Quacking, Quacking

photo, cruise boat, seine, pont neuf, paris plage Ten bright minutes of beautiful cruising.

Toss Them Baguettes!

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 20. August:–  After last week's three days of phooey that stretched into seven days of miserable rain, I am totally disgusted with this weather situation we have here. Saying I have made a vow to be in Spain next year has no effect now. If anything it is making things worse. What I fail to understand is the 3% increase of visitors to Paris. What are they thinking?

Paradise for Webfeet

It just goes to show that happy trippers are undeterred by a bit of water under their soles, a bit of water sliding down their necks and very humid views while standing beside the Seine exercising their romantic fancies. Yes, as you scuttle by on the lookout for a bus shelter, you hear them quacking gaily as folks in nor'westers toss them whole soggy baguettes, including the cheese and ham.

The weather folks on France–2 TV–news and weather are long past being defensive every night. They have cut the flood of commercials so that viewers are not totally insurrectional, before rushing through the bad news of persistant lows, endless troops of glum clouds, cold breezes, storm warnings – including another tonight – and rain.

photo, pharmacy thermometre, 15 degrees

Today, this afternoon, with a high possibly forecast of 18, I saw the pharmacy thermometre neon reading 15 degrees. It might have felt like 17 and the other pharmacy was showing 17.5, but that was where the folks are more revolutionary. And it's everywhere – late last night a lady knocked on my door to ask if my living room was leaking into the living room below. I went down there for a look and then came back up and took down my big yellow bucket to catch the water pouring in. I haven't got it back yet.

The outlook for tomorrow seemed to suggest that it would be semi–crummy around here, with a high of 19 degrees forecast. Wednesday will be worse, as in all crummy, with a high of 20. Thursday will see a vast improvement, bettering to merely semi–crummy. The temperature stays the same at 20, if it can reach that high.

Metropole's météo from Pommeland across the Atlantic is suspended because our everready forecaster, Météo Jim, is off counting tree tops, I think he said. As he would say, à la prochaine.

Ersatz August

In exceedingly condensed form, here is the score. Tuesday in New York will be rainy, with a high of 19 degrees. A bit of warmth on Wednesday will help with half cloudy skies and Thursday may have a high of 29 while the skies are actually half sunny. Even warmer is foreseen for Friday, but at the risk of being a little stormy.

Café Life

I Remember the Scooter

Some people have told me they like Paris when it is foggy and damp, when it is cool and rainy. They say they like to see it in subdued colors, mostly gray, without highlights or defined shadows. I suppose they are trying to say that Paris isn't the Riviera. It hasn't any right to be warm and sunny, smell like hot southern flowers and it's okay if all the women are dressed head–to–foot, like for funerals.

photo, seine, pont des arts, clouds Lots to see in the sky.

And I say all that is a crock of merde. I don't understand why, if I want to go out and sit on café terraces until one in the morning, I should have to wear a hat, scarf, gloves, sweater, winter coat, wool socks and waterproof shoes. I can do that in the winter, and last winter was so mild that it was hardly necessary so I don't understand why this August is the pits and I am supposed to accept it.

Meanwhile, rain or no rain some folks are really riding some of the bikes the city has parked all over the place. Everywhere you go there are these bike ranks full of bikes to rent. The average one takes away three car parking slots, and they are building more all over. Parisians are going to return from holidays and have no place to park. I mean, they never have any place to park – the city makes a fortune out of it.

What the city did, they said to two companies, if you want the street advertising contract for Paris, offer us 10,000 brand new bicycles and their parking places, and a fully automated rental structure, plus drive–back and repair facilities – on a barge! – cards, databases, the whole shebang a–to–z, and JCDecaux lost, er, I mean, won. They had the advertising before and they meant to keep it. Now they will have the inside track on selling the bikes to other cities.

Meanwhile, there are people who gave up on the weather and decided to have their mouths rebuilt this summer. Just like people in the US getting their bodies rebuilt in Mexico or Paraguay, French folks are flocking to Budapest to get new teeth. There are package deals – flight, hotel, five implants and six crowns, for a lousy 7,000€, including wine and goulash. Ten days and they come back with glitter faces.

photo, paris plage Typical lack of sun on Paris–Plage.

It makes a nice contrast. Other folks, who went to the stinkingly overpriced Riviera, are actually coming back looking filthy brown. Then they smile and they've got these dingy teeth. Everyone smokes down there. And these fish–white people have blinding white teeth. I don't know which is more sickening. All that paprika goulash or all that pissy rosé.

Well, it hardly matters now. Paris–Plage finished yesterday. City hall has played this one cool, telling Le Parisien over two weeks ago that they were not counting attendance this year. With three main sites, they said, too hard to count. This, I am sure, caused the rain.

photo, park vert galant, ile de la cite, pont neuf Paris is seldom this green in August.

This means that the sum total of the entire summer was Grace's vernissage on Abbesses in Montmartre. She had four artists, or five counting Matt Rose, and a photographer, and she had an invite for Wednesday and another for Saturday. All these folks turned up, mostly living here, and they ate the pistachios and drank the wine, and said how many decades they have been living in Paris. They all complained about how warm it was.

Next year, not next week of course, there will be much more everything. There always is, more, better, bigger, hotter, next year.

The Café Metropole Club

Some of the club's totally new members showed up at last week's club meeting, delighting the club's secretary. Next Thursday there will be another one–and–only Café Metropole Club meeting. The secretary is ready to welcome more new members. Members in good standing are equally welcome, as are delinquent members.

photo, pont des arts, institut de france How many picnics here washed out?

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on 25. August, somewhat towards the end of you–know–what. The Saint of the Day will be Sainte–Rose de Lima. Born in 1586 in Peru, she was the patron saint of folks ridiculed for their piety, and the Peruvian Police Force. After living off gall mixed with bitter herbs she chose to lie down in a bed she fashioned, made of broken glass, stone, potsherds, and thorns. Rose relaxed like this for 14 years until dying aged 31 in 1617 and was famous foreverafter.

Yet again, this is totally unrelated to Paris because it happened in some other places near South America. You can read some interesting stuff about the club and its single factoid on a page inappropriately named the About the Club Webpage. Readers who actually have looked at half of it, and some minority of you might have, will hardly fail to wonder about the other half of it. Should questions arise, check out the club's free but worthless membership card. Shred into a cup of tea and stir.

This Was Metropole Ten Years Ago

Nobody should be surprised that last week ten years ago was a long time ago. This Metropole used to have real new stuff in it, such as The Centre of Midsummer in the Café column, Sharing a Holiday with Cows was the week's feature, along with some posters and a cartoon entitled Hot Dogging. That was all there was in Issue 2.33/4 – 18. August 1997 because I was on holiday.

photo, sign, place du louvre

Café Life Légère 89.2

Nauséabond Farrago

Today's Quote of the Week has no connection to today's date, but what do we care? For today's little flower I offer a quote by Rex Reed, about the movie Amélie. He wrote, "C'est la vie for a race responsible for croque monsieurs, a nauseating farrago of flayed pig muscle and fermented cow extract, imprisoned in a tomb of scorched bread, the whole thing drowned with bechamel sauce." This pithy observation could easily have been made by any of us here, except for the customary lack of bechamel sauce. What it is anyway?

Back To the Wobble–Balkans

There are no more than 133 days left of this year, the same number that 917 had when Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria invaded Thrace and drove the Byzantines out, for the umpteenth time. The Byzantines, led by Leo Phokas, son of Nikephoros Phokas, stopped to rest near Achelaos and while they were lolling around Simeon attacked, causing the Battle of Anchialus, one of the largest in medieval history, 1090 years ago today. Years later Leo the Deacon wrote that, "Piles of bones can still be seen today at the river Achelaos, where the fleeing army of the Byzantines was then infamously slain." This interesting incident was one of many in a story of byzantine twists, with a lively cast of hundreds of thousands, with Simeon as the Bulgarian hero.

photo, fiat 500 of the week More rare sun of the Fiat 500 of the Week.

Stanley In the Patazone

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 232 days, the same number that 1888 had when Emin Pasha, whose real name was Eduard Carl Oscar Theodor Schnitzer, was locked up by mutineers at Dufile, in the Egyptian province of Equatoria on the upper Nile. A relief expedition led by Henry Morton Stanley went to the rescue by way of the Congo – the long, hard way around – losing two–thirds of his band. After Emin decided to be saved, he fell out of a window at Bagamoyo on the coast, thinking it led to a balcony. Stanley, disgusted, had to return without Emin and without total triumph. More details are at Wikipedia.

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

A few folks have might have been thinking that it is appropriate to recall the axe murder of Leon Trotsky, whose real name was Lev Davidovich Bronstein, on this date in 1940 in Mexico. In 1908 Trotsky launched the first Pravda in St. Petersburg, and the Bolsheviks launched another in 1912, proving you can't have too much truth. Very annoyed, Trotsky bitterly denounced Lenin and the Bolsheviks. So everybody got angry with him and he moved to France to work as a war correspondent, then he edited an internationalist socialist paper in Paris. In 1916 that got him deported to Spain for his anti–war activities. Spanish authorities then deported him to the United States late in 1916. In New York he wrote articles for the local Russian language newspaper Novy Mir and the Yiddish language daily Der Forverts. He regained Russia in 1917, and after holding many important posts and countless adventures he was booted out of the Party, in 1927. Daladier offered Trotsky asylum in France in 1933, but afterwards he moved to Norway until he became unwelcome there and was shipped to Mexico on a freighter. The rest, as they say, is dismal history.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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