C h i n a t o w n !

photo, spear carriers, parade, chinatown, new year Swordsmen honor the pig on Sunday.

The Year of the Cochon

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 26. February:–  Parisians have done another of their disappearing acts. It's some sort of holiday between Christmas and March promoted by the mountain top committee of deeper snow, for those who were comfortable sitting around watching rugby on TV instead of shopping in the rain, so nearly everybody is up a hill or parked in a traffic jam on the side of one. Still in the rain I'm afraid. Here's the sorry details –

No Orange Around Here

I am still having difficulty with the weather maps supplied by the France–2 TV–weather that follows the evening news and sports. There is a great deal of sunshine down south on the Riviera and it is colored orange. Even if it is to be sunny here it is colored like gloop. Light gloop means cloudy and dark gloop means wind, rain, tornados, lightning, thunder and even more worse stuff.

My problem is that I can not tell the difference between light and dark gloop. Tomorrow begins with what appears to be dark gloop in Brittany and as the day goes on, this moves east, blown along by fresh breezes of about 60 kph. Somehow the temperature should be 13 degrees, pretty much like last week.

On Wednesday the deepest gloop band passes towards the southeast, leaving pure light gloop here. It'll still be windy, especially up along the Channel, nowhere near here. The high is supposed to be 13 degrees again, like last week.

photo, flower maidens, parade, chinatown, new yearThe flower girls distributing peonies.

Then the breezes pick up to bat onshore at 90 or 100 kph on Thursday – the club's 365th anniversary! – but the band of mean gloop is not here again, like, Wednesday, except the high is only forecast to be 12 degrees. Actually, I think it is going to be cloudy for the next few days. It certainly isn't going to be orange.

From far across the ocean, where winter is happening, there is news of a sort. We semaphore our arms, signal our cuffs and wheel to Météo Jim, with the latest... floss?

Groundhog Overshadowed, Miffed, Sneezes

The week started out cold with highs in the low 20s a–grad and warmed up to une canicule of 50 degrees a–grad on Wednesday. The sandalistas and short–sleeve–istas were in the streets proclaiming that the winter was over. But on Thursday passing showers in various parts of Pommeland and high temperatures around freezing sent them back to thaw out in front of fireplaces and radiators.

photo, buddha, parade, chinatown, new year

But the Groundhog does not share the spotlight. Miffed at being overshadowed by the Oscars, he has created a winter–spring storm in the Midwest – blizzards in the north changing to rain and tornadoes in the south – and is sending it eastward to Pommeland beginning yesterday evening. Depending on the track, Pommeland could see anywhere from 2–4 inches or more of snow, ice, freezing rain or rain and a lot of random sneezes.

A la prochaine , Météo Jim

Café Life

The Year of the Cochon

There are two Chinatowns in Paris so there are two New Year parades, and one of them is not in Chinatown. To me this is so confusing that I have traditionally skipped the the New Year's celebration that takes place near the Hôtel de Ville, usually because it happens when I am not ready for the third New Year of the year.

This year the first Chinese New Year seemed to have been overlooked last weekend, by TV–news at least. For some reason, the New Year in Chinatown is usually a sort of secret but this year the word went out, maybe on Wednesday – on Sunday in Chinatown!

The only thing wrong with this is that Chinatown is usually horrible damp and cold in February. It is a fair walk from the métro at Tolbiac to the area of the parade, and with parades being like they are, three hours later you feel like you went skiing and the chalet ran out of hot soup.

photo, purple people eater, parade, chinatown, new year

But that was before global warming. The temperature was hovering around 12 degrees yesterday and although it tried to rain, the sun even peeked out a couple of times before being scared off by firecrackers. Another new and welcome feature was that all the main streets were closed to the automobilistas.

The result was that everybody left in Paris who wasn't skiing was in Chinatown to see the parade. And it, totally un–techno, started on the dot of 14:00 from about where advertised in the Avenue d'Ivry and moved along in a spirited manner. Shopkeepers saluted its passing with firecracker assaults, sounding like war. A thousand explosions left piles of shredded red paper and deafened parade fans.

Unlike in New York where folks are so unruly that the police use overcontrol with muscle, we were left to ourselves in Chinatown. Cars were parked along the route and parade fans stood in the road for the best views. Parade marshals used their whistles – learned in China? – to clear a narrow path and kids sat on car roofs.

photo, dragon, parade, chinatown, new year

The parade featured all sorts of things I have never seen before. Were they lions? I wish I could read Chinese. Everybody was represented except for the Hôtel de Ville Chinatown and 99.9 percent of French politicians, who are battling countrywide for reelection, but not, apparently, in Chinatown.

After a couple of hours and a great deal of parade later, the parade seemed to be over, or past. Then, being handily in Chinatown, it was time for shopping. The same notion was had by two thousand others who swarmed into Teng Frères and Paristore to load up on frozen dumplings, noodles, greens and hot sauce – all the good stuff, at friendly prices.

That is your reward for the trouble of going to Chinatown. You get to have that good soup when you get home, and you can have as many wontons as you want. Pour some of that Sriracha Chilisauce on a bit of fresh bread to keep the taste alive. The smell alone is celestial.

To be continued... right here, next year.

The Café Metropole Club Meets for the 365th Time

It was only last Thursday with three members present that the club met again. Many other members, old and new, near and far, most of them, remained unpresent, more or less as unexpected. This week on Thursday there will be a brand new Café Metropole Club meeting without doubt. It will be happening on the first day France's 2nd month of partial no smoking, regardless of anything.

photo, sign, le corona, a toutes heures

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on 1. March. The Saint of the Day next Thursday is a somewhat obscure one. Welcome Saint–Aubin, or Albin, or Albina, or Albine, born in 468 in Languidic. He was the abbé at the monastery of Tréhillac and the bishop of Angers, and, despite himself, died in 550. Aubin was down on sin, and if you trim your vines on 1. March, you will have big grapes, according to legend.

Considerably less legendary, all about the club and its ripe truths are on an plump page lamely called the About the Club Webpage. Some readers who process a passing notion of English won't fail to grasp the few fables and astonishing facts, and should not neglect to view the club's ur–zonked hand–rolled membership card before its renewal, pending now for the last 136 weeks.

photo, sign, avenue d'ivry

This Was Metropole Ten Years Ago

Few other Internet magazines claim to have been online for 11 years for obvious reasons. The other important item that was to be here this week has been put off for ever, as a result of the New Year in Chinatown. I was actually there. Next week is the good intentions of Ten Years Later, which is now. Miss it if you must but don't whine about it later.

Café Life Légère 90.7

Insensible Paradise

The Quote of the Week is boring again this week but at least it's predictable, a situation that has altered little since last week when it was claimed to be less boring for one week in a row. "I have read descriptions of Paradise that would make any sensible person stop wanting to go there." Let us salute Charles de Montesquieu, who was born in 1689, which is not a reflection on the quality of paradise in those days, but rather on Montesquieu's perception of the folks that were promoting and selling plots in it.

photo, poster, nouvel an chinois, l'annee du cochon

The Monumental Wobble–W

There are as few as 308 days left of this year, the same number that 1806 had when Jean–François Chalgrin started building the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile that had been ordered by Napoléon Ier to honor the Grande Armée. It was and is 50 metres high and 45 metres wide. Construction stopped when the emperor was deposed and was resumed in 1825. It took until 1836 for completion, when it was inaugurated by Louis–Philippe.

Napoleonic Pataphysics

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 57 days, the same number that 1815 had when the very same Napoléon escaped from captivity on the island of Elba and arrived in France on 1. March, a Wednesday. Louis XVIII, who nobody ever heard of, sent Marshal Ney with the 5th regiment to Grenoble to capture the fugitive. At the confrontation Napoléon reportedly said, "Soldiers of the Fifth, you recognize me. If any man would shoot his emperor, he may do so now." There was silence and then the soldiers shouted, "Vive L'Empereur!" and they all marched off to Paris together. A brand–new regular army of 140,000 was raised, 200,000 volunteers were added and a 100 days later, after Waterloo, it was game over for Napoléon again.

photo, banner, mairie du 13eme, chinatown

The Usual Suspects

It's unnecessary to thank Metropole for reminding you of the publication of the Manifeste du Parti Communiste on this date in 1848. It was written by a couple of nobodies named Engelsand Marx who had issues with la bourgeoisie. The philosophers had some wonderful visions that were unfortunately unrelated to society as it had become, due to the ruling classes and the bourgeoisie who aped them wholeheartedly, preferring to share a few crumbs rather than wealth. Since then globalization has tended to impoverish the bourgeoisie but they don't believe it, but so what? We have iPods don't we?

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Some folks might be unaware that today is the anniversary of radar which was first demonstrated by Robert Watson in 1935. However it wasn't until this date in 1957 that the final radio broadcast of Dragnet was aired, ending Sgt. Friday's run on radio that had begun on 3. June 1949. Meanwhile other birthdays to celebrate include one for François Arago who would be 221 years old today. Other birthday folks are Buffalo Bill, Victor Hugo, Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya and Jackie Gleason. There's more but WTH.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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