...Continued from page 1

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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