"You are Messing Up My Opéra!"

photo, group, josef, ramona, einar Group of the Week – Josef, Ramona and Einar.

Day One Of No Smoking

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 1. February:–  Blah in the sky with gray wool clouds is what we've been having. Bill Gates was in town to promote his Vista to the smart young things at HEC and a hour later he was on his way again, in a bullet–proof–looking black van, possibly on loan from the very same FBI that warns us against copying videos we buy or rent. Have a nice trip, Bill!

As you can probably guess the weather outlook is not too exciting. There is no thrilling Alert Orange. According to tonight's TV–news weather forecast and Saint's Day announcement, we are still under the influence of a high that is pushing clouds down to the ground and hiding other high–flying clouds. Only birds and Air France pilots can see this in all its glory.

photo, english spoken of the week La Corona speaks.

Unlike them what we will see on Friday will be a sky full of fathomless gray, without definition or character. This will intensify in the afternoon and by nightfall we will be glad that it's disappeared. The high temperature predicted will be 12 degrees and it should feel like it because no wind is foreseen.

Saturday is another sort of fish in the sky. Somehow the clouds are to become unglued, allowing sunbeams to peek through, to massage the earth and our dismal souls. A bit of a tradeoff involves a temperature drop to 10 degrees. The exact same situation is foreseen for Sunday, but with a high of only 9 degrees which will be average for any 4. February in 2007. Snow is of course in the cards for all areas above 3000 metres unless they are below the Equator.

The "B i g D e a l !" Report

Travelling to the club today on the métro I spent a lot of time thinking about this singular day in France, or I would have if the trip had taken more than 10 minutes. It is ever the same. I get on the métro at Raspail and then I get off at Odéon and everything in between is a blur.

Above ground the gray felt overhead erased contrast and definition, as if life had been transformed into a black and white comic strip drawn entirely with mood rather than ink. There were a few folks wandering about, especially in the alley Saint–André, where five groups of unrelated ladies were taking photos that they will not admire when they get home. "I don't know what I saw in this place!" they will say.

photo, coke of the week Glass of the Week.

So it was gray gray gray down Dauphine and across the old bridge called new for 400 years and more gray gray in front of Samaritaine where the posters are, and the rest of the Quai du Louvre matched everything that had gone before and everything else yet to come this afternoon.

The only member waiting for me in the café was Patrick, the week's Waiter of the Week. I sat down in the club's area in the rear of the café. Nothing much was happening so I pulled out Le Parisien and squinted at it. This didn't make it any clearer so I read the headlines. "INTERDICTION DE FUMER" it said in red at the top of the front page, followed by "La vraie nature de José Bové."

Member Ramona McDaris arrived then and she invited me to keep reading the paper. I would have said I was only reading the funnies but there are no funnies in Le Parisien. "Paris veut faire disparaître les sacs en plastique" was another front page item so I stuffed it into my bag, not plastic.

Ramona then told me that Goldenburg's in the Marais was closed "by order" because there were too many cats in it, and then she gave me a box containing two heavy pieces of strudel. I was overwhelmed.

Ramona was in good form except for the recent death of Barbaro. She said this had caused the Tears of the Week. She was also concerned with the trees that had been blown down in Stanley Park in Vancouver. I tried to assure her that they had blown down there before and it was terrible, etc. etc., but they grew back like trees do.

But the real problem turned out to be her apartment building where some workmen are taking apart walls and tiles with chisels and hammers. "There were 17 bags of debris!" she said. She also counted, "118 strokes per minute for 6 hours straight!" It occurred to me that they might be Polish laborers – nobody works six straight hours in France.

photo, cafe of the weekStrong Café of the Week.

"I just walked for 7 hours yesterday," she said. According to Ramona this town is a bit dysfunctional at this time of year. She has gone to movies that weren't, shopping areas without shops, and to the back door of the Opéra Comique because the front door is "sorry for the inconvenience." Ramona enjoyed La Pericole however. In one scene a character named Offenbach says, "You are messing up my opéra!"

At this point Einar Moos joined the club, and bought with him a City of the Week, which was Valparaíso, The Jewel of the Pacific, in Chile. Despite having lived on three other continents Einar gave Chile a thumbs–up because he was born there.

We had a café together a couple of year ago. Like many, Einar is depressed because he is in the Internet racket, with Parisiana being his main site. After having one of those 22–hour Internet sessions anybody would be depressed and it has happened to me too. Joining the club won't cure it but it's free.

Ramona asked Einar about the earthquakes in Chile. "I am completely paranoid!" he said. "It's torture! Four hundred earthquakes a year!" Ramona was unable to convince him that earthquakes in California are just as bad because he had lived through them there too.

Then we heard the little story about the dead dog flown to Tel Aviv, replaced with a live one, and Einar speculated about birds being the last survivors after the dinosaurs were wiped out. As a reminder, he brought a rare parrot to Europe from South America but it escaped into the nature preserve we generally call Paris.

photo, wine of the weekGrape of the Week.

"Parrots can live as long as turtles," remarked Ramona. As if on cue Josef Schomburg sauntered into the café and joined the meeting. Einar had removed his black hat so at first Josef did not realize that he was not the only one with one. Einar denied that he was dressed all in black and showed us his maroon shirt. Josef did not deny it.

Josef is, as readers will no doubt remember, also in the Internet racket. In fact he lives close to Einar, in the 5th but they have not met before. The vital question – the Question of the Day – was, are there any hat shops left in Paris? Einar suggested the Bon Marché but said they are pricey. Well, so are hats. Einar said he bought, "The last Panama in Valparaíso."

They were talking about Panamas that come rolled in tubes. It was news to me but Josef had heard of them. Einar also thought there's a hat shop somewhere on Sébastpol. But he decided to ask Ramona, "What's better than CNN online?"

This seemed like a trick question. I, for one, do not know anything about CNN online. When I was in New York a couple of times I saw Situation Room with the sound off in the Café Nova in Queens but I couldn't say whether this was like the online version or not. It was the Nova version.

Ramona decided to change the subject and told us what folks in Texas do. "They don't get passionate," she said.

Even through I was there I am unable to say whether Einar answered the question or took another tack. "Grimm's Fairy Tales," he said. "They are so cruel, so real scary!" Better than CNN? More scary than CNN?

Well, I was tired of high–speed listening. You can hear so darn much and it can be frustrating to only capture a hazy sleaze of notes. And this is despite me doing this gig for many years now, now falling apart during meeting number 361. The solution is to attend these meetings yourselves.

photo, la corona of the weekThe club Café of the Week.

Einar's final shot was, "We are the masters of the universe – big deal!" We all shook hands and sprayed money on the tables for Patrick the Waiter of the Week, promised to meet again some time, some place and then Ramona went one way, Josef went another and Einar and I ambled across the Pont des Arts together.

Travelling home on the métro I spent a lot of time thinking about this singular day in France, or I would have if the trip had taken more than 8 minutes. It is ever the same. I got on the métro at Saint–Germain and then I got off at Denfert and everything in between was a blur. Coming up to the street beside the Café Daguerre, I was assailed by the familiar stench of burnt tobacco.

Further along on Daguerre I came across Matt Rose outside the wine shop talking to a film crew that is doing his life story, and admiring the window décor he did that anyplace in Kansas would be nix–rated. Ah, to be home again in the 14th, centre of la vie en rétro !

About the Café Metropole Club

Your belief or not is useful because this is an typical club meeting's regular sort of report. Think of it as a perfumed piece of cheese of true life. Take `your eyeballs to the slim outline of what we might have been doing here, to be found as usual on the About the Café Metropole Club Webpage, containing its juicy, redolent, and melodious other good stuff reeking of fresh garlic–flavored garlic. And forever, more better frites.

graphic, club location map

What Is This Stuff About?

Spontaneous club meetings which they all are, totally unrehearsed, begin at 15:00 every Thursday and continue until 17:00. The next meeting will be on Thursday – exactly – 8. February. These times seem like 3 pm to 5 pm around other places but these meetings are held here instead. 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 total chance be recorded here.* All your other, basically true, stories are welcome too.

Caution – should 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 sheer laziness of the club's secretary, which he claims is honest fatigue due to the sheer number of meetings recorded but is actually because he is a lazy dog.

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, 8. February.

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