernissage crammed into its tiny back room.

Smokey back room full of Tate Line fans.

While trying to get closer, while trying not to get knocked over, somebody offered me a hot cheese thing. I ate it. It was good. After several days I advanced to the back room and took some photos of people in winter coats stuffed into a phone booth. After I while I noticed the paintings on the walls, which were all water – the sea, actually – with a new feature, seagulls. Great flying seagulls.

A Joe came through to the kitchen behind, size of two phone booths, and after a while he brought out some more hot cheese things. I ate three more. Uncle Den–Den ate two or three. Dimitri smoked, as were a lot of other people. Cheese and smoke and the sea with gulls on the walls. We stayed quite a long time, until enough people left so we could leave too without walking on the bar to the door. Unlike a lot of vernissages in other places, this was a warm one.

Secrets of January

Sometimes I have the luck of the devil. Here I was minding my own business when the server–lady Lindaphoto, patinoire, montparnasse Thalman phoned to ask for a big favor which I was able to grant without turning a hair, but it was all a ruse to gain a vital bit of semi–secret information that we are all on the lookout for at this time of year.

Skating at Montparnasse, continues until February.

"By any chance," she began carefully, "do you know the dates of the sales?" In past years I have gone around the shops trying to find this out, sometimes for weeks, but it's too cold for this kind of silliness. Where the luck came in was seeing a note buried on page 59 of Le Parisien last Thursday, and noting the dates on an electricity bill envelope.

Thus I was able to confound the server–lady by supplying the dates in a flash. Are you ready? This season's Soldes d'Hiver begin on Wednesday, 11. January and continue until Tuesday, 21. February, until long after anything is left. Some popular toys are already sold out.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The 'Club Meeting of the Week' last Thursday was fobbed off as the 'No Grass, No Vodka' meeting report. Uncle Den–Denphoto, superette, odessa was at the club again, mainly to show me the treasures he'd found. Beyond this we discussed friends, enemies, the 'Waiter of the Week,' but not a word about Buffalo grass or vodka passed our lips.

Ordinary groceries in the Rue d'Odessa.

The coming Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club is just as much of a mystery to me as it might be for members who haven't joined yet. The 'Saint of the Week' will be the Sainte–Ninon, or Nina. This is a regular sainte du jour, born about 320–350, maybe, in Cappadocia where she became a slave and was taken to eastern Georgia. Good and patient, performer of miracles, she converted the king and queen, who asked Constantine to send some missionaries, and bishops, of course. Her good work done Nina retired to being a hermit, spending the rest of her life quietly praying while her legend grew.

Some quite true facts, if difficult to believe, about the club are on the 'About the Club' page, suitable for fans of truth and beauty. You may glance at the photos, which are in color. The club's original membership card is on the page too and you may take it for your own amusement,photo, sign, place de la ecole absolutely free. Somewhat Hors d'âge, the free club membership is guaranteed to be that what it actually is – the plus nec nec of club memberships.

Toasted Unicorn

For the 39th time in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but is instead a snappy true 'Quote of the Week' loosely based on a true one. Once upon a time James Thurber, who often saw unicorns in his garden, might have said, "It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers." This didn't work well with the unicorn, which his wife couldn't see. She kept asking if the toast was burning.

If the Past Is Any Indication

The United States, ever a cultural beacon, was the birthplace of the world's first comic strip published in a newspaper. It was only 108 years ago today that the first episode of the Katzenjammer Kids appeared in the New York Journal. Hans and Fritz were a couple of immigrant rascals who bedeviled their mom,photo, sign, bonnes fetesMama Katzenjammer. In France, in translation, the strip was called Pim, Pam, Poum.

Piratical Pataphysics

While France has a proud navy with a long history of not winning a lot of battles the same cannot be said of some freelancers such as Robert Surcouf. He was born today in 1773, and by 1800 he was commanding during the capture of the Kent in the Bay of Bengal. Also to his credit he financed and armed other raiders, such as the ships L'Auguste, La Dorade, La Biscayenne, L'Edouard, L'Espadon, Le Ville–de–Caen, L'Adolphe et Le Renard. After peace broke out he was having dinner with former adversaries when one said, "Admit it that you French, you fight for money while we English, we fight for honor." Surcouf replied coolly, "Certainly, Monsieur, but everyone fights for what they don't have."

Francs of the Week

It was exactly 1121 years ago today that Carloman died. The King of Western Francia, eldest son of Louis the Stammerer and king since 879, he shared the job with his brother, Louis III. There were doubts about this arrangement but they were settled in 880 when the kingdom was divided and Carloman got Burgundy and Aquitaine as his share. But Duke Bosco of Provence didn't agree, so Carloman and Louis grabbed Macon and northern parts of Provence, joining Charles the Fat to unsuccessfully lay siege to Vienne, which was captured by Count Richard of Autun in 882. At the same time Louis died, somehow, and Carloman took over the whole kingdom, which was in a mess, partly on account of the raids by Normans. While feudal lords revolted, Carloman died while hunting wild pigs, and Charles the Fat became Emperor, and history stumbled wearily on.

Faits Divers XI

Two days ago, after the escape of three prisoners by helicopter from the prison at Aiton in eastern France, 300 gendarmesphoto, guerlaine bottle are settling in for a long search. Two accomplices hijacked a rescue helicopter in the mountains with a ruse and taped the pilot to his seat. Only after plucking the three escapees out of the prison yard and flying to a remote mountainside, was the rattled pilot able to free himself. The prison's security cameras filmed the drama and investigators are viewing the video for clues.

Memorable Dates of the Week

There are only 19 days left of this year, which means there are merely 29 days until the Soldes d'Hiver. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1923 when Raymond Radiguet died, only nine months after publishing his first, successful novel, Le diable au corps. His last novel, Le bal du comte d'Orgel, was published a year after the first, when he would have been 21. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 346 days, the same number that 1913 had when the Mona Lisa was recovered in Florence, two years after having been stolen from the Louvre by Vincenzo Peruggia.
signature, regards, ric

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