Saturday Pastime

photo, free show, rap, hip hop, place beaubourg Street entertainment in front of Beaubourg.

Mobs In Les Halles

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 28. January:–  I don't understand. We have had two days of sunshine in January. It is true there was some morning fog but our barefoot boys with cheek can hardly be concerned for it was gone by noon. In the bare twigs of branches you could almost see lingering wisps. That's what I like – fog that you can almost see if you get up in the middle of the night about 9:00.

Worms and Snails

It just goes to show that nighttime weather studies aren't worth all you might think, because the weather is like people – it sleeps at night. Those folks out there with flashlights are looking for worms and snails, not barometric pressure.

According to tonight's France–2 TV news and forecast there will be some morning fog tomorrow too. It will be up along the northwest coast, along the Channel. Good luck up there if you get up early enough! Around here we may start off with some of the semi, which may gradually become bright and mostly sunny, with a high of 7 degrees, a tad lower than it's been.

photo, sculpture pool near beaubourg Modern, near Beaubourg.

After that good start we will have a Wednesday which is expected to be crummy, on account of some offshore low overcoming our Iberian high, pushed this way from the northwest – a form of nasty winds from the Channel, dog garn it! But it will be milder, to the tune of 8 degrees in the top of the afternoon.

For Thursday the wind will switch to blowing at a clip of 90 kph from the southwest – up the Channel – and this will produce – somehow – a swath of cruddy skies covering all over here, with a high of a lousy 7. Achoo! When I saw this earlier it seemed less rotten that it sounds but now I think I caught something from the TV.

Never a day late, Météo Jim our courageous forecaster of celestial phenoms, has posted yet another insightful prediction that includes that dreaded word, boring. His grasp on the weather situation, in contrast, is a bullseye:–

Stupor Bowl – Groundhog Bungles

The week that was, in a word, was quiet. In another word, much feared and abhorred by the French, boring. Monday started out excitingly with temperatures in the low 20s and wind chills of 0, but from then on the temperatures rose to the mid 30s a–grad. There were days of sun and clouds, but nothing that sent Pommelanders to the barricades. Even a snow storm for this weekend fizzled out, by staying far off shore.

photo, sign, secours in cas de noyade

But the coming week will flow into the first – though incomplete – week of the second month of the year. Temperatures will rise into the low and mid 40s a–grad with showers on Tuesday and Friday.

This coming weekend is important for two reasons. First, February 2 is Groundhog Day – aka Candlemas in some countries – which marks the half way point of winter. However, the Pommeland Groundhog is missing. He has not been seen since he returned from France. Anybody interested in applying for the position of Groundhog, please contact Metropole or go straight to February 3.

Sunday, February 3 is the designated annual Stupor Bowl football game. Pommelanders have more reason to be interested in this game because one of their teams will be playing for the championship of the entire world. The game will take place in Arizona, so any weather forecasts for here will be invalid there.

"A la prochaine, Météo Jim"

Café Life

Mobs In Les Halles

This is another one of those weeks when I have not much to say. I was in Les Halles on Saturday, to see the place. Where I live in Paris you don't often hear people say that they are going to Les Halles, or that they have been there recently. It is the centre of the city, if you count the number of métro and RER lines that cross there, but that hardly makes it an attraction.

photo, merry go round, les halles For the few little kids.

If you go to Montmartre by métro you might be surprised when you get there by the numbers of folks that are wandering around, especially after riding there in a nearly empty métro wagon. But it's been like that since the end of the 19th century.

As soon as you get off the train in Châtelet on a Saturday you will sense a fever of mankind. The tunnels underground are not huge, and Châtelet has a maze of them, and the streams flowing through them is bewildering. In the middle, if the place has a middle, there's the South American band – rock from the Andes. The streams flow around, stop to take photos, listen, maybe even buy a CD, and then the line 1 métro dumps in another 300 folks.

photo, sign, blue doorknob

I can't tell you how to get out of there quickly. I only know a couple of escapes and I can't tell you where they are. Who knows? How many tunnels join where the South Americans play? Six? Seven? Listen, follow the signs for Saint Opportune and that will bring you to the surface pretty fast, after a fair climb. Hope the escalator is working.

photo, sign, nickle doorknob

It's something like the Place de Navarre with a glass fan over the exit. This is just south of Les Halles. Last Saturday I thought there was a lot of people underground and a big crowd struggled up to this exit. But it was nothing compared to the streets on the surface.

Events are often in Paris and free shows can draw huge crowds. But Saturday at Les Halles is not an event that I know of. Nevertheless there were people everywhere, coming and going in every direction. The Fountaine des Innocents, a place with a circular pool with a square monument, seemed to be the epicentre. Armies seemed to be arriving from all directions.

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photo, saint eustache church, les halles Saint–Eustache sails above Les Halles.

It was like a high school reunion – of all the high schools in the Paris region. Thousands, ten of thousands, mostly dressed in black, with the only people over 25 being the police. Sheer masses of numbers, up close and blocks away. In all the streets around – Lescot, Berger, Saint–Denis, Ferronnerie, Quincampoix and on Sébastopol.

I found Total Musique on Sébastopol closer to Rivoli. This is a shop of two floors that sells musical instruments. These days it means DJ and Home Studio equipment, plus many amplifiers for guitars and drums without amplifiers. It was crowded too. There were honks, and blatts, skeeks, and electric humming. These were, I imagined, folks that the recording industry claims are pirating music – folks that will be asked to pay a tax on guitars and blank CDs, and studio recording tools.

photo, football at beaubourg Kids playing football next to art.

Over at Beaubourg the usual crowd was watching and listening to a freelance performer, doing some kind of hip–hop. So rapt were they. So controlled – an audience, just as if they had paid for their seats, standing in the cool as the sun went west and down in the direction of the Tour Eiffel.

Then I went down to Rivoli and beat west against the shopping crowds there, to eventually get back to the métro where I started. If anything the underground was even more clogged, with the addition of frazzled shoppers – with their prizes from the sales and the new curtain rod from the vast hardware emporiums. That's Châtelet all right.

Soldes for You in Paris

Bring money for winter sales,, and in return Paris will give you a big discount. The Soldes d'Hiver continue until February, until the 16th, which is the Saturday following Valentine's Day.

The Café Metropole Club

All club meetings with three members is fine with me, such as the one last week. All other members and prospectals are still welcome. The next Thursday everything at the Café Metropole Club will be 100.5% new, on the 31. January, in the long month of January. Any members–in–any form, any standing, of any sort will be welcome, anyways and always.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on 31. January, exactly a paragraph after repeating it already. The boring Saint of the Day is banned, sent to perdu. Instead famous days to forget, such as Thursday's McDonald's Day, which celebrates the opening in 1990 of the first American fastfood burger joint in Moscow, former capital of the USSR. "We will bury you!"

photo, sign, brass and marble doorknob

Sickening repeats forever, related to Paris by a long and invisible but slender thread. A minor fact plus one erroneous rumor about the club and its lone CMYK factoid are on a page called the About the Club Webpage. Readers who actually have read it, and three or four might have, need not do it again. If I am wrong as has happened, write your own version. The free membership card for real members is still more free than ever. Whatever is asked for it, it's cheap.

Metropole a Real Long Time Ago

Who, exactly, cares about the past? An ordinary decade is ten years, yet it was only 7 years ago that the Café column had Legends, Legends, Au Bistro raved about the Fast Driving Minister, and there was a feature about I Love You On Montmartre. There were four posters too, and a cartoon, titled Win at Monte! Win at Dakar! That was really all in Issue 6.04:– Monday, 22. January 2001 and I'm still losing sleep over it.

photo, sign, rue hippolyte maindron

Café Life Légère 93.3

Incredible Winston

This week's lame Quote of the Week has a slight connection or relevance to today, but none to last week or next week. Take one by good old Winston Churchill. He had a lot of things to say, such as, "Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe... No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all–wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." I get it – worst but better than worser.

photo, sign, brass doorknob

'Patahistory of Eureka

There are no more than 337 days left of this year, the same number that 1754 had when Horace Walpole coined the word serendipity. It is a word derived from an old Persian fairy tale, such as Archimedes' shout of Eureka when when he figured out what his body's specific gravity did with the water in his bathtub. However Julius Comroe Jr. caught its essence with, "Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer's daughter."

Wobble–Barbecue Elephant

This is totally unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 28 days, the same number that 1871 had when the Siege of Paris ended. Bismarck had the city bombarded with huge cannons, so the folks surrendered, and Bismarck had a little victory parade on 17. February. Bismarck sent trainloads of food to Paris because hungry Parisians had eaten all the dogs, cats, horses, rats and pigeons they could catch, as well as Castor and Pollux, the beloved elephants from the zoo.

photo, sign, four doorknobs

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 1887 that the world's biggest snowflakes were recorded in Fort Keogh, Montana. Of course this was compared to 1922 when it snowed in Washington, DC so much that the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater caved in, killing nearly a 100 folks. But really we should remember this day in 1855 when the first transcontinental train rolled from gray Atlantic to blue Pacific, a whole 48 miles across the isthmus of Panama. Finally, let us not forget today's death of Charlemagne in 814. This son of King Pippin the Short had four wives and six known girlfriends, and fathered 18 kids. Bravo!

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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