The Good Old Days

photo, place 18 juin, montparnasse, saturday In spacy Montarnasse, under a sickle moon.

Just Ask Constantine VII

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 17. December:–  What is there to get indignant about? It is December and it gets dark about 17:00 and stays that way until 8:40, so if there is a high fueled by frigid air from Siberia, who can complain? It is what it is. Long dark nights with lows lower than freezing, followed by some freezing fog in the morning that may give way to a cold yellow sun low in a freaky blue sky – why, it must be January! But it's not. Ono, it's not January.

Impersonating January

It just goes to show that even if the months can get confused we human beings are more clever with our memories of all the past years, and we know in our hearts that December is supposed to be cool and maybe a bit damp and that the cold stuff is permitted in January, if we are to have it at all, but really we would rather have it not at all and save these sunny days for February when they can do some good.

Tomorrow will be Tuesday and it may be the coldest day of the week. Tonight's low was predicted to be –2 and tomorrow's high will be a symmetrical +2 according to tonight's France–2 TV weather report. Factor in the easterly breeze of 50 kph and what does that give us? A wind–chill of minus 5 or worse? Luckily French TV–weather is mum on the subject.

Northern France will be covered in sunballs against a blue background on Wednesday. Wispy morning fog may make its outline indistinct, but you may not notice it at all if you skip it. Wait for 14:00 when the temperature should reach its max of 3 degrees before it slides back to minus numbers.

photo, sign, zero degrees

Thursday may even be sunnier than Tuesday and Wednesday. It's possible that the eastern high will be getting feeble, because the temperature is expected to lift to 5 degrees at 14:00, and the overnight low may stabilize at zero. But, really, I do not know – I pay no attention to any lows beyond tonight's. It's not as if I might be awake.

For those so inclined, be aware that there is lots of snow in the Alps. There is a similar situation on Corsica which is not normally a winter sports destination. In fact the island might be short of ski lifts and ski rentals, tire chains and tow trucks. If you take your own gloves there is plenty of free ammunition for snowball battles. En garde!

Our favorite forecaster Météo Jim over across the the western ocean has sent a new wet and cold forecast. Other than a quote by Smiling Albert, he mentions ice, sleet snow and rain, all situations we can do without because we have our own:–

Just As Howling

A monstrous ice storm at the beginning of last week covered the Midwest with up to an inch of ice which knocked out power to a million homes and businesses. Driven by wanderlust and high pressure systems, it moved east. Starting on Thursday morning La Grosse Pomme and areas immediately to the west received a mixture of ice, sleet and rain while parts further west, north and northeast received up to 10 a–inches of snow. Boston received as much snow from this storm as it receives in the entire month of December.

photo, ice cream, waffles, right here Warm waffles for cold nights.

It is Monday again and Pommeland is receiving another mixture of snow, ice, rain and sleet. Accumulations are expected to be no more than 2 a–inches before it turns to all rain and washes everything away. Once again, as usual, areas north and west of Pommeland will get up to 8 a–inches of snow. Snow on Christmas in Pommeland is rare, unlike common rain.

As for the coming week, temperatures will be in the upper 30s to low 40s, all a–grad, with rain on Wednesday evening and rain all day Friday. No predictions have been made yet for Christmas, but as Albert Einstein once said, "It's difficult to make predictions, especially when it involves the future."

"A la prochaine, Météo Jim"

Café Life

The Good Old Days

By now you will probably realize that I have enjoyed a week of extreme sloth, dictated by the atmospheric conditions. I have been getting up in time to turn on the lights and wrap myself in rugs, keeping warm in the colorful glow given off by a huge LCD screen. I can't say it's cozy because any wind from the northwest or northeast comes through my windows. They are as porous as chicken wire and about as clean.

So it wasn't altogether comfort I forsook last Tuesday when I went out and jumped in – not a moment too soon! – the métro and rode up to place de Clichy to see the latest version of the Beatles Story, co–starring club member Yoko. But first I had to eat and I did so in a joint called the Bistro des Dames because it was in the rue des Dames. Described as a place sans frime, I was served a serviceable pepper steak that followed a big dose of garlic I ordered on account of being in an ancient celler.

photo, new fiat 500 A total first – a Fiat Nuova 500.

There was some confusion getting into Le Méry just over a block away because some folks who had been seeing a show about Barbara were reluctant to leave, until they were chased out by the Beatles Story tuning up. Some of the other folks, waiting to get in, probably wondered why Barbara wasn't the later show, but they stayed anyway – the whole two dozen.

I was around in the Beatles era. Nobody thought much of their pop music until they got high, and then they were good for a right good sing–along. This was my fourth time seeing, and listening to, the Beatles Story, and I am still not inclined to sing–along, although the rest of the audience had no such restraint. This stage version was shorter than the nightclub versions so it skipped the intermission and I was able to get out of there in 90 minutes. Near midnight on the place de Clichy, it was cool and damp.

Thursday was a zig–zag day. Forecast on Monday to be sunny, Wednesday's forecast said it was to be cloudy and rainy, so on Thursday it was bright and sunny – but cool! – and it was on the way to the club that I spotted my first Fiat Nuova 500 since production began last summer. It was a fleeting shot, of a black one. Black is not what fans were waiting for.

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photo, bon marche, saturday The cake that is the Bon Marché.

There isn't any Christmas anything around my place so on Saturday I went over to the Bon Marché to take photos of the seasonal windows with all the little kiddies squashing their noses against the glass. Did I say it was cold? There were a lot of people around but few kids. One look at the windows nobody was looking at told me why – nothing magical to see. I was crushed. Christmas is only once a year and can you imagine all left–bank kids being deprived of Christmas animations for a whole year? They will be stunted for life.

On the rue de Rennes there was the usual Saturday mobs, buying their cheap threads and filling up on iPods, DVDs and the latest game machines. The Fnac was semi–barricaded and a huge and unruly crowd was pressing against the doors. I decided to skip going in to look at stuff I am not going to buy.

Sunday was another cold day but I went out looking for the best morris column poster of the week. It was unfindable so this week's is the second–best, or third, and that's how it is some weeks. Posters were a bit feeble too.

photo, rue du sevres Shoppers pour into Paris.

On a whim I pushed the buzzer of starving artist Matt Rose and a disembodied voice told me to rise. At the door an offer of café, a bit of chit–chat and Matt showed me his latest project, a booklet titled Mister Rose's ABC Book. Matt said he dreamed it up while taking a hot bath and eating peanutbutter cookies.

Subtitled A Little Book for Little People,; it goes like this:–

A ..is for Arnold the airplane
who has an annoying air about
him, always bragging about his
astrological altitude.

We live in new, modern times, so what took ten minutes to think up, 45 minutes to write and a couple of days to fully illustrate – not to mention a flash–printing or two – can now be endlessly fiddled with, thanks to software. We changed some words – found a substitute for zaftig – and fiddled with some colors. Then I'm back home five minutes and he sends me a new PDF of it, weighing twelve megatons.

photo, paul, in beatles story From the Beatles Story.

Anyhow, that was my week. On the face of it not very exciting. Kind of cool anytime I was outside, or even inside. Does anybody remember last winter? It was like living in southern Spain. A week of bad weather and the rest was global warming. Ah, the good old days!

The Café Metropole Club

Absolutely none of the club's totally new members showed up at the club meeting last Thursday but there were two real members, just like the week before. The next Thursday when everything at the Café Metropole Club will be all new again will be 20. December, with only 4 shopping days until Xmas. Any kind of non–shopping members of any sort will be welcome. If you are reading this, don't just stand there.

photo, ile de la cite, quai des orfevres By day, some welcome sunshine.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on 20. December, less than a week close to Christmas. The Saint of the Day will be Saint–Abraham, from the city of Ur, known these days as Tell Muqqayyar. Abraham's name has many meanings, many versions, but nobody minds because it all happened long before Diocletian was around, which was also a long time ago.

Déjà vu forever, related sideways to Paris because it happens here. Fascinating true lore about the club and its single hard factoid are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Some readers who actually have read some of it, and few have, are no longer curious about any of the unwritten rest of it. If I am wrong as can happen, write your own version. The free membership card for real members is still free and you can print it.

This Was Metropole Ten Years Ago

Who cares that this week ten years ago was 500–odd weeks ago? Metropole used to have lots of real swell stuff in it, such as The Odd Shopper, not in the Café column, On the Town At Noël, not in the Au Bistro column, along with some minor posters and a silly cartoon titled Flyin' Into Paris. Did that one run again then? Even though there was hardly any more in Issue 2.50 – 8. December 1997, because it is about Ten Years Later this week, about.

photo, sign, anct place dauphine

Café Life Légère 92.1

Two–Way Miracles

This totally new Quote of the Week has no connection or relevance to today. For a new gem of philosophy I suggest a quote by Albert Einstein, who had had a few things to say, such as, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Small wonder then, why Ford Madox Ford said, "It is a queer and fantastic world." He said more but that's all the space he gets.

photo, sign, plaque bon marche

Back In Patatimes

There are no more than 14 days left of this year, the same number that 920 had when Romanos I was crowned as co–emperor along with the underage Emperor Constantine VII. His sons thought their father would let Constantine succeed him, so they arrested him in 944, placed him on the Princess Islands, and forced him to become a monk. But the folks of Constantinople revolted and the two bad boys were sent to the islands too. With his wife's help, Constantine got to be emperor again at age 39 – after a lifetime under somebody's thumb, in an age not called dark for nothing.

photo, sign, no parking, tow away, busted bike wheel

Wobble–Bird Flights

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 351 days, the same number that 1935 had when the Douglas DC–3 flew for the first time. It could cross the United States eastbound making only three refueling stops, with a flight time of about 15 hours. Westbound flights took two hours 30 minutes longer. Before the DC–3, a trans–continental trip required many short hops during the day, with trains taking over at night. About 10,600 of these aircraft were built at Santa Monica, California.

The Ex–Question of Schleswig–Holstein

A few folks have might have been thinking that it is only right and proper to remember that it was today in 1969 that the United States Air Force officially terminated its study of UFOs, claiming that UFOs caused, "A mild form of mass hysteria, including individuals who fabricate such reports to perpetrate a hoax or seek publicity, psychopathological persons, and misidentification of various conventional objects." There was no connection 20 years later when The Simpsons debuted on TV. While it is also the birthday of Ford Maddox Ford, born in 1873, today also marks the death of Kaspar Hauser in 1833. Kasper was a foundling and nobody ever figured out who he was, so he died young. He is, however, still a riddle.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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