Shoot the Fish

photo, place tertre, sunday 1 april On top of the pyramid with a zillion sun fans.

Accordéon On Montmartre

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 2. April:–  It was gorgeous yesterday. It has been gorgeous today too. It looks like it might be semi–gorgeous tomorrow as well. If this keeps up history will be shot to hell when there is no hail or sleet next weekend for Easter. I have to be tougher than I look, accept that it might be global warming that is about to give us the first pleasant Easter this century, and take it standing up.

Pascua Florida

The TV–weather news maps , intermittently in color, looked confusing. Whirls and swirls, how to make sense of them? Well just forget it then. Think of France as a big soft fat balloon and reverse the nose of Brittany so that it points east further than Champagne, and then say this area will be semi–sunny tomorrow, but a little bit cooler than today, with 15 degrees. Why? Because there will be a little wind from the north, pushing this way at about 50 kph.

On Wednesday, with that wind still blowing from the north, the finger stretches all the way to the Schwarzwald. Again it might be semi–sunny around here, but with a minor high of 12 degrees.

It's like the whole thing just gets bigger and bigger. Thursday looks like it will be even more sunny, although it will be a bit cloudy up along the Channel. Give or take a few kilometres it might be demi–cloudy here too but let's hope, pray, cast signs, for otherwise.

photo, sign, tiles of the week

Meanwhile the good news is the temperature which is supposed to get up to 16 degrees, almost unheard of around here at this time of year. Except for today when it was probably up about 17 degrees. Like yesterday, when I was up on top of the local pyramid usually called Montmartre.

From the right coast, from across the sea, distant neighbors semaphore. Run up the flag and salute the compass points, and here's Météo Jim today, with the latest weather philosophy and poetry.

Promises, Lousy Promises

As March fades from our memories and the calendar, April – from the Latin to open – comes into our consciousness with promises of spring, snow, tornados, fickleness and fuzzy yellow Easter bunnies.

The eagerly anticipated thunder donnerundgebliztengeboomers scheduled for last Monday did not occur. The only reason given was that they were tired. But since they have not appeared since last autumn, that reason did not satisfy the alert Metropole viewers who saw the thrilling documentary, "Ceux qui m'aime regarderont la météo." Dark rumours have arisen about a conspiracy and the Groundhog has suspiciously disappeared. Another reason to be suspicious is that last Tuesday the temperature rose into the mid 70s a–grad when it was not called for.

photo, stairs, metro lamarck caulincourt How all visits to Montmartre start.

Today, Palm Sunday – Ed's note: yesterday – will see rain showers and temperatures in the upper 40s. Tomorrow – Ed's note: today – will see more showers along with temperatures in the 60s a–grad. Then – Ed's note: tomorrow – following a pattern that was established last autumn, temperatures will cool down into the 50s with rain on the weekend – Ed's note: weekend –. Ed's note: it's the same thing in French.

A la prochaine , Météo Jim

Café Life

Shoot the Fish

On the first day of April yesterday – Ed's note: yesterday – I got up and had breakfast with the light of the warm sunshine pouring in my bathroom window and I thought it was completely normal because it wasn't until hours later, riding the métro, that I saw the paper fish lying on the floor and realized that it must have been April's Fools Day. By then it was too late to discover the uncuttable fabric forming the uneatable foundation of my breakfast pancake. Being a grown up is no fun.

Although I had yet to see the fish, it occurred to me to look at a calendar for Easter's date. I saw that it is next weekend. That was good, I thought, because it means this weekend – Ed's note yesterday, Sunday – can be nice and warm and sunny, and who cares if the temperature drops to freezing and it storms hail at Easter, like it almost always does. Christians love hardship, don't they?

photo, poisson d'avril, fish, metro wahonA sad fish in the métro.

What with the weather and all, I decided to make my annual Easter visit to Montmartre a week early. I know, I know, I will miss seeing all the Italians dressed in their cool designer duds, visiting here, in order to get away from all those raving Christians haunting Rome. That's when I saw the fish in the métro.

It was a cut out piece of paper about 20 cm long. It had a smile drawn for a mouth and it had a footprint on it. Here, kids make these and stick them on the back of their older sister or their father. It's called a poisson d'avril and I think it means you are a total idiot if you walk around with one stuck on your back. Kids think this is funnier than Jerry Lewis. It doesn't take much.

Three métro stops went by before I decided to shoot the fish. As soon as I did, at the next métro stop, 13 April fooltards got on and trampled all over it. It just goes to show that if you are going to shoot a fish in the métro it is better to do it sooner than later.

photo, musee montmartreThe museum of the week.

At Montmartre I left the métro at the back door and rode up to the ground in an elevator. Then, like everybody else – except for those who already had good terrace seats in the sun – I walked up stairs, up hills, cobbled sidewalks, up, up, until I got to the top. I sensed somehow that about 50 thousand other folks beat me to it.

There is a lot to see on top of Montmartre but if it is a sunny Sunday a week before Easter about the only thing you will see clearly is thousands of other folks looking at all the things to see, or eating ice cream, or sitting around drinking beer and other cocktails.

The rest of them were taking photos of each other, or trying to see les artistes in the place du Tertre. The artists don't make it easy with all their umbrellas. Yesterday, I guess they were parasols. Anyhow, it looked like 20,000 folks jammed into the place, semi hiding under umbrellas and half of them were calling home on their phones. "Hallo, mama? This Montmartre is too cool? It's like, you know, like really cool?"

Frankly the Italians were on their phones too. These were the week before Italians, some of whom will be in Rome next weekend. These Italians were not so well–dressed. These were the ones from the auto factories in Turin where they make the new Fiat 500, or they were from Naples. I could tell because they looked like unshaven football fans.

Nonetheless the sun was shining and it was warm. All the folks who didn't ride the Funiculaire, the electric bus or the little train to get to the top, walked up. Looking over the ramparts you could see them struggling on the steep slopes. You could see how some would pause at a handy café. You could see that you would never see them close–up.

By the boulangerie in the rue Norvins I heard an accordion. I found a sunlit wall to lean against and I listened for a while. Most of the hustle and bustle faded away as one tune flowed into another. I dreamed that I was on Montmartre during an off weekend in November. Accordéon on Montmartre. It was what I came for.

This story is unlikely to be continued.

The Café Metropole Club

The last club meeting was somewhat uneventful, with only two members present. Most other members, both far and wide, some of them, remained inexplicably absent, more or less as expected sometimes. Next Thursday there will be another new Café Metropole Club meeting, and the secretary promises nothing other than to be there.

photo, accordeon player Making music that matches Montmartre.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on 5. April for the first time this year. The Saint of the Day is unexpected. Please greet Sainte–Iréne. Along with Sainte–Agape and Sainte–Chionia, all three maidens from Thessalonica, they fell afoul of Emperor Diocletian's laws in in 303 and the result is history. The St. Irene Chrysovalantou Greek Orthodox Church in Astoria, Queens, New York City claims to have an original hand that once belonged to Sainte–Iréne.

Although this is unrelated to France, all about the club and its veritable truths are right here on a page called the About the Club Webpage. All readers who grasp a modicum of English, and all of you certainly do, will not fail to sense the true but hard to believe facts about it, and should not overlook a peep at the club's scrap of a membership card in memorium.

This Was Metropole Ten Years Ago

photo, sign, rue lucien gaulard

Ten years ago was 1997 but that was in the last century. Nearly no other Internet magazines claim to have been online for 31 years, for any good reason. The truth about Ten Years Later is that it should be something else like 12 but to exclaim this high and loud would be futile. In an age of instant messaging who cares?

Café Life Légère 102.04

Emile Zola – "J'accuse"

The Quote of the Week maintains its exciting heritage week after week but at least it's shorter again, a situation that has altered little since last week when it was far too gassy. "Truth is on the march, and nothing will stop it." A tip the old hat goes to Emile Zola, who was born today in 1840 and died a bit too soon in 1902. At one point he was convicted of libel, so he fled to England.

photo, sign, hotel of the week

Wobble–C Magnus

There are as many as 273 days left of this year, the same number that 742 or 747 had when Carolus Magnus, or Charlemagne was born of fairly natural causes. His dad and mom were King Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon. He was crowned emperor by good old Pope Leo III on 25. December 800. But of what? The Holy Roman Empire didn't exist then, or at least, it wasn't named that. Charlemagne also paved the way for the later Ottonian Dynasty but this is news to me.

Lingo Pataphysico

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 92 days, the same number that 1513 had when Juan Ponce de León arrived in Florida by boat and claimed it for Spain. This was during Pascua Florida which is Spanish for Flowery Passover, which is today, which is a holiday in Florida. Then he sailed around discovering interesting things such as the Florida Keys, sailed to Cuba and sailed to Puerto Rico. On top of it he might not have been the first European in Florida. Americans, some evidence suggests, got there first and they spoke to him in Spanish.

photo, sign, bar, neon, of the week

Fat End of the Telescope

It's unnecessary to thank Metropole for reminding you of the birth of George MacDonald Fraser today in 1926. This is the writer who created Harry Flashman, a hero of British colonial deeds in the 19th century. In general, Flashman gets mixed up in every scrap – "...the sun never sets, etc..." but not in the heroic way of our textbooks, although all the historical backgrounds are well–researched. Another title by Fraser was, The Hollywood History of the World: From One Million Years B.C. to Apocalypse Now.

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Few folks probably recall that today is the birthday of Lucien Ginzburg in 1928 in Paris. Little Lucien changed his name to Serge Gainsbourg because he was disillusioned as a painter, forced to earn a living by playing piano in bars. The name change did the trick in 1965 when his song Poupée de cire, poupée de son won the European Song Contest for Luxembourg, which had changed its name from Luxenzburg. Serge bought the original manuscript of La Marseillaise to prove that his lyrics for his reggae version of Aux armes et cætera... were historically correct. Since 1991 Serge has been about 50 metres from where I am now sitting, in the Montparnasse cemetery.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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