Election, Blah Blah Blah

photo, champs elysees, arc de triomphe, saturday The Champs–Elysées during a rare lull on Saturday.

F L A B B E R G A S T E D

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 23. April:–  How many will believe me if I say I am flabbergasted? Usually I take the weather as a personal affront, an insult to a normal human being, an attack on my liberty, an assault on my right to walk upright with my head held high without an appendage to my arm, no umbrella, eh? That's what I've been feeling for years. Now this, this weather! I am flabbergasted. Sunshine day after day, 25 very cozy degrees this afternoon. Not only this, there's more.

Summer Records Set Early

On the TV–news weather report they keep saying that there's a high over the British Isles and then the big map shows a swirl of clouds just to the west of Ireland – is that a British Isle? – and sometimes you can see Britain and sometimes the clouds obscure it, but that's where they say the high is.

Nothing lasts, especially when the weather is concerned, but this thing just keeps hanging on. Last week I hinted that it was coming to an end – that's what the TV–weather folks hinted – but it's still here. Gazooks! We are having better summer weather than what we usually get in summer, if there is any summer.

photo, sign, temperature 25 C monday

Well, nobody has to tell us what to do about it. We have these café terraces here and we are using them. Why only today I came across Uncle Den–Den and Dimitri sitting outside at the Bouquet as if they were the kings of Montparnasse. What cool they displayed!

The coming weather is so simple that it hardly requires four wordy paragraphs. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be sunny. Tomorrow's clouds may be evident in the morning but that's the last you will see of them unless you are out in Brittany on Wednesday or elsewhere on the west coast on Thursday. Temperatures score 15 for a low tonight, and a flat out 26 degrees for the next three days. Prelim outlook for Friday is sunny too.

On our east coast way over west of here, the situation is not the same. Send goodwill, hoist the umbrellas, put out life boats, because here's Météo Jim with a typically depressing forecast, like the ones we used to have.

Fat Lady Leaves Town

Viewers who saw Metropole's daring documentary Ceux qui m'aime regarderont la météo could not believe the meteorological events that happened in Pommeland this past week.

Beginning on Sunday and pouring through Monday, 9.55 a–inches of rain fell, causing massive flooding and evacuations of many towns. Although the rain basically stopped by Monday evening, temperatures remained in the upper 40s to low 50s and clouds ruled the skyscape. Along with the clouds were intermittent showers to add further misery.

photo, friday night roller rando The Friday night Roller Rando on Friday.

Finally, enough was ENOUGH. The Fat Lady said that this storm would not be over until she was allowed to sing in her tiny yellow bikini. Terrified of further damage, the Groundhog reluctantly agreed to her blackmail. Amazingly, it worked. She is now on a plane flying to Paris and getting ready to hold Paris Plage hostage.

As a parting gift, she left temperatures in the upper 70s on Saturday with a chance of the lower 80s today, Sunday. But, she is not so generous. Temperatures will begin to fall as the week goes on, the rain will come back and temperatures will dip to the mid 50s by Friday.

A la prochaine , Météo Jim

Ed's Note:– Summer is still over here.

Café Life

Five Years Later

On Sunday French voters went to the polls and corrected the mistakes they made when they went to the polls five years ago. At that time they gave themselves a terrible fright by voting a bit too much for extreme rightist Jean–Marie Le Pen and that resulted in them having to vote against him in the run–off two weeks later, which meant that Jacques Chirac got reelected with votes that would have been cast for the Socialist candidate.

Yesterday, urged to not waste their ballots, the voters gave more of their support to the three big–time centrist candidates and only bestowed chicken–feed on the extreme left and right fringes. Arlette Laguiller, spokeswoman for the Trotskyist party Lutte Ouvrière, competed in her 6th and last presidential campaign, and got her worst score ever. Afterwards she said she will vote for Ségolène Royal in two weeks.

photo, metro escalator, etoile, saturdayThe arrival view at the Etoile.

In what may the beginning of a long tradition, ultra–lefty Olivier Besancenot of the very red LCR, did better in yesterday's contest than he did five years ago, and better than all the other red and green formations. This working postman from Nicolas Sarkozy's bourgeois bastion of Neuilly managed to attract 4.13 percent of the votes cast.

However there is no joy tonight in Saint–Cloud, the bourgeois headquarters of political bogeyman Jean–Marie Le Pen. All the voters who attempted to send a protest message to the elephants in power in 2002, realised their mistake and he got a rock–bottom score, probably representing his FN party's real support in France – 10.44 percent.

Since this was supposed to be Le Pen's last presidential campaign – he is 77 – it might be possible to say that he is now a has–been. The future is less unclear for 7 other candidates because there is a looming contest to fill the deputies' seats in the Assembly National before summer.

This kind of exposes a puzzle. Until the legislative elections no one will know who has a parliamentary majority, and even a newly elected president cannot carry out campaign promises unless he or she can get them through the Assembly National and the Senat in one piece.

photo, show window cartier, champs elyseesThe avenue De Luxe at Cartier.

Meanwhile yesterday's winner who did not win, centrist François Bayrou, came in third but carried a huge 18.57 percent of the vote. Bayrou leads the UDF party that has often made common cause with Sarkozy's UMP formation, but they are not great pals. At least one Bayrou spearcarrier has already said he will vote for Ségolène Royal, but the chief is going to wait for the best deal on offer.

If you add all the percentages on the left, they do not add up to more than 50 percent for Socialist Ségolène Royal in two weeks. Today, if Bayrou's score is added to Sarkozy's, the short aspirant is 4/10ths of a percent short of 50. Like the campaign up until now, the remaining two weeks are going to be pretty interesting.

Electronic Voting Machines

These might have been an idea of the former minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy. As a fan of George Bush he might have wanted to try something new, modern, efficient and totally fool–proof, like voting machines. They were used at 80 locations yesterday.

Tonight on the France–2 TV–news the mayor of Saint–Malo said that the machines were too slow. There were several reports of voters waiting hours before getting to the machines. The mayor said he was going to put his town's collection of them in a closet for the final round in two weeks.

Yesterday 35,822,693 registered voters cast ballots, while 15.4 percent of voters abstained. Except for early overseas voting, all the ballots were counted last night. As soon as the polling places closed at 20:00 the first estimates were declared on TV. These results were very close to the official results announced by the ministry of the interior in time for today's papers, and adjusted slightly for the TV–news tonight.

For balloting by hand with paper,12 identical–sized ballots were used, with one candidate's name per ballot. To vote you pick up as many ballots as you wish, but in the booth you put just one into a small envelope supplied. This is dropped into a clear plastic box with a trap–lid.

photo, cafe terrace, champs elysees The tired and the still trudging.

To count them, the ballots are laid out in 12 piles. Then each is counted by a crew, and recounted and recounted. The result is telephoned to the ministry of the interior. The abstention rate in Paris was less than the national rate, so 1,068,270 voted. Sarkozy polled 35.1 percent in the city, Royal had 31.8 and Bayrou got 20.7, all higher than their national scores.

This story is very likely to be continued.

The Café Metropole Club

Most club members could not make it to last week's club meeting so they missed hearing about Mark Kritz' Million Dollar Loo. Next Thursday there will be another opportunity to attend a Café Metropole Club meeting, and the secretary promises to be there in person, but can't speak for Mark.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on 26. April, a sort of inter–election edition. The Saint of the Day is not obscure at all. Please welcome Saint–George, known as the one who whacked a dragon. One day in 303 while George was being a Roman soldier, he was supposed to persecute some Christians on the orders of Diocletian, but confessed to being one himself. Diocletian was annoyed, so George was lacerated on a wheel with swords, and his head was chopped off. At least, this is what the legend says.

photo, uncle den den, dimitri, mondayA pair of Daguerreotypistas today.

Uh oh, that's all wrong. Saint–George is today, Monday. For Thursday it should be Sainte–Alda or Aldobrandesca, an Italian lady from Siena who was into almsgiving, asceticism, having visions, being a nurse, performing miracles and giving up everything she owned. Her co–workers thought she was a fraud but she was insensitive to sharp pins and hot candle wax. Saint–Alda died in 1309.

Although this is unrelated to Paris except for it being in Europe, all about the club and its hardy facts are nearby on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who actually understand words, and all of you must do, will not fail to believe the fabulous but hard to credit true myths about it, and should desire to download the club's official scrap of a membership card. Thank you all.

photo, sign, rue balzac

This Was Metropole Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago was 1997 and although obvious it doesn't hurt to point that the last presidential election was five years ago. Other Internet magazines come and go but this one is rooted, like buried deep, online. The only fact about Ten Years Later is that it should be more like 12 but that's strictly between us, like some of the oddball items below.

Café Life Légère 88.8

Died the Day He was Born

The Quote of the Week keeps to a stratospheric level of cultural heritage, aided by Ed who has nothing else to do other than root around in Wikipedia every Monday. Today's quote goes, "The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good – in spite of all the people who say he is very good" This is attributed to Robert Graves, who was a good dude. Shakespeare is thought to have been born today in 1564 and it might even be more certain that he died today in 1616.

More Wobble–Mooling

There are as many as 252 days left of this year, the same number that 215 BC had when a temple to Venus Erycina was dedicated on the Capitol at Rome, to commemorate the Roman defeat at Lake Trasimène. The Venus de Milo in Paris dates to about 130 to 90 BC, despite its composition at the beginning of the classical Greek period. It's all about a half–naked Aphrodite, who is balanced by a Arès belt somewhere around her left knee. This makes it the most Wobble–U item yet.

Pure Beer Law

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 113 days, the same number that 1516 had when Duke William II of Bavaria decreed the Reinheitsgebot that stipulates that beer can only be made with malt, hops and water. Yeast was not mentioned because it wasn't invented then. Many German brewers still adhere to the Reinheitsgebot even though European rules allow other trashy ingredients. Reinheit means pure.

photo, sign, polling station, bureau de vote

Pata–Conch Day

It's unnecessary to thank Metropole for reminding you of the foundation of the Conch Republic today in 1982. The secession of Key West from the United States came after the US Border Patrol erected a roadblock and checkpoint – like Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin – that prevented Florida Keys residents from coming and going free as birds. The Conch Republic, which celebrates its independence today, issues passports and postage stamps, and occasionally attacks the United States in the courts.

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

Many folks have probably been reminded that today is the anniversary of the 1916 Irish Easter rebellion which involved 1200 freedom fighters tackling the 20,000 army troops sent by the occupying British in an effort to crush the independence movement. After using artillery against the insurgents, 60 on the Irish side were killed and many had to flee Ireland to escape long jail sentences. In 1919 the Irish Volunteers joined to form the IRA. But in the main, 23. April was a slow day in history. Other than Félix Vicq–d'Azyr and Allen Dulles being born today in 1746 and 1893, we should remember that both Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare died today, in 1616.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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