Turnout Hits Double–Digits

photo, group of 11 of the week The largest member group since last Thursday.

Club Members Fill House

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 2. November:–  Yesterday the air changed. It quit coming from down south in Africa or maybe the south seas, and starting coming from north seas, Iceland, or shudder, Greenland, or all of them. Temperatures which had been about 18 fell to 12 lousy degrees.

photo, cafe of the week The café of the week.

As Le Parisien says today, forget the soft degrees around your ears, forget having warm bones. Then it says we have to respect the seasons. The rest is nonsense because the sun peeped out, warmed some surfaces and made some illusions. But we were not fooled.

The line for Friday and the weekend runs 10, 10 and 12 degrees. We've traded our summer high for a winter one and this is supposed to ensure some pretty bright skies for the next few days, perhaps even being mostly sunny on Saturday and Sunday. You see, to begin with, it's going to sucker us in – make us think it will be a slightly chill version of summer. What have those soothsayers predicted?

The 'Big Turnout' Report

Today begins with all quiet on the technical front. The café machine pumps out its half–litre, Nigel White visiting from Washington, DC, shows up in time to escort me to the métro at Raspail and nothing else deviates from the script. You probably know it from memory. If you don't, I do.

photo, beer of the weekThe beer of the week.

It is so sunny on the Pont Neuf that it seems like a shame to leave it. The flagstones are smooth, caressing the feet. There are not many folks around. Does it mean they are on holidays somewhere else? All the kiddies out of schools and sunning themselves on the Riviera?

At the club's café the terrace, oddly, is nearly empty. We hang around outside receiving sunbeams and nothing else happens. But when I go in the café I see where everybody is. They are in the grande salle lunching on frites and downing bumpers of wine. Why today? Why not last Thursday? There are never any answers to these existential questions.

Monsieur Ferrat glides up to the club's tables and hands me an envelope, postmarked San Antonio, Texas. I immediately photograph it. It becomes real by becoming virtual, a true piece of club lore. Right on his heels are Susan and Joe Donohue from Montréal, Quebec.. They are already members, having joined the club last March while Josef Schomburg was hosting the meetings.

They are accompanied by Roy Parkes, also from Montréal, and Roy joins the club, and at the same time he explains that he is going to Uzes on some errand. The significance of this is that I can spell it. Obviously I have been in France longer than is good for me.

photo, wine of the week Red wine of the week.

With three members present from Montréal I think it is a great chance to gather lore about it. Roy says he speaks enough French, "To get by." I wonder if getting by French there is useful for getting by here, but before I can formulate this an unfortunate gesture dumps a near full glass of red wine, the splotch of the week results, and I borrow some to pour on the member's booklet because its pages are too white.

To prove it I leaf back, looking for old café splotches. There are poems, an autoportrait, but no splotches. They must be in an older booklet. I could go on, but Lisa Shenk arrives to become a new member from Austin, Texas. Which reminds me of club member Jerry Stopher in Beaumont being quoted in the news this morning, saying that the voting machines aren't working too well despite all the best intentions.

Anyway, nobody cares about the voting machines in Florida or Texas. Lisa says, "Austin is the live music capital of the world," or is it just Texas? We believe it, whichever, because of other members who call Austin home. Marion and Stephan Nowak pick this moment to arrive from either Köln in Germany or from their apartment near the brico zentrum of Paris.


Marion takes out her knitting and I decide to tease Terrie Blazek, who has also arrived – not carrying any sacks of bags – but then there is a tremendous outbust of laughter – which I attribute to Nigel, Lisa, Marion and Stephan – "Laughing out loud" is how Marion explains it without saying what it was. I suspect Stephan. He is a great hatcher of jokes.

photo, food, nozutsukemono Food of the week?

Meanwhile, if it's possible to slip a meanwhile in here – Joe tells us that he has a photo expo at Harry's New York Bar, and he will be there in person on Tuesday 7. November, to be toasted. This is downstairs in the Piano Bar, it starts at 22:00, and the address is 5. Rue Daunou, Paris 2. Métro: Opéra.


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