...Continued from page 1

Of course I am an old pro at this game of 'now we're closed, now we're open and free, aha! fooled ya! surprise high wind alert!' I am a pro because I have a fall–back plan. Okay, so I know I'm never getting into the Orangerie free, who cares? On to the fall–back!

This was quite a long way eastward on Rivoli, all the way to the Hôtel de Ville. As a fall–back it was great in theory – not one but two free exhibitions – the prolongation of the Willy Ronis photo show and the Paris Cinèma around the coroner in the rue Lobau..

Wind aside it was mainly sunny when it wasn't cloudy, and all the incredible and long wall of identical buildings along the north side of Rivoli were shining stone white with a few flags bravely waving. And along there, on the right, or south side, the absolutely empty Tuileries garden itself, not a soul anywhere in it and its fountain turned on and up, spraying the gravel with careless abandon. All the gates had the 'closed' notices on them.After a day or so of sort of soft walking I arrived at the Hôtel de Ville where a band was tuning up on a stage erected on the place, and a few folks were hanging around for the free music in the intermittent sunshine and gusty breezes. By this time I had forgotten it was Saturday afternoon – did it matter?

Coming off the place and into the shade on Rivoli I wondered what was happening on the sidewalk. It was plugged with people. A bit closer and the crowd resolved into a line, three and four abreast, lined up waiting to get into the free Willy Ronis exhibition. What? Not shoppers! Not across the street at the BHV where they were supposed to be? Phew... some even had shopping bags.

photo, hotel de ville, expo, willy ronis The second of three freebies – mobbed!

Well, I said this was a double–fall–back, so I kept on going down the block to the corner and away from the front door there weren't all that many about and the corner seemed deserted – a few too few people if anything – but around the corner, YES! it's another line–up. Parisians are freebie–crazy. On Saturday when they are supposed to be shopping!

This is all my own fault. I used to read my mail and keep track of the printed press invitations to these exhibitions, and if they weren't on Tuesdays or Thursdays, I used to go and see the new shows. Now that I think of it, it was better doing it that way than the way I'm trying to do it now. This is about the sixth time this year I've tangled with this trait Parisians have, of flocking to Saturday freebies, and it's the sixth time I've lost.

To be continued.

Tempest in the Bois

The Tower Theatre Company will be presenting a Shakespeare version of the Tempest rather than one produced by weather, in the Jardin Shakespeare somewhere near the Pré Catalan in the Bois de Boulogne, beginning Tuesday, 30. May. This is the 15th year that these players have presented Shakespeare in a beautiful setting in the fresh air, somewhat distant from a Métro station.

Check out the Web site for details plus directions. The show continues until Sunday, 4. June so don't wait until the last minute. For info, tickets or plain fun, phone Robin Baker at 01 45 20 67 30 or click his name for the email link.

The Huge Thing of the Week

Aerial photos of Paris are rare because the city is a well–kept military secret. Very few civilians are accorded permission to overfly the city and even fewer take photos from above the Tour Eiffel. Jean–Louis Schmidt got permission somehow and took his camera up there and then put some of his 1000 shots on his Web site, which is called Paris Sky Pictures. Forty of these photos also appear in his book titled J'aime Paris. If this isn't enough there are also other photos of France, from the 1950s. Worth a look.

Not–the–Best Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The Club Meeting of the Week last Thursday took place without benefit of any members in the club's café, which was about what the club's secretary least expects. Flick a glance at the 'report' of the non–meeting, which, with some major invention, was headlined, 'Windy and Stoned Blogbabble.'

photo, door, place de la concorde

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club should feature some members, real or imagined, with all the usual 'firsts' such as a new 'City of the Week.' The 'Saint of the Week' will be Ascension, a public holiday that shouldn't be confused with Pentecôte in June, which is still on the calendar despite being suppressed because we don't work enough in France.

The mainly true and overly exciting story of the club is on the 'About the Club' page. Should your curiosity be piqued, hurl an eyeball at the club's highly original and hand–crafted membership card, before its eventual replacement with something real.

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 9.21 – 17. May – the week's Café Metropole column was titled, 'May Bursts Out, Freaks, Montparnos, Sunlight.' The Au Bistro column's headline was, 'Difficult Partners, a New Campus in Town.' The 'Feature of the Week' was titled 'Here's the Winner! – of the Bumper–Sticker Slogan Contest.' There was a double–repeat Scène column with the title, 'Par Amour de l'Art, and Thread Trips,' yet again. The update for the 20. May meeting of the Café Metropole Club was called the 'Geopolitical Meeting' report. There were four stunningly boring 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's weekly cartoon was straight from the graveyard of lost cartoons with the caption, 'You Call this a Caption?'

photo, sign, rue saillard

This Was Metropole Three Years Ago

Issue 8.21 – 19. May 2003 – in this week's issue the Café Metropole column was topical with, 'Revenge Weather.' The Au Bistro column wasted no more words than the week before with 'In 6 words – 'Don't Miss 'Dimanche Noir' on 25. May.' The sole feature's headline was, 'Rail Days – Wheels of Steel.' The report for the Café Metropole Club meeting on 22. May was titled, "I Need Help from an Expert" report. There were four stupendous 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was 'social' again with, "42 Years? Let's Strike!"

Café Life Lite 1O1

Disconnected from Earth

For the 1st time in a very long time – maybe since never – my connection to the Internet was a disconnect Monday afternoon and evening. No surfing to sources for the usual nonsense that usually finishes off this Café column. But I'm trying to look at this on the bright side – it isn't 04:00 in the morning yet, a hour before the birds shake their feathers and oil up their tweeters. No, it's much earlier. Hotdog, what will I do with myself? I mean, after I do the spell–check, write the captions, put in the photos, all that other stuff. PS:– 'online' returns 14:00 Tuesday afternoon. Yipee!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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