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Here's Looking At You

photo, concorde, sunset, ferris wheel, paris, noel

Winter sundown at Concorde.

Faits Divers Returns

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 19. December 2005:– Here it is two days short of the winter thing when the day is shortest and I think it's getting dark at 15:30, as if the light is sighing – 'too cold for me, so I'm going to Argentina!' And it is, with Le Parisien saying 'hope all ye who enter here, but 4 is all you get.' And then coming back from the Monoprix seeing the pharma sign winking 7 degrees in red. It's not so bad, but it doesn't stay light long.

The weather Joe on TV tonight begins by saying a miserable low is passing over the top of France – yoohoo Belgium, Rhineland! – so it leaves us here with fairly sunny skies to expect in the morning, excepting a bit of early fog, and then it will be mostly sunny, except for a few clouds of no consequence. For this the dues are a high of no more than 5 degrees.

Wednesday sees France sliced in half from west to east. Above this line it will be somewhat cloudy with those high, thin clouds, but absolutely not the kind with rain. South of thephoto, petit palais line there will be no clouds, but here, it will not be warm and we may feel no more than 3 little degrees.

On Thursday we'll have more action with clouds lying along the northeast frontier where they won't bother us. That line will be across the centre of France again and here above it we'll have the slightly second–rate sky full of thin cloud. The Joe said we can expect 4 degrees, no wind, no rain, and three shopping days left until you know what.

The entry to the Petit Palais.

Fortunately Météo Jim disclaimed part of last week's weather forecast, because in hindsight, the foresight provided by the weather service was wrong, wrong, wrong:–

Not So Douce Pommeville

After Sunday, the disclaimer set in, along with a cold, cold, cold front. It got so low that the French Foreign Service in La Grosse Pomme issued an e–gads! alert and demanded extra financial recompense for suffering so far away from La douce France. But on Thursday, a cheese eating warm front visited Pommeland before going north and displaying a bipolar disorder by dispensing ice and rain on one side of the front, snow on the other. For the coming week – bracketed by the usual disclaimers – expect partly cloudy weather and temperatures in the upper 30's a–grad – 3 or 4 e–grad. As of now there is predicted to be more of the same with a chance of snow showers. The transit strike is partially postponed with sporadic outages on obscure lines and on the main line to Paris Plage.

*Disclaimer – Joyeux Noël to you and the readers of Metropole.

Café Life

Time for Chili

I don't have much driving me these days except a desire to keep warm. Friday was wonderful with a temperature of 11 degrees, but between sun up and sundown there wasn't much time to enjoy it because I skipped the morning part, in favor of staying warm.

Dennis called me up and said he was making chili, from a new recipe, in his bathtub. He said he would bring mephoto, shop, paris accordeon a jar of it if I was going to the record competition at Paris Accordéon, between Dimitri and the owner, Patrick Quichaud. They had an argument of some sort, maybe about the sound quality of 78 rpm records, and there was to be a playoff.

Scene of the platter playoffs.

So there I was Friday night, waiting for Dennis to show up with the jar of chili. Paris Accordéon is a neighborhood shop, 'founded 1944,' full of accordions, concertinas, accordion music, CDs, sheet music, photos of accordion stars, and musical knickknacks. Every neighborhood should have an accordion shop. Some of the fancy ones look like portable jukeboxes.

There was a table set up with Friday night snacks; crackers, peanuts, sausage, chorizo, wine, morephoto, record player wine and spare wine. I had some chorizo to put me in a chili mood. Then Dennis arrived and he didn't seem to be carrying any jar of chili. "Where's Dimitri?" he asked. "Having a cocktail at the Bistro 48?" Which he was, because everybody is late, he said.

A crank machine for high rotation disks.

He put a musette record on his turntable, the newer one, but one with the 78 speed. With a small amp it was loud. Kind of like country jazz, done with accordions, maybe one Martin Cayla recorded in 1929. Other records followed, very listenable, even while nibbling crackers. More characters showed up and more wine flowed.

Patrick cranked up his record player. It seemed to lack power, possibly because it lacked electricity. But it was fun to watch, and it worked fine. Then Dimitri put some more sides on his machine and there was some dancing. He started to complain that they were making his needle hop and asked if anybody had a level.

I didn't find out what the competition was about. I left early because the chorizo made me hungry. I bet that Dennis ate all of his chili. For accordions though, Paris Accordéon is the place. It's also a doorway to musicians andphoto, le soileil, disques martin cayla performances, especially if you like musette – the kind of music played in French dancehalls and cafés in the first half of the last century.

Ferris Ferris

On Saturday the temperature dumped to a high of 4 or 5 degrees so I planned my outing carefully, leaving Montparnasse late in the afternoon, in time to catch the sun going down and the lights coming on. But at the Métro stop for the Grand Palais it was evident that most of Paris had beaten me to the punch. There were about 500 people standing in line waiting to get in. I can't say I blame them – it's not every day a place has two ferris wheels inside it, plus a bunch of other rides.

Across the street there was a steady line of folks climbing the stairs to get into the recently reopened Petit Palais. What with the other two art exhibitions, the area has become the place to be in Paris this season if you've finished your shopping. Now I know why they start so early.

As they say, one down and two to go. No point in hanging around and getting pneumonia so I went down the Champs–Elysées to Concorde to look at Paris' third ferris wheel. I think all the people that had ridden the other two came with me – in fact, everybodyphoto, ferris wheel in Paris who has their shopping wrapped up seemed to be under way.

There's nothing special about the ferris wheel in the Place de la Concorde, unless you consider the place itself to be special, which it is. Other cities have major show–off places, usually full of pigeons, or water, or both like Venice, but Paris' has one full of cars. A couple hundred of them drive into it, around it and out of it and then another couple of hundred do the same thing. For variety pedestrians get across it by gathering in big numbers until they can't stand it and then they burst from the safety islands. Random cars and scooters try to pick them off.

All these people. Where are they coming from and where are they going? It's a big, open space, between a long walk whichever way you come and go. There's something about the town that forces folks out on to the pavements, to walk considerable distances, even when it's cold. But the real heros are the ones sitting on those ferris wheel seats, up high, in the wind – and the Place de la Concorde is one without a single café. Nearest, I guess, is Maxim's in the Rue Royal. Or under the arcades on Rivoli.

Jours de Fête

Don't face overlong lines like I did. Plan your visits to the art exhibitions at the Grand Palais in the evenings until 22:00 on Wednesdays, and exceptionally on Friday, 23. December, Friday, 30. December and on Friday, Saturday and Sundays in January until 15. January. See Austrian superstars Klimt, Schiele, Moser and Kokoschka or a somewhatphoto, champs elysees unseasonal Mélancolie, Géine et Folie en Occident. And on the Winston Churchill side, there's the Jours de Fête with its two ferris wheels inside, open until 23:00, but closing at 20:00 on Friday, 24. December and Friday, 30. December. At the Grand Palais – open 10:00 to 20:00 and until 22:00 on Wednesdays. Closed Tuesdays. Grand Palais, 3. Avenue du Général Eisenhower, Paris 8. Métro: Champs–Elysées–Clemenceau. InfoTel.: 01 44 13 17 17.

Soldes d'Hiver

"By any chance," the server–lady Linda Thalman asked, "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. 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 dashed off as the 'Not a Sausage' meeting report. The club's secretary found himself alone at the meeting, which only became a problem when writing a report without any cities of the week and not much else 'of the week,' except some chickens on television.

The next Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be another mystery, but I will be there to find out what happens. The 'Sainte of the Week' will be the Sainte–Françoise–Xavière Cabrini. This is a quite recent sainte du jour born in Italy. She wanted to go to China but ended up in Chicago dispensing good works to the Italian community, and became a saint in 1946.

The true story, regardless of how unlikely, about the club is on the 'About the Club' page, suitable for fans of realism and truth. Glance at the photos which are in true color. The club's original and hand–made membership card is there too and you may take it for your own, absolutely free. More than Hors d'âge, the club membership is guaranteed to be what it actually is – free.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 9.51 – 13. Dec 2004 – this week's issue started with the Café Metropole column's 'Hairy Marmalade.' The update for the 16. December meeting of the Café Metropole Club was an olfactoric sensation with the "Smello–Paris" meeting report. Unlike this year there were three real Scène columns, most notably with 'The Fête of the Year' and 'Gala – 2004's Eves.' Therephoto, santa claus were four holiday–type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was a wretched but unfilled threat, with "Next year I'm getting a red SUV!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 8.51/52 – 15/22. Dec 2003 – this double issue's Café Metropole column had the headline, 'Driverless Métro Line Goes Further.' A week later Café Life had 'Have Breakfast, Or Else!' The hot features of the week were titled 'Trying Out Troyes – 21st Century Mediaeval' and 'The Passages of Time – are the Grandfathers of Malls.' The update for the 18. December meeting of the Café Metropole Club appeared as the "I Will Bring You a Blow–Fish" meeting report. There were a total of 3 Scène columns in all, all repeats, but recent ones. There were four fundamentally graphic 'Posters of the Week,' and far from least, Ric's weekly cartoon was less nonsense than real life with the topical caption of 'Up, Down with Noël.'

Triple Striving

For the 40th time in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but is instead an exciting true 'Quote of the Week' loosely based on a true one. Once upon a time Charles Dickens, who wrote 'A Christmas Carol' in his spare time, said, "I will live in the past, the present, and the future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me." Saving what be made in the past and spending it in the present, Dickens still had some spare change when he was overtaken by the future.

If the Past Is Any Indication

The United States, where everything not invented in France or Russia, was invented, saw its first record player – a forerunner of the iPod – on this date in 1877, when Thomas Edison was granted a patent for it. Audio grooves were etchedphoto, sign, pere noel on a tin cylinder and picked up with a needle and somehow transformed into sounds, with somewhat fuzzy vowels, but good enough for Bing Crosby to sing 'White Christmas' eternally.

Existential Pataphysics

While France is a proud land with a long political history over a couple of thousand years, involving literally thousands of personalities both major and minor, there is perhaps only one politician of note who will be remembered in history, as well as record books, for being born on the day he died. This honor goes to Théodore Steeg who between the two dates of 19. December lived 82 years from 1868 to 1950, and made the voyage from Libourne to Paris.

High of the Week

It was exactly four years ago today that world's highest barometric pressure was recorded. According to the record it measured 1085.6 hPa, or 32.06 inHg, in round numbers. Scientists around the world applauded this extraordinary feat which put Tosontsengel, Hövsgöl Aymag, Mongolia, on the map for the first time. If not for the record, it would still be off the maps, notphoto, case of boules much more than a dusty water hole in the desert, known only to a few double–humped camels and their hardy drovers.

Memorable Dates of the Week

There are only 12 days left of this year, which means there are not more than 22 days until the begin of the Soldes d'Hiver. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1910 when Jean Genet was born, a good number of years before publishing his first, successful or otherwise, novel. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 353 days, the same number that 1915 had when Edith Piaf was born in a bird's nest on Ménilmontant. The exact date when the two shared a lunch at the Deux Magots is unknown.

Faits Divers XII

On behalf of 'Ed,' Ric, the club secretary and radio ric, I wish all readers a very happy holiday and a fine time until the new year is safely behind, or entered into, whichever seems easiest. Salut les copains!
signature, regards, ric

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