Playing Hardball

photo, cafe la consigne, montparnasse Brave sun for brave terracians.

Return of New, Better Pataphysics

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 8. May 2006:– You should see the weather map in today's Aujourd'hui en France which is being a holiday substitute for Le Parisien. If it wasn't in color all the clouds would be in black. From some of the darker clouds there are bolts of red lightning. Shazam! attacks France, from Corsica to Lille, from Brest to Grenoble.

But actually, in real France where I am located, it has been fairly sunny today and warmer than predicted. Can you believe what you read in newspapers? But judging from tonight's TV–weather news, its forecast pretty well matched the newspaper's. The differences are not more serious than several hundred kilometres, north mixed with south, so I'll skip them.

A raft of predictions has warned about low temperatures, and tomorrow is no exception. Snow is expected in the Alps but they are not near here, so don't worry. Here, it might be part sunny in the morning and only partly sunny in the afternoon, and very sunny down south if you go far enough.

photo, sign,springtime, rue froidevaux

Then on Wednesday the country is split in two, north to south, with us on the semi–sunny side and local muck on the east side, beyond the 20th arrondissement somewhere. The high for the day was forecast to be 18 degrees.

Due to an anticyclone on Thursday it will be maybe a bit better than semi–sunny here in the top half of the country and very sunny in the south half. Meanwhile this may result in a high temperature of 22 degrees, maybe more maybe less, but above 20 if you believe it. If true sunrise should be about 06:15 – when the birds will have been peeping madly for a hour – and sundown will be about 21:20, making candlelight dining only a remote likelihood outside of caves.

Fleet In the Sky With Barbaro

Météo Jim, Metropole's weather eye under the skies of the Tri–State area sent his forecast for this week on Saturday. Here is, absolutely fresh, Météo Jim's timely and accurate forecast:–

Barbaro – not to be confused with Rappelle–toi, Barbara. Parce qu'il n'y avait pas de pluie, il n'y avait pas de raison que l'on devrait rappeller Barbara. See above paragraph* for weather and why we shouldn't remember Barbara, not to be confused with Barbaro. See start of paragraph – ...raced to the finish and undying glory. If he wins the next two races, his glory will die even less. But this is a weather report. Glory and horse races are fleeting and weather forecasts are even more fleeting.

The dry spell in Pommeland continues and Barbara will be remembered less and less – or forgotten more and more. There was a chance of a Nor'easter on Tuesday, but the storm may have bet the ranch on "Did He Win Yet Boobie?" and has lost all respectability and no one will take it seriously.

photo, seine, boat, islandA river at the centre of it all.

Tuesday will warm up to around 70 a–grad but there is a chance of showers towards the end of the week, with temperatures in the mid–60's. Sunday, May 14, la Fête des Mères, will be partly cloudy and temperatures will also in the mid–60's. But this can change. See disclaimers from previous forecasts.

*If this makes slight sense you haven't been readingParis Turf carefully. Obviously 'Barbara' refers to NASCAR racing, aside from the disclaimers in previous issues.

Café Life

Playing Dirty Hardball

However, at this moment it appears to be raining. It is night and the cars on the street below are swishing past like wet canoes, under the glistening umbrella of fresh leaves, slightly blacker in the dark than the damp night sky.

France kind of resolved its problems with students on strike several weeks ago and they went back to schools to study for their exams, and a lot of folks marched a week ago on May Day, and you would think that was the end of that, al least until the students get angry again.

photo, fountain, marco polo, turtles Flying water under high sky.

But there is never a dull moment allowed around here. From the past, waiting in the wings for the students to clear off the stage, was some kind of major snafu that was immediately trotted out and now this occupies the top levels of government, the opposition, the press, civilian gossip and the TV–news, day and night.

This one is called the Clearstream Affair. In polls the French think it is grave, but not so bad that the prime minister should resign, and hardly a reason to advance next spring's presidential election. Of course there is a minority opinion, succinctly put by the Socialist leader François Hollande – "The government should go."

As far as I can make out this new shambles mainly concerns only a few of the leaders of the majority. It started a couple of years ago when a general met with an executive of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company. But it started before that as 'Part One,' which was investigated for years and then filed in a dead–letter box.

Two years ago a snitch sent a list of names, a list of account transactions, supposedly from Clearstream, a clearing bank in Luxembourg. This technical bank – it clears huge transactions between banks – has been accused of laundering cash for the Mafia, drug cartels and acting as a transit for invisible political campaign funds.

photo, artshow, ivy paris, chapelle Ivy's artshow in ancient chapelle.

On the TV–news the list is shown and it is a list of names of banks. TV–news does not point out, highlight, enlarge or magnify, any particular's name. How, I wonder, is Nicolas Sarkozy's name attached? How is Michèle Alliot–Marie's name connected? And the other names, including some major Socialists? Well, everybody concerned has gone to the police to press charges against 'X' for defamatory lies.

Apparently some investigators think the list itself is a fake, a forgery. But this doesn't stop speculation from asking who knew what, when? And of course the prime minister Dominique de Villepin is supposed to know something – after Jacques Chirac he is the head of the government spooks after all. They must know something! Oh, it is very juicy, but to me it smells like smoke and I have yet to see any sign of fire. It's more like smoke and mirrors.

Well, this is all very thrilling and everybody involved – except the snitch or course – has to go on the TV–news and say their version of what they knew, when, but who can keep track of it? It sure cuts into the time that should be devoted to the inventors at the Foire de Paris home salon. And those nice days we had – the reports from the bikini shores were drastically slashed.

But rest assured – I've got my eyes peeled on and my ears tuned to the old tube. After a couple of weeks of breathless reports adding up to nearly nothing I am convinced that this Clearstream deal will turn out like a good many major cases here – as it already has, once – it is going to be much ado about nothing.

But if it's part of next spring's presidential campaign, well, these people aren't just playing hardball with balloons, but dirty hardball.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last week's 'Club Meeting of the Week' last week took place last Thursday in the club's café which was about what club members expected if any other than Yoko had been there. Cast a glance at the 'report' of the meeting, which, with supreme inspiration was titled, 'Yoko At Ease.'

photo,statue, luxembourg, pondThe best place to do not much.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will without doubt be on a Thursday, with all the usual trimmings such as a new 'Waiter of the Week.' The 'Saint of the Week' will be Sainte Estelle–de–Saintes, who was from an old family of Druids, with a powerful Roman for a father, who became annoyed and put her to death in the arena, and had her mentor's head cut off with a hachette for good measure.

The otherwise true and inspiring story of the club is on the 'About the Club' page. Lest curiosity befall yourself throw a gander at the club's original and hand–made membership card, before its replacement with a sturdy item.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 9.19 – 3. May 2004 – this issue's Café Metropole column was headlined, 'The Kazoo Race – Too Big To Understand.' The week's 'Feature of the Week' concerned 'May Day 2004 – Four Parades Instead of One.' The other 'Feature of the Week,' about the terrific slogan contest, was titled, 'And Now for the Winners! – of the Bumper–Sticker Slogan Contest.' There was a repeat Scène column with the title, 'Par Amour de l'Art, and Thread Trips.' The update for the 6. May meeting of the Café Metropole Club bleated the "That's Only a Truck–stop!" report. There were four total–zen 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon gave off a taste of oxygen, with 'Air, Spring Air!'

photo, sign, rue antoine dubois

This Was Metropole Four Years Ago

Issue 7.19 – 6. May 2002 – in this issue the Café Metropole column was about 'No 'Good Old Days' for Paris.' The week's Au Bistro column screamed 'Election – France Wins!' The lone feature's headline was, 'Parisians Vote for May Day 2002, Massively.' The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 9. May was handled as the 'Best Friends' Plus One, Minus One' report. There were four neozen–cool 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week lit up the page with, "Emigrate to Canada?"

Spreading Some Untrue

For the 41th time, nearly in a row, this is not about some musty old saint, but is instead an exciting and apt 'Quote of the Week' loosely based on a true one. Once upon a time Edward R. Murrow, who was a newsguy, said, "The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue." Mind you he was thinking of real news rather than the kind of fiction featured in Metropole, which is, at times, equally untrue.

If the Past Is Any Indication

Invented on this day by pillroller Dr. John Styth Pemberton, Coca–Cola refreshed its first thirst in 1886, when a clever waitress added soda to the thick, black syrup to create what has become known in France as, "La boisson gazeuse la plus célèbre."

New, Better Pataphysics

Tarzan – the Sequel Many people like to make fun of Tarzan, or of the actor most closely identified with the Ape Man. Lex 'Alexander' Barker's birthday is today, so we should remember that after a career as 'Tarzan' Lex moved to Europe and appeared in another 40 films, including La Dolce Vita, in which he sort of played himself, an ex–Tarzan hanging out having the 'sweet life' in Rome. In Germany he starred in 13 films, playing Old Shatterhand, a character of the 'Old West,' imagined by Karl May, who made it all up. Tarzan was awarded a Bambi for 'best foreign acting,' in 1966. And who can forget his rendition of the hit song, 'Mädchen in Samt und Seide?'

'Day' of the Week

Over here it is Victory In Europe Day today, which is gradually becoming simply Bravo Europe Day! Originally the date was supposed to by 9. May but some hotheads quit the Second World War a day early and it's what we're stuck with. In Germany, on the 40th anniversary in 1985, President Richard von Weizsäcker said it was 'Liberation Day' so we can all say this instead if we're uncomfortable with 'Bravo Europe.'

Forgettable Dates of the Week

There are a whopping 236 days left of this year, which means there are whole mess of days until the begin of the Soldes d'Eté. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in the year 1794 when liberal scientist Antoine Lavoisier was tried, found guilty and guillotined, all on this day 212 years ago. A short time later it was decided that he wasn't guilty at all but by then the damage was done. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 129 days, the same number that 1541 had when Hernando de Soto found the Mississippi River and misnamed it Río de Espíritu Santo.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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