Where are the Mannequins?

photo, frank and ramona, group of the week Today's group withstands the tempest on the terrace.

And Who Wants to Know

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 18. January:–  There was an Alert Orange for the weather last night and this morning. Big winds were coming out of the Atlantic and brutalizing northern Europe, starting with Brittany because it sticks way out there, and continuing with the Channel and all adjacent lands, plus north, plus Scandinavia. Winds up to 120 were predicted and what actually happened exceeded the forecast.

Tonight's TV–news said that the Alert Orange is continuing into tomorrow, for all the French departments up north. If you go out make sure your pockets are full of cents and all of the heavier euros you can lug. Big trees were blown away today.

photo, lemon tea A perfect day for hot lemon tea.

The winds must be from the Azores because tonight's low is supposed to be 13 while tomorrow's high was forecast to be 15 degrees. All we can expect around here and more breezes and a totally overcast sky.

Saturday was promised to provide more of the same, with a lone ray of hope out at Brittany's western tip, while here it will likely be all cloudy all day long. To remain mild though with a high of 13 predicted. Change should come on Sunday when the sky will clear enough to show blue between the clouds. The tradeoff for this will be a diminished high of only 10 degrees, which is about 50 F, according to a local widget. As usual the Riviera will be sunny and warmer, with 18 freaking degrees.

The 'Who Wants to Know' Report

I got ready to go to today's meeting by packing my new Corona cap in the bag. Winds were hammering at my southern wall all night, rain was clinking down like BBs and I was expecting to get blown around a bit. But out the door the surprise was how mild it was. It's a crazy winter everywhere.

photo, frank's diana cameraFrank's total plastico camera.

Either there aren't many folks around or they are staying under cover in cafés and heated museums. Even though it is mild if feels pretty damp. I just learned that a good place to get warm fast is any place selling LCD televisions. Just go in and watch some of those widescreen TVs for a couple of minutes and you'll be cooking.

Otherwise, riding the Métro is pretty breeze–free. Somebody closed all the windows months ago. If you want fresh air, take a taxi. Me, I get the air because I walk half the way, but regular readers know this. There's the Rue Dauphine and the bridge. There was a lot of fresh air on the Quai du Louvre this afternoon too.

The club's café La Corona was nearly empty when I arrived. It's a good place to be Zen in this season. You can sleep all you want just so long as your eyes look like they're open. Of course when club members show up there might be a bit of chatter so maybe you should find another café for your dozing.

I wasn't anywhere near asleep with member Ramona McDaris arrived and asked me what I was reading in Le Parisien. Ramona told me about the wind making me tired, told me about her TVs that don't work and how she found some gizmos at BHV to level her sofa. Or, more exactly, how to match a level sofa with a hilly floor.

"Montparnasse is my second favorite cemetery," she said. I said it is my favorite because it is closest. This was a continuation from last week's discussion about crematoriums, which we had to say we weren't discussing. Anyway, I didn't learn which is her favorite cemetery. Maybe next week.

Then another strange January occurrence happened. Another member who wrote to warn me of a club appearance, showed up. It was Frank Watson in person. For our friends of geography note that Sweden has the same time zone as South Africa. Frank calls Uppsala home. Has it been a City of the Week yet?

photo, ramona mcdarisRamona makes a point.

Frank is, as long–time members will recall, a photographer. He said he is in town to recuperate the photos from the expo he had here four years ago. Then he pulled out his camera – an all–plastic otto, with three controls and a nifty Plasticion lens. He had a roll of film from it too, a 120 black–and–white thingee, wrapped in paper ready to send to the lab.

This reminded Ramona to take out her camera and start shooting. It reminded me to take mine out and try the old white balance trick of shooting it at some white paper, with custom selected in a menu. This is instead of leaving it on auto or choosing one of five typical light sources. Why are there two for fluorescent lights?


The café has tungsten lights with yellow shades, and neons, plus mirrors and yellow murals, some weak daylight with red awnings, and some smoke. It is a nightmare for auto.

photo, frank watson Frank makes two points.

Then Frank proposed Greensburg, Pennsylvania as the City of the Week because his mom just moved there from Florida, to live in a country–club–like... yeah, well. He said, "My mom is doing a non–Thomas Wolfe." I wonder if he is a club member too. Isn't there more than one Thomas Wolfe?

Then we learned that Frank's favorite royals are the Norwegian ones. They met in a beer garden and it was love at first sight. Ramona agreed and slipped in a juicy detail or two. I never knew there were Norwegian royals. I don't read those free magazines at the barber's.

photo, 120 roll film A roll of 120 film –
rare, rare rare!

Sweden is having a tough winter Frank told us. Today's wind will do no good up there because the trees are supposed to be cemented to the frozen ground by permafrost but it didn't happen yet. And the long winter nights are very gloomy because there is no snow to reflect the Northern Lights or anything else. Folks aren't running their sleds, they aren't mushing around in the tundra and the ice fishing season is shot to hell. Swedes are furious he said.

Ramona wants to know if the French taxman is chasing her on account of a TV she had in the 90s. Then the café's patron Monsieur Naudan came up and passed around a New Years handshake. This can happen any time until June but before the end of January is best.

After some discussion we all trooped out – except Monsieur Naudan – to the café's terrace for the Group Photo of the Week. We tried for the bikini–effect. This is like for the summer catalogues that are photographed during the winter. To prove how bikini–like it seemed Frank took off his shoes. The wind was whipping past with 80 kph gusts.

A very quick 22 shots later and we were back inside, paying bills, packing bags, testing a new pen from Ramona – it could double a a championship dart – and Frank was grousing about the Soldes d'Hiver because a lot of shop windows are covered with sales signs instead of showing off the threads decked on mannequins.

At first I misunderstood and told Frank that the shops selling mannequins are up in the 3rd arrondissement east of Sébastopol. That wasn't the idea at all. Instead Frank was really in town to photograph snowy scenes in the Jardin du Luxembourg. He's shooting four gardens in Europe.

photo, iron teapot of the weekWeightlifter's teapot.

He has also chosen one in Germany and another in Italy, but if anybody has a suggestion for one more he will appreciate it. He is looking for a sort of Zen garden, one with a serene Japanese feeling.

As for the mannequins, when I asked why, he said, "They are people I'd like to know." Ramona had a handle on it too. She turned on her camera and showed me a tiny photo of a mannequin lounging in a shop window somewhere in Paris. All dressed, wearing a suit. Didn't even look kinky.

About the Café Metropole Club

Suspend your disbelief because this is an ordinary club meeting's report. It's like a six–pack of true life if you otherwise live the life of TV. Twist an eyeball around the dubious outline of what we might have been doing here, to be found as usual on the About the Café Metropole Club Webpage, containing its melodious words, redolent photos and lip–smacking other good stuff reeking of fragrant garlic. And ever and forever, more better frites.

graphic, club location map

What About this Stuff?

Another spontaneous club meeting, totally unrehearsed, will begin at 15:00 next Thursday and continue until 17:00 no less. The coming meeting will be on Thursday – exactly – 25. January 2007. These times resemble 3 pm to 5 pm around other places but these meetings are held around here. Whatever you say might be truly appreciated by the other members present if they are listening, and sometimes they are, but not always – and if it should by freak chance be recorded here.* All your other, largely 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 stay unfound.

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because of the totally serious situation concerning our lack of a winter climate. Without winter how will we appreciate summer? Remember – South Africa has the same time zone!

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, 25. January.

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