January's Doldrums

photo, terrace, cafe corona, club cafe Visitors stride to their destiny in the Louvre.

Galileo Spied Neptune

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 7. January:–  At this point in time we are a whole week into 2008 and it feels just like 2007 but it smells different. It is not the smell of the French on the burning barricades. It is, rather, the sudden ability to smell in bars and cafés, see food in restaurants without peering through smog, and the scent of humiliated and dejected smokers out on the pavements, in the no longer fresh air. Ahoy! about this air:–

Midwinter Heatwave

It just goes to show that you can ban smoke from cozy interiors but smoking outside doesn't make it cozy. In the old days, like last week, it was enough to enter your favorite café–tabac to ensure that your atmosphere would be fully smoked. The way it is now every time you light up outside, two things happen. The wind blows the smoke away and folks try to bum cigarettes. We used to be safe and sound in our cafés.

photo, metro sign

We are more depressed if it's raining outside. How can you have a relaxing smoke when rain is running down inside your collar like you are a gutter leading straight to the earth? You are probably asking what this has to do with the weather report. Well, it's simple really. It's gravity.

It's the same thing with avalanches. If it gets a little warm the TV–news starts ranting and raving about the danger of avalanches which are caused by gravity. Tons of snow falls off mountains. This is, of course, of no concern to anybody on the streets of Paris. You can't even see mountains here except on the TV–news.

Well, it's gotten a bit warm. I for one salute this. It's about time! Tomorrow we can bask with a high of 9 degrees, under somewhat cloudy skies, that will be nowhere as grim as places further away from near here. There will be south–southwest winds too, keeping our sidewalks fresh.

photo, sign, churros

On Wednesday it might be a bit dimmer because of more clouds, but with a high of 10 degrees. Wait you must, to go out, for Thursday when the high will scale up to 11 degrees, the clouds will part, partly, and there may be some peeps of sunshine with a 4–out–of–5 chance, which means it may be more, or less, or something completely different.

Our only forecaster Météo Jim, outre–Atlantique, has once more envoyed yet another original damp and humid forecast. Other than mentioning Rudolph déjà! – not much change there – but his grip on the situation follows:–

Changes Overhead

Just to alert Metropole readers: it is now official. When Les soldes d'Hiver begin on Jan. 9, be on the lookout for a jolly old elf and a jolly old elfess. That's right. Mr. and Mrs. Claus are coming to Paris–Plage to take part in the winter madness. They will fly into Charles de Gaulle airport on their sleigh pulled by nine tiny raindeer – including Rudolph. So, if you see someone with a bright shiny nose, it is not le clochard du quartier. This is, I promise, the last mention of Rudolph – until next Christmas.

photo, sign, service toute heure anytime

Winter arrived in Pommeland for a very short visit. Tuesday night the temperature reached +2 a–grad with a wind chill of -10 a–grad. Wednesday the high temperature was 20 a–grad with a wind chill temperature of 0 a–grad. At that point the Euro Temperature Translators Union had a tantrum and went on strike saying that such temperatures were inhuman and refused to have anything more to do with the abominable conditions in Pommeland.

Temperatures began to rise again after that outburst. The first full week of 2008 will see the following weather unless and until it changes without notice. On Monday, highs will be in the 50s and Tuesday might set a record high with the thermometer climbing into the low 60s. As with winter, the stay will be short. The cloudies will get together again on Wednesday and threaten rain and lowering temperatures. They will do the same on Thursday but no rain unless they change their minds. Friday will be a repeat of Wednesday except with even lower temperatures, ending up with seasonable temperatures and partly cloudies on the weekend.

photo, sign, smoke bar

"A la prochaine, Météo Jim"

Café Life

Resistance Zero

By now I guess everybody knows that the French meekly bought their cigarettes in the tabacs the day after New Year's and took themselves outside to light up. All the cafés are full of the smell of burnt cheese and hot garlic. This is nothing new but being able to smell it, is.

There were reports of isolated resistance. There are tiny towns, little villages really, where there is only one shop, which is the combined café and bar and restaurant, distributor of bread and cheese, newspapers, Loto, postage stamps, and other odds and ends of fundamental necessity. One of which being that it was the only public place where folks could meet, inside, sheltered from the elements.

photo, river seine, pont des arts, institut de france, dusk Even in winter Paris can be romantic.

Barkeepers put up signs saying something like smoke allowed and the customers cheered. But after the gendarmes saw the report about it on the TV–news, there they were the next day, enforcing the laws dictated by Paris. They didn't actually penalize anybody but next week will probably be another story. They've got their names.

To get even a Sunday paper started a rumor about President Sarkozy getting married again. That's more than we need at the moment. Meanwhile he gave pass and fail notes to his ministerial crew, and said they weren't pass and fail notes. It would have been an amusing guessing game to figure out from their faces on the TV–news which was which, but we were too depressed.

Send Matt Your Money

photo, mister rose's abc bookMatt Rose's ABC book.

Matthew Rose, a pal of Metropole, has written, painted, spindled, folded and printed a little book titled Mister Rose's ABC Book for folks who need reminding about their ABCs or are just learning. It is in full color with pages and words and the publisher – who is none other that Matt himself – wants you to buy it right now. It's certainly well worth the 10€ he's asking. Okay, there's postage too, but it's still less than the book price. Matt will even hand–sign your copy. Buy lots a copies and Matt will give a nice discount. After you hit this buy Matt's ABC Book link , think of Matt carrying your new book by hand to La Poste in person, as simple as ABC.

If You've Any Left, Bring It

Bring your money for winter sales,, and in return Paris is going to give you a big discount. That's right! On Wednesday, 9. January, the Soldes d'Hiver take off and continue until February, until the 16th, which is the Saturday following Valentine's Day, slightly before Easter. Discounts will run to huge or more on some items. First–come first–served even if you aren't a shopper. Seeing Parisians in riot mode for something other than food will be rare.

The Café Metropole Club

A unique meeting without any members I can do without, such as the last club meeting last Thursday. Week after week, you are still welcome. The next Thursday everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 100% new, yet it will be 10. January, after the begin of the fabulous Soldes d'Hiver. Any kind of any members–in–good form of any sort will be welcome if you aren't reading this.

photo, tabac sign

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on 10. January, exactly one paragraph after I mentioned it already. The boring Saint of the Day is suspended. Instead we will have famous days to forget, such as Thursday's Margaret Thatcher Day in the Falkland Islands, but not in Argentina. For her services to mankind she became a life peeress, to wit, the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven. When in London she has a reserved seat in the House of Lords .

Déjà vu forever, related to Paris by a slender but long thread. A fascinating fact plus one rumor about the club and its single green factum are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who actually have read it, and few more than none have, need 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. Whatever is asked for it, it's overpriced.

This Was Metropole Ten Years Ago

What is this fascination with the past? A normal decade is ten years, yet it was only yesterday about 520 weeks ago that the Café column mentioned a big wind, the Soldes d'Hiver were starting, and there was something about the Egyptian wing of the Louvre. Of course there were posters and a cartoon, titled "Guess How Much." That was all in Issue 3.01:– Monday, 5. January 1998 and I'm still losing sleep about it.

photo, sign, place pablo picasso

Café Life Légère 92.8

Happened Before

This unique new Quote of the Week has no connection or relevance to today, yesterday or tomorrow, or anywhere. I propose one by Douglas Adams, who had a great many things to say, such as, "There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened." Just who is this dude?

Perpetual 'Patahistory

photo, sign, crepes

There are no more than 358 days left of this year, the same number that 1558 had when Calais was retaken by the French from the English who had been holding on to it for a long time and making pots of money out of it. The French needed it for a ferry terminal. The English had it since 1347, in perpetual perpetuity, but let it get decrepit enough for the French to recapture. Queen Mary I thought the loss was a dreadful misfortune, but it was actually laziness and bungling. Then in 1596 the Spanish came along and snatched it away from the French and Bob's your uncle.

Wobble–CQD SOS

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 7 days, the same number that 1904 had when the Marconi International Marine Communication Company issued Circular 57 that said that the distress signal CQD meant the same as the SOS signal would mean two years later. CQD never meant "Come Quick, Danger," "Come Quick – Drowning!" or "Come Quick, Dammit!" Due to the confusion, in 1912 the RMS Titanic radio operator sent out CQD signals several times before a humble midshipman suggested that SOS might be more appropriate, to, alas, slight avail.

photo, sign, boulevard montparnasse

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 1735 that Hieronimus de Salis married Mary Fane in Westminster but I failed to find out why anybody would want remember this. It's not like either of them ever went to Bulgaria. However it was on this day in 1610 that Galileo Galilei, an Italian, using his own telescope, observed Jupiter's four largest moons. Two years later this original "Father of Science" also saw Neptune without realizing it was a planet, but it wasn't until 1718 that the Inquisition lifted its ban about publishing these observations. Before it's too late, let's wish Charles Addams a happy birthday today. Weird cartoonist, he also went out with ladies such as Greta Garbo, Joan Fontaine and Jacqueline Kennedy, according to a faintly reliable source.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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