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 thousnd 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.


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