...Continued from page 1

For Saturday's exclusive coverage for Metropole I decided not to try getting into the Stade Charlety. This stadium just beyond the edge of the 14th arrondissement that has a big screen and drew about 15,000 for the Spanish game.

Instead I tuned the TV to TF1 and saw the French skillfully hold the Brazilians in check, or vice versa, for the first half, which they finished with a tied non–score. Then I hopped into the métro at Gaîté and rumbled up to the Champs–Elysées.

Where, I was surprised to find, were thousands of delirious Portuguese waving flags from the curbs and passing cars, many of them fancy convertibles. Portugal beat Britain earlier Saturday, to eliminate them from the tournament. How can, I wondered, so few Portuguese make so much noise? It's their Brazilian cousins who are famous for it.

photo, flare, celebration, champs elysees, saturdayMore hellish than it was.

A small crowd was pressed against the windows of the Drugstore watching the match on distant TVs. Many many riot police were being tolerant about the antics of the Portuguese and the broad avenue was like a dim gymnasium just before the boys decided to dance. Cars full of flags with horns blaring tore around the Etoile and even tour buses joined the parade.

Then there was a shout from the crowd by the Drugstore, a TV cameraman moved closer and a dozen teenagers began acting – acting as if the French had won, mainly by screaming and jumping up and down with their arms in the air. It looked like something rehearsed, or they'd seen it already on TV.

Meanwhile the riot police sealed the Etoile entry to the Champs–Elysées with iron–framed screens and police trucks, and then there were 20,000 young people in the street joining the Portuguese, with yet more flags, red flares, power horns while Métro exits were spewing out whole trainloads of newcomers. Wherever there was a TV camera the young boys would do their leaping act – snake–arms! – sometimes as many as 50 at once.

On the way back to Montparnasse Métro trains going the other way were jammed with loud fans and on the street car horns were sounding. A hour later they were still out there letting everyone know they know how to hit their horns. After 04:00 I still heard toots.

photo, arc de triomphe, celebration, champs elysees, saturdayNot long before the other 400,000 arrived.

These were, of course, the drivers who hadn't skipped town during the weekend. On Friday the SNCF said they were hauling a million passengers out of Paris to distribute them around the country to the usual places and Aeroports de Paris said they were putting 800,000 on flights. These might have been numbers for the three–day weekend because on Saturday the news from the summer sales' front was jubilant with department stores reporting record traffic. Friday's Le Parisien said unemployment is really down – vraiment. As in, all the other announced decreases over the last 20 years were always fiction. So it looks like France is on a roll – but first the holidays!

The 'No Darn Rain' Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last week's Club Meeting of the Week last Thursday occurred with three current members, which was very many more than the club's secretary often expects. Fill yourself in with the incredible report of this cool meeting, which, without a tray of hearty type, was headlined, 'No Darn Rain In New Mexico.' There was no food subheaded because there was no 'Food of the Week.'

photo, sign, soldes

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on a day of rare unimportance, a plain 'Thursday of the Week.' The coming 'Saint of the Week' will be Sainte–Mariette. I know this because it is printed on two calendars I have here. But to some saints and angels online Mariette was unknown. Not an angel then. Wikipedia wants someone to supply an article about her. A flower vendor's Web site confirmed my calendars, plus there is a mention in Metropole, for 28. June 2001.

The unlikely legend of the club is on a page inexplicably called the 'About the Club' page. Treat your doubt to a mental challenge and hurl a glance at the club's beautiful, original and hand–made membership card, before its threatened replacement, hinted at for many months ad nauseam, which is Latin for 'blow your nose.'

photo, sign, rue de l'ouest

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

This feature is again unavailable this week for technical reasons, partly because it is unknown if anybody has ever read it, but mainly because it is hot and these keys are getting sticky.

Café Life Lite 1O1

Pataphysical Dogs

There are a pack of 181 days left of this year, which means there are only about 10 days left until the begin of the Paris–Plage. This is exactly the same number of 'days left' as long ago in Roman times when Romans called these days caniculares dies. They looked at the sky and saw the constellation Canis Major where Sirius is found. Romans thought when Sirius rose/set with the sun that heat from Sirius was increased the heat of the sun, causing Rome to be hot and humid, so they called it 'dog days' for short.

photo, tango by the seine, friday In Paris, tango is never last.

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 184 days, the same number that 1940 had when the British damaged and sank units of the French fleet stationed at Mers el–Kebir near Oran. The Brits were in a rotten snit because Vichy signed a capitulation, giving up World War II. The boss of the French fleet refused an offer of a friendly takeover made by Vice–Admiral Somerville on behalf of Winston Churchill, and the rest is dismal history.

Latest Battle News

On this date in 324, according to a transliteration of calendars, Constantine defeated Licinius at the Battle of Adrianople. Licinius fled to Byzantium which was then just a few miles down the road. Then exactly 109 years later Byzantine general Belisarius defeated the Vandals near Carthage at the Battle of Ad Decimum. A long time later, in 987, Hugh Capet was crowned as King of France, and this dynasty continued until 1792. Only 136 years later the world's first TV broadcast was made in London because it wasn't invented in Paris.

False Alarm

This date may be remembered, by some, for several birthdays of note, including those of Franz Kafka and Dave Barry, who are not related. This day in 1844 also marked the last of the Great Auks. The Great Auk is a well–known extinct bird. In the classification lists it as the only species in the genus Pinguinus. Unlike other auks, the Great Auk could not fly – like penguins cannot fly – which enhances their vulnerability to humans. Other auks? Penguins? Other auks can fly but penguins cannot? Why haven't penguins been wiped out? What are we waiting for?

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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