H O O R A Y !

photo, rue des abbresses Saturday night on Montmartre.

Last Headline of the Year

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 31. December:–  In the midst of polishing off this year and keeping all up–to–date, I flashed out to witness in person the filling of the tower of Champagne glasses at local boite, the Quinze. Out with the telephones to get the correct time from the atomic clocks, and on the nuclear bing, Jean–Louis and a helper started the pour. They poured and poured and poured. I drank my orange juice in a jiffy and raced back to write this – exclusive from the 14th arrondissement, a couple of minutes into 2008.

A Gloomy Start

It just goes to show that no two New Years' are alike. The weather is always different too. Why, just tonight on the France–2 TV news and weather Isabelle was saying that – now that New Year is here there's no reason to keep up any pretense of getting warmer, which it is wont to do if we have had a hard December, which is exactly what we have had.

Gone are the balmy inter–holiday days when we were basking in temperatures flirting with 10 degrees. In fact it was only flirting and we may have had no more than 9. She said, earlier tonight – after our president, Nicolas Sarkozy said we should work harder, again – she said that we can expect tomorrow, the first day of 2008, to start with fog, low clouds, and continue with clouds. The high, such as it will be, might be 5 degrees.

photo, always wine

Moving right along, into Wednesday – the first Wednesday in 2008 – Isabelle's map showed lots of black clouds and sneaky little peeks of weak sun. I wrote down semi while I tried to think of what might be appropriate. The filthy temperature is expected to sag even further, down the 3 degrees. Can we have 2007 back?

Then for Thursday I wrote semi again. I still haven't figured out what it should be properly called. Lots of clouds with a remote possibility of brighter moments? Without being overly negative, semi sums it up without making me sound foolish. The good news is the 25% increase in temperature, to 4 degrees. Did I mention the 60 or 70 kph winds blowing offshore, away from here towards Britain? If I didn't, maybe you should warn whom ever is over there – clouds of garlic are coming your way!

Our favorite forecaster Météo Jim, in the depths of deepest New Jersey, has sent yet another original wet and cold forecast. Other than introducing Rudolph again, he fails to mention the Ball, hardly realizing that the Paris bureau has a grip on the situation:–

Great Ball of Lumens

photo, new year ball, new york city, times square New York's Ball of the Year.

Long known as the Internet reporter for Paris, your nosy newsie was on the ground in Macy's in November in time to catch a sneak preview of this year's Drop–the–Ball–in–Times–Square. Wrapped around an aluminum frame, there are 672 Waterford crystal panels and other high–tech stuff including 9576 light diodes, for a staggering solar blast of lumen power. This ball dropped 77 feet tonight in 60 seconds at 23:59 and was seen by 1,134,567 ordinary folks who just happened to be passing through Times Square in New York City at midnight on the last day of the year.

We'll See 2008

It must be noted that next year, 2008, will present new challenges. Thanks to continental drift, the universe taking a wrong turn at Galaxy HG–245–N3 and a preternatural migration of lemmings in the distant, exotic and dismal kingdom of Upper Lesser Hoochikoochistan, Metropole Club meetings will be on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. What does that mean for mankind? If there are meetings, will they come? On verra.

As for the Christmas that was in Pommeland, hindsight allows for a perfect forecast. Christmas Eve was clear and lit by a moon that was one day past full. Rudolph was not only on cruise control but he was watching his portable DVD player and surfing the net on his laptop. Unconfirmed rumours say that he also sent out for pizza.

Boldly making predictions for the final day of 2007, the same storm will move to the northeast and give Boston enough snow to set a new snow record for December. There will be another storm right on the heels of the previous one on New Year's Eve in Pommeland which will dump rain and snow on the revelers in Times Square. The remainder of the week will be cold, in the low 30s a–grad, and partly cloudy unless the partlies get together to form a full cloudy. By the first weekend of 2008 the temperature will climb into the low 40s a–grad.

photo, champagne pour at the quinzeJean–Louis tips out Champagne
at the Quinze.

A bonne année to all and to all a good night. "A la prochaine," Météo Jim

Café Life

Resolutions? Who me? Never!

By the time you might read this, sometime on the first day of a new year, you might wish you stayed in bed. In fact that is where I intend to be because I'm not making any resolutions. The other day I was up for some reason and I noticed that it is still nighttime at 7 in the morning. In the old days I recall that sometimes the sun was shining in the morning. I guess this place has rotten Sheng Fui.

This issue, the last of the year, is about both years. France's minister of health and beauty products has announced that we can smoke in bars and cafés on New Years Day. As you will read elsewhere in these pages, just about everything is closed on Christmas Eve. It's kind of the same thing on New Years Day. We can have a last smoke in a bar or a café of our choice if we can find one open. Our government is so dynamic!

photo, sign, MMVIII

Here's today's, Monday's, headline from Le Parisien: "La cigarette, c'est fini" – and this in bold black letters 46mm high. So big that there was no room left for the exclamation! Trust Le Parisien – they are rubbing it in because they don't have any tobacco advertising anyway. Kicking guys when they're down.

photo, amazing grace Grace hosts artists again.

My friend Grace finally came back from Washington and on Saturday she staged a replay of the vernissage she had on Friday night. This was a good thing because I thought it was on Saturday until I thought to look again at the invitation around midnight and see it was really for Friday. So she reinvited me for Saturday. That's why she is my friend.

So I went up there on the métro in the dark and I'm glad I did because the Abbesses area of Montmartre is quite well–lit at this season, with lights strung across the street and the gas heaters on the café terraces glowing orange and blue. The whole street smelled of warm bread, garlic, scooter gas and split beer. It was far more lively than the Christmas windows at Bon Marché.

photo, merry go round, metro abbesses Nearly free fun at Abbesses.

The photos on exhibit, by Erica, were very good, and I looked carefully at them all, until I ran into Dimitri, who wanted to discuss where we should try to see the ball drop tonight. As much as art is central to my life, I think most will agree a good party is good for the soul. Grace found some hidden orange juice and served it in an elegant plastic cup like you used to see Koolade in. I was content.

Then there were the photos to do. Back at the office I fell asleep watching the whole history of Peking's Forbidden City. They had their ups and downs, didn't they? After that I tried to get Skype to work. It wasn't until the following day that I figured out that the when the microphone is really plugged in, you are supposed to choose "built–in micro" and not plugged–in micro. Whee, rocket science!

Okay, before I go – write the rest of this nonsense – I wish to wish all a Happy New Year, health and prosperity. Thanks for being along for the ride for another year. There will be more. I might even get serious even if I have no intention of doing so. I know this Paris stuff is important to some, especially if you pay a lot for it – like the folks who live here. Ahh, you know what I mean.

photo, poster, sarkozix

Bring Your Money

Paris wants your money for winter sales,, and in return it is going to give you a big discount. That's right! Starting Wednesday, 9. January, the Soldes d'Hiver take off and continue until February, until the 16th, which is the Saturday following Valentine's Day. Discounts will run to 50% or more on some items. The deal, as for all sales, is first–come first–served. Even if you aren't a shopper, seeing Parisians in riot mode for something other than food, might be amusing.

The Café Metropole Club

Another meeting without totally new members happened at the last club meeting last Thursday, but there were two real members, parttime, just like the week before. Week after week, but still welcome. The next Thursday when everything at the Café Metropole Club will be totally new yet again will be 3. January, with only 4.5 shopping days until the fabulous Soldes d'Hiver. Any kind of members–in–training of any sort will be welcome and if you are reading this, bring a friend.

photo, metro abbesses At Abbesses on Saturday.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on 3. January, exactly two days after New Years Day. The Saint of the Day will be Sainte–Geneviève. This is Paris' own saint and she is famous for stumping the Huns in 451 and then she did it again in 464 when she helped Parisians avoid starvation during another siege. The Panthéon was originally built to be her church.

Déjà vu week after flipping week, related to Paris by a slender thread. A fascinating fact plus one rumor about the club and its single slim factoid are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Some readers who actually have read it, and few have, will no longer be curious about any of the rest of it. If I am wrong as can happen, write your own version. The free membership card for real members is still free if you can print it.

This Was Metropole Ten Years Ago

photo, sign, villa mont du tonnerre

Who cares that this week 501–odd weeks ago was ten years ago? What's more, Metropole began before that – in the darkest days of 1996, in the unlamented last century. Let us look instead to the future. Which reminds me that a reader wants me to pass along an idea to the mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, about how to build high–rises that nobody will notice. Like the apartments for pigeons I suppose.

Café Life Légère 92.5

Lighter Than Ovid

This totally new Quote of the Week has no connection or relevance to today, yesterday or tomorrow. I suggest one by Ovid, who had some things to say, such as, "In the winter season, for seven days of calm, Alcyone broods over her nest on the surface of the waters while the sea–waves are quiet. Through this time Aeolus keeps his winds at home, and the ocean is smooth for his descendants' sake." Just who are these people?

photo, sign, berry tart

'Patahistory Writ Large

There are no more than O days left of this year, the same number that 1928 had when Siné was born in Paris. He was a cartoonist who launched his own magazine that is well–remembered for its anti–colonialism, anti–capitalism, anti–clericalism and pro–anarchism. A British magazine said his cartoons were "grotesque!" Aide from that, Siné was a member of the French Collège de 'Pataphysique. This was really and truly a philosophy that studied the vague but distant realm beyond metaphysics. Practitioners were 'pataphysicians or 'pataphysicists. Their college was founded in Paris on 11. May 1948 and if Alfred Jarry were still alive he would be chancellor but he died in 1907.

Wobble–Otto Silvester

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 365 days, the same number that 335 had when Saint Silvester died. That was a long time ago, and folks still remember? For some reason, Silvester had a legendary relationship with Constantine which was somehow important to folks during the Middle Ages. In addition, Pope Silvester II, a close associate of Otto III around 1000, named himself after the first Silvester. It was also this one who is recalled on 31. December, when New Years Eve is called Silvester in some countries, like Germany, which is close to:

photo, sign, sugar bowl

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 1904 that the first New Years Eve celebration was held in Longacre Square in New York. Later the same place became Times Square. Let us not forget that it was this day in 1695 that Britain chose for introducing its window tax. They figured that rich folks had more windows, but didn't reckon on poor folks doing without to avoid the tax. Don't laugh – the French had it too! Victor Hugo once said, "Hélas! Dieu donne l'air aux hommes, la loi le leur vend." Finally, let us take cheer from her birthday, in 1885, of Princess Victoria Adelaide, who I presume died in Schleswig–Holstein in 1970.

Happy New Year et à bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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