May Day Day

photo, posters, rain, spectators May Day with Easter weather.

Pitiful Weather To End

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 1. May 2006:– I decline any obligation to accept blame for today's cheesy weather. What I've always said about 'snow at Easter' has never meant that it will be crummy on May Day if by some fluke it failed to snow at Easter. The two days aren't related. Even if they, this year, seem to have had identical weather. It's just a fluke.

But now that Easter and May Day are out of the way, the weather can return to being spring, the leaves can pop further out and all the fluffy little fleurs can spread their colorful blooms, petals, whatnots, and put on their makeup to attract the bees, if that it what they're up to.

So then, while greenness is spreading, tomorrow is to start with fog. Fog? Tonight's TV–weather news guy said, 'fog,' clearly enough and I wrote a note so it's here in writing, so fog it is. I suspect this will be not morning mist hanging about in low spots like the Rue Visconti in the Quartier Latin, but will be high, thin clouds that veil the sunshine until about 8:00, so I suggest staying in bed until it's past, over, done with.

photo, muguet stand Spring flowers with propaganda.

Because later, at 8:01, the sun will pop out and it will be mostly sunny for several days except when it's nighttime. TV–news seldom says what the temperature actually turns out to be – as in, 12 degrees was predicted for Sunday but the pharmacy thermometre I saw said 8. So if 12 was forecast for today it was probably 8 again.

The goodnews is a new prediction in tonight's forecast, for a high of 21 degrees on Tuesday, and 23 for both Wednesday and Thursday. Even if the 'law of 30–percent–less' kicks in the temperature should be at least twice as high as it was for Easter and May Day. But if that law is unobserved we may be in foie gras city, unlike Chicago which is thinking of banning this extremely healthy, French–type, fastfood.

Oops, I forget. Both Wednesday and Thursday are supposed to be sunny days, in the daytime at least, which lasts from about 06:30 to 21:00 because we are so far north here, on about the 50th parallel.

Meanwhile, In No–Smoke Ville

Metropole's expert for the east coast weather watch, Météo Jim, wrote on Sunday to remind me that forecasting is just as unpredictable over there as it is here, even without the nasties from Canada. Here is, just in time, Météo Jim's accurate and timely forecast:–

Pommeland's weather for the coming week will be cool with a hint of warmth, lots of sun tempered by a few clouds. Temperatures will be in the upper 60s – low 70s. Right now Pommeland is caught between a stormy low pressure area to the west and a similar disturbance over the Atlantic, to the east. This disturbance hasn't decided whether to visit Pommeland or cross the Big Pond and visit Paris Plage. It's dithering.

Today, May 1st, which is Euroland's Labor Day, may be just as exciting here as Labor Day in Paris Plage. Immigrant groups, both legal and illegal, threatened to go on strike and bring the US economy to a halt. They want amnesty for having entered the country illegally and they want immediate citizenship and lower gas prices. At least they can revel in springtime conditions, ordered especially for today.

Café Life

May Day Day

The weather got steadily worse over the weekend and this morning did not look promising by noon. Since I told everybody at the club meeting on Thursday that the highlight of the week would be today's May Day parade, I decided to ignore the threatening skies, curse my big mouth, and take my lumps. The radio merely said, eventually, that the start time was 15:00, at République, and sunshine on the Riviera.

photo, jeunes jetables, africans Not throw–away folks.

So I went out and rain was spitting on the way to the Métro, which I rode to Italie and switched to the line going up to Bastille. In the underground tunnels most people were going the opposite way. Up on the street there wasn't any sight of the usual preparations for a major parade. There was no smell of grilling sausages.

'Maybe,' I thought, 'the parade is so small that the street isn't blocked off.' I walked towards République. It was raining more. There were a fair number of people around but they seemed to be going in all different directions – were they all lost?

But the boulevard Beaumarchais was blocked at Oberkampf. Cars were being turned back rather than just being shifted east and west. Oberkampf was blocked too and at the end there were balloons, people and noise that got louder the closer I got. Very loud.

Found, one parade, on my 11th consecutive May Day. As many readers are probably aware, there have been a lot of demonstration marches since the beginning of the year. People who either work for a living or who are training to work for a living, were annoyed with a government plan for a new employment contract – one with a two–year trial period. Intended only for those under 26 seeking their first jobs, many saw it as causing precarious situations.

Nobody knows why the government persisted with its plan, with a majority of the French opposed, and then the government finally changed its mind and withdrew the legislation after continual mass protests kept getting bigger.

So today could have been a self–satisfied victory parade, but so many remain in other precarious situations – the homeless, the workless and the paperless – that there are reasons for having a 'parade of the week.'

photo, fake french id cardThe paper everybody wants.

But if not quite enough pressure is available May Day is an all–purpose occasion. Everybody can march, parade, get out on the street and demonstrate. And this is what happened in France today – not in gigantic numbers – but all over where folks are dissatisfied.

Being May Day, of course Jean–Marie Le Pen led his small band of Front National followers downtown to the statue of Jeanne d'Arc on the Rue de Rivoli and then up to the Opéra, which has become his annual May Day pedestal.

On TV–news one FN legislator was shown berating some odious thugs, nominally FN supporters, for actually being in the service of the Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Downtown is far enough away from République in east Paris, and a march conceived as being more modest than usual had picked the direct route from République to Nation, via the Boulevard Voltaire, rather than the longer route through Bastille.

It was still raining lightly when I joined at Oberkampf. A smaller parade than usual was further along, but moving at its usual slow pace. I got to its head easily, to search for vantage spots for photos. But I need not have bothered because these parades are ones anyone can be in. Except for the union toughies ringing the leaders, there is scant security.

The police had one big cop with a radio walking point, flanked by a couple of radio–news vans, some radio–news motards and a few city circulation cops on scooters. This may seem like a thin screen to contain the riots that foreign news services insist are a common feature of life in France, but is absolutely normal.

photo, flags, banners, precarious, oppressionStudents on the march again.

Being at the front of the parade prevented me from seeing the police in plainclothes at the tail, where they would have been on the lookout for casseurs, who take advantage of the freedom to march in protest, to wreck and destroy. So we have ten cops herding 20 or 30,000 working folks – fewer than in small towns – and the garbage collectors at the rear.

Today's parade featured not all of the unions. Others had their own parades at different times in different places, in Paris and all over France. In this one there were many students – there are other labor contracts they don't like – and many immigrant workers, both legal and illegal, protesting against discrimination.

The leaders moved slowly towards Nation inside their roped security square, followed by a truck with a live jazz band. This was a welcome change from the usual techno trash noise, and this came soon enough with ultra–high decibels. The jazz was good too. They should have wired it together with WiFi and had it along the entire route.

photo, balloons, demonstratorsColorful enough, almost for Easter.

People looked... a bit damp. But the sky didn't promise anything else and everybody knew what they were in for – so there we were, 20 or 30,000 of us meandering down Voltaire in east Paris on a gloomy May Day afternoon, with some music, and the usual peddlers of the season's muguet, which is Lily of the Valley, so I have been told.

TV–news tonight says that we weren't as many as – I don't know what we were compared to. Folks won their fight with the government, by getting out on the streets massively four or five times since January. It's May Day, it's a day off for workers, peasants and even the unemployed and the not–yet employed, students. We did okay.

What's Happening Here?

Starting before Metropole's renovation ended I began switching from my old computer to a new one, and from an old operating system to a new one – one that requires new software. How Metropole's content pages are coded is new too, and the whole procedure for creating the pages and verifying them has changed.

The short of it is, this more than I can master in a snap of the fingers. It is cutting into my vital sleeping time, to the extent of causing me to have feelings of guilt when I sleep until 14:00. And anybody who does manage to sleep this late needs a large amount of café to jump–start the battery.

Patience is requested, where you are and necessary where I am. Will it be rewarded? Sometimes it doesn't seem like it. I have been used to having my tools be just so, sharpened and ready to go. This isn't the way they are now. Slowly, slowly.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last week's 'Club Meeting of the Week' last week took place in the afternoon in the club's café on Thursday which was about what club members expected. and might have had. Pass a glance at the 'report' of the meeting, which, with no lack of inspiration, was titled, "You Pack Too Tight"

This coming Thursday's meeting of the Café Metropole Club will without doubt be hardly a surprise, with the club's secretary comfortable on the spiffy new fake–leather banquette. The 'Saint of the Week' will be Saint–Sylvain, about whom I know absolutely nothing other than he never met my aunt.

photo, sign, rue clotilde de vaux

The true and farout story about the club is on the 'About the Club' page. Should curiosity befall yourself have a final peep at the club's original and hand–crafted membership card, about to be replaced one of these days.

Fait Divers of the Year

Ed,' Ric, the secretary of the Café Metropole Club and not least, radio ric – excluding Radial Ric – all of them wish to thank all readers and club members, my bank manager and parts salesmen for longstanding patience through these tiresome times of reconstruction and renovation 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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