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 areaby 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.


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