A Two–pronged Shambles

photo, group, george, yoko, terrie, alex George, Yoko, Terrie and Alex from the incomplete group.

Just Like Any Other Meeting

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 19. October:–  There has been some weather talk today but it wasn't about around here. It was about rain, lots of it, months' worth, a whole winter's worth. It made my neck curdle just to think about it. But I am keeping to my resolve not to go on about it. Here the weather may not be sweet but it will be short.

photo, george's tie The tie from 1947.

Here is the rundown from tonight's TV–news. Due to a huge mass of warm air swirling around counter–clockwise over France and nearby foreign lands the temperatures will be slightly higher than is usual for this time of year, much warmer than in the last ice age for example. Friday's high is supposed to be 18 followed by highs on Saturday and Sunday of 19 and 19 degrees.

There will be some winds from the south and the southwest, from 60 kph to 90 kph, which is shorthand for quite breezy. As for the rest – the sky! – I'm afraid that we will see little of it. We will most likely see clouds, clouds on clouds, clouds chasing clouds, gray clouds and maybe even some clouds that rain on us. Today's Le Parisien calls this a dog's life but where I come from, where that rain is, we used to call it weather for ducks. We used to go out and quack at it.

The 'Two–pronged Shambles' Report

Since I'm giving the weather short shrift I'm going to skip the usual preamble here. Got up, got out of bed, had a café, got some cash, got on the métro, got to the club's café – basta! Sat down, set up the books and said hello to today's first member to arrive.

This was member George Broadhead from Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, New York, USA. George said it is near Sheepshead Bay and I guess that is close enough for most readers. George joined the club during its only meeting in New York, in December of 2001 but has been carrying the club's membership card so long it's useless.

photo, beers of the week No week without any.

The first item of business was to admire George's ultra snazzy tie. It is a 1948 model, equally as beautiful as the Countess Mara cravat he wore to the last meeting. George said he is going to resume coming to Paris four times a year. I wondered if he has enough ties for it. No matter – he also told me about his e. e. cummings paintings, which is a first of sorts.

George has been in town long enough to get a nasty cough, say, two days, but he's already met 14 new friends and invited them to today's meeting. So the next to arrive is really one of these recruits – I never expect them, never ever – and he turned out to be Alex Demetrides, who calls Baltimore, Maryland home, but is currently on the road with a bicycle. He got to Paris from Amsterdam on his bike, but he broke it and brought the offending piece to the meeting.

It is the front fork and it is bent. Alex explains why he sent away to America for a replacement. He said the European parts are all polycarbonates – what do I know? – carbon somethings. He says the real thing needs to be steel and there's none available here.

Why is he so fussy? Alex's bike has no brakes, no gears, no transmission and probably doesn't have a hooter. When the bike goes forward so do the pedals. When it goes backwards, ditto the pedals. When Alex wants to stop he pedals backwards. Up hill he pedals frontwards and going down hills he pedals backwards. That's all there is to it. This is why his bike isn't made out of flimsy fake steel.

Talking about the charms of Gerritsen Beach, Alex said he wanted to try being a bicycle messenger in New York. After riding down to Andalusia and then cruising over to Greece, he wants to return to Baltimore to practise up for the assault on New York's justly famous potholes.

photo, club table of the week Club table of the week.

Meanwhile George reminds us that he is related to the founding fathers. "Joel Barlow used to eat at the Procope" he said, adding, "Capitan Daniel Brodhead took in Thomas Paine in 1664" – same date as this beer here, and "Peter Styvesant, what?" which I missed while trying to spell it.

Whatever, we must move on. "I can't really carry a cello on my bike," Alex said. "I got a harmonica yesterday!" So he is not just a pretty bike peddler. Just when you think all the kids are wired to their iPods you find out about their cellos.


"Do you ever think about the future of your country?" George asks Alex. Alex starts to reply but George indicates there's more to the question than there seems to be – are we having some existentialism here? – but this remains unanswered too because Terrie Blazek arrives with her sacks and bags and coats, and thirst, so the waiter of the week disappears.

photo, yoko's cake Yoko's first cake of the week.

Another lady is led up to the club's area by the café's Monsieur Ferrat and after making a pretty speech in French George asks her if she ever goes to Pete's Tavern – I guess it's some watering hole in Manhattan, rather than Gerritsen Beach.

Thus does Barbara Rapoport revert to English, quickly learning that she is not the only one staying several months here. However, Barbara came to the meeting expecting something else – some intense French conversation – and instead gets to see Yoko arrive and begin unloading bags full of new mascots, some fancy bread she baked, and ordering tea. Quel horreur!

From this point on the meeting is a two–pronged shambles. The waiter is bringing drinks and cafés, the table are covered with mascots and bread crumbs, and everybody is almost talking at once. Well, it has happened before. Folks just let their hair down, and Barbara decides to withdraw and declines to become involved with the group photo of the week.

photo, new mascotClub mascot no. 77.

And of course we have no sooner done this than yet another new member – another of George's welcome recruits – shows up. This is Sara McNamara from Olympia, Washington, today's brand–new freshly–minted city of the week.

There has been and is talk of Evergreen College – George said, "They say they aren't reds." – where Sara is a student, and maybe Alex is a visitor, and the whole thing spins around it. Meanwhile Sara is studying something at the Archives de France, shifting through dusty tomes under the feeble light from windows clogged with spiderwebs – the very sands of ages.

Despite the danger of George passing out from his malady, the meeting careens on until 17:30, until the waiter of the week is settled. By this time Alex has refound the existentialism of earlier. "Most bike mechanics are anti–social," he said. He will fix it himself if he can borrow the tools. "How far is it to Andalusia?" he wondered.

photo, sara, new member Group photo bis, Sara.

Short Briefies

The Bélière, fabled jazz club located in the 14th arrondissement's Magic Triangle, reopens this weekend, all shining and brand–new. To celebrate there will be a Fête de la Bélière on Saturday, 21. October starting at 22:00. This will feature accordion artists – including Patrick Quichaud from Paris Accordéon, with guest appearances by Dany and Antoine Larcher. Find the Bélière at 79. rue Daguerre, Paris 14. Métro: Gaîté or Denfert–Rochereau. InfoTél.: 01 43 20 11 62.

The Salon du Chocolat is coming up and will feature 130 exhibitions of chocolate and you know what that means. Good things don't last forever so mark your calendars on Saturday, 28. October, to Wednesday, 1. November. Doors open at 10:00 daily and the goodies are on view until 19:00 or 21:00. This will be in in Hall 5 at Paris–Expo at the Porte de Versailles, at the métro stop of the same name. Club members have said the entry charge is worth it.

About the Café Metropole Club

Far easier to doubtthan to believe but this is a club meeting report, containing some of the extraordinary events today. Twitch a blink at the true and authentic story of what could have been going on here, to be found as usual on the About the Café Metropole Club Webpage, containing its florid words stinking of wonderful garlic. And forever after, more better frites.

graphic, club location map

This Stuff Is What?

Totally unrehearsed club meetings, honestly spontaneous, begin at 15:00 on Thursday and continue until 17:00 every Thursday. These times are the same as 3 pm to 5 pm around other places but these meetings are held around here. Whatever you say will be truly appreciated by the other members present if they are listening, and sometimes they are, but not always – and if it should by rare chance be written here.* Your other, mainly true, stories are welcome too.

Caution – if you have a personal need to remain unfindable via the Web, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be 404 – not found by Web search engines before becoming found. Not becoming a club member is one sure way to become unfound.

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because of the sheer laziness of the club's eternal secretary, who has written the report notes for exactly 353 meetings without one or two spelling mistakes.

The café's location is:

Café–Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny – or – 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre–Rivoli, Pont–Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday, from 15:00 to 17:00.
Next club meeting on Thursday, 26. October.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini