Tropics of the Week

photo, sundown, saturday, paris plage Palms are like salad to the castles of Paris.

All Summer Needs Is Love

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 24. July:–  I'm afraid I've lost track of normal. This year it's been summer since summer began on Wednesday, 21. June and it is still summer. I remember it being summer like this in 1976 and I oozed through it until September when I went down south to the Mediterranean near Marseille for the first time, when it got cool and rained the whole time, and that was the last time for that.

In these times one expects at least one burst of brillant weather, a couple of plus–30 days, surrounded by a lot of so–so partly cloudy, partly sunny days, with temperatures from 19 to 26. So when we had 37 degrees in Montparnasse one afternoon last week it was easy to bear because it was almost certain to be an unique 'high' for the year.

However it doesn't seem to be turning out this way. The TV–weather news forecasts clouds, storms, rain, thunder and so on and this happens, but very briefly, and then here we are watching the thermometre easily cresting the 30–mark again, again and again.

Even though it does not seem to be humid if you go out and do a little big–city walking, as soon as you stop you cook up, like a pot ready to boil. At night the lowest the temperature has gotten was 19 degrees and it hasn't gone below 20 now for several days. Again we have a heatwave Alert Orange for Paris tonight.

TV–news showed a very blue sky for here on Tuesday, and predicted a high of 36 degrees along with poor air quality. Météo France is keeping its Alert Orange active until Thursday morning. They advise watching at least one three–hour movie in an air–conditioned cinéma during the hottest part of the day.

photo, sign, pharmacy, 37 degrees

The TV–weather news did not bother with forecasts for Wednesday and Thursday, so I checked on Météo France for the following. There is a big low pressure whirly thing out in the Atlantic and it is headed this way, and is expected to reach around here about news time on Wednesday.

Until then it will stay very warm. Then at 20:00 it will become cloudy, the wind will pinwheel around, there will be thunder, lightning, animation, maybe rain, darkness, a whole suitcase of exciting effects. By Thursday the high should dump to 24, about 10 degrees lower than expected for tomorrow.

Today's Le Parisien weather maps indicate something like this coming, so I add it to the Météo France forecast, put it all down here, and cross my fingers for it to actually happen even though I know when it happened recently it was over in 30 minutes. And I always dreamed of living in the tropics – now I know why they are called tropics.

Pommeland Partly Powerless, Completely Perplexed

Météo Jim returns with his ever trusty, ready and teddy – and by now electric – Bic pen to scribe the Weakly Weather Report, based on true facts.

Pommeland, or parts of it, survived the first canicule of the summer. Temperatures began warming up over the past weekend so by Tuesday the temperature was in the upper 90's a–grad. The thermometer came close to, but did not exceed the fabled century mark. By Thursday, a cool front from the west began to bring relief and by Friday, the warm front and cool front were locked in battle which caused thunder–donner–blitzen–boomer–tonnere–foudres to be thrown about in vast profusion Friday afternoon. Some areas of Pommeland were under such severe attack from the special effects, rain and mini–hurricane force winds that one person was quoted as saying, "It's raining trees!" as the winds knocked down stately and leafy reminders of an earlier time. Some of the casualties were but mere saplings when the Pommelanders were still loyal subjects of King George III.

photo, sunset, boat, bridge Not a movie set, it's real and free.

But bad as that was, some parts of La Grosse Pomme were – and still are – under wartime conditions. A silly power failure over the weekend of July 15 is still going on. Damage is far worse than imagined, and how the storm caused so much mangelment to the power infrastructure is still unknown. Visitors from Paris–Plages to Queens should bring plenty of 3000–mile extension cords and a spare generator.

As for the weather for the final week of July, see last week's forecast and subtract 5 degrees. Or don't. Or add 5 degrees. Or disclaim all claimers or claim all disclaimers. Or don't. In the meantime, a suburb of Los Angeles that was not Hollywood recorded an all time high yesterday of 119 a–grad.

Café Life


Doing blog–like updates during the week leaves me little to write more about for the weekly edition of Metropole. Mainly I am getting too lazy to chase the 25 new items a week worth some treatment. This week I reckon you know that Paris–Plages is back in business. You know the new pool is open and the new bridge jiggles. The new museum opened too, and an old museum re–opened. Floyd Landis won this year's Tour de France and everybody is happy for him.

Today Le Parisien has a headline on its front page saying, Vive les amours d'été! This means that, in addition to seeing all the sights, eating all the food, and drinking all that good wine, you are supposed to have a good smooch and a bunch of cuddles too.

In case you might think this is pure French propaganda, the paper spells it out. Party nights, nude in the sunshine, meeting travellers, the summer is best for strikes of lightning – and not just for kids. Not all the connections survive until tomorrow but they leave some wonderful souvenirs.

photo, seine, bateau, pontneuf, eiffel tower For all true sunset fans.

It goes on in similar words on page two and three with some suggestive photos for those unused to reading, and the paper's usual four men on the street, and one lady – oops, she says she never believed in it. She says her mom told here there was no Prince Charming. What a bummer! The guys did better. Tells you who is romantic.

It doesn't have to be Paris but it helps, especially in this weather. The paper's resident neurobiologist says the sun wakes us up. We are bipolar, meaning depressed in winter with hibernating hormones, happy as larks under the sultry sunshine. Maybe it's not sunshine at all – on vacation we are... available. Hah! She says, the brain is full of good juice, ready for action. Sunshine helps you to flip out. So do it.

The 'Anything For a Fan' Café Metropole Club 'Report'

Last week's Club Meeting of the Week last Thursday took place with 400 percent more members than the club's secretary has come to think he deserves to expect. Bring yourself up to date with a sweaty report of this warm meeting which was adroitly titled, Anything For a Fan. There was no cool air to go with the drinks and nearly no drinks but there was a welcome repeat of the Semi–Important Notice, continuing its numbing repetition.

photo, snacks at paul's, paris plageElegant dining, sans candlelight.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on the last Thursday of July. The upcoming 'Saint of the Week' will be Sainte–Nathalie. She shares the date with a mess of other folks, such as her husband, Aurèle, Felix and his wife Liliose and a Palestinian guy named George. All were bumped off in 852 by the Caliph of Cordoba, a certain Abderrahman II.

The hardly less entertaining legend of the club is on a page of considerable wonder so cleverly called the 'About the Club' page. Challenge your belief system with a frivolous challenge by glancing at the club's schmutzig and shoddy hand–crafted membership card before its impending oblivion.

Club Secretary Hits the Road

There is no reason why I intend to take a holiday this summer except I feel like using the ticket I bought and the way I see it August is a better month than any other to toss aside my business habit, forsake my light duties and just run crazy rotten wild, like seaweed on a rampage. I have to have a grilled garlic–flavored chipolata smothered in garlic mustard now!

photo, sign, raspail metro map

For this reason there will be no meetings of the Café Metropole Club for the following Thursdays of August:– 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31. Meetings, with or without members present, will be held on 27. July. After August the first Thursday in September will be a meeting day. Mark the 7th on your calendar. For a free club noted for rare and unusual 'firsts,' this is another free one.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

This feature continues to be unavailable this week for climatic reasons, partly because 'Ed' is the decider here but mainly because it continues to be hot, and these keys are so sticky that the letters stick to my fingers instead of the page, this thing you are looking at.

Café Life Lite 1O1

Lest We Disremember

Today's illustrious anniversary reminds us of the fifth year – in 311 – of the reign of Gaius Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus who was called the Great for short. It was Christian historians, writing a long long time later who gave him the honorific. In reality Constantine was a major leader who won many tough battles, whole wars, had Constantinople named after him, and even regained important territory lost to Rome. When he died in 337 he was thinking of tackling Persia. His conversion to Christianity on his deathbed was a common practise at the time and was in no way retroactive.

Pataphysical Beer Strike

There are a mere 160 days left of this year, the same number that 1487 had when the hardy residents of Leeuwarden went on strike to protest against a ban on foreign beer. This may not be true even if the source is normally reliable. This smells like the kind I history I might make up. I could not verify it. However, this Leeuwarden is located in Friesland, now called Oostfreesland and it was once part of Napoléon's empire. The folks there spoke Frisian which has become rare, but may survive in pockets on the islands, such as Wangerooge. But the main thing about the beer is that Frisians are known as heavy drinkers of tea. They drink tea for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and for all coffee–breaks in between.

photo, sign, pietons traverse obligatoire

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 205 days, the same number that 1915 had when the SS Eastland sank in Chicago in calm summer weather while it was still tied to the dock. It had been chartered to take Western Electric employees to a company picnic in Michigan City, Indiana. Boarding began at 06:30 and by 7:10 the passenger capacity of 2500 was reached, and then it stared to list. At 7:28 the ship began to roll over, and ended up lying on its side in 20 feet of water, 20 feet from the dock. Four of the crew and 841 of the passengers perished. The Eastland was raised in October and re–commissioned as the USS Wilmette. As a result of the Titanic shipwreck, the top–heavy Eastland had been retrofitted with extra lifeboats.

No More Florida News At All

On this date in 1967 Canada had been enjoying a rare visit by Charles de Gaulle, the very tall President of France. On the occasion of something or other a half–million Montréalers turned out at the Hôtel de ville to hear the famous statesman's remarks. In a long–remembered 'quote of the week' he said, "Vive Montréal ! Vive le Québec! Vive le Québec libre! Vive le Canada français! Vive la France!" For some reason this upset some anglos in Ottawa, but De Gaulle cut his visit short before anybody could ask him what he meant.

photo, sign, porthole, door

In a Class of Their Own

This date may be remembered, by some, for several anniversaries worth noting, including one for Alexandre Dumas, in 1802. He wrote the Three Musketeers which was made into a mini–series many times. Then there was Frank Wedekind, born in 1864, who wrote Lulu and Pandora's Box. Thanks for letting me sit on your platzl– in 1964 Frank! Finally there is Robert Graves whose birthdate was in 1895. Besides giving us Claudius, he once quipped, "The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good – in spite of all the people who say he is very good."

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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