Waltzing Out the Door

photo, saturday demonstration in paris Students led Saturday's protest that sprawled across Paris.

Into a Flying Machine

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 20. March 2006:– Now that I've decided to leave town the weather has decided to keep on with more of the same which was kind of miserable today after a weekend of some sunshine but cool breezes, the kind that give a surprise slap in the face when you round corners and trickle up the back of your coat while sitting foolishly on a café terrace trying to believe that spring is just around the corner, the same one that's waiting to pop you in the kisser.

Which leads me straight to the thought that today has been spring's first day, according to the TV–weather news, without it being at all memorable, pleasant, cozy, or a day to remember. Anyhow, it's the first day of spring this year and I say to hell with it!

Golly! I'm looking at today's Le Parisien for the first time. If I had seen this before I would have phoned the after–sales service hotline to complain. But what do they know? Sitting way off there in sunny Dakar, drinking rum blitzes under the south Atlantic palms with their moderate trades.

For the next few days if you are up by the Channel you might have to hold on to your hat because there will be winds coming down it from the northeast, except on Thursday when they will be blowing 90 degrees to the right, from Calais to Dover. Stay out of Dover then. Or wait three days and catch the wind back.

Meanwhile, around the centre of the world, near Métro Vavin, tomorrow will probably present a day with plenty of gloom that will include showers and maybe even some outright rain. I'm glad I leaving this muck. The temperature of 8 degrees will not set exciting records either.

photo, cemetery, serge gainsbourg, willy and max Serge's place across the street from my place.

Wednesday might be quite a bit different, even pretty good without being outrightly sunny, but you never know. While it gives it takes away too, so don't expect much more than 5 degrees, which is on the cool side for January.

The day after, Thursday, will be a day offering hope for all who suffer from dim light in spring. I have noted, although without great conviction, a forecast for sunshine and great efforts in the temperature department. Alas, these are in vain because the météo powers have promised only 6 degrees. By then I may be renting a deckchair on tropical Coney Island.

Air Quality in Pommeland

Our greater Pommeland weather boffin, Météo Jim, wrote on Thursday to request a period of hibernation, partly on account of bush fires in Texas, and Oklahoma, that he said would be shuffling smoke towards 'Extremely Greater Pommeland' to leave it, "A charred, black mess."

Frankly, I doubt it. Météo Jim may claim to be hibernating but I truly believe he is getting ready for the opening of the baseball season by sharpening his golf clubs and restringing his lacrosse stick, putting away his ice skates and car chains and filling the old lawn mower with racing gas. Of course I could be wrong. After all, I've been wrong before. Like, for example, the blackout in August.

Café Life

This Is Not Metamorphosis

My kids Willy and Max came to visit last Friday. I haven't seen Max for a long time, since he was nine. Talk about changes! When I saw him last he was a little kid and now he's a big little kid, almost 14, size 15 and a half. Willy was here last summer but he's changed too – from having no hair to having lots of hair.

photo, xxl satorialismSlightly ahead of the latest
headbanger's style.

We went into McDo's on the Champs–Elysées because they had commenced to starve after a long ride on the RER. They let me have a double–express so I didn't talk bad about the place while I was in it. We had a very round round table and we could have enjoyed the ambient music if they hadn't been cleaning the air pipes with a noisy vacuum cleaner.

They took samples of gunky dust and shook their heads over it. Nobody else noticed except us. I kept my hand over my café. The kids showed me how to empty a tray and be a good McPerson. i believe it is one of the busiest McDo's on the planet. It felt like being in the anteroom of a crematorium, a very dim one.

After getting ourselves to Montparnasse we had to decide what to do. The kids were born here but never hung out in Paris before they left. The weather was good on Friday, bright and sunny, and we finally decided to visit Serge Gainsbourg in the cemetery across the street, about 150 metres away.

The cemetery has a high wall so we had to walk more than 150 metres to get in it, and then we had to hunt for Serge's place. It should be easy to find because it is directly in front of my big window, but distances in a cemetery can be deceiving. It was bright and sunny though.

photo, arriving for manifWhole families turned out on Saturday.

Serge has just had his 15th anniversary of being across the street from my place, so we were looking for a tomb with lots of flowers, some photos and a bust or two, used Métro tickets, bunting, a sunflower, and a bunch of fairly fresh cabbages. Let's say that there aren't a lot of graves in the cemetery with the kind of décor you find at Serge's, so we found it in the end.

There was an older lady there with a watering can, taking care of the plants. Others stopped by too. Serge is still a popular guy. You can tell. I mean fresh cabbage is fresh cabbage after all.

I got the idea that Willy and Max had no idea that cemeteries could be so entertaining. It was like, "Yeah, Serge is okay, so what else is there?"

The place is full of interesting stuff. You could spend days seeing everything in the cemetery. Except I see it all the time from my window. So we went to see the glass bird, and after that, the couple in bed on top of a tomb. You might think all cemeteries have stuff like the one in Montparnasse. Well, other Paris cemeteries have their sights too.

After hitting a café and a tabac on Raspail we found the crazy clothing store that has all the fins de series Willy and I were there last summer when it was having its own fin d'été, and he remembered some wild and crazy shoes. But they were gone, so he lucked into a denim boiler suit, XXL, cheap! I managed not to buy a black cashmere overcoat for 199€.

Then we went back up Raspail to Monoprix and got some chocolate cereal, crisps, Tequila and industrial rum, for dinner, which we actually had with Uncle Den–Den just returned from San Francisco, at our special Italian pizzeria. Except for Uncle Den–Den, we refused all free drinks.

Then it was video time and we watched 'Brooklyn Boogie' again. They've gone off 'Pulp Fiction.' It took long enough.

Demo of the Week

This was scheduled to take place on Saturday and that's what it did, starting from right down the road at Denfert–Rochereau. Teenagers like big crowds that wave banners around and chant slogans and dress in funny costumes, and fill up big places and climb on top of the lion.

We struggled through the mass and got beyond the head of the parade, to pick a good spot on Arago below the wall of the Santé with 10,000 others, to watch the marchers pass. Just as many were coming up from Gobelins so for a long time it seemed as if there was no parade, just more and more people gathering outside the Santé prison.

photo, champs elyseesA little Sunday traffic on theChamps–Elysées

When they moved finally, after the TV interviews were finished, it was sluggishly. Prisoners cheered the demonstrators and the marchers cheered back. There could have been a prison break and nobody would have been the wiser. About 25,000 paraders passed, mostly students.

The main union elements were about 50,000 people further back, lined up in the Boulevard Saint–Jacques. We passed them and squeezed through Denfert, on the way to Monoprix, to get a lot of beer.

Yeah, so, that was it. No fuss, no drama, and the evening's TV–news gave it full coverage, mentioning all the parents who showed up with their little kids. I suppose they never notice all the kids in the May Day parades. I wonder sometimes if the news people are French.

The Sight of the Week

This was Max's choice. He wanted to see Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe at the Etoile. It is a very sporty monument, what with getting to the top by going a long way up a narrow, winding stairway made out of stone. The climb is worth it if it is sunny and bright because the arch stretches up towards the sky.

On a semi–gloomy day like Sunday, with the distant edges of Paris blurred by fog, the view is only two stars. Add a northwest wind and hanging around on the top has limited interest. But we timed it right and went downstairs, spinning around, and back through tunnels to the RER.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The 'Club Meeting of the Week' last Thursday was a jolly affair in the club's café which was not quite all repainted. Take a look at the 'report' of the meeting, which, for want of inspiration was titled 'A Real Big Meeting.'

This coming Thursday's meeting of the Café Metropole Club will without doubt be a surprise for all, with the club's acting secretary Josef M. Schomburg in the driver's seat. The 'Saint of the Week' will be Sainte–Mi–Carême, about whom I know absolutely nothing because I haven't been out looking for Easter eggs for about 50 years. I never found any either.

photo, sign, place de l'ile de sein

A true but fanciful story about the club is on the 'About the Club' page. Should curiosity befall yourself take a gekko at the club's original and hand–crafted membership card, good for absolutely more than nothing but not much.

Crucial Club Note II

The next meeting is on Thursday, 25 March. During it I will be on holiday until the next meeting on Thursday, 13. April. Between now and then the substitute club secretary will conduct the meetings. Watch this space, or GoodBlogWeek, for updates. Beyond this be sure to keep an eye on Metropole – expect to see GoodBlogWeek become what it is supposed to be. Although this is unchanged since last week, it doesn't mean I don't mean it. Are you still watching?

Faits Divers XX

'Ed,' Ric, the secretary of the Café Metropole Club and not least, radio ric – they all wish to thank all readers and club members, my kids, my bank manager and the staff of the Bistro 48 for longstanding patience through these tiresome times of reconstruction and waltzing in and around somewhere near here. Salut les copains!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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