photo, rain, metro odeon Today's wet scene at Odéon was the same as yesterday's.

Club Report – Blogversion

Although radio ric has been writing about Paris for 10 years without realizing that he was blogging, he has decided to jump on the band–wagon, in order the catch the next Internet bubble while it's still expanding, getting bigger and blogger, straining its seams, with all the VC dudes and dudettes who didn't leap off high buildings in '99 starting to wave serious moola around. Yipee!

Glowing News from Calcutta

Paris:– Thursday, 9. March:– Readers and club members with long attention spans may recall that the Cafe Metropole Club's café is closed this week – to complete the unfinished renovation from four or five years ago. But just in case there was a slip–up, I went by today to be on hand for strays.

But first, you'll probably need to know about Friday's weather. According to the weather experts working for France–2 TV we should expect some westerly winds of about 60 kph that will increase to 70 in the afternoon, while colder air seeps down from the north, sending temperatures down to a degree less than 10 under a mostly cloudy sky that may allow a sunbeam to peek down, but maybe won't.

I rather doubt today's high hit the predicted 12 degrees while I was waiting for errant club members outside the Corona this afternoon. Monsieur Naudan came along and offered me a café inside the café full of paint fumes. Madame Naudan assured me the café would reopen Friday night. In the slot of time the club secretary's was on guard, no readers, members or prospective members showed up. One gent said 'no,' and two ladies asked the way to Notre Dame.

Next week the situation will be different with a club meeting in freshly–painted surroundings. By then the fumes should be replaced by the usual smells of Paris – frites, cigarette smoke and the winy tang of empty wine glasses.

photo, sign, peinture fraiche, cafe, grande salle Club's café closed for painting.

While you are here I may as well mention the big demo planned for Saturday, 18. March. Members of all unions, many students, and loads of public employees have agreed to hold protests against the prime minister's pet project to get the unemployed off their lazy backs – with the fabulous new first–job contract that allows employers to fire all new hires without cause for the first two years.

The chief minister and the ruling UMP party think those starting out their careers will embrace jobs with no security more than security with no jobs. Of course employers appreciate the idea. Hiring folks under the former rules of the 'Code de Travail' is ultra risky, as the last 60 years have proved. Flaky stuff like that caused the coal mines and steel mills to close, shut down the biscuit factories, ruined the toaster industry and chased the after–sales service centres to Calcutta.

But this CPE turmoil is in the future. Right now, just as the winter holidays end and the snow keeps falling, and it keeps melting, two dangers are caused at once – avalanches for those up mountains and floods for those of us downstream. The good news in this connection is the lifting of water sprinkling restrictions, imposed last June. On account of the thaw the Seine has risen, but the TV–news hasn't mentioned it yet. Another metre higher and visitors will be able to get some interesting photos.


What's LA Smell?

Paris:– Wednesday, 8. March:– Did I say it is raining? Before I go out I look out the window and see if the windshieldwipers are wiping on the cars swimming past down below. If they are not, it is not raining. But we are having changeable weather and by the time I'm on the sidewalk it is raining. At the corner of the building it is like a North Sea gale.

While you are here, this is the forecast for tomorrow. No surprises – more rain. There will be breezes too, they said on the TV–weather news, but tonight's low will be higher than last week's high, while the high for tomorrow is predicted to be 12. Pretty snazzy eh? If it wasn't for the rain we'd be aces.

So, while it is raining I hop on the Métro and ride through dry tunnels down to Les Halles, where I realize I've made a mistake. Les Halles in rush hour is always a mistake. By the time I get out of that jam I know I should have got off one stop before, at Châtelet, and walked the extra block. As it was I walked two extra blocks underground in le maze des Halles.

Then it was, raining, as I skipped over to, head down, to the Pompidou to see the 'Los Angeles' exhibition that had its opening night free drinks binge last night. I was on this case in January when Gary De la Rosa was here, and Tomoko sent me an email today saying he's back, and the plan is to meet tonight in the Pompidou, and here I am, damp but on time.

photo, los angeles expo entry, pompidou A legal photo of the expo, without detail.

The Pompidou is a big thing. I don't know where I am supposed to meet Tomoko and Gary with his free tickets, so I buy a ticket at full price because I forgot to bring the welfare card I don't have, and there's no discount for beauty or age. Going in I get all three ticket–takers to electro–flash the ticket, but it blows no gaskets.

Then I take the escalator to the 6th floor. It is actually about a dozen escalators and it takes about two days but there's a fine view of a soaking Paris, gray and fleeting golden with rain, Tour Eiffel on the horizon, take a photo, buy a postcard. There are other sights and it's worth the admission price.

I find the LA expo at the end of a long corridor, and then Tomoko finds me, and asks, "Where's Gary?" She beat me to it. She also got in for free because she brought her welfare card. We flash our tickets at the flasheuse and trawl the exhibition.

This goes along fine until I decide to ask if I can take some photos to go along with this piece. There are royalties concerned, the museum might want to collect something, the artists certainly, and most important, never on the 'Net, the short answer is non. As the conversation moves into its 2nd hour and displaces from inside to the entry, Tomoko comes past, saying she's going to park someplace.

In the entry I take the only legal photo. Then Gary arrives, with one of my club members who is not Tomoko. Gary says he arrived from Los Angeles Tuesday night, with a pass to the drinks uproar, but they wouldn't let him in because it was past his bedtime. He put up a fuss, for a hour – honest – he told me! – then he was overcome with jetlag.

I start the expo again. Gary has to read all the little tickets on everything so I quickly get ahead of him. The expo is called 'Los Angeles 1955–1985, Etc Etc.' I begin to realize it is really different. LA is something smelly. There's this thing of Ketchup bottles, blood, black gunk. I think maybe it's ripe.

photo, rain, paris, view from pompidou Night in the rain, with the usual twinkles.

Another sign says, "NAHSBOF" which is a new word for 'sneeze' in German. There are fine photos, like the one for the poster all over Paris, shot by Dennis Hopper in 1961. Further on, after much other odd stuff, another message says, "A hell if there ever was one," attributed to Alexis Smith in 1982.

My day, rain and all, is made by the fine piece that is a chicken in a small but elaborate coffin, titled 'Blink's Coffin.' Nearby there's a map showing the location of Blink's coffin in the LA cemetery. For fans of French the translation is not a big hurdle, with La version originale de Blinky le poulet sympa, 1978.

This reminds me that it is news time, which means I'm hungry. Outside it has become night, wet, slick, glistening, and the yellow lights are lit and glittering in the puddles. I skip Les Halles and catch the Métro at Châtelet's Opportune hole, the underground looking grimly like St. Pauli on a wet day in Hamburg.

This LA show – is worth a visit, if you like strange stuff that smells, and it continues until 17. July, which is a Monday I bet. Open from 11:00 to 21:00 daily except Tuesdays, and on Thursdays late until 23:00. At the Centre Georges Pompidou, Place Georges Pompidou, Paris 4. Métro: Rambuteau. InfoTel.: 01 44 78 12 33.

Goodblognight from Paris
radio ric

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